Posts Tagged 'home decor'

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

Design Plans: Your Road Map to the Home You Imagine

20770-se-hollis-007Plans…business plans, financial plans, vacation plans, weekend plans…love ’em or hate ’em we all utilize plans in various areas of our lives. They are our roadmaps, they guide us, direct us and keep us from going too far astray. So why then, do so many of us neglect planning the one area meant to nurture and support us the most…our homes? Left to our own devices, most of us go about decorating our homes in a shotgun manner. We move from room to room, idea to idea in a scattered, haphazard fashion. No wonder so few of us feel like we have that pulled-together look we want and desire for our homes.

One of the most common things I hear from my clients is “Nothing feels finished. I know the look I want, I just don’t know how to get there.” They have spent the last several years accumulating furnishings in a fractured way…chasing sales, trends and moods. The result is often a home that is somewhat functional and schizophrenic in design. Not surprisingly, the first thing I do is a room-by-room master design plan. It covers everything from remodel ideas, if appropriate, to suggested furniture, lighting and accessories. Then, together with my clients, we prioritize the projects and set budgets. Working room by room, means that we can complete a vision and feel good about the finished product. Then as time and budget allow, we move to the next project/room on the list and get it completed. The design plan is our road map. Design plans are even more important if you are going to work in stages. In other words, you have the budget to complete the living room this year, but the guest room will have to wait until next. It’s so easy to forget where you left off. With a good plan to refer back to, you won’t lose your way.

mm_0022_wOf course, like any plan we make, it can revised, updated and tweaked – nothing is carved in stone. The important thing is to make the plan so that you are able to make informed decisions and real progress toward your goal of a beautiful, functional home.

So do a walk-through. Make a list. What needs to be done in each room for it to be complete? If this seems overwhelming or you’re not sure what your home needs don’t be afraid to consult a designer. It’s what we do. And who knows we may surprise you with what we come up with.

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

Paint Green!

pic_fourcans2There is so much talk about “green” products it’s almost impossible to know what to believe or where to start. One of the easiest ways for any of us, design professionals or not, to do what’s best for our environment and our health is PAINT. Virtually every paint manufacturer has a Low-VOC formula or two and there are a handful of Zero-VOC products available.

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are those nasty things that give paint its odor. And that’s the good news. They are also known to contribute to climate change, human illnesses, such as asthma and cancer, and to be a cause of “sick building syndrome.”  If you are sensitive odor or have allergies, Zero-VOC is a must for you.

Not all Low- or No-VOC paints are created equal. Many are thin and don’t tint well. A few of the product lines I like, mainly because of the exceptional coverage and colors are:ia_pri_aura_groupedcans_346x1941

  1. Aura by Benjamin Moore – a luscious paint with fantastic coverage (some of the best I’ve seen) and available in the full BM palette of 3300 colors
  2. Mythic Paint – developed by a university lab, also with great coverage
  3. Yolo Colorhouse – available in a limited but pretty terrific palette

And yes, most of these paints are a more expensive than their standard counterparts, but the ones mentioned above are worth it because you actually use less paint, they are better for your health and that of the planet.

You’ll be hearing more from me on the topic of environmentally-friendly and sustainably- manufactured products. We in the design and building industries need to take responsibility for the waste our professions create.homeimg2

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.

Define your space.

wow1-11One of the most common problems that I see with interior decorating is that the space lacks definition. That is your rooms become multi-purpose and consequently don’t function and support you as they should.

Let’s say you have a home-based business. You designate a room for the office and because you don’t want to appear territorial, the family TV comes to roost, the kid’s computer joins the club and before you know it your home-based business is fighting for it’s very existence.

Now the children each have their own rooms as well as a “play room” for their activities and friends, your husband has his “man room,” and then there are the communal rooms; kitchen, living room, etc. So what happened to your income-generating office? It’s become ill-defined, disorganized and inefficient. So reclaim your space! The TV can move into the living room or den, the kid’s computer  can move into the kitchen nook designed for that very purpose, and you are now free to redesign and reorganize and revamp your office to suit you and your business. You’ll be happier, more productive and wondering how you ever did it before. And who knows, now that you have your very own space maybe you’ll carve out a corner for the art studio you’ve always wanted.

Contact the Author 541-330-5899



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