Summer is just around the corner- and so is one of the biggest Interior Design shows of the year- Neocon.If I'm lucky enough to be able to afford it I might drive the 4 hours to Chicago to partake in the networking, new product premiers and chotchkies. I enjoy seeing the new products and materials rolled out by industry vendors and partners. It gives me a small taste of what my industry was before the bubble burst, and a feel for what it will be when the market recovers some.
One of the most exciting things is to see a lot of new products. Especially in an era where everything is "green" and re-used, re-purposed or up-cycled. But trends have a tendency to cycle back around.

Take for example Shagreen. For the non-industry readers- Shagreen is a leather type material created from the skin of Sharks. While this may seem disgusting to some- take a moment to consider regular leather, or even tiles make from crocodile skin. On an odd sidebar: I think that sentence explains the weird dreams I had last night- BUT back to the story! Shagreen use to be made from the hide on the back of horses or donkeys. Somewhere in the 1600's shagreen started to be made from shark skin or from the skin of sea rays.

Shagreen provides an interesting visual and tactile texture to products, as you can see from the cabinet above. The use of shagreen doesn't have to be for furniture, although that is one of my favorite ways to see it. Over the years it has been used for dagger hilts, jewelry and even shoes.

Although it is not something you normally think of using for jewelry- it is still something that is done. This bracelet, a beetle decked out in diamonds and sapphires sitting on grey shagreen can be purchased online for a an affordable $1450!  The texture of the cuff alone shows the beauty of the material.

So why haven't you heard of Shagreen? And what does this have to do with Neocon? Well the answer to the first question is pretty simple- unless you're in the industry, deal with furniture, spent at least a year in furniture history classes, or just LOVE exotic materials- it's not something that is as common any more. And to answer the second question- trends. They cycle around and around. You may soon see a resurgence of shagreen, or a similar product.

Let me introduce you to: Fish Leather. A fellow designer recently posted about this company on her company blog- FurFin. Both the picture above and the bracelet are both made of Salmon Leather and offered by a company in Iceland Atlantic Leather. The textures, colors and options are amazing and make a designer excited about the possibilities!

Although I have my fingers crossed about being able to make it to the Mart this year for Neocon- I'm not going to count on it. I will however be searching for new products to use in all of my future projects. Just think of salmon leather, or a wolf-fish ottoman..

Ever wonder what to do with those left over products? There is a great new trend in the design industry to go green. But in the artist world they are finding great new ways to reuse products and refer to it as Up-Cycled or Up-Cycling. We're not recycling products, which actually breaks down the chemical composition and makes the product weaker each time. Instead we're making new items out of previously used items in their current state (possible minor alterations)- but these items are given a new life- they are brought back UP to a new purpose. The majority of the products I make are up-cycled. I can't imagine some of these items being tossed. Shopping totes sprang out of fun graphic T-shirts. Gift Bows that can be used over and over again- and of course Pillows out of discarded fabric. Why get rid of good products?

I recently found an article about a Buddhist temple created out of beer bottles. This is up-cycling to the extreme. Not only does it provide a secure and sturdy structure for the Monks to practice in- but it also creates a visually stunning space that would shock most designers and photographers.

Check out the full article and more pictures here: Buddhist Temple Built from Beer Bottles

It may seem like after he Youtique show I took some time off. Oh... if only it were that easy! I haven't run away, I haven't taken a break- but I am happy to report I did take one day off. I twas something I needed to do for me- especially since this month is apparently just as busy as last month.

Last week was mostly focused on business stuff- getting some ducks in a row. All these small side projects are baby steps for hopefully a bigger step later for the business. So far this week has been devoted to a brochure, a newsletter, more business paperwork, website updates, logo creation... Which is seriously a lot of stuff done already.

I've stared offering SEO services (Search Engine Optimization) and have already got my first contract for it.

Still to come- another newsletter, another brochure, more business documents- and oh a 50 guest vow renewal.. that's not including attending weddings and parties for family and friends this month as well. It's a lot to do- but I honestly enjoy it.

With everything I'm doing- I still often feel like I'm not doing enough. I know that's a bit silly- but until I start seeing the results, I probably wont be able to shake that feeling.
I am happy to announce- Youtique was a great success! We had a great group of vendors, and there were only a couple minor issues. We are still waiting on some feedback through the Michigan Artisans. Hopefully the reviews are as good from our vendors and the Design Center. With any luck we will be holding another Youtique there in the Fall!

I arrived back at Youtique around 2:30 after the presentation at Google. It was very neat to see inside the offices- it would definitely be a place I would want to work. We all had to sign non-disclosures and were not allowed to take pictures inside. We did get a group shot of our team and the NLMSF President in front of the Google sign, and have a video of the presentation. I am currently working on editing these for their website and newsletter.

This week Rusao Designs is making a few changes. We have updated the website with a couple more features, and great photos from Youtique. More will be coming, and Tuesday a brain storming meeting will be happening over some changes coming in the near future.