A conversation with Moonshine, expert craftsmanship lighting up the world

Lately, I’ve been on a mission to find home brands that fit this bill, and few have astonished me quite like the Moonshine Lamp Co. Have a read of my interview with founder Rob Lewbel here…

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your brand…

I am Rob Lewbel, the founder of Moonshine Lamp, a lighting design and fabrication company located in Claremont, California. I worked in the movie industry in California for several years, watching and learning about creative design in the fabulous world of make believe. We take a customized approach to our lighting, similar to a fine furniture maker. Clients can chose from our extensive catalog of products or ask us to come up with a one of a kind piece to fit within their room design.

Tell us about the vision for your brand?

We want to expand our catalog into a highly artistic yet approachable style, incorporating customizable elements of metal and wood finish, glass options and the ability to scale any piece to balance a space and blend with the decor style of our clients’ vision.

How has your business grown from when you started to now?

We began making single pendant lamp fixtures exclusively from recycled glass bottles that we acquired from local restaurants and bars here in Claremont. As the owner of a brick and mortar store that features items made by may local artists, I wanted to contribute to our unique offerings. We started with one single glass bottle pendant and now have over 100 designs in our catalog.

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Mad about moonshine

As someone who works in sustainable fashion, one of the essential things on my agenda is helping people outside the industry see the marriage between conscious living and aesthetics. There’s a world out there of very creative people with a great eye who have embarked on sustainable projects, using organically grown or recycled materials as their base to make excellent, useful, and beautiful things. These days, there is more of a demand for sustainably produced products, but there is also a growing range of aesthetically pleasing items made with the future of our world in mind. Lately, I’ve been on a mission to find home brands that fit this bill, and few have astonished me quite like the Moonshine Lamp Co.

A California-based company, Moonshine creates beautiful installation lights. From the very beginning, sustainability was an essential part of the brands identity – it just operated without using the jargon. In fact, the entire concept was born from a weekend handyman project of repurposing old bottles into lamps. After seeing the business potential in his idea, founder Rob Lewbel turned his weekend project into a company which years later has become a profitable and sought-after brand in Southern California. In the beginning, back in 2012, Rob would drive around the city to find bottles, stopping at dumpsters; now, he tips bartenders and busboys at local restaurants so that they will save the venues bottles for him. Nearly a decade after that first foraging weekend, many of Moonshine’s pieces are made of reclaimed glass and bottles, with details of copper and wood harvested from downed trees. For the details made from wood, the brand also partners with local wood companies that source wood from sustainably managed local forests. Each of the Moonshine lamps is handcrafted and made in the company’s studio workshop in Claremont, CA, to the specs given by each specific customer. While they have a set of fixtures on the site, the fact that Moonshine is a smaller operation leads to a far more flexible creation process. As such, it’s easy to combine details from different lamp models to create a customised experience that works best with your tastes and spaces.  Read more…

Comfortable and Organic Rest with The Futon Shop and Honest Sleep

As a new mum, my primary main job (and one of the most important ones I have right now) is keeping my little one nurtured and safe. That begins with giving him love and guidance but also includes surrounding him with things that will keep him from harm. When it comes to wanting the safest home environment for my child and trying to live in a way that is less damaging to the planet, I am not special. I genuinely believe that most parents want to do the same and have become more and more concerned about the items they put in the bodies, on their bodies and around themselves, inside their home. In my efforts to raise a healthy and conscious little human, I have become passionate about being sure to surround him with the best natural materials I can find. That is why I am most honoured to be a champion of conscious home brands like The Futon Shop and Honest Sleep.

The Futon Shop is the brainchild of Suzanne Diamond, a trailblazer in the world of sustainable design. Throughout the four-decade run of her business, Diamond has made it her job to be involved in every stage of production, for a true farm to home experience. She deals directly with farmers and their plantations and also handles manufacturers herself, and by doing so has almost entirely cut the middleman in favour of a hands-on approach to her business, turning herself into something of an encyclopaedia of her industry. Diamond prides herself on ensuring that only the highest quality inputs are used, and then oversees production at the San Francisco workshop, ensuring a streamlined and meticulous process.

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A conversation with Honest Sleep

FS Natural Home, and its three incredible divisions – The Futon Shop, Honest Sleep, and Organic Sofas, are the brainchild of Suzanne Diamond, a trailblazer in the world of sustainable furniture design. Throughout the four-decade run in the business, Diamond has made it her job to be involved in every stage of production, for a true farm to home experience. Take a look at what I learned through my recent conversation with her…

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your brand…

My name is Suzanne Diamond and I am the founder and CEO of FS Natural Home. My story dates back over 40 years. In 1976, over 4 decades ago while living in Los Angeles I was pregnant with my first child, living and breathing a macrobiotic lifestyle. I embraced the macrobiotic Japanese way of living, as it incorporated macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. Macrobiotic is a whole body and mind lifestyle including farm to table for food, (local and organic)   and natural clothing and bedding wherever possible. I learned to make Japanese style futon mattresses from natural cotton ingredients and this was my every night bed. 

