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Domestic Bliss with Athena Calderone

Athena Calderone - interior designer, celebrated author, culinary and visual storyteller, and creative director - just released a new book titled "Live Beautiful" documenting designers personal homes. In addition to the beautiful photography of the immaculate homes, Calderone includes her takeaways and highlights - including actionable tips for the reader.

We love her eclectic yet clean style combining modern, vintage and natural elements. We especially love her seasonally cut branches strategically placed in beautiful vintage vessels. She is inspiring us to re-imagine our own environments!
"Being the curious creature that I am, I always want to dissect and understand the smaller, seemingly insignificant choices that accumulate along the creative journey — the alchemy of how beautiful design comes together." - Athena
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Getting to Know WAIF

Hello all!

We hope that you have been having a wonderful summer so far! In this edition of "Getting to Know...", we are focusing on the makers of WAIF. Artist Gisèle Human is the founder of WAIF, a small independent jewelry design studio based in Cape Town, South Africa. Gisèle opted for a more organic, asymmetric approach that is entirely informed by the laws of nature. Every piece is made by hand by Gisèle herself and a small team of suppliers and interns. We love WAIF because they master a delicate balance in between elegance and statement wear. With every curve intentionally meant to compliment the natural contours of the female form, WAIF is hard to not fall in love with! We took some time to speak with the creatives behind WAIF via email for a quick interview and would love to share our conversation with you! Get to know them a little bit more:

Why WAIF? Where does the name originate from?

The name was actually suggested by a good friend of mine who was quite aware of the aesthetic that I was forging from early on. I was working with brass sheeting and cutting small, ‘waif-like’ shapes. She suggested it and it worked perfectly. Traditionally, the word ‘waif’ yields negative connotations, generally it refers to a thin, downtrodden, broken woman. But by including the voluptuous curves of the Sitting Lady and Reclining Lady brooch, I believe I’ve managed to turn it around.

What inspired you to start WAIF?

I was working full-time as a copywriter in the advertising industry. Although I still freelance as a copywriter, I had to create an exit strategy for myself. My mother is a jewelry designer and helped me get on my feet by teaching me and giving me the actual tools to pursue jewelry design and production. 

Is there a story behind your designs? It's so intriguing, we'd like to know more!

My pieces are first and foremost inspired by nature. It’s the single greatest artist throughout history and it’s given me every idea I’ve ever had. The non- symmetrical, imperfect, oblong, amorphous shapes reflect pebbles and rocks as well as human shapes like the outline of an ear or a nostril or an eye.

Tell us more about the creative behind the magic, Gisèle Human. Could you give us a quick bio?

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, I now live in Cape Town with my beloved border collie Olive and boyfriend Travys Owen. We work from home and enjoy collaborating on shoots, walking Olive at the park or beach, and cooking amazing food. Despite creating glamorous jewelry, I am very unglamorous, and tend to wear overalls, dungarees, beanies and no make-up. Most people find that pretty surprising, but the truth is making jewelry is not glamorous at all, most of the time you’re covered in grime and dust!

What is a typical Waif day like?

Some Waif days are spent entirely in the studio making pieces at a fast pace while blaring music or podcasts and having cups of tea. Constant inspiration and energy are what drives this kind of day as well as some or other deadlines. Other Waif days are spent shooting, sourcing materials, dealing with supplies, or delivering orders and stock to local stores. It’s always pretty different which makes it a lot of fun.

Where do you see Waif in the future? What is the #1 goal?

I’d like to expand my business and hire some production assistants. From there on, I’d like to increase my reach by stocking stores outside of my town and area, both internationally and locally. I’d like to expand into other materials, and create some bigger items such as homeware and small pieces of furniture. I’ve already made some bowls and mobiles so homeware and decorative ornamentation is definitely the next step for me.


We hope you enjoyed Getting to Know WAIF! Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, you can shop WAIF here.

Thanks for reading

-Ark + Nomad-


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Getting to Know Leg Studios

Hello all!

