Sustainability Without Sacrifice

Featured image: The Weekender Bag by Banda Bags. Photo courtesy of Banda Bags.

Introducing luxury handbags that leave their mark on the fashion industry without damaging the environment.

 

Banda Bags  bandabags.com

“Banda Bags was born out of adventure and discovery,” says founder Brianna Jane. The company came to life when the founder was filming a docu-series on natural medicine in Indonesia. “I found myself in a wild area of Sumatra that is completely off the beaten path, known for its rich coffee and devout Muslim culture,” according to Jane. “I did not create these bags. I discovered them!” The company really took shape when Jane realized that this traditional art was becoming obsolete and that she could create an opportunity to empower female artists and revive traditional techniques, while supporting the environment.

The Weekender Bag

Perfect for a weekend away, a carry on, or when you need a little more space, the Weekender Bag is one example of the fine handcrafted embroidery that is a mainstay among Banda Bags.

From start to finish, Banda Bags considers its impact on the planet. The base of the bags are made from recycled nylon, along with recycled polyester for the thread, and organic cotton for the insert bag. And finally, recycled, corrugated boxes are used for shipping. “Seeing that fashion has the power to influence the masses, there’s a unique opportunity to use it as a platform to educate the masses about sustainability, and how our choices affect the planet,” adds Jane.

The Banda Tote Bag

The Banda Tote Bag is a must-have for the summer. Not only is it functional, but it features handmade traditional designs that bring a piece of art made by Sumatran artisans into your everyday wardrobe. Large, comfortable shoulder straps, a roomy interior, and zippered pockets bring function and sustainability within reach

Gemma Backpack Purse by Svala. Photo by Mikel Roberts.

Svala  svala.co

Svala came to fruition when the founder, Helga Douglas, was searching for a bag that was stylish and sustainable, but came up short. “I found it hard to find brands that represented the values that I was looking for, so I decided to create my own,” says Douglas. The company specializes in luxury, vegan handbags that have been handcrafted from innovative PVC-free fabrics, such as Italian vegan leather, Pinatex® — made from pineapple leaf fibers — cork and recycled plastic bottles. “We are also in the process of introducing a new vegan leather into our range that is made with recycled polyester and bio polyols,” according to Douglas.

Didi Clutch

This elegant addition to any outfit is made from vegan leather PU (polyurethane) and lined with recycled polyester that is made from plastic bottles combined with organic cotton. The vegan leather PU is sourced from Italy, “from a family-owned factory that supplies various high-end European luxury designers,” says Douglas.

Gemma Backpack Purse

The Gemma Backpack Purse is elegantly versatile, easily transforming from a convenient backpack to a sophisticated handbag. Handcrafted with high-quality, luxurious Italian vegan leather, and embossed faux snake-skin, or velvety cork, this bag embodies the Svala brand.

Lidia May  lidiamay.com

Lidia May, like several other sustainable brands, has been influenced by the growing industry of fast fashion and trying to combat low prices and the concept that clothing is disposable. “The fast fashion business paradigm is so pervasive that many entrenched players cannot survive outside it … Against this backdrop, Lidia May is proving that fashion can be creative, glamorous, and personal without being exploitative or exclusionary,” says co-founder of Lidia May, Rasheed Khan.

Pema Shopper Rose & Pema Top Handle Rose

The Pema collection is ultra-luxurious, refined, and a favorite among customers. This collection and others aim for natural and biodegradable materials to achieve their goals. “We prefer to use silk and cotton and unbleached linens in our fabrics and embroidery threads,” explains Khan. The company utilizes full and top grain leather that is luxurious, durable and incidentally a by-product of the meat industry, says Khan. There is no sacrifice between beauty and sustainability here.

The Barre Poppy

“Fashion is a beacon. It’s highly visible, it’s aspirational, it can influence society’s values and behavior,” says Khan. If the fashion industry can make sustainable changes, then items such as The Barre Poppy can hopefully inspire others to follow. Agile and sophisticated, The Barre Poppy can be worn around the waist or carried as a mini top handle.

The Barre Poppy by Lidia May. Photo by Emmy Pickett; Courtesy of Lidia May.

Photo courtesy of Mavis by Herrera.

Mavis by Herrera  mavisbyherrera.com

“I started Mavis by Herrera because I needed to be a part of the plastic pollution solution,” says founder, Mavis C. Herrera. “My passion is to encourage change through sustainability and regenerative business practices.” In the process of creating sustainable, ethically elegant handbags, the company also aims to empower indigenous people by first, offering jobs and eventually, by providing business skills, according to Herrera.

Less Pollution Convertible Bag

Mavis by Herrera handbags are waterproof, durable, lightweight, and fashionable. “We aim to revolutionize the fashion industry by proving that it can be done without harming people or the environment,” note the founders. “We take plastics and turn them into recycled, elegant, and sustainable handbags.” Working hand in hand with a local recycling company, each bag is hand woven in Mexico.

