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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 7 -- ERASMUS



imagecourtesytheenglishmuse


When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus

Sunday, January 29, 2012

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 6 -- JORGE LUIS BORGES

imagecourtesythecaptivereaderwordpress
viabeautiful-librariescom


“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 5 -- JOHN WATERS

imagecourtesgawker/latimes

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them. Don’t sleep with people who don’t read!” – John Waters

Friday, January 27, 2012

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 4 -- JAMES BALDWIN

imagecourtesyvignettedesignblogspotviabeautiful-librariescom

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin

Thursday, January 26, 2012

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 3 -- NORA EPHRON

imagecourtesyiappreciatethatviabeautiful-librariescom

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” — Nora Ephron

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 2 -- RAY BRADBURY


imagecourtesygermansocietyorg
viabeautiful-librariescom

“I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’ All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”  – Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / D...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / D...: imagecourtesyjjjjoundblog “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t ...

VISUAL TREATS presents IT'S A BOOK(ISH) WORLD / Day 1 -- FRANK KAFKA

imagecourtesyjjjjoundblog





“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka

Monday, January 23, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 5 -- HECKER, PH...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 5 -- HECKER, PH...: photobyshannonmcgrath Peeps, It seems that what we've now come to expect as 'English country charm' or 'Parisian glamour' or even...

INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 5 -- HECKER, PHELAN & GUTHRIE (Australia)

photobyshannonmcgrath





Peeps,


It seems that what we've now come to expect as 'English country charm' or 'Parisian glamour' or even the multi-patterned tile/layered floor carpets/ vivid-hued wall riad of the 'Morocco/Casbah style' could be the inventiveness of an observant writer or two, sympathetic critics, an ambitious editor, savvy business-types, dreamy creative types, gullible patrons, and presto--fast forward to a style/movement/genre/of the school of . . . .  Happens all the time in art, design, architecture, cinema, literature and fashion.  It was a bit of a surprise that a purview of homes and buildings around the world show a lot of similarity, a lack of individuality, and reveal a format that could be seen throughout many of the 'triumphs' featured in Moscow, London, or Brazil.  Image upon image have pressed themselves upon my roving eyes, and many without leaving a fragment worth remembering.  Blank walls, expansive floors, modular furniture meant to convey the 'hip' or 'cool' factor, the requisite decorator object (lone tree-branch, a branch of coral, a sheep, sheep-skin rug or throw, a bust, a ball, a circle (painting by Hirst), a squeegeed formation by Nares, soup-cans, Brillo-boxes, and the play-book seems to have been studied and re-studied (all around the world!).


You may search in vain for clues of 'aussie' within this sitting room, as I have done repeatedly.  Perhaps it required an Aboriginal dream painting above the fireplace or a couple of didgeridoos placed in the corner; maybe a photo of the famed Opera House (with its distinctive roofs evocative of ship sails) 'casually' leaning against the wall, or better yet, a bronzed Bondi Beach lifeguard in red swimming-briefs plopped on the velvet tufted settee.  Then there would be ambiguity, for we'd immediately realize that we're in the land down under, 'where the women glow and men plunder.'  I personally cannot vouch for either, but after twice watching Rabbit-proof Fence, I may have to agree with the latter claim*. 


After first seeing this image, I returned three days later and delved further.  Today's visual treat (by Australian design firm Hecker Phelan & Guthrie, www.heckerguthrie.com) is a Victorian mansion located in Melbourne.  The Alma Road house project involved stripping down the interiors, yet retaining original moldings, mantels, and other fixtures. A complete review of the project can be viewed at www.yatzer.com/thealmahouse.  In their handling of the project, the design firm has been lauded for their sensitivity to the character of the home and a very balanced and nuanced approach to the furnishings.  Of the many projects that they have completed (both large and small), I found this one particularly beautiful and warm; as well as welcoming.  Desirable characteristics of homes anywhere (in the world).


Enjoy,
Shane 


PS:  Tonight's soundtrack is Bent's Cyclons In Love (programmed to love).


*courtesy of Men At Work


Sunday, January 22, 2012

THE PEEP SHOW presents Monday Morning Visual Treat

imagecourtesyjjjjoundblog




Peeps,

A visual treat to enjoy with breakfast, or during the lunch break.  I enjoyed all your emails this week, and just wanted to say thanks (for everything).

