Saturday, March 28, 2009

Anthro inspiration

I've always felt that living without inspiration is not really living at all. That's why I'm SO grateful to now be working for a company that whole-heartedly embraces "inspiration" as a fundamental part of business growth and development.

The company I'm speaking of is Anthropologie, which is a division of Urban Outfitters. The store, in case you are not familiar with it, is a must-see for any shopper, for any lover of fashion, for any afficionado of housewares, and for anyone who has any sort of interest in the eclectic combination of quality with whimsy. My position at the first store in Canada (so exciting!) is as the manager of the housewares department. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. It's a little dream come true.

Inspiration was part of my training package these last couple of weeks. Thankfully it will be an ongoing part of the program at Anthropologie, with monthly "inspiration days" that employees are asked to take part in to help develop one's understanding of the Anthropologie brand and aesthetic. For those of us in training, the "inspiration day" took us to the Royal Oak Farmer's Market in Royal Oak, Michigan, where a weekly flea market takes place every Sunday.

It certainly wasn't mandatory, but I took it upon myself to take photographs of the things I found at the flea market that I believe adhere to the Anthropologie aesthetic. Throughout the experience, I understood how product development begins with a kernel of inspiration, even those little sparks of genius found in the darkest, dustiest little corners of a quaint flea market in Michigan. I thought I'd share my findings with you...
I loved this bell jar, which was filled with twigs and silk ferns, wooden eggs and moss.

If I had a multitude of crates and bags with me, they would have been filled to brimming, but I had to leave so many gems behind, including this 1950's cake dome. The "cake" part of the stand is actually the lid. It can be lifted by the large strawberry at the center to reveal the confection inside.
Gorgeous, vintage dresses and nightgowns - some never worn before - were in abundance. The florals and materials were reminiscent of some of the vintage prints found at Anthropologie.
This massive board full of pins and brooches reminded me a lot of the exquisite hardware sold at Anthropologie: floral and starburst knobs on cubpoards and drawers.
Vintage linens begged to be felt and explored. They were made of gorgeous materials and were in such good condition, even though some of them were more than 60 years old.
The light playing on this old, gilt-edged mirror, which was covered in baubles, was just fantastic. I love the dance between the glint of clean shimmer and the subdued patina of the old frame.
This mosaic box stole my heart. It is very much an Anthropologie runaway.
All in the details: each little section of this wall-mounted case contained a little surprise. I love the little "room" (second row from left, third box down) with the starburst clock, the sconce and the little faux-bois table with a cake dome.
These vintage napkins may as well have been taken directly from the Anthropologie home department: they were in gorgeous condition and their lovely patterns were unmarred by time or use.
I thought this necklace made of painted shells would have been a big hit with Anthropologie's beach-going ladies.
A vintage quilt made for a child was perfectly worn and tattered. The hand stitching and sewn-on buttons were just adorable.

Martha would definitely approve of this useful conversion: an old aluminum frying pan finds a new life as a wall-mounted clock. (Wouldn't this be wonderful next to an Aga?)
Salt doesn't seem so unhealthy when I see it written on this beautiful and alluring vessel.

I loved this sweet little salt and pepper shakers, which were two sleeping goslings.

An old sideboard, dark with time, may make a lovely addition to an Anthropologie-inspired room.

If given the chance, I would propose marriage to the excellent woman who once wore this fantastic skirt.
It is decorated with crazy women in fancy evening gowns, bedecked by coloured ribbons that act as ties, scarves and sashes. Fabulous!

This vendor, Ida Belle, was very enthusiastic about her handmade soaps. They were deliciously scented and individually wrapped in beautiful fabrics. Visit her website:
Pretty, holiday-themed stationery - some used, some blank - was piled high in several stacks on several tables.

I loved this old, opaque teacup and saucer with the faded floral print.

Vintage tea towels were everywhere! They would be very comfortable on the shelves at Anthropologie.

The only things I actually bought were these two clipped-out coupons from a stationery vendor: one of them was for chicken feed and the other was a grocery-store coupon from a company called Lautz, which was located in Buffalo. It's value at the time (the 1920's) was three coupons.Anyone who knows me knows I love old paper with old font. These will go in my scrapbook.

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