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Mindful Drinking

Featured image courtesy Camille Vidal.

 

A movement started across the pond is reshaping the relationship people have with alcohol, and starting new conversations about the topic.

When Laura Willoughby sought to change her relationship with alcohol, she found that there weren’t many options to turn to in the United Kingdom that suited her well. So she created her own. What started out as a Facebook group grew into what is now a movement that swept across the UK and eventually parts of the globe. Club Soda, the mindful drinking community Willoughby co-founded, was just the start of a conversation about how people can drink mindfully.

Camille Vidal, founder of La Maison Wellness, describes what a mindful drinker is best. For her, there are many different types of mindful drinkers, but there is not just one label. “Often, because the movement is expanding and there are more and more people becoming vocal about their sobriety, about cutting alcohol out of their life, very often people assume that if you are a mindful drinker, it means that you’re sober,” Vidal says. “But actually, mindful drinking, and being a mindful drinker, is being mindful, being aware, being conscious of how much, how often and what you drink.

For Willoughby, she identifies as being alcohol-free, and has been for eight and a half years. Club Soda was born from Willoughby’s realization that seeking a change in a relationship with alcohol was met with the disease model of addiction, which may help some people, but not all. “Alcohol is an identity, not a medical condition,” Willoughby says. “I’m alcohol-free because that suits me best and alcohol doesn’t have anything left for me; I definitely took everything that was possible from alcohol.”

Eventually the mindful drinking conversation began to shift to the beverage industry. According to Vidal, today there are about 90 different alcohol-free spirits available around the world, but one company was the catalyst for this category. “Five years ago there was one brand that launched the world’s first alcohol-free spirit — that’s called Seedlip.

Seedlip is a botanical spirit,” Vidal says. “And they really paved the way for rethinking how we drink.” Seedlip’s roots were planted in London in 2015 by the brand’s founder, Ben Branson. Starting with one spirit, the company grew to include three choices, each with an individual flavor profile. One interesting spirit Vidal notes is its Garden 108 spirit that is made with traditional herbs and its signature, peas, giving it a refreshing, gin-like flavor.

Vidal uses Seedlip and other brands — another one she recommends is a company called Lyres that is based in Australia — to create her mindful cocktails that she features on her company’s website. When the pandemic lockdown began in London, where she currently resides, she started “happy hours” on her social media where she showed people how to make her cocktails. Vidal also collaborates with companies and people, such as Willoughby, to spread the awareness of drinking mindfully.

Another category of alcohol-free spirits that has taken to the market are alternatives that are inspired to bring a new way of drinking and a new overall experience, explains Vidal. Three Spirit, another brand Vidal enjoys, specializes in spirits — they call elixirs — that are powered by plants. The elixirs not only taste good, but make the drinker feel good. “They’ve all been built to recreate the experience you have when you drink alcohol and the very reason why people drink alcohol,” explains Vidal. “For example, they have one that is called the Night Cap that helps you to relax, to ease stress, to calm you down, to help you with sleep — because it contains valerian, which helps with sleeping.”

Above: Camille Vidal; Below: Laura Willoughby

Willoughby herself enjoys drinking Three Spirit as one of her non-alcoholic options along with kombucha, which is something that Vidal says is a great addition to any non-alcoholic or low ABV cocktail. According to Vidal and Willoughby, choosing to become a mindful drinker doesn’t really have any setbacks, as it opens the door to a new lifestyle and way to enjoy nights out or time spent with good company. “People believe they have to give up their social life if they change their drinking, but what happens is your social life changes,” Willoughby says. “And guess what? Your social life changes anyway as you go through life.” On Club Soda’s website, the organization offers courses that help guide people down a mindful drinking journey that works for their lifestyle. “If somebody’s desire is to try and drink moderately,” says Willoughby. “Then that’s absolutely fine by us as well.” She goes on to say that there is a binary view of alcohol, which in actuality, there isn’t.”

Whether someone is choosing to phase alcohol out of their lives or is looking to start a new relationship with it, there are plenty of options that are just as delicious as their alcoholic counterparts. “I always say ‘tasty doesn’t have to be boozy,’” says Vidal. “For me, there’s something magical about having a low-alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktail, and it’s not about the alcohol content, it’s about the moment, the celebration and appreciating the experience we’re having.”

Café Soirée
Strawberry Fields
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Dazzling Diamonds

All photos courtesy Vanleles Diamonds.

Vanleles Diamonds — focused on producing jewelry sourced from ethical mining — is the first-ever female-owned African fine jewelry brand.

