May 23, 2014

Design Find: Fuzzy Kollur

In 1972, Sigurður Már Helgason created the Fuzzy:
"A charming foot-stool with stubby screw-on-legs and a long-haired wool seat that evokes a traditional mainstay of the Icelandic economy, sheep. Helgason lobbied to sell fuzzy, which fit snugly into a portable hot-pink box, at the duty-free shop at Keflavik airport, his logic being that visitors taking home a bottle of Icelandic brennivin, a local schnapps, might add fuzzy to their collection of souvenirs. Fuzzy never made it to the duty-free shelf, becoming instead a popular local gift for confirmations and graduations. The story of this whimsical creation exemplifies a trait typical of contemporary Icelandic design: its pioneering spirit."                            
The Fuzzy Kollur (stool) can be found at three of the shops I mentioned in yesterday's post:  Kraum, Epal, and Mýrin.

Interior images via: Hús Og Híbýli

May 22, 2014

City Guide: Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland is a fascinating place filled with a variety of natural phenomena - you can go from climbing a glacier to relaxing in a thermal pool in a matter of minutes.    It is also a place rich in design and innovation.  As a designer, I enjoyed exploring the sights and offerings of this amazing country, and share my favorites from its capital city with you, here.


Harpa: The Concert Hall and Convention Center, which opened in May 2011 and houses the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Opera, sparkles with reflections of the city and the harbor. The faceted glass exterior is reminiscent of basalt (lava that has cooled rapidly) columns seen throughout the island. Both the interior and exterior make for interesting photos of geometric shapes, and at night the windows twinkle, as alternating panels light with color to create the building's own light show.
Hallgrímskirkja:  Another building designed to resemble a basalt lava flow is the largest church and sixth tallest building in Iceland.  Rising 244 feet, the tower is used as a waypoint throughout the city, and provides sweeping 360 degree views of Reykjavík and beyond.  If you visit at just the right time, you might catch the church organist playing the pipe organ, made up of 5,275 pipes.
Perlan: The building known as 'the Pearl' serves a utilitarian function by housing six large water storage tanks, but has become one of Reykjavík's popular tourist destinations.  In 1991, the glass dome was added atop the tanks, and is home to a revolving restaurant, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area while dining.  If you aren't a patron at the restaurant, but would like to take advantage of the views, there is an observation deck on the fourth floor surrounding the dome.  


Blue Lagoon:  The perfect way to recover from jet lag is with a soak in the mineral rich, warm waters (104 °F) sourced by the geothermal power plant, Svartsengi. The radiant blue waters get their color from blue green algae, silica, and other minerals, and are known to improve skin conditions. After submerging yourself for an hour or two - or as in my case, close to five - visit the steam cave (yes, cave) or sauna, stand under the waterfall, or slather yourself with a silica mask.  Although the water provides several health benefits, it wreaks complete havoc on hair.  Make sure to wear a bathing cap or coat your hair with loads of conditioner.
The Golden Circle:  A drive around this 186 mile loop is a lovely way to spend the day outside the city. The picturesque scenery includes Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, where Icelandic Parliment was established, and the North American and Eurasian Plates are ripping apart; Gullfoss, an amazing waterfall that was almost lost to a geothermal plant; and Strokkur, a geyser that erupts every 4 - 8 minutes.


Mar:  Located in the Old Harbor, this restaurant is reminiscent of the sights seen in the area.  Having degrees in product, industrial and interior design, Hafsteinn Júlíusson founded Haf Studio in 2010, and along with his partner, Karitas Sveinsdóttir, designed Mar's modern rustic interior.  The perfect spot to grab a glass of wine, and take a break from strolling the Shoreline Sculpture Walk.  Mýrin (see under shop) shares the building, making two spots on my list covered with this one stop.
Steikhúsið: The deconstructed, industrial interiors of The Steak House are the perfect backdrop for gnawing on meat.  The food here was excellent.  In addition to traditional steak house fare, Icelandic options, including minke whale, guillemot (a seabird), and horse are available (minke was not something I would have again, the guillemot was good, but I didn't try the horse).  The innovative way that wine crates were repurposed as wine display caught my attention.
The Laundromat Cafe:  Although a chain restaurant, Laundromat Cafe seemed popular with the locals. Resembling an American '50s diner, the cafe sits above a launderette. A place to do laundry while having a hearty breakfast, reading one of the many books offered in the color-coded bookshelf, or surfing the internet.  Don't worry about what to do with the kids - bring them along and let them takeover the play area, or feel free to breastfeed, as the sandwich board outside says, "We love babies and boobs."


101 Hotel: This boutique hotel has a neutral palette, its own art gallery and is part of Design Hotels, a collection of 250 independent hotels featuring "thought-provoking design and architecture."  Owned and designed by Ingibjorg S. Palmadottir, a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, the design of this hotel does not disappoint.  Enjoy a glass of champagne while perusing one of the many design books and magazines available in the public lounge.

Hotel Borg: This Art Deco beauty was built in 1930, but recently went through a restoration and was updated.  The design stays true to the period style, but puts a Scandinavian twist on it - a monochromatic palette of neutrals and clean lines, with color limited to the punch of green in the Borg Restaurant.  The restaurant is run by the Icelandic chef Volundur S. Volundarson, author of Delicious Iceland, and the television show by the same name (you can watch episodes on the plane).


