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The designer’s thirst-quencher served weekly

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Awkward Stock Photos

Grasping for last-minute Halloween costume ideas? Best not to seek inspiration from Awkward Stock Photos, an addictive Tumblr of visual oddities that tends toward the hilarious and brain-scarring (you've been warned). Strange tableaus such as a young ballerina posing on a train track, a man getting his had shaved with an ax, and identical twins sharing a mock-turtleneck sweater defy all explanation yet set the mind reeling: What were they thinking? What key words would turn up this gem in a stock photo search? Just don't get any ideas of swiping these photo for your own projects. According to ASP creator Mark Hauge, a Chicago-based graphic designer, "This site is strictly for nonprofit educational purposes and/or laughter."

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Magic Potion

Cool ideas & design solutions
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Chairish

Having four kids in three years kept Anna Brockway and Gregg Brockway busy in more ways than one: they moved frequently to accommodate their growing family and often had furnishings—beautiful, stylish, well-made pieces—to jettison along the way. But how to sell them? The entrepreneurial couple created Chairish, a person-to-person online marketplace that cuts through the clutter with a curated approach. "Nothing is listed or sold that we don’t look at carefully and think is a great piece," explains co-founder and Saarinen womb chair lover Eric Grosse, the company's president. "We also understand that sometimes you change your mind—and that’s ok—so we allow buyers the option of returning their item if it doesn’t work out."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Green Cube

If you've ever returned from a trip to discover your favorite plant reduced to a parched pile of leaves, you'll want to treat your photosynthetic friends to the Boskke Cube. Designer Patrick Morris deconstructed the traditional plant pot and added an ingenious irrigation system to create this self-watering planter, which acts as a reservoir for a month’s supply of water. “The clear plastic body reveals the water, soil, and roots of the plant, allowing you to witness firsthand the mechanics of plant growth,” says Morris of the Cube, which comes in assorted sizes. “And great for all those travelers…you only need to water it once a month.”

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Book Brew

New and upcoming books
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Alphabetabum

The standard alphabet book takes a turn for the nostalgic—and slightly creepy—in Vladimir Radunsky and Chris Raschka's Alphabetum, new from the New York Review Children's Collection. The benevolent ghost of Edward Gorey hovers over the book's faux-weathered pages, on which vintage photos of children (from Radunsky's vast collection of antique black-and-white photographs) are joined by playfully alliterative names and rhymes penned by Raschka. Among the questions posed by the authors: Are these children our great-great-great grandparents? We knew "Excellent Edwin Eugene" looked familiar!

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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FILMography

Film and photography, past and present, reality and movie magic collide in FILMography, an ongoing art project by Christopher Moloney. The fun-to-browse Tumblr matches scenes from films (and the odd TV show) with their real-life, present-day locations. Searchable by movie, location, actor, or year, the site uses still-frame snapshots to check in with the spaces and places familiar from classics such as Rebel Without a Cause and Rosemary's Baby as well as recent releases, including the cinematic masterpiece that was Sharknado 2. Fancy one of the images? Moloney makes each one available in an edition of ten signed and numbered prints.

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House Blend

Interesting products
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The Design Deck

Shuffle up and deal the basics of graphic design with The Design Deck. Printed on Vegas-standard Bicycle cards, a standard deck of 52 has been cleverly enhanced with bite-sized lessons about typography, color theory, design techniques, history, and more, each with a visual example. Canadian design enthusiast Ben Barrett-Forrest developed the edutaining cards earlier this year as his thesis project at McMaster University and then swiftly secured gobs of Kickstarter funding to produce the decks. "There's just so much potential for design in playing cards," he says. "Each of the cards is its own little design face, plus there's the packaging of the pack itself."

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House Blend

Interesting products
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Hem

From the design-obsessed people who brought you Fab comes Hem (Swedish for "home"), a new venture that is looking to bring high-end modern design to the online masses. The Berlin-based company, which ships to 30 countries, is not part of the flash sale fray: the focus is on original designs developed in collaboration with talents such as Sylvain Willenz, Luca Nichetto and Grain Design as well as those dreamed up in Hem's Helsinki R&D workshop and Stockholm design studio. Many of the furniture pieces and accessories can be customized with a few clicks.

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Mixed Drinks

Must-see places or events
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Atlas Obscura

There is something new under the sun, every day, all over the world. That's the core belief of the observant nomads over at Atlas Obscura, which aims to be "the definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places." Among the strange and singular destinations that the site allows you to virtually explore are Outer Mongolia's "Dinosaurs Fairyland" theme park, a handwoven bridge in Peru, and an 80-year-old house built out of newspapers. Navigate by region or category (Anomalous Islands, Microminiature art) or click "Random Place" for a quick hit of creative inspiration.

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Kool Ade

Old school, retro picks
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Stickable Pixels

Return to a simpler, eight-bit way of life, be the next street art sensation or just get your Ellsworth Kelly on with pixel art. Seattle-based startup 1x1 has taken to Kickstarter to make its colorful, self-adhesive squares a reality. A $30 pledge will get you a box of 14,800 pixel stickers that can be applied to glass, metal or any other smooth surface. Budding pixel artists have until November 5 to back the project.

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Hot Shots

Meet some creative people
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The Uncomfortable

What if useful objects were redesigned to be uncomfortable while retaining their original function? Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani answers this question with "The Uncomfortable," an imagined collection of deliberately inconvenient everyday objects, from a concrete umbrella and toeless rainboots to a leaning chair and an inverted Oreo cookie. "The Uncomfortable started as a twisted sadistic design project," says Kamprani of her 3D visualizations and sketches. "It's a parasite in the world of materialism and design."

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