Living and working all around the world has allowed Vania Leles to develop an edge in her work, drawing from her experiences to shape Vanleles Diamonds into a global luxury brand. “Growing up, I studied in between Guinea-Bissau and Portugal, returning to Africa during breaks to travel around the continent with my family,” Leles says. “Upon graduating from NOVA University Lisbon, I moved to London to learn English and became a social worker. I changed careers after being discovered by a modeling scout, and lived and worked as a model in Paris and New York for a few years.”

Leles’ ties to her African heritage are evident in her designs. “Then came that fateful day when I decided to join the jewelry world,” Leles says. “All these events and influences are reflected in details of the Vanleles collection. Some people expect my jewelry to be tribal or ethnic, but it is a combination of my memories of Africa and my experiences traveling throughout the world and living in Europe.”

Leles is no stranger to the world of luxury. While working as a model, she was inspired by the fine jewelry on set, and connected this to her home in Africa. “Around 2003, I was modeling on a shoot with fine jewelry when someone on the set told me that all precious and many semiprecious stones can be found in Africa,” Leles explains. “Intrigued, as I am from the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, I did some research. I discovered that at that time, there were no African haute-jewelry designers working with these materials native to their continents.”

With this in mind, Leles set out to begin her own company. “This was enough for me to decide that I would establish the world’s first female-founded African high jewelry house,” Leles says. 

Leles’ breakout into the world of jewelry was not immediate. “When I told my mother about my plans, she suggested I get 10 years of experience before launching my own company,” Leles reflects. “This seemed like a long time, but I agreed, quitting modeling and enrolling in classes on gems, design and business at the Gemological Institute of America.”

Leles then traveled to New York City, learning and graduating from the Gemological Institute of America. Heeding her mother’s advice, Leles spent over a decade working and learning from world-renowned fine jewelry brands GRAFF, De Beers and Sotheby’s. To launch the jewelry business she had dreamed about since her modeling days, London’s New Bond Street, the heart of the international fine jewelry world, was a clear-cut choice for the location of Vanleles Diamonds flagship atelier. “I came here over 20 years ago to learn English and never went back.”

Vanleles Diamonds offers a variety of jewelry styles, including rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, each crafted by skilled jewelry makers. Leles explained that her goal is to allow the wearers of her jewelry pieces to feel “empowered, happy, and with a knowledge that we created their jewelry in the most transparent and ethical way possible.”

Pieces from The Nile Collection, inspired by Ancient Egypt.
The Nile Yellow Gold and Diamonds Fringe Earrings.
Enchanted Garden Titanium Paraiba Flower Earrings.
Legends of Africa Grand Bangle.

According to Vanleles Diamonds’ website, its “unparalleled belief in responsible mining” and commitment to the ethical sourcing of gemstones and precious metals has brought a new direction to the world of fine jewelry, one that is based in purposeful luxury and beauty.

“For my collections, and depending on which gems I need, I will mainly source them in Africa; Zambian for emeralds, Mozambique for rubies, tourmalines of all colors, Namibia for diamonds and Madagascar for pink and other multi-color sapphires,” Leles explained. “Most recently, Nigeria for blue sapphires. When I can, I travel to these locations personally to buy my gems, other times we work with suppliers that adhere to human rights policies and have strong corporate social responsibility.”

Vanleles Diamonds’ strong commitment to responsible mining and the African community is evident in its philanthropies, mainly the Malaika Foundation, a charity that seeks to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs.

“The funds we give go straight into these communities that so desperately need them, and in a very fast manner,” Leles says. “For Malaika, for instance, they only have one employee outside Congo, and no real estate rent, so the money is really going into the community and not to pay high salaries and rents in the West. We sponsor girls, and I can see tangible results directly. We chose charities that are small and the employees are on the ground.”

For an especially unique piece, Vanleles Diamonds offers bespoke consultations for custom made, handcrafted jewels. “The design process always starts with the client’s wishes.” Leles says. “During our meeting, I am able to capture their true desire, understand their lifestyle and then we embark on a unique journey to create something exceptional that will last generations to come.”

Finding friendship in diamonds allows Leles to focus on the most important things in her life — her family and business. “[I have] freedom of creations, where to source, how to send my message and freedom for being a mother of young children, I can work when I put them to bed and not miss many matches and activities,” Leles says. “But I certainly work longer and harder!”

Above: Out of Africa Fan Earrings crafted in 18k Rose Gold with Mozambican responsibly sourced rubies and rubelites.
Below: Statement Cocktail Ring
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A Cut Above The Rest

For Anna Bario and Page Neal, designing jewelry meant more than choosing the perfect stone — it meant making a lasting impact. Their company, Bario Neal, was born from the idea that “our most precious things come with a story,” and the beginning of that story is of utmost importance.

