Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Aren't hands fascinating? You can tell a lot about a person's journey in life by looking at their hands. And isn't it interesting that we all have such unique hands? I can recall the look of my grandparents' and parents' hands almost as well as their faces.

I was so struck with this simple black and white photograph of a hand (a self portrait by John Coplans). I would love to try something similar. Wouldn't this be an especially cool art series? Maybe photograph your child's hand every year on their birthday or something? I'm trying to figure out a good way to photograph Evie's hand before she loses all that gorgeous baby chub. What's better than wrist and knuckle fat rolls?

(Images via this great post at Habitually Chic on Fredrick Malle's apartments. I am CRAZY over his style.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Google, Newspaper Archives, and the Business of Cultural Heritage

Google announced this month that it is ending its ambitious project to digitally archive newspapers. The project to scan the archives of the nation’s newspapers and make them available online as a searchable historical record was announced in 2008 with the level of hubris only found in online enterprises.

"Our objective is to bring all the world's historical newspaper information online,” said Adam Smith, director of product management at Google, announcing the project. Those lofty aims were echoed by Punit Soni, manager of the newspaper initiative: “As we work with more and more publishers, we'll move closer towards our goal of making those billions of pages of newsprint from around the world searchable, discoverable, and accessible online…."Over time, as we scan more articles and our index grows, we'll also start blending these archives into our main search results so that when you search, you'll be searching the full text of these newspapers as well.”

After scanning about 60 million pages and beginning to make them available as full page shots--because costs of disaggregating and indexing were too high and copyright clearances were difficult to obtain for older material—the company announced that it will quit scanning pages, but continue offering the existing pages available on it Google News Archive site. It said it would not invest any new effort to improve indexing or add tools to better search and manage the archive.

The project may have been well-intentioned, but it was not well thought out. It was a free service designed to use the search traffic at the site to raise revenue through advertising Google would put on the site. The scale of the project was enormous and requiring finding, scanning, and indexing thousands of daily and weekly newspapers--many no longer in existence. It would require a long-term commitment of funds, personnel and server capacity to catalogue and scan the material and provide and maintain search functions. The project ultimately incorporated on a fraction of the papers it had hoped to scan, did so spottily in many cases, and its usability was poor because it never mastered the problems of handling so much content. Worse yet, it discovered that history was not a money making business.

The exit announcement is not a surprise and is another sign that players the virtual world are stopping deluding themselves that they are replacing the entire world and that the laws of economics and finance to not apply to them.

As laudable the preservation of newspaper archives might be, expecting it to be completed and maintained by a commercial firm defied sense and historical experience. For centuries, the most important historical records, books, art have been maintain in governmentally and charitably funded collections because commercial enterprises were either unwilling to bear the costs or to allow the large scale efforts required to preserve, catalogue, index, and make available cultural heritage materials distract them from their business activities.

Why would anyone expect Google to act otherwise?

As Google increasingly acts as a mature business it will increasingly shed activities that were launched as goodwill gestures because the costs of their operations reduces the company’s financial performance and will diminish the value of its stock compared to other tech firms. Over time it will be harder for the firm to maintain the stance that it is not self-interested and motivated only by the opportunities to improve the lives of the public by providing access to all the world’s information.

The tentacles of its operations that have reached out into to many fields will increasingly be pulled back if they do not yield financial results. And fears that Google will rule the world will diminish. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other big players of the digital world all have limits, just as did the handful of firms that once controlled steel, oil, and shipping through cartels. At some point even mammoth, wealthy companies do not have the resources and capabilities to keep expanding endlessly and their performance declines, leading shareholders to rein them in and competitors to find opportunities.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Office Chairs

I'm working on getting pictures of my office to share, but I thought you might like to see the desk chairs we decided on in the meantime?

