Archive for June, 2008
One of the founding principles LoftLife is based on is a recognition that more and more people are choosing to live in the city. All of a sudden, moving to the suburbs is no longer the most desired choice.
Yesterday, The New York Times ran an article entitled Fuel Prices Shift Math for Life in Far Suburbs confirming the urban trend. Peter S. Goodman reports that city life is more desirable because of high oil prices. There is even some thought that suburban areas could eventually become the new ghettos. It is a convincing argument and well worth a read.
Here are some great quotes from the article:
“Across the nation, the realization is taking hold that rising energy prices are less a momentary blip than a change with lasting consequences. The shift to costlier fuel is threatening to slow the decades-old migration away from cities, while exacerbating the housing downturn by diminishing the appeal of larger homes set far from urban jobs.”
“In Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes beyond the urban core have been falling in value faster than those within, according to an analysis by Moody’s Economy.com.”
“More than three-fourths of prospective home buyers are now more inclined to live in an urban area because of fuel prices, according to a recent survey of 903 real estate agents with Coldwell Banker, the national brokerage firm.”
“Some now proclaim the unfolding demise of suburbia.”
The best bouquets are delightful blends of distinct but complimentary blooms. The same is true in the world of retail. San Francisco’s Rose and Radish which is one part home accessories store, one part modern art gallery , and one part high-design showcase. The space is reborn each season with a fresh slate of interior delights arranged, not by common function, but by themes of sense and elegance. Throughout the gallery their founding specialties, floral arrangements, bringing pops of life and color into an often drizzly city.
The (modern) Folk show came to an end a few weeks ago and the doors at Rose and Radish were closed as they cleared the way for the summer season. ‘Fête’ opened June 17th and will run through summer promising to bring a little ‘party’ into your day to day. According to our friends at Design Sponge the shop has been “redesigned to feel like a garden party and the objects and artwork within will echo that party spirit.”
Rose and Radish offers the excitement of complete and constant regeneration, displaying products in a simple fashion while paying homage to the senses.
Located at 460 Gough Street in San Francisco, the gallery of Rose and Radish is open Tuesday through Thursday, and the floral shop is open Monday through Friday.
Posted by Alex Kain
ATLANTA magazine’s June issue, devoted entirely to water, should be required reading for everyone in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Besides the obvious stories on Lake Lanier and the Georgia Legislature’s glacial pace in addressing the drought, ATLANTA also includes an insightful and informative story by Betsy Riley called “101 Ways to Save Water: A No-More-Excuses, Clip-It-And-Keep-It Guide to Saving Water.” From the bathroom to the kitchen to landscaping, pretty much all of the recommendations are practical and inexpensive. Only time will tell how much good they’ll do—or if ATLANTA readers will take heed.
Here at LoftLife we’ve come up with our own, slightly wacky suggestions, 11 to be exact, in what we like to call, “11 Ways to Save Water: A Highly Impractical, Sometimes Disgusting Guide to Saving Water.” Perhaps you have a few of your own? If so, feel free to share them with us at email@example.com .
>> Shower together. And if you’re single, no worries. We’re putting together a “shower buddy list.” Email us and we’ll hook you up with a local shower partner: firstname.lastname@example.org. SAVE: 15 gallons. 30, if you take a longer-than-average shower.
>> Urinate in the sink. SAVE: 1.6 gallons per flush for a post-1993 toilet; 3.5 to 8 gallons on older models.
>> Freeze your underwear. SAVE: not all that much water; but oh, what a feeling!
>> Turn off you’re a/c. Stand in a bucket. Collect your sweat. Boil it down. Us the water for your houseplants and the salt for seasoning. SAVE: Up to a gallon, depending on your sweat glands and the heat.
>> Wring out your work-out clothes to wash your dog. Not only will your dog love being covered in your scent, you’ll SAVE 15 gallons of water.
>> Buy dishes from Goodwill, use them once, then re-donate. SAVE: up to 8 gallons of water for a 4-person meal.
>> Have your teeth removed. No more brushing! SAVE: up to a gallon of water every time you used to brush.
>> Brush your teeth with champagne. (If you didn’t already act on the above, for some reason.) SAVE: From a half-gallon to a gallon.
>> Turn your waterbed into a camelback. No one’s ever said, don’t drink in bed. SAVE: Up to 15 gallons a week.
>> Follow your cat’s lead: lick yourself clean. SAVE: Up to 15 gallons for every shower you skip.
>> Get rid of your car. One less thing to wash- think about how much you’ll SAVE on gas.
