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Sonia Romero

il_430xN.71713547.jpgSince 2003, Los Angeles artist and RISD grad Sonia Romero has been dazzling Southern California with her exquisite, detailed linocuts and silkscreened prints of wildlife and civiliziation’s (sometimes precarious) connection with it. The daughter of artists Nancy and Frank Romero and the granddaughter of the founder of the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Romero didn’t have to stretch far to find artists inspiration. She introduced her first series, an animal alphabet (B is for Bear, U is for Unicorn), in 2003 and while the concept wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, the quality of her materials – she hand-printed her images upon fabriano paper – and the expressiveness of her creatures caught the attention of the craft world.

Since, she’s enjoyed a solo show at the Avenue 50 gallery and the thirteen tiles she has created for the Macarthur Park metro station in Los Angeles are nearly ready to be permanently installed within the transit station. In the meantime, she’s working on taking her printmaking into the third dimension with a line of felted brooches available on Etsy alongside prints of some of her other artistic explorations.

Thriller Headphones

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In the wake of Michael Jackson’s death, we’ve started to focus on the drama that still surrounds the singer – his will, the question of what to do with his non-biological children, why he suffered cardiac arrest, and so on. However, it is important not to forget that the reason we all loved the King of Pop is because of his talent as a singer, a dancer, and an all-around performer. The first time he first entered your home whether it was via MTV or through your stereo speakers, was not easy to forget…

johnnylighthands6.jpgAt least it wasn’t for me. My first memory of the singer was when I watched the video for Thriller…at age three. All I remember was seeing those yellow eyes and fangs and running terrified behind the couch. It wasn’t a good first impression, though later, I fell in love with the short film. Not longer after, I was jamming out and dancing around the living room to “Beat It,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” So, when I discovered the Thriller Headphones designed by Johnny Lighthands and built by ATOM Creative Solutions, I couldn’t help but smile.

The headphones, which won the Nokia headset design competition in 2008, feature that gravestones, zombies, and that creepy, yellow-eyed wolf bursting through the door. Though only one pair was made by Nokia into a working model, we hope that Jackson’s passing inspires Nokia to produce at least a limited-edition run of the freaky-awesome headphones.

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Coffin Shelves

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Some might think having your own coffin in your house is morbid, but not William Warren. In fact, the furniture and product designer created Shelves for Life, a build-it-yourself Ikea style bookcase that, after you’ve expired, can be reassembled into a coffin. Not only is it good for the environment, it’ll be one less thing your family has to worry about when dealing with your remains. The kits sell for $579 (or 350 GBP) a piece and come stained in a classic blonde wood which just begs for some serious customization. Creepy and awesome.

Bag It: Shopping Bag Trends

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Shopping bags are, for the most part, pretty dull. Not only are they a hinderance on the environment, but they’re hardly ever hip enough for us to want to recycle them unless it means dropping them in a blue bin. But, there are some designers who are trying to make us dispose of this old way of thinking. And, they’re doing it from the runway to the retail story with thoughtfully-designed bags that convey serious attitude.

To showcase this new trend, Toxel put together a nice collection of images from around the world for you to ooh and ahh at. Check out the breadth of ideas featured from the smart “floating” bag that’s pure fun to other, more controversial options that we wouldn’t dare try out in Los Angeles.

The bag shown here was given when you bought a book by Belgium’s most famous crime writer.

Typeography Soap

typeographysoap.jpgIf you’re truly a typography geek, then why stop at just outfitting your office and your bedroom with lust-worthy fonts? We just spotted this rad translucent soap created by Debbie Chialtas at The Soap Lab on the design site FredFlare. The square soap features raised letters and punctuation and we’re geeked about the fact we can get clean and look fresh while doing so. Just one thing to note – the “Crushed Ice” scent means it smells like peppermint, though logic says it should be fragrance-free. Well, that’s it, we’re off to sniff the ice in our freezer. And, for writers, The Soap Lab also offers a “Writer’s Block” soap that features a gluttony of words to get your brain churning.