Our new desk is really long (long enough for two large work stations), so I wanted to buy a pair of matching desk chairs. I wanted them to be good looking and super comfortable, so I figured I needed to buy vintage. I scoured craigslist and eBay for a month or two looking for a pair of reasonably priced Miller/Eames aluminum group management chairs. But since I needed two, and I didn't want to buy a new knock-off version, I struck out a lot in my pretty specific search. Most pairs were going to cost at least $1000 or more (no bueno).

Then I saw this gorgeous chair on the One Kings Lane Windsor Smith sale.

It was about $1000 I think, but it had been newly reupholstered (I LOVE the lavender linen!!).

Anyway, it got me to broaden my search parameters to just simply 'vintage office chairs' and that same day I found the perfect chairs for my office space.

They were made mid-century by company called Jansko. They are super comfortable (though I'm sure not as comfortable as the Eames chairs would have been) .

And the price? Only $135 for the pair! I got them from this great eBay seller, who has lots of fun retro/vintage furniture. He shipped them well and fast.

I love the bright blue color! Sort of reminds me of Kate Spade's (much more beautiful) blue leather desk chair.

Happy Memorial Day!! See you next week. xx

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sophisticated Nursery

I get lots of emails asking for boys' room/nursery inspiration. In case you didn't notice, we're sort of lacking in the little boys department at the Komenda household. But if I were to have a little guy, this nursery would definitely be in the inspiration file. I love how sophisticated it is! You can just tell this kid is going to be so cool when he grows up.

Check out the whole room on the great blog, Design Crisis.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gold Hangers

Our closets are getting reorganized this month too. Is it strange that I want all new hangers? The interior of my closet is getting painted a bold color, so I really want hangers in a brass or gold tone, but they need to be slim.


I almost bought these gold hangers from Gracious Home (here's another source). They are heavy gauge aluminum wire - not cheesy dry cleaners hangers. While I'm sure I'd love these forever, they are pricey at about $2 each. Do you know of any good subs?

My friend here in the city swears by the huggable hangers line and says her blouses never slip and she has much more room in her tiny closet now. I like that these ones are in a brass finish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lateral File Tool Storage

Living in an apartment again, with no garage or basement, has reminded me how important it is to have a place for everything. I have a bad habit of small scale organizing - where I organize things sort of wherever they happen to be, rather than designing an organization plan.

We have two areas in our loft mostly dedicated to storage - the pantry and Evie's room. Right after we moved in, I painted out an old bookcase and stuck it in the pantry/laundry room and sort of filled it with whatever had been put in the room during the move.

Somehow all of our tools got put in Evie's room, which is super annoying because I usually need the tools when Evie is napping! I don't know how I lasted this long, but I'm finally get our house really, really organized. I made a game plan last week:

Evie's Room:
Sewing machine and supplies
Musical instruments

Laundry supplies
Cleaning supplies
Accessory kitchen appliances

I want the pantry to sort of act like our garage. I considered getting a big tool box to organize everything, but space is pretty tight. I found a 36" wide lateral file cabinet on Craigslist that I think will work perfectly for tool storage with very easy access. And I like that I can lock the drawers to keep the girls out of the sharp stuff.

Buying a tall file cabinet reminded me of this project from Mary McDonald's office featured in Domino years ago. She photocopied a sample of her favorite wallpaper and had kinkos blow up the image to fit the drawer fronts.

A version of this project could be fun for my cabinet, but I'd maybe go a little more subtle with the pattern.

Monday, May 23, 2011

DIY Sputnik Chandelier

I've always dreamed of having a gorgeous sputnik chandelier, but they are usually on the smaller side and in the many thousands of dollars. I had planned on investing a little bit more of the house budget on the dining area's light fixture because it would be basically the first thing you'd see when walking into our apartment. I wanted big and beautiful.

After deciding to buy the Gossip Girl sconces, I had sort of eaten up my lighting budget and needed to figure out something very inexpensive for the dining room. I thought the ubiquitous IKEA Maskros (which means dandelion in Swedish) might be a good base for a DIY sputnik.

