Artist + Designer Spotlight: Kalle Gustafsson

July 18, 2014 | Alex

If Kalle Gustafsson rings a bell, it's likely because the Swedish photographer is a big name on the fashion photography circuit. Although I admired his work within that genre one I'm not generally enamored with I don't think I grasped his range and unique editorial perspective until I stumbled into a deep internet hole and landed on his personal portfolio. 


Gustafsson's recent personal project, Archipelago, is a love story (or perhaps a lust story) told frame-by-frame against the Stockholm archipelago, a network of nearly 30,000 islands of the east coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea. But beneath the construct of the love triangle, the series is really a love letter from Gustafsson to the landscape. The craggy, choppy watered and densely forested backdrop.

Gustafsson's background as an editorial photographer is evident in his commitment to quite narrative story telling, but compared to his commercial work, his personal portfolio has a nostalgic quality to it that feels more, well, personal. He captures summer pastimes the way we tend to remember them. Sun-dappled, slightly hazy. Although the leggy subjects seem lifted from a glossy September issue, you can see in his portraiture an effort to capture the flip side of summer's lightness. Snippets of solitude and quiet reflection.


In August, I'll spend three days exploring the archipelago on my own. Why I imagine these quieter images are resonating at a higher frequency with me. My plan is to island hop, stopping along the way to hike, snack, swim and kayak in search of golden eagles. With a fair amount of sun-spattered daydreaming, I suspect.


All images by Kalle Gustaffson.

Common Bond Design in IKEA Family Live Magazine

June 26, 2014 | Alex

Regular readers of the blog know that I write often about IKEA both about their products and their design philosophy. And time and time again, I rely on the Swedish home furnishings behemoth for practical and budget-friendly solution in client projects, and in my own home. So you can imagine my delight when IKEA approached me about sharing my Brooklyn apartment in the summer issue of the IKEA Family Live magazine:

If you'd like to see the full story, with more pictures, head over to IKEA Family Live! (And to address the single most popular streaming in response to the story so far: no, my apartment is not always that clean.) Happy weekend, all.

Artist + Designer Spotlight: Tommy Kwak

June 9, 2014 | Alex

If you read Rue Magazine's story on our "bachelor pad" project, you may have noticed a striking triptych in the living room. The piece is by photographer (and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn local) Tommy Kwak, part of a series of photographs he took while participating in SÍM Residency program in Reykjavik, Iceland, and international arts festival, Villa Reykjavik.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.52.49 PM.png

I first discovered Kwak's work on Artsicle. Our client, a photography enthusiast, had a solid collection of work for us to hang on the walls of his rental apartment, but none of the dimensions were quite right for above the sofa. The white expanse of wall called for something short and wide. We also aimed to stay within the room's RGBY palette and introduce a subtle abstract quality. (I'm a staunch advocate for a mixed media component to an art collection, but the client is a photography loyalist. We compromised on a piece with a painterly quality.) Artsicle's rental program, with a 3 month minimum, allowed us to bring a piece into the client's space so that he could live with it. Essentially, test drive for art.

After securing Marsh (Laugarvatn, Iceland) for our client, I fell deep into a rabbit hole of Kwak's body of work. In his artist's bio, he describes his work as an exploration of absence and the unknown in natural phenomena. Kwak's images of Iceland capture the raw, and slightly fierce, quality of that country's natural beauty. The northern chill is palpable. You can feel the damp fog in his misty images of Laugarvatn and Reykjavik. Likewise, his scenes of Sweden play with the theme of sunlight in the scandinavian summer, streaks of neon sun-spots marring the forest scenes. (Many of Kwak's photograph's from the series were taken in and around Abisko, the northern Swedish town where I will end my 65-mile trek in August.)

I so enjoy getting lost in these photographs. They have a milky, dreamy feeling-- but it's contrasted with a sharp technical focus on certain features of the landscape. Here are a few favorites that reflect the most compelling qualities in Kwak's work:



  1. Tree 4 (Abisko, Sweden), 2013

  2. Mountain (Mývatn, Iceland), 2008

  3. Reykjavík, Iceland, 2008

  4. Fog 1 (Laugarvatn, Iceland), 2011

  5. Icebergs (Jökulsárlón, Iceland), 2009

  6. Glacier (Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland), 2010

Top photographs are Hrafnarbjargafoss, Iceland, 2011, and Marsh (Laugarvatn, Iceland), 2011. 

All images via Kwak's work is also available for purchase or monthly rental via Artsicle, with a 3 month minimum.

Common Bond Design in Rue Magazine's June Issue

June 4, 2014 | Alex

Hey, guess what? Common Bond Design is featured in the June issue of Rue Magazine! The story, showcases a rental apartment we decorated for a young corporate lawyer in downtown Manhattan. Here's one of my favorite lines from the piece:

If the materials were inspired by the client's appreciation for menswear, the lines of the apartment were an attempt to break him free of his tendency toward perfect order. The lawyer gravitates toward matched pairs, stripes, and bisecting lines. Alex says she andher mother, on the other hand, are "very big on contrast-- an element that's slightly of-balance to bring the order into sharper relief."

That quote sums up our approach to the design process quite succinctly, I think! To read the full story and see photographs of the space, head over to our feature begins on p. 164 of the digital issue.  

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.36.03 AM.png

I've been a dedicated reader of e-publication Rue Magazine for years. To see my work on their pages? Well, it exceeds the bounds of American vocabulary, so I'll have to borrow a word from the Brits-- I'm chuffed! Common Bond just celebrated its 1 year anniversary as a design firm, so on a personal level, the timing of the Rue Mag feature feels like a tribute to the partnership my mom and I have built over the last 12 months. In spite of the occasional "passionate disagreement," it has been a deeply rewarding experience to redefine our relationship from mother/daughter to equal business partners. 

Thanks for supporting us, dear readers, and here's to another fantastic year ahead! 

Note: a minor correction to the article, which refers to my former employment as a corporate lawyer: I was, in fact, a regulatory analyst at a corporate law firm.