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C / other options


Yeah, it’s Black Friday, yeah it still gross, yeah everyone knows it. So instead of focusing on one of my least favorite things about American culture, I am going to focus on the awesome alternatives to participating in the national binge on crap you don’t need.

1. Go outside. All national parks are free today! It’s an amazing chance to walk off the bucket of gravy you drank yesterday. Hangovers love fresh air, and getting exercise helps rationalize the pie you just ate for breakfast. It’s also a great chance to get some space from crazy family or if you like them, bring them along. If I were in Tucson right now, I would be walking Sabino Canyon right now and running into at least 4 people from high school.

2. Do the Holiday card. We have a joke in our family, and we call it the Valentines Day card. The holidays get nuts and there is never time to upload and perfectly edit a family photo. Have the fam bam send photos now and get that business done before it’s next year and you don’t have that great haircut anymore. Pinhole Press has 25% off , eco-friendly Minted has 15% off, and Artifact Uprising has 10% off some of the most beautiful photo cards, books and framed photos.

3. Board game day. We have a closet in the house full of board games. There are so many in there, that the closet is actually really awkward to open, because you usually end up with a deck of cards in the face. The day goes like this: heat leftovers, make a TON of coffee and hot chocolate, spike that hot chocolate, put on sweatpants, play games. It’s good stuff. Games I am digging on right now include Bananagrams, Cards Against Humanity, Ticket to Ride, and Chutes and Ladders. I freaking LOVE Chutes and Ladders.

4. Jump start New Years fitness resolutions. The day after Thanksgiving is a great day to move around, and yoga studios, pilates places and local gyms are likely to have memberships and classes on sale today. Go check it out.

5. If you really need to go shopping, do it at a local shop. Find the gems in your city, the independent boutiques, the family owned joints and the fair trade kids. They are everywhere and they need your business. Go find the 90 year old silversmith and get some amazing jewelry, or go into the shop where the lady is obsessed with olive oil and buy from her, or get the vendor listings from your local farmer’s market and contact the them directly.

We will be starting our official gift guides next week, focusing on places that sell awesome things that aren’t evil. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please don’t go to Walmart.


Photo via Huffington Post


T / let the crazy cool ethical sustainable shopping begin!

WFW-HeaderConfession: I didn’t really know what Black Friday was all about until I moved out of Canada.  It was a faint whisper from the south.  Breaking messages from the six o’ clock network news that would beam from Buffalo, just two hours below us. Up north, we start holiday shopping when it got cold enough.  But we slowly got the point.  Chaos, a lot of running, and plenty of anxiety over getting that discount. Then Cait wrote about how Black Friday is gross last year and we decided to fix that perception.

This year we’re turning Black Friday up on its head againWomen-fro-Women--TechSet2 and I thought I’d get started a little earlier on that.  It all started last week when Jane showed off this gorgeous travel tech kit she had just acquired in Phnom Penh. This lead to some product-envy-related drooling and through Jane, I had the chance to meet Veasna who has been with Happy Silk Cambodia and the Women for Women Foundation for the past ten years.  W4W is a local Cambodian NGO forged to promote the engagement of women in society, the economy and civic action.  One way of doing this has been to support the employment and entrepreneurship of women in the production of textiles and other beautiful products while also paying them an ethical and sustainable wage.  And when I walked into Happy Silk (corner of No. 9, Street 178 in Phnom Penh), I pretty much fell over myself on their new line of brass jewelry, high quality cotton kroma carry-alls and most of all, Jane’s well cushioned, super sturdy ikat travel tech kit.  All of it is made by women in an organization that is also administered by Cambodian women.  It’s a cause I can get on top of, and immediately volunteer to take product photos of.

Which is exactly what I did when I rolled out of bed in a turkey-hangover today.  These are only a selection of the gorgeous pieces Veasna’s got in store.  If you’re also in Phnom Penh this Sunday, you’ll be able to find a selection of these items at Big WIG Christmas Fair, and if you’re not in country, you can also shop these items online at Sudaya.


This gorgeous tech set is complete with cushioned cases for your portable hard drive and laptop (left) and homes for your cables and chargers too! Ikat and kroma lining were dyed and woven by women in the villages of in Takeo province and final products were sewed in Kandal, Cambodia.