We hope you are doing well! We are happy to share our second round of "Getting to Know..." with you all today. This week we are focusing on the lovely artists behind Leg Studios. Leg Studios was founded in 2006 by Leon Eramus and Giulia Odendaal in Cape Town, South Africa. What makes Leg Studios stand out from the rest is that they started out in architecture designing various spaces, and are now in the world of furniture design. The various architectural and design backgrounds are evident in their sleek and forward pieces that utilize space and material in a unique way. In addition to their designs, of course we admire that they "strive to be original with [their] designs and honest with [their] materials." We took some time to speak with the creatives behind Leg Studios via email for a quick interview and would love to share our conversation with you! Get to know them a little bit more:

Why Leg Studios? Where does the name originate from?
Leon and Giulia both have the same 3 initials, in the same order for first, middle and last
names... the LEG part of the name came from here. Giulia is the right leg; (apparently) she is always right, while Leon is the left leg.

Tell us more about the creatives behind Leg Studios, Giulia and Leon. Could you give us a quick bio?

  • Leon Erasmus – architecturally studied
  • Giulia Odendaal – a theatrical and set design specialist

We are both living in Cape Town, South Africa

What inspired you to start Leg Studios?
For the past decade, Leg Studios’ core focus has been installation design for various
national and international brands. Our work regularly features locally sourced furniture products and decorative elements from which our latest [ad]venture has bloomed. Our furniture range came for a passion for playing in design and so the product range
emerged as a little sprout off Leg Studios. It is now growing and becoming a stand-alone
brand. It’s a very exciting time for the team!

If you could describe Leg Studios in one word, what would it be?
Mutative – We know what our goals are, but we allow ourselves to weave through that
journey; altering in response to our environment. As creatives and business owners
understand that linear stagnant thinking is restrictive and we prefer to feel free.

Is there a story behind your designs? It's so intriguing, we'd like to know more!
We are naturally influenced by the riches of unique African texture and pattern whilst
we draw inspiration from the bold simplicity of Scandinavian design. Leon is inspired by designers / creatives across various disciplines which include:

  • Laduma Ngxokolo – Genius innovator in the way he celebrates Xhosa beadwork aesthetic in textiles.
  • Atang Tshikare – Apart from being simply the coolest guy around; his work is gritty, fearless and without rules.
  • Patricia Urquiola – Her work is both sensitive and striking.
  • Wes Anderson – I could easily and very happily live in one of his films; forever.

Giulia finds social media (in general) a bigger influence on her than a specific designer. 

The team aligned our separate thinking into a single pool of thought, from which the
range was born. We played for about a year with the materials, textures and pattern and
then through a slow process of R&D started to refine the pieces. R&D is where most decisions are made around detail, finish, and material. We made and remade pieces until we knew that the right solutions had been found. Once we have the parts and finishes locked down with the various suppliers, the ordering process takes places. We assemble and hand finish each product at Leg Studios, prior to packaging and shipping them.
For us, the design process is about learning; we allowed the products to keep evolving,
and still do. Our debut range had been well received and while it is still in its infancy, we will start to play on a follow up range soon. We have new stories to tell and new learnings to make.

What is a typical Leg Studio day like?
Our offices, showroom and production area is in a great little complex in Woodstock. We are neighboured by many cool creatives and production. The space is clean and minimal, with an array of cool products displayed through the space. We work through hours of silence with erratic burst of laughter, but also through hours of mayhem and music. We aim to have fun; though always on point with service and delivery.

Where do you see Leg Studios in the future? What is the #1 goal?
In terms of our installation work, we are working on a variety of really cool brand-based
installations involving music, education, and interactivity that are in varying levels of design and production stages. This, we hope, to continue and grow. In terms of our furniture, we are working on building the brand internationally and creating partnerships with distributors and buyers in order to move our local design into a broader market. We are currently stocked in Berlin, Munich, Zurich, New York. Texas, Tel Aviv, and are working to find other regions ready for South African furniture.