Kraum:  Focusing solely on products designed and made in Iceland, Kraum is located in the oldest house in Reykjavík.  Built in 1762, the house was renovated in 2006.  With its contemporary addition to the back of the house, Kraum is set up to perfectly represent both traditional and modern Icelandic design. Gourmet food, beauty supplies, clothing, housewares, and furniture are all available for admiring and purchasing. After working up an appetite while shopping, stop next door (the yellow building) to grab a bite to eat at Fiskmarkaðurinn.

Mýrin:  With locations in both the Kringlan shopping centre and the old harbor (adjacent to Mar - see above), Mýrin  focuses on Icelandic and Scandinavian design with a modern aesthetic.  Clothing, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and artwork are all available.  I became smitten with the selection by Finnsdottir Ceramics. Although based in Denmark, their pieces are designed and created by Icelander Thora Finnsdottir.

Epal:  Founded forty years ago, when Eyjolfur Palsson returned to Iceland upon completing his degree in furniture design, Epal now has three stores in Reykjavik.  You will find one easily in Harpa.  In addition to Icelandic designers, Epal features Scandinavian designs in furniture, giftware, textiles and toys.

Aurum: Aurum began as a jewellry store by goldsmith and designer, Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir in 1999, and in 2009 expanded to include the Aurum Concept Store, where Icelandic designs and gifts from around the world are featured.  This is where I first saw sketches by architecture student, Heiðdís Helgadóttir.  Drawn in ink on paper with exquisite detail.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour through some of my favorite places.  If you've been to Reykjavík, I would love to hear your recommendations for the design enthusiast.

Until next time, bless (goodbye in Icelandic).

All images by Chanda Seymour Design

May 14, 2014

Design Trend: Beat Pendant

While having dinner at Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market) in Reykjavik, I happened to take this photo of the neighboring tables.  It isn't a great photo (or even a good one), but I like taking photographs to help recall, and document where I've been. 
Since that dinner, it seems that I have been seeing the Tom Dixon Beat Pendant, specifically in black/brass, everywhere - usually in a cluster of differing styles and staggered lengths... you can't use just one, and you can't use the same one.  They're hanging in a kitchen featured in the newest (June) issue of Architectural Digest (it came in the mail on Tuesday), and here are some other images from around the web.
What do you think?  Do you like this look, or is the Tom Dixon Beat Pendant being overused?

images via: (1) Chanda Seymour Mattson | (2)(3)(4) | (5) | (6) | (7)

April 25, 2014

Destination: Iceland

Sólheimajökull Glacier

Selfoss Waterfall

This weekend I leave for the Land of Fire and Ice.  I'll be taking in the natural wonders of Iceland: volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, geysers, fjords, thermal pools, and the aurora borealis.

In addition to the dramatic landscape, I will be exploring the restaurants, shops, museums, architecture, and local design scene of the capital city.  
Map of Reyjavik

With the hope of immersing ourselves in the life of the locals, my husband and I have rented a flat in the city center through Airbnb.  This will be our first time using using the site as guests.   I will give a full report of the experience upon our return.

In the interim, follow all of my adventures on Instagram and Twitter.  Or, if you're planning a trip of your own, and looking for inspiration, check out my Pinterest board.

images:  (1 & 2) via, (3) via

April 18, 2014

Happy Easter

I adore the Victorian and Edwardian era greetings sent via postcard between the late 1800s and World War I.  Images of cherub-like children and fluffy animals in fantasy settings make me happy.

Here, I share a few, and wish you a happy holiday weekend.

March 21, 2014

Resources: Thos. Moser

Last week, I attended an artist reception (more on the artwork in a future post) at the San Francisco Thos. Moser showroom, and was able to view their newest collection, Rockport (gorgeous), in person.
My first exposure to Thos. Moser furniture was while designing educational and medical spaces at Payette. In those projects, the company's tables and chairs were specified for university and research libraries.  Then, while attending NeoCon last June, I fell hard for the Element Collection, the Best of NeoCon 2013 Silver Award Winner.

Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers is a family run business that has been hand-making quality wood furniture in the United States for over forty years.  Using solid wood, and joinery, these pieces are built to last "as long as it took the tree to grow," and are guaranteed for the lifetime of the original owner.
Their residential line offers the same quality and craftsmanship, with beautiful pieces for every room in the home.  All pieces are available in a variety of wood species, and are customizable. 
1.  // 2. // 3. // 4. // 5. // 6. // 7. // 8.

Custom, one of a kind, pieces are also available.  You might find yourself the owner of your very own dragon. (I want one!)

3395 Sacramento Street
Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

All images via Thos. Moser

March 12, 2014

Events: Georgia O'Keeffe Exihibit

On Monday, the De Young Museum had a special opening for students from my son's school. I acted as chaperone, and along with the children, was able to view and learn about artwork by Georgia O'Keeffe. 

Georgia O'Keeffe, known for her abstract florals and simplistic landscapes, had a modern aesthetic. This exhibition includes works from time spent at her husband's family estate. Summers and falls at Lake George in New York inspired over 200 paintings on canvas and paper between 1918 and 1934.
"I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."
I enjoyed the Jack-in-the-Pulpit series, a collection of five paintings.  Each depicts the flower from a different angle and in varying detail. Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV was my son's favorite.
The colors and shapes depicted in the fallen leaves Georgia O'Keeffe collected as "Souvenirs" to remind her of her time at Lake George are just beautiful.
Autumn Leaves and Oak Leaves, Pink & Grey

Modern Nature:  Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George can be seen at the De Young Museum now through May 11th.  

Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive