Archive for the 'art' Category

Dress up Your Lighting.

Lighting is such an hugely important and often overlooked part of design…at least for the do-it-yourselfer. Professional designers know and understand the importance of lighting. Not just the function, but the art of lighting.

There is at least one place in most homes that would benefit from a really outstanding light fixture. That said I thought I’d share with you some of the more spectacular chandeliers and pendants out there. These are all contenders in a “Best of 2009” competition, sponsored by Interior Design magazine. They all fall into the “statement piece” category, meaning  they move beyond function and becomes a focal point, a statement,  in the space they occupy. Think of them as a fantastic piece of jewelry for your home.

I hope you enjoy browsing and realize you don’t have to settle for ho-hum lighting.


Sunset from Fire Farm Lighting


Dada from Globe Lighting


Scrap Lights from Graypants, Inc.
made from salvaged corrugated cardboard


Light Art from 3-Form
made from 40% pre-consumer, recycled material


Heat from Joel Berman Glass Studios, Ltd.


Cumulus from ABYU Lighting
made from turkey and coque  feathers and crystal teardrops


Organics Chandelier from D’style


Shaper Fabriqué Pendant from Cooper Lighting


Orbit1 from Bodner Chandeliers
steel with eco-friendly bronze finish


Venus from Bodner Chandeliers
steel with eco-friendly bronze finish


Cascading Series from Studio Vetro
hand-cast glass ribbons on a steel frame


Objectified. A film to inspire your inner designer.

build.print_smlScreening this week, to a sold-out crowd, at the Seattle International Film Festival was Objectified – a documentary by Gary Huswit about design, specifically industrial design. Industrial design is the design of products that can mass produced. It is everywhere. It shapes each of our lives. It is the coffeemaker we use, the chairs we sit in, the cars we drive, the electronics that we depend on. Literally everything we touch and use on a daily basis, has been designed by someone. Do you ever think about that? Things as simple as a knife and fork had to be designed. Without design they would not exist.

This film features many of the super-stars of the industrial design world…Deiter Rams, Director of Design for Braun, arguably the grandfather of modern design in the appliances we use every day; Johnny Ive, designer for Apple, enough said; creatives from Ideo and Smart Design, the folks that bring you the OXO products; to name a few. We are given a sneak peak into the processes that result in these seemingly mundane items.

At its core, design is problem-solving, frequently stemming from some frustration we experience in an object not working well or a need not yet filled. Product designers throw out all of the rule books and start new. What should the product do? What should it feel like? How should it perform? Once those questions have been answered, then…what should it look like? Function drives form, but form is equally important.

Today’s designers are also addressing the issues os sustainability in a very real way. We can’t continue to create products that become obselete in a matter of months without considering how those products will be manufactured and disposed of. Will your next cell phone be made from biodegradable materials? Will we each have manufacturing capabilities on our desktops?

Objectified does not pretend to be a comprehensive film about design or the history of design. It does do a really solid job of illustrating how design impacts and shapes ALL of our lives and poses many questions about the role of design in our future. It is inspiring and thought provoking. If you are even remotely interested in design and innovation Objectified is 90 minutes well spent.

Objectified is currently doing the film festival curcuit and will be available on DVD sometime this month. Another good film, directed by Gary Hustwit is Helvetica, about fonts and graphic design currently available on DVD.

Metropolitan Home’s Design 100

I always look forward to the Metropolitan Home Design 100 — an annual showcase of  100 of the design world’s best. It represents everything for homes, architects, furnishings and materials to people and ideas. The editors of MH collaborate, discuss, debate, and downright argue for what they believe are the best. The final 100 are those that they agree on. Each page of this publication can be lingered over and savored. I find myself leafing through it multiple times. Each time finding something or someone new to be enamored with.

I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you…

3-09-09masterFirst (#100 on the MH list), without a doubt, is the new LED lightbulb from Philips.It fits a regular socket, consumes 7 watts and burns for about 45,000 hours, sells for about $40 to the trade. We’ve been waiting for this product for a long time. Compact flourescents, in my opinion, just don’t cut it — the color is still dismal, they contain mercury and they’re not dimmable. This LED bulb will finally bring good quality, energy saving light into the household. And it’s DIMMABLE. Now on sale in Europe, it will be avialable in the U.S. mid-July.

Second (#96 on the MH list), designer Ana Borrallo’s transformation of a Chicago office suite into a spectacular apartment. She took advantage of the unique traits of the space and created a home completely reflective of it’s owners. It’s open, flexible and gorgeous. If you ever want to know what my dream home looks like, this comes very close.

index.1Third (#4 on the MH list) – The Oslo Opera House in Norway. Dressed in white marble and blue-tinted glass it emerges like a glacier emerging from the landscape. Visitors are able and encouraged to walk up the sloping roofs to views the city and fjords below. I am completed enamored with the architure of the last decade or so that invites visitors to interact with the structures themselves. The Academy of Science in San Francisco, being another recent example.

PC_Antonis-Achilleos32Also worth mentioning are MH#11, tableware designed by Masanobu Ido. As one who loves to set a table, I love these plates. They offer near-infinite flexibility allowing you to create the perfect tablescape. And  MH#28, Idea Paint, the next step from the chalkboard paint we’ve all come to love. Idea Paint turns your walls into white boards. Just like the ones you use in your meetings…only bigger. How great is that!  

Take a look at this collection of incredible design. Let me know what your favorites are.

Oslo Opera House – Friends of the Oslo Opera House
Tableware – Antonis Achilles, Metropolitan Home

Inspiration. Where do you find yours?

Inspiration. What an elusive thing. Really hard to describe. Words don’t always fit. It’s really more of a feeling – a visceral experience… at least for me. My pulse quickens…my breathing becomes shallow…my vision blurs…I get goosebumps. That’s what I experience when I am inspired, truly inspired. I know it sounds a bit like I’m having a heart attack, but really, for me, it’s more like falling in love, even if just for a moment. So what might cause this kind of physical reaction in me? Where do I find my inspiration? That’s a question I get asked a lot. Having spent my life pursuing one creative venture after another, it’s a good question.

13wine500.1Well today, the New York Times provided two really good examples of things that inspired me. The first was somewhat expected – in an article on an absinthe, that mysterious, mythical, recently legalized drink. What first grabbed my attention was the photo of a stunning Art Nouveau fountain used to drip the water over a sugar cube into the beautiful green liquid. The lines are gorgeous… so fluid, so graceful. It harkens back to a more civilized time. The second were the descriptions of the absinthe itself…from crystal clear to celadon to tourquoise. The flavor… anise and herbs. Then, the alchemy…when water is added, it moves from being clear to an opalescent cloud. Heaven. Now I have never had the opportunity to taste absinthe, butI love the name, the color and reading this article made me want to run out and try it, as long as I could also have it served from a stunning Art Nouveau fountain.

netoslide17Art is something that never fails to inspire me. Again the NYT didn’t disappoint. They have an online slide show of an art installation by Brazilian artist Ernesto Armory. These photos literally took my breath away. This installation engages all of your senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and sound –  and the organic, sensual, forms are other-worldly. To be able to conceive of such a thing is beyond my comprehension. I stand in awe.

So where do I find my inspiration? Everywhere. I find it everywhere. I am so inspired by creative minds…artists, thinkers, innovators…the way they work, their vision, their passion. I am inspired by things of beauty, art, color, texture – natural and man-made. I am inspired by people…your average, everyday people…living their lives, going to work, raising their kids. I am inspired by my brother, one of the most remarkable people I know. I find inspiration everywhere. It IS everywhere, all you have to do is look.

Where do you find your inspiration? Tell me, I’d love to know.

Photos: Absinthe – Tony Cenicola/New York Times,
Neto –  Librado Romero/The New York Times

Custom Tile: Add BIG Impact to Your Home

10-grapebckspsh_sml2Most of us have tile somewhere in our homes – floors, counters, backsplashes – it is the work horse of  the interior design and home improvement world. And today, there are SO many options available, to meet every style and every price range, that there really isn’t any excuse to NOT to have something interesting.

That said, the use of custom tile affords an opportunity to create a look that is unique to you. Now you may think that anything “custom” will break the bank. Not necessarily. Custom tile, used as an accent, doesn’t have to add much to your budget and will yield huge impact. There are two companies I’d like to tell you about.


Fox Glass Works (FGW)  creates custom glass tile for residential and light commercial use. Yes, there is a lot of glass tile available in the mass market now, but nothing like this. FGW has a palette of 73 (soon to be 74) gorgeous, proprietary colors. They fuse their own glass which means the color goes all the way through – it isn’t just painted on the back side. They can create tile in virtually any size or shape desired, including large format. It can be carved, front and back, and “bent” to create a bullnose for edges. Glass tile is appropriate for most design styles, traditional to contemporary and mixes beautifully with other materials  – think stone, porcelain, etc.

kimonomural_496A very different, but equally versatile tile comes from Metolius Ridge Tile. These are hand-painted terra cotta tiles created by artist, Justyn Livingston. Justyn has a 25 year background in textile design, printmaking, product design and fine art. Her work has been strongly influenced by her travels around the world; from Romania to Eastern Europe to South America and Tonga in the South Pacific. Metolius Ridge offers a line of standard designs with a wonderful color palette AND can create customs designs for most any installation. Whether ordering from their catalogue or custom, each tile is painted by hand and is a work of art in and of itself.cataloguefinal-2

So next time you are planning a design project that includes tile I hope you’ll explore some of these options that will truly make your project one-of-a-kind. Remember, a little can go a long way. You won’t regret it, I promise. Until next time…

Contact the Author 541-330-5899



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