WhyTime is Live!

So, we launched our new app on 14.08.2013... crazy, huh?

You’ve been hearing about it for months, and here it is: the WhyTime App. Six months from inception to real thing – we think that’s a pretty good effort! Check it out. (Yes, I mean download it!)

You may be thinking that this is a bit of a deviation from our work in the past, but actually, not so much. We had to work closely with the developers, ‘building’ the app, and make sure the design we envisaged was brought to life. Working with builders – now that’s familiar territory! The process, you may be interested to know, was also not too dissimilar from building a building or a product – we had to set out our scope clearly, and make sure we had thought through all the details; we had to be clear about what we wanted and how to achieve it; we had to be ready to come up with new solutions that met the design intent, when the builders came back and said something couldn’t be done a certain way. And we had to accept that perfection wasn’t realistic or helpful – but getting it out into the world and ready for people to use was.

Below is a bit of summary of the process from start to finish. You can download it here, or visit the WhyTime App website for a bit more detail on how it works.

This is the first concept mock-ups. 

This was our second stage mock-ups, after we had done some early market testing. Interestingly, the idea for the quotes came from our testers, with many of them suggesting this idea of inspiring and motivating quotes. 

This is a diagram going through how all the screens connect and what the buttons do.

Another flow diagram. Yes, there was a lot of this! 

These were the first screen shots in development. No, they didn't freak me out at all. (They totally did).

 

The final screenshots. Victory, at last!

Still here...?! 

August 27, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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WhyTime App

As some of our followers may be aware, we have been working of late on the development of an app. This idea began when we started considering the problem we saw in ourselves, our friends and a lot of our wider community:  the inability to make time for our personal needs in a busy lifestyle. The demands of work, family and social commitments speak with a louder voice, and with more urgency, than the needs of our own mind/body/soul, and for this reason we seem to attend to these external demands before our own.  Of course, the irony of this is that it is only by looking after ourselves first, that we will be able to give to all these other demands out of our abundance. We all know this, but putting it into practice can be a challenge!

Our solution to this problem is our WhyTime App.

app home screen

 We wanted to provide an inspiring and indulgent experience, where people could come to take a few minutes out of their busy lives. It is a place for the user to recharge and work on putting order into their private lives. The App helps to do this through inspirational content, as well as motivational reminders and affirmations. The emphasis is on identifying what it means to the user to do a certain task, or what it will mean to them to dismiss it; on ‘Why’ the user chooses to spend their time on a particular task. With the consequences so clearly articulated, one should, hopefully, not struggle to find the motivation to attend to these needs.  

You can have a closer look at screen shots here.

The app is not yet available for download; we are current working on refining it to meet the needs of future users, with a launch date after we have got this right. So we encourage you to have a look and let us know your thoughts here. What do you think – can you relate to this problem of not finding time to look after yourself, and would you use this app to help?

March 20, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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Just Options

No right answers, only options.

It seems to us that the design process is one of coming up with any number of possible solutions to one problem. None of these solutions is ‘right’ – they are all just options that may or may not be worth pursuing. Take for example, a recent problem we were having a look at: never having enough time for ourselves in our busy modern lifestyles.

To start with, we tried to get to the bottom on the problem, and find a question we could design an answer for... to do that, we asked ourselves ‘Why’ the problem existed until we got to a position where we had a question we were comfortable with:

Once we got to this point, we were free to explore solutions that answered this question: not solutions that seemed immediately viable mind you, just fun, exciting ways to solve the problem. Some of the ideas we came up with included:

A ‘Wellness Calculator’, where you could input how you spent your day and it would convert this information into a Wellness rating, which tells you how ‘good’ your day has been for you. So you could input how long you worked for, how much time you spent exercising and doing what, what you ate, how much time you slept, what you did for entertainment, and so on. By seeing a concrete value for the effect our choices have on our wellness, we might be encouraged to give more priority to those things that are good for us.

A ‘Reminder App’, that empowers you to keep your commitments by articulating the choices you make when you choose how you spend your time.  Every time you prioritise another task over taking care of yourself, you make a choice – this app articulates the consequence of these choices in terms of what they mean to you, and expresses them through the use of messages that are read to you when the alarm sounds and you make your choice. Here is our preliminary visualisation:

We have developed this idea a little further: have a look here, and if you have time, fill in the short survey letting us know what you think.

We all probably spend a lot more time on Facebook than we really need to, at the expense of other things in our life. So what about a ‘Facebook App’, that posts reminders and encouragements on your wall, giving you the motivation to make time for the important things, as well as allowing your friends to participate in the conversation and keep you accountable. You can enter your schedule of commitments, and it would post automated friendly reminders and responses to see if you met these commitments. For example:

Lastly, it’s much easier to notice the phone ringing, our family or friends asking for attention, or the email that just landed in our inbox that needs an urgent response, than to notice what our own mind/body/soul needs. So what about a ‘Mini Me’ device, which takes all our internalised needs and expresses them for us – a physical manifestation of our inner selves, that could be just as visible and able to compete with the other demands in our life? This could take any number of shapes... one could be a mobile device that we carry with us to schedule in our commitments, perhaps even recording our own voice memos. This device will then send us emails, sms’, phone calls or alarms when it’s time to attend to these needs. We can make time to answer the phone when other people call– what if we could answer the phone to find ourselves on the line, telling us to make time for the task we have scheduled? Another version of this could perhaps be a bracelet that can measures our biorhythms, and give us reminders when we need to relax, rest, eat or sleep.

As you can see, none of these ideas is perfect, and none is ‘right’... given the right people working on it and the right processes, maybe they could all come to fruition.

