Dishing Up - Confessions of a Closet Minimalist

I have a confession to make. No matter how many pretty, lacy, doily, girly type things I feature on this blog and happen to brain keeps telling me that I'm a minimalist at heart.

Perhaps architecture school scarred me more than I ever imagined, possibly because almost every project I've ever worked on (both real and university projects alike) have been all about glass, steel, polished concrete and sleek, rectilinear lines. And if I was feeling generous, maybe some intricately detailed timber. Maybe. Most of my favourite architects and designers are ruthlessly minimalist, modern, and even brutalist on occasion.

My apartment, however, is living proof that although I may be a minimalist in theory, I am not and will never be a minimalist in practice. In fact, my very first post centred entirely around this fact.

Nevertheless, I continue to indulge my theoretical minimalism over at 2Modern every week, and it was only a matter of time before my inadvertent maximalism won out.

I can't get enough of plates. I've been trying to deny it, I've been pretending that I'd never, ever put plates on my wall, and I've been trying to keep my secret love of plates separate from my decidedly modern posts over on 2Modern.

But then artists like Cat Merrick come along and create delightfully deconstructivist porcelain plates that are just impossible to resist!

She sandblasts plates for heavens sakes, I can't NOT love that!

Back in November I even blogged about how much I didn't get the whole plate resurgence, but then I found these fantastic Shippo plates by Hella Jongerius , and it all started to click into place.

So here I am, almost on the dark side, pondering if it's worth annoying my landlord by hanging plates all over my walls.

And when I find more amazing pictures like these ones of Lisa Congdon's kitchen stashed away in my favourites folder, it's like Darth Vader is not only inviting me over to the dark side, but putting the hammer and nails in my hand and marking up my wall in an artfully random composition.

So this weekend, I'm going plate shopping. Yeah, take that theoretical minimalism!

And on that note, hope you all have a fabulous weekend, free of Darth Vader invasion delusions. Unless of course you're going to join me on my plate crusade, in which case, see you on the dark side!

A Cut Above - The Best of Paper Art

As someone who has spent their fair share of time crouched over a craft mat fighting the cramps that often go hand in hand with extended use of tiny craft knives, I am outwardly ecstatic and inwardly envious that all things paper are undergoing such a notable resurgence.

Most of my favourites have already well and truly done the blog rounds, but I wanted to share them again anyway, mainly because my walls are still largely bare and I need a little inspiration.

First up is Rob Ryan, whose whimsical paper cut creations have grabbed the attention of Vogue UK and Vogue Japan, not to mention an insanely successful collaboration with Paul Smith.

Combining Tord Boontje-esque filigree with cute birds, happy couples and the occasional tragic love story, it isn't difficult to see why Mister Rob's designs are in such high demand.

In addition to Rob's official site, he also has a great blog where you can keep up to date on his latest work.

Next up is Yulia Brodskaya, a Russian-born, London based graphic designer who has merged quilling and typography together into some of the most exquisite paper creations I've ever seen.

If I wasn't so incredibly adept at giving myself paper cuts (the hurty kind, not the pretty kind!) I would be VERY tempted to call my mother and get her to send all my old quilling kits my way...but I have a feeling we'll all be better off if I leave quilling in the talented hands of Yulia.

The colourful explosions of Jen Stark are next on my list. With layers upon layers of coloured paper and a technique that I can't even wrap my little brain around, Jen creates beautifully unexpected paper sculptures that would brighten up any room.

Ms. Stark, if you happen to be reading, I have the PERFECT wall for your work. Oh, and I happen to know a few gallery owners, so if you ever feel like visiting me :D

But back to paper. Helen Musselwhite is a U.K. artist and illustrator who creates adorable three-dimensional scenes by cutting, scoring and folding paper.

The layered constructions draw upon mid-century design, folk art and ethnic art, and many pieces resemble scenes from imagined fairytales.

Helen's works are graphically strong and deceivingly complex, and would be welcome on my walls any time!

The next paper masterpieces come to us via Design*Sponge! Inspired by the use of paper in Japanese spiritual life, the recently graduated Lizzie Thomas has created seasonally themed paper and wood constructions, complete with intricately cut trees and leaf motifs (seasonally appropriate, of course!)

Unfortunately Lizzie's website doesn't seem to be coping with demand, but check out the Design*Sponge article for a sneak peek at her beautiful timber creations (out of vintage rulers, no less?!)

And to complete my little paper art roundup, the lovely work of Claire Brewster only recently came to my attention via Ill Seen, Ill Said. And when it did, I involuntarily squealed and clapped my hands like a cashed up kid in a candy store.

Maybe I need to seek professional help, but come on! Birds! And maps! And some are vintage maps! How could I not be excited by that prospect?!

Not to mention the fact that the silhouettes are somehow both simple yet beautifully intricate.

So many talented artists, so few walls! It really is exciting to see how many great concepts and perfectly executed paper projects are coming out of the woodwork and finding their way into the spotlight, where they rightfully belong. Keep it coming people!

