Archive for December 2009

Have a rockin’ holiday

December 25, 2009


Wishing you and your family as much happiness as Christopher experienced with his brand new rocking chair way back in 1960

Merry Christmas from The Design Brothers
—Christopher and Greg

Glam Giving

December 18, 2009

Maybe as we get older it seems the holidays come faster and faster each year. That means more gift-giving at an accelerated pace. Every year we both struggle with what to give friends, family and clients. This year Greg decided to give all of his clients a gift from the past. After all.. the green revolution applauds recycling, reusing and re-purposing… making vintage items not only an eco-friendly option, but also a fun, unique and thoughtful way to say Happy Holidays.

Vintage is Cool!

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A collection of vintage glasses Greg found along with a set of Christopher’s number glasses. Who gets what??
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This years’ gift of choice are chic and glam vintage glasses that Greg found at antique stores through-out Chicago and its’ neighboring suburbs. His choices were inspired by the color schemes or recurring themes in clients homes. This year he thinks he found appropriate and perfect gifts for his long client list.


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Silver and blue The perfect combination for a specific clients home.
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Finding interesting gifts just takes a little creativity and imagination. When gift giving Greg always thinks first of something that he would love to receive. Of course you have to think about the person that you are buying for. Greg tries to imagine the receiver’s favorite color, their personality and their sense of style (are they more casual, traditional, modern, etc.). He then searches out the thrift shops, consignment stores, antique malls, yard sales and estate sales in town. These are the best places to do your vintage holiday shopping. Greg looks for unusual items with a bit of sparkle. What a fun way to shop!

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The purple glasses and old fashioned shaker are another beautiful gift. The vintage tray was a find that Greg is keeping for himself.
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Gift giving should never be a chore. After all, we are giving a gift to let people know how much they mean to us, so it should be a fun experience. As children, our Grandmother Jagmin would shop all year to find deals, and by Christmas, she would have a room stockpiled with gifts galore. We would always laugh afterwards because the gifts never fit, or were so out of style or season by the time we actually were given the gifts. It was the thought that mattered. She really tried, but we’ve learned that sometimes bargains are not necessarily worth it all.


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Green and gold Festive not only for the holiday season but all year round.
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For all of you last minute shoppers out there turn on your creativity and think re-purpose while you are shopping. Vintage jewelry, scarves, even ashtrays (although not very PC) are always appreciated, but remember have fun doing it, you will be glad you did.

Happy Holidays from the Design Brothers!
—Greg and Christopher

Keeping it simple

December 11, 2009

Earlier this year, some of the graduate students at ASU’s School of Art were holding a sale of the artist’s works outside one of the art buildings on campus, and Christopher decided to go check it out.

Some of the artists were just trying to make some quick cash, and some were just trying to get rid of some items to make room for more work to come. No matter what their intent, the work was great, and bargains and inspiration were plentiful. Needless to say, Christopher came home with an armload of goods. He especially loved some hand-made bowls so much, that he purchased a few of them.

A couple of weeks ago, Christopher introduced our readers to the Eye Lounge Gallery. Well, this week he wanted to introduce Jana Evans, the artist of those bowls that Christopher purchased. After that sale at ASU, Jana actually applied for membership to the Eye Lounge cooperative. She was accepted, and now is a member with a show already under her belt.

At that show (where Christopher bought a few more bowls, by the way) she spoke about her love of hand-made things, ceramics, and her time at Penland School of Crafts. It was really exciting to hear about her time there and how it changed her perception of art. It made me want to hear more about her work and journey.

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Young Jana self-face painting
Even from an early age she liked to get dirty, it is no surprise that her passion is playing with mud and clay!

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Christopher: What do you enjoy about what you do?

Jana: I feel like we are entering a new era where people are valuing home-baked, home grown and handmade items. I would like to contribute to this revival with pottery. I love the idea of someone using my pitcher for lemonade and serving food out of my bowls for a regular night in or hosting a party.


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Jana’s recent work includes a few of the teapots that we are showing throughout this blog.

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When I first started, one of my friends gave her niece a cup when she was 4. Now she is fourteen and still drinking out of the same cup. The entire family has their own cup! I love the idea that my work can become part of a routine and after years… every mark on it tells a story.

C: It sounds like you value traditions and a kind of return to a simple life. Do you know where that comes from?

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Fun times in the summer time at Jana’s [2] grandparents house with her brother, David [1], and her sister, Alana [3].
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J: We lived in California and most summers we would drive as a family (in our “Starship LeSabre”) up the coast to visit our grandparents in rural Eastern Washington. My mom’s family had a farm with an apple orchard, and in the summers I was introduced to morning chores like gathering eggs, putting out feed and calling in the horses. Summers on the farm were full of potlucks and extended family.

C: It sounds so idyllic. Did anyone in particular inspire you?

J: My Grandma Bessie has inspired me. She has lived in a small town all her life. She married my Grandpa Chet who never graduated high school and started as an auto mechanic. He eventually owned his own service station and raised three kids, my dad being the youngest.

Once the kids were graduated from high school, my grandma went back to school and became an English teacher. She had a long career as a teacher, and would always encourage my brother and sister and I to read when we visited. She used to tell us as kids when we wanted to watch TV because we were bored, “only boring people can be bored!” Then she would hand us a book or go tell us to play outside.

She also introduced us to the New Yorker (magazine) and poetry. She still sends me her copies of the New Yorker when she is done with them. When her husband became ill, she took care of him full time. When he passed away, she started taking yoga and eating out. She even traveled to Japan with the rest of my family when my brother, who lives in Tokyo, married. It was her first time out of the states. Grandma Bessie turned 90 in September.

C: Happy Birthday, Bessie!

C: So, when did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?

