Design Tag Archives

MariNoLoves || Norway Through The Eyes of Designer Mari Norden

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Snow was falling when we arrived in Oslo, Norway—albeit spring snow, the kind that melts the moment it touches the ground—and we were immediately reminded that we were arriving in a place where warmth, sunlight and color is a luxury. There was some sort of marathon in the city center that kept us laughing as we acquainted ourselves with the city streets. The runners were galloping in circles and in criss-cross fashion. They went up and then down the same streets, marked by partitions and onlookers yelling encouragement, around Oslo Center. The Norwegians were out in large numbers, some bundled appropriately against the still frigid spring, and some letting the strengthening sun of late April kiss their exposed skin. We were witnessing the frenzied energy of the return of the warmer months and feeling the palpable excitement of the Nordic people who must hideaway throughout much of the year against the truly fierce cold.

We were seeing Oslo during its seasonal awakening, a spark of life emerging after the dormancy of winter. There was a palpable excitement of the Nordic people having left their wintertide hiding places.  It was only appropriate, then, that we visit the studio of designer and silk screener Mari Norden whose designs exist as a reflection of this excitement and as a spark of color emerging from the staid Scandinavian design scape of black and white.

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Designer Mari Norden, who’s namesake brand MarinoLoves sparked my attention on an evening scrolling through Instagram searching #NorwegianDesign, is a beautiful blaze of color and warmth. The aforementioned snow was falling on a particularly grey morning when we came upon Mari’s studio in an old industrial-residential area of Oslo. When she opened the door to invite us in out of the cold it was like stumbling upon a stoked fire in its hearth.

“It’s not chic, it’s sheep.” – Mari Norden

Her bright, friendly eyes—as full of sparkle and smiles as she is—see the tradition of minimalism in Scandinavian fashion a bit differently than I do. When I used the word “chic” to describe the controlled, color-blocked street fashion of the Norwegians, she immediately corrected me with the quip, “It’s not chic, it’s sheep.”  Mari’s almost counter-culture view on fashion in the land of black & white—that it should excite, draw attention and be an extension of your own energy—is no surprise when you walk around her studio. A rainbow of color in silks and wools, so vibrant it almost vibrates, paints the clothing rack positioned in the corner of the room. Tufts of snow cone colored reindeer hair—the same that adorns the lapel of her fuchsia coat pictured above—seemingly grow from a section of wall in her studio. The models that grace the pages of her look book carry balloon bouquets and wear balloon crowns. When you discover that the first piece of clothing she ever designed was made from a sky-blue bean bag chair that she deconstructed, followed by years of finding those little synthetic balls all over the house, the picture completes itself.

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After beginning to sew at age ten, Mari daydreamed about her future as a designer getting good grades along the way, and arrived at Middlesex University in London where she studied fashion. It was there, during her last year of university, that she got really into silkscreen printing, practically living in her school’s excellent printing facilities. You’ll recognize this technique in her work to this day, balancing the solids of her collection with playful patterns.

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But not all of Mari’s approaches to design are counter to her homeland’s approach to fashion. She focuses on all natural fibers and sustainable practices that fall directly in line with the Scandinavian tradition of social and environmental consciousness. It is this cobimnation of mindful, yet unfettered, creation that makes Mari’s pieces such treasures and her collections exemplary of a new understanding of Scandinavian design.

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After spending the morning chatting with Mari about Norway, New York City, The Netherlands, London, cinema, fashion, art, and beyond, it was clear that, while her last name—Norden, or “The North”—identifies her as a native daughter, we were meeting a person that redefine what is considered quintessentially Norwegian. In a land of people perceived (and often identifying) as introverted, wild emotions—especially those in opposition to the norm—are rarely visible. Mari’s unique perspective on design and true passion for turning the conventional on it’s ear is an inspiration.

