Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE LIFE + DESIGN

A PLEA FOR ORGANIC COTTON

Thanks to everyone who reached out about and/or shared my post on organic cotton last Friday on @EcoSalon.

For the sake of making a plea for organic cotton, here it is again… spread the word.
xoNatalie

Pound for Pound:

I am pissed. It doesn’t happen often, but, it does happen.

I grew up in cotton country. My mother and her sisters picked cotton every summer to make money for new school clothes, as they didn’t want to head back in “handmade.” My aunts and uncles raised this cotton. I slept under blankets made from scrap cotton that grows after the harvest has taken place – the dregs that are left over.  I made a film about cotton and rural quilting. For better or for worse, cotton is part of the vernacular of my community, my childhood, and my life. I would venture that cotton plays a large role in your life as well.

Since this fiber is so prevalent in our lives, I think that there are 10 things you should know about it.

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PUNCH BROTHERS

It was such a treat to sit with Chris Thile over dinner this weekend and the chance to hear the Punch Brothers up-close-and-personal @Blackberry Farm.

(Along with lovely stories of bows and arrows, Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Converse… looking forward to many upcoming trips.)

Music Sunday = Modern Blue
xoNatalie

 

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T MAGAZINE – DESIGN AND LIVING 2011

I know that many of you have already read the article; however, it is just so beautiful in the printed Design and Living 2011 Issue that I can’t help sharing again.

Forgive me.

Thank you to Sally Singer, Pilar Vilades, Alexandra Lange, and the New York Times…
xoNatalie


SLOWING DOWN

Thanks to all the HEATH Ceramics team for this lovely piece on Alabama Chanin in their November Newsletter:

Slowing Down (and Sitting Down) with Alabama Chanin

Stitch and clay intersect to create modern heirlooms in our newest collection

Slow down. This may feel like an impossible pursuit, particularly in this season, but when Heath Ceramics Creative Director Catherine Bailey explained that one of the intentions of Heath’s collaboration with Owner + Designer Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin was to “celebrate slow, thoughtful design,” the word really resonated.

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HEATH + ALABAMA CHANIN

It’s officially launched.

From the HEATH website:

“The point of intersection between stitch and clay. A collaboration between Natalie Chanin and Heath Ceramics yields an anthology of carefully crafted modern heirlooms in a new and permanent dinnerware line.

This collection celebrates texture and a range of layering possibilities in thoughtfully curated place settings, plates and serving bowls.”

Shop our tabletop collection @ HEATH Ceramics

 

HEATH @ HOME

It is no secret that I adore Robin Petrovic and Cathy Bailey from HEATH Ceramics.  My daughter Maggie loves their son Jasper – and I follow her very smart lead.  (The kids have most recently been sharing the iPhone App Cookie Doodle drawings with one another.) Cathy and Robin are the kind of designers that you want to be and the kind of people you just want to stand next to.  One part cool, one part super smart, one part gentle family, they are wholly open, terrifically kind, and just plain engaging.  I am grateful to have them in my life as both friends and colleagues.

Our HEATH and Alabama Chanin Collaboration launched last week with additional textile pieces coming this coming week.  The work includes plates and bowls in full table settings along with napkins, tablecloths and other soft tableware. Continue reading

WORD OF THE DAY: GROW

Grow – verb:

To increase by natural development:
Our collection continues to grow.

To arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening, circumstance, or source:
Our friendship grew from common interests.

To increase gradually in size, amount, etc.; become greater or larger; expand:
Over the coming weeks and months, the collection will continue to grow – while old favorites move away.

Our experiment in the evolving face of fashion.

GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME

My latest post for EcoSalon is about how good things – like good design – take time.

Take time to have a read: Give The Story Time To Unfold

And then let us know what you think…
xoNatalie

GIVE THE STORY TIME TO UNFOLD

I found a letter that I wrote some years ago.  It starts like this:

“First, I will start with my apology: I am really a terrible friend. I have been ‘absent.’ I have made many people feel as though I did not care. I am sorry; however, if I am really honest, it is not so much that I am sorry as much as I have missed you and missed so many important things in my life.

