It’s All Good: Q & A with Live Good’s Jennifer Chi

Live Good Bedding Product Studio Shoot. 9/29/11. Glendale, CA

Supima is the Champagne and caviar of cotton — or, in this case, that would be the sustainable and organic Champagne and caviar. Pima cotton (of which Supima cotton, which is a brand name, is made) has finer and longer fibers, ensuring that anything it comprises is supremely soft but oh-so-strong.

Jennifer Chi, founder of Live Good, uses only organic Supima in her line of bedding for babies and adults. Any cushion filling is natural, too (think fibers from the kapok tree). Dyes are also organic, and the lettering uses water-based inks. Who needs to live in a plastic bubble when you can surround yourself with all these non-toxic offerings?

We asked the Stanford grad and former human rights investigator what inspired her to start this eco-friendly — and eminently luxurious — brand.

How did your training as a human rights investigator in overseas factories influence the way you started and now run your company? That experience certainly shaped me as a human being, and therefore influences my decision-making at Live Good. It’s easy to focus on the negatives—memories of workers getting sick from toxic materials and having to endure very long hours for minimal pay. I choose to focus on the positives. I remember people being kind to one another, sharing lunches, or stepping in when another worker was tired.  Your work makes up so much of your life. Everyone deserves to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. That’s what I hope to give all of my talented team members at Live Good.

Why was it important for your designs to be made in America? As a woman, I feel fortunate to have been born and raised in the United States. The one thing that is always on my mind when traveling abroad is the state of women in that region. Although I find all cultures and countries to be beautiful in their own way, I see that gender inequality is alarmingly prevalent around the world. Growing up in the States, I had the opportunity to attain a college and graduate school education — an opportunity that most women in developing nations do not have. Why was it important to manufacture in the USA? I wanted my company to be a strong reflection of my values and principles, which are rooted in the American civil liberties culture.

How do you think your business can be a model/inspiration for other companies? To be honest, other companies have been an inspiration to me and my team. I am working with some of the most respected names in manufacturing, and they have been so kind. I never imagined these veterans would be willing to restructure parts of their business just to work with Live Good. It has been an incredible journey so far!

Even the wooden buttons on your duvet covers are sustainable. Why do you think this attention to detail is important? The wooden buttons come from a very nice man in New York. He carves them himself. I remember he was trying to finish up my order and Hurricane Sandy was on her way. So dedicated!  But to answer your question, I believe true beauty is in the details. I use all certified organic materials and dyes because I want to be able to say Live Good products are made according to the strictest environmental standards — and mean it.

What do you do to maintain your balance and “live good”? These days I’m usually busy running color checks at my dye factory or overseeing final production at my warehouse. But you have to be careful not to burn out, so I make it a point to spend at least one afternoon a week by myself walking on the beach—just me and the blue Pacific. I love the ocean; it’s where I find my peace.

— Maria Ricapito

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Art Smart: Tips from Paddle8′s Tess Standa on Starting a Covetable Collection

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Think fine art is out of your reach? Think again. We asked Tess Standa, a specialist at pioneering online auction house Paddle8, a few questions about how to find your style, and start building a covetable collection — and she generously provided plenty of tips that are truly able to catapult you from art novice to bona fide collector status. And once you’re ready to get started, head over to shop Paddle8’s picks … inspired works of art that’ll feed your inspiration, and jump-start your collection.

 

 

How do you find your art style? Does it follow your design sense? Fashion? Cultural interests? How do you know if you’re a modernist or a classicist? Help!

 

Like shopping for clothes or decorating your home, discovering your art style starts with visual research. Living in New York, we’re lucky to have a wealth of art resources at our fingertips. Take a weekend and go to the Met, the New Museum, and MoMA to see which collection rings your bell. Are you, respectively, traditional, edgy, or solidly modern? Notice which mediums you’re drawn to—do you find yourself beelining for photography or gravitating towards sculpture? If you live outside of a cultural capital, a trip to an old-fashioned bookstore can be equally illuminating. Flipping through Grove’s Dictionary of Art is the art-world equivalent of perusing back issues of Vogue. And just like your wardrobe is filled with high and low, what you have on your walls can span the spectrum—from garage-sale steals to gallery finds—as long as it speaks to you.

 

 

Once you find your style, how do you go about actually starting your collection? Give us some tips on getting it right from the start, do you don’t get discouraged.

 

It’s simple: collect what you love. You can’t go wrong starting with a work by an artist who you have always admired. If a Picasso painting that you’ve pined for at a museum is out of your price range, a Picasso print can be an accessible alternative. An artist print is a work that an artist produces using methods like printing presses or printers that allow for multiples of a work to be made (a print edition size can range from two prints to thousands).  A print or edition by a blue-chip artist—someone who has been featured in museum exhibitions and has a healthy resale record—can be a stellar foundation around which to build a collection. This is your “investment piece”—everything else will look better next to it.

 

Once you’ve discovered what you like, be sure to gather all of the information you can. A gallery or auction house should always be able to provide a condition report (which tells you about any creases, flaws, or signs of wear) and provenance (where the work came from or has been exhibited).

 

And, like style, your art taste may evolve over time! One perk of buying a work by a recognized artist is that it will likely retain its value should you want to refresh or refine your collection. You can always consign your piece to be sold at auctions (think a consignment shop for designer clothing—even though you’ve tired of those Prada flats, someone else will be thrilled to give them a second life!). While most auction houses focus on trophy pieces, Paddle8 is a resource for collectors looking to both buy and sell at the $1,000 to $100,000 price point.

