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Sunday, November 26, 2006


Never judge a person until you've blogged two weeks in her shoes... I didn't know what to expect when I agreed to blog here for two weeks, but it has been an adventure and has taken over my life! I didn't know how Grace found the time to do so much in her life, and I *really* don't know how she does it now! I do hope, though, that you saw at least one thing you liked, or were able to identify with something that any one of the interviewees said.

Gigantic and most sincere thanks to all of the people who participated!

Last, Lena Corwin answered her own interview questions at the beginning of her two weeks, and I thought I'd close my two weeks by answering my own questions (based on the time I spent as a partner in a design studio+artists workshop).

Happy holidays!

Sketch something you remember from your childhood.


When my father was cleaning the house, he found this finger painting I did when I was about three… I still remember the smell of the paint and how it felt under my fingers, and I even remember bringing it home!

If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change.
My undergraduate education. It was one of the most agonizing decisions I've made in life, and it's the one from which I continue to reap rewards.

The best business advice you've been given.
If someone is afraid to commit in writing (a proper contract), it’s not worth doing business with them.

As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship.
Never under estimate the common sense solution. I also agree very much with what Maarten Baas said earlier, “Among the many other ‘truths’, there’s your ‘truth’. That’s the one to explore.

In a design studio, money invested in ____ is always well spent.
Good photography. And, if you have print materials of any kind (press kit, business cards, whatever), invest in the highest quality paper and best workmanship you can afford, or don’t have anything at all (put it on a CD). Even if it turns out to be expensive, consider it the cost of doing business. These are the things that will stay in someone’s hands or office when you’re gone or were never there and unable to present yourself and your product.

Montezuma's Chocolate

On my way back from meeting with Jonathan Levien and Nipa Doshi, I couldn't resist the temptation of stopping in the Montezuma's chocolate store in Spitalfields (right next to the market) to pick up a few gifts for my husband, an incurable chocoholic. There are no traces of the bar chocolate I brought back but there is still a tiny bit of this spicy drinking chocolate left. The truth is that I am not sure he got to taste very much of it because I drank it all. Unlike many other drinking chocolates which are just powder, this one also has flakes of chocolate mixed with red pepper. If you don't like the spicy kick, there are three other kinds, including with white chocolate! The cannisters make great gifts, or just give a box full of assorted gifts, no one will waste any time looking at the packaging! Organic, gluten free and handmade in Sussex.


Affordable Art - Public Service Announcements

I hope I don't draw fire for this, but sometimes I think that some of the best artwork you can find around is supplied by the city government! I took this "Operation Clean Forest" poster from a telephone pole in Camigliatello in the Sila mountains in Calabria ten years ago (it was the only one around and just put up with thumbtacks!!!). I kept it on my wall with thumbtacks, exactly as I found it, until I decided earlier this spring that it would be better to frame it. I have always wondered why the little porcupine didn't use his quills to speed up his work...

If you see a poster around that you like, try asking the local office responsible for the poster how you can get one... Or if it's just hanging there with thumbtacks, uh...



Another fun interview for the weekend...


Name: Todfield Crash (BKA "Crash!")
Breed: Border Terrier
Birthplace/Date of Adoption: 07 January 1998 in Manassas, Virginia. I arrived in my current home on 20 March 1998.
Average hours of sleep per day: I’m not too good at counting, but I think half the day. How many is that?
Sun or Shade: Sun.

Favorite piece of furniture. I like to sleep in the corner of the arm of the sofa the most. No one is allowed to sit there when I’m around. And if they do, they have to share with me.

Your first crush. Pippi, a beautiful Fox Terrier. Or was it Baba...a cute little MinPin who taught me how to use the bathroom while walking on my two front legs...(she used to raise herself off the ground while still squatting!)

One food you never want to find on your plate. Arugula.

It might make you sound like a wimp, but you’re really scared of… The noise a broom makes!!

Film or TV program you could watch over and over. Good Boy! The main character “Hubble” is a Border Terrier, like me, and he was the leader of the pack and all the other dogs thought he was the smartest and wisest dog ever. I’d like to be like him someday.

Bouroullecs for Charity

Keeping with the sketch theme, the Bouroullec studio was nice enough to share some sketches which the brothers did for charity, which I thought would be nice to post here on my last day of guestblogging!


étincelle (erwan bouroullec)

Saturday, November 25, 2006


There are so many things in the Plümo catalogue which I think are neat. I usually use my mantel as a place for post cards, but it tends to look messy, as you can see in the fireplace picture in a previous post. I thought this was a nice idea: a heart-shaped card holder!


etc. creations - splurge!

