Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE + INSPIRATION

POWERS OF TEN

In our week-long profile of designers Charles and Ray Eames, we studied their design aesthetic and philosophy and talked about the various media they used to forward those philosophies. They made hundreds of explorations into film, for varied purposes. Produced in 1977, Powers of Ten is perhaps their best-known film—and includes a book version. In it, the Eamses utilized the system of exponential powers to demonstrate the importance of scale.

The premise of the film is simple, though its scope is wide: a narrator—physicist Philip Morrison—guides the viewer on a journey that begins with an overhead shot of a couple in a park. The camera then pans back to see what a ten-meter distance looks like, then 100 meters, then 1,000 meters. Every 10 seconds, the viewer’s distance from the initial scene of the couple is magnified tenfold. We expand to the point of 100 million light years from Earth, a field of view of 1024 meters—the size of the observable universe.

ALABAMA CHANIN – POWERS OF TEN

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INSPIRATION: WORK + PLAY

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: WORK + PLAY

“Take your pleasure seriously.” ― Charles Eames

All of us, at one time or another, have associated the idea of work with a sense of dread. We’ve all had a job we thought was boring, repetitive, mindless, stressful; we’d zone out or procrastinate because, in our hearts, we weren’t invested. In such a situation, we were taught to create a time for work and a time for play: work/life balance.

The downside of this idea of work/life balance is that playtime is often interrupted with thoughts of work; and work time is spent dreaming of play. Mr. Rogers once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.” This is certainly true of how the Eames ran their studio and the basis of the important, and playful, work of Ellen Langer.

The last decades have taught us (and our children) that to achieve is the ultimate goal—often to the detriment of play. When we think of play, we think of “time wasting” or “unnecessary.” But play can also meld the possible with the magical. When we play, we aren’t necessarily bound by limits; we are free. Most of us have notions as to what defines work and play – but those categories aren’t independent of one another. Ellen Langer states it so simply, “When we are at work, we’re people; when we’re at play, we’re still people.”

The new saying at my house and at the studio: It’s not hard work, it’s GOOD work. There is a big difference between the two.

The book, Eames: Beautiful Details—pictured above, is a beautiful testament to the playful nature of Ray and Charles Eames. Now available from our online store: Eames: Beautiful Details(Natalie’s personal copy shown here photographed by Abraham Rowe)

Watch the PBS Film, The Architect and the Painter, to learn more about the importance of play in their work and studio. See the trailer below.

ON DESIGN: RAY AND CHARLES EAMES

ON DESIGN: RAY AND CHARLES EAMES

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality, per se.” – Charles Eames

Our first official On Design conversation and event centered on the Bauhaus—founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. This movement’s core objective was a radical concept: to reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts. The main influences behind the Bauhaus were Modernism, the Arts and Crafts movement and, perhaps most importantly, Constructivism.

The Bauhaus school was closed in 1933 by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime and many of the designers and artists who had been working within the school and those with similar philosophies, moved to the United States. Those of you who were present for our On Design: Bauhaus discussion (or who read about it) will remember that this movement came to change my life (and save my life), because the School of Design at North Carolina State University grew out of Black Mountain College—where some of the instructors from the Bauhaus settled. And, thus I essentially received a Bauhaus training.

The reach of the Bauhaus school is immeasurable. The foundations and design approach influenced designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Edith Heath, Mies Van De Roe, Le Corbusier, Herbert Bayer, Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer, and eventually Ray and Charles Eames.

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DO YOU REALLY WANT A COLLECTION?

DO YOU REALLY WANT A COLLECTION?

Over the years, and despite the fact that public speaking doesn’t come to me naturally, I’ve lectured at conferences and universities across the country and around the world. Invariably, during the question and answer section at the end of each talk, someone raises their hand and says, “I want to have a collection. What should I do?”

My answer has always been the same, “Get a copy of QuickBooks (or any accounting system) and a good accountant; make them both your friends.” You see, the truth is that you will spend much more time working on cash flow, and projections, and working in your business than you will designing and working on your business. (Unless you have a really good partner that runs the business for you.)

