Stories

Inspiration for any occasion.


In Focus

Get Creative with Art Inspired Comfort and Care

Unprecedented times call for enhanced self care strategies. While everyone's needs are different when it comes to maintaining balance and inner peace, it's a lot easier when you have the right supplies in your stress-busting toolkit. We've rounded up a few of our favorite art inspired items to spark joy and help you feel renewed in hard times. 

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In Focus

The Art of Expression

Whether you crave a creative escape or want to record your thoughts, we've got the goods to help you express yourself. Send someone you love a heartfelt handwritten note or make your own masterpiece with our writing and art supplies. 

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In Focus

Let the Good Times Grow

Having house plants has many benefits: they clean your air, boost moods, reduce stress and enrich the overall environment. Get your (indoor) garden up and growing with foolproof flower and herb kits and botanical bar accessories. Our assortment of kits from Modern Sprout make home tending easy while bringing spring to your decor. 

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In Focus

At Home with Great Design

Perk up your personal office with art and architecture inspired items that are anything but ordinary. From useful gadgets to gorgeous decor, find the right designs to make your home workspace work for you. 

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How it's Made

Ride the Sustainable Wave with Smart Glass Jewelry

Empty wine bottles never looked so good. Drink in simple yet stunning statement jewelry by Smart Glass and engage with eco-friendly accessories whose luminous qualities are perfect for spring. Join us for a behind the scenes look into the Atlanta, Georgia, studio of designer Kathleen Plate for this edition of "How it's Made."

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How it's Made

Ethereal Elegance from HB Studio Ceramics

Lauren Herzak-Bauman, the lead designer for HB Studio, makes sculpture, installations, public art and pottery outside of Cleveland, OH. She is also the creative behind our museum-worthy Nebula collection. Fusing sculptural aesthetics with the utility of vessels, these pieces will elevate your decor through their interstellar inspiration. 

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How it's Made

Architecture Inspired Jewelry by Konzuk

Minimalism and material ingenuity unite in jewelry that is simultaneously architectonic and ethereal. Featuring a fusion of concrete with laser cut stainless steel and architectural inspiration, this collection is truly extraordinary. Join us in the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia studio of designer Karen Konzuk for this edition of "How it's Made."

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How it's Made

Material Matters: Mindful Designs from Hathorway Accessories

In 2018, Jessica Phan left a successful career in tech to focus on her conscious accessories company, Hathorway. Since then, she's cultivated a fairtrade brand that is a hybrid of traditional materials, techniques, and contemporary aesthetics. Join us as we travel between the Vietnamese village of Thuy Ung, where artisans shape her ethically-sourced materials, and her San Francisco Bay Area studio where her minimalist, geometric silhouettes are realized.  

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Artist Spotlight

Back to Nature: Think Spring with Wildlife Designs by Charley Harper

The waning weeks of winter can be a drag, so we're here to awaken your senses with great design. Playful products inspired by American artist Charley Harper (1922-2007) will help you think spring with stylized wildlife illustrations on delightful accessories and decor for your home. 

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In Focus

We're in the Mood for Mauve

As we slide towards spring, mauve is having a major moment. Pervasively popular millennial pink finally takes a back seat, ushering in a new, more sophisticated color crush. Explore our assortment of marvelous mauve jewelry, accessories, gifts and home decor and discover inspiring ways to incorporate this handsome hue into our new year. 

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Just In

A Breath of Fresh Air: New Spring 2020 Arrivals

While you may not be quite ready to think spring, we'll help you beat the Feb-blue-arys with a sneak peek at our exciting new arrivals. You'll get a pick me up courtesy of au courant color and components to inspire and refresh your aesthetic.

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In Focus

Pantone's Color of the Year is Classic Blue

As we embark on a new year, color company Pantone has again selected its signature defining color: Classic Blue. Reminiscent of the sky at dusk, it embodies hope, reassurance and confidence in uncertain times. Explore the possibilities of Classic Blue and discover how you can incorporate it into your life today. 

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In Focus

Year in Review: Our Most Loved Items of 2019

Only a few days away from the new year, let’s take a moment to share Museum Shop highlights from 2019: Our most popular items! From art inspired accessories to delightful decor, an array of items were striking everyone's fancy this year. Check out a few of your favorites...

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How it's Made

Architecture Inspired Jewelry by Ashka Dymel

Jewelry designer Ashka Dymel's architecture inspired pieces featuring impeccably chic, modern silhouettes are simultaneous style statements and artistic innovation. Step inside her studio for a glimpse into her creative process fusing fashion, design, history and modernity. You're in for inspiration in this edition of "How it's Made."