As an art fiend, I couldn’t turn down an invite to this year’s Affordable Art Fair. Meandering the countless cornered-off cubes of the galleries displaying their art, I mainly stopped at what caught my eye (most often figurative, portraits, photography, and colors that popped). Price-tags range from $100 – $10,000 at the fair, which is seemingly cheap but can add up quickly. To narrow down this year’s Affordable Art Fair (AAF) NYC to a couple handfuls of artists, almost puts me in a meltdown. After careful deliberation, however, I have managed to pick some favorites. Here are nine artists and their artwork that left the biggest impression on me among the sixty-plus galleries from around the world.
Gista’s work is a mélange of burnt paper and watercolor that creates a blurry distortion, a combination I found inventive.
Dalle Ore’s work combines a little françoise with the iconic Frida Kahlo. I’m passionate about both, so the piece was quite memorable.
Steur cites that tattoos are a major concentration in her work, and her photograph of a man’s facial tattoos juxtaposed against the civilized setting and his attire was truly jarring.
This piece is part of Develter’s series on Chinese divas, with bold colors that evoke Andy Warhol’s Pop Art masterpieces.
This triptych had a palpable softness in style yet edginess in color. I loved how the three hung against the wall. Their large scale would complement any industrial loft.
Velkova calls her work in this series, “original knockoffs,” as she traces fashion magazine pages and then uses watercolor as the main medium. I enjoyed the graphic quality they evoked.
Solis’ stunning graphite series captures various hairstyles in heightened detail. These drawings were by far the most affordable in the whole fair, and I could envision taking an armful of his work and making one large collective statement.
Another large-scale piece that would hang well on a typical loft-size wall. Guerra’s surreal tonalities appealed to me greatly and as a result stood out from the rest of the fair’s artists.
Last but not least, I have to plug the only Atlanta gallery to hold space at the fair. But even more important and looking past my biases, Eagles’ artwork seemed to hold a much higher potential (because it’s provocative for sure) than anything else I saw. Eagles’ unique series manipulates preserved blood (obtained from old slaughter houses) on UV resin and Plexiglas and is genius in its own alluring gruesomeness.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
On the intriguingly named Image Avenue, in what some developer undoubtedly dubbed, “Midtown West” (aka the “King Plow/Railroad Historic District” by the National Register of Historic Places), you’ll find the workshop of furniture-maker Reed LaPlant. LaPlant’s work is not only attractive, functional, and highly unique, it’s also made from sustainable, reclaimed, and recycled materials. LoftLife met up with LaPlant in a Castleberry Hill photography studio that he recently refurbished and asked him about his work, his neighborhood, and his preference for making tables and benches.
LoftLife: On your website, under commissioned projects, there’s a picture of a white pew you created. Tell us about that project.
Reed LaPlant: An architecture firm where I worked when I first moved to Atlanta was responsible for a mountain community development in South Carolina; I maintained a good relationship with the firm after I left, and they asked me to build 25 pews for the community’s small chapel/gathering hall. So I did—all 25, by hand. I ended up painting them in the parking lot of said architecture firm because I couldn’t move around them in my 1,100 square-foot shop.
LL: How long have you been crafting a line of furniture for Verde Home ?
RL: I’ve made furniture for Verde since they opened about a year ago. I started with three pieces (two coffee tables and a bench), and after some really positive responses, they asked me to develop more. They had a fantastic concept for their store and were looking for someone local; so I was thrilled to be asked, and I’m really enjoying the relationship. They’re great people and it’s a terrific store.
LL: Your workshop is located in “Midtown West.” How do you like it there?
RL: It’s funny because up until about two years ago, (the neighborhood) was pretty much light industrial—building supply companies, scrap metal yards, and mechanics—plus a lot of photography labs. Also, there are warehouses, with not a lot of reasons to stop. The light industry and the photo labs are still there, but now you’ve got lofts, bars, and design stores popping up. In fact, Verde Home is only two blocks from my shop. It’s a great neighborhood.
LL: Commissioned pieces versus non-commissioned: Do you prefer doing one over the other? How collaborative are you with people who commission work from you?
RL: I guess I prefer non-commissioned; it’s a little less stressful. Although it seems to have come to a point where my clients hire me for my style — not just my craftsmanship. I feel really lucky. And with that I find my clients to be really enjoyable. I’ll be as collaborative as anyone wants to be. I feel the best ideas and the most enjoyable work comes when you’re not worried about having your vision’s toes stepped on. There are too many ideas to dig up to worry about ego.
LL: You have an education in architecture (Texas A+M) and art history (University of Minnesota). How does each discipline guide your work?
