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2013/12/10 / Shanan


Gillian and I talked in circles about putting together a series of holiday gift guides, but we eventually decided to leave it to the pros (Design*Sponge has you covered for budget gifts, holiday ornaments, pet gifts <do people really do this?> and tons more; Poppytalk has some wonderful picks, and A Cup of Jo always posts thoughtful and fun gift ideas for mums, dads, kids, and your adult siblings).

Instead we’re going to keep it all quite simple and just post our own small holiday wish-lists.  I’m sure if prompted that every single one of us could cobble together a wish-list a mile long (behold the sweet, sweet clutches of capitalism), but we’re sticking to the rule of gift-giving for kids that I first heard about last year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  There, done.

1. Something I Want: Kevin O’Brien ombré velvet pillows from Anthropologie.  It doesn’t get much more frivolous than a throw pillow, does it?  These have consumed the decorating part of my brain for the better part of the last year.  I think they’re super cool and romantic.

2Something I Need: I’m interpreting this one as something that’s practical (‘need’ is, after all, highly relative).  A Canon EF 50MM lens for even better pictures in the new year, from Henry’s.

3Something to Wear: Anntian layered silk dress from Totokaelo.  Because I’m unsure what I want my wardrobe to look like these days, but find myself more and more attracted to bold, weird patterns and less body-conscious silhouettes.  Yes, I may just end up the hipster girl’s modern-day answer to Mrs. Roper.

4Something to Read: My favourite things to give and receive are books.  I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics so I’m excited to dive into her new doorstopper of a dark literary mystery novel, Night Film.

What’s on your wish-list this year?

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2013/12/06 / Gillian


We’ve been pretty busy here at Symmetric HQ, what with all the holiday baking, tablescaping, field-tripping (more on that later!) – but perhaps what we’re most excited about is the opening of our Etsy shop!  We’ve hand-picked our very first holiday collection of vintage clothing, jewelry and book prints and are delighted to make them available to the teeming Christmas shopping hordes (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  We’re at eight online sales and counting!).

We are offering free shipping in North America ’til the end of the year and are listing new items every day.  Please stop by — you can imagine us styling you up and plying you with homemade eggnog in front of a crackling fire.  Or something like that.

You can bookmark us at The Symmetric on Etsy.  Here are a few of our current offerings…

navy evening jacket blazer easy shop

The Jacqueline dress jacket.

antique victorian watchkey necklace gold etsy shop

The Una Victorian watchkey necklace.

vintage leather pencil skirt etsy shop

The Debbie leather pencil skirt.

vintage book art print etsy shop love

Can There Be Love Without Danger? vintage book print.

vintage beaded black cardigan evening top etsy shop

The Paulina beaded cardigan.

Louise gold necklace charms ring horn heart locket easy shop

The Louise, gold triple charm necklace.

vintage book prints easy shop field guide rocks

A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals, vintage book print.  Coming soon!

Have a great weekend.

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2013/12/02 / Shanan


Hey, so we put up all our Christmas lights this weekend – what do you think?  Just kidding.  I’m so excited to see photos of Yayoi Kusama’s current exhibition, “I Who Have Arrived in Heaven,” at David Zwirner in New York. The show features 27 new paintings and two of her immersive installation rooms, including the Infinity Mirrored Room, shown above.  Wish I could experience it in person.

Image via This is Colossal.  You can see more contemporary art we love on The Symmetric’s Pinterest board.

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2013/11/22 / Shanan


Anybody who knows me well, knows that I’ve got wallpaper of some sort on the brain pretty much all the time.  I hang it in my house, I did an elaborate hand-painted version in my last kitchen, and in the past I’ve created art wallpapers out of weird materials (hair, and sugar, and one failed attempt with ash, if you must know).  When people need sources or wallpaper ideas, they come to me.  End of story.  Bad-da boom.  What, am I in the mob or something?

Anyhow.  I love surface patterns that mess with tradition and insinuate themselves so that their weirdness might not be immediately recognizable.  Toile de Jouy provides one of the best classical frameworks with which to spin out really contemporary interpretations.  Instantly recognizable, the original and conventional toiles were made up of a series of detailed pastoral scenes, rendered in a single colour on a white background.  Think delicately-illustrated women in corsets sitting under trees, repeated across a formal dining room wall… with matching patterned curtains.

Not your thing?  Thankfully these amazing artists/manufacturers are dialling down the stuffiness and putting their own unique, humorous and wonderfully weird twists on the traditional toile.  Let’s get to a few of my favourites…


Image above: Timorous Beasties’ “New York Toile” has it all: city landmarks, motorcycles, cops, and drug deals. Available in pink, grey, green, blue, and more.

Flat Vernacular Toile de Derby wallpaper


Killer cars: Flat Vernacular’s ‘Toile de Derby‘ in Driver’s Door colourway.

Dan Funderburgh Vigilant Floral toile wallpaper

Big sister is watching you: Dan Funderburgh’s “Vigilant Floral” wallpaper in lavender.  I think this one is so cheeky yet still so beautiful.

Sassy Toile wallpaper flavour paper

Er, speaking of cheeky…

DFC is a design studio that fuses modern design with traditional Mexican style.  Their  “Sassy Toile” from Flavor Paper is a contemporary take on an old-school pulp fiction story (and it’s available in ‘Electric Raspberry on Silver Mylar’ – yes yes, my head just exploded, too).

640 480 video collective vertigo toile wallpaper

And last but not least, I dug this one out of the archives. “Vertigo” wallpaper by the now-defunct 640 480 Video Collective (I was once part of a “hot” “young” “collective” of “conceptual” “video” “artists” [all air-quotes necessary to cover my bases here]).  We were invited to do a project for an art fair in San Francisco, and we created a toile paper rendered from scenes in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  The vignettes actually shifted with each pattern repeat so if you looked closely, you’d see scenic progressions like Kim Novak jumping into the water, or James Stewart falling down a roof.


Would you hang any of these in your house, or do you prefer your wallpaper to be of a less subversive nature (read: no raspberry mylar boobs*)?  It’s okay, you can be honest.  xx Shanan

(* raspberry mylar boobs = the name of my new girl band. Who’s in?)

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2013/11/20 / Gillian


Now that we have rallied from our PPD (I’ve hidden the BBQ chips), it’s time to dish a little about our trunk show.

We wanted to have a proper in vivo launch for the new incarnation of The Symmetric.  Part cocktail party, part art opening, part pop-up shop, part dream (according to one lovely guest), it was just the concoction we were looking for to fête our new venture and to show our wares to friends in our community.

vintage clothing holiday collection trunk show

Featured at the trunk show Saturday evening was our selection of vintage and antique fine and costume jewelry, as well as vintage holiday clothing and accessories.  In addition to the wardrobe pieces, we displayed limited-edition book art prints, custom shadow boxes with hand-gilded milkweed and thorns, and large-format nature photographs. Shanan’s home (Symmetric HQ and fondly dubbed “The Orchard”) provided a perfect backdrop for the soiree. Filled with so many wonderful women and friends, we were truly tickled pink with the evening. And yes, the rumours are true: we are already whispering ideas for the next one!

Would you like to see some more photos?  Of course you would.


vintage book art prints gallery wall

Vintage book art prints (soon to be available in our upcoming online shop).