Sunday, December 20, 2009

hybrid home

Ah, Greece: the birthplace of Western civilization. When I think of Greece, I think of the Olympics, the Parthenon, and the Iliad--and Pick-Up Sticks, the Audubon Society, and the Secret Service. I do now, anyway, after seeing the amazing line of pillows from Hybrid-Home. You see, Dora Drimalas, the designer at Hybrid-Home, was born in Athens. She grew up in Houston, true, but as long as we've got her here in San Francisco, we're perfectly content to let her fame accrue to Greece too. (We're very giving. ) The trip from Houston to San Francisco included a sojourn at Nike's Brand Design Group in Portland, Oregon, as well as some teaching at the California College of Arts and at the Academy of Art University. In addition to her work with Hybrid-Home, Dora is a principal (with her husband Brian Flynn) at Hybrid Design, whose clients include Nike, Vans, Upper Playground, and Akademiks. LizaSez: CAn't say no to a greek designer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

grandma's chair, not so granny

I was at the flea market on the upper west side where I run into this amazing armchair. You know the type, it's been sitting in an attic for years and you wouldn't consider putting it in your apartment even if it was the last chair standing. But guess what, a coat of gloss paint in a bright jazzy color and a couple of yards of a bold graphic patterned fabric...and bam! Now that's a statement chair. A super easy DIY project or for a few hundred dollars available at the UWS flea market. I need to make me one of these.

Is war the new decor trend?

I was at Future Perfect earlier this morning (my local favorite store) and saw this bowl. It's made out of melted toy soldiers, airplanes and other war related toys. First I thought it was interesting but a few minutes later I was enraged. Is war the new decor trend? I think it's absolutely despicable, and completely tasteless. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Make my phone ring

Make my phone ring, for real. Vtech has come out with this incredibly cool and futuristic device called *your house phone*. Yes it's Vtech not Bang & Olufsen. It has a touch screen and it's oh so sexy.

It's got bluetooth, so you can pair it with your cel phone...and voila! It's two phones in one, and you can add handsets in case you need multiple phones.Vtech LS6248 around $80. Liza Sez: run and get it....then call me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I am glad I am not the only kettle freak....


Fiddly, Fussy or Just Plain Ugly Kettles

Published: August 9, 2009

LONDON — It seemed so straightforward. I needed a new kettle. Nothing fancy, just one that was simply styled, well-made and wouldn’t look obtrusive in a stainless steel kitchen. Easy, or so I thought, until I tried to find one.


Dualit's jug kettle in black.

Now, I can’t pretend that I was thrilled by the prospect of cruising the kettle sections of London’s department stores (as shopping sprees go, it isn’t quite up there with the arrival of the new season’s Pierre Hardy shoes at Dover Street Market or a bumper delivery to Donlon Books), but I hadn’t expected it to be so dispiriting. There were dozens of different kettles to choose from, but none that I could bear to live with.

Simple, well-made and unobtrusive doesn’t seem like the toughest of design briefs, nor in this age of unimaginably exciting leaps in nanotechnology and a Large Hadron Collider does making something to boil water. I had no reason to suspect that any of the kettles on sale wouldn’t work, although several threatened to make rather a meal of it. The problem (and I write this in the knowledge that many of these columns bang on about there being much more to design than mere style) was that they looked dreadful — fiddly, fussy, overwrought and, at worst, downright ugly.

The products around them — the coffee machines, toasters, food processors and so on — were just as bad. The design crimes of the kettle seem to be replicated in most of the other basic kitchen appliances that millions of people use every day. Why are seemingly simple products so badly designed?

One explanation is that the kettle is a typical example of a product with a bad case of what I’ll call “designeritis.” To clarify, it is an elderly product — the first stovetop kettles surfaced in the 1880s, and electric ones in the 1920s — that has exhausted the possibility of introducing genuine innovations to make it more efficient. In theory, it is still possible to design a kettle that is faster, quieter, safer and more energy-efficient than existing ones, but not much more so. The only way for the designers of a new model to convince us that it is different enough to bother buying is by tweaking its looks.

That doesn’t give them much to play with, and goes some way to explaining why stellar designers aren’t exactly clamoring to reinvent the kettle.