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Gift Guides

Great Gifts for Architecture Lovers

Build bountiful goodwill with gifts that will ornament their lives and generate joy. Discover decor, jewelry and accessories for architecture appreciators. 

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In Focus

Artful Accessories Inspired by Andy

Our Warhol inspired accessories sit at the intersection of art and fashion.  Put on any of these artful items and make an impression like Andy would. 

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How it's Made

Naturally Inspired: Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery

In 2006, the intersection of disparate cultures and complimentary interests united two artisans in a nascent creative endeavor. After meeting and graduating from college where they were both studying glass blowing, artists Mariel Waddell and Alexi Hunter founded Kingston Glass Studio & Gallery in picturesque downtown Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Their drastically different backgrounds and passion to create gave them the formed the infrastructure and provided the inspiration to grow a thriving business celebrating their love of glass. Join us as we visit the Mariel and Alexi's studio to learn about the people and the process behind their exquisite creations. 

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In Focus

Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

You need more Andy in your life. Pop art icon Andy Warhol (American, 1928 - 1987) would have loved his current ubiquity and apparent immortality. Already a successful commercial designer, in 1962 Warhol broke into the fine art world with his now infamous "Campbell's Soup Cans." By depicting everyday objects, he instigated a departure from his predecessors, the Abstract Expressionists, and ushered in the era of Pop Art. Throughout the rest of his career, Warhol consistently and simultaneously exemplified, glorified and criticized commercial consumption with his innovative work.  We're celebrating the artist with a major retrospective, Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again, and collection inspired by this work. 

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In Focus

New Lion Inspired Items

No lion: the holidays are coming and you can give and give back at the same time. Gift any of our exclusive items featuring our favorite feline and support the arts.  Our iconic lion sculptures by Edward Kemeys (American, 1843-1907) have guarded the museum's entrance since it opened for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. See some suggestions to help you make merry and support the museum's mission as we roar towards the holiday season.

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How it's Made

Fall in Love with Love Bags

Good things come in small, eco-friendly packages. Made from recycled plastic bottles, our bags are a vehicle for art and your belongings. They're sensible, sustainable and inspirational. Join us for a look inside the designer's studio to discover how they're made. 

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How it's Made

Accentuate Autumn with Callahan Mountain Glass

Looking for luster and abundant color to complement your interior? You've come to the right place. Ron and Paula Mynatt are the artists behind Callahan Mountain Studios located in northwest Arkansas, and their art glass is known for its dynamic use of color, texture, transparency and intricate detail. Their expressive and evocative designs draw you in, combining chromatic virtuosity and resplendent form. Join us for a sneak peek into their studio and production process.

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How it's Made

Pick of the Patch: Glass Pumpkins by Luke Adams Glassblowing Studios

Featuring luminescent ombre effects and pleasantly plump shapes, our handblown glass pumpkins look to have been harvested from a fairy-tale garden. Ripe for the picking in an amazing array of sizes, colors and finishes, they are ready to enchant during your fall festivities. Read on as we reveal how they're made.  

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How it’s Made

Autumn Glass Leaves

In the heart of Pittsburgh, there resides a glass blowing studio where unique and colorful glass leaves are produced. After creating glass pumpkins exclusively for nearly 10 years, our makers decided to design something complimentary, and similarly representative of fall. Discover the creative process behind these autumnal keepsakes.  

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How it's Made

The Natural Beauty of Botanical Jewelry by Michael Michaud

Artist and jewelry designer Michael Michaud has been passionate about nature for his entire life, and the outdoors are the setting of his earliest and fondest memories.  Consequently, in 1992 he combined his skills as a master precious metal caster and mold maker with his love of natural phenomena when he founded Silver Seasons jewelry. Join us for a sneak peek into Michael's Long Island, New York, studio and learn how he transforms nature's ephemeral beauty into lasting keepsakes.  

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Just In

New Fall Jewelry for 2019 and Beyond

Pay homage to art wherever you are with breathtaking new baubles. Art meets fashion in statement making pieces you're sure to fall in love with. Whether your style tends on-trend or classic chic, we have accessories for everyone. Take your style to the next level with our latest looks.  

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Artist Spotlight

The Unique Universe of Patricia Locke Jewelry Design

If you read the blog regularly you know we love local artists, but as an encyclopedic museum, our global outlook persists. This perspective is embodied by designer Patricia Locke, who seamlessly fuses fashion and fine art with a global sensibility into her handcrafted jewelry line. Join us as we drop into her Chicago-area studio to see why her designs are perpetual favorites at the Museum Shop.