Sustainable fashion has eased its way into the growing culture of being environmentally mindful, and with this movement came an increase in jewelry companies focusing on how to source gemstones and metals without causing a devastating impact on the environment. For Bario and Neal, the principal and lead designers of their company, they sought to create jewelry with a meaning, saying, “to us, creating objects of lasting value means understanding their full impact and origins. [That means] the places the raw materials come from, all the hands that touch the materials and the jewelry as it’s made.”

The Philadelphia-based company creates all their jewelry pieces by hand, with all their diamonds and colored gems being traceable, mine to market products. The design process starts with the aesthetics of the piece, then to how it will be crafted and its functionality, says Bario and Neal. “Then we work out how to make it responsibly. That can mean researching new sources, new materials, or custom cutting.”

Along with supporting sustainable jewelry, the company, which mainly creates engagement and wedding bands, also supports LGBTQIA rights, working to “undermine and eliminate the presumption of heterosexuality that pervades much of the wedding and jewelry industry,” says Bario and Neal. “Supporting unity and advocating for human rights within the jewelry industry is a non-negotiable part of our mission.”

©Bario Neal Jewelry

Bario Neal

Photo by Daniel Johnson

Caitlin Cimino

Like Bario Neal, for Caitlin Cimino and her namesake jewelry company, the story of her ethically sourced pieces is essential to her craft. Cimino, who started her company in 2010, takes a hands-on approach when it comes to her creations. “When I create jewelry, I tie a mindful practice around the entire process — from collecting plant material to sifting through mine debris for gemstones.” Cimino started her ethical business knowing the connection between the jewelry industry and the gemstone and metal mining industries, two industries that are “environmentally and ethically damaging,” Cimino says.

All the gemstones Cimino finds are collected from a privately owned mine in California where her company is based. According to her website, unlike other mines that neglect their surrounding environment, the mine Cimino visits encourages local ranchers to utilize their mining debris in their orchards. The metal she uses is high-quality, up-cycled sterling silver with its impurities removed, making the quality similar to newly mined metal. Cimino describes her jewelry as “Medicine Jewelry™” and has created a process surrounding this ideal. “When I sit at my workbench, I perform different ritual practices like lighting herbs and incense, saying prayers or mantras and setting intentions,” Cimino says. “I do this because everything we involve ourselves in has a story and energy intertwined within, and I believe in the importance of making the story of my jewelry pure and positive.”

For co-founder of the jewelry company Puck Wanderlust, Ranelle Chapman, a core mantra pulls together the focus of her brand with it being “one of collaboration and the shared wealth of skills to create something unique yet mindfully made,” says the company’s website. “The interest in sustainability is at the heart of the brand — from packaging to production.” Founded in 2015 in London, the name is derived from “Puck,” a mischievous fairy in English folklore, and “Wanderlust,” a strong desire for travel and adventure. The company’s team traveled outside of its home country to India and Bali where its jewelry is handcrafted.

Sun Mandala bracelet in silver
by Puck Wanderlust.

A mix of different gold rings with onyx and moonstone by Puck Wanderlust. 

Photos courtesy of Puck Wanderlust

Moon Mandala pendant necklace in gold
by Puck Wanderlust.

 Puck Wanderlust works with small family-owned suppliers in these countries, their suppliers using recycled materials where possible while providing fair wages for their staff. According to the company, “we are committed to the ethical sourcing of our semi-precious stones and work closely with suppliers to ensure that they adhere to our code of conduct, which outlines strict standards of business behaviour.”

Puck Wanderlust also draws design inspiration from the countries that provide them with their materials. The latest “Bombay Deco Collection” is inspired by Indian Art Deco with geometric motifs and vibrant colors and patterns, according to Puck Wanderlust. In this collection, every design is handcrafted using 100-percent recycled silver and 18-carat gold vermeil, with each stone being “lovingly set.”

Niki Grandics, founder and designer of Enji Studio Jewelry in California, also sources her materials from around the world, buying them as close to the source as possible, she says, with rutile coming from a Pyramid mine in Bahia Brazil and her rich red rubies from Liberia. Grandics, who has always loved fashion and design, chose to ethically source her materials after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. The devastating event killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured over 2,000 more people, shaking the fashion industry to the core and causing companies to change where they source their materials. “The factory produced clothing for large brands I shopped with at the time,” Grandics says, “and it was shocking to me that so many young women — most garment workers are women age 18 to 35 — died so that young women like me in the West could buy the latest trends.”

Puck Wanderlust

Photo courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Grandics’s favorite recent creation, the Ankoma Pendant. It’s made of rutilated hematite stone and hand-fabricated with recycled gold. 

Enji — its name derived from Grandics initials “N” and “G” — goes beyond making modern and minimalist styles, but looks to shed light on issues in the industry that people may not be aware of, supporting projects that help end the use of toxic chemicals such as mercury, which is harmful to people and the surrounding environment.