RL: I certainly feel my work is heavily influenced by architecture in that I consider a lot of my pieces as little buildings; I’ve spent way more time thinking about, for example, Japanese and Prairie School architecture than I have of Contemporary Italian or Mission furniture. I think I see and understand buildings more clearly, but furniture allows for my three-week attention span. As for the art history — it reminds me to strive for a timeless style. Not sure if I’m there, but I am always mindful of the need.
LL: How would describe your style?
RL: That’s a tough question for me . . . but I’d have to say: orderly (that’s my Green Bay, Wisconsin German-Catholic roots), clean, and warm.
LL: How long have you been using only sustainable, local, and reclaimed materials?
RL: I’ve been using sustainable, reclaimed, and recycled materials for several years, but only in the past two years have I been able to get ALL of my clients on board. And, admittedly, I am much more strict about this now than I was three years ago. It’s a lot of info to absorb and assess, and it was difficult to bring it up in a meeting with a new client. They don’t come to me to hear me preach. But it has become refreshingly easy to maintain the practice as people become more and more aware of what are now commonly discussed issues.
LL: What does “reclaimed materials” mean, exactly?
RL: Reclaimed such as lumber (e.g., walnut and heart-of-pine milled from barn timbers and prison beams or cypress pulled up from river bottoms), steel, and aluminum. I go to the scrap yards for the metals, and there are a couple of great local companies upon which I rely for the lumber.
LL: Of all the pieces you’ve created, what’s your favorite? And in general, which are your favorite pieces to make?
RL: My favorite piece is probably the bench I made for Verde. It was actually intended to sit in my own home, but I was just really happy with it when I finished. So, to Verde it went. I generally like making tables best; perhaps due to the great purpose for which they are intended: eating and drinking and socializing. I like small benches as well. Again, I think of drinking and socializing.
Dark and sinewy, each of UK designer Kacper Hamilton’s 7 Deadly Glasses evoke the sins that inspired them. Intrigued, we sought out the innovative designer and asked him a few questions about his limited edition glassware.
LoftLife: When and how did you get started as a designer? What is your background in design?
Kacper Hamilton: Since childhood I have always been working towards some sort of creative realm. My mother is an artist and that has always been a lot of inspiration.
LL: Who do you design for?
KH: At the moment I mainly design under my own name.
LL: What is your aesthetic? How would you describe your work?
KH: I find that my aesthetic is traditional/classical but eclectic and flamboyant at the same time. I would describe my work as a tool for questioning human behavior and interaction.
LL: What designers do you admire?
LL: What influences your work?
KH: I read a lot of literature, mainly works from 17-19th century. This is how I get influenced, especially by writers such as the Marquis de Sade, Charles Baudelaire, and Alexandre Dumas.
LL: How does your work with the Deadly Sins glasses differ from your other work, or does it differ?
KH: There are many different philosophies of design, mine is just one. Each piece of work I do is about questioning something different. My work is mainly “Design for Debate” to provoke a thought and discussion through the use of the design.
LL: What inspired you to do the glasses?
KH: Literature, etiquette, and lots of wine!
LL: How are the sins revealed through the “ritual of drinking”?
KH: Each glass provides a different experience of drinking wine. The aim is to enjoy a sinful sensation in an exaggerated and unfamiliar fashion.
- Wrath is to be drunken subtly from the point and then fired in a spontaneous action.
- Gluttony is a glass for those who like to feast with no shame.
- Greed is for those who will get extra no matter what, being a leech and sucking everything dry. To what extent will one go to try and get every last drop?
- Envy is a glass where the wine can be seen and smelled, but not drunk as it will spill, therefore increasing one’s jealousy towards those who can.
- Lust is there to excite, with the delicate and sensual feeding of wine through a glass ball.
- Sloth hangs and drips wine into the reclined person’s mouth.
- Pride is there to be tall and pompous whilst drinking your finest red.
Red wine is the intended beverage for these glasses, as red wine has a deep history in philosophy and religion. It is the blood of Christ whilst simultaneously being a drink of indulgence and sophistication.
LL: Can you describe the creation process for the glasses?
KH: Once I came up with the concept of creating a connection between wine glasses and Deadly Sins I started to thoroughly brainstorm all the different possibilities. There is a set, but each glass had to be carefully considered to find the appropriate way of using it and experiencing the sin. Many an evening were spent with close friends discussing my designs and finding the best possible design for each sin.
LL: Your site says “The 7 Deadly Glasses” are about “celebrating passion and encouraging the user to be sinful in a theatrical fashion.” What does that mean to you as the designer?
KH: Design can be bland, so why not involve a bit of harmful fun and indulgence. Life is a theatrical performance full of passion and sin. For me it means there is no right or wrong in this world, as long as you’re passionate and ambitious, there should always be a theater open to accept another fellow jester.