We said our goodbyes and emptied back out into the frigid spring air. There was a context now, for this vast, snowy land and a comfort in knowing—at least in one specific example—how the beautiful minds of this society stoke their own creative fires. Our eyes were attuned now, finding the pops of color, warmth and rebellion wherever they sprang up. Be it a grafitti’d wall blooming amongst the concrete, an underground club washed in the cathartic screams of Death Metal or the radiant rainbow of the MariNoLoves collections, the Norwegians are getting their fix.

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For more on Mari Norden and MariNoLoves, please visit: www.marinoloves.com.

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Weekly Round-Up

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This weekly round-up is incorporating the weekend, for a change. Nothing clears the air and opens up the waves of communication and creativity like a dramatic rain storm, and this is how the weekend began. Pounding rain and smears of traffic lights while I hid out under the BQE on my bike, trying to make a plan for how I was to make it to the city without getting (more, entirely) soaked. It actually felt energizing to be in the midst of such chaos after the oppressive air of Mercury retrograde had lifted.

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Our final destination for the evening (after stashing bikes in Joe’s classroom in Downtown Brooklyn) was the birthday party of our dear friend in her Chinatown apartment. Dumplings and red wine and champagne and cucumber slices with Ponzo fueled our post rainstorm bliss and we spoke and danced and reconnected and became closer. This sweet friend and her sweet husband bring together some of the most enchanting people from all walks and being in their home (a veritable museum of art, handiwork and natural curiosities from their worldwide adventures) is always calming, fortifying and inspiring. I am so moved to be with people and interact with the world now that my self-inflicted mercurial misery of the past weeks is over.

Rachel, Joe and myself were even motivated to “play Korea” as we often are, calling upon our surreal time together so long ago in a foreign place, and went in search of late-night, authentic cuisine in one of the last corners of New York City that remains extraordinary, curious and exciting. Our adventures in late night dumplings brought us to Mission Chinese, which after much run-around from the host, introduced us to some of the better food we’ve had the joy of eating. Authentic and fringe and tucked away it was not, but the experience was certainly wild and bizarre which is what we were hoping to encounter.

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I was so lucky to have spent time with the immensely talented Jack Woertz this past week. Seeing her work space and learning the ins and outs of one of my favorite crafts—leather tooling—from the pro herself was a blast and I cannot wait to share her story here on the blog. We first spent time together back in August at the oasis of a Brooklyn home she inhabits with her lovely girlfriend (the site of the Bohemian Collective photo shoot for Morphologically with Dawn Marie West). I had been dying to get back to that space and hear the full story of Jack’s life and work after having a sneak peek into her world. And now, more than ever, I want to shout from the rooftops: “Get out there, people, and MAKE THINGS WITH YOUR HANDS!” It’s what the world needs more of. IMG_6647-2

Finally, I found this INCREDIBLE floral jersey at Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope on this gorgeous Saturday past and I have been wearing it ever since (including to the Brooklyn Nets Open Practice on Sunday morning because it felt totally appropriate for the occasion). The piece is one of my most exciting finds in recent history as I seem to have stepped away from thrifting lately. But, after finding it, I was inspired to watch (at long last) IRIS, the documentary on the goddess of self-expression through dress, Iris Apfel, making me fall even more deeply in love with it. It makes me feel so amazing and empowered for an inexplicable reason and I am honestly going to try to incorporate this top into as many outfits as possible, and see if I can’t work it into a “professional” ensemble for a meeting or an event. I think it can work!

Wishing you late night dance parties, happy rain storms, craftiness and all the love in the world.

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Hands of Creation

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Fall, in its infinite crispness and newness, always brings me deeply in touch with my meditative side. I turn inward after the mania and excitement of the summer months and celebrate the opportunity to get back to routine and back to nesting after summer’s nomadism. Fall is also my favorite time to delve into life’s slow arts—cooking, crafting, creating in all manner—and so it is appropriate that I should have the pleasure of introducing to these pages a wonderful creator who has come to discover the slow art that moves her most and who is making her life for it and from it.

