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Last week we attended the opening of our second gallery exhibit this month, at the AIA Center for Architecture. Much to our surprise 4 out of the 5 pieces submitted sold within the first hour of the show! We are extremely excited about the positive response. The week before, we also attended the opening of the exhibit at City Hall entitled “Following the Line”. One of our paintings was selected for this exhibit which is being held throughout the corridors of the Philadelphia City Hall. Proceeds from the sales of all our work, will be going towards our adoption fundraising efforts. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and continued support.

Image from TYIN

As architects we often find ourselves trapped in a world where the dollar sign rules everything we do and because of that we find ourselves designing only for people that can afford an architect. It is particularly promising therefore, to find an architecture firm who’s main mission is to help those in true dire need. For this reason, I found much inspiration in the work of TYIN tegnestue Architects, a Norwegian firm run by two students, Andreas G. Gjertsen and Yashar Hanstad.

TYIN has been working primarily in poor and underdeveloped areas of countries like Thailand, Burma, Haiti, and Uganda. Their strategy is to work with the local communities to build structures that fulfill a need within that community while promoting the development of skills, and utilizing local materials collected from the site or nearby areas. Among their many projects, they have created a series of structures for orphanages in Thailand. The Soe Ker Tie House project is a series of small shelters used as dormitories for an orphanage in Noh Bo. The small shelters basically house one sleeping unit, which is shared by the children and are clustered in an manner that creates shared outdoor spaces promoting a sense of community within the orphanage.

TYIN has also worked for another orphanage located north of Noh Bo. They have worked with the owner of the Safe Haven Orphanage to create a bath house and a library for the children. Utilizing local materials and innovative methods to address waste, TYIN has created a bathing facility that brings hygiene to the forefront as a means to fight disease and a library that helps to reinforce the importance of education and good ethics.

In my search for ways in which design can make a difference in people’s lives, the work of TYIN serves as a reminder that design should be for everyone. As designers, we have a talent that can be used for good and we should all reach out and make a difference in the world.

Learn more about TYIN tengnestue

Image from Nook Sleep Systems

As the waiting game continues, we decided we might as well keep slowly accumulating the items for our nursery, so that we do not have to buy everything all at once. Therefore, the next item on our list became a mattress. As part of our post placement study, once we are matched with a child, the social worker must visit our home to see that the baby has a proper place to sleep. So we decided to do a little research before jumping in and buying a mattress. We spoke to some friends that recently had babies to see what they would recommend. Some of the recommendations we received were as follows:

1. Buy something that is not too heavy, so that it is light enough to lift each time you have to change the sheets after there is an accident.

2. Buy something that is easy to clean, again because of the accidents.

3. Buy an organic mattress. Since infants spend most of their time sleeping, it’s worthwhile to consider investing in an organic mattress to ensure there are no issues of toxic off-gassing and if possible also try and get a mattress that is breathable, to ensure the baby gets a good air flow in their sleeping area.

Finally after doing a lot of online research and several trips to the store, we discovered the Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Mattress to be a pretty cool mattress option. Nook Sleep Systems is dedicated to innovation. They look at the entirety of the mattress to develop a cohesive holistic design. They have taken the time to make sure that their mattress is well designed, breathable, non-toxic and completely organic. The internal core of the mattress is made of natural latex which is an open celled material that maximizes air flow through the core (for breathability which will allow more oxygen to the baby, meaning a better night of sleep) and the natural latex is hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and anti-mites (no nasty bed bugs!). The inner core is wrapped with organic wool which is a natural fire barrier as opposed to the harsh chemicals used in standard mattresses. The surface is made up of eucalyptus fibers and cotton to help remove moisture and promote breathability, and the best part is that no vinyl mattress pads are required since liquids will bead on the surface of the mattress, and they come in cool bright colors as well! Nook Sleep System products are Made in North America (this time it’s for real, on manufacturer’s website!) and they even offer twin size mattresses. Hopefully, they’ll expand their line to include double, queen and king size for us adults to enjoy as well.

We are members of Zulily (an online designer discount store) and they had the Pebble Mattress on sale for half the price so we jumped to make the purchase. It’s quite an expensive mattress so if you are looking at purchasing it, we strongly recommend to see if you can find a great deal online.

Learn more about Nook Sleep System

We are excited to announce that several of our paintings have been selected to be on exhibit at the Art By Architects exhibit at the Center for Architecture in Philadelphia! The exhibit will be on display from October 24th – November 18th. This exhibit is held once a year to raise money to help fund the center’s public programs to educate the public on architecture, urban planning, and design. The paintings will be available for sale at the exhibit and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Center for Architecture and 50% go towards our adoption fund. More information on the exhibit will be posted as it becomes available.

My wife was interviewed on local television when she attended the Memorial Tribute to Steve Jobs at the Apple Store. She spoke about how his personal life resonated with us since he was adopted and we are future adoptive parents.

Interview on NBC News

We are sad to hear about the death of Steve Jobs today, co-founder of Apple Computers. We have lost one of the most innovative minds of our lifetime.While reading his obituary we found out that he was adopted. His biological parents were Syrian and American and he was adopted by an American couple. This proves to us that adoption should not hold anyone back from achieving their maximum potential; every child deserves this chance in life.

Unfortunately we have a correction to make about our previous crib post. The Loom Crib is actually made in China. After publishing the blog we sent the link to the customer service representative we were speaking with at Nurseryworks and she informed us that the Loom Crib is not made in USA but in fact made in China. This was surprising to us since a few websites selling the crib listed it as Made in USA. So the lessen learned is don’t believe what online stores write about the products they are selling (peddling!) and make sure to ask the manufacturer.

However, now we have to decide if we can live with a crib made in China or find something else. A friend of ours found a good tip in the book “Baby Bargains” which basically said that 90% of baby furniture is made in China so if the furniture company is reputable then likely the furniture made in China will be fine. That being said there are companies that don’t use China to manufacture their furniture, for example Oeuf makes their cribs in Latvia. There are a few small percentage that still make their cribs in the USA and most of them are over $1000 price tag. El Greco cribs though, which are sold through Land of Nod, are made in the USA and definitely below the $1000 mark.

As for what we are going to do, we aren’t sure. We read through the safety data of Nurseryworks and they’ve never had any recalls on their products, they are doing their part for the environment, and the design is quite nice. We have not decided what we will do, so we thought we would put the question to you.

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