Posts Tagged 'art'

Design News From Bend

31This Tuesday, July 14th, Bend’s Mill Quarter Design District will be hosting it’s first block party. From 4-8 there will be food, music, beverages and the opportunity to tour the now abundant design-related businesses in the district.

Furnish is there with it’s beautiful new 2-story location. Evergreen Plantscapes, Atlas and Haven Home have all relocated there as well. This district is becoming a very cool destination. Come down and support this vibrant neighborhood. What better way to spend one of our lovely, long summer evenings? Hope to see you all there.

On a more somber note Bend will soon be losing Luxe Home Interiors. They tried to hang on, but have had to make the very tough decision to close their doors. They are having a huge sale and there are some incredible deals, so get if you are in need of now furniture, now is the time. I believe they will still be taking special orders for a few more weeks. Mountain Comfort is also having a close-out sale. Word on the street is that they will reopen, but I haven’t been able to confirm that. Stay tuned.


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.

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…

Tips for Buying and Collecting Photography

By Michael Axel

Sotheby’s auction house recently concluded a phenomenal auction of photographs. A colleague, after reviewing the sales prices of various images, said he didn’t see any reason why some pieces sell for more than others. He is not alone. Many of us don’t understand where the value is or how to recognize it. As always, you should buy what you like, but here are some other tips to ensure your collectible photographs grow in value:

Look for a photographer with unique style.

8879091-lgGreat photographers have a unique style. You can see it throughout a series of images, if not the entire portfolio of the artist’s work. Consider Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Joseph Karsh, Pete Turner, or many other contemporaries. Their styles are unique. Adams and Weston focused on the range of gray tones, but one focused on nature, while the other on still life and nude images. Karsh’s striking portraits are like no other, and intensely contrasty color and strong subjects are synonymous with Pete Turner’s work. Buying a strong style will help to ensure your image and its artist is remembered down the road.

What is the best printing method for collecting?

All art mediums have permanence and condition issues, photography is no different. Photography is closely related to science and technology and new processes bring new issues for properly caring for images.

Many collectors buy only Silver Gelatin prints (the photographic method used throughout the latter part of the 20th century). It is considered, by many, to be the most proven medium of the art, dating back over 100 years.

8925378-lg3With digital photography on the rise, traditional silver-based film and prints are often pushed aside for easier and faster techniques. The good news is that Giclee technology (the method of creating a print by spraying ink on paper) is becoming better every year. Current methods from Hewlett Packard are rated with a life of over 300 years. There are really two issues with Giclee prints: the longevity of the ink and the longevity of the paper it is created with.

My take on it is this: Silver Prints are the most collectible, but don’t hesitate buying a Giclee print, so long as it was made within the last several years.

Is the photographer-committed to archival matting, mounting, and framing techniques.

Don’t assume the photographer knows how to create an archival print that will last—I can tell you from my conversations that many have no concept of how to maximize the life of their prints. But here are some things you should find out, before buying your print:

  • Matting: If you buy a print, make sure it is matted on a thick, mostly solid, board material, such as mat board or foam core. You should also have a mat on top of the image to both hold it in place, but also prevent the photograph from coming in direct contact with the glass. If the image is in contact with the glass, you will get foxing, mold, mildew and fungus where moisture is trapped by the print. Both the mat board and mat material must be archival, or else your print may deteriorate by being exposed to material that is either too acidic or too alkaline.
  • Mounting: Most museums now mat their photographs (as well as drawings, prints, and other paper based arts) using a hinged mount. Many photographers and frame shops are still dry-mounting the images to the back board using a dry mount press that can expose the image to upwards of 200 degrees of heat. In my opinion, you should never dry-mount an image. Instead, archivists use a linen tape that holds the print to the matting (usually the front mat, not the back board). This tape is archival in itself, and only touches the edge of the print, preventing it from being exposed to an adhesive.
  • Framing: Lastly, your frame should be archival. While wooden frames may be marked as archival, most archivists prefer a metal frame because wood is still a treated organic material. You should also use glass between the frame and the matting, making sure it does not touch the photograph. You can also buy UV glass that limits the amount of harmful light the print is exposed to. It is expensive, but worth it to best preserve your image.

Buy prints in limited editions.

Buying prints in limited editions ensures some value to the work. You should see a number like “3/50”, indicating the image is the third in a limited edition of 50. That can mean an edition of 50 prints of the image, or 50 prints of that size image. Either is generally acceptable from a collector’s standpoint.

