Archive for December, 2008
There’s no denying the convenience of an iPod. But the digital revolution has come at a cost. In order to maintain manageable file-sizes, most mp3s contain music that’s been considerably compressed from the original recording. To combat the suffering sound quality, many music-lovers are going vinyl.
Records not only sound much better than mp3s and CDs, they look a much cooler too. Bob Dylan recently complained that CDs have “no stature” – and he’s right, they don’t. At least not compared to albums, whose covers often double as legitimate pop art.
Going vinyl can be daunting, however, especially for those of us who are unfamiliar with audiophile jargon – of which there is plenty! (Warning: the record-listening sub-culture attracts more than its share of obsessive purists.) It can also be a confusing process for someone on a budget. But fear not, Loftlife can help:
Go to eBay and get yourself an integrated amplifier. Since records require more amplification than CDs, tapes or mp3s, you’ll need to make sure the one you choose has a phono “stage” or input. This probably means you’re looking for one from the 70s or 80s. They usually run somewhere between $300-400. Don’t worry – these things are built like tanks. A few reliable brands to search for are NAD , the vintage line Scott or Marantz . (Note: your CDs and iPod will sound a whole lot better routed through one of these units as well.)
Next, get your turntable. The easiest way to do this is to hit up the friendly folks at needledoctor.com . They can find you the player that’s right for you and answer any questions you might have about the world of vinyl.
For those looking for true high-fi, the Rega P1 is the most bang for your buck at $400! And so is the Pro-Jekt Debut III at $330. For basic listening, head over to turntable.com and you will find turntables for $80. If you think you might want to try your hand at DJ-ing or scratching, be sure to get one with a dual-drive motor: Numark’s are normally a bargain.
Speakers. Since you now have more space to fill, you may want to trade in your old bookshelf speakers for some floor-standing ones. A great site for speaker reviews and all things technological is Unplugged The bad news is, a good-sounding set of floor speakers can be very expensive. So again, eBay or audiogon.com is probably your best bet, where you can usually score a good pair for under $500. Some quality hi-fi brands to keep an eye out for include Klipsch , Polk , Paradigm , and B&W .
Go out and buy some records! Check the phonebook first – most cities still have a store or two that specialize in vintage vinyl. Garage sales are also a great place to start, just make sure to check the condition of the record itself before making a purchase. Look to spend between $5 and $15 on clean copies of your all your old favorites. If you’re looking for rare albums, try musicstack.com or gemm.com. For newer and reissued records, check musicdirect.com or lightintheattic.com. You’ll be surprised at how many bands still put out their music on vinyl – most musicians even say it’s their preferred format.
Now – you’re ready to rock and roll. Believe us, once you’ll go vinyl, you never go back. Your ears will thank you!
Posted by David Zahl
It’s time to buy your new calendar for next year. Start the year off right by choosing one you love (and will look forward to using). We’ve rounded up our favorites to help you get inspired.
(Clockwise, starting from upper left)
(Clockwise, starting from upper left)
Central de Arquitectura, a ten-year-old firm, was founded by Jose Sanchez and Moises Isón and has since become known throughout Mexico for their unique innovation. With buildings located all over their country, the firm has already caught the eye of Travel and Leisure with an award in 2005 for “Best Small Hotels.” To date, Central de Arquitectura has built 15 loft and condo buildings and two hotels and has another major project under way, Naos Baja, a luxury 20-story retreat located on the Riveria Baja oceanfront complete with 320 residences and scheduled to be finished for January ‘09. As promised in our previous blog entry on the firm, here’s our Q&A with the founders who we were eager to hear from.
LL: How would you describe Central de Arquitectura’s mission?
Central: Our mission is to develop the highest quality design and construction in residential and commercial projects in Mexico’s main cities and touristic destinations.
LL: In 1998, when you started your company, what did it mean to be an architecture firm that designed luxury buildings in Mexico, versus another country?
Central: It meant opportunities and challenges at the same time. We had the chance to design, construct, and develop the projects we thought of while we studied in college and at the same time it meant a lot of responsibilities professionally and financially because we were taking a big risk at that time. Most of the designs we’ve done are very avant-garde for the Mexican market. Doing this in Mexico verses doing it in another country meant the same because at that moment it was a huge risk for us.
LL: Why do you think it’s important for Mexico to continue building luxury residential and commercial buildings when the economy doesn’t necessarily support these projects?
Central: We think Mexico’s economy supports and needs new residential and commercial projects. Actually we have various market studies that consistently tell us that there is a real demand for these projects and our experience as the developers confirms that any development that has a great location, good concept, design and quality construction will be an outstanding project.
LL: What has been your most challenging and the most rewarding project so far in the company’s history?
Central: Basico has been the most challenging and most rewarding without a doubt. We had a great time during the design and construction; the owners are a very creative group who like set the trends in the design hotelier world. They constantly asked for things that seemed impossible to accomplish and to construct but the result was more than rewarding, and we really like the final result.
LL: What are the major differences between designing a project commercially and residentially?
Central: The major differences between designing a commercial project and a residential project is the process of designing. In the residential projects the office finishes the project thinking of what the final user is going to need and not necessarily what they ask for. The commercial projects have a life of their own, as the market mix and the rent role occurs, you have to adapt the project to that necessity.
LL: Why did you decide to take on various loft designs for your firm?
