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renegade handcrafted: AHeirloom

Amy Stringer-Mowat and Bill Mowat of AHeirloom
photo by: Alyssa Kirsten
Where was your favorite place to live?
We love living in Brooklyn, we have lived here for about off and on for about 14 years. Both of our business were started here so we feel that the environment is right for our creative growth.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
We love our son’s room, as we took the most time to decorate it before he was born. Bill build a lovely crib and we spend a great deal of time painting and making the room a place where our son will grow and learn.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Bill always says - “necessity is the mother of all invention” and I would agree that need and the ability to figure out how to make something is our inspiration.

What do you drive?
We drive a volvo station wagon…it is a tank in the winter! Getting from studio to manufacturing space, to pre-school pickups requires some serious planning and a good set of wheels.

What one item do you wish you owned?
I think we wished we owned a better camera with a super sweet photo booth.. but perhaps this will happen in the new year….once we learn how to make one that works..

What are your interests outside of design?
We cook, clearly we are interested in cheese and all sorts of things related to baking and food prep. It is the major inspiration for our housewares line for sure.

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
One of the best designs of all time in our opinion would be the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, it was groundbreaking in it’s use of materials, It was elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural materials. So many wonderful modern buildings have been based on it’s classical principles.

Who are you design icons?
Corbusier is Bill’s and mine would be Charles and Ray Eames, each of these architects and designers knew a great deal about proportion and scale, which is essential in design. We also feel that they were super graphic in their representations.. they were distinct in their styles and never afraid of being bold.

Form vs. function?
We don’t think you have to choose that in the current design climate.. as trained architects we would most likely argue that form follows function many. A great deal of new products are being designed with the new manufacturing techniques that minimize unnecessary parts and pieces as the design evolves. The design and function of a products are getting more integrated as the techniques for making evolve.

What is your personal decorating style?
We never have a great deal of time to think about decorating our home and for many years we didn’t have the resources to buy things for our various apartments.. so we typically had to make the furniture that was needed! We are defiantly less is more type people and are truly white walls and clean lines type of people.

What’s your favorite possession?
We love our laser cutter, as it helps us prototpye and design new things ideas as quickly as we can think them up. We love the speed of bring things to life with the laser beams.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Our biggest indulgence is hiring a team of people who help us with the daily running of our business, we have really tried to do most things by ourselves, but the time has finally come where we need more help. Hopefully, our team will learn as we grown.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Paint is pretty inexpensive and we have really concentrated on painted ceilings for our apartment .. bold geographic shapes painted on a wall can really break and define space.. especially for a 2 year old’s room!

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
Sometime you have to let go of what you thought was going to work in order to really see the full potential of an idea - be flexible and try to allow for reinvention.

cork U.S.A. wall board

To see the Renegade Craft Fair capsule collection for CB2, go here.


renegade handcrafted: cotton & flax

Where was your favorite place to live?
Portland (my hometown) has a wonderfully cooperative creative community, and all that rain made my days of sewing and printing feel cozy. That being said, Los Angeles has been a really interesting place to call home for the last few years. Perhaps simply because it’s such a big city, as I take the time to explore, I am constantly finding new reasons to love it here.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
My tiny studio space! I screenprint every piece for Cotton & Flax in my 6’ x 10’ printing room, and while it’s certainly cramped, I am grateful to be able to wake up, have some coffee, and get right down to work… no commuting for me! I know every nook and cranny in that little room as if it were the back of my hand, and I’ve hung up artworks from friends and some of my favorite printmakers to inspire me while I work.

Erin Dollar of Cotton&Flax What are your sources of inspiration?
I gather inspiration from all over: books, the internet, museums, the things I see on my daily walks. I’m very influenced by place; I’ve noticed that my color palette has really changed since I moved to Los Angeles. I used to gravitate towards greys and blues, and now I find myself adding brighter colors to each new collection.

What do you drive?
I’ve managed to live in LA for three years without a car! Running errands can be tricky, but I get a unique perspective of LA while I walk, ride my bike, or take the Metro Gold Line around town. I really get to look around and see all the little details that make each neighborhood special.

What one item do you wish you owned?
A certain handmade coffee table has been on my wish list for almost two years now, and I’m hoping to commission the artist to make one for me someday. It will be a splurge, but I’ve had my eye on it for long enough that I know it will be a piece I treasure for many, many years.