LL: Finally, what deadly sin are you guilty of?
KH: I like that question, each person is guilty of one sin if not all, but no one admits it! But if I must answer, then it would be Wrath. Subtle and delicate, but ready to strike with vengeance at any point in time. Watch your back!
LL: If you were to make up an 8th deadly sin what would it be?
KH: I believe this already exists. The 8th sin is the one, which feeds all the others. It is like the forbidden apple from the Garden of Eden, we have all taken a bite and are now trying to find a way to repent for our sins. If there was a 8th Deadly Glass, it would be a wine decanter designed to pour wine into all the other deadly glasses. Perhaps I should design that one day….
As more and more people have converted commercial spaces into residential lofts over the years, it’s been tradition to incorporate industrial roots into the interior design. After all, heavy-duty steel racks, floor-to-ceiling wire shelves, metal storage lockers, and industrial carts of any kind, are appropriate in large, open spaces with high ceilings.
But where does one find such warehouse gear? That was our question. So, we did some research, read some reviews, called some folks, and got some answers.
Here is our round-up of online industrial outfitters:
1. McMaster-Carr Supply Company carries over 456,000 products, all of which are listed by category on their homepage. With unbeatable prices and detailed product specifications, buying furniture has never been so simple. A particularly versatile purchase is the steel stand-up desk, which could function nicely as a workspace for your laptop. We also like the idea of using it as a nightstand to break up the softness of a bedroom.
2. As the self-proclaimed “Storage and Material Handling Leader,” C&H sells anything and everything storage-related. Stand-outs include their colorful, enamel desks and trolleys, which could easily function as bar-carts or kitchen storage.
3. Global Industrial is a massive, international outlet for industrial supplies. Offering both raw materials and commercial furnishings, this site is perfect for the DIY-obsessed. Their stainless steel storage series is inspiration enough to redo your kitchen.
4. There are plenty of retail stores attempting to recreate industrial light fixtures with obscenely high prices attached to them. Why not buy the lights that are actually meant for a warehouse at half the cost? The industrial line from Ark Lighting is intended for commercial spaces and warehouses, carrying reasonably priced light fixtures outfitted with steel wire guards and whimsical, enamel pendents that are available in every color of the rainbow. An added bonus is the bulk-rate option. We loved the enamel “gooseneck” urns.
There’s something about old books that seem to make a personal library all the more authentic. We stumbled recently upon one that seems all-too-perfect for the upcoming summer season: Foliage House Plants (circa 1972!) by James Underwood Crockett and the editors of Time-Life Books. It still holds relevancy to today’s households, and if anything, it’s a fun flip-through to see how book designs have changed over a 30-year course.
Why I Get a Kick Out of Foliage House Plants:
1. The book comes with a supplement: “Make a plant happy today, Houseplant Chart.” The slide-chart in its two-tone colors of red and green (plus the authentic aged yellow from discoloration) gives short simple directions on water, sunshine, temperature, and other requirements for over 40 different plant types. The slide chart’s quaintness is endearing.
2. The pictured directions on how to build your own terrarium. Terrariums are still a big hit these days (as I saw only a few days ago at ABC Carpet & Home’s window display) and are DIY projects that are easy to tend to (because there is no tending!). As the book notes, terrariums “are as intriguing as ship models in bottles.” Indeed they are.
3. There’s a whole chapter on cacti and succulents. Succulents have been popping up on a lot of the design blogs recently because of their resourcefulness and lack of tending time. This chapter offers another DIY project, “miniature landscapes,” amongst many fun tid-bit facts about cacti (i.e. The Mexican government has forbidden the plants’ exportation because they have so many uses, such as the Indian rituals that rely on peyote cactus for their authentic hallucinogenic visions—a classic testament to the book’s publication year).
4. Each chapter has drawings to accompany the plethora of flower and plants descriptions. With no computer-generated illustrations gracing any page, the book’s drawings add to the authentic retro design. Chapter 5, “An encyclopedia of foliage house plants,” is a nice example of this.
5. The classic unavoidable musty attic smell combined with the vintage brown cover color, Foliage House Plants becomes a nostalgic experience, the ultimate appeal to collecting used books.
You can still buy the book, for a whopping 0.94 on Amazon.com.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
There are two happening spots in Austin right now well worth noting. One is a Moto-foto-turned-cafe and the other is a pedestrian bridge concert venue. Both are bustling with Austinites.
