In the name of getting and staying connected, Procured just launched its own Facebook page. Be sure to check it out, give it a good healthy ‘like’, and get your friends to do the same.
If you are after some delectable eye-candy without any editorial strings attached, you can also visit the Procured Pinterest account for a collection of both featured and found images – not all of which make it into posts. Hope to see you there!
“Travel through music brings with it whatever you desire—the thrill of discovery, a childlike curiosity, humility at the many generations that have paved our way.” -Clark Blumenstein
Since 2006, Clark & Molly of Blumenstein Audio have shared their unique approach to audiophile equipment with discerning clientele throughout all seven continents (yes that includes Antarctica). The vision is simple: to produce an unadulterated sound experience through a no-frills approach to HiFi and a minimalist visual aesthetic. Relying on years of combined experience in building stereo systems and custom woodworking, the team crafts each speaker by hand in their Seattle, WA woodshop. The result is a line of streamlined, straightforward speaker systems that are pleasing to the eyes, the ears, and are remarkably inexpensive.
What is particularly impressive about these speakers is the lack of extraneous components which have long since been standardized in the industry. Borrowing some jargon from their website, the “Orcas have no damping, no tweeter, no woofer, no midrange (single driver), no capacitors, resistors or inductors (no crossover), no equalization, (no BSC, no Zobel network, etc.), no biscuits, no miters, no paint, no primer, no lacquer, no solder-less clips, no grill cloth, no nails, no threaded inserts, no spikes, no unnecessary curves, no nameplate, no structural plastic, no terminal cups, no removable panels, and no internal panels.” In fewer words, what’s left is an undiluted audio signal with free reign to meld into the natural resonances of an all-wood cabinet. Sound can’t get more honest than that.
To maintain quality, the team has a hand in every process that culminates in a finished speaker. Each one is built from solid wood bamboo ply, which has a remarkably sonorous personality. Blumenstein offers both natural and caramelized cabinets, the former producing a more resolute sound due to the baking process. Once assembled, the speakers are hand-sanded and treated with a non-toxic 200 year old blend of linseed oil and natural resin varnish for a smooth, lustrous finish. Now that they are beautiful, each speaker is tuned by ear and microphone before it’s ready to be fully enjoyed at home.
Drawing on an undeniable passion for music, Clark and Molly are really great about working with each individual client to customize the right set up that accounts for personal taste, budget, and listening space. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out their website.
The fundamental thread that ties this blog together is a celebration of the creative spirit. Having recently rediscovered my collection of inspirational clippings dating back to high school, I’ve decided to periodically gather and display found images on Procured with the hope of kickstarting something – anything – creative over the weekend.
Despite the proliferation of quality denim brands around the world, there is little emphasis placed on producing women’s selvedge denim. From what I understand, there are three factors that preclude an almost inevitably frustrating search for the proper pair: availability, sizing, and price. However, though it takes some time, there are jeans out there which suit different body types and budgets.
But before diving in, it’s important to fully understand what selvedge denim is. Basically, selvedge is a term used to describe denim material made on old-style shuttle looms, which produce a clean and finished edge which will not unravel (see image below). Selvedge denim is notable for its strength and character, making it easy to recognize for an aficionado.
Another characteristic of selvedge denim is that it is often left “dry” or “raw.” This means that the fabric is untreated after dyeing, allowing fades to develop over time with everyday wear. A key point about dry denim is the fit. When washed, it can shrink up to 4%. But keep in mind that most denim is 100% cotton, so it also stretches to conform to your body type to certain degrees. The biggest mistake one can make when buying raw denim is to purchase a pair that fits perfectly out of the box. They should always be a bit snug to allow room for them to relax.
So why aren’t all jeans available in raw denim from old style looms? The best answer is profit margin. In the mid-20th century, American denim companies ‘upgraded’ to more time and cost efficient methods of manufacturing and exported most of their shuttle looms to Japan. (Fun fact: Japan is now regarded as the world leader when it comes to producing quality denim…)
In any case, there are options available for women in search of selvedge. I’ve curated three pairs which stand out based on the differences in fit and features between them:
It’s always a pleasure to find straightforward goods. This unisex belt from Black Creek Mercantile & Trading Co. is a great example of elegance via restraint. It consists of two components—a single strip of American bridle leather and a cold rolled steel buckle to hold it in place. Structurally the steel rod functions in the same manner as the gigantic, ostentatious cowboy buckles we see on TV. It is finished up with solid copper rivets and burnished edges. Check it out in both colorways below.
