In Consideration of Stuff, Part 2

Last week I attended the New York International Gift Fair, where sellers and, presumably, buyers come together in a glorious congress of stuff, for one week twice a year, as detailed in my pre-show post. These wholesale shows happen all over the country – the world, actually – and in terms of sheer size New York’s show is dwarfed by, say, Atlanta’s Gift Mart (a truly scary, scary place: hell to the New York show’s purgatory). But still, if you’re not used to seeing so much stuff all piled into one location, the New York Gift Show can be a bit mind-boggling in its scale.

Of course it depends on what floats your boat, but for my purposes I planned to skip the bulk of the show (categories like Resort, et cetera ) and focus on just a few key areas: Accent on Design, Handmade, and Pier 94, where many of the home furnishings vendors had set up their wares. Anytime I ventured outside of these perimeters (the Tabletop category notwithstanding), my heart began beating wildly and I began to perspire, so overwhelming was the sheer amount of junk being peddled. And the way it was being sold changed accordingly. There’s just a world of difference between talking to a real-live glassblower like Caleb Siemon – a man who has spent years perfecting his craft and is presenting his lovely glass vessels and lighting – as opposed to an overeager and underpaid salesperson lunging at you as you walk past, desperate in her suggestion that you sample one of the glitter tattoos manufactured by the company she works for – butterfly or motorcycle? Rainbow colors or jewel tones? I felt terrible saying no and for a millisecond considered getting a glitter tattoo peace symbol on my forearm just to give her something to do. But my aesthetic sense prevailed and I said no thank you. Besides,  I doubt any sticker-based products would have adhered since I had broken into a panicked sweat. Continue reading

In the Field: Vintage Schooner Wallpaper

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Good design is never out of style (even if it falls out of fashion for a time).  This vintage schooner wallpaper at the summer home of my friend’s in-laws is an example of wallpaper done right (and there is always the scary possibility of it going so terribly, terribly wrong).  The paper looks as crisp as ever, especially paired with the simplicity of the wooden shutters. It reminds me of a great book temporarily in my possession – and currently overdue – from the library called The Lore of Ships.

Published in 1962, it is really quite an incredible book, covering everything from fishing to gunnery to knots to pulleys to figureheads, every tiny detail sketched to schematic perfection.  The book’s design is so aesthetically pleasing, its illustrations (more than 1,500 of them) so dazzling I could hardly take in its wealth of information.  If only I had the patience, and lack of any moral qualms about destroying such an amazing book, I would track down a vintage copy of it and use the pages as wallpaper, a homage to the circa 1960s classic spotted in that summer home.