Wednesday Wisdom - When Things Aren't Looking Up

May I never miss a sunset
or a rainbow
because I am looking down.

- Sara June Parker

Boo, more bad news today! I had my cranky pants on and I was ready to grump around all day. I grumped my way out to the letterbox, expecting to find more grump-inducing bills, and what did I find?


Yay! Super thank you to the lovely Ez of Creature Comforts for her great giveaway, her lovely packaging and her impeccable timing.

Squirrels trump grump!

[Image Credit]

Nude on the Red Carpet - Oscars in Neutral Territory

Right. Oscars. Did you watch? Do you care? I'm not a huge fan given my limited attention span, but I had to tune in this year to see how fellow Australian Hugh Jackman handled the spotlight.

But first things first! The red carpet. Just as the trends of the Golden Globes foretold, the carpet was dominated by nude, neutral tones coupled with metallics and the occasional splash of bridal whites and delicate lace. These were the very looks I was surprised to find myself loving on the Golden Globes carpet, and here they are again.

So just in case you haven't had enough of the best and worst dressed of the night, here's my Top 5...

#5 Tilda Swinton in Lanvin Pre-Fall 09

The Lanvin sack makes another controversial appearance! Just like Maggie Gyllenhaal's controversial Golden Globes Lanvin outing, this is yet another Love It or Hate It outfit. I'm not usually a fan of Ms. Swinton, but I adore this look on her. Watching her on stage later in the show, the blouse in particular was far more flattering than most any still images managed to capture.

#4 Jennifer Aniston in Valentino Spring 09 Couture

I know this could be considered blasphemy, but this Valentino dress could have looked incredibly, dare I say, trashy, on the wrong figure. All logic tells me that this dress is a recipe for disaster. It's sparkly, it's glizty, the colour washes lighter skin tones out, and it emphasises the bust and hips which can sometimes be far from flattering (sorry again Beyonce, first the Golden Globes, and now THIS?!) And despite this, Jen looks elegant and relaxed, with softly waved hair and neutral, sun-kissed makeup. (Note: Strapless dress sans necklace. I likey.)

#3 Penelope Cruz in vintage Pierre Balmain Haute Couture

It's white. It's puffy. It's lacy. It's super bridal, and I freakin' love it! It's not over-the-top bridezilla (a la Miley Cyrus in Zuhair Murhad), and coupled with a diamond collar necklace, a cute yellow clutch, demure makeup and an Audrey Hepburn-esque up-do, it's simply perfection. The dress dates back to the 1950s, and Ms. Cruz somehow manages to effortlessly channel the old world glamour that the dress demands.

#2 Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive Spring 09

If you happen to recall my previous Anne Hathaway rant, you'd probably be a little surprised to see her as one of my favourite red carpet looks of the night. I may be biased usually, but I can't deny that she looked stunning in her Armani Prive Spring 09 number. Her hair and makeup were suitably sublime. (Note: Another strapless dress sans necklace. I likey even more.)

And now, the moment you probably haven't been waiting for.

Drumroll please.

*Opens empty envelope to extend the suspense*

#1...It's a tie!

Ok so I cheated. And I couldn't decide. And I'm not even sure if Nicole Kidman walked the red carpet at all, let alone in my dress of choice. But this is my Top 5, and it doesn't have to make sense if I don't want it to! Anyway...

Evan Rachel Wood in Elie Saab in Spring 09 Couture

This is yet another contentious dress. Some lament that the colour washes Ms. Wood (Ms. Rachel Wood? People with 3 names confuse me), and whilst I suspect that there is still an unwritten rule that light colours only work for those with darker skin, I for one think this is one example (of many on the red carpet) that us lighter skinned chicitas can wear whatever the bejiminies we want. The dark smokey eyes, coiffed auburn hair and shiny red nails might also have something to do with Ms. Wood pulling this look off beautifully. (And yes, another strapless dress sans necklace!)

Nicole Kidman in L’Wren Scott Spring 09

Ok, so the lady likes to wear white L'Wren Scott dresses. A lot. I'm still at a loss as to why this fact alone seems to place Ms. Kidman on many a Worst Dressed list. Is it really so horrible that the woman has found a look she likes, or should she test the waters of Lanvin sacks so she can cop some flack for taking a risk? Whatevs. I love this dress, feathery frayed bits and all! Combined with the hair and makeup, it's Nicole at her Moulin Rouge glamourous best. And yet another strapless dress sans necklace, but the chandelier earrings and the hair clip finish off the look.

Oh, and apparently there was an awards ceremony too?

There were two highlights for moi. Firstly, Heath Ledger being acknowledged for his work and remembered as he should be: A talented artist, a devoted father and an old soul.

And secondly, Hugh Jackman's opening number. Mr. Jackman, another talented Australian and an all-round nice guy, seems to be known by most as Wolverine, without being aware of the impressive body of work he's racked up, both on screen and on the stage.

So although many thought Hugh was surprisingly at home on stage last night, it seems that many others are taking his self-effacing opening number (and the rest of his performance) a little too seriously. Lighten up kids!