A friend of mine just sent over a link to Buddy Carr Skateboards, which are some of the most well thought out boards available on the market. Each complete is a product of a collaboration between skater/business owner Buddy Carr and New York based graphic designer Antonio Carusone. Currently there are six skateboards in their line – each of which sports a unique aesthetic and functional personality.
The brands creative drive hinges on the idea of cohesion. Every element within a given skateboard is in harmony with the other components. Though they source trucks from third party brands (i.e. Independent or Bennett), Carr and Carusone employ custom-routed urethane wheels to specifically match the riding style of each board, whether it’s a mini-commuter or a longboard. Similarly, the grip tape is laser cut in six unique motifs to add some visual appeal to the top. As for the graphics, each deck is screen printed by hand in a limited edition of 100. It makes a good argument for those who consider these boards to be veritable works of art.
Check out the Buddy Carr website by clicking here, and be sure to scroll through the gallery below for some high-resolution images. Also, feel free to leave your impressions if you’ve had the opportunity to ride on one of the 600 Buddy Carr boards out there!
Hands down, the five members of Meshuggah are the unsung heroes of contemporary musical composition. Since forming in 1987, the band has become an irrevocable driving force behind extreme metal. And while their contributions are well recognized within their genre, they are one of the most important forces of ingenuity across all musical traditions regardless of personal taste.
Meshuggah has long since carved a niche for itself through a ceaselessly progressive approach to music. The band often experiments with insanely complicated polyrhythms and alternate tunings on custom-built eight-string guitars in an effort to keep their work untainted by convention. Yet while their music is technically complex, the creative drive is focused rather on writing songs that bring the listener outside of his or herself. In an interview, Mårten Hagström elaborates, “it doesn’t matter if something is hard to play or not. The thing is, what does it do to your mind when you listen to it? Where does it take you?”
Perhaps it is because they don’t entertain a mainstream audience that the progressive character of the band has been unwavering throughout the last 25 years. In lieu of worrying about sales, the core focus of the band lies in exploration – not only of each member’s creative capacity, but also the limits of what we define as music.
If you’re feeling adventuresome, check out the video below of their live 2010 performance of “Perpetual Black Second” in Tokyo and be sure to track down their recently-released LP entitled “Koloss.”
The accessory label Miansai offers some pretty phenomenal products (and not just because they make a 14K solid gold iphone case). Launched by designer Michael Saiger, Miansai developed a quick reputation for it’s signature nautical bracelets which embody an odd mix of the nostalgic and the timeless. Of course this depends somewhat on one’s aesthetic, but with a plethora of colorways available to choose from, it is not hard to find the perfect piece.
These bracelets are crafted from either custom military-grade rope or premium Italian leather straps. The most impressive aspect of this bracelet is the metal hook, which is pounded, formed, stamped, and polished by hand. Naturally this process leads to minor variations in size and contour, but that offers an added character and personality to each piece. All in all, It certainly beats scooping some plastic off of a conveyor belt.
Check out the video below which highlights the handiwork which goes into making the “Hook” bracelet.
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/31774864 w=400&h=300]
It makes no sense to buy a nice pair of sunglasses only to let them get scratched up. If you’re shelling out for your shades, you might as well get a handcrafted leather carrying case to keep them safe. Below are my top two you need to consider before making the jump. While they approach the case from two very different perspectives, they are both premium examples of true American craftsmanship.
1) Tanner Goods Sunglass Case
Hailing from the Tanner Goods studio in Portland, Oregon studio, this case is cut, sewn, and finished completely by hand. Crafted from 4/5 oz. Horween Chromexcel leather, this case has enough cushion to keep your glasses safe while remaining malleable enough to conform to a variety of different frames. It is pictured in the gallery below in Natural, Russet, & Black but is also available in Olive, Havana, Tan, & Oxblood. Any of the seven different colorways are sure to develop striking contrasts in hue thanks to the tried and true 100+ year old tanning formula developed at Horween Tannery in Chicago.
2) Barrett Alley “Dom” Sunglass Case
The goods at Barrett Alley are all completely benchmade with an extreme attention to detail. This case uses one piece of domestically tanned leather, whether it’s shell cordovan from Illinois or straight bovine from Pennsylvania. Each case is lined with one of three antique textiles from America, France, and Japan – or is left well enough alone exposing the soft underside of the leather. As always it will develop character with use and abuse, just mind your glasses.
