November 30, 2009

Herve Morvan(ヘルベ・モルバン)

Finally I decided which calendar to get for 2010! The one featurimg Herve Morvan's posters!

Herve Morvan (1917-1980) was a French poster designer active from the 1950s to the 1970s. Artist of more than 150 posters, Herve Morvan is best known for his stylized versions of the head of the posters for Banania in the 50s. He also designed posters for wine Gévéor, Gitanes cigarettes, watches Kelton, etc...

Herve Morvan's posters always remind me of Raymond Savignac. The fact is both of them were active during the same period. Compared to Savignac, Herve Morvan's working period was much shorter so he is not as famous as Savignac and there isn't many of his works around the world. Their styles are very similar. I think Herve Morvan gave his characters rounder and cuter eyes, it gives his work a softer impression.

A book called Herve Morvan Affichiste is a collection of his works. Unfortunately it's out of print so I haven't had the chance to see this book. I have been using the calenders featuring his works 3 years in a row (I had Savignac's calendars for 2 years previous...). It's my kind of collection.

Herve Morvan(ヘルベ・モルバン)は、1950〜70年代に活躍したフランスのポスター作家。同時代には同じくポスター作家として著名なSavignac(サヴィニャック)がいます。絵のスタイルは似ていますが、モルバンの方が目がかわいく、全体としてやわらかい印象を受けます。


「Herve Morvan Affichiste」という作品集があります。絶版でなかなか見ることはできません。

November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't have many Thanksgiving memories because there is no such thing as Thanksgiving in Japan or Taiwan. My first Thanksgiving was 10 years ago when I just got to the states. At that time, my cousin Mimi still lived in LA, so she and her Korean husband, her son, me, and a friend of mine from Mexico. All 5 of us, no Americans, tried to have an American holiday. Mimi and her husband successfully cooked a turkey and we had a wonderful time. This is my first Thanksgiving memory.

I didn't have a real American Thanksgiving until I married J, it was 4 years ago. Now we either celebrate Thanksgiving in Iowa with J's family, or we invite J's mom to come to NY and celebrate it here. We kinda started a new tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving with our used-to-be-downstairs-neighbors and now good friends Martin and Shawn as well. So far we've had two Thanksgivings with them and we are going to have the 3rd tomorrow at their new place in upstate NY. It might snow there, yea!

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving with safe travels. I’m already in the Christmas spirit, so get ready!

November 23, 2009

Month Names

Do you know the names of the months in Japanese? They’re named Month One, Month Two, Month Three and so on in Japanese. Actually, it's the same way in Chinese as well.

The names of the months are:

  1. 一月 (Ichi-gatsu)
  2. 二月 (Ni-gatsu)
  3. 三月 (San-gatsu)
  4. 四月 (Shi-gatsu)
  5. 五月 (Go-gatsu)
  6. 六月 (Roku-gatsu)
  7. 七月 (Shichi-gatsu)
  8. 八月 (Hachi-gatsu)
  9. 九月 (Ku-gatsu)
  10. 十月 (Jyuu-gatsu)
  11. 十一月 (Jyuu-ichi-gatsu)
  12. 十二月 (Jyuu-ni-gatsu)

But until about 900 years ago, the months had different names in Japanese. These days, the old months’ names aren’t normally used except in poems and stories. Occasionally people will call March, May and December by their old names.

These old names of the months in Japanese are:

  1. 睦月 (Mutsuki)…meaning Harmonious month.
  2. 如月 (Kisaragi)…meaning Month for an extra layer of clothes.
  3. 弥生 (Yayoi)…Month of growth / life.
  4. 卯月 (Uzuki)…Month of the Uzuki flower.
  5. 皐月 (Satsuki)…Month of cultivation.
  6. 水無月 (Mi-na-zuki)…Month without water.
  7. 文月 (Fumizuki)…Culture month.
  8. 葉月 (Hazuki)…Month of leaves.
  9. 長月 (Nagatsuki)…The long night month.
  10. 神無月 (Kan-na-zuki)…The month with no gods.
  11. 霜月 (Shimotsuki)…Frosty month.
  12. 師走 (Shiwasu)…The month of busy priests.

弥生 (Yayoi) and 皐月 (Satsuki) are also common girl's names.

These months' names are based on the old Lunar Calendar (that China still uses). Therefore, some of the month’s names might seem a bit off . For example, 水無月 (Mi-na-zuki)-Month without water is the month of June—which is Japan’s rainy season. Japan uses the solar calendar now, same as Western countries. I prefer the old names, it's more romantic and gives more character to the months. With these names you feel the seasons changing.

Speaking of the Western calendar, have you ever noticed that many of the months' names seem wrong? For example, September means seven, but it’s the ninth month, October means eight (like octogon and octopus), but it’s the tenth month, November means nine, but it’s the eleventh month, and December means ten (like decimal), but it’s the twelfth month.... Actually, the month names used to make sense; September was in fact the 7th month of the Roman Calendar, and October the 8th month, November the 9th, etc...until 153 BC, when they changed the beginning of the year from Kalendas Martius (March 1st) to Kalendas Januarius (January 1st) and now the names are just funny.

