Lines We Love: Ferm Living

I'm very drawn to Ferm Living's simple geometry and unexpected color combinations.
Their "spear" design, below, is a fantastic color palette—I'd never expect to like pastels like this!

Art Obsession: Sanna Annukka
I have loved Sanna Annukka's work for so long, so I am very overdue to add her to our Art Obsession series. Her work is greatly influenced by the childhood summers she spent in her mother's home village of Paltaniemi in Northern Finland. From camping in Lapland, to staying in her Grandmother's old wooden house, she came to call this part of Finland her spiritual home.

Themes in her work, such as pattern and mythology, are influenced by the Northern Finnish landscape and traditional cultures like that of the Sami, the indigenous people of Scandinavia. Since prehistoric times, the Sami people of Arctic Europe have lived and worked in an area that stretches over the regions now known as Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola Peninsula.

Photo by Erika Larsen

Photo by Lola Akinmade

Photographer unknown: please let me know

Sanna describes the story behind the "Soul Bird",  above: “In Karelia there was an ancient belief in the Sielulintu or Soul bird. The Sielulintu was thought to deliver the soul to newborn babies and also to transport the soul to the afterlife at the moment of death. It was believed the Sielulintu protected a persons soul at it’s most vulnerable; when dreaming, and it was tradition to keep a carved wooden bird by the bedside to keep the soul safe during sleep.”

Below, her illustrations for the new print of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree":

You may be even more familiar with Sanna Annukka's work through her collaborations with Marimekko. The "Kanteleen Kutsu" print below depicts a scene from the Finnish classic, The Kalevala, in which animals gather to hear Väinämöinen play his stringed instrument.

Below, "Raanu" patterns from the 2012 Holiday Collection:

Below, "Taikamylly" fabric from Spring/Summer 2008:

More sources I love for Scandinavian products and art: 

Son & Dotter (My friend Sabrina Bello Sandberg and her husband run this shop! Check it out!)

Puppy Love
Let's just keep the dog-loving theme going a bit, shall we? I have a DIY project to share that I think can also evolve into an interesting idea for Valentine's Day (more on that later). I made these dog bone ornaments for all the dogs in our family for Christmas this past season, but I think they'd work great as gifts anytime for the dog lovers in your life.

To give credit where credit is due, I was inspired by the technique used for these moose ornaments on the 101 Woonideeën blog. But, I wanted to do something dog-oriented and personalized, and that reminded me of the brand name stamped into Milk Bones. So I arrived at: 

So, here's what you'll need:

• White craft clay. I used the type you need to bake, not the air-dry variety. This is non-toxic and can bake in your oven at 250˚. Brands include Fimo and Sculpey. You can get them at any craft store.
An acrylic roller. This was worth buying. It works perfectly when rolling out this kind of clay. It can be found at most craft stores.
A clay mat. Great to work on and transfer directly onto a baking sheet. I got mine at Michael's.
• Letter stamps. Boy, these were tough to find (in a simple, clean font, that is). Craft stores have some in goofier styles, so I had to order these online by searching for "fondant stamping letters".
• Assorted cookie cutters for the design shape you want, and large enough to fit the words you will use.
• A drinking straw (or anything similar) to punch a decent-sized hole if hanging it with ribbon or string.
• Ribbon or string for hanging. I used red and white baker's twine for mine. For Valentine's Day, these would look great with assorted hot pink and red ribbons.

There are instructions on the 101 Woonideeën blog, if you translate it, but to summarize:
1. Work with the clay as instructed (soften, form into ball, roll out ball like cookie dough, about 1/8", no more than 1/4").
2. Then, cut out your shapes with a cookie cutter and arrange them on the baking mat.
3. Load the letters into the tray backwards (remember it is a mirror image and then turned over and stamped). Using very light pressure (this was hard to get just right), evenly stamp the surface of the clay with the word tray. Leave enough room above the word for the hole that will be used for hanging it.
4. Using the end of a drinking straw, pierce a hole all the way through the shape in the top center so it will hang evenly.
5. Bake in the oven according to the clay package instructions.
6. After they cool, you CAN lightly sand any rough or dinged edges. Thread the hole with ribbon or string. Done!

So, given that we are coming up on Valentine's Day, it got me thinking of converting this idea into gift tags inspired by the ever-iconic conversation heart candies. With so many clay colors available and your stamping letters at the ready, all you'd need to add is a bit of hot pink paint to the indented letters. I might not have time this year, so maybe next! What do you think?

In the Doghaus
We are a dog-loving dog-obsessed household here at Ourhaus. We do our fair share of doting on our 11 year-old chocolate lab mix, Lucy. She is 100% family and is a very sweet, docile, gentle animal. We are fortunate to have found such a well-natured rescue dog.

When it comes to living with our best furry friends, it is easier than ever for them to fit right in and not cramp our style thanks to a booming industry of well-designed furniture, products and supplies. Over the past decade that we have owned Lucy, we have seen the pet supply industry skyrocket. We love our pets and treat them like family—and designers and businesses took notice. Lucy enjoys her leisurely, modern lifestyle here at Ourhaus with help from some very well-designed products. Here are a few of our favorite modern pet furnishings:

Lucy eats from Holden Designs' bent plywood raised feeder in Cherry (back image). The heat compression process they use to build these makes them incredibly durable. Slobber and water wipes completely clean from the surface without damage to the material. We are going on about 7 years with this feeder and it looks brand new. They seem to be harder to find these days, but I did find they are still sold here.

Why not have the pup's place setting match yours with these swanky mats by Sandy Chilewich?

Here is a similar bent wood alternative from Trendy Pet:

Mid-Century Mod Feeders by Modern Mews on Etsy have a very Eames storage unit aesthetic!
The Dogleg Diner from Doca has a more industrial feel and I love the color palette.