Sincerely,
Shane

INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / DAY 4 -- BERLIN RODEO (Germany)

imagecourtesyberlinrodeo






Peeps,

I've realized that any discussion about design in Germany would be wholly inadequate without acknowledging the superlative level of creativity found in Berlin.  Magazine editors and bloggers rave about the fashion sensibilities of Berliners (both street style and the clothing lines presented on the runways during Fashion Week).  Art critics, dealers, and curators unanimously acknowledge that Berlin's burgeoning art scene is the loci of imaginative, energetic, raw, and uncensored offerings in fine arts, as well as the decorative and applied arts, industrial and graphic design.  Apparently artistic types from all parts of the continent, and as far east as the western frontiers of the former USSR have discovered the attractions of this city situated on the cross-roads between East and West.  Friends of mine who deal in antiques grumble that London has been picked clean, Paris and New York's inventory is too pricey to turn a profit, and the next best thing is shopping in Berlin where it is believed that eventually everything will turn up (if one knows who to contact).  And there is no shortage of 'deals' to be made.


For the sake of brevity, I venture that modern-day Berlin can be loosely defined by the three B's, which are: the Brandenburg Gate, (Georg) Baselitz and the Berghain (club). The stately monument is a gleaming representation of German history (both past and present); the position of Mankind vis-a-vis a world fractured by wars and competing ideologies, as portrayed in Baselitz's monumental, expressive paintings (and sculpture); and lastly (the) Berghain where decadence is celebrated, access down to the Dionysusesque playground strategically controlled, and the balance between mainstream/outsider, local/foreigner, elitist/barbarian carefully monitored by horned/pierced/tattooed/muscled gatekeepers.  Against the backdrop of history, new technology and creativity (as well as the Berliners' 'will-to-power') have made the city one of the most vibrant in the new Europe.


Today's visual treat is from the portfolio of Berlin-based design firm BERLIN RODEO.  Other note-worthy projects can be viewed online at their website, www.berlinrodeo.com


Thanks,
Shane


PS:  Today's soundtrack is Nina Hagen's NEW YORK, NEW YORK.


(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / DAY 4 -- BERLIN RODE...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / DAY 4 -- BERLIN RODE...: imagecourtesyberlinrodeo Peeps, I've realized that any discussion about design in Germany would be wholly inadequate without ackno...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 3 -- BRICKS AMST...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 3 -- BRICKS AMST...: photocourtesybricksamsterdam Peeps, Looking outside this morning, there is little drama or winter splendor to behold. It's grey, gr...

INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 3 -- BRICKS AMSTERDAM (Amsterdam)

photocourtesybricksamsterdam




Peeps,

Looking outside this morning, there is little drama or winter splendor to behold.  It's grey, grey, grey and everything seems lackluster for no more snow predicted, the ice is ever so slowly melting without having to scrape or put down rock-salt, and the grocery shopping was done yesterday, so now no need to go anywhere.  So back inside where its warm, cozy and amaryllis bulbs from last year have emerged with a vengeance.  On my desk, they reach upward 3 feet high on narrow stalks, like exotic birds on the ready for frenzied courtship.  Coffee, chicken salad sandwiches, and two Netflix movies sitting in the mailbox for this afternoon's viewing -- yes, life is complete.

I am particularly drawn to today's visual treat by James van der Velden of the interior design firm Bricks Amsterdam (www.bricksamsterdam.com).  His approach to design, which he calls 'Timeless Eclecticism, describes his philosophy of combining classical elements with a broad contemporary approach.  He's quite realistic in his deft handling of this space (a combination of sitting/dining room), and reflects the Dutch aversion to the superfluous, and a preference for practicality and common sense.  Legalized marijuana instead of the jailing of its populace, legalized prostitution instead of fining 'working girls,' and a exemplary focus on the environment says a lot about the calibre of that nation's character.  I wish that we here in America would learn some lessons from our European friends, as rhetoric on the part of some still remains divisive and inflammatory, and archaic.  Politicians in the bid for election play on racial stereotypes and display despicable levels of hypocrisy and dishonesty.  I would hope that these cowboys/mavericks/leaders/whatever the hell they call themselves would look around and realize that the sky will not fall, nor will the family unit collapse with the passage of gay marriage.  Nor, as evidenced in the Netherlands, will the (dyke) walls come crashing down by embracing equality (and a more humanistic approach to today's society).