Bring on the high quality, locally woven, cotton kroma! Eye masks (left) which make for the perfect amenity for holiday guests for $5 each, and the best reversible carry-all bags in 3 sizes (small $5, medium $9 and large $12).


WFW-Necklaces New brass pieces at a range of prices, from $5 USD.

Let the ethical and sustainable shopping begin!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for any credit issues that may follow shopping these items.




C / designer uniform


As a new designer, I am constantly looking at the pros to see what they do. I read interviews about managing time, the creative process, and what kind of team it takes to put together a solid collection. I am getting a small collection together right now, and a few people have asked me what I will wear to the show. To be very honest, I hadn’t even thought about it. It feels like I have too much going on to figure that out. I sort of thought I would just be able to “Wizard of Oz” the whole thing, and stay hidden behind the curtain the whole time. Then I realized there isn’t going to be a curtain.

Anyway, I looked into what designers wear to their own shows, and was pleased to find that many of them wear the same thing basically all the time. It’s usually a mix of black, white, and grey, and always super comfortable. The pros below have a zillion years of experience and can make most anything look put-together, but it’s good to know I have a sartorial pass for the show.



Alber Elbaz is responsible for the brand overhaul of Lanvin, and has brought incredible color and depth to the line. But I love that he is basically in fancy jammies on the runway. I love the contrast with the super glam designs.




The rise of the leggings can probably be attributed to Vera Wang. She has been wearing them on the runway long before the “are leggings pants?” argument started. (To settle that argument, no, they are not. But I’m not going to stop treating them as such.) If a lady in leggings can change the way people get married, think what I can do if I don’t put pants on ever. On second thought, probably don’t. Just look at a few of her always-elegant creations.




Always in black or grey, always in cool sneaks, Alexander Wang is all smiles and all kinds of comfy at every show. His models look slightly less so. It’s because they need a snack.




Pheobe Philo is sort of my hero. I have had a crush on this lady for years, and am eternally grateful for her leading the charge on bringing back the sneaker. You can see her personal stamp on a lot of her pieces, and unlike a lot of other designers, I can see her wearing the clothes she designs. With sneakers.




Mary Katrantzou designs clothes from another planet. Her wild prints have lead the “clash revolution” and it’s rare to see a piece of hers with less that 5 things going on. Yet she wears all black, all the time. I love that her stuff is so unexpected.


So now I figure out my uniform. I am not sure what it will be yet, but I am guessing it will include the white Brooke Brothers shirt I have been wearing non-stop since Christmas.



Cover photo by Candid.

Other photos by Lanvin, Alexander Wang, Vera WangCéline, Mary Katrantzou

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C / sweet alber

alber-elbaz-best-quipsI saw Alber Elbaz walking on the Seine when I was in Paris a few months ago. He was wearing all black, had his glasses on, and was unmistakably…him. I stopped and just sort of slowly turned around with my dumb mouth open, as he walked passed me and my parents. He was in a hurry, and probably didn’t recognize me. I giggled the rest of the day.

Yesterday, after 14 years as the lead designer/creative director for the iconic French designer, Lanvin, Alber Elbaz has been dismissed.


Karlie Kloss, killing it. Spring 2011

I’m not a fashion critic, and I can’t claim to understand the inner-workings of the industry. It’s a gigantic, complicated beast and the details of what exactly happened aren’t exactly public information. But from what I can tell, this is pretty messed up. Elbaz seems like one of the good ones to me, and I have always followed his work. I confess that I often forge imaginary relationships with people I admire, and in the same way that I feel like I would be really good friends with Kristen Wiig, I think Elbaz and I could really vibe.

However it went down, it’s a damn shame. Elbaz created some of the most elegant, interesting, and innovative designs I have seen, and he’s been a constant force of inspiration in my life. In his time at Lanvin, he was dedicated to making clothes for actual women, and not just the size zeros of the world. He wanted to make fashion accessible without compromising taste and quality. He pumped new creative life into a brand running on fumes and brought Lanvin back into the mainstream with collaborations and humor. Maybe most importantly, he was kind. He would often send other designers flowers before their shows, and was constantly grateful for his life as a designer.