Who are your design icons?
Marimekko - their designs never feel stale to me. I also admire Orla Kiley, her prints are instantly recognizable, and always make me smile.

plus tea towels What is your personal decorating style?
I’m always aiming to create a more thoughtful, minimalist environment, but it’s difficult for me to reduce the creative clutter in my home. There will always been sketchbooks, pens and pencils, fabric swatches, and half-finished projects dotting the apartment. The unifying style that seems to hold my place together is my unique creative chaos: there’s no mistaking my apartment for anyone else’s.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Probably a tie between overspending on new art supplies, and my penchant for a good chocolate croissant and a latte… I’d have that for breakfast every day, if I could.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Fresh flowers! I buy a bouquet every week, and divide it up into three smaller arrangements to spread around the house. They provide a nice pop of color, and make each room feel brighter.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
Best career advice I’ve received: be thoughtful about what you create, and know when to ask for help. Best advice I’ve given: don’t rush when creating a new product; lasting beauty takes time to develop.

To see the Renegade Craft Fair collection for CB2, go here.


sneak peek: renegade handcrafted CB2

Renegade Craft Fair co-founder Susie Daly and Ryan, CB2 General Merchandise Manager

This season, CB2 is excited to partner on an innovative capsule collection curated by Renegade Craft Fair and celebrating the original goods of six independent makers and crafters. Each unique item is designed in the USA and available exclusively at CB2 in a limited release.

We spent a few moments with Renegade founder Susie Daly and Ryan, General Merchandise Manager, to learn more about the craft organization, the collaboration and
the collection.

First, how did Renegade get its start?
In 2003, I began making jewelry, and thought it would be fun to join a local event where I could sell my work in a fair setting. However, I didn’t find an event that I felt was a perfect fit—those events were geared much more towards established artists, rather than DIY crafters. So, in true entrepreneurial spirit, I decided to begin my own fair that was aimed at the contemporary craftspeople I knew were emerging at that time.

Our first event in Wicker Park, Chicago had 75 artists and about 6,000 attendees. Over 11 years later, we now host 11 events in 6 cities nationally and internationally, with over 250,000 in attendance. It’s been an unbelievable experience, and something I couldn’t have imagined when we first started out!

The funny thing is that CB2 shares Renegade’s entrepreneurial spirit—in 2000 we opened our first store in Chicago and, thanks in part to our affiliation with Crate and Barrel, today we’re 13 stores including Canada and Singapore.

It’s been fun for us to fuel that spirit and work with these independent artists—true craftspeople we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with—had it not been for their participation in Renegade.

The collaboration feels very natural—the collection as well.
CB2 may seem very different, but Renegade really is close to the core of who we are. Over the years we’ve worked hard to warm-up modern with handcrafted furniture and accessories, and this collection of handcrafted goods features really special, refined pieces. This mix also reflects how most of us live—starting with machined and handmade furniture and textiles, then layering on unique finds we’ve discovered in all sorts of places.

For Renegade, the partnership exposes these artists to a brand new audience—it makes perfect sense given where we are and where we see ourselves going. And that’s a big part of being an entrepreneur—you’re always looking for the next opportunity to grow.

With over 2500 potential artists, how did you get to the 6 featured?
Initially, artists’ submissions are reviewed by a jury before they can exhibit in any of the fairs—so that’s how we began this collaboration, by submitting a hand-selected group to Ryan and his team.

From there, we basically became another jury—internally we reviewed their work and thoughtfully chose a small group of artists whose aesthetics would be the best fit for CB2.

Dare we ask if you have a favorite piece?
The artists were all great to work with—and while we wish all of the artists we contacted initially had made it to the final selection, in the end we’re really excited about these limited edition pieces they were able to develop exclusively, unique from their current work.

So I really don’t want to show any favoritism… but the trophy… I just think it’s hilarious—and it’s gold!—a fun, whimsical piece that makes modern approachable… and what a great gift!?

It’s difficult to choose just one out of the bunch! Overall, I think it’s really cool that the artists made specific, exclusive works for CB2 while remaining true to their tastes and talents. All of it is very colorful and whimsical, yet sophisticated—which is what we were going for.

CB2 had the honor of not only meeting RCF founder Susie Daly last January—she welcomed us into her home for a catalog shoot. To learn more about Susie Daly, one of our favorite influencers, go here.


building affordable modern: dave and chad

Special Thanks to dave, eCommerce brand director—and his partner chad—for this submission.

Chad and Dave with Oscar and Wilbur As a kid I remember sketching house designs and floor plans—day-dreaming of being an architect. So when the opportunity arose to design and build a home with my fiancee Chad—it was literally a dream come true.