Grandics’ future plans include putting together a map of where all the gemstones come from, creating “radical transparency,” something she believes fashion companies should start doing, along with becoming completely sustainable. “We only have this planet as far as I know and, given the scale of climate change, I think it’s imperative,” Grandics says. “If it can’t be reused, recycled, or biodegraded, it shouldn’t be in production, period.”

Photo courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Aline Pendant: 2.25ct rutilated quartz and recycled 14k gold.

Paavo Studs: Recycled 14k gold, Montana sapphires and Canadamark diamonds.

Photos courtesy of Enji Studio Jewelry

Faustina Ring: Ruby slice, Montana sapphires and recycled 14k rose gold.

Upon learning that her engagement ring possibly contained a conflict diamond, CEO and founder of MiaDonna Anna-Mieke Anderson knew she had to make things right for herself and the jewelry industry. “I started sponsoring Ponpon, a 7-year-old boy in Liberia, Africa,” Anderson says. “It’s through our letters that I got a first-hand look at the realities of living in a diamond mining community. I will never forget the day he wrote to me and said, ‘I had a great summer because only one of my classmates was killed.’”

Anderson set out to source conflict-free diamonds the best possible way she could find: growing them in a lab. MiaDonna has led the evolution in the lab-grown diamond industry, with the company debuting the largest USA-grown diamond at the time, at 6.28 carats in 2016. To help combat the issue, Anderson created a foundation, The Greener Diamond, that works together with MiaDonna, and empowers communities to grow food instead of mining diamonds. With each purchase of a piece from MiaDonna, the money goes toward programs that restore the lives and lands of people in sub-Saharan Africa affected by mining.

©2016 Alex Milan Tracy

Anderson’s company, MiaDonna, is named after the two most influential people in her life: her daughter, Mia, and her late mother, Donna.

According to Anderson, people should become more aware of where their jewelry is coming from because “every time we make a purchase, we are voting with our money.” Anderson is proud of where her company is headed, recently becoming B Corp certified in America, the first lab-grown diamond retailer to do so. But she isn’t going to stop there, looking toward the planet, her cause, and more importantly, the people, as her reason for making a difference. “As for the little boy, Ponpon, he just completed University and runs our foundation projects in Liberia, Africa.”

Custom lab-grown diamond ring by MiaDonna.

Photos courtesy of MiaDonna

Paris ring set with natural recycled diamonds by MiaDonna.

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Big Gardens for Small Spaces

All photos courtesy Horticus Living.

Having a large collection of plants is amazing, but it can get a little crowded with our floor space disappearing pretty quickly. This is particularly true for city dwellers.

43 percent of Londoners live in a flat, the most of any region in the UK, promoting the move of our gardening skills to our balconies and our living rooms. With the mean average UK one-bedroom home being 46 square meters ( or 495 square feet), according to Riba, space is one of the issues these horticulturalists face.

By focusing on a desire to nurture carefully grown fauna, UK company Horticus Living has rethought the living wall, made it more flexible, and kept the practice of cultivation while keeping a minimalistic lifestyle.

Horticus is a modular living wall system that can grow in keeping with your botanical demands. You choose the size and layout according to your preference and it doesn’t have to be all plants either. Use an empty planter for mementoes or select from pods with different functions.

You can grow your living wall at your own pace. There is no need to get a lot of plants straight away to have the impact.

Horticus Living’s small kit consists of 1 powder coated steel frame and 3 terracotta planters and can add a touch of jungle to a bathroom, bring fresh herbs to a kitchen and a sense of calm to a living room. Planters are made from terracotta and can be lifted in and out of the frame. Even better, the planters can be watered from above through a grid of watering holes.

The combination of powder coated frame with terracotta brings a natural feel to interiors while offering a fantastic contrast to the greenery.

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How To Make Your Home Sports-Friendly

By Jordan Fuller
Golf Expert / Editor-in-Chief
E: jordan@golfinfluence.com | www.golfinfluence.com

Whether you’re looking to add a basketball or tennis court, or something more adventurous like a putting green, home golf simulator or bocce ball court, having the ability to play these sports while at home can provide countless hours of enjoyment.

Here are a few ideas that can convert that downtime into a fun time.

Tennis Court

If tennis is your game, and you have the room, a backyard tennis court can be a convenient solution for stepping up your game. Traditionally, tennis court surfaces are made from clay, grass or asphalt, all of which are available for backyard construction.

Opting for synthetic grass makes a better option for an all-weather court, providing a lower-impact playing surface that can be easier on your ankles and knees. Another benefit of opting for artificial turf for your court is that it can be easily converted into something else if your interests shift. 