I had some help from my Mom and Dad, who were in town visiting at the time. We busted out the entire project in a night and had the thing hung in the morning. I love projects like that!! (THANKS Mom and Dad! xo)

It's a pretty simple project, with not a lot of tools required. I went with the 32" diameter fixture because we have a big open space, but I would recommend the 22" fixture (which is only $49!) for more traditional rooms.

Like almost all IKEA products, the Maskros comes disassembled. There are, I think, 124 white flowers to attach to long metal rods.

image via HERE

The white, plasticy paper flowers are about 5" wide. This is totally personal preference, but the thing I don't love the most about the Maskros in it's original state is all the shadows the flowers create and I needed this fixture to be a functional light source first and foremost. So I played around a bit with the proportions to shorten the petals and decided I like a 2.5" diameter best.

I used a clear (making it easy to find the center) plastic cup with a 2.5" base to trace a circle on each of the flowers. A little tip: I find that projects with many steps of many multiples are done best and fastest by focusing on one step at a time. I traced all the flowers first. Then I cut all the flowers, etc. Don't get ahead of yourself in the steps for the sake of accuracy and efficiency.

Once the tracing was all finished, I cut down the flowers. Then I pulled out my trusty old quart of Ralph Lauren Regency Metallics in 'Parlor Gold' to paint out the florettes.

If the weather had been better and if I didn't live in NYC, I totally would have spray painted the whole thing using Rustoleum's metallic line in the Brass finish. But, I am actually really happy with the look of the hand painting. It didn't take that long, and I think the end look is a little less flat than spray paint - more mottled, like real gilded metal.

While one side of the florettes was drying, we painted the rest of the fixture, including the arms (below), the cord and the ceiling mount.

Once both sides of the florettes had been painted and the fixture frame had two good coats of paint, we started gluing these adorable little amuse bouche plates on the florettes. I used two boxes for the larger size Maskros.

Fabritac is hands down my favorite adhesive and it worked really well for this project. Super tight hold and a fast drying time. I needed only a small dollop on the bottom of each plate to attach the flower.

We let the glue set up for an hour or so and then we attached the florettes to the stems as they were designed to be attached. There are little prongs (the button looking pieces in the center) that snap the flowers in place on the arms. Grace was in charge of most of the snapping.

We used a fabric roll on two chairs for holding the arms, which worked really well for letting the paint and glue dry.

My super handy dad took care of the electrical aspects and then we all worked together to attach the huge arms to the frame. It was fun to step down from the ladder and take it all in at once!

The large size was just what my dining space needed. And it's so great to have an additional light source above the table. I was surprised at how much it brightened the space - even with just the one bulb.

I love that the plastic plates have that hint of green! I think they really look like glass and the painted paper/plastic actually kind of passes for brass.

It has that Sputnik vibe, but it's definitely doing it's own thing. Not bad, for about $100 in supplies!

I'm so glad we cut down the flowers. It doesn't scream IKEA Maskros this way and the little shadows are actually quite pretty. Sort of like polka dots (I keep thinking of the Kate Spade Twirl bottle!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kitchen Rug

I got the pink and red Persian rug in my kitchen from eSale rugs a couple months ago. I bought it on sale for about $150 (with free shipping!), which I think is a steal.

It's Iranian, only about 60 years old and is in great condition. I love the hot pink and red with the navy!

I've used eSale Rugs a couple times now and I'm a big fan. I think their prices are very fair and the site is easy to navigate. And I love that they include tons of photos with each rug listing, so you really have a sense of what you're buying before it arrives.

Their inventory is VAST, but here are a few rugs that caught my eye today. I usually look for something with at least one pop of usual color. A bonus would be something with great contrast (both black/navy and white/cream):









Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amy Butler's Chandelier

I just finished the coolest DIY project using the IKEA Maskros. I can't wait to share the photos and tutorial with you very soon (probably Monday)!

In the meantime, isn't Amy Butler's gold spray painted version so great? Apartment Therapy did a pretty amazing whole-house tour here.