What do you think though – which one appeals to you, and how come? 

 

The ideas expressed in this post, and the manifestations, representations, images and text related to these ideas is copyright by Twenty Six Letters; all rights reserved, including no unauthorised usage of images or concept. February 2013.

February 13, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in Ideation
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Disconnected

When the basics aren't so basic anymore. 

We have been noticing lately, like an increasing number of people, how disconnected we are from the process of providing for our basic needs. Consider our Food, Clothing and Shelter. Where do these come from, how are they made, what exactly does it take to make it ready for us to consume? Take for example, these items:

disconnected

We all obviously know that the lettuce, tomato and cucumber that go into a salad don’t come from the supermarket, and that our favourite t-shirt has a story before it gets to the store.  But do many people care? It might be convenient to pay someone else to produce and provide these basics for us, but would life be simpler if we knew how to provide them for ourselves? If we could work less, for example, once we knew these skills, would many people want to take the provision of these basic needs into their own hands?

What about you.... what do you think? Would you be interested in products that could make it simple for you to grow your own vegetables, make your own clothes or build your own home? 

February 3, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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What if...

We have been doing some imagining around an idea we came across a little while ago.

What if 01

What if 02 

What if 03

Whist the idea might not be feasible right now, this kind of imagining helps lead us to other ideas that we will pursue. It's nice to know that this wild daydreaming is all part of the process, too! 

What about you.... what sort of 'What if...' scenarios do you daydream about? 

January 16, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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Shirt, how do I feel?

It seems that every day I am coming across exciting new and emerging technologies: maybe it’s just the blogs I like to read, but its breath taking to think we are living at a time when it seems like anything is possible. One area that seems bursting with potential is the field of ‘smart textiles’. These textiles, which have functionalised fibres and sensors woven into or part of the fabric, can sense and respond to their surroundings. There are numerous products out there where they have been used in clothing and other textile products. 

qtc1

qtc2

Take for example force sensing materials, such as QTC Material by Peratech, which allows the textile to act as a switch. Applying force to the fabric switches it from the ‘off’ to the ‘on’ state. Some of the suggested applications are to integrate switches into jacket sleeves, or foldable keyboards. In fact, if anyone ever needed to have a keyboard on the sleeve of their jacket, the technology is ready to go!

lumi textile

Though not a wearable fabric, Phillips has developed a luminous textile with integrated LED lights that can play a range of standard or custom content. It’s marketed as being able to ‘express emotion and mood’ through dynamic lighting, so maybe it’s not too far in the future before we see clothing that  can sense and express our mood. Maybe it would be helpful to see that your colleague is having a bad day by the way their shirt is flashing red? It might even be useful for those of us who have trouble working out exactly how we feel sometimes... our mood sensing clothing could just confirm it for us!

pp

Konarka have developed ‘Power plastic’, which are photovoltaic solar panels that are lightweight, flexible and thin. One application is to provide portable power, if they are imbedded in say the outside of a computer bag or the face of a tent. Maybe one day our clothing will help us charge our devices; rather than plugging them into a fixed power point, we can plug them into the sleeve of our garments whilst we are on the go.

hv

There is also the SmartLife ‘HealthVest’, which is a shirt embedded with multiple sensors, that allow it to continuously register and record biological signals like heart rate, respiration rate and temperature, all whilst allowing the wearer full mobility. The advantage of this in the medical, sporting, military and emergency services fields is obvious, where accurate and continuous information about the wearer can be relayed to doctors, trainers or superiors. It is fun to think about where future developments of these technologies will go. Imagine their application in child care for example; parent’s could use it to see how their kids are doing throughout the day whilst they are at childcare: kids could be given a wrist band that measures their biological markers and is fitted with a gps; a user friendly interface could let parents know exactly where their child is and correlate it to their biological rhythms: did the child sleep soundly... play actively... get agitated? Whether parents would actually want to know all this information about their child when away from them is another thing!

What do you think... what would you like to see done with this technology? 

January 8, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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Happy New Year

2013

We have big plans for 2013 here at Twenty Six Letters, and I can honestly say I was immensely relieved that the world didn’t end in 2012: that would have thrown a spanner in the works and put an end to all the fun we plan to have this year! We have written our plan for the year, set our milestone dates and key outcomes, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to it! We will be working on three new innovations throughout the course of this year and are excited about the whole process.  We hope to explore concepts that are exciting in their innovation, that are truly useful and add value to the lives of our customers. Reading between the lines, this means we don’t plan to be seeing a chair or lamp on the drawing board! (Unless there is something incredibly unusual about them:  there has to be this disclaimer!)

Because we would love our wider community to be part of the process, we are putting together an advisory board of sorts. Except we think that’s a pretty bland name for the kind of fun we plan to have, so we are calling it The Huddle . I was also keen to call it ‘The Ping Pong Committee’ (you know, ideas being discussed to and fro...) but I thought people might not get what they think they are signing up for. Having said that, I am always up for a game of table tennis, so if anyone is keen you know how to reach me! We hope this will be a group with whom we can share our ideation to commercialisation process; we look forward to their opinions and input throughout the process and how it will inform our outcomes. So we intend to share the ideas and innovations we come across that inspire us (think bio-printing: so fascinating!) ; to give them an insight into our ideation process and how our ideas evolve (we assure you there is method to the madness!); to get their opinion about the direction our ideas are taking, and last but not least, to listen to their input regarding specific product features.   

