It’s October 27. Do you know where your Halloween costume is? We suggest standing out from the Snooki-fied masses and so many makeshift Lady Gagas by donning a crisp white suit, string tie, and goatee whilst hugging a red-striped bucket to your chest (handy for storing candy). Smile, you’re a finger lickin’ good corporate icon! KFC has embarked on an extra tasty crispy campaign to encourage chicken lovers to dress up as Colonel Harland Sanders this Halloween. It’s all part of the company’s year-long celebration of its distinctively garbed founder. Don’t think of it free advertising for an $11 billion global corporation—think of it as your small contribution to our great fast food nation! “Colonel Sanders in his iconic white suit is one of the most enduring images of American history,” says John Cywinski, KFC’s chief marketing and food innovation officer. “As we mark the 120th anniversary of the Colonel’s birth, we’re calling on KFC fans to help celebrate this American icon by donning ‘his suit’ this Halloween.” Depending on your build and disposition, however, you may be mistaken for Boss Hog, Tom Wolfe, or Tommy Tune. One lucky would-be Colonel will win a lifetime supply of KFC sandwiches and “the chance to be outfitted in a more official Colonel’s suit for next year’s Halloween celebration” (are they implying that the winning suit will be somehow less than official?). Costumes will be judged on “creativity, likeness to Colonel Sanders, and relevancy to the brand.”
Everything old is new again—or rather everything new is old again. Behold Jonas Damon‘s old school take on an iPad charging dock. The cheeky hutch embraces the covetable Apple device in the wooden form of a circa-1970′s or -1980′s television, complete with cathode ray tube housing. Damon, a creative director at frog design, crafted the distinctively shaped dock for his personal use out of a fruit crate and the desire to inject some personality into the sleek tech item of the moment. “I sought to enrich the iPad with something I have an emotional connection to—the home appliances of my upbringing,” he told frog design’s Intrapreneur blog. “This lo-fidelity design language is very appealing in contrast to the gloss-black slick design trends that are currently the norm.” And if you can’t tolerate a term like “craft,” with its associations of frenzied scrapbookers and decoupage junkies, think of its as “folk industrial design”? “Every day we are seeing ordinary people adapting products like the iPad to suit their particular needs, lifestyles, and desires,” said Damon. “The lack of personality of the iPad has enabled people to create their own enclosures.”
(Photo: Marmol Radziner)
Baubles, bangles, and…surplus bronze? That’s the material of choice for M+R Jewelry, a new line of accessories created by Marmol Radziner. The Los Angeles-based architecture and construction firm has transformed leftover bits of bronze from its past building and furniture projects into sturdy unisex bracelets, cuffs, and rings. Handcrafted by Marmol Radziner’s metalsmiths in Vernon, California, the pieces are versatile enough to add a sustainable swoop to the everyday or the Rick Owens runway. “The collection is a way of experimenting with our ideas, using different scales and materials to see if our concepts hold,” says Marmol Radziner Principal Ron Radziner, who also describes the jewelry as “reminiscent of our architecture, whose beauty lies partly in the expression of the materials and proportions.” The M+R Jewelry collection, priced from $80 to $250, is now available at Arp in Los Angeles.
Want to recreate your grandmother’s flowery tablecloth or put your own spin on a classic Alexander Girard print? Head to Spoonflower, a website that allows users to print their own designs on fabric. Launched last year out of an old sock mill in Mebane, North Carolina, the site has rapidly attracted a crafty fan base of 15,000 users. The process is simple: upload a file (JPG, TIF, or PNG), select from multiple placement options, and check out. Prices range from $5.00 for an 8″ x 8″ swatch to $32.00 per yard of upholstery-weight cotton sateen, and designs are printed (using eco-friendly, non-toxic pigment inks) within five business days. Textile design veterans and amateurs alike can enter the Fabric of the Week contest, which is voted on by Spoonflower users. Winning designs are offered for sale as limited-edition fabrics at Spoonflower’s Etsy shop.
In a charity project that might well have been called “Forever in Blue Jeans” if Neil Diamond hadn’t already taken cultural custody of the phrase, Barneys and Elle have teamed up on a charity auction of redesigned, recycled denim to benefit Oceana, the international advocacy group dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Project Blue was born when Julie Gilhart, Barneys’ sustainably savvy fashion director and senior vice president, helped to implement a program collecting and repurposing customers’ used denim. Eight fashion designers were invited to create unique pieces out of the old jeans (just like that Project Runway episode!), and the resulting garments are now up for bid on eBay through Sunday, May 10.
From our wildly talented friends Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte comes a ballerina-style dress (pictured above, at far right) that manages to make denim delicate, frayed edges and all. Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier also went with a dress (above, second from right), a sleekly tailored number with a Thierry Mugler-on-the-farm vibe that Maier describes as “a dress for the future with a beautiful history.” Check out the work of the other participating designers—Derek Lam, Ann Demeulemeester, Alexander Wang, Rogan, Versace, and Stella McCartney—on eBay or in Elle‘s May “Blue Issue,” which features a portfolio of all eight “recycled chic” looks styled by Joanne Blades and photographed by Michael Armstrong.
