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Ljubljana's Chairs

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It would be easy to be blue about the lack of eye-catching public design in many city centers if it weren’t for gems like Slovenian design consultancy Asobi’s outdoor chairs placed along the main street of the city of Ljubljana. The Slovenska Street revitalization project features transformable orange benches and chairs that were designed to be light but durable. The ARPRO material the chairs were created from is completely recyclable and has been used in everything from Volvo cars to baby car seats. Another approach to introducing seating space and blocking local traffic may not have received the same public welcome, which has encouraged the chairs to be made available for sale on the modular furniture site Movisi.

iPhone Game: Gowalla

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If a vintage suitcase featuring city stickers, a scavenger hunt, and an iPhone 3G were combined, the result would be location-based travel game Gowalla. The recently launched game from Texas-based “digital collectibles” company AlamoFire invites users to collect virtual stamps at the places they visit, hide icons for friends to find, and earn pins of glory, the granddaddy of Gowalla achievements awarded for completed trips. Austintonians and San Franciscans are currently the only app purchasers who can participate in the full experience, but other cities nationwide are being added and partially guided by the recommendations of user-added hot spots. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for visiting extraordinary and everyday places with phone in hand?

New Soap, Old Bottle

The minds behind New Soap, Old Bottle are marketing multifuncionality in the form of new liquid soap sold in reused plastic and glass bottles. After being sanitized, the former Coke and Heineken bottles are filled with home or car cleaner, topped with child safe caps, and sold at $4 a pop. “Big companies aren’t going to do this on their own. So we’ll do it for them,” said Scott Amron, designer, electrical engineer and founding principal of New York’s Amron Exprimental. “We buy brand name liquid soap by the barrel and package it in old bottles here in America.” Recessionistas and green thumbs rejoice"“ we love this work.

Can anyone guess the bottles above? First one is pretty easy…

Desiree Holman: Burqa and Bikinis

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At first glance, interdisciplinary Oakland-based artist Desirée Holman’s  burqa and bikini wearing women bear little resemblance to the pencil-drawn character wearing a Liza Minelli-esque mask that opens Holman’s website, so much so that you may wonder if they were created by the same person. Alas, the work is all Holman’s: the former sculpture student has received nationwide acclaim after getting early attention from the University of California at Berkeley’s creative Eisner Awards in both video and photography. She says she’s primarily influenced by sociology and psychology, fantasy-based cultures, online gaming, and music videos. Elements of each can be seen as her newest work, the drawing and video series “Reborn,” opens at San Francisco’s Silverman Gallery this Friday night.

Geoffrey Ellis: Sadkids

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San Francisco-based photographer Geoffrey Ellis’ photo journal blog Sadkids is aptly named: its coverage can be as blue (with posts entitled “Sometimes, progress can suck it” and “Burn Santa burn”) as it can be lighthearted and youthful (“Easter valley of the sun” and “Hawaii + Halloween = Hawaiiloween” come to mind). But no matter the mood, the imagery featured has the same lovingly cluttered, colorful aesthetic as Ellis’ self-published photo zine of the same name, now in its fifth edition. The winner of the Bay Area’s Phelan Award in Photography, Ellis chose the name for his photo collections as a tribute to 1960s paintings featuring large-eyed kids, cats and dogs in the style of Walter and Margaret Keane. When asked how he chooses where to point his lens, the photographer said he likes to shoot “old signs, antique shops, junk shops, flea markets, bars and record stores (unpolished America). My wife [author Sarah Lacy] doesn’t let me bring junk home anymore, so I have to photograph it instead. It’s a good compromise. She’d much rather see a photo than a bunch of crap on the dining room floor.”  

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Virgance Equinox Event

Today's Equinox Event at San Francisco's 111 Minna will be the most recent SF Beta event and program from Virgance, the for-profit activism campaign management company whose primary tool for encouraging change is online networking. They're the brains behind 1 Block Off the Grid, a community effort to make solar power available in bulk to neighborhoods, and consumer network Carrotmob, which invites people to reward companies that make socially responsible purchasing decisions. Promoted as "the biggest beta ever," today's Equinox Event is co-sponsored by cloud hosting company GoGrid and GOOD Magazine, and promises cocktails with entrepreneurs and activists to celebrate Virgance's upcoming first anniversary.

Vinyl Frontier Journals

Vince Pacheco's work isn't easily mistaken for anyone else's. The Bay Area record collector's stack of cheesecake, kitsch and classic country records were becoming too much to deal with. Then he, along with his crafty girlfriend, got the brilliant idea to turn them into spiral journals. After receiving positive feedback during his first craft season, Pacheco, who sells his wares as Etsy's Vinyl Frontier, now searches thrift stores for materials after burning through his personal collection. Journals featuring popular artists and musicals go quickly (including Dolly Parton, Sound of Music, and the Beatles), although there are requests of all kinds (Steely Dan and Barbara Mandrell among them). The frontier man doesn't only rescue and reuse board games and library books. Many of his journals contain recycled paper and all can be sent back and refilled for a small fee. Sounds sustainable and chic.

Willo O'Brien

Meeting artist and self-proclaimed "geekyfantastic" entrepreneur Willo O'Brien becomes a run down of phases that start with "I like your""¦ angel wing earrings (she makes them by hand), “Eat. Sleep. Rock. Repeat.” T-shirt (she sells them on the WilloToons shop online, laptop bag (reviewed in one of her recent blog posts), and the list goes on. The San Francisco-based illustrator and graphic designer said she was tired of making pretty things for other people and wanted to put her creativity and illustrations on her own products when she opened up shop two years ago. O'Brien's baby onesies and adult t-shirts featuring octopi and rocker squirrels have been a hit. The line should transition to 100% organic later this year and will be selling "Don't you know who I am?" apparel until then.

San Francisco Ballet's Nights Out

The San Francisco Ballet is facing many of the same issues confronting cultural and arts organizations all over the country: aging audiences, global recession, pricey tickets. To counter act these trends, they introduced some great programs to build community interest. The Fridays at the Ballet evening performances are aimed at young professionals and the Nite Out series is for members of the LGBT community. They start with pre-show talks with choreographers and company members and close with cocktails at the War Memorial Opera House. The evening’s presentation of three brief works ensure that even if you don't love one of the pieces, you and your friends are bound to find something that makes you want to do fouettés on your way home. Next Friday will be no exception with Jerome Robbins’s West Side Story Suite and Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, one of the hits presented for the Ballet’s 75th anniversary. Looks like everything old is new again.

Mira Nameth's New Prints

The lovely new website celebrating artist Mira Nameth's creations covers a broad range of illustrations and images broken down by prints, commercial, personal, fashion, vector, and hand-drawn work. (And you thought you had a lot on your “to do” list.) In addition to Rorschach flowers and "florafauna" commissions for Coke, Nameth's imaginative contributions include charcoal-colored dresses with shoulder and chest armor (armor being the operative word "” many of the details on the clothing are actually created with silk folds). The rust and deep gold colors of her new clothing line reflects her admitted "restrained, or at least concise, color palette."

When asked to reflect on why she's passionate about her work across mediums and continents, Nameth said, "A lot of the work feels sculptural and flat at the same time to me, and crafting that is very fulfilling. I like to surprise the person looking at a piece with something a bit unexpected, like the wing growing out of the multi-species plant or the peacock, where I wanted to create a new kind of peacock drawing with elements integrated into the tail." The former print can be yours through Etsy.

Related: Mira Nameth

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