We wholeheartedly invite anyone who is interested in being part of this group to subscribe to receive the updates: it’s that simple to be involved.  We promise not to go too crazy with the amount of emails we send you!  Please sign up here, and you will be hearing from us very soon. We are excited about getting to know some of you a lot better, and to involving you in the work we do: we hope you will enjoy the journey as much as we plan to! 

January 1, 2013

by Meriam Salama
in News
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C Is For Celebrating

C

The DecoGlide

Finalist at Launch Pad 2012


Twenty Six Letters is proud to announce that The DecoGlide is one of 12 Launch Pad Finalists for 2012.
 
Launch Pad is an important design initiative, promoting the development of Australian product design through a unique and interactive program of events, including its annual Launch Pad: From Prototype To Production competition.
 
The DecoGlide was one of 160 electronic entries, which judges first shortlisted 54 prototypes. Inspecting those 54 shortlisted prototypes in person, judges selected just 12 Finalists to be shown in the Finalists Exhibition, which will run as part of Saturday In Design, 17 – 18 August in Melbourne.

We are delighted to be shortlisted as Launch Pad Finalists and look forward to the Launch Pad Exhibition Opening Night on 15th August 2012 and Saturday In Design on 17-18th of August. If you are attending, you can see The DecoGlide at the Lightly showroom (Upstairs at Lightly, 3 Glasshouse Lane, Collingwood 3066) for the entire duration of Saturday In Design. To register please click here.

August 8, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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August 5, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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Sydney Weekend II

I recently visited Sydney for Rachel Castle's Inaugural Screen Printing Class at The School. Sydney, as always, was on her best sunshine, so I got around. I visited:

1. KOSKELA

Koskela* is owned and run by Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky and is in Sydney's Rosebury, right next door to The School and Kitchen by Mike. It houses its complete range of furniture items alongside carefully curated Australian made home accessories and gifts, including artworks by Rachel Castle and Kate Banazi. Arranged in room settings and with beautiful natural lighting, I could easily imagine myself moving right into the space and calling it home. Second to that, I will take one of each colour of the Bye Bye Birdy Lamps in the first image below.

Koskela also has an exhibition space displaying the collaboration between Koskela and the Tjanpi Desert Weavers- a range of lighting which are detailed and colourful. 

If you need any other reason to visit, it shares the space with Kitchen By Mike and I promise after trying their artisian bread you will have no regrets of visiting!

Koskela85 Dunning AveRosebery NSW 2018

*Warning: inconvenience to your wallet or otherwise may result from visiting this beautiful showroom.

KoskelaKoskelaKoskelaKoskelaBeautiful artwork from Kate Banazi and furniture from Koskela (above).

Koskela Beautiful lighting by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers for Koskela.

 2. ZUMBO AT THE STAR

I am officially a Zumbaron groupie after stumbling upon Adriano Zumbo's Pyrmont store. I promise it has more to do with the Zumbarons (Zumbo Macarons) than the decor. Ok, the decor helps too. Especially the large amazing marquee alphabet lettering spelling out 'Zumbo'.

Adriano Zumbo at The Star is a new exciting concept store which comprises of a Patisserie and a Dessert train! Stop to see the decor and if you are in an emergency and going to break the glass, I would go for the Popcorn Zumbarons- they are fantastic!

Adriano Zumbo at The Star: Shop1, Cafe Court The Star 80 Pyrmont st, Pyrmont, NSW 2009

ZumboZumboZumboZumboZumbarons: Watermelon, Pistachio, Chocolate, Caramel + Popcorn

3. FORGOTTEN SONGS, ANGEL PLACE

The thoroughfare is home to an installation by creative artist Michael Thomas Hill of 186 birdcages and 10 speakers which play the songs of about 50 bird species that once lived nearby before colonial development. I particularly loved the names of all the bird species underfoot and the reminder to think about habitat loss and how important an issue it is for our cities. 

Angel Place, Sydney, NSW 2000

Angel Place

4. THE IVY BAR

I am not ashamed to admit it, I visited The Ivy Bar for the decor. It did not disappoint with its candy striped awnings, white wicker chairs, aquamarine velveteen drapes, white plantation shutters and its rooftop pool complete with yellow and white striped umbrellas. Think, Palm Springs Retreat meets the inside of I Dream Of Jeannie's Bottle home. They even grow their own Ivy with the help of three full time gardeners and a full time florist employed by Ivy. Architects, Woods Bagot and interior designers, Hecker Phelan & Guthrie have done a remarkable job with the space. Even the patrons are all stunning, or could beautiful interiors actually reflect on people making them more aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Er, ok, it might have been the Lychee Martini.

Absolutely worth a vist, or two and a martini, or two.

The Ivy: 330 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Ivy IvyIvyIvyIvyIvyImages via here and here.

5. THE MCA

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney has recently opened its new wing, designed by Sydney architect Sam Marshall and cost a simple $53 million. The new addition is modern, appealing and more importantly has stimulated interest and awareness in contemporary art, which is always a good thing.

I visited the museum having not read much about it and was pleasantly surprised, everything was well thought out: the exhibition spaces, the dual entries from George Street and Circular Quay, a wonderful gift shop (yes, I spent money), the National Centre for Creative Learning on the third level and the rooftop cafe complete with a breathtaking view of Darling Harbour, The Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

More impressive was the curation of exhibitions within the MCA. I could have very easily spent the entire day meandering between floors visiting the exhibitions. A few of my very favorites include Christian Marclay's, The Clock (the ingenuity of this project is mind blowing), Rebecca Baumann's Automated Colour Field (pictured below) and Kate Murphy's Prayers from My Mother, 1999.

