Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lounge Loving London

Back from London and back to reality, which oddly enough meant leaving 75  degrees and sunny for 45 and rainy here in Portland, but go figure. I was visiting a few close friends, living in distinctly different corners of the city in Fulham and Shoreditch, equally interesting and well suited to their respective inhabitants. My Shoreditch buddy has an eye for the types of place I like, so its great visiting her - regardless of the city - because I always know I will love wherever she takes me.

The Tea Building in Shoreditch

Shoreditch can't be called an up-and-coming neighborhood, because as far as trendy new neighborhoods go, it has long since arrived. The result of this establishment is the development multi-focused design oriented brands. Businesses that started off as a smaller notion in a location, once thought to be a gamble, have had the chance (and real-estate) to develop into brands that promote an entire lifestyle.  The end user gets to experience how these designers/ entrepreneurs would ideally spend a a larger chunk of life, rather than one aspect of it. Shoreditch's industrial backdrop, serves as an interesting background for these venues, and demands a certain level of creativity and eccentricities to stay afloat. 

The Bar: Lounge Lover
Les Trois Garcons is a design collective located in and around Redchruch Street.  In addition to high profile interior design services, they operate an antiques boutique, bar (Lounge Lover) restaurant and Château (admittedly, and obviously located  out of the city). It has sort of a Peter Pan feeling, in that it is extremely playful collection, with an unabashed mashing of periods, styles, and scale.  It is so clear the absolute joy the owners get from procuring these pieces and you can alwmost hear one person or another exclaiming that they need that 10 foot tall chinese vase.  The total abandomant of minimalism and need-based design was oddly refreshing, and felt wonderfully care-free given the recent tendency towards paired down design to match paired down spending. 

The Restaurant: Les Trois Garcons

 The Store: Maison Trois Garcon

The Chateau (yes, really) Chateau De La Goujeonnerie

On the same block, The Boundary contains a boutique hotel, cafe, market and roof-deck bar.   The Aubin & Willis Shoreditch location houses a theater and gallery alongside their  retail store   Each with its own distinct identity. There is no fear in appearing to be  larger than life, though each strives to make you feel as though you are at  home.  Whatever the motivation may be within each organization, the outcome for someone living in the areas is  not to shabby.  If you are not up for a "lifestyle experience", never fear, just like everywhere else in London, a pub as literally always around the corner! Photos are from the companies respective websites since I was silly and didn't bring along a camera... next time!

The Boundary

Images from the Aubin & Wills  Blog from the insanely British Tweed Run 2011.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bookshelf Crush turned Architect Crush turned City Crush

Today at work I was looking or inspiration for  built in bookshelf for  client.  I was trying to figure out away to create a horizontal line connecting two areas visually without making the short ceilings seems even lower with a heavy handed horizontal  presence.  So I did my normal hap-hazard internet quest, and found the below image on Remodelista. I loved the small row of shelving for horizontal books or photographs by Aidlin Darling Design of San Francisco. I am always a sucker for things which are sub-divided in a Mondrian-esque manner.

My inspiration
It's (possible) Inspiration
Piet Mondrian 
Composition with Gray and Light Brown
1918; Oil on canvas, 80.2 x 49.9 cm; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

I love San Francisco and regularly flirt with the notion of moving out there. Finding  firms like this Aidlin Darling doesn't hurt the wanderlust.  They have received attention for their work on  their LEED platinum  project Bar Agricole. They captured the LEED credit granted for sourcing products locally by commissioning local artists and designers to fabricate custom furniture, lighting and cabinetry using reclaimed or recycled materials, each with a unique story and role in the space. It also has an onsite garden that supplements the restaurants produce (local farmers provide the rest). They  beautifully integrated daylighting and natural ventilation with glass skylight sculptures (pictured below). LEED  is, after-all, a giant check list. It's always nice to see someone using that list as a creative challenge rather than a series of constraints. 

Glass Skylight Sculptures
Fused hot-formed borosilicate Glass Tubing
For Bar Agricole by Nicholas Weinstein Studio

Bar Agricole

There are also some great residential projects, showing off the clean lines and organic materials  frequented by Bay Area architects. This vineyard estate is no exception to the trend, but I do love it. 