Doca's SquareMeal is super sleek!

Lucy loves to hang out with us in the living room. She has an old bed there now, but I'd really like to have something that compliments the living room—more like a piece of furniture than a bed.

I love this Hans Wegner-inspired pet lounger by Holden Designs (the same maker of Lucy's feeder bowls, above). Lucy is a little big to be climbing into this, but it would look really great in our living room.

And these Le Corbusier copies are just hilarious:

This is a really fun DIY idea I spotted on Pinterest. You can build this around ANY dog bed.

And speaking of beds...

A product line we are loving now is Kip Pet Products by our new friend, designer Georgia Houston. Lucy LOVES hers, especially resting her head on the outer border, as you can see:

Georgia helped us select the gray bed with the green FoFurdo mattress inset after I showed her photos of some of the rooms in our place. The color combo works great in our bedroom which has primarily brown walls with robin's egg blue accent walls. We often accessorize with grays, blues, yellows and dark lime greens.

I recently caught up with Georgia remotely—she is based in Calgary—to learn more about her inspiration, process and company:

Q: With your a background in Industrial design, what specifically got you started on the dog bed line?
A: I became interested in dog beds a few years ago when I started looking for a bed for my dog Kiara, who is a black Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff). Since she is a fairly large dog at 90 lbs., her bed takes up a significant amount of room in our living space, I wanted her bed to be something I would not mind looking at every day. Through my research I found the market for larger dog beds to be somewhat limited in style options and saw an opportunity to design a well-made, durable and customizable modern pet bed that cats and dogs of all sizes would enjoy and their owners could actually be proud of.

Q: Is the pet product line your current main business, or do you do other industrial design work at the same time?
A: I am currently working full-time running Kip Pet Products. I love the creative freedom it allows me as well as having a flexible schedule so I can work from home and raise my little boy.

Q: What kinds of things inspired the form and materials of the bed?
A: A lot of thought went into creating the NESTo Pet Bed as it was important to consider the needs of both pets and pet owners. The bed needed to be appealing to pets on a physical and emotional level by creating a place where they feel comfortable and secure but also since it is a piece of furniture in the home, I wanted the NESTo to be visually pleasing for pet owners and even regarded as an interesting design feature of a room.

The form of the NESTo Pet Bed with the smooth radius corners was inspired by modern and mid- century design in architecture, interior and graphic design. A lot of attention was paid to proportion, materials, durability and craftsmanship to create a clean, simple form that will stand the test of time. Conceptually, I liked the idea of the outer vinyl bed of the NESTo being like a picture frame and that by choosing different fabrics for the inner mattress cover, one could completely change the whole look of the bed. Functionally, the design of the outer faux-leather vinyl bed creates a soft shelf in a cooler fabric that pets can sprawl out on or rest their heads, while the soft inner mattress creates a soft, cozy place to curl up in.

All of the materials in the NESTo Pet Bed were selected for their quality, aesthetics, durability, and ease of maintenance. The faux-leather vinyl was chosen because it has a natural-looking texture, and is commercial quality with high abrasion resistance and a durability rating 5 times higher than recommended for upholstered household furniture. It is anti-bacterial and mildew resistant, and it meets requirements for UFAC Class 1 flammability testing. The 3” Mongolian faux fur was chosen because the texture just looks so fun juxtaposed next to the smooth vinyl leather of the outer bed. The FoFurdo faux fur mattress cover is washable and durable, but is also very soft to the touch, making for a plush, luxurious mattress for pets to lie on.

Q: Did you "consider the user" when designing? Did you test out design prototypes with real pooches + kitties?
A: I have always been very interested in how a user experiences products. My friend’s dogs and my dog have been the recipient of many of the prototypes I have come up with. I also have a few pet stores that I supply to that have been great with helping me test out new products and materials.

Q: Do you have plans to expand the line? Can you tell us what's next?
A: The Kip Nuzzo Pet Bed is a product I am excited to have recently launched. This bed is great for dogs and cats who love to nuzzle into their bed as it is essentially a loosely stuffed, round fabric ball which folds in on itself to create a soft nest. The Nuzzo Bed made from the 3” Mongolian shag faux fur has proven to be very popular with both pets and owners alike. For pets, the Nuzzo Pet Bed is like the ultimate warm, soft, donut bed to knead and settle into.

In the future I do plan to keep expanding the Kip Pet Product line. I am constantly sketching ideas I have for other products I’d like to create and I think there is a lot more room for modern, fun, aesthetically-pleasing products in the pet market.

We agree! Thank you, Georgia! We look forward to seeing what's in store next.
—Ourhaus + Lucy

About Us

Christopher Scott and Jodi Vautrin are the husband and wife team behind Ourhaus, where they chronicle their adventures in home improvement, decorating and travel. After purchasing a unique loft space just a few miles north of Boston, they began photographing and writing about their projects and it blossomed into a creative outlet and platform.

When they’re not home improving, Jodi spends her days as a freelance creative director & designer with a focus on user interface and interactive design, and is an entrepreneur at heart. She serves on the board of AIGA Boston as Vice President of Emerging Ideas & Events.

In his professional life, Christopher is the Technology Director for a multi-service ad agency based in Harvard Square. In his private life, he enjoys tinkering in all its forms, whether it's rebuilding the Ourhaus home network (again), fooling himself into thinking he knows how to fix home appliances, or trying to unravel the mysteries of the guitar. He also flies planes, performs open heart surgery and sings at bar mitzvahs (though not all at the same time).

They share their “haus” with their adorable, highly food-motivated chocolate lab, Lucy.