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In Focus

New Fall 2019 Collection

In anticipation of a bountiful season, we're bringing you a preview of our fresh fall assortment! You'll find artful accessories, innovative design and welcome whimsy to delight and inspire during this transitional time. 

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In Focus

Game on! Puzzles and Games for Your Patio Party

Everyone loves a good game night and this summer you can take it outside. Whether on your patio, porch or in your local park, we've got the games to bring everyone together for some fun and friendly competition with bonus art inspiration.

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In Focus

Simply the Best (Sellers)

They never get old. Featuring art and architectural inspiration, these customer favorites have a proven track record and are guaranteed to please. 

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How it's Made

Naturally Wonderful: Mickey Lynn Jewelry

“Life is precious and we are all here for just a short time. We choose to live our lives by design, not by default.” In a world of fast fashion and fleeting trends, Mickey Lynn's unique designs are conceived and created by hand to make an impact. 

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Gift Guides

Art-Inspired Wedding Season Gifts

Call us hopeless romantics but we're falling in love with these wedding-perfect gifts. Discover art-inspired treasures made to love and last a lifetime. 

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In Focus

Manet and Modern Beauty

The name Manet evokes the provocative, heroically scaled pictures he painted in the 1860s for the Salon, but in the late 1870s and early 1880s the artist produced quite a different body of work: stylish portraits of actresses and demimondaines, luscious still life, delicate pastels, intimate watercolors, and impressionistic scenes of suburban gardens and Parisian cafés.

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In Focus

Unique Gifts for Wine Lovers

Don't doubt Dionysus, just dive right in! National Wine Day is Saturday and we've got the goods to help uncork your happy hour. 

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How it's Made

Inside the Artist's Studio with Kiku Handmade Glass

Laurie Freivogel, designer/maker for Kiku Handmade glass, takes a fresh approach to her craft, working at the intersection of graphic and glass design. Join us for a sneak peek into her Chicago-area studio to see what makes her process so unique. 

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In Focus

Mother-of-Pearl Statement Jewelry

This season's hottest jewelry trends are playful and unapologetically bold. Fresh and festive, iridescent and luminescent, our mother-of-pearl statement jewelry will help you celebrate your unique personal style this spring. Give your wardrobe an instant update with the help of these standout pieces.

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How it's Made

Enchanting Jewelry for Spring

Are your accessories missing some magic? Cast a spell this spring with our newest jewelry collection. Join us for a visit to designer Anne Vaughn's Virginia studio to see how she and her team conjure these captivating creations.  

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In Focus

Capture Light with Venetian Glass Decor

Have you ever wondered what gives Venetian glass its distinctive luminescence?  The particular quality of Venice's light is reflected in its artistic traditions and embodied in its glass.  Read on to learn more about the history and process behind this elegant art.  

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Artist Spotlight

Celebrating Piet Mondrian

Artist Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944), may be best known as a vanguard of abstraction, but his paintings are rooted in figurative traditions. As his career progressed, Mondrian gravitated gradually and methodically towards pure abstraction, a language he felt best expressed universal aesthetics and values. Nearly a century later, Mondrian's work still inspires artists, architects and designers everywhere. 

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How it's Made

Achitecture-Inspired Modern, Minimal Jewelry

Here in Chicago, we can't help but to derive inspiration from our city's acclaimed architecture. Encompassing evocative design with a modern vision, our minimalist jewelry is wearable architecture conceived and handcrafted by Julie Crosson for her line, Crosslyne. In today's edition of "How it's Made," we get a sneak peek at her process from concept to completion.

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Sneak Peek

New Spring 2019 Arrivals

While you may not be quite ready to think spring, we'll help you beat the Feb-blue-arys with a sneak peek at our exciting new arrivals. You'll get a pick me up courtesy of au courant color and components to refresh your aesthetic. 

Learn more


How it's Made

Color Your World with Cloisonné

Hey, cloisonné: You're looking fine after all these years. What's your secret? Read on to explore our resplendent range of colorful product and learn about the history of this timeless technique.

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How it's Made

A Global Perspective on Design with KJK Jewelry

Designer Katherine Kornblau's business had humble beginnings: From it's inception in a red wagon on Fire Island, KJK Jewelry has grown over 35 years into a busy Madison Avenue studio in New York City. However, while her studio has continued to evolve, Katherine's lifelong love of global art and culture has remained consistently evident in her work. 