We hope you enjoyed Getting to Know Leg Studios! Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, you can shop Leg Studios here.

Thanks for reading

-Ark + Nomad-


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Getting to Know Love Milo

Hello all!

Love Milo was one of our first makers to partner with us for Ark + Nomad, and now is the time for us to formerly introduce you to each other! Love Milo is a design studio based in Cape Town, South Africa that was founded in 2013 by Nicki Ellis. Nicki's creative journey began as a film colour grader and photographer, but she longed to take it one step further. She desired to take her 2 dimensional work and bring it into the 3 dimensional world, so she naturally found ceramics as her next medium to conquer. After working on Love Milo on her own for a few years, Nicki Ellis found her personal and business partner, Matt Finch, who worked as a professional chef for 10 years before becoming a partner of Love Milo. As Love Milo states, "Matt was meticulous in his work in the kitchen and a perfectionist in production, which he brings though into the production of the Love Milo products, a part that Nicki was unable to oversee." While pulling inspiration from natures "perfect imperfections" and creating artworks that can be used in our daily lives, Love Milo also makes sure to keep their products sustainable. They use sustainable wood that is sourced through alien clearings, eco friendly inks, and locally source their own materials. Now that you know the history behind Love Milo, we took some time to have a quick interview with Love Milo via email and we'd love to share it with you! Get to know them a little bit more:

Why Love Milo? Where does the name originate from?
My sons name is Milo, when I fell pregnant with him I felt the need to make my own things and be an example, I also started getting all the creative ideas which I felt were coming from him, so named it after him.

What inspired you both to start Love Milo?
From a cinematography background I worked as a film colonist but never felt I was creating my own vision, with my pregnancy and the sudden sense of mortality I felt I needed to live in integrity with myself and make things I like as an example to my children.

If you could describe Love Milo in one word, what would it be?

Is there a story behind the Ant design? It's so intriguing, we'd like to know more!
I always look at nature and insects and thought the ants crawling would be such a great addition, something we always hate but the beauty of the haphazard way they crawl around actually makes such a great pattern.

What is a typical Love Milo day like?
With 3 children its pretty hectic, go to the studio and try get as much work done as possible, then I leave to go fetch the kids and Matt stays at the studio.

Where do you see Love Milo in the future? What is the #1 goal?
To be the number one South African Lifestyle brand that brings beauty to everyones homes.

Love Milo Ant MugLove Milo Fern Mug

We hope you enjoyed Getting to Know Love Milo! Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, you can shop Love Milo here

Thanks for reading

-Ark + Nomad-

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Stay Healthy This Winter

Hello all! 

This past week in Houston, the weather has proved to us that it has a mind of it's own. One day the sun shinning bright over the city, and the next day it's the perfect weather to stay in and watch movies; dark, muggy, and cold. These sporadic shifts heightened my worries about catching an illness in the midst of my body having to adjust on a daily basis. With that being said, this week I thought it would be a good idea to talk about a home remedy that will keep you up and running this season!

Ginger, Honey, and Cinnamon

These three ingredients added into your favorite teas will fight away any germs that are floating around in your body! Ginger instantly warms up your body by stimulating blood circulation which keeps all of your organs healthily running, while honey and cinnamon are some of the the worlds most potent antioxidants that fight against the bacteria that could cause the common cold and they soothe a sore throat. Of course, you could add one or more of these ingredients in your warm beverage to your own liking, but I enjoy keeping a mixture handy for those days that I might feel ill. Just take a mason jar and fill it up about halfway with honey (it's always best to get locally made, organic honey. It's the most powerful, and tastes better!), add a tablespoon or two of fresh mashed ginger, and put in a stick of cinnamon. Mix everything together and let it sit overnight. Now, you can add a teaspoon of this mixture to any tea and stay healthy this winter! Enjoy!

Do you have your own remedy that you use to stay germ free during the cold months? If so, please share it with us in the comments below!

Thanks for reading

- Ark + Nomad - 



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