Hope you enjoy today's visual treat as much as I did.  Last week I watched English hottie Colin Firth play Johannes Vermeer in Girl With A Pearl Earring; besides great acting, the set design was wonderful. Another movie worth viewing for Dutch-inspired interiors is Soldier of Orange with the iconic Rutger Hauer.  Have a wonderful weekend.


Sincerely,
Shane


PS:  Soundtrack for this grey Saturday is Dinossa by Luminodisco!!



Thursday, January 19, 2012

INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 2 -- PASCAL ARQUITECTOS (Mexico)

photocourtesypascalarquitectos



Peeps,

Modern design, particularly in architecture, interiors, and home furnishings, has long been a mainstay of our southern neighbors, such as the countries of Mexico, Brazil, and Uruguay.  If one expects to wander into any of the capital cities and revel in the sights or sounds made famous by the late, great travel writers of the 70's, rest assured that you're much too late. The ubiquitous tile-roofed hacienda filled with colonial furnishings and ancestor paintings, or market-stalls heaped with silver and gold crafts tended by unknowing merchants is long gone. And now replaced by design-savvy architects and designers who have mined the long history of modernity in Latin America to produce show-stopping projects which both embrace new technology as well as reflect the traditional design vernacular.  I believe that Octavio Paz would have been surprised at the bravado and passion with which design professionals in the major cities in Mexico have shrived to place their mark on the cultural and aesthetic landscape. When placed in the context that is distinctly their own, comparisons to their wealthier counterparts north of the Rio Bravo river are unnecessary.  Historically, proud pyramid builders succumbed to an agrarian society which chafed under the restraints imposed by Catholicism, foreign and home-grown dictators; and then near immobility as a result of runaway inflation, a devalued peso, and as of late, the violence unleashed by competing drug-lords. 2012 has been prophesied as a time of change, and the rest of the world awaits either the return to a former glory, or further destruction beneath the sun of a new bhaktun.  


Today's visual treat is the Mourning House by Mexican architectural firm Pascal Arquitectos, founded in 1979 by brothers Carlos and Gerard Pascal-Wolf.  They state that, ' this is a project with very strong emotional implications.  We had to understand the mood of the user . . . we wanted to create a space that can create a spiritual mood, for this we referred to ancient buildings that were designed for that purpose, such as the Egyptian Mastabas, or some Mayan buildings in Palenque.  Religious rules and building codes are very strict for this kind of places, and we were guided by several groups of Rabbies for this matter.  

A project of this nature must encourage introspection and peaceful visual harmony through a discrete use of materials and lighting.  The construction is located in a residential area being planned as an isolated construction from the surroundings, an indoor illuminated yard was built.  The building facade is completely covered in Grissal flamed granite.  The building welcomes the visitor with 6'4 wide and 30' high triangular shaped wooden door which leads to an access tunnel in the same shape, creating a solemn atmosphere as you enter.  The darkening experience at the entrance ends when the hallway opens to a large, double height granite hall illuminated by the northern light coming from the indoor courtyard . . . '


Additional projects with plans, sketches, and photographs can be viewed online at their website, www.pascalarquitectos.com.

Thanks, 
Shane












(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 2 -- PASCAL ARQUI...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 2 -- PASCAL ARQUI...: photocourtesypascalarquitectos Peeps, Modern design, particularly in architecture, interiors, and home furnishings, has long been a m...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 1 -- TORONTO INT...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 1 -- TORONTO INT...: photocourtesytorontointeriordesigngroup Peeps, It seemed like a great time for arm-chair travel. While the days can be deceptiv...

INTERIORS AROUND THE WORLD / Day 1 -- TORONTO INTERIOR DESIGN GROUP (Canada)

photocourtesytorontointeriordesigngroup








Peeps,

It seemed like a great time for arm-chair travel.  While the days can be deceptively warm (at least until sunset), at night there is no better place to be than at home -- snug as a bug in a rug!  A few of the holiday gifts I received were subscriptions to design magazines from Canada, France, and my most favorite of all, namely World of Interiors.  One of the activities we enjoyed as kids was searching through maps for obscure points we'd like to explore in the search for hidden treasures, or near-extinct animals.  My brother G. still relishes the excitement and drama of haggling with bazaar-merchants or scolding lazy hotel-maids for dust-balls and missing hand-towels.  Woe to the tour-guide who doesn't offer a near encyclopedic knowledge of local sights and attractions.  As of late, I am quite content to experience the adventure second-hand; imagination, perception, and empathy when combined with the smart programming offered by public radio, or the rich offerings presently at our local movie-theatre in Shirlington seems to do the trick (or satisfy the urge).  Lately, a collection of captivating short stories entitled Bluebeard's Egg by Margaret Atwood has transported me nightly to the wilds of Manitoba, the historic charms of Montreal, as well as the natural beauty of Sault Ste. Marie.  And all this without having to board a train or jet-plane.