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In Focus

Art-Inspired Gifts that Give Back

We're not lion! You can give and give back at the same time. Find the perfect gift or holiday accessory for your home while supporting the arts and featuring our favorite feline! Our iconic lion sculptures by Edward Kemeys (American, 1843-1907) have guarded the museum's entrance since it opened for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Read on and see suggestions to help you make merry and support the museum's mission as we roar through the holiday season.

Learn more


In Focus

Hand Knotted Lace Jewelry from Paris

Be the conversation piece. Perfect for all your holiday parties and gatherings, our hand knotted lace jewelry occupies the intersection of art and craft, inviting both conversation and admiration. Romantic, baroque and inspired by craft tradition, this wearable art epitomizes creative evolution.

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In Focus

Lana Jewelry for the Art Institute of Chicago

Channel your inner celebrity with glam accessories created for the Art Institute by Chicago designer Lana Bramlette. We are thrilled to announce this collaboration, inspired by our museum and dynamic city. These pieces are party perfect yet versatile for every day, artfully reinterpreting luxury for the modern woman. Read our interview with Lana to learn what inspires her to create:

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How it's Made

Gifts that Give Back from Mercado Global

Mercado Global is focused on transforming the lives of women. The Brooklyn-based accessory brand and non-profit empowers rural Latin American women to become entrepreneurs, uplifting their families and communities and weaving social consciousness into each of their chic accessories. Read on to learn about their process and mission.

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How it's Made

Woven Wool Scarves from Scotland

It isn’t your traditional tartan, but these Scottish textiles are made with just as much care and custom. Fifteen years ago, design duo Jess Quinton and Jane Chadwick fused their fashion and textile backgrounds to launch a knitwear collection made exclusively in Britain. Today, they've achieved this mission and exceeded all expectations with their unique hybrid of traditional craft and contemporary design. Read on to learn and get inspired.

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How it's Made

Block Print Silk Scarves by Harshita Lohia

Woodblock printing may be a time-honored technique, but in the workshop of designer Harshita Lohia, it yields surprisingly modern designs. Read on to explore her combination of contemporary color and textile tradition in this edition of "How it's Made."

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How it's Made

Modern Glass Design from Epiphany Studios

We came for the color and stayed for the handmade. Welcome to the Midwest, where the folks are friendly and the artisan glass is gorgeoous. Today we are in the Pontiac, Michigan, studio of April Wagner, artist and founder of Epiphany Studios, to learn more about the creative process behind her delightfully dazzling glass designs. You're in for some inspiration and education in this edition of "How it's Made."

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How it's Made

Sculptural Sterling Silver Jewelry by Zina

Zina Sterling Silver is a family jewelry studio that has been creating signature sculptural jewelry since 1984. Located in Beverly Hills, California, designer Zina Sherman and her son Andrew were exposed to the world of jewelry manufacturing by her father.  When Zina took over the family business, she immediately imbued it with her bold, fashion forward flair. Finally, Andrew joined the team, bringing his Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques into the mix and further modernizing the production process. Read on for a sneak peek into their studio.

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In Focus

Accessories at Artistic Intersections by Meghan Patrice Riley

Time for a brief introduction: Fashion, meet our old friend, Architecture. Architecture, this is Fashion. When dynamic artistic forms collide, magic can happen. 

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How it's Made

Wire and Glass Jewelry by Barb Levy

Inspired by a love of mathematics, geometry and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright®, Alexander Calder, and Piet Mondrian, our Wire and Glass Jewelry appears to have it all. Today, join us for behind the scenes look into the studio of designer Barbie Levy to see the process that takes these pieces from wire to buyer!

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How it's Made

Water Lily Jewelry

One of our enduring favorite flowers at The Art Institute of Chicago is the water lily, an inspiration for many iconic works by Impressionist painter Claude Monet. The translucent lavender petals of our Water Lily Pin and Earrings capture the luminous beauty of these ephemeral flowers in jewelry form. In today's edition of "How it's Made," take a closer look at our artist's process using and adapting the traditional lost wax casting method.  

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How it's Made

Behind the Scenes with McKernan Woollen Mills

Layer up in luxurious Merino wool with our chic and cozy scarves. Handmade in the picturesque Lough Derg region in County Clare, Ireland, these scarves are the perfect fall into winter warmers. Join us for a look behind the scenes at the historic McKernan Woollen Mills to discover how they're made!  

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Artist Spotlight

Hand-painted Silk Scarves by Joanna Alot

Joanna Alot is a silk artist, constantly creating beautiful hand-painted textiles and accessories.  Whether it is a geometric, floral, or abstract print, Joanna is always innovating.  Join Joanna as she takes us through her creative process, inspiration and even some of her favorite things at the Art Institute.    