Character: Recycled Letters

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As you know, we’re all about recycling. But, Character, a Finnish design company is all about recycling in an altogether different sort of way. When a store decides to toss their neon signage, Character comes along, snags them, takes them apart, then rebuilds them into their own design creations that are complete with LED lights. The new letters and numbers – which feature a variety of colors and typefaces – can be used inside or outdoors and seem especially perfect for anyone obsessed with typography who finds the letter mugs at Anthropologie to be too mundane. We can only hope they start to work with neon images next.

At the moment, you can only purchase these in person in Helsinki, but a range of letters are available on their website for around 300 Euros. So much fun to imagine the uses for these!

Get Away to Tahiti… For Free

Tahiti3.jpg.jpegIt’s time to get the hell out of dodge. Yeah yeah, we know, we’re in a recession. But, on the other hand…airfares and hotel rooms are the lowest they’ve been in ages. Still can’t swing it? Ok, well…what are your thoughts on a free trip to Tahiti?

Tahiti Tourism just launched the Invest In Your Love contest and the prize is free airfare, inter-island transport, and six nights of deluxe accommodations on two of Tahiti’s breathtakingly beautiful – and relatively secluded islands. To ener, fire up your video camera and create a convincing video of how a trip to the island nation could “help you invest in your love” and post it to YouTube via their site.

Six contests are being staged, but if you want to attempt to win the first, be sure to submit your entry by June 11th! We’re so there it’s not even funny.

IGotAnEnvelope

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Remember PostSecret? That project that had people mailing their dirty little secrets all over the place to complete strangers? That was fun and all, but if you’re more photographically-inclined, you’ll probably get a bigger kick out of a similar new movement that launched called Igotanenvelope.

Here’s how it works:
You put an envelope with a stamp and your address in a place where others will discover it. On the back of the envelope, write a note to the one who found it asking them to place a personal object inside and mail it to you (the exact phrasing is on their site). Then, when you receive the envelope in the mail, take photos of the mysterious objects inside and post them on the Igotanenvelope site.

While it seems most unknown souls are mailing off magazine or newspaper clippings or other small, written works, other items like puzzle pieces and thongs have also arrived in the mail. If you try this out, let us know what you get in return!

Is This Your Luggage?

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Lost luggage is the worst. And it seems, no matter what trouble you go to to prevent yours from being misplaced "“ designer bags, vibrant tags, etc. "“ it doesn’t really make a difference to the airlines or that person who was convinced that they snagged the right bag. But now, maybe you can find your stuff, even if it was brought home by some random traveler. That is if the site, Is This Your Luggage kicks off a new, useful trend.

After an airport “loses” a bag, it tries to contact the owner. If they’re unsuccessful, they hang onto it for a while and then, auction it off. The owner of the site attends such auctions, purchases these bags, then snaps shots of everything in the bag in the hope they may connect the missing luggage with its rightful owner. Weird that some random stranger is touching your stuff – including your sexy nurse’s outfit – but at least you’ll be able to wear your treasured clothes once again.

Eeepmon Goes Big In Japan

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While most artists struggle to be big in the States, others strive for the glory of being big in Japan after they’ve flopped in America.  

Of course, that isn’t really the case with (our dear friend) the Canadian-born multi-disciplinary artist eepmon (Eric Sze-Lang Chan), an already-successful creator who will be touring Japan all this May. During that time, eepmon will put on two solo exhibits and be a part of many other art events in Tokyo. Though a large part of his work features poppy, bright colors and subjects like flowers and animals (pieces in this style will be shown at the Design Festa Gallery in his “i am my introspection” exhibit), we suspect Akira influenced him more than Takashi Murakami. Shapes fall upon one another in monstrous, jumbled ways, so that each time you glance at a piece, you can continue to find new and exciting images buried inside.

His other paintings, revealed within the “Intersections” exhibit at the Gallery O2, are also brimming with color, but are abstract and Pollock-like in their fury. Nevertheless, whether you’re viewing calmer works like the organic “Chaos Bloom 8″ or the abstract attacks on canvas in “Intersections,” his creations are visually arresting. We love them, more after the jump.
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