Canadian-based Toronto Interior Design Group was founded by Montreal native Yanic Simard.  The firm's website shares that ' Yanic strives to create new and innovative spaces for his wide range of clients.  His versatile style ranges from minimalist to elaborate traditional.  Practicality and functionality play a large role in the development of projects, in addition to cost-effective delivery at the end result achieved by mixing "old" and "new" and "high" and "low".  Yanic Simard has been featured in many Canadian and international publications and he also contributes as a design expert to the acclaimed TV show 'City Line.'  An expansive portfolio of varied projects can be viewed at www.tidg.ca/.  


Smart, fresh design from (one of our neighbors to) the north.


Enjoy, 
Shane












Monday, January 16, 2012

VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 5 -- NO DIRTY GOLD Campaign

epsolonlake
photocourtesysebastianalvarez/imagrafica



Peeps,

The allure it holds for us will probably never subside, and throughout the centuries the attraction has scarcely diminished.  Indeed, many nations have based their economies on the amassing, distribution, and scrupulous account-keeping of this valuable commodity; valuable only in that it is desired, quantified, and thus of worth.  In its raw, unprocessed state, it is unlikely that persons could nourish or nurture upon it, and as yet any alleged life-saving properties elude patent.  In the realm of nature, it is but a minor component of the earth's composition, yet in society, we thrill and quiver at the very notion of ownership.  Yet, lately, we've began to realize that something is amiss, and that the dream could well be a nightmare clothed in shiny robes.

Gold mining and extraction is a not a glamorous business, and far removed from the tempting displays found at jewelry stores, featured in magazine ads and TV commercials, or the baubles hawked on the 24-hour shopping channels.  I confess to enjoying the crafty banter and skillful salesmanship displayed by the lacquered and rouged molls (usually gals, and occasionally fellas) who almost effortlessly take orders/congratulate buyers/suggest alternatives or add-ons/charm viewers/read the tele-prompter without stumble or hesitation/internally calculate sale quotas/feign delight and desire.  Sharks beneath their carefully styled wardrobes selected to appeal to Betty in small-town Ohio/Jolene in po-dunk Georgia/Julie in dead-end Texas, they're able to sell, sell, sell tennis bracelets, pendant-charms, engagement rings, dress-up broaches, chandelier/hoops/drops/studs, strands, and bottled sand to the Hopi tribe (if so instructed).  Seriously, the processes involved in getting the gold rock extracted from the mines, and then fashioned into that desirable object to adorn your lover's naked body are laborious, lengthy, involves many levels of transaction, and besides being dirty, is quite destructive to the environment and to the general populace as well.


The NO DIRTY GOLD campaign hopes to enlighten and educate consumers like ourselves about the lesser known aspects of gold extraction/production.  Such as the devastating effects on the environment whereby natural areas, bodies of water, rivers and streams are contaminated by the run-off from drilling and processing; solid wastes contaminate the earth; air pollution is dangerously high as a result of machinery and transport vehicles which emit large amounts of carbons and gases; communities who fail to agree with the land owner(s) or mining companies' policies are frequently evicted or displaced, their wishes ignored or their rights violated by agents of powerful corporations acting in partnership with 'sympathetic' governments.  Evidence has shown that local communities receive very little monetary gain from the extraction/processing/production of gold, existing infrastructure is usually inadequate, and the work-force is plumbed to fill auxiliary/menial/heavy-labor positions.  


The NO DIRTY GOLD campaign suggests that prior to purchasing jewelry, please check to see if the merchant or vendor has signed or endorsed the GOLDEN RULES which calls for responsible mining in the operations of gold (and other precious metals extraction).  The GOLDEN RULES ensures that human/worker/indigenous rights are respected/labor standards and safety conditions are maintained/dumping of toxic wastes and other pollutants is halted, and so forth.  As a consumer, world citizen, and an enlightened peep, only patronize vendors who have signed the GOLDEN RULE.  Also please sign the petition from EARTHWORKS/NO DIRTY GOLD Campaign at www.nodirtygold.org.  Together we can make a difference, as well as keeping gold, and our environment, clean(er).