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How it's Made

Collectible Japanese Kokeshi Dolls

In the Jomo District of Japan, a town called Shinto lies at the foot of Mt. Haruna, surrounded by dense forest. These verdant environs combined with a deep appreciation for Mother Earth help inspire the artisans of Usaburo Kokeshi to pour their hearts into their handmade designs. Join us to learn about the process behind this centuries-old tradition.  

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Artist Spotlight

Behind the Scenes with Stefanie Wolf Jewelry

Stunning and incredibly versatile, our Czech glass tile jewelry can be dressed up or down and adapted to suit your sartorial style. Join us as we travel from the Czech Republic to Martha's Vineyard alongside the talented designer behind these handcrafted and organically inspired accessories.  

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How it’s Made

The Unique Universe of Patricia Locke Jewelry Design

If you regularly read our blog, you know we love local artists, but as an encyclopedic museum, our global outlook persists. This perspective is embodied by designer Patricia Locke, who seamlessly fuses fashion and fine art with a global sensibility into her handcrafted jewelry line.  Join us as we drop into her Chicago-area studio to see why her designs are becoming fast favorites at the Museum Shop! 

Learn more


How it's Made

Volubile Jewelry from Paris

Welcome to the Montmartre district in Paris, city of love and light and the origin of our handmade Volubile Jewelry. Delicate, intricate webs spun of durable plated brass and nylon, these pieces are artistic innovation realized in wearable form. Step inside our jeweler's atelier for a glimpse into the creative process at the intersection of design, fashion and visual art that is behind these exquisite pieces. We're in inspirational Paris for this edition of "How it's Made."  

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How it's Made

Modern and Minimal Mixed Metal Jewelry by Sue Rosengard

Deriving inspiration from modernist designers and architects, our modern and minimal mixed metal jewelry by artist Sue Rosengard embodies an enviable balance of form and function.After studying French and residing in Paris and Italy, Rosengard returned to her home town of Chicago to pursue her true passion of designing and crafting jewelry. Today we get a glimpse into her studio and a sneak peak at her process in this edition of "How it's Made."  

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How it's Made

Behind the Scenes with Elias Studios Glass

There is a simple explanation why our Glass Circle Pins and Pendants are consistent customer favorites. Elegant and exquisitely crafted, the supple swirls of these pieces perfectly round out any outfit. Fortunately, the duo behind these artful accessories has allowed us behind the scenes for a sneak peek at their process. Take a spin with us to the coastal village of Westport, Massachusetts, and into Elias Studios in this edition of "How it's Made."  

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How it's Made

Inspiring Design at Glass Eye Studio

Sometimes an object captures our attention; other times it takes our breath away.  At Glass Eye Studio in Seattle, WA,  creativity is key as teams of artisans assemble art objects that astound. Whether purely abstract or infused with narrative allusion, their paperweights feature intricate, hypnotic layers of glass that radiate from within. Read on to get inspired.

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Artist Spotlight

Need an Aesthetic Update? The Time is Wright (Now)

Need some inspiration to beautify your surroundings? We've got the Wright stuff. Our Frank Lloyd Wright® (American, 1867-1959) accessories are every bit his signature style. Featuring simple geometric shapes yielding to more complex ornamental schemes in the Prairie Style he helped innovate, they are magnificent micro-manifestations of his modern aesthetic. 

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How it's Made

Sublime Shibori Scarves by Cathayana

Tactile tucks of lightweight silk help you float through the day looking absolutely fabulous. You may be familiar with the shibori method of fabric dyeing that is having a moment in the fashion scene.  However, you likely have yet to experience the truly artful execution of the technique by Min Chiu for her Cathayana line of textiles. Min's playful patterns and combinations of colors elevate this traditional craft, taking it from admirable to exceptional.  

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Artist Spotlight

Andy Everywhere

You need more Andy in your life. Pop art icon Andy Warhol (American, 1928 - 1987) would have loved his current ubiquity and apparent immortality. Already a successful commercial designer, in 1962 Warhol broke into the fine art world with his now infamous "Campbell's Soup Cans." By depicting everyday objects, he instigated a departure from his predecessors, the Abstract Expressionists, and ushered in the era of Pop Art. Throughout the rest of his career, Warhol consistently and simultaneously exemplified, glorified and criticized commercial consumption with his innovative work.  We're celebrating all things Andy Warhol with a collection inspired by this work. Scroll below to learn how you can Andy up!  

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