Linda Evangelista, being my hero. Spring 2004

A lot of big houses are losing their leads; Raf Simons just left Dior, and Alexander Wang is out of Balenciaga. Everyone is being polite, and no one is publicly trashing their former employers, but it feels like the corporate, icky, money-grubbing side of fashion is pushing out the talent. This is from the NYT piece on Elbaz’s departure, and really resonated with me:

“That is, the current situation in which brands treat designers as “work for hire” — stewards that set a course for a style ship for a time, but who can be replaced as necessary while the ship itself sails on — and its inevitable corollary: that designers start to see themselves the same way. The result transforms the relationship from that of a marriage, where you pledge to love and care for each other through sickness and in health, into a dispassionate contract-to-contract arrangement.”


Alek Wek, straight up glowing. Spring 2015

There many people who can write better than I can about this lovely man, and Sarah Mower, who I really respect, wrote a great piece for Vogue Runway. She has known him through his tenure at Lanvin, and it’s worth a read. I am sure he will go on to do more in the fashion world and he doesn’t honestly need a house like Lanvin to back him. He’ll be just fine.

Have some wine, sleep in, and plot your next amazing thing, sweet man. I can’t wait to see what you do.

All photos by IMG and Lanvin


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C / textiles and tiny elevators


Last Friday, my instructor told the class that if we could make it to Premier Vision in Paris, we should absolutely go. A few people in class said they were going, a few more expressed frustration for now being able to go, and I googled it to find out what they hell they were all talking about.

Turns out, Premier Vision is the biggest textile trade show in the world, probably something I should have known. Its held in Paris twice a year and they have events in China as well. People from all over the world come in to buy and sell prints, silks, wool, cashmere, cotton, buttons, zippers, trimming, leather, synthetics and basically anything else you can jimmy-rig into a piece of clothing. Because I love an unexpected filed trip, I bought a ticket, got my portfolio together and jumped a train to Paris for about 36 hours.



Premier Vision was completely awesome, and completely overwhelming. I tried to touch everything I could and make notes as fast as possible, but mostly just wandered around letting the “oooh pretty” side of my brain navigate.




(The photos above are intentionally scattered and disorganized, as to accurately represent my brain during the event.)

The facility itself was giant; roughly 6 football fields full of different textiles. They had set up some really interesting exhibits on texture and color and mood, and I got in trouble more than once for taking photos where I wasn’t supposed to. (I’m sorry, nobody looks on the floor to see if there are “no photography” signs, AND those signs were just a rectangle with a line through it. It could have just as easily been a “no brick throwing zone” or a “do not be a rectangle” zone. Get it together, design conference.) I did manage to get a few photos of the place, and some of the pretty things I got to touch.




I’m glad I went, because I got to see the millions of different fabrics that are available, and who is doing what. There were not as many sustainable fabrics as I had hoped and a lot for furs than I expected (yuck), but it’s good to know that I can pretty much get anything I can dream up. Next time I will go with an idea of what I want to get, rather than human-ping-ponging around until I collapse into a pile of croissant crumbs and 7 coffee. Oh and I went to see the Eiffel Tower at night and I liked it.


All photos by Caitlin Decker, from her iPhone. If you would like to use them for some reason, please ask. There are probably better ones on the internet.



C / alissa’s werk dress


I hate business casual. I actually think its one of the things that makes life worse for all people because it’s like “be professional, but not too professional but you CANNOT wear the things you love, and basically its only ok if it’s those horrible black scratchy pants.” Clearly, I have a lot of feelings on this very important matter. So when Alissa presented me with some extremely lovely Cambodian fabric and asked for a work dress, I felt the need to make it not-horrible. This piece was actually conceived way back in March, here, and Tiff took some very pretty photos of Alissa at Nuk last week.


I have said it before, but it’s really easy to make a dress look good on a gorgeous girl like Alissa. Since she is leaving us/starting her PhD program in London (woohoo good choice!) in a few weeks, this will be our last shoot with her for a while. Unless one of us moves to London, which I’m not saying is going to happen, but I’m just saying that it could, because how fun is London? SO fun. Anyway, here’s Alissa looking sassy as hell in her werk dress.





All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.