Vineyard Estate

Below is an image from the project in the Mission District of the city, that housed the bookshelf that lead me here in the first place.  So there we have it, reason number 945 why I would love to live on the west cost.  Photos are from the Bar Agricole website, as well as the Aidlin Darling Design Website. 

Losa Loft

Friday, April 8, 2011

Entry Hall Tile

Filmore Clarke

I love these Moroccan-inspired tiles. They could be really great in an entry hall, mudroom etc. You will have minimal furniture and fabrics competing with the tile,  and most likely many doors and windows leaving little room for wall art.  Filmore Clarke makes their hand-painted ceramic tile in Los Angles. Popham Design produces thier tile in Morocco, and can be purchased in the States through Ann Sacks

Popham Tile, Made in Morrocco.

Popham Tile, Made in Morrocco.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trim System by Dada

I  love the look and feel of a kitchen with open shelving. But it really only works as beautifully as seen in a magazine if you have a curatorial approach to the items in your kitchen. For those people who don't simply live off of Illy coffee and artisanal honey the thought of having all the goods exposed can be a little daunting. I like this system from the Italian kitchen systems designer Dada . This gives you that same aesthetic, with the option to hide things away. ie: if company is coming by and you don't have time to make sure all of your labels are facing forward, and your Tigger Mug is concealed behind your set from the MoMa gift store.

There are a lot of great details in this kitchen system, is is designed to the millimeter and it shows. One unique feature is the shallow shelving below the full depth cabinetry  allows you to access the commonly used cookware items (which often look great exposed) but still give you the tidier option of pulling down the translucent covers. I like that it will just hint at the geometry of whats behind.  It is also lit from the inside so it creates a really nice ambient light at night. 

You could get a similar effect with frosted glass cabinet doors, but I think the appeal of open shelving is the clean horizontal plane it creates, and the fact that items are in sight and at hand when you want them. To get a similar effect, with a smaller price tag , you could install a shallow storage area below the cabinetry, concealed by a translucent material like 3form, that would slide horizontally rather than down into the counter-top, or hinge up like a garage door and stick magnetically bottom side of the shelving and cabinetry above.    It could be really helpful in a small kitchen where counter top clutter makes the space feel even tighter, though for now my future fantasy kitchen will absolutely involve 13' high ceilings, plenty of light, and two cognac leather Arne Jacobson Chairs. 


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sonia Delaunay at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum

TexColor Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay

This time of year has us all yearning for color in our lives. We New Englanders went through the worlds worst April fools joke of a blizzard yesterday. Today the sun is shining and maybe this is why I was drawn to these textiles when browsing through Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) was a Russian born French artist, whose work extended into the world of textile design, fashion and set production.  She had an amazing sense for color, and it's potential to create a sense of movement  through distinct combination of tones and geometric forms. Delaunay was the first living woman to have a solo exhibition at the Louvre in 1964.  I would love to catch the retrospective taking place at the National Design Museum, reviewed March 18–June 5, 2011. Here is a link to the review of the exibition by the New York Times.


Friday, April 1, 2011

An "A Ha" Moment...

I am starting with images of the Shoreditch House in East London for a couple of reasons.  With an upcoming trip on the horizon, I have London on the brain and this was one of my favorite places to go there. It was so exactly my taste I was probably somewhat annoying to bring there because I was always half way checking out the furniture and fixtures. It was effortlessly casual, but classy. It had a playful use of scale in the furnishings, and there was a really nice interplay between the industrial feeling of the surrounding neighborhood, the interior architectural choices, and the eclectic design sensibility of the designer, Tom Dixon. It was a place with a clear program to the design, As a six story members club that sought to serve its guests day and night a clear design program was essential, but it in not way felt forced.   

When I first went I didn't know who Tom Dixon was, and only recently was able to put the iconic British designers name to this place that I loved so much. It was a project of the Design Research Studio, the interior design branch of his brand. Recently he completed a restaurant at the Royal Acadamy (pictured below), featured on Dezeen that lead me to their website, which then lead me to finally put a designers name to the Shoreditch house. (Googling "who designed the Shoreditch House" had proven ineffective in the past). Kind of an "A Ha!" moment a couple of years after my initial visit which I am now sharing with you. I will do my best not to simply re-post from Dezeen, and am still not totally sure how this blog will develop, but these images set a basic aesthetic ground work and I what better place to start than the place that confirmed for me that interior design could mean oh-so-much more than throw pillows.