In addition to tableware, I also really love chairs. I was very happy to receive these images the other day! Neo-retro is the word Magali Jeambrun uses to describe her design style for etc. creations. I like even more that the chair frames are handmade in a workshop in France!! In addition to the pieces in her catalogue, she also has some one-off pieces. I think a one-off chair by Magali would definitely be a great splurge gift!! And maybe, just maybe you might be able to convince her to do a custom-designed chair?

Pink Paradise

SFpinkParadise copie

Capiton Bleu et Rose

Capiton bleu et rose

Mise en Nue Blanche

BF Mise a Nue blanche


OK, so I have presented these weeks some design, some food, and well...here's the rest! (dysfunction!) I found a couple of other personalities willing to interview... just for some weekend fun before I say bye on Sunday. I hope you like him.


Name: Pixel Wong Jackson
Breed: Boston Terrier
Birthplace/Date of Adoption: May 2001 in Cottonwood, California.
Average hours of sleep per day: Probably at least 16-20 hours. I’m so lucky!
Sun or Shade: Lots of sun!

Favorite piece of furniture. Wherever the sun lands, you’ll find me lying there. Sometimes it’s the top of the couch, sometimes it’s the bed, and sometimes there’s a sliver of sun peeking through the shades on the carpet.

Your first crush. Bucket… until I found out she was my sister.

One food you never want to find on your plate.

It might make you sound like a wimp, but you’re really scared of…
Bushes cut in the shape of animals or other shapes.

Film or TV program you could watch over and over.
I love the Frontline flea control commercial with the pug vs. the boston terrier. And guess who wins?!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thorsten van Elten

I saw his stand at Super Studio Piu` in Milan this Spring and didn't realize until much later that Thorsten van Elten was actually a real person, and an extremely nice one at that! He's another one of my favorites, and I couldn't do two weeks worth of interviews in the design field without calling upon Thorsten van Elten, someone who is behind designers, but not a designer himself. His story is simple: After working for so long in design, he became frustrated at the amount of design talent he saw out there but the lack of manufacturing facilities. He put together a team of a few young-London based designers and went to work. His first fair was 100% design in 2002. In 2004, he opened his own shop in London where he sells the Thorsten van Elten brand including lighting, furniture, home accessories, and clothing and other products for which he is distributor. Look for TVE in Milan in the Spring! (Photo of Thorsten by Jefferson Smith)


A snapshot of your favorite artwork.


1972 Munich Olympic Games Poster

If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change about Thorsten van Elten.
I don’t think I would want to change anything at all. But I definitely wouldn’t have wanted my parents to give me a different name!!

The best business advice you've been given.
Ha ha, like I would ever listen to anyone else!

As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship.
It’s important not take ourselves too seriously and to be able to hold a conversation about other things than just Design.

In a design studio money invested in a good coffee machine and some good coffee is always well spent!!

Visit the Thorsten van Elten website to view the new 2006/7 catalogue.

From his portfolio:

Screwhead and dovetail tape by Sam Johnson and Richard Shed

screwhead_dovetail tape

Sweet Talker sugar shaker by Camila Prada


Pigeon Light by Ed Carpenter


USB Memory Stick by Guido Ooms


Plant Cup
by Gitta Gschwendtner


van Amburgh stackable stool or side table by Sam Johnson

van amburg

Maryink Aprons

I got an email from Mary at maryink the other day and I really liked what she was presenting! Whether you're dog grooming, crafting, gardening, in the kitchen, or just need to protect your clothes, it's always nice when you can do it in style! Maryink's brand new aprons (so new that they aren't yet on the website!) come in lots of her t-shirt prints- tiny town, sewing machine, owl, superbirds, dreamy forest, sparkly kitty, and more. They are $24, including shipping. All hand printed. Custom aprons available. For information contact Mary through maryink.



And for deer lovers, a new Maryink t-shirt:

More tableware...

Ok, so I'm a sucker for serving dishes and plates! I admit it! And between this post and all of the previous posts on design*sponge on Rosanna Bowles, I think we've got her entire collection covered!! These are all good affordable gifts for yourself and a good friend (because you won't be able to part with them so you'll end up buying two)!

Twelve Days of Christmas Dessert Plates by Rosanna Bowles. (Unfortunately they are sold out and won't be available til August 2007, so you can get a head start on next year!!)


