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puppy love

luz lamp

imagine my delight upon discovering this adorable puppy lamp after clicking open fishcake's latest email. the whimsical design seems more likely to have been imported from the mainland or europe, but, i am happy to report it is the creation of waikiki designer melissa rivera torres moir of unleash studio which launched last year as an outlet for her many creative sparks which cheerfully marry function with whimsy.

it turns out melissa's pup luz (spanish for light) was the inspiration for the design which playfully turns the vet-issued doggie lampshade into a witty source of illumination. luz's silhouette also pops up in the form of her lightbox terrier which is a delightful mini playspace complete with paper holder and storage for crayons and blocks for your budding design star.

raised in mexico, melissa's first connection to hawaii came via her mom who grew up in the islands. a trip to kaua'i with her grandmother was the catalyst for her move to oahu where she has spent the past few years teaching design at local museums and non-profits before her current gig at hpu.

a peek at her portfolio reveals some serious design chops so it should come as no surprise that before arriving in hawaii melissa studied industrial design at the rhode island school of design where she also received a master's in art and design teaching education. in her off-hours, she can be found sketching and building prototypes on her apartment lanai which has been cleverly adapted into a working studio (photo below).

lightbox terrier
robonaut * j skateboard shelf
dj shark * fashionista giraffe
melissa on her studio lanai

{designer notes}

how has living in hawaii influenced your designs?
living in hawaii has been an amazing experience for me. it has allowed me to take time to breathe and really think of the things i want to do in life, just like creating unleash studio, and it has been a great place of inspiration. there is nothing like living in a place where you are not freezing all the time, or where you can go and skate or bike right outside your apartment, or just take a walk on the beach whenever you need to have time for yourself.

hawaii is a great melting pot and i have had the chance to meet people from all over the world and live a healthy lifestyle. all of this has affected my designs in a positive way. living in hawaii influenced me enough to start my small business, something that i had never actually had thought about before in the past.

what is your definition of good design?
a good design is one where emphasis on form and function are equally balanced. the design has to look good and be appealing to the eye as well as work well. you could have the coolest looking bench, but if it hurts when you sit on it, that is not a good design, or you could have a really neat/cool working television, but if it makes your living room look horrible because it's so ugly, people will not buy it.

little moments of bliss that recharge your soul?
too many, but some that i love . . . being surrounded by people i love, skateboarding on my snakeboard, biking outside on my lil bmx bike, listening to music, creating things that make people happy, making people laugh, blowing bubbles!

local delights that are a must in your beach picnic basket?
anything is good. i like eating simple and clean like a veggie wrap and a coconut juice. ;) when i go to the beach i mostly like to take my sketchbook and draw (you might find that in my picnic basket too! haha no worries tho - i do not eat pencils and paper).

pay it forward with a few words of wisdom:
criticize by creating "michelangelo" * keep it simple * a balanced diet is a cookie in each hand ;)

mahalo melissa!

little luz, his pal lightbox terrier, and the bad to the bone bench have all moved into fishcake's showroom where they are available for purchase. fishcake also stocks the animal series tee collection as does split obsession, the contemporary museum gift shop, and unleash studio's online shop.

p.s. custom commissions are also welcome. contact melissa for more details.

{photo credit: cory lum}

Reader Comments (2)

I am loving the graphic tees. You can never have enough tee-shirts!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaile John

Such cool stuff! A little "too cool for school" for me personally, but I can appreciate the urban vibe of these products :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKat

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