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T / happy monday / bag love

Tathata-Swift-Bag-HeaderIf I love something, I can’t really shut up about it. Or in this case: bring it with me everywhere.  Last week we talked to the peeps behind Tathata Brand.  This week, I’m all about their product.  And I am happy to announce that this is not a sponsored post, and all of these thoughts are my own.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out in Bangkok with the fabulous Jane Heng (more about that later this week), and we couldn’t but help to wax poetic about Tathata’s multi-wear, nearly-all-purpose, super sturdy Swift Bag.  They even made a video about every way you can use it! (Also, it wouldn’t be a happy monday without some video content).


Jane toting around Tathata’s Swift bag in Sea, while wearing this fabulous outfit (similar shirt, skirt)from Vick’s Weekend.

Jane and I toted our Swifties (mine is in Wild) around Bangkok loaded up with laptops, cameras and everything we need for a jam packed day of work and play in Bangkok.  So of course, we decided to do a tiny shoot to show our love for this workhorse of a bag. Jane has taken hers more countries than I can count and it keeps trucking.  And I am planning to take mine all the way to Kenya in September.  Water resistant, which is key in rainy Asia, encased in sturdy canvas so there’s no threat of buckling to the weight of my life’s possessions, and the right number of pockets to prevent me from prolonged awkward hunting for keys. I can’t stop the compliments.

03---Jane-getting-blown-awayGet yours soon too, because they are selling like hot cakes. Or perhaps I should say really good noodles, since we’re in southeast Asia.


Jane clearly has the subtle hop better mastered than I have.

07---tiff-and-jane-walking-with-backpacksYou can find Tathata products for sale on their website (with free shipping internationally).  If you are in Bangkok, you can also find them every Saturday at Chatuchak Market.  They also have a number of stockists in Thailand and selected cities in Asia and Europe which you can find here

All photos by Tiffany Tsang, with help from Michael Brown.  Please request permission for use.


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C / pretty, not evil


One of the cool things about job hunting in the fashion world is finding out about companies that are doing great things in the space. Happily, I am not the first person in the world to think sustainable fashion is important, and there are a lot of people working to bring good design and good practices together.

When I talk about wanting to work in sustainable fashion, I have received mostly positive feedback, but every once in a while, someone will respond with a slightly different tune. “Fine, you think fast fashion is evil? All fashion is evil. Where should I shop then?” Well, to the snarky British man, 6 beers in on a Tuesday and wearing a Trump tie, here you go.

I am pulling from one of the companies that I have spent so much time drooling over today to show five things that you can buy that are not only great design, but have the added bonus of being not evil. I have an aversion to buying things that look like I feel sorry for someone. I want to fill my closet with things that are made ethically, don’t destroy the planet, and look great. Today, I’m looking at Zady. The company provides clothing for all, accessories, and even some really cool stuff for your home and they only work with companies that keep the same high standards as they do. I love that the site is full of things that are simple and well designed, and will take you through seasons and years without falling apart or going out of style.













All product photos via Zady, header is the product of this cool tie dye kit.



T / Cool Kids / TA.THA.TA

Tathata-HeaderEarlier this year, a new brand based in Southeast Asia landed in our focus, and I couldn’t wait to get all over it.  Our buddy Lin was a big fan of a new treasure she had just found in Bangkok: a high quality and water resistant canvas bag with leather handles and great detailing.  Immediately I was all over their social media and trying to locate their closest supplier.  A few months later, I found myself in Bangkok, finally got a bag of my own and a chance to hang out with the wonderful ladies behind Tathata.  Not only that – I got to visit their studio in the Suttisan neighbourhood, and learn all about their beginnings and craft.

In 2012, Vipavat Darapongsatapom (more commonly known by her nickname Potae), was working as a graphic designer at a major Bangkok firm.  But at home, she was actually crafting by hand, high quality leather bags, and selling them each month at the Aree Garden Green Market.  Right next to her, Kavita Srisan (who prefers to be called Kivi) was working at the same firm and crafting her own textiles for bags and watches.  It was only a matter of time (about eighteen months) and many conversations about textiles before the two joined forces to launch Tathata, a brand devoted to high quality leather work and timeless products.


Left: Vipavat, who prefers Potae (left) and Kavita, who likes to be called Kivi, Right: One of Tathata’s “Grey” Bags, part their new Live Serie Collection.