Wine Tasting


Ladies Who Lunch cup and saucer set for two


Cupcake dessert plates

cupcake lg

UK-based mail order catalogue Plümo also has some great items, like this Tea set:


and this Cake stand and the silver forks



Grace mentioned she'd be looking for DIY ideas, and I have one which admittedly isn't my own. (Thanks Martha!) For the past five years, around Christmas I turn my kitchen into a bakery for a week or so, every counter stacked with cake stands, trays, plates full of cakes, cookies, brownies, etc. I make sampler boxes with nice tissue paper and food wrappers and tie it all with ribbon. The easiest place I've found for monogrammed boxes is Williams-Sonoma and Treenway Silks in Canada for silk ribbons for the extra special box, or any crafting store for other types of ribbon, tissue paper, and paper baking cups. Although I'm not crazy about the WS Christmas prints, they offer various colors and patterns, like pastels and occasionally toile, throughout the year. This takes a lot of time, but it's fun and people love it! It's also nice to present as a gift to hosts of parties during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Pictured below, a box full of cherry almond chocolate chip cookies.


Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Bliss cookie by Christine Lee

  • 2.5 sticks butter, unsalted and softened (10 oz/280g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 8 oz/225g whole or sliced almonds
  • 4.5 cups (610g/21.8 oz) all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups (12 oz/330g) chocolate chips
  • 1.5 cups (8 oz/ 225g) dried pitted cherries, such as Montmorency

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grind almonds in a food processor until fine (should yield approximately 2 cups of ground almonds). Set almonds aside. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add eggs and beat to combine. Beat in almond extract. Add flour mixture and ground almonds and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Use a #20 scoop to portion out dough (if you don’t have the scoop, make balls containing a little over 3 tablespoons of dough-about the size of a golf ball) and place 3 inches apart on ungreased nonstick cookie sheet. Use your fingers to flatten down dough to the height of a half an inch. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.

Cool on pan for five minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yields 24-36 cookies.

Baker’s note: Use regular sized chocolate chips to get a full chocolate burst in each bite.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jeremy Cole

[Unfortunately this post was removed at the request of Mr. Cole's office. They were uncomfortable with the personal criticism that they received in one comment below the post (In which Mr. Cole was called "rude" by a reader) and asked that it be removed. I personally feel that hearing opinions that you may not like is part of being someone in the public eye but I did not want to damage Kristina's relationship with any designer or studio. Had this been my post on the main site I would have left it up as I feel that opinions should be shared freely. But rather than delete someone's comment (which I would never do unless profanity was contained within) I decided it would only be fair to delete the post if they were that uncomfortable with it.

As a side note- I've had a number of things said about me personally all over the web (far worse things that being called "rude") and feel that taking criticism (true or not) is part of being in this industry. I apologize to Kristina for having to remove this interview- she did a wonderful job and I look forward to reading the rest of her interviews on Three Layer Cake.com

Hervé Matejewski

For so many reasons, Hervé Matejewski is really one of my absolute favorite designers, and I love to visit his stand at Maison-Objet to see what new work he's producing! Hervé, a native Parisian, is the designer behind the mat&jewski label which produces chic, sometimes flamboyant sometimes racy 'interior couture', right at the intersection of fashion and interior design. He decided to be a designer after time as a chef and ten years in an uninspiring corporate job. What a decision! He is a known trendsetter with the shapes and concepts of many of his creations and since founding his label in 1999 he has been named Designer of the Year at Maison-Objet and by French magazine IDEAT for his lamps. His signature creations are the perforated aluminum Totem and his feather lamps. His clients span the globe, from Tokyo, to Dubai, to New York. All of his products are 100% Made in Paris, or a little bit outside of the city!


Sketch something you remember from childhood.
I remember my grandfather working in the garden. We learned a lot about what real food tastes like, where it comes from, what fresh tomatoes and carrots smell and taste like. Wait...you want me to draw that? I better come up with something less complicated!!!


If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change.
I wouldn't change a thing. I think everything is an experience, in good and in bad. Maybe would have become a designer sooner...but that's it.

The best business advice you've been given.
To always do the best quality work you're capable of.

As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship.
The nuts and bolts of business. The real world is night and day from what they teach you in school. In design there are financial constraints, client relationships to manage, maximizing quality within your budget... It can be a shock!!

In a design studio, money invested in photography is always well spent.

From the mat&jewski portfolio

Tasses (6 to a set, porcelain, each saucer and cup is different and interchangeable. Money? Love? Career? Vacation? Success? Happiness? Ask your question, and find the answer at the end of your drink!)


