POSTS BY Hilary Johnson

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Have you heard? The United States Postal Service released its new stamp collection featuring the works of the Pioneers of American Industrial Design.

Copyright USPS :: Pioneers of American Industrial Design Stamp Collection

Copyright USPS :: Rhead and von Nessen Stamps

From the iconic “Trimline” telephone designed by Henry Dreyfuss to the highly collectible Fiesta® dinnerware of Frederick Hurten Rhead, does this envelope art inspire you put down the computer and send off some snail mail? (By the way, notice that Greta von Nessen — yes, a woman! — is included among the 12 stamps.)

Which stamp is your favorite and why?

Peter Muller-Munk, “normandie” pitcher; Frederick Hurten Rhead, fiesta® dinnerware; Raymond Loewy,  streamlined pencil sharpener; Donald Deskey, table lamp; Walter Dorwin Teague, “baby brownie” camera; Henry Dreyfuss, “trimline” telephone; Norman Bel Geddes, “patriot” radio; Dave Chapman, sewing machines; Greta von Nessen, “anywhere” lamp; Eliot Noyes, “selectric” typewriter; Russel Wright, highlight/pinch flatware; Gilbert Rohde, electric clock

Tell us in the comments below.

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Baseball season’s in full swing, and Americans are filling the stands at little league fields and stadiums alike. While it may look a bit like a vintage Louisville Slugger, this week’s “What the…?” isn’t a baseball bat. If it were, it would definitely break MLB regulations.

What the...?

Give us your best guess in the comment area below, and be sure to check back tomorrow to see who hit a home run with their answer.

Play ball!

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As we gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence, let three of our favorite red, white and blue Etsy “treasury” finds inspire your 4th of July patriotism.

Stars and Stripes Cookies

Etsy Seller sugarandflour :: Star Bangled Sugar Cookies

Red, White and Blue Candle Jars

Etsy Seller usedandabused :: Red, White and Blue Mason Jars

Lady Liberty Rubber Stamp

Etsy Seller SweetSpotStampShop :: Statue of Liberty Hand Carved Rubber Stamp

What makes the 4th of July special for you? Homemade apple pie? A plethora of American flags? Or simply watching fireworks with your family? We’d love to know!

Tell us in the comment area below. And have a happy and safe holiday!

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Don’t let the photo below, taken at HGTV headquarters, mislead you. We didn’t get a new row of cubicles. What we did get is a cool new design installation from Laura Ostendorf and Monica Blair, students at the University of Cincinnati‘s prestigious design program and our latest HGTV Home Studio interns. In addition to mentoring from world-famous Vern Yip and traveling to Chicago to check out his work on the Urban Oasis 2011 high rise pad, Laura and Monica collaborated on two vignettes for their final internship project. While Monica pinpointed the iconic design of the revolutionary and timeless Panton chair, Laura focused on the pervasive “interactive” trend with materials like an iPad, thermochromic paint and molo softseating. Take a look at their displays, and find out what they had to say about interning at HGTV.

Home Studio Vignette Installation

Laura Ostendorf:

Interactive Design Trend

Hilary: As part of your deep dive into the interactive design trend, you incorporated thermochromic paint in your vignette. What is thermochromic paint, and why did you choose to use it ?

Laura: The way that thermochromic paint works is the pigment is temperature sensitive. So basically, thermochromic paint changes colors when it reaches 83 degrees Fahrenheit. I wanted to use it in my vignette since it’s a newer product that not a lot of people know about. As a design student, I study cutting edge design, and here was a perfect opportunity to get hands on experience in this area. I was able to share with HGTV staff what some might view as an off-the-wall concept in actual use.

Thermochromic Paint - Hand Print


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To be honest, I thought we’d see more “paper weights,” but you guys weren’t fooled. Heather was the first to chime in with “bookends,” followed by an assured agreement from AmberBamber. Amy PureHome had a great idea that they “could probably also work as some cool door stoppers.”

