Friday, April 30, 2010


Can't post much today. Am off to SVA's Design Criticism Conference all day. But here is a little something to enjoy:

click here

(thanks to NK for finding this)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Get Thee Outside

If you happen to be in midtown, check this out.

We can thank Creative Time for another public art experience.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

La mort d'hiver

It’s spring. Sort of. And that means it’s time to retire my fall/winter uniform of the black turtleneck and Levis. And when I say uniform, I pretty much mean 7 days a week, unless we are going out and only then would I switch the Levi’s out for a skirt (usually black). The combo is an absolute classic and it especially works for the out-of-work woman who has no need to think about what she is going to wear everyday.

I think I first fell in love with the black turtleneck when I was in the 6th grade. I had just gotten my black “English Racer” 3-speed bike and I remember thinking I looked pretty cool racing down the street with my wild long blonde hair. (too bad my looks didn’t show up till the 7th grade-in the scene I am evoking, I am just a too tall, skinny, goofy-looking dork).

My personal television style icon was Emma Peel. Her black turtleneck exuded an elegance combined with a stylish toughness. I wanted to be just like her. I totally used that turtleneck to mask my shyness. Probably still do.

When I was in high school, my drama teacher sweetly demanded that I be narrator/stage manager for our production of “Only I Never Saw Another Butterfly” the collection of works of art and poetry by Jewish children who lived in the concentration camp Theresienstadt. I have debilitating stage fright. (you may wonder why I took theater to begin with) I told her that the only way I could do it was if I wore a black turtleneck and remained seated. She said yes. Whew!

(all throughout high school and part of college, I continued to take theater and speech classes so that I might get over my stage fright. never worked)

In film, the black turtleneck is an iconic look that has become almost cliché for the rebel poet outsider. From James Dean to Kevin J. O’Connor’s character in Peggy Sue Got Married. I looked around a lot and couldn’t find a single image of Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey or Neal Cassady in the requisite uniform.

And of course there is the classic tortured artist: Jo Stockton.

No matter, I still like the black turtleneck no matter how pretentious it makes me. Hee.

I expect that, in a few weeks, it will be retired until September. Next quandary: color. Color scares me.

Going outside, there is another sign of the oncoming warmer weather and that is the Deitch Wall on Bowery and Lafayette. Each spring for the last 3 years, we have been graced with public art on that corner, beginning with a reproduction of the Keith Haring that originally appeared on the wall. I look forward to the new murals and hope they continue every year.


(niece, bro/sis-in-law)

('09 brazilian twins Os Gemeos)

(prepping the wall for this year's mural)

('10 Shepard Fairey)

Go there now.

(and thanks go to Banksy for the image at the top of the post)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reddy, Set, Go!

As I may have mentioned, I am obsessed with my kitchen; keeping the space sparse and serene. The obsession doesn’t end there. I cast that eye on just about everything. An environment that is sans clutter makes me happy. I tend to get agitated if there is stuff everywhere. (again, remember that if you mention therapy, I will punch you in the neck)

A key element to a serene environment is lighting. In fact I believe it is the most important element.

All our overhead lighting and floor lamps are on dimmers. I keep a healthy supply of 25-watt bulbs on hand for table lamps. My insistence on good lighting flows over to any place at which we might spend more than 30 minutes.

There is a restaurant in the East Village called “Hearth” which had fine enough food and the service was good but the lighting was too bright. We won’t be back.

(it seems this pic makes me out to be a liar but trust me when we were there, it was way harsh).

The lighting in 5 Points on Great Jones Street is inviting and cozy (a word I will do fair battle with later). They have an understanding of the dimmer switch. Apologies for the lack of an interior pic. We are big fans of the Meyer/Freeman endeavors.

The natural light that pours into Noho Star on Lafayette makes the experience during breakfast and lunch just so wonderful but they haven’t figured out how to maintain the feeling after the sun goes down. In fact this shot could make one wonder how in the world such a place is remotely acceptable even during the day. But the nat light makes this one of the best breakfast/lunch meeting places in the city.

Pleasant lighting is what gives a room its calm. There are certain spaces, that by the nature of their purpose, should give better thought to lighting design. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are places that frequently have anxiety and fear associated with them. These places, above all, should have better lighting.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Yesterday my friend, AS, and I went to the Cooper Hewett Design Musuem which had free admission. To the gift shop and the garden.

So we went to the gift shop and I bought these:

The toys (which are for adults only cuz they can cause, oh, uh, death if swallowed) are called buckyballs named after a carbon molecule called a fullerine.