Standard Hotel, Paris: Japonais lamp

(Standard Hôtel Oct 05) 12

Boule plume oie a suspendre - Goose-feather suspension lampe

(Standard Hôtel ) 03

Assiettes, Porcelain du Belleville (6 to a set, porcelain, available in fruit/dessert, pasta bowl, and dinner plate sizes)

assiettes porcelain of belleville

mat&jewski stand, Maison-Objet September 2006

stand septembre 2006 m&o


Totem, perforated aluminum lamps


Toile de Jouy skateboard

skate toile de jouy

Close up of Toile de Jouy


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Social Stationery with Holiday Cheer

Having a Holiday Party? Try these Letter Press invitations and enclosures...

Hello Lucky Soiree Set - invitation, coaster, and place card


Hello Lucky Holiday Cheer enclosures with matching envelopes, blank inside


Hello Lucky Dog 'N' Lights enclosures with matching envelopes, blank inside


Aliroo makes these great festive invitations which double as coasters (see all 24 designs)


Lucy Jane Batchelor has also produced the greeting card with a dual function: turn it into an ornament!



Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien of Doshi Levien

I visited with Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien during the London Design Festival in their studio in Spitalfields, East London. Nipa who was born and raised in India is trained in furniture design. Jonathan grew up in the UK, with a background in cabinetmaking. They met at the Royal College of Art in London and graduated in 1997. I just can't say enough nice things about Nipa and Jonathan and the work that they do. For me, their work really is what I consider to be "good design". Their designs are inextricably linked to their thoughts, their experiences, their skills. The story that each piece tells is consistent and balanced, as is the story which led to the specific design of the piece-- why it is the way it is. In every piece of theirs, I really feel that there is a thinking, feeling person behind it. For me, "good design" is not just aesthetics, it's also intellectual interaction, and it's being able to put a person behind the design (within reason). That's what Doshi Levien produces. For a more in-depth interview, check back with Three Layer Cake...

Doshi Levien

Sketch something you remember from your childhood.

Nipa dress 2

Nipa: 1980- Orange Nylon with black nylon piping. It was imported and felt so chic and modern. It was given to me by my auntie who was a bit exotic and glamorous because she was a Catholic who had married into our Hindu family! I wanted it to last forever.

jonnie tricycle

Jonathan: 1975- Tricycle. It was my first bicycle and remember cycling in them as little boy in my white underpants!

jonnie cart

Also 1975- Cart. It was made by my grandmother, Dee-Dee. she loved making things in wood. I used to cart my toys and sister in it.

If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change
Doing our own thing and not following trends.

The best business advice you've been given
'surround yourself with good people'

As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship.

ND: That design is an attitude to life, reflected in the way one cooks, lays a table or carries out simple daily rituals. Design is about caring.

JL: To develop a curiosity about how things are made and why.

In a design studio, money invested in a good photographer and contracts is always well spent.

To learn more about one of Nipa and Jonathan's most amazing projects, take an interactive tour of the Wellcome Windows they designed for the Wellcome Trust.

From their contribution to the traveling exhibit, My World, for Experimenta Lisbon 2005 (and which showed at Design Museum London in late summer 2006).

Doshi Levien’s installation for My World is partly inspired by the shops and workshops of ancient but still functioning markets in India. Customers remove their shoes, sit on a mattress and spend time talking to the craftsman about what they need. (product descriptions/exhibit introduction by Doshi Levien; project realized with the generous support of the Arts Council of England and B&B Italia. )


"Matlo" - Terra cotta water vessel with diatomite filters, brass tap and enameled tripod stand. The terra cotta cools the water without need for electricity through natural evaporative process. The vessel is made in two parts. The water is poured into the top chamber and filters through into the bottom chamber.


"Marble table"
This table combines the archetypal form of a work desk with sensual materials and proportions normally associated with pleasure, expressing the idea of work as a source of pleasure. The marble table has been machined using computer data. We were attracted by the idea of taking a natural material, usually carved by hand and applying an automated process associated with high tech industrial production.

Marble table

Tefal Mosaic cookware (items, top picture; bases of the cookware, below). This range responds to the growing awareness and popularity of ‘exotic cuisine’ in Europe and America, with increasing world travel and multicultural societies in the west. The project aims to translate authentic characteristics of Asian, Moroccan and Latin American cookware into accessible products suitable for use with contemporary cooking appliances. Each item in the range expresses a strong cultural identity through material colour and the varying translation of the Tefal marque on the base.



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