But, in the future, when I am asked that question, I will answer, read The Business of Fashion series  “How To Set Up A Fashion Business.”

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MOTHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE

MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

Mother’s Day—a holiday we learned has a deep-rooted history—is a favorite here at Alabama Chanin. Perhaps because we are company that is 100% woman owned and 86% women run (not that we don’t love our men), we like to celebrate a day dedicated to the women who birthed us, the friends who raised us, the aunts who befriended us, and the sisters (true and adopted) who keep us on the right track. Every. Single. Day. If you’ve followed us on our journey, you are likely also aware that Alabama Chanin practices slow design and that we make our products in the most responsible and sustainable ways possible. For this reason, it can take up to six weeks for an item to be made by local artisans, hand-cutting and stitching each piece from seam to appliqué, beaded embellishment to final label.

We’ve also chosen a selection of our favorite items for the 2015 Mother’s Day Gift Guide. (Check back Thursday for our DIY Gift Guide through The School of Making.)

Also note that while our hand-sewn garments have a longer production time, we have other more readily available pieces such as our A. Chanin garments, books, and some of our home goods.

Call +1.256.760.1090 M-F from 8:00am – 4:30pm CST for help celebrating Mom.

And if you place an order online, let us know if it is a gift for someone special; we will package it beautifully and add a note of thanks.

MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

P.S.: Only after planning our Mother’s Day Gift Guide for this week, did we learn that the United Kingdom celebrates what they call Mothering Sunday on March 15th. Having roots in the church, it is held every year on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Now you know.

SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT

SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT

On May 21,2009, Matthew B. Crawford published an article in The New York Times Magazine titled, “The Case for Working With Your Hands.” Later that month, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work arrived on my desk at work.

Three paragraphs down in the New York Times piece, Crawford describes our situation:

“High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.”

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INSPIRATION: PEWTER

INSPIRATION PEWTER

Pewter: a malleable metal alloy of tin, copper, antimony, bismuth and sometimes, silver or lead.

Early civilizations like the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are known to have used this soft metal in jewelry and tableware.

It is a rich shade of gray that has remarkable depth and presence.

A commonly used material in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods.

Molten and cast

Polished or tarnished

A lustrous silvery-grey with purple and umber highlights

Pewter glows.

For a limited time our A. Chanin Long Sleeve Scoopneck and A. Chanin Fitted Rib Tank are available in Pewter. Today only, enjoy 20% off all available colors of each style.

And visit our Collection for a range of styles in our color Pewter.

Pewter-New-Leaves

P.S.: Click for more inspiration: pewter table ware and decor from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s extensive online collection and Christie’s Auction House

TREND VS. SUCCESSION

TRENDS VS. SUCCESSION

”From a scientific point of view, it can be said he [Thoreau] documented for the first time how ecological succession works … The mechanism was animals and weather. Squirrels carry acorns so oak trees replace pine when the pines are cut down. And pine seeds blow over to replace the oak.” – Richard T. Forman

I started writing this piece about two weeks ago. I was talking about succession over trend with a colleague and she asked me to put down my thoughts about how that worked. And so I started…and as I was writing, the question of trend began to appear in the press and this story seems on one hand less important and on the other hand more important. I’ll let you be the judge. In any case, thank you for coming here. Thank you for reading:

There is a small stop at milepost 330.2 on the Natchez Trace Parkway called Rock Spring Nature Trail. I’ve been going to this spot on the Natchez Trace since I was a little girl. Perk, my maternal grandfather, used to take me (and all of the cousins) there en route to Colbert Ferry park on the “other side” of the Tennessee River from our home. From there, we would launch his small fishing boat and run the trotline of baited hooks for catfish (more on this boat and Perk’s trotline coming soon).

Rock Spring is a natural aquifer that merges with Colbert Creek where this nature trail now stands. The creek is a small, meandering stream of rare beauty (see the photo above)—named after George Colbert—who ran the Ferry that crossed the Tennessee River along the Trace before the days of a bridge.

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