 

Remember that now more than ever you don’t have to be a jet-setting millionaire to own a work of art: you can find a stunning work for under $1,000, access an entire auction house from your iPhone, and purchase with a click of a button.

 

 

And once you get your new masterworks home… how do you frame and hang them so they look great in your space?

 

At Paddle8, we love to mix and match, creating unexpected dialogues between artists, periods, and mediums. A salon-style hang (in which works with mismatched frames, various dimensions, and styles are hung in a group) can be a dramatic way to showcase the range of your collection. On the other extreme, a single work of art against a brightly colored wall packs quite the visual punch. And don’t forget that you don’t always have to hang—leaning works, too! Think about replacing your stack of coffee-table books with one small piece lying down.

 

Framing is a smart way to set the tone for your collection. And don’t be hewed in by a work’s dimensions: use framing to play with scale by experimenting with a large mat for a small work (but keep in mind that the cost of custom framing can be steep. Our sneaky trick is to visit the local flea market and pop out a mirror or work of art for the frame!). And, if you want a museum insider’s secret, you can buy cheap birch frames by the pack. It’s an easy and affordable way to unify and elevate the presentation.

 

And, don’t forget, a level is your best friend! A $10,000 piece can look like a garage-sale cast-off if it’s hung unevenly.

 

 

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The Elevated Man Cave: Get a Closer Look at Steve Harvey’s Dressing Room

We could say a lot about Steve Harvey’s newly made-over dressing room, but we’re just going to let Mikel Welch — the senior set director for the aforementioned star’s eponymous talk show — say it. It’s way more entertaining. (Just hearing him utter “zebra credenza” is mood-lifting.)

What we will say, is that we love this designer’s style. Using some core pieces from Gilt Home (including Hewson’s Alex Bench and the Aiden Sofa from 808 Home, both of which he put his a custom spin on exclusively for this space), he created a super sophisticated, luxe take on masculine style. Call it the elevated man cave — a true oasis in the Windy City, where the show’s based.

Shop the Gilt styles, as well as designs inspired by this great space, and get the look in your own place.

 

 

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Got to Be Real: A Conversation with Doug Bloodworth (Whose Photo-Like Paintings Leave Us Amazed)

Bloodworth

Photorealist artist Doug Bloodworth was inspired by the beyond-lifelike sculptures of Duane Hanson—most notably, a “security guard” on display at New York’s Russeck Gallery. “Thousands of people, myself included, went up to him and asked him where the restrooms were.  It was truly uncanny,” says Bloodworth.

Similarly, he enjoys overhearing visitors to his shows—in galleries from Zurich to Key West to South Beach to, yes, Disney World—saying that they “love the photos.” When corrected, told that these are oil paintings, he says, “Their look of incredulity is such a pleasure to watch.  Many people stare at the paintings for a very long time.”

One reason they are enthralled is that Bloodworth delights in depicting such beloved and familiar touchstones of Americana as Keebler fudge stripe cookies, M&Ms candies, Coke bottles, Monopoly games, Batman comics, and The New York Times crossword—in mid-attempt—all blown up to giant 4-foot-by-5-foot size.

In a sale starting today on Gilt, the works sold are limited-edition reproductions of oil paintings in sizes ranging from 4’ by 5’ to 18” by 24”. The hyper-real depictions of the pop culture flotsam and jetsam of our lives is a major part of the artist’s appeal, according to David Muller, president and curator of Photorealism, a Boca Raton–based dealer in solely photorealistic art.

“It’s a combination of, number one, the actual technical skill involved in the works,” Muller says. “I’ve been in his studio and sat there for three hours watching him complete three square inches of a candy wrapper. Watching it appear from a white canvas is totally amazing. Then you have the addition of nostalgia. When one sees the actual works, it takes you back to another time.”

This is a voyage that many have been interested in undertaking. Bloodworth feels lucky to be shown by Ron Hoy in his Hoypoloi Gallery (and its sister, Pop Gallery) located smack in the middle of Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. “Over a half million people walk by the door every week,” says Bloodworth. “They are introducing my artwork to a myriad of collectors, and I am so grateful for it. Over Labor Day weekend, I painted live at the Pop Gallery and there was a line up around the corner [to get postcards signed and remarques done]. What a great scene it was.”

He’s equally happy (and humbled) to be on the walls of the Russeck Gallery on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue and in Soho, New York City—where the other works hanging are by Picasso, Miro, Calder, Kandinsky, and the like. Not bad for someone with a degree in Commercial Art, who then apprenticed with Marv Gunderson, a renowned billboard painter.

“I worked under Marv for several years, painting outdoor billboards half the size of an Olympic pool,” Bloodworth says. “Most of the billboards were for Marlboro brand of cigarettes, although we painted other billboards as well for McDonalds, Budweiser and others. Each billboard took a whole team of us about two weeks to complete. However, after three months or so of being in view, the billboards were whitewashed to make space for a new ad for a new client.” He moved on to painting murals and developing his signature style.

His first five fine-art paintings were shown (and sold out) at Art Basel in Miami in 2011. The city is therefore close to his heart, and he shows at Effusion Gallery, next door to the Versace Mansion. “Recently, Lil Wayne came in[to Effusion Gallery] and bought my New York Times painting,” he says. “I was so honored.”

Bloodworth’s time, however, is spent not hanging with hip rappers but instead holed up in his studio near Gainesville, Florida. “A photorealist painting in the size I create them – four feet by five feet – can take me over two months to complete,” he says. “But it is a labor of love.”

- Maria Ricapito

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