Designskool: Things of Beauty Are Imperfect

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h1I’m continuing to enjoy the wabi-sabi trend which embraces the idea that things of beauty must have an element of imperfection and impermanence.

- Justine Hand

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Justine Hand of Designskool is a newcomer to the grownup interiors blog scene, but she's already found a loyal following. We first met Justine when Julie Carlson of Remodelista named her to the SAY 100 Shelter channel, and we've since enjoyed her great eye for New England design finds and her love of Etsy designers. Her mantra is "personality not perfection. Ours is an eclectic approach to design built on the idea that a home should reflect your story, your history, your heritage, the places you've been or long to go."

We caught up with Justine to hear more about her design muses, what she's reading, and her favorite design trends of the moment.

You like homes that reflect your story - what are a few things in your house that tell your story? My home is full of original items: vintage pieces and crafts with a modern feel, as well as artwork by family and friends (including my children). Signs that a house is mine:

  • Lots of white ceramics - I especially like old chem lab pieces and those by Nancy Bauch of White Forest Pottery - they are serenely lovely.

  • Small animals (a fondness I inherited from my grandmother) – The kid in me favors hand stitched, knit or carved critters with lots of personality. Hopefully my next purchase will be from Every Eskimo or Paulina Temmes.
  • Rare, but not necessarily expensive, art – Original art work can be a daily reminder of loved ones and cherished experiences. Some of my favorite pieces include an eel print by my mother, my Hugo Guinness bulldog (a memorial to my own dog, Bella), and an antique seascape that I bought at a flea market.
  • Items from my childhood – I recently restored a Marimekko patchwork quilt that my aunt made in the 1970’s. It’s so bright and fun!

You're a newcomer to interiors blogging - what made you decide to launch your own blog? I’ve always been passionate about design. But I did not want to be an interior designer (my process is more organic and evolutionary than most deadlines allow), so I pursued other careers. I guess I was waiting for the right forum to express my ideas. I started blogging for other design sites and taking interior photographs while still working as a television producer. Eventually I found that all my energy was focused on design and I simply HAD to start my own blog. The ideas were just pouring out of me!

What's your filter for things that you like? Almost unequivocally, I respond to things that are original because for me these tell the most interesting tale. If I can sense the story of the people behind an item - in the marks of craftsmanship or in the patina acquired after years of use - then it becomes much more evocative for me. I also love pieces with texture: linens, knits, woods, ceramics.

Who are your design muses? Not surprisingly most of my design muses are the friends and family who share my enthusiasm for beautiful and interesting things. (One wonderful side effect of blogging is the like-minded connections it has helped me forge. So this group continues to grow.) My aunt Sheila Narusawa, an architect who works closely with me on designskool is a particular muse. We can talk about design FOR HOURS! I also love the work of John Derian. He has a gift for quirky, individual items and has a real knack for putting things together in an unexpected way.

What other interior bloggers are you reading these days? Who else is doing it right and why? To me design should never be static, so I love to read personal design blogs that follow the evolution of a home and the life that goes on within it. Watching people make a space their own, or witnessing as they celebrate small moments – a new item or the passing light – makes for a worthwhile read. Moa og Kaffekoppen is particularly good at this. Her lens is always on the lookout for everyday moments of beauty. I also love Loppelilla which features lots of simple and original craft ideas. Wabi Sabi Style and April and May are other favorites because they really have an eye for the uniquely lovely.

What are your all-time most popular posts on DesignSkool? Whether a house tour or product feature, my readers really seem to respond to posts that are the most personal. People especially enjoyed my house tour of Lundagard, a labor of love by the Lund family in Finland, and Harbor Cottage, which I shot myself. They also seem to like features in which I show a lot of design humility. Posts like “Ode to Line Dried Laundry” or “Drips” which highlights my cottage sink – dishes and all.

You also write for Remodelista - and Babygadget. How did that start? When I had my first child, I became obsessed with what was then to me “the new world of baby design.” I already had a full-time job as a television producer, but on a whim I applied for a writing position with Babygadget, one of my favorite blogs. Later when I started Designskool, I reached out to Julie Carlson at Remodelista for advice. She liked my point of view, so she asked me to contribute.

What are some of your favorite baby gadgets things right now? I love how design for children today celebrates kids, rather than treating them like little adults. I enjoy playful designers such as Binny (wallpaper) and Timo (dolls and animals). I’m also obsessed with simple wooden toys like those from Svan, Plan Toys and Holtzinger. They’re so beautiful that when your kids leave them all over the house, you don’t mind.

Any favorite design trends you're watching in 2012? I’m continuing to enjoy the wabi-sabi trend which embraces the idea that things of beauty must have an element of imperfection and impermanence.To me this is not only a more realistic ideal, but it also leads to much more intriguing and dynamic spaces. Ultimately, I believe that your home is an extension of yourself. (And who is perfect and never changes?) The more your home truly reflects your story (warts and all), then the more authentic it will be.

Follow Justine Hand's photostream on Flickr

[Image by Moa, via Designskool]