If visiting please allow a couple of hours to wander around and appreciate the space, the exhibitions and the stunning views.

MCA: 140 George Street, The Rocks, NSW 2000

MCAMCA Building, Darling Harbour Entry

MCAMCAMCA Foyer, Second Floor

MCARebecca Baumann's Automated Colour Field

MCAAleks Danko, Incident-Ambivalence 1991-92

MCAEmma White, Negative Rienforcement 1, 2008

MCAJuan Davila, Sentimental History of Australian Art 1982

MCACollecting Bags 1985-87, many artists

MCARobert Owen, Sunrise #3 2005

MCAJim Campbell, Untitled (for the Sun) 1999

MCATatsuo Miyajima, Death Clock 2011-12

MCAThe breathtaking view of The Opera House from the MCA

Thank you Sydney for the sunshine and for being a city that offers so much, until next time.

June 11, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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Pantone Colours Fit For The Queen

PantoneLeoBurnettLondon

Here is a delightful collaboration between Pantone + Leo Burnett London for you all to enjoy this Queen's Birthday long weekend. 

In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 colourful years on the British throne, Pantone and advertising agency Leo Burnett London, have teamed up to launch a limited edition colour guide to mark the Queen’s six decades of colour choices. The guide features some of Her Majesty's full spectrumed and colour coordinated ensembles, including the Primrose Yellow she wore at William and Kate’s wedding in April 2011.

The Queen has certainly cemented her Monochromatic fashion style and now Her Majesty can assist you in selecting a colour for your next project! Delightful.

PantoneQueenAColorGuideLeoBurnett1.jpgPantoneQueenAColorGuideLeoBurnett2.jpgPantoneQueenAColorGuideLeoBurnett3.jpg 

 All images © Pantone® and Leo Burnett London, via Yatzer


June 10, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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What do Megan Morton's The School and Glee Have In Common?

For those of you that are living an ascetic life in the wilderness (and still read our blog) you may not have heard of Sydney Stylist Megan Morton or her latest project- The School. Who am I kidding, you have heard. Even if you have no internet access and are not yet on Instagram you would have heard the birds singing about it!

The School

had the absolute delight and pleasure of visiting The School (The Studio and The Propery) last week for Rachel Castle's Inaugural Screen Printing Class. Spending the whole day in the glow of Megan Morton and brilliance of Rachel Castle has pushed me over the limit of my allocated fun quota for the month of May AND June. I may just write to Megan asking her to include this disclaimer on her website: 'Classes at The School may cause boisterous fun, excessive laughter and high levels of heart warming joy.' Megan herself perhaps ought to wear a badge, 'Nicest person on the planet!' It was my first time to meet her and it was adoration-at-first-sight. She truly is marvelous in every way.

The School in my opinion is the Glee of all things craft, design and styling! This is why:

1. The School has an amazing, talented line up of guest stars teachers. Rachel Castle from Castle And Things, Holly Hipwell (her name alone is worthy of casting her) from The Flower Drum, Naomi from Hello Naomi, Kitiya Palaskas, Beattie Lanser, and Tamara Maynes. Just like Glee, The School has an all star line up. In my opinion The School's list actually rivals that of Glee's unless you are an avid fan of Ricki Martin?

2. Every class at The School makes ones knees weak with anticipation and excitement, like every upcoming episode of Glee.

3. If you thought Tina, Rachel and Quinn's outfits were super cute, you should see Megan Morton's wardrobe and Holly Hipwell's now infamous yellow dress. None of the Glee cast can don a First Prize Rosette and make it look super cool like Megan can. Ok, maybe Quinn can?

 

MM and Holly HipwellMegan Morton and Holly Hipwell in the infamous yellow dress [Image: The School]

4. The School hosts a myriad of awesome classes for young and older: cupcake and cookie decorating, how to make doily lampshade or dream catcher, screen printing and even styling classes taught by Megan Morton herself. Doesn't this make you want to get up and dance around the room with mirth? We all know a few people who are guilty of busting a few moves in their living rooms watching Glee. The School causes the same sudden urge in me to prance, foxtrot, rhumba, jitterbug and twist again around my living room.

5. There can be some drama at The School, like on Glee. Choosing between neon orange or fluorescent pink for my screen print, for instance. Questions like, 'Should I paint circles or four leaf clovers?' or 'Should I select the cream and jam filled sponge cake or another chocolate treat for afternoon tea?' See, dramatic choices at The School, I tell you.

I rest my case, the fun and merriment of Glee has landed on our shores in Rosebury, Sydney!

Below, you can see my photo's of all the hoopla that was the Screen Printing Class at The School. In true Megan Morton style, I suggest you listen to this track by none other than the Glee cast, whilst scrolling through the images. Then, head over to The School and book yourself in for a class, you will love it. Bust a move!

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMThe super talented Rachel Castle giving Megan Morton a go at screen printing.MMMMMM

I went for the Twenty Six Letters logo for my first screen print.

MMMMMy logo screen print [Images: Megan Morton, The School]

MMThe gorgeous Megan Morton and I.


May 29, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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Introducing Words To Live By: An Artwork Series by Twenty Six Letters

WordsToLiveBy
Twenty Six Lettes is proud to introduce 'Words to Live By', an artwork series featuring three designs- 'Chance', 'Live Well' and 'Ideas'. Inspired by the written word and it's ability to teach and call us into action, we have combined laser cutting with beautiful and meaningful words in order to bring joy and inpiration to any space.

