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Five Favorites from Boerum House & Home

The new Brooklyn store is designed to look like an apartment and is entirely furnished with shoppable products

by Nara Shin in Design on 30 July 2014

Shopping, Interior Design, Independent Designers, Home Goods, Home Decor, Brooklyn, Boutiques, Boerum Hill

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Retail store, museum gallery or apartment: the newly opened Boerum House & Home joins the row of stores including jewelry designer Erica Weiner and fragrance boutique Twisted Lily on Atlantic Avenue that make the Boerum Hill block a formidable shopping pitstop. Creative collective Partners & Spade (the folks behind diverse ventures from travel luggage to Shinola's campaign with Bruce Weber) have filled the space—built by architectural firm Flank to resemble a mutant apartment complete with bathroom and library—with a carefully thought out selection of goods.

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Work from local artisans and respected designers (some who have been featured on CH, like ceramicist Helen Levi and toy makers Fredericks and Mae) sit alongside vintage finds and custom editions. Consider it a micro-version of the IKEA's warehouse, minus the stress and mass-production, where everything on show—even the lighting fixtures, including a stunning custom made Patrick Townsend chandelier—is available for purchase.

Visitors to the store won't find barcodes or catalogs; prices are written on paper tags but store manager Jesse Johnson has a pretty good memory too. Here are five favorite, eye-catching items that really stood out during a recent visit.

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Haptic Lab Custom Boerum Hill Quilt

A favorite in the design world for her sailing ship kites (which actually fly), Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab also produces hand-stitched and embroidered quilts that depict cities, coasts and even constellations. The studio made custom quilts that show a map of the Boerum Hill neighborhood especially for the store. ($3500)

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DQtrs Neil Armstrong Pillow

Don't settle for digital printing, when you can get photos woven onto pillows. Made in a limited edition of 250, this Neil Armstrong pillow from DQtrs is 100% cotton tapestry (on the front) and a blend of hemp, wool and tweed on the back. This is one space-themed product that is as inspirational as it is cozy. ($150)

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UHURU Custom Sofa

Brooklyn furniture brand UHURU caught CH's collective eye with their conceptual approach to design, producing charred wood stools as well as tables made from a historical battleship's deck wood. For Boerum House & Home, UHURU makes its first ever sofa—and the results are easy on the eyes. The unconventional sofa rests in the grand living room area of the shop, with a rare vintage flag—made by a secret society in Ghana—draped over it. ($16000)

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Heico Pineapple Lamp

Whether it's for a 10-year-old Spongebob fan or an adult wanting to add some bright tropical vibes to their apartment, the Pineapple Lamp from iconic brand Heico is an irresistible purchase. The German-made, high-quality plastic lamps might have originally been made as night-lights for children, but their warm glow and cheerful design will delight any lucky owner. ($98)

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Moser Liqueur Set with Leather Case

Since way back in 1857, Czech company Moser has been creating beautiful hand shaped, cut and engraved crystalware that's lead-free. Over the many years, the brand has innovated and perfected new techniques while serving popes and kings; this striking set of 12 different liqueur glasses will have even the most fervent barware nerds trembling. ($2030)

Boerum House & Home is located at 314 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY. Purchases can only be made in-store.

Images by Nara Shin

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Conventional Wisdom: Anthrocon

"Furries" unite from around the globe, as captured by photographer Arthur Drooker

by David Graver in Culture on 29 July 2014

Arthur Drooker, Conventional Wisdom, Conventions, Furries, Photo Books, Photographers, Photography

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“This is the highlight of my year,” Thumpie Bunny Eve shared with photographer Arthur Drooker, while sat atop a piano, wearing high heels, exuding sexuality—and wearing a rabbit costume. This was just one scene at Anthrocon, the world's largest convention for anthropomorphics, the humanlike animal characters more commonly referred to as "furries." Anthrocon is the latest stop on Drooker's Conventional Wisdom tour, during which the photographer has brought his lens—and his audience—into the weird and wonderful world of eccentric conventions, from Santas to sexual explorers. We've been following him for a year now, as he accrues imagery for a book-in-progress, and Anthrocon is most certainly one of the highlights.

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During the 4 July holiday weekend, furries made their way from around the globe to Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center and, according to Drooker, turned it "into a wild kingdom." He notes that this year’s gathering drew a record 5,861 attendees—the most since its inception in 1996. Drooker further contextualizes the scene: "Imagine a mass meeting of mascots and you get the idea." That said, through his own reporting, Drooker discovered the roots of anthropomorphics and cleared up a lot of misconceptions the community has befallen.