The name, Tathata, originates from Buddhist script and means a maintenance of “real.”  And this defines many of the elements that Potae and Kivi craft into all of their products.  With technical backgrounds in textiles, three dimensional design and leather work, Potae has carefully worked out the combination of flowers, careful timing and temperature needed to dye sun-bleached leather into the magnificent and tender hues that now colour their line of third collection of timepieces, called Bloom. You can watch the entire process here.

To create their new line of high quality canvas bags fit for use in every day life and accessibly priced, the pair focused on their own desire for functionality and clean design. Bags that were neither “nerdy” nor specific to the “IT crowd” that they were seeing in Bangkok department stores.  Potae described the influences behind this collection’s design as being fit for her own life and needs and this explains why the bags have been so successful.


Potae displays the prototype and process for a new design coming.


Painting the leather handles that accompany Tathata’s new Live Serie collection of bags.

The pair work together on each new piece of all of their lines of products together.  From concept to prototype and testing, to colour matching, graphic design and costings, Potae and Kivi have clearly outlined their areas of collaboration and expertise.  And since their bags and watches are selling out in Bangkok and abroad, they have turned to working with factories in Thailand, who make their bags, and Taiwan who produce the mechanical bodies of their watches.  The careful production of their organic hand-dyed leather watch bands, the leather handles of their collection of canvas bags, and assembly of their gorgeous watches, remains in their studio and in their own hands.


Left: Potae’s father works the leather cutter, Right: Members of the Bloom collection of timepieces.

Potae and Kivi do not come from a line multiple generations of creatives and makers.  Potae did learn how to sew from her dad, and Kivi inherited the skills behind bag making from a grandmother who loved textiles. However, they have built this brand and craft, literally with their own two hands. The duo have also turned their growing business into a family affair with Potae’s father, a retired engineer, assisting with leather work at their studio at Potae’s family home (which also warehouses the lot of their watches, and bags).

Kivi-QuoteAnd as for world domination? Potae and Kivi would prefer to keep their operation small in order to grow their brand. They have expanded the distribution of their products from Thailand eastwards to Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and as far west as Barcelona and Switzerland. However, they wish for their relationships with stockists to continue to be as high quality as their products. This calls for smaller operations.  Kivi describes all of their stockists as friendships and keeps in close contact with all of them, inquiring on customer preferences, improvements that can be made, and ensuring that the people using their bags and wearing the watches are always happy.

This strategy is clearly taking off.  This year, Tathata launched their Live Serie collection of ultra-functional multi-wear canvas bags.  All of these originated when Australian bag brand, Crumpler invited Tathata to take part in a workshop they were hosting in Bangkok.  These bags are beyond sturdy and I’m looking forward to take mine all over the world as my new carry-on.  I’ll be talking a lot more about these amazing bags soon.

And now for the important facts:

You can find Tathata products for sale on their website (with free shipping internationally).  If you are in Bangkok, you can also find them every Saturday at Chatuchak Market, where you’ll also get to meet Kivi and Potae.  They also have a number of stockists in Thailand and selected cities in Asia and Europe which you can find here

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.



T / antique x industrial chic in yangon

HeaderV3Deep in the Yangon community of Yankin, down an assuming alley and a sweaty climb up to the sixth floor in an apartment block only filled with Myanmar script, you will find the home that Jojo and Jerome built.  And I couldn’t have been more lucky to have done that climb one night when friends invited me to a small get together that Jojo and Jerome were hosting.  I knew I had to come and hear the story behind their beautiful home filled with equal parts elbow grease, a keen eye for beautiful old things and the good sense that walls should get knocked down.

Looking for a change, and a place that wouldn’t make too much trouble about the paperwork involving a bi-national relationship, Jojo, an American, and Jerome, who is from France, were attracted to Myanmar by friends who described the place as a “blank canvas.”  Both left their lucrative finance and consulting gigs in London and made their way over to Yangon in 2014 and have since built careers and reputations as serial entrepreneurs.  And what a little empire they are building with Jojo opening Yangon Yoga House and designing the interior of downtown bespoke bar, Hummingbird and Jerome providing key business development and marketing services local firms.  But this wasn’t necessarily a huge leap from what they were doing before. Before moving to Yangon, Jojo helped to develop, design and build wine crate shelving solutions at Le Petit Monster, and the pair grew a huge collection of collectibles and pretty things throughout all of their homes around the world. Art history, economics and some knowhow around a toolbox goes a long way.

