Random Acts of Creativity

Real Books

real book

Loving this random act of creativity.

Last year, husband and wife design duo Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp and Sean Ohlenkamp undertook a project to reorganize their bookshelves by color (something I myself do at home) and make a stop-motion video about it.

Using bookshelf color-coordination as just the seed of an idea, they recently took the idea up a (very large) notch and brought a bookstore in Toronto to life a fantastical, whimsical stop-motion animation video. I hope this is really what books do while we’re sleeping.



It’s one of the most impressive stop-motion videos I’ve seen in terms of the sheer hours I imagine it took to make it — I worked on a stop-motion video myself (the one on the home page of Cultivate Wines), and it took 14 hours of shooting, plus editing.

According to the writeup on the video, the team of Type bookstore in Toronto, along with the Ohlenkamps and many volunteers, spent many sleepless nights to make this happen. Yeah, I bet!

The score, which is so absolutely perfectly suited to the video, is by Grayson +Matthews.


Random Acts of Creativity

A Murmuration of Starlings


Remember this post about posters of collective nouns? At the time, the phrase “a murmuration of starlings,” was one of my favorites, and I liked the accompanying poster as well.

And then today, I discovered this video! Of a murmuration of starlings!

And it’s amazing. Have you ever seen a murmuration of starlings? I hadn’t, and I am awe-struck. It’s one of those things you can’t believe really exists in nature. I had to watch it twice just to take it in.

via Swiss Miss

Random Acts of Creativity

The Patient Gardener

patient gardener

My time to work on Wonderlust has been incredibly pressed recently as things with Cultivate are taking off (very exciting, but very busy!), but I had to share this with you, it’s one of the most clever, fantastical things I’ve seen in a while.

Swedish architects VisionDivision have dreamed up and planted the beginnings of what will become a beautiful resting spot in Milan after the ten Japanese Cherry Trees have grown up and been pruned and shaped into this structure.

But it won’t be done for 100 years! Hence the name.

I actually love that it will take 100 years. Everything in our culture is so oriented towards instant gratification, and it’s a lovely reminder that some things of beauty and value, like trees, cannot be sped up or gotten to via shortcuts. They must grow on their own time and be lovingly taken care of and tended to in order to become something magnificent.

Did you notice in the images above that some of the branches will be shaped into a ladder, and others into basket-weave shapes for sitting on?

via Dezeen

Random Acts of Creativity

Lake Chautauqua


Remember when I was gone for a week to Lake Chautauqua? Well, I thought I’d share a few photos of the trip, and in particular, our party for my nephew William’s 1st birthday, for which I made Smitten Kitchen’s Pecan Cornmeal Brown Butter Cake (which miiight have been selfish, as I personally love that cake, but he loved it too!) with homemade bunting decoration made from an old napkin.

The photos above show you pretty much everything you need to know to make bunting– an old cloth napkin or textile of some sort, twine, scissors, and coffee stirrers. The rest is very intuitive! Cut out the triangles (I made one and then used it as a guide for the others), cut a hole in both corners of the tops of the triangles, string the twine through the holes, and tie the ends to the coffee stirrers. Stick the coffee stirrers into the cake as the poles. Ta-da!

Go over here for the recipe and more images of the cake. I’m telling you, it’s delicious. So delicious, and unique, that I’ve decided this is my go-to cake for any occasion I need to take a cake to.


Random Acts of Creativity

It’s Hammock Time

hammock house

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that terrible MC Hammer-inspired pun for the title. But don’t let that detract you, this is really cool!

Above is a public space, like a park, but it’s a structure, built in Vienna and filled with four stories of hammocks. Just ‘cuz. If public spaces are meant to enhance one’s enjoyment of a city, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the view than relaxing in a hammock looking out at the city.

It’s a temporary structure, only there until October, but not to fear, it’s not going to demolished– it will simply change owners and move to a new location. Designed by these architects.

Also, in other hammock news… YES, there is other hammock news! What a fun day that there is news about hammocks!

Anyway, the first item is this: Brazilian artist Narcelio Grud installed hammocks around Manchester’s town center, with the sole intention of creating enjoyment interventions in people’s days, much like this swing project. I love it, and I love that there are people like that to do things like that in this world.

And item B: hammocks induce better sleep, says NPR. It made me think, maybe for future houseguests in our cozy little apartment (read: kind of too small for guests), maybe rather than offering the couch, we could find a way to string up a hammock for sleeping!


Random Acts of Creativity

The Swings Project


This kind of thing is exactly the reason I started Wonderlust. This random act of creativity just made my day.

Last year, Jeff Waldman and a few friends were talking about the simple joy of swings. Out of that conversation around a coffee table evolved a project to hang swings all over San Francisco “as a part of an ongoing Happiness Project aimed at a loss of youth.”

…And then they took the project to LA, the Marshall Islands, and Panama. Now they’re headed for Bolivia through this Kickstarter project, which received over 200% funding (!), all with the goal of adding a little moments of happiness to people’s lives.

Here’s more about the the mission from his kickstarter page: It’s a universal message. An appeal to celebrate the passions of our youth, to give in to simplistic urges, but mostly, to remind people of the difference a smile can make in their day and the infectious effect that smile has on those they encounter.