FYI, September begins on the same day of the week as December every year, because there are 91 days separating September and December, which is a multiple of seven (the number of days in the week).

November 9, 2009

Cardboard Office (ダンボールオフィス)

{images via Nothing, all photography by Joachim Baan}

What a wonderful and eco-friendly office! This awesome office belongs to a commercial creative agency called Nothing based in Amsterdam. The Nothing team took the idea behind the company name (taking nothing and turning it into something) as the starting point for the physical design of the office; which included creating walls, signage, beams, tables, shelving and even a set of stairs out of cardboard. They also have the walls double as a blank canvas, on which people can leave their marks, like Fiodor Sumkin did.

To whom is concerned about the fire risks, cut's at the shap edges and coffee stains, according to Joost van Bleiswijk, who created and designed this cardboard office, the material is treated with a fire resistant substance; the material is quite thick, the top layer is a 2 mm solid cardboard that doesn't cut your hands as a thin paper sheet would do; and the material is a high pressure cardboard that doesn't soak liquids as a normal paper box would do. The layer on top makes that you can wipe and clean the worst damage. And if it does get too dirty...., they will just cut another tabletop for, well, nothing much at all.

November 6, 2009

Ukiyo-e Éclair (浮世絵エクレア)

{images via Walker Plus}

Look what I found! Éclairs from Fauchon! My friend Naoko mentioned this to me couple months ago but I didn't have chance to google it until now, and here they are! Éclair, the longish cream puff with chocolate coating is quite common in Japan, could even be bought in most convenience stores. What made these Éclairs-Éclair La Vague- special is that this time, instead of chocolate, these puffs are adorned with Hokusai's Ukiyo-e "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (葛飾北斎の「富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏」).

Unfortunately, this "Éclair la Vague" was this summer's specialty of Fauchon, available at Takashimayas in Nihonbashi, Shinjuku, Yokohama, and JR Nagoya Takashimaya at the price of 525 yen, for the limited time until September 1st. I am 2 months late.... According to Naoko, these were not only beautiful to the eyes, but also amazingly delicious.

I also found these images from Fauchon's (Paris) last year's event. For two days, Fauchon's windows were filled with total of 45 flavors of their creations from the past five years. It must be really fun to even just look at their windows!

November 3, 2009

Origami Tea Bags (折り紙ティーパック)

{image via}

Here is an interesting packaging concept by the Russian designer Natalia Ponomareva. The tea bag is packed like an origami bird. It's not on the market yet. I think it will make our tea time more fun with such tea bags. My only concern is that it seems you can enjoy this beautiful tea bag only when you use glass but not tea cup nor paper cup...(I don't know how does it look like from above). And in Japanese culture, we don't make hot drinks in glasses, cause it's too hot to hold it. But I like it anyway, it adds art and fun to life!

Handmade Kinoko no yama-chocolate (手作りきのこの山)

When my parents came to visit, they brought me a lot of treasure: Print Gocco supplies, Japanese masking tape, books, foods..., and they brought me this---Handmade Kinoko no yama set (手作りきのこの山)! I mentioned this Meiji Kinoko no yama(きのこの山) a couple months ago, it's one of my favorite snacks (おやつ). I am familiar with it from childhood and I still go to buy it every week from the Japanese supermarkets in Manhattan. However this is the first one for DIY!

Instructions on the back of the box.

In the box, there are milk and white chocolate pens, chocolate mold, and stem crackers. All you have to do is to melt the chocolate ( I put the pens in warm water), put some of the chocolate into the mold, stick a cracker in and wait for half hour, then voila!! You got your own original Kinoko no yama!

They even provide you the original package so you can design your own box too!

I know it's childish, but it's a fun thing to do. I am sure it will be more fun when we have kids and do it together.

November 2, 2009

It's Already November? (もう11月?)

Can't believe it's already November! Where did my October go? Um, my parents were here for 2 weeks; we went to Philadelphia (and had the most delicious corned beef I have ever had in the Market downtown); Baltimore, Maryland (the Inner Harbor), and walked every corner of Washington D.C.. We went to the Hamptons to have clam chowder, lobster rolls and tasted wine at Palmer Vineyards. We also saw Aida at Metropolitan Opera, set at the 5th row, amazing seats! We had a wonderful time!

So the first 2 days after my parents left, I was a little bit down, I felt lonely while J was at work, I was the only one home and I didn't feel like to do anything. J knows I love Halloween, so he made me an "Orange Jack" to cheer me up! Yep, a drawn orange instead of a carved pumpkin! Cause our apartment doesn't really have space to put a big pumpkin and none of us are good at carving pumpkins. I love it! It makes me smile!