Hot Spot #1: Since it opened in March, neighbors have been calling the Emerald City Press , the café off Lamar Boulevard, “the bank building.” With its old night-drop instructions and narrow drive-through it’s perhaps all one could imagine the structure ever having been, but actually, the split-level stucco block was born a Moto-foto with the drive-up film drop. Utilizing the old drive-through, the goods are served on the run or over a wide counter that encourages lingering.
A steady flow of eclectic people and dogs mill around out front during the day, sampling the soft-serve and flipping through sun burnt copies of The Nation and Bon Appétit . The “Press” of the café’s name refers to the plethora of periodicals they stock. When stopping by Emerald, try either of these favorites: “Boomerang Pies” (a veggie pot pie) with “Awesome Sauce” or “Lone Star Kolaches.”
This place has a lot of the things that people in Austin love dearly – breakfast tacos, utensils made of soy that biodegrade in an hour (a.k.a “spudware”), national newspapers, and flowers by the stem or bunch – everything we need to get into “keep it weird” heaven.
Emerald City Press
915 N Lamar Blvd (just south of 10th)
Austin, TX 78798
Hot Spot #2: Usually reserved for joggers and bicyclists, the Lamar Bridge has become a popular spot for unlikely bridge patrons— dancers. On two recent Saturday evenings, The Just Desserts , an Austin-based cello and accordion duo, performed on the Lamar pedestrian bridge over Town Lake (which we’re suppose to call Lady Bird Lake now?). The bridge is a hot-spot of the hike and bike trail, so when The Just Desserts were playing tangos and bistro music, joggers and bicyclists slowed down to take in the tunes.
The Just Desserts specialize in international folk music, a refreshing experience in a city built on country blues and college bands. I asked Michael Shay, the cellist, if there was any “red tape” to cut through in order to play. According to him, it’s just show up and set up, “street style, just like we do all over the world.”
Pedestrian bridge gigs are promoted by word of mouth, band mailing list, and rumor. During the city’s more famous music festivals, smaller acts take advantage of the swarm of music fans in town and play the bridge at all hours. During SXSW this year, a punk band took to the “stage” at 3 am and played to a packed bridge.
For their twilight performances, The Just Desserts kept it low-key. “We did let our friends and tango dancers know ahead of time, so the dancers could bring their shoes,” says Shay. Performances usually start at dusk, and you can count on someone showing up to play on any temperate weekend evening.
Posted by Ann Raber
I have lived close to a year now in Brooklyn, and I guess by all accounts I’m still considered a “newbie.” But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the various nuances attributed to my Bushwick neighborhood and the other “up and coming ‘hoods” of the borough. As is the standard, I revel in my typical Brooklyn “more space per rent ratio” that beats my old Lower East Side sublet ten fold, and I enjoy the Puerto Rican “flava” that my street seeps out through bass beats of the nearby music store and its sidewalk strollers.
Though it wouldn’t seem like Brooklyn if there weren’t a yearning for small changes. I would gladly hand over the noise pollution of passing sirens, the buses stopping and starting on their main route (our street of course), and my apartment’s non-insulated (had I only known!) brand new walls. And while I somehow have found myself surrounded by public housing, other Brooklyn neighborhoods have slowly but surely evolved with modern design through remodeled and gutted brownstones and the other left-over 20th century spaces.
Compiling and researching some of the borough’s modern designs, Rizzoli International Publications has published a new interior book, Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design by Diana Land, helping to enlighten any Manhattanite or non-city dweller that Brooklyn and its residents are conscious and savvy about design.
The book works in three parts: “Aesthetic Improvements,” “Gut Renovations” and “New Work,” with beautiful interior and exterior shots to accompany the 18 residential examples in all three sections. Also accompanying the shots are two essays by popular bloggers, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge and Jonathan Butler of Brownstoner, and a conclusion by Robert Ivy, the editor of Architectural Record.
While I was able to gather a “real places/real people” feel from the residents and their personal experiences about their homes, as a whole, the collection personally seemed so distant in its glamour. Even though the author touts that money for these projects wasn’t thrown around, I kept thinking as I flipped through each page, “I can only hope to one day have enough money and time to take on a project like this.”
But I do appreciate the book’s thoughtful conception and its desire to show Brooklyn in its current fervent excitement. The idea of a Brooklyn brownstone really has evolved into the 21st century, as each example contends with the typical narrow rectangular shape yet plays with the facade element. For anyone remotely interested in interior and architectural design as well as urban landscapes, I recommend this pictorial addition to your coffee book collection. And while, I personally don’t own a Saarinen coffee table, the book is still a lovely accessory to any abode, whether you live on a tree-lined suburban street or behind paper-thin walls along a city bus route.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji