Jul 29, 2011

Sunset walks. With my peeps.

Everybody loves being with their clan. Me more than most.

Jul 25, 2011

A Still Life

I've been away.  Have you noticed?  I'm out of the hideous heat wave, away from my City.  Not that I'm bragging.  But, really, I kind of am bragging. 

During my travels, waiting at various airport terminals, I developed a hardcore crush on the iPhone app Camera+.  It's a photography dummy's best friend forever, and ever ever.  Developed by a a brilliant team of technicians and photographers, the program allows me to take pics on my iPhone and tweak them afterwards, as if I had masterly planned out the aperture and exposure settings beforehand.  Pretty darn nifty. 

Below are three pictures of the same scene, with three different post-treatments. 

Limestone. Avocados. Lemons. Peaches. Limes. CLARITY treatment.

Limestone. Avocados. Lemons. Peaches. Limes. VIBRANT treatment.

Limestone. Avocados. Lemons. Peaches. Limes. SUNKISS'D treatment.

This still life is what I'm doing this week.  Photographing it.  Drinking it.  And, probably eating it.

Jul 21, 2011

Is Convertible Furniture 'Unfortunate?'

There's something oddly quaint about convertible furniture, to me.  Which is funny because convertible furniture is usually complexly designed and even complicated to use.  Sometimes fresh and inventive, thought often absurd and tacky, furniture with two two two products in one! is certainly worth enjoying a bit today, non?  I'll stay mum on which pieces are Better and which are Unfortunate (remember I don't believe in Wrong vs. Right).  It's not hard to see which is which.

via Apartment Therapy
Ugh.  This looks cheaply made. I won't bother linking to where I found it because I don't want any of you birds buying this thing.
sneaky lil' stools via Kravet
clever.  and green.  via Oh Dee Doh
aahhahahaa! via Device Daily
via Tiny House Design
The week is almost over.  The oppressive heat is not.   How about we all sketch out a desk chair that converts to a swimming pool? And serves up icy cold watermelon mojitos by the pitcher.  Now that's a design challenge!


Jul 20, 2011

The 72-room Bank House

image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine
Called "the greatest real-estate coup of all time" by New York magazine, photographer Jay Maisel purchased this 72 room abandoned bank at 190 Bowery at Spring Street in 1966 for $102,000.  He renovated it for his family and his photography studio. 

The 1898 Gilded Age structure is measures 35,000 square feet over six floors.  As a residence, the space exudes an artist-commune vibe with creatively-used rooms and unique decor.  Maisel, his wife and daughter, share the space.  That's roughly 11,600 square feet per person.  "I need some space" is unlikely an uttered phrase in the Maisel home.
The dining room with original pressed-tin wallcoverings. 
image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine

The original oak door frames separate former bank offices, now gallery space.
image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine

The kitchen is on the site of the bank’s original kitchen, where staff cooked for the bankers.
image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine

Long corridors are filled with the family's collected treasures.  Plastic sheeting acts as a makeshift ventilation system.
image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine
The bank's original vault is used for the photographer's files and stored pieces. 
image by Leigh Davis for New York Magazine

image via Fireplace Chats

Upon purchase, this New York City neighborhood had been sinking into a deep sub-depression and the Bowery became an urban wasteland.  In an interview with New York magazine, Maisel described the area as having been “more disgusting than dangerous.”

But, as urban gentrification took over the Lower East Side, and slowly crept to the borders of the Bowery, Maisel found his property value increase exponentially.  John Varvatos opened a boutique nearby.  A Whole Foods megastore went up.  Luxury apartments are taking over derelict buildings.  And now Maisel's Beaux Arts structure and its property are worth between 30 and 70 million dollars, as the corner lot sits in the heart of NYC's latest desirable “new neighborhood” to live, work and play. 

Jul 19, 2011

I Spy With My Little Eye

Bella Italia restaurant & wine shop, Stuttgart, Germany.  images Ippolito Fleitz Group
Oh I see what you did there...  vintage mirrors on the ceiling.
Well, at least you can check out what the couple at Table 9 is eating.  Yum!


Jul 18, 2011

Just Bead It

image via W magazine
This is Liza Lou.  Liza Lou is a visual artist with a mind-blowingly high amount of patience.   She's best known for creating painstakingly precise large-scaled installation pieces made from the unlikely medium of glass beads. 
Her famous work "Kitchen," a full-scale replica of a suburban American kitchen, is made entirely of beads.
A close up of the sink in "Kitchen"
 Lou was in graduate school studying fine art when she started using glass beads in her work instead of paints.  Her instructors and peers objected to her choice medium, mocking and disapproving of the craft supply.  She quit school and moved to Los Angeles, working tirelessly to create "Kitchen," one of her best-known pieces, over the course of five years.  "Kitchen" is estimated to have more than 30 million pieces in its composition.  Can you imagine the time, patience and love necessary to create something for five years all the while knowing that your mentors and colleagues think of it paltry?!

"Continuous Mile"
 "Maximum Security Fence"  image via Guest of a Guest

"Super Sister"

 "Backyard" whose composition includes 250,000 individually beaded blades of grass

Lou's work has brought her to a studio in Durban South Africa, where she has access to a team of Zulu artisans who help her create her intricate works with beads and tweezers.  Lou's career has been a huge success, garnering her accolades throughout the art world and earning her the MacArthur Foundation's 'genuis' grant of $500,000 to support her work.  Clearly, Lou's precise works require dedicated creativity, long-term motivation and physical endurance.  And a truckload of glass beads.  Genius, indeed. 