Keep in mind that tennis courts take up more space than almost any other common backyard sports court, so unless you have an unused space that is at least 130 feet long, a backyard tennis court might not be an option.

Basketball Court

Most homeowners with a driveway, and kids, will have a basketball hoop assembly of some sort. Of course, there are ways to take that to another level. If you went ahead with the tennis court and opted for an asphalt surface, the same area can be utilized as a full-court basketball court as well.

However, if you’re only interested in a half-court setup, you’ll only need about 50 feet of court space in front of the hoop, and about 40 feet of overall width to provide the realistic feel of being on the hardcourt.

There are several options for surfaces available, with court designs and graphics to suit your style.

Baseball/Softball Batting Cage

Depending upon the available size of your project, there are batting cage setups that range from a full-length pitching distance to a shorter, screen protected delivery. 

Pitching machines are now readily available from simple, self-fed models to those with sophisticated automatic feeds. It’s probably a good idea to incorporate some artificial surface for the batters’ boxes to provide a level, sturdy, and most importantly durable spot to take your swings.

Golf Simulators and Putting Greens

Installing an outdoor putting green is a great addition for any golfer’s backyard, particularly if you are wanting to work on your short game and is a great way to get your kids interested in taking up the game. 

Artificial turf is a common choice for most at-home greens and is the best way to ensure a proper putting surface without the maintenance that comes along with using natural grass. If you’re looking for an all-year option, there are many indoor putting greens available as well.

For those seeking a more advanced golfing experience while at home, indoor golf simulators have become increasingly popular. Golf simulators have revolutionized how golfers experience the game, and playing and practicing indoors is now more realistic than ever. Simulators allow for a good game of golf regardless of the weather. There are many options to suit all purposes and budgets.

Interesting read: 5 Trends In Kid Bedroom Decor

Bocce Ball Court

Bocce ball is an easy, low-impact game enjoyed by players of every age, making it a popular choice for many backyards. Courts for bocce ball can be made of clay or by manufactured grass, which provides an easily maintained, level surface that is necessary for a good game of bocce.

An advantage to a bocce ball court is that it can be installed in an underused area of your yard, and without much maintenance can give a lush, green appearance when not in use. The long and narrow dimensions of the playing court allow for some flexibility in locations, and many players opt to install them in little-used side yards.

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The Art of Writing

Exclusive writing instruments elevate the tradition of putting pen to paper — a ritual technology cannot erase — into fine art.

Writing a check or signing a document is generally a routine task, one far too often facilitated by an 89-cent piece of plastic and aluminum. But a bejeweled, limited edition writing instrument can transform a simple signature into a truly artistic expression.

Nancy Olson, a leading authority on fine writing instruments, reports, “Unlike many other luxury collectibles, a pen is portable, user-friendly and has a cultural element because of its link to writing and the arts.” Olson, who is also a prominent commentator on timepieces, notes the parallels between the two instruments, stating, “Pens and watches are both small, mechanical objects that provide a healthy hit of extravagance and enjoyment when worn or used.”

Among Olson’s favorite designers are German manufacturers Pelikan and Montblanc, the latter the high-end brand with the greatest mainstream name recognition. Montblanc pens have long been considered luxury items, but many are surprised to learn that some of the company’s limited edition writing instruments cost not hundreds, but hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

Montblanc collaborated with elite jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels on a $730,000 pen bejeweled with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires to commemorate both companies’ 100th anniversaries in 2006. The manufacturer’s Meisterstück Solitaire Royal LeGrand fountain pen is copiously embellished with more than 4,600 diamonds and valued in excess of $200,000.

Olson reports the qualities collectors admire most in pens are craftsmanship, scarcity and the ability to convey a story. 

Les Quatre Couleurs from David Oscarson commemorates the evolution of playing cards. Courtesy of David Oscarson.

The 1010 Timekeeper by Caran d’Ache celebrates the watchmakers that share the company’s hometown of Geneva.           Courtesy of Caran d’Ache.

Few brands have mastered storytelling better than St. Louis-based David Oscarson, whose eye-popping writing instruments encompass a remarkable diversity of themes. In addition to celebrating the natural world, art or architecture, Oscarson pens commemorate historic figures such as the Romanovs of Russia, Lewis & Clark and Sir Alexander Fleming, the bacteriologist who discovered penicillin. Most Oscarson issues are priced at about $5,900, but special editions command more than $250,000.

One David Oscarson pen — a blue and silver piece featuring the Star of David and the Three Crowns of Sweden — honors Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who harbored thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The limited production of each theme often involves a bit of trivia, such as the 63 pens honoring Alfred Nobel (the philanthropist’s age when he died). For most David Oscarson pens, enamel is applied over metal manipulated through the painstaking technique of guilloché, an ornamentation process pioneered by Fabergé.