Our ultimate goal was to create a modern, small, affordable, and fun home. With the help of our dear friend, architect Scott Delano, we designed and built a 1600 sq. ft. house that met all of our needs—including maintaining a budget of $140 / sf.

Chad and I both have a modern aesthetic—with slight variations on the final touches. I prefer simple, clean designs mixed with vintage while Chad’s style is a little more industrial—Scott’s design successfully balances both our styles.

Throughout most of 2011—with the help of our architect and our realtor Joaquin Calle, brother of CB2’s very own Marta Calle—we viewed quite a few potential lots and Scott developed about 20 house designs for strong contenders.

In December, we decided on a lot near Andersonville, a neighborhood we loved and wanted to establish roots in. Since our team had done extensive prep work—we worked through a lot of scenarios and felt really comfortable with our final answers—together, we were able to take a design from idea to documents suitable for construction permitting in just 14 days.

We were approved for a loan from the Federal Housing Administration’s 203k acquisition and renovation program that allows buyers to combine a mortgage and repair loan—one of the conditions is that you have to work with an existing foundation.

Since the house was abandoned, it was actually in the legal court process heading towards demolition. Thankfully the seller partnered with us and we were able to convince the court to lift the order so we could get clear title, buy the property, and demolish it by choice.

This was key because we could save the foundation and fit the requirements of the loan—build off it pretty easily—and it saved a lot of the budget for the house itself.

We wanted a simple house with no fuss—that would be dog-friendly for our extended family: Oscar, a Boston Terrier, and Wilbur, a French Bulldog—so everything went very quickly. We closed in January 2012 and demolished the old house in February. Armed with building permits issued in April, new construction took place in the spring and summer and we moved in September 30th—start to finish in 9 months.

Although each part of the demolition and build was thrilling—the real fun really began when Scott took us through a few exercises to bring together our ideas and needs for the house. This gave him the opportunity to understand our visions and goals visually—and to dig out those we couldn’t communicate verbally.

Since the house is only 40’ long—and the garage another 20’—we were left with nice size backyard on the 108’ long lot. Mimi McKay designed a modern garden off the spacious patio—equally important, she worked in a dog run on the side of the house. Overall, the backyard was transformed into a peaceful oasis and we’ve had a lot of fun learning to garden.

Synergy Construction Group was a big part of our success. They installed all the cabinets we assembled—making them look more like built-ins—and executed the clean, overall look precisely; including a stunner of a fireplace.

Once they finished, we filled the house with a mix of modern, vintage and industrial furnishings from eBay to CB2. In preparation for all the recent photo shoots, we just put up removable wallpaper from CB2 which added another layer with modern graphics and colors.

It’s still a work in progress but we are thrilled to be living in the house we designed from start to finish, bottom to top, inside and out. First Floor Second Floor

Overall, what we’re most proud of is that the house was built on a budget of just $140 / sf.
Here are just a few of the ways we were able to do it:

size matters
At 1600 sq ft—but with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a generous backyard—it’s all the space we need.

create a liveable outdoor space
When the weather’s good, the house feels bigger with the usable exterior space—and it gives us all more room to breath.

eliminate the basement
Bonus is that we got the concrete floors on first level that we wanted and we shored up the integrity of the foundation—which resulted in slab on grade foundation. Rather than adding the cost of covering it with hardwood, we stained the freshly poured concrete with a water-based dark grey stain.

no fussy details
Simple and clean was our motto and it permeated all the design details so we eliminated extras like crown moldings, window treatments, etc. Finishing details like tile, faucets, trim, etc had to come in on or below budget—which actually made selections easier because we had less options to choose from.

use stock cabinetry that requires assembly
We saved quite a bit on the initial cost—definitely on the labor. So while the house was being built over the summer, we staged 200 boxes in the garage and assembled all of the kitchen and bath cabinets ourselves.

no bespoke anything
We used mostly standard materials and fixtures. For example, to achieve the modern / commercial window look we were after, 3 standard size windows were ganged together and repeated throughout the house. The bonus—the windows are practically ceiling to floor allowing lots of natural light to flood the house.

stick to an aggressive budget—together!
We can’t tell you how many times one or both of us were enticed to blow the budget—test your relationship and talk through every detail. In the end, it made a house our home.


spring favorites: sara

supra bed
I love combining traditional materials with modern forms and his bed has such a warm and feminine look—with an edge which makes it really unique.
marble floor lamp
a simple floor lamp with a beautiful solid marble base, it looks more like sculpture than lighting.
sterling side table
a beautiful statement piece in solid polished aluminum—and functional as a table or stool.

Thanks to sara, product manager, for this submission.