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First, “A furry is a fan of walking, talking animals; the idea of making animals more like humans, or making humans more like animals,” Drooker learned from Dr Courtney Plante, a psychologist who is conducting a long term survey of the fandom, and a furry himself. "What that entails for everyone differs considerably." Further, Drooker makes two noteworthy observations. Furries hail from various backgrounds and they aren't necessarily in costume; a tier dubbed the "fursuiters" are in fact the ones who come adorned, sporting anything from "inexpensive tails to elaborate full-body costumes that cost as much as $5000." Additionally, the convention is dominated by a family feeling—one that runs contrary to its media portrayal as being hyper-sexual.

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The vast, vast majority of furries who have suits, it’s a cherished thing, part of your self-identity. A lot of them don’t think of it in a sexual way. It’s not what it’s there for. It’s not what you do with it.

"Sex in a fursuit is nearly impossible, if not totally undesirable. Donning one of these thick faux fur creations is 'akin to wearing a sofa on your back,' as furries often describe it," Drooker shares with CH. "A fursuit limits one’s dexterity and vision. The temperature can climb to over 100 degrees in there, causing dehydration if one doesn’t take a water break or wear a cooling vest." Rather, “The vast, vast majority of furries who have suits, it’s a cherished thing, part of your self-identity,” Dr Plante says. “A lot of them don’t think of it in a sexual way. It’s not what it’s there for. It’s not what you do with it.” Rather, it's an expression of a fursona—an animal identity that symbolizes who the wearers are or what they aspire to be.

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At Anthrocon, people can comfortably embrace their fursona, embraced by a like-minded community. "Every species of the fandom felt celebrated," Drooker says. "There were meet-ups for cats (Feline Friendly Furry Fiasco), reptiles (Gathering of the Scalies), even rats and mice (Rodents!)." On top of this he observed activities as far fetched as "games such as Pawpets Gone Wild and Whose Lion Is It Anyway?" As well as workshops like Transfurmations, in which tips were offered up on both fursuit construction and character development. The convention also featured a nightly dance. Altogether, "Anthrocon was a zoo like no other," Drooker concludes. But moreover, those inside this special world shared the most important observation: the outside world is changing and the prejudice against furries is slimming. Maybe many of the smiles found therein will soon break free.

Cool Hunting was invited to follow Arthur Drooker behind-the-scenes as he continues to survey and photograph conventions around the US. All images in this ongoing series are by Arthur Drooker.

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Inside Botánica's Don Eliette Collection

NYC native Nic De La Paz finds inspiration in her father's richly textured wardrobe

by Graham Hiemstra in Style on 29 July 2014

Accessories, Design, Fashion, Jewelry, Menswear, New York

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Though the city is bursting with energy and ambition, designer Nic De La Paz's strolls through the busiest streets of NYC sometimes reflect the masses' tendency to follow fads. To do something fresh, and combat such style stagnation, the Brooklyn native founded Botánica, an accessories brand directly inspired by the vivid style of her father Eliette Anthony Alvarez. Following up on her debut "Rosary" collection, the label's recently released (and heavily admired) second season offering sidesteps the theme of religion in favor of focusing exclusively on De La Paz's father, and his richly textured wardrobe.

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The "Don Eliette" collection—which has a rather strong vintage Versace vibe—includes an 18k gold ring, two bracelets and a pair of sunglasses. Drawing on the jewelry her father acquired between New York and Puerto Rico in the '60s, '70s and '80s, De La Paz hopes to make rare statement pieces that feel both contemporary and timeless. "My dad is in everything that I do," says De La Paz, "[his fashion] had a huge influence on me as a kid. He was always very much about quality and having nice things, and keeping them nice." To ensure quality and a long life, each piece is made by hand in NYC's diamond district.

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In the coming months De La Paz aims to release her third collection under the Botánica label, once again eyeing religious iconography but this time with her sights set on the Middle East—a standout piece is the Arabic nameplate, an unconventional take on the immediately recognizable piece of jewelry worn by many New Yorkers. De La Paz's sole intention is to create lively, conversation-starting jewelry for men to express themselves.

Visit Botánica to view the current collection of unique, handmade pieces ranging from $260 to $630. And keep an eye out for the forthcoming collection online as well.

Lookbook images by Antwan Duncan, all others courtesy of Botánica

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