If you’d slogged away at design school for years, what would you rather do? Join the Apple design team to put the finishing touches to the Kindle-killing tablet computer that it is rumored to be working on? Develop a planet-saving electric vehicle? Invent a solar-powered cellphone or an educational laptop that could improve the lives of millions of people in developing economies? Or fuss over the shape of a kettle spout?

Given such limited possibilities, the designers who do end up finessing those spouts tend to go overboard in their efforts to attract our attention, which is why so many new kettles look neurotically over-styled. Judging by the selection I saw in London, the current crop fall into four categories.

First up is the “Come in, Cape Canaveral” genre of irritatingly over-complicated kettles stuffed with features that we neither need nor want. (Espresso coffee machines suffer from the same syndrome.) Breville is among the chief offenders. Exhibit A: the Breville Blue Ice Jug Kettle that glows blue when the water has boiled, as though you’d have no other way of knowing. Worse still is Exhibit B: the Breville Brita Spectra Kettle, which threatens to “softly illuminate your kitchen ... with a rainbow of colors” as the temperature of the water changes. Dualit is another manufacturer that’s guilty of cluttering up what were once pleasingly restrained kettles with superfluous extras, in its case ungainly water gauges.

Next comes the “Back to the Future” category of kettles that play the nostalgia card. Take the Le Creuset Traditional Whistling Kettle, which looks as if it has been sprung from a medieval witches’ coven, and the Wesco Classic that could be a prop in a Walker Evans photograph of a dilapidated 1930s diner.

Then there are the “Wannabes,” the manufacturers that try so hard to associate their products with a particular style that they slip into self-parody. Both Siemens and Krups favor a “boy racer” style of stainless steel kettle with black detailing and testosterone-charged names, like the Siemens Porsche and Krups Expert. Kenwood, meanwhile, seems to have guzzled so much Kool-Aid that it flits tipsily from trend to trend. No sooner did it bid for eco points with the Energy Sense Eco, than it vied for cool ones with a range of super-minimal white plastic kettles that look startlingly similar to Jasper Morrison’s designs for Rowenta.

At least Kenwood is trying. It can’t be accused of falling into the “Must try harder” camp of kettle makers that almost produce a decent product, only to let themselves down with dodgy detailing. John Lewis comes closest to ticking the simple, well-made and unobtrusive boxes with its kettles, as you’d expect from a retail chain that is owned by its employees and run on Quaker principles. Then you notice that the shapes aren’t quite right and the handles look irritatingly cutesy.

All of which left me in a conundrum. There was no shortage of kettles, but none that I liked enough to buy. I did what I should have done all along. After much scouring of search engines and local telephone directories, I found an electrical repair shop (the sort that used to be on every other London street, but is now an endangered species) and took my old kettle there to be reconditioned. (In case you’re wondering, it’s a simple, well-made Dualit from before the days of “Come in, Cape Canaveral” water gauges.) Problem solved with a clear conscience, at least until I need a new toaster.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Barack O'Pepsi

Ever since the November election Pepsi has reworked its trademark logo to echo Obama's "O". I've been noticing it everywhere. At the beginning I thought it was a bit slizzy...but you know these guys have come with a brilliant idea. They were able to associate their brand with Obama's "Change" message. And the execution is impeccable. Hats off to the creative team. I wonder does Barrack drink Pepsi or Coke?

summer boots?

Help me out here. Is this an oxymoron or what? Have I missed the latest fashion memo? Don't these boots defy the whole idea of wearing boots. What do you think? And yes if you like them, they ar available at DSW for under $150.

the end of vinyl?

Twenty or so years ago a friend gave me a bowl made out of a vinyl record. It was a bad music ( The Pink Project) so he found another use for the scratchy vinyl. He placed it over a heater until it became soft and then he formed it into a bowl. To go w/the name of the record he painted it pink. I thought it was just brilliant.
I was walking down Bedford the other day..and what do you know? Same idea...yet it seems so fresh...twenty years later. So if you still have any vinyl around, this a great way to make your own bowls/ vases etc. And of course an instant conversation starter.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Made in Italy? No, made in Brooklyn

