After months of wondering and much speculation about what kind of business will eventually occupy the former Coffee Cartel space at the prime corner of Euclid and Maryland, it appears something is finally happening. The large “For Lease” graphics that have dominated the corner since the space was vacated have recently been removed. And the windows are now covered with fresh paper and some mysterious blue dots, a sign that perhaps an announcement is forthcoming. Stay tuned.
Earlier this year while touring MADE, 5197 Delmar, at a Central West End Association Happy Hour, I met Joshua Falconer, above, who along with his business partner and co-inventor Jacob Lewis, was in the process of rolling out a limited edition of RASA Easels—”the nomadic artist’s best friend.”
Falconer, an artist and PhD Candidate in Semitic Languages at Catholic University, and Lewis, an art teacher, have conceived of many ideas individually and as a team, but the RASA easel is the first invention for which they have developed a working prototype and submitted a provisional patent application.
The idea was born of frustration when Lewis realized his drawings were skewed and out of proportion as he drew on a flat surface using a traditional sketchpad. He came up with the notion of combining a tabletop easel with a sketchpad, and Falconer helped engineer, test, and refine the prototype. Falconer said the biggest design challenge was how to make the easel refillable.
They named their invention RASA, alluding to the Latin phrase “tabula rasa” or “blank slate.” Falconer said that the name is “a tribute to the way that every blank page presents new possibilities for artists to explore.”
After approximately 2 years developing the rough-working prototype and refining the design, the inventors produced a small batch of their maple RASA easels and took the finished product about 10 blocks east to St. Louis Art Supply, where they are being sold on consignment. The CWE’s art shop is the exclusive retailer of this pre-release version.
A RASA easel starter set with mixed-media pad is $55, an easel with a drawing paper pad is $49. Refill pads are $16.
Recently Falconer emailed that they have come up with a less expensive RASA easel made of tempered hardboard, a sustainable and durable material that resists warping. This new version can be primed and painted so an artist can customize the cover. It is also refillable. The price has not yet been determined, but they’ll be available at St. Louis Art Supply in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Falconer and Lewis are planning a crowdfunding campaign to help scale up production and bring down the price point to make the RASA easel even more accessible, so all sorts of creative types—illustrators, comic book artists, tattoo artists, etc.—can take their studio with them wherever they go.
St. Louis Art Supply’s Carson Monetti keeps a supply of watercolor pencils by the display, so you can play with the RASA easel.
When I stopped in the store recently, I asked Monetti whose lovely drawing graced the sample easel. “I don’t have a clue,” he said. “I always find anonymous drawings around here.”
Finding an outlet for a locally-made item in the same neighborhood as it was invented is pretty special. So are the local artists who test products at St. Louis Art Supply and leave their art behind for the rest of us to enjoy.
Just in time for warmer weather—and for CWEnders looking for more retail options for women—Bonobos has launched a We’re for Women campaign featuring a collection of breezy shirts, dresses and a great-looking jumpsuit, shown above, $148. The collection includes men’s styles in matching fabrics.
Forty percent of sales from the capsule collection—up to $100,000— benefit Promundo, a global leader in engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and preventing violence. This campaign is an example of CEO Micky Onvural’s effort to create a purpose-driven brand. To learn more about her efforts, there is an interesting interview by journalist Emma Lord you can find on the Bustle website. To further the company’s mission, 8 Steps Men Can Take to Support Gender Equality is posted on the website.
The all-cotton collection, which was created by Bonobos’ female designers, features short-sleeve blouses (1 and 4th item above), $88, and two Riviera Shirt Dresses, shown in the middle, $128, sizes XXS to XXL. The entire collection is shown on the website.
The loose-fitting dresses close with a simple tie.
I was pleased to learn from Joshua Johnson, the Lead Guide at the CWE location, that women have been snapping up men’s shirts for themselves all along. The button-down shirts from the capsule collection are also $88, and sized from XXS to XXL.
You better hurry in to take a peek, as the capsule collection is only available through April 30.
Thanks to Bonobos for its contribution to gender equality and the prevention of violence. It would be lovely if this campaign was also a trial balloon of sorts, and that women’s fashion would become an ongoing feature of the Bonobos brand.
Bonobos Flagship, 52 Maryland Plaza, Mon. – Sat. 11 to 7, Sun. 12 to 6 (hours may be shortened on Easter), (314) 365-2366.