As always, scroll through the gallery for detailed images and different colorways:
Judging by the recent popularity of neon colors in fashion, it’s obvious that people are in the mood for something bold. Unfortunately for our collective limbic systems, neon colors have been mined and exploited more ruthlessly than our natural resources. Luckily there are designers out there who practice a certain level of restraint when it comes to employing vibrant colors. In that spirit, here are six flourescent finds that won’t result in vertigo:
1) The Knottery – Lime Laces
Jack and Jay of The Knottery make it their mission to offer affordable accessories for men. In addition to their neckwear and pocket squares, they offer a great selection of colored shoelaces to spice up your outfit without going overboard.
2) Mads Nørgaard – “Klemens” Fisherman Zip
Straight out of Copenhagen, fashion designer Mads Nørgaard adds a twinge of neon to the otherwise understated “Klemens” fisherman’s knit. There are similar colorful accents throughout his recent lines, but this juxtaposition between the orange zipper and the contrast knitting is particularly striking.
3) Comme des Garçons – Pink Trim Socks
Accessories offer great opportunities for neon accenting. Socks in particular are often overlooked – or simply not all that visible. These dress socks from Comme des Garçons have just enough color to not be overbearing.
4) Caran d’Ache – Fluorescent Ballpoint Pens
Though they come in all the colors you could imagine, Caran d’Ache has released a special edition of four fluorescent colored ballpoint pens. While they write incredibly well, any one of them would add a volatile touch of color to your shirt or pants pocket as a design element.
5) Sperry – Two-Eye Boat Shoe with Blue Sole
Another great update to an otherwise traditional piece, the Sperry boat shoe with blue sole adds an unexpected embellishment to an outfit. It’s enough color to stand on its own without demanding too much attention. It’s as understated as neon blue can get.
6) Toms – “Maseru” Sunglasses
These aviators from TOMS are super subtle. When worn, the hand-painted yellow accents would barely stick out from behind the ear, leaving the natural walnut temples to be appreciated in tandem with the neon rather than being overpowered by it.
Made in both a longsleeve and shortsleeve version, the latest iteration of Rag & Bone‘s Yokohama Oxford is a great study in minimal detailing. The design energizes an otherwise simple shirt by employing a red, white, and blue stripe embellishment throughout the garment. While the vertical stria on the front are reminiscent of other designs in mind, the horizontal line above the back pleat is particularly intriguing. The rustic white-painted buttons add a nice final touch. As always, take a gander in the gallery for some detailed images.
During the second World War, pretty much all of the metal working was diverted to outfit the military. Civilians had to make do or be resourceful. Roger Rileau thus crafted two belts – neither of which relied on rivets, buckles, or even stitches. In addition to being made of one piece of leather, each belt is cut by hand without a pattern.
The “Knotted Belt” is the first of the buckle-less belts. It uses a rather intricate knot system which nonetheless is reputedly easy to learn. As an insurance policy, the belt comes with a woodblock print which demonstrates the step-by-step. (Points for some serious era-specific processes going on here).
The second and more elegant version is the “Tapered Belt.” Rather than using one vertical slot, this belt uses one vertical and one horizontal slot through which to loop the belt. Both are designed to be worn by both men and women, but I think these belts over the years have accrued a somewhat feminine slant. But no matter who has it on, the important thing is to appreciate a great moment of ingenuity in American craftsmanship.
These shoes from Italy’s Buttero are amongst the most luxurious sneakers in the world. Hand crafted from start to finish, each pair is made in the heart of Tuscany by a small team of heritage-trained shoemakers. The “Tannino” low-cuts in particular are made from locally sourced, Italian vegetable-tanned leather which develops a rich patina over time. That said, the character of the leather already has a great deal of depth stemming from the tanning process. To wrap everything together, they feature nickel eyelets, an all rubber sole, and custom leather laces. As Buttero puts it, they are “a fusion of pure rawness and elegance” – a feat few brands of any sort can master. Take a look at the gallery for some hi-resolution images of two colorways, as well as some images of the process.
The Hill-Side has long since established an impressive reputation for their woven accessories. Reminiscent Japanese tenugui (手拭い), their textiles come in an array of colors & patterns which are either dyed, woven, or printed. Personally, the strongest pieces from the Hill-Side collection are their blue & white pocket squares. Rather than subscribing to the growing cult of unabridged coloration, they chose two beautiful hues and let the patterning speak for itself.
This bottle reigns in terms of versatility. The team at Snow Peak developed the Kanpai 350 to fill a void in the market for a water bottle that is at home both at work and the wilderness. It is designed with versatility in mind, offering three interchangeable lids to keep your beverages cold, hot, or immediately accessible. The bottle itself also accommodates a 12 oz. can to “keep your beer or soft drink ice cold on a hike.” (Why someone would want a Shiner or soda on a hike is beyond me, but it’s still a nice option to leave open). Complete with a super sleek design and a sturdy vacuum seal, it certainly beats the mason jar I’ve been using. It comes in white, scarlet, and also in a grey titanium version.