At the Brooklyn Designs show this year I was pleasantly surprised with fresh and innovative furniture design, made...well in Brooklyn.  "Grow House Grow" showed a small collection of handprinted wallpapers that you'd think they came from the U.K.
Levent & Romme used unexpected material to create textured headboards, divider screens and lantens. And if you are like most people who have a desk filled w/ cables and electronics then TMR's "SideWired" desk and sidetables will be the answer to your ergonomic prayers. Their furniture is designed with outlets so you can plug your monitor or your ipod right to your desk. Visual clutter, no more. 
So hats off to all of you Brooklyn designers..."Italy" is just a five letter word.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Turn on the bottles...I am mean the lights

It seems cool lighting follows me. I was walking down Bedford yesterday and a hipster type was selling these pendant lights out of the back of his truck. They are made out of colored glass bottles tied together, and in the center there's a light bulb. You turn the light on, and voila! A colorful snowflake relected on the ceiling. All this for 90 bucks. Liza Sez: I love how inventive this is, not mention that you get to recycle/reuse old glass bottles. A very easy diy, use Perrier bottles, or after the party is over use your Sky vodka bottles.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A chandelier or a wind chime?

Chandeliers are back. A chandelier adds that extra polish to a room. But they can look a little granny. I saw this one at it's made of capiz shells and it looks so elegant and modern. The shells drape beautifully to create a soft curve. And if yo leave your window open it works as a wind chime....Liza Sez: A splurge, but now it's on sale at 50% for $695. Your guests will be all over it. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Strike a pose

Ever since digital cameras became popular everyone has become a photo enthusiast or a self proclaimed "photographer".  For those of you who still miss shooting film, this twin lens reflex camera is a must. And the best part? It uses 35mm as opposed to 120mm film so you can can have the film processed and scanned at any one-hour photo store. Comes in many colors, $130 Liza sez: What's not to love?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Who said you need to be a millionaire to own a Jeff Koons?

I bet you never thought you could own a Jeff Koons original. Now you can. works with a number of famous artists (among them: Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Roy Lichtenstein) to produce a limited edition of design objects (furniture, jewelry, lighting etc.). Jeff Koons created a beach towel (pictured here). It's not numbered but it is a limited edition, and for $50 it can be yours. Better yet, I would stretch it like a canvas and use hang it as if it was a painting. Liza Sez: Now that's a highbrow bargain

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wallpaper minus the paper

I've been looking for wallpaper for a while now, but I can't find exactly what I want. The colors aren't exactly right, not to mention how expensive nice wallpaper is. That's when I thought that a stencil may do the trick. No I am not talking about a leaf pattern, nor a fruit ball. I went to and these guys have some really nice designs. I think the patterns above are way cooler than any wallpaper I've seen. If you are a pro at this, try painting the wall first and stencil on top.  Stenciling can be loads of fun or a mini-disaster, don't bite more than you can chew. I would start with one wall to begin with. Liza Sez: a fun diy on a budget

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Print is not dead

I buy everything online. I don't even know how anyone shopped before the whole web thing. I know people say the web will kill print, but I couldn't disagree more. There's nothing like going thru your favorite magazine for the first time each month. And then what do you do? Throw it out? No. At least not for a while. The Vogue magazine holder will give your magazines a stylish shelter in your living room, before you decide to toss them. Liza Sez: Need it. $130, at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Forward

Here's the modern version of the grandfather clock. Made out of walnut, with a plexi face for a sleek look. Liza Sez: this is a conversation piece, but confusing if you actually need to tell the time., $110

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Under a new light

Enough with the lamps! Yes I know I am obsessed. I saw these pendant lamps while out at a restaurant. Now that's a fun idea, take your run of the mill pendants and place toys in them. Don't save this simple DIY for your kids room though. I know you have some hidden treasures somewhere, showcase them under a new light. And yes don't use anything flammable, duh...