And let's not forget Anne Hathaway's contribution to the aforementioned opening number. Yep, you heard correctly, I'm mentioning Ms. Hathaway twice in one post. And both times I'm saying nice things! Because this moment...

...Right here, was the moment that I officially crossed Anne Hathaway off my Top 5 of my Most Inexplicably Detested Actors. In fact, I would even go so far as to say...I like her. Sure, Bride Wars was pretty terrible, but she is, on the whole, pretty damn cool.

Not cool however, is Channel 9 hacking apart their prime time Oscars telecast. Us Aussies had to resort to Youtube for Ben Stiller's painfully hilarious Joaquin Phoenix skit, and we also missed out on Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried presenting the 2008 romance roundup. I speak on behalf of all tragic Twilight fangirls when I say, loud and clear, not cool Channel 9, not cool at all!

But all's well that ends well, right?

Super props to whoever finally convinced Mr. Pattinson to wash his hair. Improvement over past red carpet events: 3000%.

What did you think of the Oscars this year? Any surprises?

[Images via Just Jared + FabSugar + Red Carpet Fashion Awards
+ Socialite Life]

Balloons Away! Dare to Make a Difference!

There's nothing like balloons to catch my attention. They're the woollen ball to my little kitten paws, and resistance is futile. So when Nicola over at Concrete and Honey brought the latest cancer fundraising campaign to my attention, it was love at first sight. Now that we have almost every colour of the rainbow represented in lapel-destined ribbons, we can add balloons to the equation too. Sort of.

This guy was dared to float away from Bondi Beach using my new favourite mode of transport, balloons! His attempts weren't quite successful, but it's the thought that counts, right? Plus I'm 99% sure he's wearing a suit, so props for travelling in style!

The dare is part of Dareadallion Week, the brainchild of the Cancer Council of Australia which challenges lads around the country to dare themselves or each other to sacrifice a little dignity for a good cause. It's another great initiative to raise awareness (and funds) for men's cancer, which affects 1 in 2 Australian men. Whoa. There's even a dare generator if you need a little inspiration.

I for one am hoping to see plenty of men wandering around in the city dressed as their favourite superheros. In fact, I would pay money to see that, which is the whole point of the campaign! Some people are getting tattoos, others are going to roam around a shopping centre all day in their underwear. My personal favourite is from Rod Messent, who has been dared to sign all his work and personal emails "with cuddles and love, Rodd". For a week. I hope the spelling error is intentional too, it just adds to the genius. (I'm so immature.)

The official festivities are from March 2 - 6, but I suspect we may be seeing the results of this campaign for a while to come. With participants encouraged to record their shenanigans and share them on Youtube, I foresee plenty of good material coming our way.

[Images from The Coolhunter via Concrete and Honey - Thanks again Nicola!]

Take Me to the Carnevale!

Happy Monday! Welcome to a new week, and a new little series from yours truly. I'm basically just indulging myself in the hope that you might be interested too, and maybe even a little inspired if things go well. I even made a teeny little graphic, how can you resist?!

And so begins my list of...

#1 Attend the Venice Carnevale

Especially the official opening of the Carnevale, the Flight of the Angel. This tradition takes place in the Piazza San Marco and dates back to the 1500s. See that little person up there? That must be the angel!

Oh wait, it's Coolio. Yeah, the Gangsta's Paradise Coolio. Weird choice, amazing photo.

I must admit, I have been in Venice during the leadup to the Carnevale, and the masks in almost every shop window scared the bejiminies out of me. I had nightmares. Seriously.

But tough luck. When I tick off #1 on my list of Things to do Before I Die, I'm going all out. I'm frocking up, getting a killer mask and going to a masquerade ball. If I happen to find the right people (and bribe them substantially), I'll be attending the exclusive Grand Cavalchina Ball in the La Fenice Opera House. No half measures for this girl!

If my attempts at bribery fail, I can always work a little on my belly dancing moves. If memory serves correctly, I was disturbingly good at belly dancing when I took a class many years ago. And if I keep up my pastry addiction, I'll be in perfect shape in no time!

Then I shall search the streets of Venice for this man, just so I can tell him that he is très gorgeous, but smoking is très bad. First stop will be Caffè Florian on the Piazza San Marco, where only those with the finest costumes are admitted. The real Casanova used to frequent this joint, so I must be prepared to be swept off my feet. (Let's hope Mr. Unreliable isn't reading this!)

And then I shall sail off into the sunset with my adorable masked a gondola of course.

Sigh. I love Venice! Has anyone been to the Carnevale? Does anyone know who I can bribe? And more importantly, what's on your list of things you want to do before you die?
Just as a little aside, today is a little milestone for moi - I have over 100 people following my Twitter rants, and just to prove how completely tech-savvy I'm not, I'm now on Facebook too! This from the girl who only just figured out how to use Google Reader! So come say hello, be my friend, become a fan and follow That Unreliable Girl (and plenty of other fabuloso blogs) on Facebook. Yay!

[Image Credit via Sugar Pie Express]