Each artwork is manufactured in Melbourne using an extremely durable and renewable natural material: 12mm Plywood and is finished in a resilent gloss finish that retains and enhances the natural richness of the wood grain. Environmentally friendly and Australian made these are works are 594mm x 841mm in size and are $380 (including GST + delivery).

At the moment the Words To Live By range can be purchased online at Hard To Find or Young Republic. Alternatively you can email us at info@twentysixletters.com.au for more information or use our Contact Form to reach us.

For media enquiries, our Press Release can be found below and for Retail opportunities please contact us at info@twentysixletters.com.au

Please feel free to leave us a comment below to let us know what you think of the Words To Live By series, we would love to hear from you.

Chance12.01 Chance

LiveWell12.02 Live Well

Ideas12.03 Ideas

Words To Live By Press Release, 2012

May 15, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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One Wonderful Year

Twenty Six Letters turned one last month. It has been a year filled with many wonderful milestones for us. We have put together some our favourite moments for your viewing pleasure.

[Forest Eyes: Jinja Safan]

May 14, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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Connect With Us

Social Media   

Twenty Six Letters is getting social! Yes, we are now on PinterestTwitterFacebook and Instagram. Come join us, we would love to talk with you!

Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter

Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram

April 15, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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It's our birthday!

firstbirthdayImage source: Geronimo; Edit by Twenty Six Letters

April 11, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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Ideas

Idea

We love a good idea. We really do. Especially when an idea brings together two previously unrelated thoughts or objects that fuse together to create something surprising, clever, inspiring or beautiful. This last week, I have come across two of these ideas, one so striking that upon stumbling on it I felt the immediate urge to find something sweet and delectable to eat and the other a clever interpretation of some of our best loved childhood characters. Enjoy!

1. PANTONE TARTS

French Stylist Emiller Griottes from Griottes combines food with colour to tell a story about Tarts and Pantone colours. Delightful as it is mouth watering!

(Via decor8, images via Griottes)

Griotte1Griottes3Griotte2

2. CHARACTER LEGO 

German ad agency Jung von Matt has created this print campaign below for Lego. The ads combine lego blocks to create childhood characters. The first one is The Simpsons (think tall blue hair!) Can you guess the others?

(Via Hello Polly)

Lego3

Lego7

Lego6

Lego2

March 21, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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All The Shelves Of Books Waiting To Be Read

We are beginning an alphabetical series on the blog about all that we look forward to in 2012. Enjoy!

Reading Quote 1

I have enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. When I was a student I made regular visits to the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria because I found it inspiring to be surrounded by books, as though somehow being in close proximity to them would sharpen my intelligence. I still own the first book that was gifted to me by my father that ironically was about numbers, not words. My husband forbids me from purchasing books via The Book Depository but that could also be because I am known to forcibly read aloud to him (or anyone else who will listen long enough!) It is fair to say that books have the same irresistible temptation for me that doughnuts have on police officers. I simply cannot withstand them.

Books are a delight. Have you ever had that feeling of walking into a library or good book store and even without picking up a book off the shelf, it seems to speak to you and bid you welcome?

Before you declare me mildly crazy, bring to your mind the last splendid book you read and remember how finishing it felt like you were saying goodbye to an old friend?

Such is the joy of reading- a subtle exchange of the authors imagination into the imagination of the reader, transporting you into a new world which until that point was only alive in the author’s mind and heart. Is it not a beautiful thing?

A book, like a good friend, can become a trusted companion, called upon at any age, at any time or place and at any hour of the day or night. A good book can be a trusted reference, an inspiration for an idea, a call to action for your business or simply a haven for your mind to find rest. A book can be an invitation to a new way of thinking or an experience in deeping your understanding of a topic or, of yourself. 

Reading Quote 2

Here at Twenty Six Letters we adore a good book and actually get inspired at the thought of all the shelves of books waiting to be read. These days you can find either of us in our respective reading rooms or in the library with our head in an insightful and sagacious business book conversing with the worlds best business thinkers. Go on, tell me you don't talk to your books?

At the moment I am reading The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, which has inspired this undertaking: to educate myself about advanced business concepts by reading his recommended business book list one book at a time. This idea excites me to no end!

The other book open on my Kindle Reader Library is Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky, which has aided in me in going a little further in my business productivity than I have yet got myself. While on the subject of the Kindle Reader, I would like to express my sentiments: though I do relish the opportunity to purchase a book by the click of a button at any hour of the day, I absolutely value a good bookstore and the luxury of holding a book in my hands and turning its pages. I hope to never see the day when real books become obsolete collectors items and I no longer have the joy of sponteneously walking into a bookstore to discover my next adventure. 

Personal MBA Making Ideas Happen

So, what are you reading at the moment? I would really love to know.


“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

 Anne Lamott


February 15, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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2011 (Belated) Year In Review

2011 was a gargantuan year for Twenty Six Letters. We both took the Christmas holidays as a chance to travel: Meriam to Perth and I to New Zealand. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the year that was, to rest and to plan for the year ahead. This really was no difficult task by the pristine waters of Lake Wakitipu. Below is a quick look at our reflections of 2011 and some snaps of where we went to daydream over the holidays.

This year is already off to a wonderful start for us. We have so much to look forward to in the months ahead and we look forward to sharing with you in the next couple of weeks some of the ideas, ambitions and goals that keep us so inspired! 

Lake Wakitipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

Ocean Reef Beach, Perth, Western Australia

February 14, 2012

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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December 20, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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Happy Almost The Weekend

If you do one thing this weekend, make sure it involves paper confetti and perhaps a martini glass. Happy Almost The Weekend!

Happy Friday Martini

image via Color Me Katie

November 4, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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A Simple Life

Recently I have been reading Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s account of how he spent two years living in the woods adjacent to Lake Walden, in a house he built with his own hands, and living off the produce he grew himself and the livestock he managed to capture and kill himself. He wanted to reduce life to its essentials, and to free himself from all the encumbrances that ‘modern civilisation’ can entangle one.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear;” Thoreau

He managed to build his house for less than the rent he might have paid elsewhere for a year and the seeds and equipment he bought to cultivate soon paid off at harvest time. He spent a small portion of his time providing for his basic needs, and the rest of his time he was free to study, read, contemplate and enjoy the pristine environment that surrounded him. He undertook this experiment in 1845, so his experience resonates very deeply in present day, in the whirlwind of modern life, when we work hard to pay off loans for homes and lifestyles well beyond our basic needs, and when we would be hard pressed to say where the food we eat comes from.

The book is an inspiring read, and paints a compelling image of simple living... I wonder, what kind of place might one live in if what they purposefully sought was a simple life? Below are a few things that I think might come close:

The Cube Project is 3x3x3m compact home, an initiative of Dr Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire.  It not only provides all the basics for life (and even a few non essentials, like a plasma screen) but also produces its own electricity through solar panels, incorporates some energy saving lighting and heating measures, and is built from environmentally friendly materials.

  You can view an animation of the Cube here.  

Internal + External Views of the Cube

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company allows you to buy tiny houses, which you can either buy ready made, in kit form to put together yourself, or you can buy the plans and build the entire thing yourself. You get the shell of the building, and its up to you how you fit it out internally.  

The 'Domestic Transformer' is the home of Hong Kong based architect Gary Chang. He solved the problem of limited space by stacking different functions within sliding walls, that can then be manoeuvred in and out as required: if you want to use the kitchen, you slide the wall panels that reveal the kitchen; if you want to take a bath, slid the panels to reveal the bath. Watch this video of Chang in his apartment, explaining how it works.  

Lastly, its hard to go past a mobile home for simplicity: all your possessions reduced to what you can fit in your caravan or motorhome and the freedom to stop where you like at your leisure. The following images are from the home/office of  architect Matthew Hoffman, who renovated an 1978 Airstream.

October 29, 2011

by Meriam Salama
in Things We Love
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Press Coverage

We have been so fortunate to receive some amazing press coverage in recent months and are super delighted that our favourite magazines, newspapers and blogs love The DecoGlide™ as much as we do!

You can imagine my delight when flicking through this months issue of House & Garden Magazine to discover the feature on How To Dress Your Windows, by Jessica Hanson.

HouseandGarden

As I turned the pages of the article, I found this lovely image below of our Timeless Design staring at me. I stared back whilst I drank my tea. I love the windowsill painted in Dulux Prado Pink against a Wattle Passionate Blue wall.  The Wedgewood Fine Bone China teacup are now also on my ‘to buy’ list!

http://www.twentysixletters.com.au/media/inside.jpg

It is as exciting to find The DecoGlide™ in the glossy pages of House & Garden Magazine, as it was to see us in The Sunday Age (17 April, 2011), The Daily Telegraph (7 May & 18 June 2011), West Australian Habitat (20 May, 2011), Herald Sun Home (4 June, 2011), The Sunday Times Home (5 June, 2011), Home Beautiful (July Issue), Inside Out Magazine (June/ July Issue), Adore Home Magazine (June/July Issue) and on Apartment Therapy and Style Collective blogs!

http://www.twentysixletters.com.au/media/MagazineFeaturesImage.jpgHome Beautiful (July Issue)+ Inside Out (June/July Issue)

Enough gloating! You can read all our press coverage at our Media Page. Happy reading!

August 15, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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Thank you!

It was an absolute delight to be exhibiting at Australias’s largest furniture fair, Decoration + Design 2011 and to unveil The DecoGlide™. As suspected, The DecoGlide™ was a huge success with visitors and we were ecstatic that others adore it as much as we do! 

The lead up to our first exhibition was both busy and exciting as we hurried to put into place all the details of our stand. We warn you- deciding to paint your stand a day before the exhibition opens is not a move for the faint hearted! As always, we make an extraordinary team, each of us working hard in our high visibility vests to bring together the sharp yellow Twenty Six Letters stand! Gorgeous isnt it? We think so!

Decoration+DesignImage1 Featured: Custom designed DecoGlide™ in Sharp Yellow Timber + The Hive DecoGlide™ in Grey Polyester.

Yellow DecoGlide

  Featured: Custom designed DecoGlide™ in Sharp Yellow Timber used as the backdrop of our stand. Most of our 12 designs are incorporated into these screens.

Here are some images of the lead up to the exhibition and the details of our stand. We had so much fun, even if our feet were a little sore by the end of it! We met some wonderful and interesting people and had some fabulous conversations. We love that visitors saw the versatility and innovation of the product. We look forward to all potential ways and exciting projects in which we will use The DecoGlide™ in the days and weeks ahead.

Decoration+DesignImage2Featured: Geometric DecoGlide™ in Fair Biance + The Hive DecoGlide™ in Grey Polyester.

Thank you to those of you who visited our stand at Decoration + Design and all your lovely comments about The DecoGlide™: we sincerely appreciate it!

July 28, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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Decoration + Design

Decoration and Design

We are excited to be showcasing The DecoGlideTM at Decoration + Design, held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 21-24 July 2011. We would be delighted if you could come and say hello at Stand AB40! We will have The DecoGlideTM on display in all it's glory and we will be beaming from ear to ear!

You can register here. See you there!