“There aren’t a lot of choices for gentlemen who like accessories,” states Oscarson. “Beyond wristwatches, there are very few pieces of men’s jewelry that are sustainable in style,” adds the industry veteran.

A one-of-a-kind special edition fountain pen from the company, crafted from solid 18-karat gold and encrusted with nearly 35 carats of white, yellow and caramel diamonds, has been offered on the resale market for $755,000.

“I judge a manufacturer by the quality of its pens and its creativity in putting a fresh face on what, in essence, is a very small canvas,” says pen commentator Olson. She cites Caran d’Ache’s 1010 Timekeeper, a limited edition that cleverly pays homage to the art of watchmaking, the industry that dominates the company’s hometown of Geneva. 

That fountain pen ($11,500) features a reinterpretation of the elements of a watch dial. Its silver- and rhodium-plated cap was inspired by watch strap design and a piston pump with a ruby accent is reminiscent of a watch’s winding crown. This model follows a 2008 limited edition of ten 18-karat gold 1010 pens, currently priced on the resale market at about $150,000.

Caran d’Ache also produced an 18-karat gold fountain pen — another piece valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — sheathed in more than 4,100 brilliant diamonds and accented by a band of 108 emeralds. This unique writing instrument, whose precious stones were set by Geneva jeweler Pierre-Yves Bonzon, took about six months to complete.

Gregory Hengesbaugh, national sales manager for Creative Art Materials, Ltd., the exclusive distributor of Caran d’Ache in the U.S. and Canada, reports the venerable firm enjoys a worldwide cult following. 

“The brand benefits from Swiss manufacturing traditions, whose exacting precision in watchmaking carries over to fine writing instruments,” says Hengesbaugh.

Top: Italian manufacturer Aurora is renowned for its meticulous craftsmanship. Courtesy of Aurora.

Above: David Oscarson’s elegant Russian Imperial series reflects techniques pioneered by Fabergé. Courtesy of David Oscarson.

The limited edition samurai fountain pen reflects Montegrappa’s elaborate themes. Courtesy of Montegrappa.

No company on the planet celebrates the pen as an objet d’art as well as Montegrappa, Italy’s oldest manufacturer of fine pens. Last year it released a limited edition Samurai fountain pen ($15,000) that is a wealthy grown-up’s version of a toy soldier. Each of the 177 sterling silver sets (packaged in a black lacquered box) includes an armored warrior, along with a katana sword case that contains a letter opener.

Aurora

www.aurorapen.it

Caran d’Ache

www.carandache.com

David Oscarson

www.davidoscarson.com

Montblanc

www.montblanc.com

Montegrappa

www.montegrappa.com

Pelikan

www.pelikan.com

Tibaldi

www.tibaldi.it

Prices of limited edition luxury pens can be stratospheric, but the $8 million reportedly paid at a Shanghai charity auction has remained a safe record since 2010. Commanding that astonishing figure was the Fulgor Nocturnus from Italian manufacturer Tibaldi (a subsidiary of Montegrappa), copiously embellished with 945 black diamonds and 123 rubies.

Aurora, another venerable Italian pen maker, claims its Diamante fountain pen — whose graceful platinum form is sheathed in 1,919 De Beers diamonds totaling 30 carats — is the most exclusive writing instrument in the world. Almost too exquisite to use, just a single Diamante, priced at more than $1.4 million, is available each year.

Nancy Olson reports many collectors place a premium on the provenance of pens, collecting almost everything produced by a specific brand. Acknowledging pen aficionados’ diverse motivations, she states, “Some use all the pens in their collections and really appreciate the art of writing while others keep their pens in their original boxes, never to see a drop of ink!”

Either way, luxury writing instruments are in no danger of going out of style. “There’s something about a fountain pen that’s majestic,” suggests pen maker David Oscarson.

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Bedding for a Cause

Are you looking for a way to help out this new year? Rest easy with these new sheets. 

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

The ability to allow customers to make a positive environmental impact with their purchase is in harmony with a recent change in business direction towards sustainably produced bedding, which draws inspiration from the beauty of Tasmania’s nature.

Founder of The Good Sheet, Kamila Scholz said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have found a partner in One Tree Planted who shares our values and helps make our business a force for good. We’re very happy that beyond creating beautiful bedding, we can also do something positive for our local environment, right here in Tasmania. We want our customers to sleep even better knowing they helped plant a forest while they sleep.”

Over 80-percent of native species in Australia are not found anywhere else, and Tasmania is where many of the country’s threatened species can find refuge. Some, like the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern Quoll, Eastern Bettong and Eastern Barred Bandicoot are virtually extinct on the mainland so protecting their last remaining habitat in Tasmania is critical. The Good Sheet will work together with One Tree Planted to help restore vital wildlife corridors in the midlands region of Tasmania which has experienced significant habitat depletion.