Sincerely,
Shane


PS:  Shame on you, MACY'S and COSTCO!!



ndustry.

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 5 -- NO DIRTY GOL...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 5 -- NO DIRTY GOL...: epsolonlake photocourtesysebastianalvarez/imagrafica Peeps, The allure it holds for us will probably never subside, and throughout th...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 4 -- CLODAGH (DES...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 4 -- CLODAGH (DES...: imagecourtesyclodagh Peeps, It is a little intimidating to meet one's idols (or heroes) in everyday life. Between magazine page or ...

VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 4 -- CLODAGH (DESIGN)

imagecourtesyclodagh




Peeps,

It is a little intimidating to meet one's idols (or heroes) in everyday life.  Between magazine page or movie screen and a personal encounter there is still that distance where illusion(s) can be entertained for as long as is desired, or deemed necessary.  Reality is a different matter altogether.  After the initial hand-shake, the cheerful introduction, the quick glance at a name-tag, everything comes rushing to the surface of awareness almost immediately, and without the courtesy of a filter.  Like stepping through an open door and into the sitting room without the buffer offered by a vestibule or entry hall.  I believe that actors and barkers have mastered the art of concealing any vulnerabilities or anxieties, as have sociopaths and various despots in recent history.  French actress Catherine Deneuve confesses to be an expert at the art of facial composition, yet admits that her eyes invariably can betray her inner emotions.  On meeting Clodagh at a reception hosted by ARTEFACTO (the Brazilian furniture store in Washington, DC), I mumbled hello, and unceremoniously turned to the passing waiter and snatched another tidbit. Talk about poor first impression, and one that I'd like to forget--like forever!


By talking the talk, as well as fearlessly walking the walk, Clodagh stands shoulders above many of her contemporaries. Since her foray into the world of design and throughout her 25 year career, she has advocated for ecological sustainability in the design and production of furniture, textiles, and products for the home.  Her mission statement sums it up perfectly; Clodagh's professional trajectory has remained steadfast: to remain true to herself and to produce quality, inspirational, and life-enhancing design.  She passionately believes that good design can support well-being, and her pioneering use of Feng Shui, Chromotheraphy, Biophilia, and sustainable materials have enriched her projects with an unmistakable look, structure and flow that appeals to all the human senses . . . she aligns herself with companies and vendors who also embody this ethic, as well as fostering relationships with companies who strive to contribute philanthropically to their communities.


Clodagh has set up a foundation called ClodaghCares to help children and families worldwide feed and educate themselves, and learn how to utilize local resources to attain economic self-sufficiency.  Please visit the website at www.clodaghcares.org and learn how you too can play a part in helping communities in Ecuador, Kenya, and Cameroon, as well as preserving our planet for future generations.


Thanks,
Shane




C

Friday, January 13, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 3 -- Wolfgang Oeh...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 3 -- Wolfgang Oeh...: courtesyofcambridgewhoswhocom Peeps, Sadly, in early December we lost one of our most revered friends, landscape architect Wolfgang ...

VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 3 -- Wolfgang Oehme

courtesyofcambridgewhoswhocom




Peeps,

Sadly, in early December we lost one of our most revered friends, landscape architect Wolfgang Oehme; and who is considered by many to have been the leading advocate (and perhaps also the founder) of the ' new American garden' movement. Emigrating to America in 1957, he was shocked at the landscape(s) that he observed in our cities.  He abhorred the sterile, passive yards where tightly sheered and pruned evergreens dwarfed homes, where expanses of lawn met the sidewalk without any attempt at privacy or charm, where beds of English ivy grew rampant, and where seasonal interest and color was limited to pansies and impatiens.  He was repulsed (and rightfully so) at the unimaginative gardens he witnessed, as well as concerned about the high degree of pesticides and care demanded by lawns and plant species plainly unsuitable to these parts.  First as a single practitioner, and later as part of the design firm Oehme, Van Sweden & Associates, Wolfgang introduced us to the joy of grasses, drought-tolerant perennials and native plants; interest and color throughout all four seasons; the role of insects and wildlife in a garden's ecosystem; as well as to the concept of planting en masse--hundreds and thousands of the same plant(s) installed in careful designs to resemble broad brush-strokes of color.  He especially loved the to design his gardens to resemble the great plains, with grasses swaying to the movements of the wind. 