Ben Seibel Bronze Bookends

These “orb” copper bookends are a specialty design from Jenfredware by 1950′s architect and artist Ben Seibel. While most of Seibel’s works are light dinnerware, these heavier copper bookends are a rare species. (They look like the perfect fit for a bohemian-style interior or mid-century modern home to me.)

Are you one to use bookends? Or are your bookshelves exploding with too many books to fit bookends? Let us know in the comment area below.

And if you happen to come across something strange that we could use in our weekly “What the…?”, let us know at

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Last week’s set of sconces generated some interesting responses, so I can’t wait to see what you guess for this oddly-shaped pair. Hint: If you didn’t notice, you can see the photographer’s reflection. That should help a little with its size.

What the...?

Check back tomorrow on Design Happens to see who guessed right. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the first to get it!

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It’s Monday. Again. If you’re still recuperating from an epic morning commute, you’re probably wishing with all your being that you could work from home. But where would you set up your office? On the dining room table? If you do telecommute, is your work space crammed into the corner of the kitchen? (And the fact that you can take meetings in your PJs and slippers your only comfort.) Allocating a specific workspace can help eliminate distractions, and with nearly 25 percent of us working from home part of the time, it’s more important than ever to do your outpost up right. So, no more dull, makeshift spaces for your 9-to-5 time. Here are four expert tips, illustrated with inspiring pics, on how to make your work nook vibrant, elegant and YOU!

1. Natural Light:

Naturally Lit Office

Especially for those of us who itch for the outdoors, bringing natural light into your workspace can be necessary. When research tells us that naturally, well-lit offices directly correlate with better health, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and financial savings (by golly…I’m convinced), finding natural light for your work endeavors becomes a priority. With wall-to-wall windows and a large skylight like these from RMS user flgirlaol, get ready to be invigoratingly productive.

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A red, white and blue theme is pretty much required when throwing a Fourth of July bash, don’t you think? However, if you’re looking to go a little less John Philip Sousa/Stars and Stripes Forever and instead want to try something modern and chic, you’ll love these Independence Day party ideas from our featured blogger Brian Patrick Flynn. After all, Brian is the go-to-guy for daring and wonderfully different. (And if you’re all about a classic look with American flags a plenty, we’ve got that covered with this table setting theme featuring Old Glory and old-fashioned lemonade!) Here are three fabulous tips from Brian:

Simply Chic 4th of July Entertaining

  1. Layers, layers, layers. Pull out the red, white and blue in unexpected ways by substituting those stars and stripes with modern graphic patterns. Like the table setting pictured above, steer clear of clutter by layering large, medium and small prints.
  2. Fireworks. Who wants candles when you can add sparklers to your Fourth of July dessert? (Leave it Brian to figure out how to pack style and flames into a cake!) But don’t forget that safety comes first. Only light these babies outside.
  3. Popsicles. If you’re ready to start your summer soiree early, try making these fruity Fourth-of-July popsicles. All you have to do is pick your favorite red and blue juices, pour them into popsicle freezer trays, and freeze them overnight. Nobody will be able to turn down your patriotic pops in the heat of July.
  4. Check out #4 – #11 of Brian’s modern and chic 4th of July entertaining ideas.
  5. Bonus. Check out these mouth-watering patriotic dessert ideas from our featured blogger Kim Stoegbauer. Yum!

What do you think? Do you prefer a traditional or non-traditional 4th of July celebration? We’d love to know!

Tell us in the comment area below.

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I can totally see how Greg and Lana thought these were some sort of Rolodex. Jeff, Amber and Amy PureHome were so close, but Mel Heth said the magic words! This week’s What the…? are custom (or ”funky” as Mel put it) wall sconces by the Danish design firm Fog and Morup.

Architect Aage Herlow Wall Sconce & Pendant

Wall Sconce :: Pendant

Modernist architect Aage Herlow custom designed these wall sconces we found on 1st Dibs for the St. Michaelis Church in Fredericia Denmark. The aluminum blades were painted in alternating colors, giving them a look that today is so retro-industrial. (I added the ceiling pendant on the right to show what they look like lit up.)

What do you think? Would you put these retro wall sconces in your home or house of worship?

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