July 17, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in News
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The DecoGlide Video

Video

Being a new and innovative product, we get a lot of questions here at Twenty Six Letters about the The DecoGlideTM 'How does it actually work?' you ask... We realize that being new, it isn't easy to visualise how it slides, or how it will look when it stacks out of the way. Also, we wanted the chance to familiarise people with our Online Order Form... it has a few features that might make questions about cost in relation to designs and materials a lot clearer.

So we have put together this short animation, which will hopefully answer a few questions: The DecoGlide Video!

We always love hearing from you, whether it be your questions about the product, or any of your feedback... so keep the comments coming!

June 2, 2011

by Meriam Salama
in News
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Online Meandering

I am an avid online shopper and I have the credit card statements to prove it. There are so many reasons why I love to buy online- the convenience, the ability to shop at any hour, cladding any hairstyle and the anticipation of the delivery of your new item. I do it so much that it really can be a surprise when the courier arrives with a package. The thought bubble floats over my unmade hair scripted with the words “I wonder what it could be?”

A gift for myself!

Combine this passion with a deep and unfading love of interiors and homewares and you can quickly sense danger! You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that I could customise and purchase my own sheet and duvet set at POP by Sheriden! We all know and love our Sheriden sheets, but to now be able to choose your combination of styles and patterns to suit your taste and have it delivered to your front door before your other set of washed sheets is dry- well that is truly wonderful! I have had fun indulging in the idea of ordering a set for my bed, but I have already exhausted my Christmas- presents -for -self quota for at least the next two years! If I could daydream for just a minute, I would choose the Jiro Quilt in the Grey with Haru european pillow covers, and the yellow sheets. The website is easy to use and allows you to visualise your selections and process your online order conveniently.

 

Pop Sheriden

Jiro Quilt in the Grey with Haru european pillow covers, and yellow sheets from POP Sheriden.

Just last week I came across Mottega, an online store that allows you to configure your own lamps! Thankfully you cannot check out to Australia just yet. I could not choose a favourite, so it would be absolutely imperative for me to order more than one. I think they would look lovely beside the new sheet set too. In fact, I would love a bedroom accessorised with a mustard, mortar and mandarin colour scheme.

.Colour Scheme

Lamps 

1. Tresana Lamp in Mandarin with gold leaf base and linen flat drum shade, $699, Mottega.

 2. Monti  Lamp in Sol with metal silver base, acrylic sphere and white tall drum shade, $599, Mottega.

I have bought numerous pieces of furniture online, including rugs and soft furnishings. It has always been my preference as I can do my research online, take the time to think about the item, compare prices and sometimes even send the link to a trusted friend with a quick question, “beige linen cushion or the French toile?” I can bookmark the virtual places I love to shop and can visit them at any time. It really is a wonderful thing!

Do you shop online? What do you buy?

May 12, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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Let there be light

Esherick House

Whether consciously or unconsciously, most people would acknowledge the importance of lighting to the experience, or ’feel’ of a space. We can recognize that it is more pleasing to walk into, and use, a well lit space, flooded with natural light, than a dark and poorly lit one.  What is more interesting is that light, and quality of light in a space, can have a noticeable impact on us, and the activities we choose to undertake in them. 

This influential power of light is well known in the health care industry, where the effect of natural light on the healing process is an increasingly well documented and understood phenomenon.  In hospitals, studies show that differences in the quality of light can influence stress and pain levels in patients, significantly affecting recovery. Allowing and controlling natural light flow into hospital rooms can reduce pain, the need for analgesic drugs and the duration of patient stays. [i]

Similarly, in the educational sector, it is clearly documented that improving natural light flow into classrooms improves student performance. In a study by Heschong Mahone Group, it was found classrooms with the most amount of day lighting are seen to be associated with a 20% to 26% faster learning rate, and a 15% to 23% faster improvement rate.[ii]

Similar studies also reveal the positive effect of day lighting on retail sales and on office worker productivity.  We can delve further to discover if the exact reason for these results is due to improved visibility and light quality, or improved health, alertness and mood, or improved variation and changeability in the space, but the positive effects of daylight are clear.

Exeter Library

Studies and statistic aside, it isn’t hard to understand how important light, and quality of light are to our daily experiences, if we look at those moments we particularly enjoy. Paint a picture in your mind of a happy or joyful experiences: it’s likely to be set under clear blue summer skies. Consider how mesmerizing we find sunrises and sunsets. Why do we choose to holiday in the sun, grieve when we have to spend sunny weekdays inside working or covet the corner office with a view? Most people will generally admit to sunlight having an effect on their disposition and mood, whether it is generally ‘feeling better’, or more content or happy. 

The same can be said about artificial lighting, in that the quality of that light can have an effect on the experience.  Imagine a particularly special dining experience: are the lights dimmed, the candles burning or the lanterns hung and lit from the trees? Would that experience feel the same if it happened to be under the glare of a fluorescent tube?

LanternsImage from laboomeria

Stating in simply, we can affect the quality of our daily experiences, by controlling the quality of light in our spaces. No matter the type of fittings, fixtures or furniture we choose to put in a space, their effect on us will be lost or diminished if they are not presented in the right light.  This has obvious implications in the design and orientation of spaces, but also of considerable importance are those devices and screens which we use to control, diffuse and manipulate the play of light in our spaces.



[i] Evidence Based Health Care Design. Rosaly Coma, John Wily and Sons, New Jersey, 2009

[ii] Heschong Mahone Group. 1999. “Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Daylighting and Human Performance.” Pacific Gas and Electric Company Report, on Behalf of the California Board for Energy Efficiency Third Party Program.