When they first arrived in Yangon, Jojo and Jerome knew they didn’t want to blow all of their money on an expensive condominium or indulge in the upswing of real estate values since Myanmar has slowly opened up to the world. Instead, they chose to invest in a place they could call home, a respite from the chaos of emerging Yangon.  To do that, they had to knock down a literally legally binding wall, strip off the unfortunate lime green laquer adorning their doorways, rearrange some electrical outlets, and endure the pains of DIY in a place where tools of the trade are still scarce and local tastes may conflict.  Nearly one year after moving into their Yankin sixth floor walk-up, the hard work has paid off.  Jojo and Jerome wanted a vintage meets industrial Brooklyn chic apartment in the heart of Yangon and that is exactly what they got.

12---Hallway-TableWith Jojo’s hustling skills (as Jerome describes), the pair also quickly made fast friends with Htet, the owner of Rangoon Tea House.  Through Htet, they met the man who is now their most trusted antiques dealer in Yangon.  That hustle has resulted in one of the most gorgeous homes cum showrooms in the least likely of places.  And as a result, Jojo and Jerome have a constantly evolving home.  Every few months, they acquire a trove of new treasures their new friend keeps an eye out for, immediately contacting them when a new piece arrives that he knows they will like. And after some of their own refurbishment and a short stay with them, the collection of benches, chests, side tables and other coterie originating from Myanmar’s colonial era, make it onto the web for the fastest bid.  Though they do experience some seller’s remorse after the money is handed over.

End-Table--Jojo-and-JeromeHowever, there is one piece the pair will absolutely not handover.  Unless you’re willing to finance their acquisition of several new Chesterfields.  Knowing the difficulty of finding high quality pieces in southeast Asia, Jojo and Jerome searched high and low in the UK for the perfect vintage Chesterfield sofa with the perfect spread of patina from a history of warmed bums. This precious item was subsequently driven 400km around the UK before being stowed away in a shipping container bound for Myanmar.


Top: An original Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Bed. Bottom: That pre-loved chest of drawers comes with its own original lock. Sadly no key, though, so that adornment is there to stay.


Left: The Chagall frame that came all the way from New York when Bernie Madoff’s estate was auctioned off and Jojo bore the winning bid. It sits on one of their most recent local antique acquisitions (right), painted light blue to let the wood shine through.


Upper Right: The impromptu sketch of Jojo by director Michel Gondry. Lower left: Jerome shows off a recently acquired lock box.

Jojo and Jerome’s home is filled with similar prizes collected from sheer will to serendipity. Like the 25kg antique sewing machine they found in Bordeaux, which was hauled by bicycle (and Jerome), plane and train to London and now sits as the legs for their dining room table.  There’s a sketch of Jojo by auteur Michel Gondry which sits proudly framed on a bookshelf.  Another piece for conversation fodder is the antique and genuine Chagall that Jojo acquired when Bernie Madoff’s estate was auctioned away.

Likewise, there are the gems they have collected here. Jerome proudly shared an antique lock box they recently found. And then there’s their equally pre-loved bed, which was fashioned by the historic colonial era Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation and bear’s the company’s well known fan-shaped logo.


The 25kg antique sewing machine base that traveled by bicycle, plane, train, taxi and shipping container from Bordeaux to Yangon via London. With a teak table top, it now carries all the dishes during Jojo and Jerome’s fabulous dinner parties.


Right: One of two Myanmar masks the pair found at Augustine’s Antiques in Yangon during their first visit to Yangon in 2013. They were toted around Asia, lived in a box in London for a year, and are back home in Myanmar adorning the couple’s lovely living room.

So having given this home some skin that’s been burned by paint solvents, the anxious heart palpitations of hauling antique pieces up twelve flights of stairs and the joys of sourcing DIY tools, and all that jazz, Jojo and Jerome have built themselves a most beautiful home that is so perfect for being shown off during dinner parties, game nights, or tiny little design blogs.  I hope you find their home as inspiring as I did.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.