It has been FULL time. And it will be hard for me to begin to tell all of the laughter, tears, frustrations, joys, moments, days, weeks, years that have happened. I try to find the beginning and the only thing I find is my wish to have you here with me in this moment…”

Isn’t that just how life is?  It gets all full and messy and good at the same time.
And isn’t that the story of a really good friend – one who is willing to wait for the story to unfold?

Southerners are renowned storytellers. I don’t know if that is because it gets so hot that we have to slow down and consequently hear more, or if the porch just provides the best venue for recounting tales. Perhaps we’ve just lived so close to the land for so many generations that the stories naturally grew. Whatever the reason, there are libraries filled with sections with titles that cover a “Southern Sense of Place,” “Southern Gothic,” and “Southern Short Story.”

And while many of us are born storytellers, our stories do take time to unfold. We are slow, methodical, practiced in our pace. My father and my son – following in his grandfather’s very slow footsteps – are masters in this art. They take the right breaths, they slowly move from one part of the room to the other. My father can take three days to answer a particular question. I will unexpectedly get a call and find my father simply replying to a question asked days earlier. Sometimes, I have to stop and think back to what actually prompted the question. This was infuriating as a child, “Daddy, can I go to the movie this afternoon with my friends?”

Silence.  It would be like he didn’t even hear me. Perhaps an hour later, he would call me in from outside, “Are you ready to go to the movie?” My heart would skip and it was like a present, wrapped up in a slowly unfolding package that had just been delivered. I would grab my things and go savor the movie.

The writer George Dawes Green provided the best storytelling platform EVER with the founding of The Moth. He started The Moth because he “wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, where he and a small circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales on his friend Wanda’s porch.”

I once wrote a blog post about his story “The House that Sherman Didn’t Burn.” This is one of the best Southern Gothic tales I have ever heard. (Keep in mind that all the stories told at The Moth are true.)

My friend, writer, and folklorist, Fred Fussell loved this story but thinks that the audience laughs in all the wrong places – which made me laugh as well. But the thing about stories is this, they are personal: personal for the teller and personal for listener as we are constantly searching for our own humanity within the story. We need that connection from teller to self.  We need to FEEL our friend’s life in and around their words. The beauty of The Moth is that each storyteller feels like a friend once their story is told.  And in the telling, like my father, they take their time. Their stories are not told, they unfold. Yes, good stories – like good friends take time.

Shouldn’t this be the same with good design? In a world that seems to spin faster and faster out of control, shouldn’t we be looking for products that take time to unfold? Or products whose usefulness we savor? Shouldn’t we demand products that have stories to tell? Like good wine, a good design needs time to be a part of our lives, time to reach its full maturity. If we could stop the ever spinning merry-go-round of fashion to see the consequences of our fast fashion choices, we might begin to appreciate the tales that our garments tell. Some items would tell tales of sorrow; others would tell beautiful tales of how they found their way to the wearer. I think that we would start to breathe and listen to the stories of our clothes and their makers – because there are great people out there telling beautiful stories.

American designer Sister Parish said, “Even the simplest wicker basket can become priceless when it is loved and cared for through the generations of a family.” The next time we purchase a single item, perhaps we should exercise patience and think back to this idea. Can this product I am about to buy be cared for and loved through the generations? What story does this item tell? Isn’t buying a product with a long life the same as exercising patience for a good story?

Patience has never been at the top of my list of virtues. I have been told that I have a calm, patient appearance on the outside, but my inner life is much less composed. You might even go so far as to say that my inner life and outer life were disconnected in my youth. This was the cause of much consternation and drama in my earlier days. But what I understand today is that I needed time. I needed time to grow up and to grow into my own story. If I can give my daughter one piece of advice, I will tell her to slow down, be calm, and wait.

Good things – like good design – take time and good friends are worth waiting for.