About

 
Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!

Subscribe

 Subscribe in a reader

New posts delivered right to your inbox!

Search
Admin
Powered by Squarespace
Add to Technorati Favorites
http://www.twitterbuttons.com
Friday
Apr152011

{that one great thing} Cobi's ashtray collection

Back when she was Editor of Canadian House & Home Cobi Ladner was one of my many bosses (oh, the life of a freelancer). Now, as I'm sure you've seen, she's just launched her very own witty, colourful and happy line of fabrics, furniture and accessories called cobistyle. As you can imagine she's been a little busy, so I've patiently been pursuing her for a *that one great thing* pick, and here it finally is. And seriously, will you ever look at Cobi the same now that you know she's a little light fingered?

Cobi Ladner: I wonder what it says about a person if their 'one great thing' is a collection of stolen hotel ashtrays? Especially if that person has never smoked! I guess I have to admit here, in front of the entire world, that yes, I did personally steal one of these little beauties myself. It's actually my least favourite of the bunch. It's the one from The Plaza hotel in NYC. I was lucky enough to stay at the Plaza for business  (back in the day when Ivana Trump briefly owned it). The crest is only cheaply printed on, probably in China, but I had to have it as a memento. 

I use these little dishes all around the house -  in the bathroom to hold loose jewellery; at the kitchen sink and bedside for my watch; on my desk for business cards (some days I need to remind myself of who I am); on my husband's dresser to hold change. I look for them whenever I'm in junk stores, the Sally Ann and flea markets. It's a total high to find a lovely little dish that originally sat in a beautiful room in Paris, on a dusty shelf in a thrift store in Southern Ontario. Who's suitcase did it travel in and was it a sentimental impulse to bring it home as a memento of a fabulous holiday?   

Although I love to see kitsch in other people's homes - pillows from Niagara Falls, shot glasses from Florida - I'm not into that myself. No, I love the idea of elegance - Paris - London - New York - Darlin', I love ya, but give me Park Avenue.... and the notion that a hotel would have fine bone china from England printed with their fabulous address. 

My favourite little dish isn't here unfortunately. It was from the Hotel Scribe in Paris and was a little fluted square with a fine orange line around it. I loved it so much I tried using it as a soap dish in our powder room and my clumsy 13-year old broke it. So much for the elegance of Paris in our house.  I guess that's what makes it all the more appealing.

Tuesday
Apr122011

It's a mug's game

I've spent the last while researching a couple of feature projects for the likes of House & Home and the National Post and, while I was noodling down an internet back alley, I happened across these rather cool mugs. Okay, while I'm not much for funny mugs, these were inspired by the weird ones that get half forgotten and shoved to the back of the cupboard. They also have a rather nice bit of provenance too, since they were designed by Baptiste Ymonte and Vincent Jousseaume of Atelier Polyhedre and are from a limited edition line called Mug Shot. Now that's a nice way to enjoy your no-foam-half-sweet-lactose-free-vanilla-latte. Baroque and Flash are available online here from Paul Smith.

Wednesday
Apr062011

{that one great thing} Jen's (two)one great vintage chair(s)

Can someone please explain to me how it's already Wednesday? I'm having a really work-y week and time is just whizzing by, which is why I'm super glad Jenn Hannotte's *that one great thing* pick popped up in my inbox, since she's always such a smartypants whilst I am - right now at least - feeling awfully fuzzy in the brain department. And yes, before anyone says anything, I know Jenn is slightly cheating by picking 2 things, but that's just how she rolls...

Jenn Hannotte: My One Great Thing is actually Two Great Things, but their stories are the same and I didn't want to leave either one out! When I was living in Winnipeg (holla!), I was working as an art director for a specialty advertising company. I was 20 years old, and while I cared a great deal about how my various apartments looked, I didn't really *know* anything about the history of industrial/furniture design. In a corner of the office sat these two chairs, stacked and dusty. I thought they looked cool and asked the boss if I could buy them, but he generously (it turns out!) gave them to me. This was my first experience exploring the history of an object; I turned over the chairs and discovered they were Fritz Hansen chairs and went to eBay (pretty much the only source at the time!) and learned their worth. From there, armed with a little more information I soon found myself hooked on learning about the history of design. I consider the discovery of these chairs the fuel for my passion for design, and on the downside, the impetus to my chair addiction! They always make an empty corner pop, and they've always worked with whatever look I'm loving. Here's round-up of their recent history of resting places in my various homes as an homage.

 

Friday
Apr012011

{that one great thing} Jan's handmade frame

I once had a landlord who mentioned that old chestnut, You scratch my back, I scratch yours while I was signing a lease, and delightfully went on to say You kick me, I kick you. Memorable, yes, but not exactly charming, so the first part - definitely not the second - came to mind when Jan Halvarson of Poppytalk kindly asked if she could grab the shot and story from Susie Sheffman's *that one great thing* pick to post on her fantastic blog. I said of course, and then proceeded to bug her into contributing one in return. So here goes!

Jan Halvarson: I have fond memories of my Swedish grandfather whittling away on a chair outside in the back deck on warm summer days. I would be playing in the yard, and he would watch me and whittle away. He made this frame, and I really don't even know the back story, nor does anyone else, but it's just always been around, following me everywhere I go; always there. And as I write this I'm realizing how profound that is. I remember it having three hearts, and I'm sure at one point there were four, but now only two remain. I love how he painted them gold, and left the rest. It's housed a favourite black and white photograph of my mother, at times my drawings and right now I love it best just left as is. Without even knowing it until now, it could very well be the inspiration to why I love handmade so much today.

In the photograph the frame is shown with a collection of found driftwood I wrapped a bit of yarn around and a crochet covered rock from artist Margie Oomen.

Thursday
Mar312011

Going out Est for Eames

I recently got the chance to speak to students at Humber College all about what I do, as well as my thoughts on design, and, other than the fact that they must've thought I was bonkers, I did find time to beg them to please try their best to not buy knock-offs. I'd much rather see a vintage piece, or great affordable design (hello, Ikea, Habitat and West Elm!) in an interior, rather than a sad looking fake Barcelona Chair.

So this week I was super-duper happy to check out a brill new online mag from Australia called Est Magazine, which had a great feature comparing a fake to a real Eames DAW (that's Dining height Armchair Wooden base to you and me). Click here to look at the mag, and to read all about design integrity vs. a ripped-off copy, and have a boo below at the 4 looks Est stylist Amey Rosenthal put together, photographed by Toby Scott, of the real thing. Traditional, Family, Old & New, Corporate - Do you have a fave? And thanks too to Natalie Walton's great blog Daily Imprint for the intro to Est!