Archive for August, 2009

Insert charm here: significant objects

August 28, 2009
Buying into meaning at Significant Objects

Buying into meaning: Significant Objects

Where mugs, vases and figurines go to become objects of literary fancy.

For more proof that if something lacks meaning, significance is only a story away, observe the consumerist-literary hybrid that is Significant Objects. The clever site run by writers Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker has gained lots of attention lately and deserves every inch of love – commodified and otherwise –  pouring its way.

How it works: A writer creates a story about an object that one of the founders has bought at a thrift store or garage sale. (Any unicorn figurine or meat thermometer will do.) The site ups the ante by not only unveiling the stories but also putting the objects themselves up for sale on eBay.

Or, as the founders explain on their site: “A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should – according to our hypothesis – acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!”

Stories are written; money is exchanged. Objects are elevated; lives are enhanced … theoretically.

Say what you will about our materialistic 21st-century search for meaning, but this grand experiment is more interesting than any textbook theories on the subject. Say what you will about clutter, but the desire for a pristine counter is no match for our need to connect with something, anything that means something, anything.

And what exactly ends up being real in the end just makes the experience with the site all the more interesting.

The concept definitely fits into one of the grooves on the Charm-o-Matic machinery – looking carefully at what surrounds us and finding something good. Or at least something to write home about.

Significant Objects experiment
Objects @ eBay Store, Prices vary

Tokyo Milk lights me up (again)

August 9, 2009
Tokyo Milk from Fred Flare

Tokyo Milk from Fred Flare

This company gets more delightful by the day – and by the night, if that’s when you light candles.

My only wish about Tokyo Milk’s lip balms when I discovered them was that the designs were on the packaging of the balm itself and not just on the box. And while I realize that their attention to my every wish is no doubt inadvertent, I couldn’t help but be pleased with myself when I saw their new candles at Fred Flare.

These pretty candles come in tins, so you know what that means:  Blowing out the candle for the last time may lead to an extremely cute storage device.

While the pull these Tokyo Milk products have on me is all about the design sensibility, the candles smell great, too. The one featuring a cake is called Eat Cake and smells like vanilla with a little coconut. The tin with the retro dress patterns is called Paper & Cotton; it has a bright aroma, if that’s possible, and is scented with birch wood and sage.

I do try not to repeat myself too often lest certain gears on the Charm-o-Matic wear thin, but I am powerless when it comes to designs that blend whimsy and sophistication.

Tokyo Milk travel candles, $14 at