Central: While we were in the university we studied some time in New York. We understood the conception of the loft space and the necessity to bring this idea to Mexico. The ideal place was La Condesa, a hip place where most of the intellectuals, artists and bohemians used to live in Mexico City. This kind of space would be appreciated by the condesians and it was . . . they were a success.
LL: What triggered your personal passion for architectural design? Was there a specific memory or building?
Cental: We were always interested in model building, photography and general arts. But architecture really interested us in our voyages, and we’re always interested in construction. We both agree that the Salk Institute is a building that really changed our perception of space and tectonics.
LL: What do you see in the future and the next ten years for Central de Arquitectura?
Central: We see Central De Arquitectura doing the same, real estate design developments but in a different scale and in more real estate divisions like industrial touristic and corporate.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
We have been fans of designer Thad Hayes ever since we saw his take on the modern, urban space. His inclination toward sparse, clean and quiet interiors that are layered with one-of-a-kind accessories is an ideal aesthetic for loft living. Rizzoli has done it again with this beautiful volume chronicling his career and favorite spaces. Rich photography coupled with thoughtful prose make Thad Hayes: The Tailored Interior worth the investment. For info on the book, visit Rizzoli New York . To view Thad’s other projects, click here .
“Spare, luminous, clean, subtle, luxurious, sophisticated, and unpretentious are all words that have been used to describe the work of noted interior designer Thad Hayes. Words, however, can only suggest the intelligent sensitivity and meditative beauty of the work itself, brilliantly featured within these covers. Included here are twenty-one residences designed by Hayes, each of which embodies the qualities listed above yet at the same time transcends them to reveal spaces that are in themselves, as much as anything they might contain, undeniable works of art.”
From the start of this season’s Top Design, one designer stuck out as the obvious front-runner to us. With stints at Alexandra Champalimaud & Associates and NathanEgan Interiors, New York-based designer Nathan Thomas displayed an approach to design that would enhance any loft. Following a well-deserved win on the Bravo series, he has now launched his own eponymous design firm, Nathan Thomas Studios.
We had the opportunity to ask this season’s Top Design winner a few questions about his artistic sensibility.
LoftLife: First things first: Season One’s finale was a loft challenge and you were tasked with a nondescript townhouse. Which kind of space do you prefer to work with?
Nathan Thomas: In comparing both finale spaces, the loft of Season One and the townhouse of Season Two, I would have to say that the loft speaks to me more in a designer’s vocabulary versus a townhouse. I find the architecture of cast iron or old warehouse with soaring windows to be full of personality and possibility.
The bones of a real loft space are historical, and conjure up ideas of modernity and sophistication. I tend to view architecture of the late 19th century and its prospects of re-purpose as so relevant today. Although I was very happy with outcome of my town home in the finale, I feel I only achieved that by channeling an idea of a more architectural spirit. It was a builder’s home, void of character and personality. This is the true test of a designer/decorator, however. The ability to look beyond what may be a dull and vacant space and transform that into something special and unique.
LL: Your artwork tends to be such a striking focal point. What draws you to a piece? When do you work it into the design process, at the beginning or the end?
NT: When decorating interior spaces, whether they be commercial, residential, private, or public, artwork plays such a crucial role in the outcome and total package. I have always been deeply connected to art and have never felt like a room should be designed around art. Rather, the art is the piece de la resistance, the bonus, the firework!
LL: How did your philosophy surrounding artwork play itself out on the show?
NT: During the filming of this show, I shopped my artwork prior to finishing a space. What I tried to do was really search out the personality of work – look for pieces that spoke volumes to me and that I knew would have great visual impact. As you saw in my townhouse, I incorporated both kinetic sculptures and paintings, plus a painting that I actually created!
LL: Which designers have you admired or have inspired you along the way?
NT: Good question! I draw inspiration in so many ways. Fashion designers are also a huge part of my “sketchbook.” I have always looked to the classic houses of Hermès, Balenciaga, and YSL for strong ideas and classic elements but enjoy the cutting edge viewpoint of Viktor & Rolf and Comme des Garçons.
Fashion and Interiors are an intermingled industry. I find interior designers and decorators are constantly drawing cues from the fashion world. However, the classic interiors of Mario Buatta and Larry Laszlo are also wonderful springboards for any designer to look to for inspiration. Their interiors are graceful, well thought out, and memorable.
LL: What are your favorite online sources of design inspiration?
NT: I have recently been introduced to Design*Sponge. Fantastic site full of ideas, resources, and inspiration.
(Above: Loud art packs a punch in this office project from Nathan’s previous firm, NathanEgan Interiors)
LL: Any exciting projects we can expect from you next, as well as with the launch of Nathan Thomas Studios?
NT: Absolutely! Stay tuned for some new work to be posted on my website. I am finishing a great salon called DELUXE in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a very young, hip, fashionable space with a lot of attitude and personality. The space is loft-like with some great details. I commissioned an artist to do a very large over-scaled wall painting that reads very “street” inspired. Also, I am launching a line of custom upholstered chairs that are growing in popularity and will be more readily available soon. I am working on decorating an apartment on lower Fifth Ave for an important fashion executive. It’s been tons of fun through use of color and repurposing old furniture. Stay tuned to the website Nathan Thomas Studios as it is ever expanding.
For a recap of the whole season, check out Bravo’s Top Design here.
Posted by Erin Ryder