Liza at work in her Durban studio  image via W magazine

The beauty of pure individuality makes for the most exhilarating creations.  Let's be inspired this week! 

Jul 15, 2011

Feeling Hamish

Hamish Bowles' New York and Paris apartments have been gushed over for quite some time on the blogsphere, and for good reason!  These images of his homes in NYC and Paris provide loads of inspiration.  The free use of colorful fabrics, antique artwork, unusual lighting pieces, tailored furniture and well-curated accessories is wonderfully stimulating.  Recently, I've been freelancing with an architecture firm whose work is deliberately restrained with very quiet décor.  Revelling in these images of Bowles' homes today feels like a happy punch in the face to quiet décor!
via Vogue

via Vogue

via World of Interiors

via World of Interiors

via World of Interiors

via World of Interiors

via World of Interiors

Hamish Bowles, European Editor at Large for Vogue.  Isn't he dapper?
Happy Friday!

Jul 14, 2011

Don't Hang Me too High

I am often asked if I judge others' homes immediately upon entering.  "Of course not," I balk.  "Does an optometrist judge every set of eyeballs he meets? Nope. Only the ones who are paying him to do so."  Comparing myself to an Optometrist is absurd, and I know it.

That being said, there is ONE thing that I notice [no matter how much I try not to] when I'm in any place.  This one thing is a personal pet peeve, and one of the few Design Sins.*

*A word about sins:  There are only a handful major 'sins' in design.  These usually have to do with space planning and safety code adherence. In decorating, however, there are a few more sins and they're frequently changing with trends, fashion, etc.  To that end, I'm not one for WRONG vs. RIGHT.  A little decorating sin is not the end of the world and no one deserves a big red X slashed across a snapshot of their home.  So, I choose to work with the phraseology of "Unfortunate" vs. "Better."  An unfortunate decision about home decor is subjective and I am not one to throw invisible Rule Books at anyone. 

As I was saying, of all the "unfortunate" sins, there is only 1 that will send me into a mental tizzy when I cast my eyes upon it.  Even if I'm a guest in your home and I'm not hired to be judging the home, I can't help myself with this one issue.

This sin is.... Your wall art.  You hang it too high.  And you often hang it poorly so it's CROOKED.  I've been caught more than once leveling our a frame while standing near a wall during a cocktail party.  OCD much? You betcha.

The TOO HIGH ART PLACEMENT is not something that I can sneakily fix while enjoying your cocktail party, tho.  It's a problem that can be avoided/fixed, though, with a few simple rules and very handy tools. 

Your art is begging you to stop hanging it too high! Purple shirt is making an 'unfortunate' mistake!

The confusing suggestion for many people is that "you should hang your art at Eye Level."  Whose eye level, though?  For example, I'm a shorty and my eye level is much lower than my tall husband.  The standard blanket-statement guideline is to hang your art at 57" on center from the floor.  Keep reading for more on this... 
A 'Rules of Thumb' page with hanging level diagram that I included with a an e-decorating presentation.
In the museum and gallery industry, pieces are hung at this 57" line (though I've spoken with a few people who claim its 56").  So if the world's finest art is being hung at an 'eye level' of 57", isn't it fair to say that this standard is something by which we should/could all abide?

There are plenty of online sources to explain the best/better/'only' way to hang your art (try here, here and here though that last one is a little contrived and complicated in its rules-yness so pls take it with a grain of salt).  But when I saw the handy-dandy photoshopping skills of fellow blogger Mojan below, I saved the post and her clever comparison photos because it was a very simple and straight-forward visual presentation of the too-high conundrum.

UNFORTUNATE: If this looks perfectly fine to you, please keep reading.
Wall-hung artwork should relate to what's happening in the room.  In the room above, a beautiful New Orleans home, the art is floating in a sea of pale wall.  The painting seems to be hovering over the room, not accompanying the furniture and decor.  The placement is, in fact, doing a huge injustice to this stunning painting, and to the entire room. 

BETTER: This is the original image from Lonny that Mojan tweaked above,  See how the painting's placement is closer to the sofa, creating a stronger sense of composition and balance?  In fact, the room seems larger and airier with the proper art placement.

Better.  image via Pinterest

Unfortunate vs. Better  image via BothTogether
Use the 57" line to dictate the center of a gallery-style grouping.

And while we're on the subject of gallery-style groupings, use your walls to their best potential by filling them a wide range of art. Combine fine heirlooms pieces with thrift finds and framed projects that your kids drew in school.  Mix pen&ink drawings with huge photographs.  Or oil paintings with vintage postcards.  The mis-matchyness of a diverse art wall is what makes the gallery-style installation work so well. 

Above 3 images via my Pinterest.
 I use a very handy little tool called the Hang & Level* when hanging art.  I find my 57" line, tape up a little Frog Tape to mark it, and go from there.  The Hang & Level helps me make the right marks on the wall before we start impulsively banging holes into walls.  And having the multi-level guides helps to avoid an off-center or crooked installation.  Crooked art is off-putting, and can be so easily resolved.  Pop a level on your frame and watch the bubble guide you to a straight line.  Easy peasy!

My best pal on quickie installations

*Not an endorsement for the Hang & Level tool. 

So what did we learn today?  That the 'unfortunate' mistakes of decorating are not deadly sins, but easy adjustments for a more refined appearance in your home.  Now, unfortunate mistakes of design are a bigger problem, with steeper consequences.  Perhaps I'll do a post on design sins soon!

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