It was still the height of summer when I first came to visit Ivy Weinglass at her studio in all her sprightliness and warmth. It never ceases to amaze me that, while wandering the streets of Brooklyn, one can be in the presence of such magic, tucked away just beyond sight and consciousness. And so it was that I came to discover her ceramics studio, cool and earthen smelling in delightful contrast to the tinny August heat, nestled in an unassuming building off of a dead-end street in Williamsburg. Here Ivy spends her days in the company of other artists who share this studio, the healthy buzz of creation filling the railroad style space and the gift of a grape-vined secret garden in the back to escape to for moments of calm.

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A voracious crafter of all disciplines, Ivy has tried her hand at many projects. And something that she may do just to pass the time inevitably yields enviable and covetable results. Her vintage bandana bags and quilts, for example, are straight out of a southwestern, wanderlust dreamscape, conjuring images of cowboy kisses, dusty road trips, and sleeping under the stars. Likewise, her latest adventure in embroidery has garnered well deserved attention from all angles and adorns the wearer in a happy neo-grunge halo. But it is her work in ceramics that, above all of her other artistry, makes her feel completely herself. She found the craft after a stint of creative drought and took to it feverishly, compelled by the challenge and patience that it required. And here she is today, creating truly stunning pieces (now available at ABC Carpet and Home {yeehaw!} among many other awesome outposts across the country) that feel simultaneously ancient and cutting edge, original and universal. She says that her devotion to long hours in the studio surprised her at first, having thought of herself previously as someone lacking in attention. But the nature of working with clay has found her in complete meditative clarity and possessing a work ethic with a laser beam focus to achieve the pieces that she envisions.

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Perhaps her most iconic pieces are her ceramic hands. Always having been drawn to the symbol—collecting hands of all mediums from thrift stores, markets, etc—she conceived of her own motif completely out of function, to serve as an elegant spot to snub out her beloved palo santo sticks that she burns incessantly in her home. (It is her practice, even, to gift purchasers of her ceramic hands with a stick of palo santo, known for bringing balance to the spaces in which it is burned.) The result, of course, is the perfect, soulfully pleasing designs that enchant every person that lays eyes on them. The ideal talisman to adorn our homes with as we settle into these months of sacred nesting, with shorter days and falling temperatures.

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What I find so special about Ivy’s story is that she has truly made a life of her passions, seemingly unfettered by any commonly used excuses or frequently referenced obstacles like time, money, and the thing her mom calls “monkey brain” (aka the chief demon of all creatives: the little voice that tries to stop us each day as we sit down to make our art). Her recipe to keep focused when the voices of doubt and distraction surface is to take a break. When her work flow is off and things don’t feel right in the studio, she escapes completely until she is ready to return to the task at hand. And it turns out that sometimes those days away are more important to her continued work than days spent at her bench. She references, and I couldn’t agree with her more, that we have to be our own best cheerleader if we are ever to accomplish (and still find joy in) our work. Ivy also fights against the societal constraint to put money above all else by reveling in the beauty of trade. She’s found many other incredible artists on Instagram whom she has cultivated relationships with and made exchanges of her work for theirs, rendering her life and her spaces full of amazing artifacts that fuel her creativity. But money inevitably comes with great effort and determination, and I am so happy for all of Ivy’s well deserved success.

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It is the solid influence of friends and family and the vision of other creatives that keeps her motivated and inspired. She is intimately aware of the fact that when you keep trying your hand at “making it” in the creative arena, something is bound to stick. And like the sage she is, she acknowledges that inevitably  one will have to keep trying to break through to the next source of inspiration. One thing that she never hopes to be is complacent, understanding that complacency is the ultimate enemy of creativity. And so Ivy strives to keep learning, keep exploring and keep building upon her creative foundation. And we, the awestruck admirers of her work, couldn’t be happier for it.

To purchase, or for more on Ivy’s work, visit her at her brand’s website: IIIVVVYYY.

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