A few months ago (unfortunately, I can’t remember where), I started seeing pictures of items from the Japanese company Futagami, which makes beautiful brass design products. Another line of products to go on the “future home wish list.” Their current line was made in collaboration with designer Masanori Oji, who says that he “design[s] living products” (I like that).

From Japanese Products Trading:

Founded in 1897, FUTAGAMI has a long history of making brass products such as artifacts used in the Buddhist traditions. Brass products gradually change their color over the course of many years due to oxidization. The longer they are used, the richer and subtler they become, dissolving into the human heart and the environment.

From top to bottom: Stationery Tray; Bottle Openers; Morning Star Black Pendant Lamp; Paperweights; Komagata Bookend; Chopstick Rests

I also like this lamp, which casts a shadow in the shape of a star on the ceiling (click through the photos to see). See more from the line here. Myth & Symbol, located in Houston, Texas, sells a selection of Futagami products — including this beautiful trivet — in their online shop.

All products and images from Futagami


I think I could outfit just about every major element of my life(style) with items from UK brand Toast. I first heard about Toast a couple years ago when I was looking around the web for aprons. It doesn’t surprise me that I continue to see their stuff on blogs, Pinterest, etc. It all just seems so comfortable and liveable (like these PJs).

The styling of their winter lookbook is appropriately cozy and might even make me appreciate winter a little more.

The bright colors and patterns (check out that tile!) of Toast’s spring 2013 lookbook provide a nice contrast to their fall/winter lookbook, while still achieving that relaxed, comfortable vibe that seems to be what Toast is all about. Now I have my eye on this mug.

If you have some spare time, I highly recommend spending a few minutes (or more) looking through past lookbooks on Toast’s Pinterest. The locations/natural backdrops — especially the autumn 2012 campaign shot in Tusheti, Georgia, by Boo George — provide the perfect virtual getaway.

All photos from Toast

Esque Studio

When I first came across this bubblegum paperweight by Esque Studio, the first word that came to mind was “whimsical.” The designers behind Esque Studio, Andi Kovel and Justin Parker, have been working together for 15 years, since meeting at a glass studio in Brooklyn. The idea behind establishing their own studio — which is based in Portland, Oregon — was to “[create] modern, functional, concept-based glassware aimed at the design industry and away from the pedestal. Through the years the duo has lead the movement of trend in glass, by breaking the rules and outdated notions of craft and material associated with their medium.” Even the studio’s name highlights this, by “refer[ring] to the suffix meaning ‘in the manor of,’ and is an intentional nod to and acknowledgment of outside influences and inspiration.” Esque Studio’s unconventional approach to designing glass is obvious in their body of work, from the Venom Candlestick Set to the Honeybear Vase.

I’ve put together some of my favorite items.

1. Beaker-Esque | 2. Lucidare | 3. Slumped Vase | 4. Ripple Vase | 5. Waterdrop Jug 2012
6. Mid Century Coolade Set | 7. Wall Tears | 8. Wax Collector

I love the bright colors of vases and pitchers. Find more of Esque Studio’s work — all of it special and gift-worthy — in the shop. Which items are your favorites?

All products and images from Esque Studio and the Esque Studio shop

Min-jon Lampshades

I think any home could be improved by one of these beautiful handmade wood lampshades from Cologne, Germany’s Min-jon (Nadine Fliegen and Andrea Steckner) on Etsy. Each lampshade in the collection — described as a “modular concept” — is actually two individual lampshades (an outer, patterned wood lampshade and an inner, solid-color cloth one). They can either be hung together, creating “a beautiful glow,” or separately (imagine the patterns on the walls from the light shining through the cut outs).

I tried to pick a favorite, but I couldn’t! I would gladly display any of them in my home. There are more designs available in the Min-jon Etsy shop.

All designs by and photos from Min-jon

A New Take

I’ve never been a huge fan of dried flowers. Don’t get me wrong: They can be beautiful, but, for some reason, they tend to make me sad (and they can be messy). But I may have to reconsider them after seeing these dried floral arrangements from Flores del Sol.

Plum Tuft

Thistle and Florets

Mercury Glass Centerpiece with Roses

Yarrow Mound

I can’t decide if I like the Yarrow Mound or the Plum Tuft more. I think they’d look really pretty next to each other.

Images from Flores del Sol, via Oh Happy Day!

Spring Along

I actually drafted this post yesterday; today’s weather is beautiful! Clear, blue skies. (I’ve changed all references to “today” to “yesterday.”)

During our last few days in Arizona, rumors were swirling about the weather back east(ward). “It snowed during the Indians game!” I caught a glimpse of the opening day game at Yankee Stadium, and the people in the stands were wrapped up tight in winter wear. What was going on?! It was in the (humidity-free!) 90s in Arizona at the time; surely, spring had come to New York. St. Patrick’s Day was gorgeous, with the kind of weather that made us all think that spring had sprung. But no, it was followed by some more cold weather the next week. Still, I continued to hope. I know that just because it’s officially spring doesn’t mean it feels like spring. But I was living it up in 90-degree weather; I couldn’t bear the thought of returning to a 50-degree drop in temperature.

The past couple of days have been a little cooler than what I would call “mild weather,” although it’s sort of starting to feel springlike. Yesterday, though, was rainy, all day. On my way out the door this morning, I grabbed an umbrella at random, and I suspected that it may have been one of those umbrellas that should have been retired a long time ago. I was running late, though, so out I went, only to have the umbrella get increasingly bent out of shape while I was down in Soho. I was that person, walking around with an umbrella that’s flopping around and blowing inside out. My efforts to hold one side down with my hand only resulted in a lot of cold water dripping inside my coat sleeve. Never again! On my way back home, I made sure to buy a new umbrella (and the other one will definitely get tossed!). Speaking of umbrellas, how cool are these from SquidLondon? Here’s a brief description from their website: SquidLondon’s umbrellas change color/colour as soon as the rain its panels! Unique, fun, gift – the only color/colour changing umbrella in the world! SquidLondon are focused on developing stylish, fun yet practical umbrellas and designs. Brightening up our rainy days. If you go to their site, you’ll also find out that they were inspired by Jackson Pollock. Pretty fun idea for an umbrella, I think!

While a bad drought in Arizona has meant that no cacti are (yet) in bloom, there were still, as always, so many colors around! From the very colorful drinks (that’s a prickly pear margarita on the right!) …

… to the brightly-colored ocotillo plant, there was much to be photographed.

Looking through my Arizona photos, I remembered the glass flask bottle I bought on sale at Sur La Table a few weeks ago. I had meant to buy a bud for it, but I kept forgetting to. So, on my way home yesterday, I stopped into a flower shop and bought one bright pink ranunculus, in hopes it would serve as a reminder of the coming spring and brighten up my room, and mood, a bit.

I’ve always wanted to take a flower arranging class for fun, and it’s on my “future to-do list,” which both exists and doesn’t exist. I do think a flower class would be a great way to learn more about flowers. I know a lily from a chrysanthemum, but I find myself forgetting flower names quite often, and I’d love to really establish what flowers I like. I didn’t set out to buy a ranunculus, but I saw a small arrangement of white ones on the counter at the store and decided I’d found my flower.

Now all I’m waiting for is those cherry trees along Park Avenue to bloom.

All photos taken by Taking of Toast.