Check out the video below to see lots more examples of places the swings have been hung and how the whole process happened.

Waldman has done other such projects, including this Mother’s Day Project where he installed supplies on public mailboxes, including prepaid postage envelopes, for sending your mother a card.

Also, their mission of putting smiles on people’s faces reminded me of this great little TED talk about the power of smiling. Did you know that a person’s smile can predict their lifespan or their marriage? And that children smile over 400 times a day on average? And that a smiling actually makes you feel happier?


Finally, this also led me to discover The Awesome Foundation (they funded the LA Swings project), which gives $1000 grants to “furthers the interest of awesome in the universe– in other words, they give out $1000 to projects they think are cool, no strings attached. Oh the things I would do if I were rich. Actually, I think I would probably just spend tons of time on Kiva and Kickstarter and IndieGoGo… there are so many productive ways to give your money away on the interweb these days!

Random Acts of Creativity

+Pool on Kickstarter


If I still lived in New York, I would definitely be contributing to +Pool on Kickstarter. This would be an unbelievably awesome asset for New York (particularly Brooklyn!), and with its simple + shape (which I love), I think it would become a new design icon for the city!


The concept is simple: build a pool right in the East River that filters river water through the pool walls make it clean for swimming.




PS: +Pool, once you finish this project, I propose you come out to San Francisco and start working on a pool that floats in the Bay and heats the water as it passes through the filtration system!


Random Acts of Creativity

The Burning House

burning house

A couple of years ago, when I was living in Santa Barbara, there were crazy wild fires that required my sister and I (amongst many others) to evacuate and actually go through, in real life, the imaginary game you sometimes play with yourself about “what would I grab if my house caught on fire.”

This clever site, The Burning House, asks people to submit a photo of the things they’d take. It’s so interesting to see what people would grab and to wonder if you can imagine what they’re like based on that.

(Also, beyond it’s literal assignment, it’s also inherently an exercise in photo styling, so with a few I wonder, would you really grab that or did it just look good?)

What I realized, when forced to confront this scenario, was that there was very little I truly cared to take. I looked around my apartment, expecting to go into a frenzy, and then the frenzy just didn’t happen. I calmly finished baking the pie I was working on so we’d have something good to eat in our exile, put a few things in a duffel, and walked out the door.

This prompted two epiphanies: 1) hooray, I’m not as materialistic as I thought, and 2) so, all this stuff I’ve bought is pretty meaningless. It was the kind of realization you’ve always known to be true (how many maxims have you heard about “what matters in the end”), but you sort of don’t believe it fully until something hits you over the head with it.

In the end, all I took were my box of letters from family and friends, a box of plane and event tickets I’ve saved my whole life, and photo albums from the pre-digital age– only things representing relationships and experiences– the two things you do hear over and over that make you.

(I also grabbed a small and really poorly thought out selection of clothing that meant I was wearing leather loafers- no socks- for 4 days on a hot dusty ranch where we stayed to ride out the fires.)

Random Acts of Creativity

Like No Other

bouncy balls

There’s no way this video/ad won’t put a smile on your face. It made me so happy I almost cried.

Maybe y’all have already seen this, as it was on TV, but I don’t watch TV really (except whatever my dear roommate has on in the background while I blog, or series that I get way obsessively sucked into via Netflix instant, but then there’s no ads) so I miss out on all the ads that get raved about. And I don’t really care if you’ve already seen it. Watch it again.


The team (who I think are brilliant) behind this spot for Sony Bravia TVs wanted to connect people to the product in an emotional, rather than rational way, which is SO smart– it’s what Apple does all the time.  TVs are traditionally sold by bragging about the specs and high tech this or that. This spot said absolutely nothing about the product other than “Color like no other,” as part of their larger “like no other” branding campaign, and they made you feel something instead of telling you something.

I also loved this behind the scenes/making-of video, as I was very curious about the details! Here are the basics: 250,000 bouncy balls, 23 cameras. (Tangentially, did anyone else get really thrown off when the theme music from NPR’s On Point came on??)

Also, the images at top are available for purchase as prints– photographer Peter Funch was at the scene and captured these amazing shots.

PS- Happy birthday to my sister Kaki and my niece Ginny! Festive post for your birthday, no?

via WTF

Random Acts of Creativity

The Minister’s Treehouse


One day in 1993, Horace Burgess, a minister in Crossville, TN, received a message from God that if he built Him a treehouse, he would never run out of materials.

So Burgess started building a treehouse that almost twenty years later would end up ten stories tall and only cost him around $12,000. All of the wood was salvaged, and the structure is built around 7 trees that act as supports. Burgess worked on it as he found materials, stopping and starting as supplies or time allowed.

Visitors report that the rambling structure reflects this stop-and-go construction method, with hallways ending in sheer drop-offs because there aren’t walls at the end, or floors ending suddenly at ladders, which leads me to wonder how on earth this thing was built, and is operated (about 500 tourists a week), without being anywhere near up to code, but honestly that’s got to make visiting it a whole lot more fun.


Check out the gallery for more pictures of this insane structure.

Top banner images (1, 2) by Charles Sutherland on Flickr.

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