Being a new mom, I wanted the best for my child and my search for a crib mattress was challenging because I only found mattresses made with polyurethane foam and toxic flame retardants. I decided to make my own mattress for my child which was high quality and toxic-free. My newborn loved his crib futon and friends started asking me to make futons for their homes. 

Once I started making futon mattresses for my family and friends, I started getting more requests from my eco-conscious neighbors. I decided to put a sign in the local health food store and the orders started coming in. The Futon Shop was born and now 4 decades later, FS Natural Home by The Futon Shop is a California family business that is a vertical retailer with 10 stores in California, a national dealer network of retailers selling our brands all around America and a large network in Canada and includes our e-commerce online presence.

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Talking innovative and sustainable lifestyle solutions with CasaOne’s Shashank PS

Following this dive into my favourite find since coming over to Los Angeles, I loved sitting down with one of CasaOne’s founders Shashank PS. The innovative business he runs with Madhusudan Kagwad, owns two brands, CasaOne which is focused on home furniture rentals, and BureauOne which caters to commercial spaces, and operates out of nine markets – Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, Philly, San Diego and Washington DC. It was a joy interviewing Shashank PS, one of the men behind the brand below.

Can you kindly introduce yourself?

I’m the founder and CEO of CasaOne. CasaOne is a furniture rental company — we serve customers that like to access and experience, rather than own furniture, furnishings, and decor. We operate another brand called BureauOne that helps businesses with commercial and office furniture on demand.

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Sustainability as a flexible lifestyle brand with CasaOne

I am fortunate enough to be able to say that I discover wonderful conscious brands that make an effort in creating things in the least harmful way possible, all the time. These go from using raw materials that have been organically grown from the ground up to respecting forests, workers and generally trying to improve processes to be as mindful of our future as possible. It’s a format I love madly because it allows beautiful new creations to thrive in a way that doesn’t intrude on our precious world. But there’s one alternative I will always stand behind because it doesn’t involve anything new being created: rental. And just as there’s a growing fashion rental movement, furniture is also hopping on this trend. My favourite example so far? CasaOne.

Just as fashion rental services like Le Tote and Gwynnie Bee have, CasaOne works on a subscription model. On-demand furniture is the game: a comprehensive service that manages every bit of the furnishing process in one single place. Through an affordable subscription model, you can fill up your house in the most carbon-neutral way possible. As a plus, with the CasaOne service, you get to speak to experts in space planning who will guide you through finding the best pieces for your space.

The process of purchasing furniture hasn’t changed much in recent times, becoming increasingly cumbersome in an active and ever-changing world such as ours. An increasing number of people opt for more flexible lifestyles, whether it is working from home or moving around a lot, and the furnishing of a new home feels like a weight on people’s shoulders. Recycling what already exists and finding new life in used items is the kind of essential practice that reduces waste and helps us maintain a flexible lifestyle more attuned with our zeitgeist. 

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Emerson Creek is a treat

Many people seem to equate sustainability with using organic materials. While that’s a very important part of it, a lot of factors contribute to making a product – or a brand – truly sustainable. The idea is to think of each step of creation in terms of what can be improved towards our planet and the people who inhabit it. Going chemical-free and using consciously grown materials is critical, but the human factor is just as important. That means making sure the chain of production stems from a fair environment, where employees get living wages, healthcare and benefits. It also means respecting traditional crafting processes, treasuring their cultural value. And, in its own little way, these are all factors the people behind Emerson Creek Pottery take into account.

This beautiful pottery brand has been around since 1977, and its approach is quite a noble one: maintaining the American tradition of pottery making. Based in Virginia, the entire production is local, handcrafted and aesthetically based on the long-standing tradition of American pottery, dating back to colonial times. Even the brand’s name is historic, stemming from a New England creek flowing by Emerson House, where the founders began making pottery way back when.

While their pieces are wholly modern (dinnerware, bakeware, kitchenware and home décor), the American legacy is at the centre of the brand. Emerson Creek’s handcrafted pieces are a visual throwback to how 17th and 18th-century American pottery looked like, taking inspiration from early American Cobalt decoration on stoneware. 

In the beginning, all Emerson Creek pieces had simple and monochromatic designs handpainted on them with Japanese Sumi e-brush, a 2,000-year-old technique. When starting out on their first Massachusetts workshop in the 70s, there was only a single pottery wheel on-site; four decades later, they have a whole team of designers and potters making beautiful things in Virginia. Their processes have become streamlined over the years, yet Emerson continues to make handcrafted pieces based on the design of the old masters. 

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