Must love movies

For some reason I keep noticing lamps these days. Maybe because I don't think I ever bought a decent one. This one is made out of 35mm movie film strip. How cool is that? You can even get Ratatouille made into a lamp. I love it! The lamp is made to order for only $40 at Liza Sez: Got to have it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A little privacy please

Open space space living has been popular for a few years now. I live in loft and I can tell you that as much as I enjoy the open layout, sometimes is impractical. If you want to section off the space either for decor reasons, or semi-privacy check out this bamboo divider. The bamboo is about 6.5' tall and the base is about 40". You can arrange the bamboo in any pattern you like. Available in natural and black, about $340

Smart design

Wondering what else can you use bike straps for? To neatly store your shoes. That's pretty innovative. The straps come in a variety of colors. $25/set of two

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pillow talk

I just discovered a series of pillows inspired by retro packaging. Retro never looked so modern. Designed by Koko $54

Monday, March 2, 2009

Design Ethics

These days you can buy a good reproduction (read fake) of most famous designs for a fraction of the price. Above, the two pictures of the iconic Arco lamp are virtually identical. The original about $2,500 and the copy just under $500. So what do you do? A no brainer right? Go for the copy and save the money. Well not so fast. Having good taste comes at a price. By buying a fake you enable manufacturers to infringe on copyright of the original designer.  That's against the law. And although you may not go to "design prison", owning a masterpiece has a cost associated with it. Let me know what you think. Find me on Facebook or better yet post your thoughts here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Holy Cow

If you are into cow hides, this is a great value, and much better quality than the Ikea variety. I am still a little freaked about walking on a dead animal, but I am warming up to it. $289+


I discovered this lamp at Future Perfect in Williamsburg. It's constructed of unusual material in oversized proportions.  The gold foil diffuser in the shade creates a warm atmospheric glow as opposed to a harsh spotlight effect. The fabric covered electrical cord is hanging loose and interferes with the otherwise streamlined look. Available in white and black, on/off foot petal, $2,000 (includes the two 75W bulbs)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alphabet Pillow

Truth be told type is my soft spot. This pillow is not for everyone, but if you are like me and when you see anything with type you have an adrenaline rush, then this is a a small treasure. Neutraface Slab is a forthcoming typeface by House Industries. At $45 it's a no-brainer.

For type lovers only

I've been collecting printer's type blocks for years. I usually find them at flea markets or antique shops. For all the designers out there wood type is our object of affection. It seems though type is going mass market because I found this coffee table at Crate and Barrel. The top is carved from a single piece of wood (so they haven't used real wood type) and it's protected tempered glass. For $899 I'd rather make my own.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In the spotlight

It's hard to find a good replica of a photographers spot light. This one is pretty fabulous and it has a collector's look and feel. Place it in your living room and it won't go unnoticed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No more white walls

White walls are so boring, but for the commitment-phobe they are usually the way to go. I am currently in that group myself, but after seeing this wallpaper by Nama Rococo I think I am ready to jump to the wallpaper-lovers camp. Yes it's a huge commitment but I love it! This is not your grandmothers wallpaper. And of course it's super expensive, I never seem to like anything cheap! But for the budget conscious they sell the single sheets that can be framed like art. Sheets are $220 each. Ouch!  Hmm I need to save some more money.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tea Time

Recently my Michael Graves kettle broke. In the interest of getting something quickly and inexpensively I bought one from Ikea. It's a basic kettle not badly designed. Or so I thought, until I used it and realized the spout leaks. Which brings my to the NIO kettle, designed by Oliver Hemming. It is beautiful, make that gorgeous, simple and very functional. Yes it costs more than the ikea one (a lot more $110 at ) but for me it's a piece of art. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Details will make the room. These glasses are awesome but not dishwasher safe. 
I envision a daybed with many pillows, and pillows can be pricey. But you need a couple of "real" ones in order to camouflage the cheaper fakes. This oversized pillow from is beautiful, it's embroidered with silk shimmery thread.

west elm pillow

"Moroccan inspired" pillows

So ok not all the items will come directly from Morocco. West Elm makes these pillows that have a moroccan flavor but not the import price tag. I like them and by layering them with more authentic versions you'll get the desired effect. 

Marrakech Palace Ottoman

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Little Marrakech

I am all about anything and everything modern. I have an especially weak spot for home decor, of course modern, is there any other kind? But in the world of the clean sectionals, the Arco lamp and the flat screen tv, I sometimes want to escape to somewhere exotic.
So I am converting my second bedroom to "Little Marrakech". My first purchase is an oversized palace pouf. Now I am looking for a couch, a few fez, a lantern and cool Buddha bar mix.