Living With Art: Housewares Edition

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OK, just typing “Housewares” edition made me feel a little weird, and it’s not even quite the right word for what I’m trying to describe.

Lately, several different companies have started producing pillows, clocks, shower curtains, skateboard decks done by genuinely authentic artists. (Yes, that’s sarcasm – what makes an artist real or authentic remains a mystery to me and it will probably be forever so.)

In any event, here’s a quick peek at two of these companies:

Cereal Art‘s latest press release describes their concept:

Concentrating on visual artists' projects, Cerealart is a new company conceptualized to design, develop, manufacture and distribute a range of esthetically pleasing affordable artist's designs.

Blurring the boundaries between high and low culture, the products are designed by critically acclaimed internationally recognized museum exhibiting contemporary artists who are fascinated by consumer culture. Authorship is published and highlighted as an integral part of each design.

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They feature items like the salt + pepper shakers shown here. They’re $50 and from a limited edition of 2500. The artist , Marcel Dzama shows at David Zwirner here in NYC. (Not too shabby!) Other artists featured on the site include Ryan McGinness, Keith Haring & Laurie Simmons.

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Another company, that was in the news a while ago, is eleventwentyfive. The Chroma coasters, pictured here are by Miller Updegraf. They also feature pillows with designs on them from Swoon, a local NYC street artist who’s first solo show opens at Deitch tomorrow night.

Eleventwentyfive describes itself as “a design firm that commissions and licenses artists’ concepts for decorative home accessories. Eleventwentyfive extends the reach of work by emerging artists and brings affordable, functional art objects to the market for art and design enthusiasts.”

I confess: I am ambivalent about this kind of thing. I like the idea of artists deriving other sources of revenue from their creative work. I especially enjoy it when it’s artists like McGinness, who’s work often has a bit of a subversive undercurrent to it. My ambivalence comes from commodifying art and thus, transforming the experience of art buying as I have personally come to know and love it. And yes, of course art is highly commodified already, I know that, I haven’t quite formulated why this stuff makes me a little itchy, but I know it does.

(Thanks to Josh Rubin, of Cool Hunting for the tip on Cereal Art.)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.