J: I remember being in third grade and the class had a choice, write a book report or make a diorama. I finally felt like I would be able to explain the book I read in a diorama.

When there were art projects or “alternative” projects, I would pour much more attention into the project. I always enjoyed my art classes and when I started to take art classes for electives, my father, an electrical engineer, struck a deal with me; for every art class I take, I have to take a math or science class.

At a certain point we both realized that I was an art major almost with an engineering minor. After a few years my Dad told me the deal was off, it seemed like I had convinced him and that convinced me. I was just taking classes I liked, not planning a career.

C: Now here you are in graduate school. And, before that you were at Penland. It would be great to hear how you got there, and what that school was all about.

J: When I graduated from undergraduate school, I felt like going to graduate school was the next step. At this point I was making ceramic sculpture combining wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques. I loved making the work, and it felt honest and mature. Well, I talked to my professor about good grad school programs for ceramics and getting my portfolio together. His advice, “why rush the real world? Just take some time, find a place to make work and explore. The grad schools will still be there!”

After researching, I decided Penland (where he taught a bit) looked perfect— and as a graduation gift, my parents helped me go to there.

The only ceramic clay being offered at Penland was a throwing class making functional pottery. I figured I would be using the material I loved and a process I liked… so for the class why not work on functional pottery. So I packed my car with tools and hit the road from Dallas to North Carolina. It didn’t dawn on me until I was half way through Tennessee just how far away I was going and how far away everything I knew and was comfortable with was.

It was scary to be 22 and just now leaving the comforts of home. But, when I took a turn up a gravel hill towards Penland it all suddenly felt comfortable. It partly reminded my of summers at my grandparents farm in Washington State, it all seemed alright.

C: What was your perception when you got there?

J: Penland was my first experience where almost everything was handmade. It was handmade out of necessity. Locals brought timbers to make buildings. The foundation of the school is generosity of neighbors and hard work. The school is a non-profit organization, and improvements to the campus generally come from volunteer efforts and donated supplies.

Meals were all prepared by work-study students. They had a buffet with offerings out of hand-blown glass or handmade ceramic serving dishes. Fixtures in the bathrooms and doors are made of hand-forged metal. Many of the stools or chairs in classrooms, dining hall or rocking chairs on porches are hand-repaired, handmade or both.

C: It sounds almost like a community.

J: My first time to Penland I was work-study and I worked in the dish room. This was hard work but didn’t matter, it was fun working hard with people from my class and other classes. This was a place where there was true camaraderie. Many of the students are the sort that look different from the average public and often get looked at for hair color, piercings, or vibrant clothes. Here everyone was normal and accepting, I made acting like yourself feel like a good thing… Something I lose track of when I stay away too long.

C: So what’s next?

I became a member of the Eye Lounge, and I had my first show there in July. Right now I am gearing up for my final year of graduate school, culminating in a thesis show for my Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramics. My show is in March and I am busy making work for and taking care of the details. It will be a fun event where the audience interacts with the work! Everyone is welcome to come!

My show is in March 2010 so I am working on a few new ideas but mostly refining ideas and forms. The Ceramic Research Center also organizes a weekend open studio tour of area ceramicists. The graduate ceramic studios are included in this. It’s a fun event with live demonstrations and something I’ve come to really enjoy being apart of!

Until next week
— Christopher and Greg

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Design Brothers this week Christopher’s silhouette plates can now be found in New York City’s East Village at Lancelotti Housewares.
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Hand made

December 4, 2009

We think that our creativity was born from our mother’s design sense, fashion sense and some might say general eccentric nature. Our family is full of small creative genius moments, and we point the finger towards our mom.

Growing up we never were quite sure how the house would be re-arranged (not only was furniture arranged differently, but whole rooms could be moved into an entirely different part of the house). She painted rooms often, made homemade Christmas decorations every year, and had a wonderfully green thumb. She always has promoted all of our creative endeavors, and always encouraged us to follow our muse.

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Our mother, and her companion, Rollie this Thanksgiving at Christopher’s home.
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With all of this creativity around us, it is no surprise that as kids we were always drawing, painting and creating when ever we could. They say that creativity is attracted to creativity, or at least inspires it. We agree. That in fact was one of the reasons we started this very blog… to inspire our readers.

The most recent addition to our family is our mothers companion Rollie. He was a farmer all of his life, but also is an avid wood worker. We like to think that our mother has inspired his most recent projects.


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If you didn’t notice, Rollie has a distinctive mustache. It has become his trademark, and he uses the image to sign his pieces.
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Rollie has carved hand-made wood pens, as well as miniature pieces of wooden fruit which he gives to anyone who has an interest (And we all love them!). Our mother often paints them… or at least is sure to put her two cents worth into how they should be finished. He has made the cane our mother now uses to help her get around. He has made stools and tables that Christopher cherishes. In addition, the chimes from the dozen or so clocks he has made, ring through his Richmond home every hour. Rollie, shows no sign of giving up on his mission to create… even though he has incredibly painful rheumatoid arthritis. Amazing!


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Oops! This sign is in his home workshop, and uses the word a lot when he makes things… he also may throw the piece across the room when he goofs it up.
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Just some of the ornaments that he made as gifts for all of us. He may make a hundred or so to keep busy.
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Carved and painted While in Phoenix at Christopher’s home, Rollie made these butterfly ornaments. He was never bored!
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A rare site Rollie at home in Richmond, Virgina.
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With the holidays upon we would be remiss if we did not thank our mother for her inspiration and support, in good times and in bad. She has proven to be Rollie’s muse, and in essence has been ours as well, and for that we are truly grateful.

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Design Brothers This week: Christopher’s painting show “Up in the Air” continues at the Eye Lounge Gallery in Phoenix. Christopher is at “Crafeteria” tonight selling new hand-painted plates, along with one-of-a-kind artwork.
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