This project will not only help protect and restore Tasmania’s biodiversity and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but also revitalize local farming and create jobs. “When you think about tree restoration, it’s not only about fighting climate change it’s also about maintaining ecosystems,” says researcher Jean-Francois Bastin from the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich.

Trees planted through this project are chosen for their suitability and benefit to the local environment. They include several types of Eucalyptus and Acacia trees and sometimes others, depending on the specific needs of the local habitat.

Photos courtesy of The Good Sheet

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Modern Midwestern Makes

All photos courtesy Room & Board.

Room & Board​, the modern American-made retailer of furniture and home décor, today announced a collaboration with ​Cambria​, the nation’s leading provider of American-made natural quartz surfaces.

The two Minnesota-based brands, both with a reputation for timeless design, American craftsmanship, and a commitment to sustainability, service and innovation, will debut the Pren Collection, a versatile series of tables, desks and storage cabinets, in January 2020. 

“We’re thrilled to bring together two iconic Midwestern brands,” says Gene Wilson, Room & Board Director of Vendor Management and Merchandising. “Because of our shared values, this partnership felt like a seamless alignment. Cambria’s signature design capabilities pair perfectly with our modern style and together we’ll raise the bar on livable luxury.”

The initial assortment, suitable for both residential and commercial environments, will consist of dining/conference tables that can also easily work as desks for the home or office, coffee tables, console tables, and dining/bar cabinets. The expertly crafted series is available with domestically sourced walnut or white oak wood bases and one-centimeter Cambria quartz pieces in three signature designs: Brittanicca™, Brittanicca Gold™, and Mersey™.  

The natural quartz surfaces are finished with modern rounded corners, which mirror the form of each piece and offer a nonabsorbent, scratch and stain resistant, maintenance-free top surface that is backed by the Cambria Full Lifetime Warranty. 

“This is a classic pairing of like-minded brands joining together to achieve something beautiful, lasting and highly adaptable,” says Mackenzie Weldon, VP of Corporate Partnerships for Cambria.

“We look forward to working with such a reputable and forward-thinking brand to reach new audiences and bring Cambria to the marketplace in a new and innovative way.” 

The collection will be available online through ​Room & Board on January 4, 2020 and through Room & Board Business Interiors on February 4, 2020, and available at all 16 Room & Board retail locations after January 16th. 

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Concrete-Inspired Gift Guide

Looking for inspiration this holiday season? Check out this gift guide with an edge. These concrete-inspired items are perfect for your home or office and will stand the test of time to celebrate for years to come. Concrete is an environmentally friendly material. The fabrication of concrete uses fewer fossil fuels during the whole production process than traditional ceramics, making it an ideal addition for those interested in sustainable living.

Photo courtesy of Tom Tailor

Mensch Made Concrete Vase with Gold-plated Leaves

http://www.thedesigngiftshop.com

The design of this Concrete Vase plays with the contradiction between culture and nature. A bold geometrical shape is combined with a texture of organic ornaments, delicate foliage imprints, some of them gold-plated. Natural grey concrete contrast with genuine gold. A very special object that can be appreciated by itself and of course be used as a vase for flowers or twigs. 

Photo courtesy of The Design Gift Shop

Block Concrete Disc Pendant

https://www.blockdesign.co.uk/

This concrete pendant necklace is inspired by iconic British Brutalist architecture.

The hand-cast concrete necklace celebrates the dynamic monoliths of the controversial movement. Statement concrete jewelry embraces the character of concrete, a lively material. Its surface reflects its history, presenting imperfections and changing with you and your environment.

Photo courtesy of Block Design

Concrete Cubic Pendant Light 

http://www.limelace.co.uk

This eye-catching Concrete Cubic Pendant Light by German label GANTlights combines light gray concrete with silver, gold or copper, resulting in a timeless and elegant designer lamp.

Part of the B series collection, this handmade lamp is ideal for illuminating a long dining table, a sideboard, a desk or a bar and is suitably hung individually or in a group. The high-quality gilding of the insides emits a pleasant warm light. Due to its minimalist design and the contrasting materials, the designer lamp can be combined with any style.

Photo courtesy of Lime Lace

Ava & I Pretty Little Things Concrete Trinket Pot

http://www.kitchencraft.co.uk

This trinket pot is from the Ava & I collection, combining influential on-trend elements for a collection that embodies empowerment with modern style and a dash of sass. A real quality design, the pot is made of concrete with gold detail and a sweet ‘Pretty little things motif. A stunning addition to any dressing table or a useful piece generally for the home, the heavy nature and lid of this pot will not be knocked over easily.

Photo courtesy of Kitchen Craft

Featured image courtesy of Lime Lace

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