The spherical fullerines are called buckyballs as well

because they resemble the geodesic dome designed by R. Buckminster Fuller.

Like many things from the 70’s (fern plants, elephant bells, Kurt Vonnegut),

the geodesic dome house was a good idea for that era alone. I have to admit it is iconic but mostly as one of the symbols of the time. Few symbols of any decade remain timeless and that’s ok. I like it that a decade gets to own certain images and ideas.

But the symbols, articles and artifacts that do remain timeless become even more robust as they age.

However, if you take an idea and imagine it differently you can have a toy or a bracelet.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There is no spoon.

I had some wonderful responses to the last WTF post, enough to keep a kitchen conversation going for quite some time. I love the passion with which people can talk about their kitchens and the stuff in them.

I can trace my passion back quite a few years. The cooking revolution began in our house when my brother liberated the 4 of us. Both my parents worked and JW pointed out that mom kept working when she came home from work. We were rather mortified when we realized the unfairness of this and all of a sudden mom got more help than she could have wished for (well, once we got past the learning curve; yes, there really is a magic to housewifery).

Dad bought French and Japanese cookbooks, then sought out the various tools, pans and gadgets required by the recipes. Cooking became a family affair, a new social construct in the Weiser household. It lost its functional drudgery, it became fun. Maybe that’s where my love for the perfect tool, pan and gadget began as well as my interest in cooking. That and trying to replicate restaurant recipes.

But back to the solution to the wooden spoon holder.

ML suggested “maybe an interesting white vase? Adler maybe?? think of something out of the ordinary not usually used for this purpose.”

AS thought “Jonathan Adler has white lacquer bath accessories- I wonder if one of them would be big enough for a spoon holder? OR- what if you got a clear glass vase and painted the inside white- taking DD's idea for the backsplash?”

As Jonathan Adler has a fairly sizable presence in the apt and country house, this is definitely the way to go.

SB said” i'd recommend a le creuset white stoneware container - or better yet, keep the few wooden spoons in a drawer and replace the rest of your utensils w/ rosle stainless steel ones and get a rosle wall-mounted (or inner cabinet mounted) bar. rosle makes the rolls-royce of utensils - best garlic press ever and gravity-activated tongs.”

I believe that LM found the perfect solution (also from Jonathan Adler) but I don’t know if I have the guts to do it.


Then, when I threatened to get drunk and paint the backsplash LM said "now dear, don’t do anything rash. put down the wine and step away from the backsplash.

embrace the cozy! the vag vase will give it some edge."

Over the next week or so, I intend to look into SB’s Rosle vs. everything else POV. I have quite a few of their whisks because I was drawn to their design. Will head over to Broadway Panhandler and Sur La Table to do some investigating.


Monday, April 19, 2010

WTF: why am I so obsessed with my kitchen?

I need some help here. I am trying to maintain the sparse/clean look in my kitchen but acknowledge that there are some things that need to stay on the countertop.

A little background: we just renovated the common areas of our house: kitchen, living room, dining room and somewhat, the guest bedrooms. Our friend and architect, DD, gave us lots of white, clean lines. Everything was perfection until we moved in. Ok it’s not so bad, it is nearly perfection now, which is why I am obsessed with keeping it that way.

We threw away our microwave because it looked terrible on the counter. I refused to give up valuable cabinet space to house it unseen.

Our Nespresso coffee maker is a sleek white and chrome number. We shelved the Hello Kitty toaster only because it made just 2 slices at a time. Now we have a brushed steel toaster that I am still considering hiding in the pantry/laundry room until we need it.

Then disaster struck. We (I) decided to match the backsplash to the tile on the floor. It really is lovely and very light. But my stark white kitchen is gone. It has gone from white and angular to, ugh, “cozy”. I was inconsolable. And I am not exaggerating. We used white grout, which helped but definitely not enough for my liking. LM, MM, and NK really like it and want me to get over it. I have to cuz it was stupidly expensive.

(DD said it would have been nice to use clear glass that was painted white on the backside. That would have been soooooo beautiful)

The only thing I can think to do now is make sure that everything on top of the counter is as white as possible. Hmmmm do they make white lacquer toasters?

Does anyone have a suggestion for the wooden spoon holder? I just bought a clear plexi one from the Container Store but because it is clear, you can see the entire length of the wood, hereby warming the kitchen up even more. I need this element to help hide the mistake that is the backsplash and help return the kitchen to its intended style.

And if anyone suggests therapy I will punch you in the neck.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The E-Conversation

(photo courtesy of the "Slash" exhibit via AM)

Nearly everyone has an opinion about the e-reader and most are rather passionate about it. I expect New Yorkers are going to have a unique perspective because of storage issues. Few people have the luxury to house the books they might want to collect.