" I like it wild," he said to me last Easter Sunday after lunch.  We were both gazing at the garden of the late Dr. Stephan Cisternino, who singlehandedly had created a visual delight through the astute placement of Joe-pye weeds, sedums, black-eyed susans, day-lilies, peonies, assorted grasses, and barberry bushes.  Wolfgang seemed pleased that dandelions and thistle had been allowed to spread freely throughout, and that box-turtles had taken up residence beneath the roots of the smoke-bush tree.  Wolfgang will be greatly missed by many.


Hope you enjoy today's visual treat (a Maryland garden designed by the late Mr. Oehme).


Thanks,
Shane






PS:  Tonight's soundtrack is Fireflies (Jose Padilla & Kirsty Keatch)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / Day 2 -- Tadao Ando

photocourtesythebandfrom.com


Peeps,

While the number of Japanese architect Tadao Ando's completed projects (as well as international awards) has increased, his design vocabulary remains surprisingly restrained, and limited to an continuous dialogue on the themes of: light and darkness; how to achieve a sympathetic integration with context; and the use of everyday materials to expose a humble elegance. 


 In 2008,Wallpaper wrote that ' Tadao's route into the field of architecture is not what you might expect from one of today’s dominating design forces.  He explored unlikely incarnations as a truck driver and boxer before discovering his penchant for architecture. However, after traveling through Africa, Europe and the United States, Ando settled in his native Japan where he began applying his self-taught methods to building designs that have since earned his status as one of the greatest architects of our time.  With no formal training, Ando's dedication to craftsmanship and signature works in exposed concrete won him the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture, as well as scattering the Japanese landscape with his unmistakable designs.  Rejecting the traditional method of openness, Ando instead creates enclosed spaces whilst employing a creative use of natural light that exist together in splendid contradiction.  Inspired by his chaotic Japanese urban environment, his primary impetus is to create spaces where the individual can reflect away from the outside world . . . each of his works provides a sense of being at once secluded and connected to nature. '


"His consistent philosophy is architecture based on the climatic-cultural context that originated in the philosophy of the Kyoto School," Makoto Yamaguchi (an editor at Global Architecture) explains, referring to the 20th-century Japanese intellectual movement that included elements of Buddhism and a heightened respect for Asian traditions against the onslaught of Western modernism.  Tadao elaborated upon this concept, stating that, " You cannot simply put something new into a place.  You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see . . . the area of Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka where I come from was once the center of ancient Japan.  It has what is called a tomb culture, a tomb civilization . . . When you are young . . your body responds to the environment, the physical environment as well as the spiritual environment.  In my case, I was always aware of the great bombs surrounding us.  These tombs have a very powerful presence -- a place carved into nature that suggests a mediation on the past, the present, and the future . . . this tomb environment has affected me.  Also, I value the instinctive synthesized wisdom and inborn abilities of native peoples and traditions.  I prefer trying to solve difficult problems by referring back to native knowledge and solutions rather than consulting books of new theory."


Plans, drawings, models, and notes for Mr Ando's projects may be viewed online at www.tadao-ando.com, or through his Facebook page.


Thanks, 
Shane





Monday, January 9, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 1 -- Daphne Gui...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 1 -- Daphne Gui...: photocourtesysupermanandsupermodelstumblr Peeps, Model/designer/artist/film-maker/fashion muse Daphne Guinness is a dreamy apparitio...

VISIONS OF BEAUTY (part 2) / DAY 1 -- Daphne Guinness

photocourtesysupermanandsupermodelstumblr


Peeps,


Model/designer/artist/film-maker/fashion muse Daphne Guinness is a dreamy apparition (above).  She favors couture from McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Lacroix, Tom Ford, Alaia and others, which she wears in her distinctive way.  When asked about her near-obsession with couture, and her considerable support of young designers and artists, her reason is very clear; 'We need better things, not more.  We should not pollute the world with meaningless, unused things when we can make and support things of rare and precious beauty.' An exhibition of her collection of couture garments and accessories was recently displayed at the FIT museum, and a book authored by fashion critic/historian Valerie Steele has just been issued.  An extensive archive of her many looks (including the racier ones) can be seen at http://daphneguinness.tumblr.com/.  Daphne is a rare one who must be commended for remaining true to her self (and her individual vision).


Enjoy,
Shane


   

Sunday, January 8, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 5

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 5: photocourtesydesiretoinspire Peeps, Funny how this little bug just seemed to dig itself in (my body) and just hang-out (for more d...

VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 5

photocourtesydesiretoinspire






Peeps,

Funny how this little bug just seemed to dig itself in (my body) and just hang-out (for more days than I would like).  I have been resting, drinking lots of liquids, and on two successive nights I dined at my favorite Thai restaurant, where I ate curry soup with lots of peppers.  Besides offering great Thai food at reasonable prices, Rincome (on Columbia Pike in Arlington) has a genuinely retro vibe, complete with 50's decor, tropical-inspired drinks with names only ex-pats could identify, and an assorted medley of characters in the adjacent bar who would fit perfectly in a David Lynch movie.  Also a delicious sticky rice with mango dessert that happens to be heavenly with strong, black coffee.

Today's interior which I believe is located in Spain or Italy is quite playful, and seems designed (and furnished) to accommodate lots of social gatherings.  The golden wall adds a dramatic element to the room, and reminds me of the work of artist James Lee Byars who favored gold.  As well as the masterpieces of the Renaissance painters who utilized the brilliance of gold skies to suggest transformation, sacred space(s), and reverence for the metaphysical.  They quickly realized that the richness of illusional space and pictorial imagery (when illuminated by flickering candlelight in the homes of wealthy patrons and churches) was appreciated by all.  Whenever the opportunity presents itself, any decorator worth his/her weight (in gold), will transform that special room, accent wall, moldings or trim, and ceiling in gold or silver leaf paper/gold or silver leaf/metallic paints.  Or at least purchase every pair of matching period mirrors to suggest class, elegance (and MONEY!!).  


Hope you enjoy this visual treat, and be assured that there are lots of goodies planned for next week.  Any talk of the environmental damage caused by the mining and extraction of gold deposits won't be encouraged tonight, but saved for another occasion.


Thanks,
Shane





Saturday, January 7, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 4...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 4...: photocourtesyathoughtfuleyeblog Peeps, Grey skies again, and oh how tiresome already. I realize that its only the first week of Jan...

VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 4

photocourtesyathoughtfuleyeblog




Peeps,

Grey skies again, and oh how tiresome already.  I realize that its only the first week of Jan and still technically early winter, but it's tiresome nevertheless.  Thankfully some design blogs and home magazines have been offering wonderful pictures of color, warmth, and visual excitement. I especially like this interior by talented Spanish designer Luis Bustamante, who employs two tall columns to dramatic effect in this high-ceilinged New York residence.  I doubt that the columns are marble, but instead most likely wonderful examples of a faux-painting technique called 'marbling,' and when executed by a skilled faux-painter, the results are stunning.  Combined here with classical statuary, lots of books, and bursts of red, one could almost forget about the dreary, cold day outside.

Please enjoy today's visual treat, as well as the first weekend of 2012.

Sincerely,
Shane

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 3...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 3...: photocourtesycoloroutsidethelinesblog Peeps, It's grey and cloudy here in Washington (DC), and with the wind whipping things around ...

VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 3

photocourtesycoloroutsidethelinesblog




Peeps,

It's grey and cloudy here in Washington (DC), and with the wind whipping things around (and the temperature at 32 degrees), no one wants to venture outside for very long.  I love living here for the change of seasons, with beautiful springs and glorious autumnal displays of falling leaves; sure the months of July and August are brutally hot, yet when compared to parts of Texas, it ain't so bad.  Still the grey and gloomy weeks of Jan and Feb are real downers, and makes me wonder why last year, so many eager-beavers jumped on the grey/griege bandwagon when it came time to pick a wall color.  It's bad enough to see it--meaning grey--outside, but to live surrounded by it.  Please!!  Honey, you'd better make it a double and forget the rocks.

Today's featured interior makes me smile and feel a little more cheerful.  All my favorite things are here; books on Istanbul and African textiles; folk-art, and holding center-stage on this beautifully composed fireplace mantel is a Suzani.  I first saw one of these brilliantly colored, and wonderfully embroidered textiles in Mehmet's little shop about 15 years ago.  At Woven History, the rug and textile showroom just across from Eastern Market, Mehmet patiently elaborated the history and purpose of the Suzani.  Between puffs on the hookah and endless cups of tea, I was transported to lands distant all the while sitting beneath the shadows cast by Turkish lanterns, camel-saddles, and water pitchers.  He assured me that I would never tire of my purchase, and for the sum of $380.00, I believe that I got the bargain of a life-time.  The passage of time, and numerous visits to view the Textile Museum's Middle Eastern collection have proved him right, and other than periodic loans of my Suzani to my sister who loves textiles, it still remains a favored possession of mine.  Whether thrown casually over a bed, folded on a table, or pinned to the wall, the powerful colors of the Suzani are able to almost single-handedly dispel even the dreariest winter blues.


