Category Archive for Art + Design
Modern, hidden cat litterbox: Poopoopeedo by SinDesign! Japan cat cafes interior design, pet furniture.
My Scottish Fold cat wonders… “What is this green eggy-thing?” Could it be an avantgarde sculpture? An alien pod?
Surprise: it’s a Poopoopeedo by SinDesign! Believe it or not, this beautiful design object doubles as a cat litterbox.
Perhaps you recall my first post about the Maohaus, where I described our goal of decorating an apartment beautifully, while accommodating the needs of my cat. One of the biggest challenges: what do do about Basil’s litter box? Regular ones are an eyesore, and hard to hide.
French company SinDesign solved this problem with the Poo Poo Pee Do. I’m impressed by how they combined beauty and functionality — such as a decorative paw-print hole, which doubles as a grip / handle. As you can see, the hole is big enough for “plus sized” kitties!
Basil Farrow feels right at home in this well-constructed pod. No sharp edges, and there are seven grip points that hold the top and bottom together securely.
If it weren’t for the tiger-tail, a visitor would think that this is a mod sculpture! The enclosed pod lets Basil Farrow do his business in private, and also keeps the cat litter from coming out.
Surprise, a cat is hatched! The Poopoopeedoo comes in seven different colors, so you can match it to your interior design. (We have the green one; SinDesign also makes red, black, white, orange, pink, blue.)
Isn’t this a perfect match for our lime-green color scheme? (See more photos of our Maohaus bedroom).
These two pieces come apart. The litterbox size is perfectly tailored to cats, and the round shape is a nice change from the usual square.
Functional, practical and durable — yet it integrates right into our apartment. The material is 3mm thick ABS, which is far more solid than a regular plastic litterbox.
The cover also helps to keep smells at bay. I have to say, this is the coolest litterbox I’ve ever seen.
Hop! We love that the luxury litter-box is eco-friendly too. The interior is smooth, easy to wash, and resistant to cat urine.
Each Poopoopeedo comes with a matching scoop, which attaches under the lid for easy storage. It also comes with two anti-smell tablets that you can clip in.
What more is there to say? This designer litterbox is “Maohaus” cat-interior design at its finest.
I know you want one too… SinDesign’s PooPooPeeDo is available for order online.
As I mentioned in the first post about my apartment, my Maohaus concept is inspired by the creative interior decorations of Japanese cat cafes. To show you what I mean, let me share some never-seen photos from my Tokyo archives.
This giant, yawning gate welcomed me to the big cat “petting zoo” in Odaiba.
Located in Odaiba, “Cats Livin” later became “Nyanda Cat Cafe,” and then closed. (But don’t worry about missing out — there are still tons of cat cafes all over Japan, and now in USA).
Cat’s Livin designed the space with both the cat and visitor’s enjoyment in mind. At the entrance, an American Curl sits by the rule sheet. (“Please spray it on the hand several times before it feels after cat.”)
Keep reading for more photos from this Tokyo cat cafe, including a life-size cat-person…
Our Cat-Friendly Bedroom Design! Essentia organic memory foam mattress, Allem Studio bedding, Airportag pillows.
Introducing… the Maohaus! Basil and I moved to a new apartment, which presented the perfect opportunity for a bedroom makeover.
I wanted our shared space to be as feline-friendly as possible, without looking like a crazy cat lady’s home. In other words, the Maohaus had to balance form and function.
How did we do this? With cat-friendly colors, natural materials, and multifunctional objects that harmonize into a cheerful design. I balanced my preferences with my cat’s, taking into account factors like his ability to see certain colors.
… and these awesome Airportag travel pillows. Inspired? Intrigued? Then read on, and I’ll show you how it all came together.
I wanted to create a “Maohaus” after seeing how Japanese cat cafes design a living environment that is aesthetically pleasing to humans, yet safe and enjoyable for felines.
In other words, you can make a wonderful space for your cats without Garfield bedsheets, hot pink pet beds and ugly carpeted climbing trees.
The team at Essentia mattresses loved our idea from the start, and just two weeks after we spoke, our bed arrived. Essentia provided us with “white gloves” service, meaning the deliverymen carried everything to our apartment, unrolled the mattress and set it all up. (Although Basil tried to help.)
Basil Farrow knows this is a very special bed… I did my research, and found that Essentia makes the highest-performance and healthiest mattress out there. The family-run company is the only one in the world to make mattresses with natural, organic memory foam. (We put it on a boxspring to give it some height.)
Basil walked all around the bed. Looks like his paws are happy with the two inches of natural memory foam!
Look at how the surface gently cradles his big feet! In the world of mattresses, memory foam is considered the best you can get. The technology relieves pressure points and contours the body as you sleep.
I knew Essentia was the perfect choice for the Maohaus. I want Basil to live in a space with non-toxic, natural materials. This mattress is made with materials like rubber tree sap, plant extracts, and certified organic cotton.
The surface is wrapped in a removable 100% organic cotton fabric, with Essentia’s signature stripe. The color even matches my cat’s fur!
I confess I love to sleep, and at times, I’ve stayed in dream-land for 12 hours. And cats are notorious for spending more than half the day asleep.
That’s why it was important for me to get a high-end performance bed, like Essentia’s Classic 8. Memory foam beds are an investment, but they’ll last well over a decade. Getting a good rest is important for so many reasons, and sleeping on this bed will benefit my health (and Basil’s!).
Now that we’ve got our bed, it’s time to decorate. I want my room to feel modern, artistic and minimal. What I wear is different from how I want my bedroom to look — so no cat-face prints, dark colors, chains or ruffles.
Allem Studio to the rescue! Basil’s clone looks over the chic bedding they sent us, tied with organic cotton and placed in a custom, matching case.
Eco-friendly, long-lasting materials are of importance to me. These 100% cotton sheets create a calm, fresh environment, which I think delights both humans and cats.
As I mentioned before, I don’t want to live in Dracula’s Lair. I love Gothic style and culture, but I feel best living and working in a light, Zen-like environment.
I can’t ask Basil what his favorite color is, but I can take a good guess. Cats can only see limited colors of the rainbow: violets, blues, greens. That’s why I stuck to this lime scheme.
If you prefer a different color, Allem Studio has other modern patterned bedding (and are releasing new collections soon). On their website, you can also pick up shams, throws, outdoor pillows and more home decor.
The duvet cover comes in King and Queen, and is reversible (there are big, grey flowers on the other side). You can’t find a softer fabric: 100% high quality cotton, and hand screen-printed.
I looked around at a lot of bedding, and had a hard time finding something that felt “me.” Allem Studio’s designs connected with me — they’re modern, global, vivid, joyful. As you can see, our bedroom is pretty small and minimal, so this splash of leafy-lime makes a big impact.
Finally, I wanted to add some decorative accents that reflect my passions and personality — particularly my love of travel. Enter AirporTag, purveyors of flight-inspired interior decor.
How cool are my puffy pillows? They say “Departures,” and pay tribute to the old revolving flight boards, which flip around to indicate if a plane is “Boarding” or “On Time.”
Airportag sells the niftiest gifts for travelers: pillows, posters, mugs, t-shirts and more… decorated with airport city codes! You can show your love for JFK (New York City), CDG (Paris), NRT (Tokyo), and every other major flight hub. I spent over an hour browsing through Airport Tag’s website - it was hard to choose!
A lion is on the prowl! I covered the mattress with Essentia’s unbelievably soft sateen cotton organic bed sheets. Basil curled up and fell asleep immediately.
The little lion surveys his territory. Essentia spoiled him with one last gift…
… a memory foam pet bed! Both cats and dogs can relax on the Kingston, which comes in different sizes.
This pet bed is designed for breathability and to relieve pressure. In addition, it looks great in our apartment. What a difference from the usual gaudy, badly-made beds that you find in pet stores.
At first glance, visitors might not even realize this is a cat product, since it integrates seamlessly into the interior design. That’s the goal of the Maohaus.
We feel good about supporting Essentia since their business is family-run, and their mattresses are made in Canada (just outside Montreal).
Essentia has store locations all over the US and Canada, so you can visit and try their mattresses for yourself.
It’s easy to order the pet cushion and more from their site. (Isn’t Basil lucky, having two memory foam beds?)
I hope you enjoyed my new bedroom tour! Thanks to all our partners, for helping us make the Maohaus concept a reality.
PS – the word “Maohaus” is a combination of “mao” (which means “cat” in Chinese) and “haus” (the German word for “house”). It’s also a tribute to the Bauhaus movement.
I have a feeling Basil and I are going to spend a lot of time in here…
We still have a lot of decorating to do, and I can’t wait to show you the rest of the apartment. Basil Farrow is a fan of the view out the window.
Now that’s a catwalk. Coming up next, I’ll show you more ways that you can design a beautiful space for yourself and your kitty.
What do you think of our Maohaus so far? How did you decorate your own room?
Alternative Art in New Orleans: Goth cute fantasy paintings! Royal Street galleries, French Quarter.
New Orleans, you’re my kind of place! The photo above says it all — NOLA is full of eccentric characters, flamboyant costumes, and live jazz in the streets.
I dove into the “American Horror Story” side of the city, and felt the magic from the very first day. Together, let’s explore the alternative art scene, including the galleries on Royal Street and a “kawaii” portrait painting.
What I wore in New Orleans…
– Deconstructed top/jacket from my friend Ako, creator of Japanese punk label Blablahospital.
– Black crop top like this one, a versatile garment that can be worn under layers.
– Checkered skirt from Alice’s Pig. Winter is the perfect time to rock a long plaid blue skirt.
Shop this look:
New Orleans has been on my “Goth bucket list” ever since I was a teenager. Thanks to the CVB, I got to visit the American South for the first time.
Louisiana was colonized by both the Spanish and French, which gives the architecture a feeling found nowhere else. I couldn’t resist taking photos of the curving iron railings, balconies and doors.
As long as you avoid Bourbon Street, there’s a ton to love about the French Quarter. I recommending strolling along and near Royal Street. This part of the Quarter feels far more authentic — you’ll come across gems like antique shops, art galleries, street performers, and these horse head posts.
Can you tell the difference between the street artists, locals, and tourists? Molly, my travel companion and photographer, remarked: “I loved that you could see a performance artist for a dollar on the street, in front of housed galleries where pieces sold for thousands.”
– My dark purple purse is this one by Paule Ka (click to buy)
- Tip: wear good shoes, since NOLA has cobbled streets and is a walking city. My studded ankle boots are by Japanese brand Yosuke; Jeffrey Campbell’s boots look just like mine.
That morning, Molly and I had an appointment at Lisa Victoria Gallery (616 Royal Street). The masked figures on the door were a sign we were at the right place.
We stepped into the most charming little courtyard. The focal point is a lion fountain, strung with Mardi Gras beads.
K Thayer’s paintings resonated with me because they’re haunting, ethereal, and have a touch of Japanese “kawaii.” He says his art is influenced by everything from Mardi Gras, to the films of David Lynch and Art Deco.
One of Kevin’s signatures: big-eyed, long-lashed, doll-like portraits.
Kevin invited me to sit down for a live painting. We chatted while he worked, and the whole process felt easy. In only 30 minutes, the image came together.
What do you think? So cool how Kevin Thayer captured my new blue-purple-red hair color and vampire bangs (my stylist is Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Stratosphere Hair).
Kevin started with a colorful background wash, and painted the layers on top, letting them flow together. He adds the final touches, and “more purple!”
What a cool experience, and I got to take home personalized canvas from a New Orleans artist.
After, Kevin took us to some of his favorite galleries in the French Quarter. Oh, these genteel iron balconies! I imagined Madame Lalaurie and the Coven witches peering over me.
AFA Gallery is dedicated to dark, fantastical art. (809 Royal Street New Orleans, LA).
I talked to the gallery owners, and was glad to learn that New Orleans has a dedicated community of artists. The local art market is not just about selling wares to tourists.
AFA represents artists with dark inclinations, like these cute-melancholy paintings by Kathie Olivas…
… and a giant metal octopus sculpture.
We continued our walk. What a treat, to feel sunshine in December! New Orleans is a fantastic place to escape during the winter, and it’s a quick and inexpensive flight within the USA.
The French Quarter has a “frat party” reputation, but as you can see from our journey, you can avoid this touristy scene altogether.
Such charming architecture. We stopped to take photos at the distinctive front gate of the Corn Stalk Hotel.
This elegant, Victorian-style house is supposedly haunted, as many places in the Quarter seem to be. (My wood sunglasses are from Moat House. Other outfit details above.)
Can’t get over the Southern elegance of the gardens and fountains.
Onward to La Madama Bazarre gallery (910 Royal Street, NOLA). American Horror Story fans, you might recognize the above work from AHS Freak Show.
Molly and I wanted to take home everything in the gallery. La Madama Bazarre often has special exhibits, with themes like “The Opulence of Darkness,” where “beauty and strangeness abound in equal doses.”
Owner Jennifer poses with “SideShow Sirens of the Swamp,” a series of music boxes featuring voodoo queen Marie Laveau, a two-headed person and other oddities. (And yes, that’s a coffin case on the right.)
Kevin Thayer’s art is a natural fit for this gallery, and several of his pieces hang on the walls. What a wonderful space they have created, to showcase morbid, lowbrow and outsider art.
We continued down the road to the fabulous Fifi Mahony’s (934 Royal Street). Masks, wigs and glitter aren’t reserved only for Mardi Gras.
The shop supports local alternative events, like Goth Con, a Hedwig and the Angry Inch performance, and its own Wig Show. Kevin’s lightning-girl sits above the counter.
In the back room, the salon offers makeovers. You can be as flamboyant as you want to be, in New Orleans. Nobody will bat an eye if you walk down the street looking like Cher.
Now, let’s visit two outdoor art markets. Every day, locals with permits display their works at Jackson Square. Molly reflects, “One of my favorite aspects about Jackson Square was the mix of artists working from their own experiences and those selling more traditional images of Mardi Gras. I got a sense of a strong artist community that respects and supports its members.”
We had a chat with Eden Gass (left), whose illustrations took on a different focus after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Molly says, “I was struck by the authenticity and personal nature of her paintings. I loved her raw, honest approach to her canvas and her warm demeanor.”
Just a typical day in NOLA here — artists stopping to greet each other, decked in bows and feathers.
We also loved the Frenchman Art Market, which opens up in the evenings. Here, local and regional artisans sell handmade jewelry and crafts.
I’ll leave you with some more night-time scenes. Antieau Gallery had a tribute to James Brown in the back.
Quite a few galleries have a spooky aesthetic, like this “Phantom Limb” installation.
At night, Fifi Mahony’s wigs have a ghostly feeling, peering out the window.
I walked by impressive displays of antique furniture.
The Corn Stalk hotel has an upside down keyhole to confuse vampires and ghosts, and hopefully prevent them from entering.
I think it’s obvious why New Orleans is one of the spookiest cities in the world! Did you know that the city had such an edgy art scene?
Thanks to Molly for the photography. Next, we’ll show you how we kissed a Sphinx, and ate alligator wings…
Shop my outfit of the day below:
I’m leaping in the air because our Cape Town video is out!
In this latest episode of my travel show – published on Business Insider Travel — I encounter lions, drag queens, penguins…
…street art, and color everywhere. (Above, I’m posing with the rainbow homes of the Bo-Kaap district – outfit details and more here.)
Please take a few minutes to watch our episode above and on Business Insider.
It was hard to edit all the fantastic footage into a short video. I could go on for hours about why I love this city — but I’ll boil it down to 10 things I love about Cape Town.
1. South African Wine Tastings
South Africa’s wines have been getting attention in recent years, especially those from the Stellenbosch region. I’m no wine expert, but I can tell you that these are some of the best I’ve tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot).
Our driver took us about an hour outside of Cape Town to Steenberg, a modern vineyard and farm. The staff poured us a selection of white and reds, including the smooth and complex Magna Carta. I wish I had a glass of it in my hand, as I’m typing this!
Outside, we ran into Pumbaa the warthog! This rotund creature really looks like the African pig in the Disney movie, The Lion King. Of course, filmmaker Melissa had to sing Hakuna Matata and pet his bristles.
Somehow, the Asian peace-sign pose is appropriate here. Pumbaa was the only animal who didn’t bite her during our journey. (Remember she got nipped by a peacock, penguin and dassie… and I got pecked by an ostrich.)
2. Cape Town Wine Bars
Another glass? Yes please. I got tipsy at Publik, a laid-back bar that serves local wines along with cheese, rye with quince, and smoked free-range meats. If you usually dislike a certain varietal, they might surprise you with a delicious version that makes you think twice. The goblets and high counters make this an easygoing experience — there’s no snobbery here.
3. Jazz Safari with Local Musicians
I love getting to know locals wherever I go. One night, we joined a Jazz Safari tour that took us inside the homes of local musicians. We ate dinner together, and then listened to a private home performance.
Musician Hilton Schilder’s wife prepared us a hearty curry with rice, and it was one of the best meals I had in Cape Town (along with Faldela Tolker’s Cape Malay cooking). Hilton plays multiple instruments, and performed experimental pieces on piano, guitar and this African mouth bow. I enjoyed hearing about his inspiration, such as how he composed a 15 minute song called “Rebirth” by visualizing a keyboard on the ceiling, as he was lying in bed recovering from an illness.
Next, our guide Michael drove us to one of the townships. We saw some metal shacks on the outskirts, but most of the residents lived in small houses. Not nearly as ominous as you might imagine.
TA Blaques performed energetic compositions on trumpet, with his friend on guitar. Cape Jazz is a local style that mixes Western and African influences, with plenty of improv. We tapped our feet along as they played a mix of “Pata Pata” and “In the Jungle.” What a memorable night.
4. Beefcakes Gay Bar & Drag Queen Show
Now, for a very different type of nightlife… What is the gay scene like in Cape Town? I must say, pink and fabulous! The gay bar Beefcakes has a double meaning: it serves burgers, and the waiters are all beefed-up studs!
Beefcakes has frequent “boogie nights” that bring in LGBT and alternative performers. The bar is a favorite destination for girls nights too. We saw a bachelorette doing a “body shot” off a waiter’s six pack.
But that evening, all eyes were on drag queen Champagne le Roux. She took the stage, and made snide but light-hearted comments about people in the audience. At one point, my cutesy lion backpack was the subject of her interrogation.
After some song-and-dance numbers, it was time for “Bitchy Bingo.” Champagne ordered a “ball boy” to come on stage and pick out bingo numbers.
Our friend Vicky won! She had to go onstage to dance with the queen, and then got awarded prizes like a Beefcakes calendar and a bottle of warm beer.
5. African Cuisine
Speaking of meat, Cape Town Tourism organized some outstanding meals for us. At Africa Cafe, I tried pap for the first time — a mushy, gluey staple carb made from ground maize. The menu offered African exotic meats, including springbok, impala, crocodile, and warthog (alas, poor Pumbaa!).
6. Drinking Cap Classique
Alcohol is a big part of my Top 10 list, isn’t it? At Hallelujah, I tasted a selection of Cap Classique “champagne,” a bubbly wine from South Africa. It was apparently a favorite of Marie Antoinette and European royalty.
Hallelujah also serves outstanding Asian street food at like prawns with hot steamed buns and coleslaw. Melt-in-your mouth dishes designed for sharing, inspired by dim sum and Asia comfort foods. I didn’t realize Cape Town had such hip restaurants and bars.
7. The House of Machines
A lot of locals recommended a bar called The House of Machines. Once we got there, we saw what all the buzz was about. This space is a mix of motorcycles, men’s fashion, art and cocktails.
They make a mean dark and stormy cocktail, and the music (indie rock, dance, local) is spot on. The next time I’m in Cape Town, I’ll be heading straight here.
8. Handmade Local Fashion
Missibaba is a women-run leather studio that stays true to its Cape Town origins. Many of the accessories take inspiration from African art, such as purses with tribal patterns.
A devotee of “slow fashion,” Missbaba employs local craftswomen who make almost all of the designs by hand.
Lead designer Chloe Townsend is passionate about “slow fashion” and supporting South African women. Her workshop employs craftswomen from an underprivileged township, and she donates a portion of proceeds to local empowerment programs.
9. Young Design Studios
Remember my trip to Woodstock Exchange, a modern art hub? You can’t leave Cape Town without exploring the cool studios inside.
I interviewed designer Atang Tshikare of Zabalazaa about his urban illustrations, which he custom-creates on skateboards and other surfaces.
He shares a space with Jasper Eales, a product designer who won awards for his eco-friendly design solutions, like a clever surfboard storage rack.
10. Powerful Political Art
Cape Town has a tumultuous history that is often contemplated in its local art. Ralph Ziman’s photos symbolize the devastation caused by arms trading. He photographed street vendors holding AK-47 guns, created out of African beads and wire.
His team showed us “Resistance”, a 100-meter long installation of a broken gun made from wheat paste. The weapon is wrapped in world currencies, symbolizing the international complicity in the arms trade.
I leave you with this smiling warthog from the vineyard. He seems to be humming Hakuna Matata.
Did this post open your eyes to South Africa’s wines, LGBT nightlife and restaurants? Please let us know your feedback on the video, and where you’d like us to see us travel next!