Having read quite a few opinions about e-readers (and I never know if these people are just cranks or naysayers), I thought I should poll friends of mine, who are neither cranks nor naysayers.

From DM: “am anti-e-reader. I like holding a book. That said, if I was a commuter (from the burbs) I would definitely get one.... just to have the ability to flip back and forth between books and mags.”

From LO: "I don’t have an e-reader and I don’t think I want one. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I also get most of my books through the library. is one of the best websites I have ever used. You order books on-line, they send the books to your nearest branch (one just opened up two blocks from my apartment), they send you a notice that the book is ready to be picked up, and you pick it up. Just genius. Good tax dollars at work!

I travel a lot and so an e-reader seems like I would be the ideal candidate but I’m not interested. I stare at a computer all day; I don’t want to have to stare at one in my free time. I like electronic gadgets but I like the feel of a hardcover or paperback in my hands. A good time would be to sit on the beach with a cocktail in one hand and an e-reader in my other? Doesn’t work. You sit at the beach with a cocktail in one hand and a book. You sit by the fireplace with a cocktail and a book. Call me old fashion, or screw that, make me an Old Fashion and give me a book!"

I doubt, though, that any of us expected the iPad to be able to do this:

Hee!(thanks to NK for finding)

From MR: "I have a kindle and I love it, I think its brilliant, I have books "stacked up" in my read list because they are so easy to download, I pre-order books, I actually forgot that I bought a couple things maybe that's dangerous. But I think its great; you can change the size of the type, which is great when I forget my glasses.

When I first got it though I kept reaching out to flip the page! Took a bit to get used to but now I like it - not for reference books though, or for anything you need to study, even though you can underline and take notes, I think it would be so much easier to mark a page and refer back to it, vs. doing an electric search for a term. But for novels, I think it is fantastic."

While I expect to continue buying real books and hope to buy the second generation of the iPad, I am concerned about book culture. Will book stores go the way of record stores? What about libraries? Even though I frequent Amazon all too often, these institutions comfort me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

There's a Gadget for That: the iPad

Update: Does the iPad pass the all-important canine/feline/baby test?

oh, what do corgies know? (and thanks to NK for finding these)

I want one. I really do. I don’t need one. I just want one.

I have no problem admitting that I love all things Apple. First and foremost, it is about the design of all their products. So much has been said about the design that I need not add my 2 cents. Function follows form in my attraction to their products but function wins out when I buy.

As most of my friends know, I am an avid reader. I love my books. I love my library. I enjoy looking at the old titles on my shelves. I treasure them because they are old friends. I enjoy the physicality of them. As every book lover will tell you, we enjoy holding the book and turning the pages. That will never change.

I also own more than I will be able to read in a lifetime. Ok that’s not entirely true. If I were stranded on a desert island with all my books and live until I am 100 years old, I could finish them. Given the sheer number, you can guess that we are surrounded by them. And that makes me very happy. Every single title, with hope, will transport me, challenge me, disturb me, delight me.

(the books pictured represent a fraction of the library. and yes, that is a stuffed squirrel facing down a ceramic Jonathan Adler squirrel)

So there is the internal/mental satisfaction I get from reading. And then there is also the physical act of it.

When NK and I go on vacation I always bring too many books. Not that I expect to read them all, I just know that what I am in the mood to read in the city will be different than what I am in the mood to read when we are in the Caribbean or in Italy. So I tend to bring 6 or 7 books, each ranging from 200-350 pgs.

Ok obvious transition to why I need the iPad. But just want to say one more thing about the physicality of reading. I love the way my Apple products look and feel. I enjoy holding my phone, changing songs on my nano, tapping away on the MacBook Pro. I held a Kindle and thought it felt comfortable. I think I really will enjoy holding the iPad. NK?

For me there isn't an issue of either/or. I often have to search for different editions of the same book if the first one I pick up has an ugly typeface or that the contrast between the dark lettering and the white page is too pronounced. The iPad won’t have that problem. I know I have room for both the physical book and the electronic book in my life. The circumstances under which I will be reading will end up dictating which format I choose. As soon as I get one. Hee.

Just to continue the conversation, I polled a few avid readers for their opinions and will publish those findings in a later post.

Monday, April 12, 2010

MoMa's Virtual Aquisition

Recently MoMa added the @ symbol to their permanent collection and I absolutely love the idea of adding something they can’t own. Not only are they adding something that is well designed: it is simple, clean, works very hard with a minimum of effort; they are adding an idea, a concept to their collection.

By doing so, there is no inside or outside of any sort of box type thinking. There is just no box. Only thinking.

I think I will put it in our permanent collection too. Hee.

For the full article click here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Perfect White Shirt: part 2

I am not the best of closet organizers but at least I do keep all my white shirts together. I have a lot of favorites such as a sleeveless peasant-ish Marc Jacobs and a Gucci halter-top. I have a beautiful, very fitted Anne Fontaine top but the color has dulled due to much dry cleaning. It looks like a trip to her store is in order soon. Hee!

But my perfect white shirt is made by Etro. Strangely I wear all my other white shirts far more frequently because I feel the need to save the Etro for a special occasion. I tend to wear it when I need to feel confident, polished, put together.

It is 100% cotton and of the poplin family rather than the oxford family. If I knew more about shirts, I imagine that thread count might be a factor in its perfection. It feels amazing on. So soft and yet so structured. It has darts and is fitted perfectly. The cuffs are crisp and the collar stands stiff and tall. There are no design flourishes and from a distance it looks like a normal shirt but you can tell there is something different about it because every time I wear it I am complimented on it. It is classic and simple.

(This weekend I intend to take a page out of Carolina Herrera’s book and wear my PWS with a very fully pleated floor length Yohji Yamamoto black skirt to a black tie wedding. Thanks, Carolina!)

When I asked several friends to tell me what they look for in a PWS, all took the question very seriously. It is a serious matter. The boys are as equally passionate as the girls.

Across the board, collar and cuffs that hold their shape are the most important detail. Z.A. likes hers a tad see-through: “nothing sexier than a black bra under a beautiful white shirt”. T.K. likes his shirt opaque but the fabric cannot be heavy. He feels that the custom shirt is the only guarantee for the perfect fit. For L.O. it’s a classic white button-down 100% cotton shirt with bigger than average, stiff, crisp collar and cuffs. It’s form fitting but not tight. It’s very white.

L. B. likes the Thomas Pink shirts with French cuffs.

M.C. is looking for "sleeves that can roll or be pushed up without looking sloppy, a collar that's neither too big nor too small, a middle button that's not too low so I feel forced to be buttoned too high and the way in which the collar parts". J.T. looks for design details that set it apart.

Theory makes a nice fitted shirt at a comfortable price point but it relies too much on synthetic fabrics to keep the shape.

Banana Republic also makes a nice shirt at a good price point but it doesn’t keep its shape very long. Boo.

Some friends commented on the first PWS post and I want to share. Most have a renewed commitment to finding one. And this, so true, from AT: To me the crisp white shirt signals luxury: the person wearing this either has enough time to launder it, or she has enough money to have it washed and pressed every time she wears it! I'm always envious of white shirt wearers.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Use Your Good Stuff: the china syndrome

Good design attracts us. We may not know why we like something, we rarely explore the why. We are simply attracted. We can hold an object, look at a wonderful building, appreciate a handsome pair of shoes. It just makes us feel good. We like that someone thought of it.

With that in mind, we owe it to ourselves to do our best to surround ourselves with things that attract us, things that make us feel good.

At a certain point in my adult life, I acquired a set of “everyday” dishes and a set of “good” china, everyday and good silverware, everyday and good glassware/crystal. Like most others in the same predicament, I saved the good stuff for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Not sure exactly when that changed. Maybe when I started using my Waterford crystal every time we had wine (ok, every night). Then I brought out the china and started using it for every meal. We either donated the everyday stuff to younger family members or to a local church. The good china is so lovely to look at and it definitely made the food taste better. Or maybe it was the wine. I hope it makes our guests feel a little more special too.

I also started acquiring various sets of china and glassware. In the city we use my mother’s Minton Japonica pattern as well as NK’s aunt’s china.

We use the silver plate flatware from my practice marriage because the knives from my grandmother’s silver feel weird. The silver plate isn’t holding up so well and I have a feeling it will get donated soon. Or perhaps Ebayed in exchange for some good sterling. Hmmm just checked on some patterns so that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. This was my mother's pattern, someday I'll see about collecting it.

Out in the country, we have more fun. Am using my Minton Consort for breakfast, which NK discovered has gold around the rim after putting a plate in the microwave. Hee!

Robert Lee Morris’s Camelot; an incredible white plate with iconic gold crosses which we use for dinner and a fun new graffiti set that we use for lunch. No real reason to separate the patterns into specific meals, just making sure we use them all.

Have also bought some random fun pieces like these:

These are fun for mixing it up. I hope to acquire some random Hermes plates at some point. Hee!