Look for the artist’s signature.

If you’ve purchased  a high quality print, it should be signed by the artist. Generally the image is signed in pencil rather than pen because ink is generally not archival. A photograph signed in ink (especially on the image itself) is a dead giveaway that the photographer is not knowledgeable about archival methods.

Does the photographer oversee the entire process?

8879093-lg1If you can meet the photographer, that’s great. Not only do artists love to talk about their work, but you can inquire about his or her processes in making their images archival. Hopefully the photographer has not only exposed the image, but has overseen the process of creating the final image from print to matting and/or framing. While you are at it, find out what you can about the photographer. Are they an artist or a lucky amateur? Are they an expert on a particular technique, or are they having their prints made at the local big-box film stop?

Buy directly from a reputable source.

If you can buy directly from the photographer, great. If not, make sure the gallery, collector, or designer knows the artist, and understands their work, and their importance in the field. If you get the feeling the photographer’s representatives don’t know the artist well, it may be a sign they don’t care, or that the photographer is not noteworthy. You may want to keep looking.

Look beyond landscapes.

For value’s sake, buy art from photographers who shoot more than landscapes. Many landscape photographers are great. Most are not. If you want to collect photography consider subjects other than landscape – street photography, still life, erotic and other forms –  mimic the diversity of paintings, drawings, sculpture and other art forms. Consider all the types of images you might add to your collection.

By now you are keenly aware of those aspects of a photograph that differentiate great collectible artists and pieces, from those that are not. Great photographs continue to tell a story, long after you own them. And prices for collectible photographs are still low, compared to other medium. Collecting photographs is not only affordable, but could be the next great art investment.

About Michael Axel: Axel is a photographer, artist, author, and technologist living in Central Oregon. His work has appeared at several museums, including the Portland Art Museum. He has worked for the distributor of Hasselblad cameras, infamous for being the quintessential space camera, and works extensively with film. He is seldom without a camera in tow, whether his Leicas or Zeiss Ikon Contessa. He shoots mostly with Hasselblad cameras and various 4×5” medium format cameras. Few have mastered the technique of stand development so completely, and Axel’s book, “Iridescent Light, The Art of Stand Development” (available at is the bible of this unique film development methodology. His website is at

Bend’s Old Mill Quarter poised to become a design center

Mill QuarterWhether by design or happenstance, Bend’s Mill Quarter seems to be in the position of becoming something of a design center.

On one of the most frequently travelled corners in the Old Mill District (Wall & Arizona) you’ll see the “Coming Soon” sign for Furnish — one of our furniture stores specializing in modern, classic furniture. They will soon be moving into their new, 5000 square foot Mill Quarter store front. (I’m told they are just waiting for the final elevator inspection.) This is great news. When many business are downsizing, Jed and Noelle of Furnish are moving ahead, doubling their space and adding new lines.

Joining Furnish in the Mill Quarter on the south corner (SW Industrial & Bond) will be Evergreen Plantscapes. They also are moving into a larger space in early March. So not only will EP continue to provide exceptional plants and maintenance for businesses and residences, they will now have a larger and improved retail space. Evergreen Plantscapes specializes in unique plants you can’t find elsewhere and the staff of this family-owned business is incredibly knowledgable. I challenged Ben, the manager, to find me plants that I couldn’t kill. He assured me he would find things even I can take care of.

In the surrounding blocks of the Mill Quarter are Rising Star Stellar Home FurnishingsHaven Home, Gairdin, Area Rug Connection, United Tile, and Intrepid Tile & Stone, making this a destination for anyone looking to outfit a home.

Lamps and Pillows and Art. Oh My!

designpublic1I love sharing cool products with you and I recently found an e-retailer that carries a fabulous collection of home decor for those with a modern aesthetic. Its Design Public,, 14181__dp__e700x600based in San Francisco. They offer a broad selection of merchandise from furniture and accessories, to bedding, lighting, art, and spectacular pillows. You’ll also love their selection of personal accessories. Ladies, check out the handbags and totes – so cool.

16688__dp__e700x600Some of you will recognize the manufacturers and designers, but all of the products Design Public offers are well-designed and well-crafted while being approachable and affordable.

If you ever visit San Francisco, sign up for their weekly “outlet deals.” There are some really good bargains, but the hitch is you have to pick them up in S.F. – no shipping on outlet purchases.


Contact the Author 541-330-5899



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