Andrew Wagner, who most recently led the triumphant relaunch of American Craft with creative director Jeanette Abbink, is ready for a new challenge. The Dwell founding editor has been named editor-in-chief of ReadyMade, the bimonthly magazine “for people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects—the perfectly round yolk in the mundane egg.” Wagner will assume his role at the Meredith title, which is based in Des Moines, on May 4.
“ReadyMade came to life in the Bay Area just a little after the launching of Dwell, so I’ve always watched it and been a big fan,” Wagner tells us. “I’ve known [ReadyMade founders] Grace Hawthorne and Shoshana Berger and have always been thoroughly impressed with the work they’ve done…so this presented an opportunity to continue the good things they’ve been doing with the magazine and to expand on it.” Among his key priorities will be broadening the magazine’s online presence, which currently includes a project archive, a few “web exclusives,” a couple of sporadically updated blogs, and a photo gallery to which readers can upload images of their latest creations, like this fetching wallet made from an 8-track tape. “ReadyMade is perfectly suited to a fantastically harmonious interplay between print and online,” notes Wagner. “We’re just starting to figure all that out but in the next few months expect to see Readymade.com pick up major steam.”
More bad news on the design-y magazine front: Craft is folding its witty, DIY-obsessed print publication, two-and-a-half years after its launch. The magazine’s party-themed tenth issue—on newsstands now and fronted by ubercrafter Amy Sedaris—will be the last. “The future of Craft is online,” announced the magazine Wednesday on its blog. The plan is to expand Craft‘s online home, Craftzine.com, under the leadership of senior editor Natalie Zee Drieu. “We have a lot of work to do to bring the best of the magazine to the website, but the team has started to pursue that goal,” noted the editors. “We will focus on bringing you more craft projects, just as the print magazine did but we’ll be able to do so with greater frequency.” Craft‘s higher-circulation and more tech-savvy brother publication, Make, will continue to be published in print.
Only knitters and their movie-obsessed husband would make much ado about the miniature knitwear in the movie Coraline. Yes, all the sweaters in this flick are handmade on teeny-tiny needles, as author Vicki Howell has marvel on her blog, not to be outdone by her husband, who also made much to-do about it on his new everything you need to know about the movies blog, Smells the Screen Spirit. Turns out Howell knows Althea Crone (who has a web site aptly named Bug Knits, who didn’t drive herself crazy making all those mini clothes for the clay starlet. “I love hearing when fiber artists are successfully working on amazing projects,” says Howell on her blog, adding that she was especially thrilled that director Henry Selick and Focus Features went out their way to bring attention to Crone’s work.
Sure, you’ve blocked out this week to return unwanted gifts (“Thanks, Uncle Felix, I do so love angora. And what a stunning mustard hue!”), find the perfect 2009 calendar, and make collage-based tributes to the late Eartha Kitt, but we suggest that before 2008 is out, you read David Samuels‘ fascinating New Yorker profile of John Coster-Mullen, the Wisconsin truck driver who has solved myriad mysteries of the first atom bombs. Say what?
Coster-Mullen, 61, is the author of the self-published book Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man. He has spent the last decade compiling the most accurate known account of the Hiroshima bomb’s inner workings, what Samuels describes as “an unnervingly detailed reconstruction,” and building a full-scale model bomb in his garage. Samuels teases out the details of the bomb’s design, the “community of civilian nuclear obsessives,” and Coster-Mullen himself by tagging along with him on a series of cross-country trucking runs and bomb-related research adventures. We learn, for example, how an old photograph and a 1942 Plymouth were the catalysts for a breakthrough in Coster-Mullen’s knowledge of the bomb’s exact measurements. Also, he really really likes Diet Coke. Meanwhile, his quest to know—and publish—all there is to know about the bomb continues apace. Says Coster-Mullen, “The secret of the atomic bomb is how easy they are to make.”
If Faith Popcorn‘s prediction that the 1950s, 1960s even the 1970s are set to make a roaring comeback with the recession in full swing, be prepared to see a lot more bow ties and not just on the likes of Pete Wetz or Tucker Carlson. Thrifty types will eschew the pricey varieties at the department stores for the Do-It-Yourself variety. Prom-goers will make ‘em for the big day; brides for their spouses and they should be a hit in sewing classes such as these. Here is Burdastyle’s step-by-step how-to complete with a pattern template you can download and print out on your printer. What’s infinitely great about the bow tie is its simplicity. You can also make ‘em from silk or brocade scraps. Hard to believe but sewing a neck-tie is actually a lot more complicated than it looks. Vogue Patterns has one if you’re inclined to sew one.