Please enjoy today's visual treat, and if you are touring Washington, DC, please visit the Textile Museum, Woven History Carpets (across from Eastern Market), or Herat Oriental Carpets in Alexandria (VA) to view Oriental carpets, textiles and woven arts from the Caucasus region.


Thanks,
Shane


PS:  Websites for the referenced sources are as follows:  www.textilemuseum.org, www.wovenhistory.com, and www.heratorientalrugs.com.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 2...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 2...: photocourtesyphotoproblemviacolorsoflife Peeps, I am hopelessly drawn to the worn and battered, darned and mended; objects, environ...

VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 2

photocourtesyphotoproblemviacolorsoflife





Peeps,

I am hopelessly drawn to the worn and battered, darned and mended; objects, environs, and individuals who seem to have experienced life in all its complexity, or simplicity if we remember the teachings of wiser heads.  Today's visual treat is of a sitting room, or home office where the purpose of reading or writing remains foremost.  To some it may seem that the look of the room is of little concern to the dweller, for it is not 'done' in the conventional sense.  Yet there is much to delight the eye (as well as nurture the spirit): natural rugs which offer warmth and comfort, stacked books suggest an inquisitive and intellectual disposition, and hung artwork certainly suggests an interest in the representation of our reality (via the vehicle of art). On the book-stands pushed against the walls, three objects capture my eye.  First, the white bust of a child, possibly a store mannequin, or a childhood doll.  Next, I see an antennae, could it be for a short-wave radio?  I seem to remember hearing more technologically savvy friends disparage the radio, and the record-player, and the Polaroid (and many other things that we all grew up with quite well) as dinosaurs, things of the past.  The transistor radio with its short-wave reception capability always reminds me of my father, who loved to sit out on the verandah late at night, listening to Latin Jazz broadcasted from Cuba, or awaiting the results of the ' Panama,' the weekly lottery sold throughout Belize by the Chinese vendors, with the winning numbers excitedly recited several countries away.  The Remington touch-type machine sitting forefront incites my already fertile imagination, and I immediately visualize a famous novelist or an acclaimed essayist spending long afternoons pondering on lofty ideas, wrestling creative demons, or merely questioning (the meaning of it all) in a place of quiet solitude.


I've already seen photographs of Gore's famed retreat on the coast, and this it is not.  Jeanette is long gone south and living above the shop.  Perhaps it's Rupert Thompson's secret English retreat (known only to he and a small group of confidantes).  Yes, that's it.  It must be!!


Hope you find today's visual treat as interesting as I do.


Sincerely,
Shane

Monday, January 2, 2012

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 1...

(VISUAL TREATS) For All of My Design-Obsessed Peeps: VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 1...: photocourtesydesiretoinspire Peeps, Accompanying the chills was a head-ache and overall body ache, then sneezing, followed by a rack...

VISUAL TREATS presents VISIONS OF WINTER / DAY 1

photocourtesydesiretoinspire




Peeps,

Accompanying the chills was a head-ache and overall body ache, then sneezing, followed by a racking cough and the sense of a 12/24/36 or 48 hour flu bug residing deep within me.  Calls of regret had to me quickly made, and plans for revelry and continuous merriment to mark the coming of the new year had to be shelved.  NyQuil, homemade soup, and lots of rest seemed to do the trick, and thankfully today I am almost back to my former self.  So glad that back in November I took Nurse Jane's advice to get a flu shot, because so many other folks are still bed-ridden (or house-bound).

The creative team and I have lots of visual treats planned for this coming year, and we are all so excited to share them with you (that I almost wish that I could fast-forward time, but that in itself presents lots of problems, such as logistics, and concerns of an existential kind.  Not to mention the antics of the you-know-who(s) in Iowa tomorrow which none of us are willing to miss!).  So for now, let's enjoy today's visual treat which seems the smartest way of enjoying nature without having to pitch a tent, build a fire, and guard against marauding packs of wild dogs. 


Happy 2012 to all of you wonderful readers (and peeps).


Sincerely,
Shane


PS:  This evening's soundtrack is GORILLAZ, On Melancholy Hill (She Is Danger Remix)