Harvey Lynch Word Art

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First there was the word. And it was backwards…and that was good.

When you look carefully at the intricately patterned wall art from Harvey Lynch, you’ll realize that it’s actually just…words.

It all started when Brian O’Hara was a kid. “Basically, I write backwards; I’m highly dyslexic. It’s something I’ve done most of my lifetime,” he says. “I can write backward faster than I can write forward.” He picks words and sayings he finds particularly insightful and compelling, such as “love,” “I am enough,” and “know thyself,” or quotes from inspirational figures like Buddha, Socrates, Ram Das, and Winston Churchill.

“I started doing it with sayings I thought were powerful and uplifting, and that cross lots of barriers,” he says. “The messages are kind of hidden unless you know how to read backwards. Basically, it’s patterns… then it becomes art.”

Available as prints, re-positionable adhesive wall art, and textiles, the designs are almost illegible—and that’s intentional. “We have enough messaging in this world,” he says. “We’re always being told things, and we have mottos and quotes all around us. I like the idea that you can’t tell what it says.”

O’Hara, whose background is in fashion and set design, works closely and creatively with his wife, Melanie Currie O’Hara, who started out working with textile and graphic design. Their Santa Monica-based company, O’Hara Design Group, also does interior design and was founded ten years ago; they co-founded Harvey Lynch (an amalgamation of their mothers’ maiden names) shortly after.

The couple donates a portion of the profits for the word art to the Seva Foundation, a charity devoted to helping preserve and restore sight around the world. They’re also starting Share the Love, an awareness campaign involving stickers with positive messages that kids can put up.

“This is something we’re passionate about,” O’Hara says. “This is bigger than us.”

— Maria Ricapito

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This Makeover Rocks: Homepolish’s Redo of NYLON’s Digital Office Reflects the Magazine’s Past … and Future

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When NYLON magazine split their publication into print and digital components, they enlisted the best of the best to decorate their new space for that latter department. Namely, they called the team at Homepolish.

Homepolish’s head of commercial design, Shelly Lynch-Sparks, in collaboration with the company’s co-founder Noa Santos, had the task of creating a space, within NYLON’s New York office, that looked modern and fresh (i.e., digital) but also spoke of the magazine’s history.

How did they handle the task? “We approached NYLON’s office design the same way we approach all of our projects,” says Santos, “by first understanding the functional needs of the space and then building on that foundation with aesthetically pleasing forms.”

The first thing Lynch-Sparks did was add a little color. Actually, a lot. Gilt helped with that, supplying nearly half of the items in the space. “The reason why Gilt worked is that you guys have some pretty unique pieces on your site, which is why the office looks as good as it does,” she says. To wit: a vintage hand-knotted rug from nuLOOM, in pink, and a striking blue barrel chair from Shine by S.H.O Studio. No fear of primaries here.

“When you have a few accent pieces like this, it really makes the space,” says Lynch-Sparks.

After imbuing this personality, it was important to reflect the NYLON brand. “The space needed to be a showstopper,” says Lynch-Sparks. So she commissioned custom graffiti art from L.A. artist Christina Angelina, who added spray-painted works on the walls, based on actual images and themes found in previous issues of the magazine. “We went to the NYLON library and pulled out basically everything, to research this,” says Lynch-Sparks.

To complete the homage to music and fashion — the magazine’s muses — Lynch-Sparks chose art prints from Sonic Editions (available on Gilt). One depicts Mick Jagger, the other Sophia Loren. They’re timeless icons, now keeping an eye on all things digital.

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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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