May 3, 2011

by Meriam Salama
in Light
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Chartreuse

There is a colour somewhere between green and yellow that brings me joy- Chartreuse. It is fresh and vibrant and even it's pronounciation is lovely. Here are some of my favourite things in this lovely colour. It would be very dangerous if I owned the Smeg Retro Refrigerator. There would be no end to my travels to and fro the refrigerator for a snack. Perhaps this is good selling point in attempting to convince my husband to purchase it- more time in the kitchen? 

What colour brings you joy?

Chartreuse Inspiration

1. Smeg Retro Refrigerator in lime green from Smeg, from about $3000.

2. Kartell & Moschino Bowwow Shoe from Moschino

3. Frilly Kartell Chair in translucent yellow from Design Public, $598 for a pair.

4. Public M8 Bike in chartreuse from Public, $995.

5. Masterpiece DecoGlide from $86 per square metre, available here.

 


April 27, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in Things We Love
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Laser Cut Love

Laser cut furniture 
1. Lace Light Pendant, designed and available from bernabeifreeman
2. Rose Chair, designed by Gianluigi Landoni, available from Vibieffe
3. Coral Coffee Table, designed and available from Arktura 
4. Light Bulb Lamp, designed by Barend Hemmes, available from Suck UK

It is no secret I have an appreciation for all things laser cut! Some may call it a deep and passionate love.

Laser cut furniture and home ware products are the perfect intersection between art and technology. Interesting shapes and patterns are cut clean and exact onto almost any material, to create perforations that are alluring and beautiful to look at. I find laser cut elements captivating, especially when coupled with light. Marrying the two together allows the light to peek through intricate perforations and cast playful and dramatic shadows on nearby spaces. 

One need not look too far to see that this love is shared by many furniture and home ware designers around the globe. 

Australian designers bernabiefreeman have designed this amazing perforated Lace light pendant. Imagine how lovely it would be lit up, casting lace shadows on the walls and floor below it. Or for more of a glow the super stylish laser cut Wooden Bulb in the giant shape of a light bulb, by Barend Hemmes might be more to your taste. 

Italian designer, Gianluigi Landoni has used lasercutting  in his '1450 Roses' range, including this lovely chair featured above, as well as a coffee table and lamp. This chair is laser cut in metaI and therefore versatile enough to use indoors and outdoors. I  have the perfect place for this chair in my home - by a large window and my beloved magazine collection. In fact, one could find any number of well designed laser cut furniture items for their home- anything from a console, to a coffee table and even a dining table.

This dining table below, by Steve Holl Architects and Nick Gelpi, is very impressive and one of my favourite laser cut pieces. It is called The Riddled Table and has two completely different looks depending on whether you turn on the lighted bases or not. Clever, is it not?

Which laser cut item (besides The DecoGlide™, of course) would you put in your home?

The Riddled TableThe Riddled Table, designed by Steven Holl Architects
and Nick Gelpi available from HORM
 

April 13, 2011

by Marianne Sourial
in Laser Cut
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Welcome to Twenty Six Letters

Itshere!
Could it be true- has the day we launch our website arrived?

It is true! There have been times when the arrival of this day seemed a mirage: tantalizingly close, yet somehow just out of reach: one more prototype or pricing matrix away! Sometimes the simplest of things held us for unforgivably long periods of time. (Think of a number in your mind, of the number of weeks it might reasonably take to come up with a meaningful business name; multiply that number by ten, and we are quietly confident it still won’t match how long that process took us!) Other times, we took great strides in moments of pure genius (Think of equations that would make Einstein proud!)

Here we are, full of excitement and a healthy dose of pride to introduce you to Twenty Six Letters, our design consultancy and its first innovation- The DecoGlide TM.

The DecoGlide TM – what a journey it has been! We had an idea... and it took our breath away. We believed in it, we worked day and night on it, invested all our physical, mental and financial resources into it, talked incessantly about it, dreamed about it and brought it into fruition. Above all, we loved the journey: all the exciting ideas we got to explore, all that we had the chance to create from scratch, and all that we learned along the way. We toiled and persevered and managed to come through with (the majority of) our faculties intact and an innovation as well considered, refined and beautiful as artwork. No mean feat, and in that we are proud and grateful.

Did we say proud? Yes and also very grateful to a whole host of people for their invaluable expertise and assistance in these formative months! We want to thank Stefani, Louise and the team at Nest PR, for their encouragement, admiration of our product and always having a positive comment to make! We want to thank James Geer, who photographed our screens, for his beautiful work, and his pleasant and easy going manner. We want to thank Warwick, Matt and the team at Cobalt Niche, for providing us with the design advice we needed and for their informed and pertinent ideas. We also want to thank the team at Actuate IP for their efficiency and accuracy in handling all our IP legal matters, and helping us decipher all the legal jargon.  

In particular we want to mention Rowan McNaught of Studio Skiing. Our branding and our website are the creative works of his brilliant mind. Intelligent, well informed and with a great eye for detail, we could not have found anyone more suitable for our website. Thank you Rowan for listening to and understanding our needs, and time and time again, being able to deliver a well thought out, apt and elegant solution. Thank you for all your hard work, and no doubt if you never see another formula again, it will not be too soon?!

Finally we want to thank our family and friends, for all their support and encouragement. We have been talking about this for a long time: thank you for your support and believing we could do it!

And you, dear reader- thank you for dropping by! We hope that you will stay awhile and get acquainted with the website and The DecoGlide TM... we know that you will love it too!

April 5, 2011

by Marianne & Meriam
in News
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