Long ago – in a time before studios and editing software – there were musicians who relied on nothing more than their fingers and some good ol’fashioned knowhow. In that respect, the Martin D28 Clarence White is a tribute to an almost forgotten tradition of pure tonality. It is a throwback to the blank canvas of music-making, where looks were understated and sound was the sole priority. There are no inlays, no embellishments, and certainly no electronics. Featuring both an effortless profile and an incredible depth of tone, this guitar leaves no room for bells and whistles to interfere with your music. It’s as straightforward as it gets.
Of the existing accounts of Yasuaki Onishi‘s portfolio, few have investigated his work beyond commending the artists’ ability to manipulate space. However, there is a strong link which runs throughout his entire body of work – namely the interaction between the ideas and implications surrounding kinetics.
Formally, Onishi’s work not only manipulates, but depends on movement in order to convey the meaning behind each piece. In the two-dimensional realm, his long-exposure photography in his Shaved & Rolled series softens otherwise violent and immediate jolts of fire. Similarly in his sculptural installations, Onishi’s works rise and fall – respiring as if to possess their own sentience.
Yet while elements of movement are prominent throughout his portfolio, the most striking example of Onishi’s interest in motion lies in his Reverse Volume series. In relying solely on plastic sheeting, string, and black glue, the artist crafts monumental installations of imposing presence from materials which lack any substantial mass of their own. Although appearing firm, the mountainous incarnations gently bulge, crumple, and collapse in the natural drafts within the exhibition space. Thus breaking from the use of fans in his other works, the oscillation in Reverse Volume is calculated but not provoked.
As a viewer, one is left to ponder Onishi’s paradox of mass and anti-mass. How does he reconcile the tacit respiration and ghost-like drifting of his installation? What does it mean to allow the slightest breeze to coerce a formation reminiscent of looming mountainscapes? A possible reading hinges on interpreting the piece as a fundamentally kinetic presence. Because of the choice in materials, the installation can not physically (or conceivably) remain static. Rather, it is manipulated by the surrounding atmosphere, just as a seaside cliff crumbles into the assailing waves below. In creating such formidable structures from delicate materials, the artist suggests that there is no such thing as the immovable. The precarious and impressionable existence of Onishi’s installation in the exhibition space characterizes our world as a whole. Playing on the inherently ephemeral nature of installation art, Reverse Volume symbolizes inevitable change in our environment. It reminds us that what we hold as permanent amounts to nothing more than a cursory moment between growth and siege – a humbling notion still fresh in the minds of his audience following the natural disaster last year in Fukushima Prefecture.
If you are interested (and reasonably local), his work will open to the public on the 13th of April in the Rice University Installation Gallery in Houston and will be up until the 24th of June. Onishi will give a gallery talk at 6:00P on opening night with a volley at noon on the 14th. Admission is free so there’s no reason to miss out. Also, check out the gallery below for some high resolution images courtesy of the curator.
It takes a very special experience to cause one to redefine what is possible. If the legacy of The Mars Volta can be summed up in a word, it would epiphany. Throughout their career they have continually pushed the limits of musicality- making room for the most jarring dissonance, confusing time signatures, and all around strange ambiances.
In particular, “Bedlam in Goliath” is a wonderful achievement for their ability to transverse from the sedate to the bacchic several times throughout a single album. The diversity extends into the lyrics as well, which oscillate back and forth between surrealist landscapes to biblical allusions. Perhaps the best single representative of their work as a whole is the final track entitled “Conjugal Burns.” From a slightly mysterious introduction, the song ignites into an elevated tempo which finally culminates into a crescendo of unrelenting frenzy which incidentally makes little to no musical or rhetorical sense. In short, they masterfully intertwine both tightly calculated knowhow and explosively emotive power into their songwriting. At times, their work may be hard to follow but if you stick with it, The Mars Volta is sure to lead you someplace wonderful.
Check out the “Conjugal Burns” below and stay tuned for their new album (“Noctourniquet”) which debuts March 27th.
This small batch Kentucky Bourbon from Noah’s Mill out of Nelson County is the real deal. It comes complete with a lot of recent accolades, not the least of which is a gold medal at the fifth annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s a bit more butch than I tend to seek out, but every now and then the occasion arises for some heavier muse juice. I suggest keeping it in the studio.