Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Dear Muddy-Shoed Looky Loos

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Thanks for stopping by. Please buy my damn house!

People must have come to yesterday’s open house, because there are dirt and pebbles on the floor of every room. Usually, I wouldn’t notice, but the place has never been so clean and believe me, I CSI’d the shit out of the crap people left behind. My realtor said it had been slow at his other showings, and that the only people looking at houses on father’s day were “fatherless bastards.” So maybe the mud hitched a ride in on his lonely soles.

Whatever. It’s done. Or begun. Getting the house ready is the hardest I’ve worked on anything, and now it has to stay this way. I can’t leave any fingerprints, no signs of my messy work-at-home-with-dogs existence. It’s a little like the kids who ran away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basic E. Frankweiler, only there are no janitors here, and no priceless art. Instead of suits of armor and the Temple of Dendur, we have the engagingly grannyfied wicker chairs on the porch, on loan from my parents’ neighbors:

porch chairs

And the ugly, but appropriately-sized fake fern arrangement on the landing (my mom is great at proportions; she knew what it would take to fill the space without distracting potential buyers from the leaded glass windows):


Speaking of mom, I nearly broke her in the process of preparing the house. She was in charge of staging, since she’s got the eye, the skills, and the backlog of accessories from which to pull. Mom went on a high-stakes strafing run for decorative items and greenery on Saturday, bent on beautifying the back porch and several other not-so-hot spots. She arrived back at my place with sacks of treasures, then promptly went into atrial fibrillation at my kitchen table, as she was sticking candlesticks into holders. Hobby Lobby will do that to a girl. I enlisted dad to make her go take her medicine, but she refused to go home until her porch vision was realized:

back porch

Cute, no?

And look at how she transformed the small room at the top of the back stairs:

maid's room

This used to be the kitchen when the place was a duplex, but you’d never know the curtain is hiding a junction box, and the Grandma Moses print is strategically placed to conceal two—TWO!—off-centered outlets in the middle of the wall. Shhh, don’t tell, Internet!

Mom’s an artist. She always has been, but she’s less shy about calling herself that lately, now that she’s got a studio of her own down in the basement. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad she finally has a place where she can make stuff (and store her great legions of artmaking stuff, as well). I’ll post some pictures, so we can all be jealous together. Her eager eye shaped and defined my own, which is one of the biggest gifts she could have given me.

Although her style is not easily defined, I can see an object or an artwork and immediately guess whether mom will love it:

Is it black and white, or perhaps the color pops?
Are there stripes, polkadots, or other stong geometries?
Does it have rhythm and texture and scale?
Is the shape pleasingly unique?
Is it strong and engaging?
Does it quirk and invite?
Can you see its maker’s hand, the wear of use, or the tidal actions of time?

And I know that whatever this thing is, she’d group it with others in a way that starts a conversation between the objects. Many people claim to be eclectic, but that’s my mother’s mother-tongue.

Thanks for the bringing the polish and flair, mom. Everyone who sees the place says it’s never looked better.

My Lady Dines At Nine

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

That tulip table’s original, bitches. Because I can afford it! Not like you.


See how eclectic-elegant I am? It’s the old bones and the sleek lines. You can admire my style, but don’t smudge my shit with your hot and hungry handprints.


Sigh. I am full of want. And angry decor-populism. I’m jonesing for a chair, or a lamp, or some wild piece of it’s-art-because-I-say-it’s-art.

What would you spend money on, if you had any to spend?

Thanks for getting me all inflamed, apartment therapy.

How to Write like an Architect

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

My next pair of glasses will be architectural, but I’m afraid I am stuck with my serial killer scrawl. I wish, wish, wish I could write like an architect, though. I want to be one of those people with an effortlessly cool hand; these are usually the same sorts who can take a couple of rocks and a feather and create a jealous-making minimalist grouping that makes the rest of us feel sloppy-baroque in comparison. (Andrew L, I am LOOKING AT YOU!)

Think I saw this on Kottke a while back. Cut me some slack, this cold will just not quit.

Jungle Tablescape

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

One more mom post today, this one to showcase her creative side, instead of the bruised one. Those bruises will fade soon, but my mom’s always going to be amazing at making things (and making things lovely).

Last week, we had another shower for Ford, with some of my favorite people in mom’s many circles of friends. Mom met this core group in the eighties, back when they were in AIDS buddy training together. These are dear friends—gut friends, she’d call them—and strong women, all. Two of them even live across the street from me—hi, neighbors! I see you had a delivery of dirt today, and that it’s finally warm enough to get your hands back in the earth—hurrah!

For gifts, everyone brought their favorite children’s books, and I want to do a proper post about that, because I’ve discovered that kid books are like smells: they jet you straight back to way back when, in a way that’s immediately resonant and wallopingly nostalgic, much like lilac or the pool in summer or that haunting steam smell of a hot iron on cotton.

But tonight’s post is about my mom’s fantastic jungle tablescape. And it’s all about:

MONKEYS! (You know how I feel about monkeys…)

monkey tscape1


Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

osaka church

The cross of light in this Osaka church almost makes a believer out of me.

The Rural Studio found another way of letting in the light at the Mason’s Bend Community Center in Alabama. The walls are made out of eighty Chevy Caprice windshields, which cost a grand total of $120.

mason's bend

Really, who needs stained glass?

Osaka, Mason’s Bend

Final(ly) Home

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

finally home

I have that same dumb dream most women have: to grow old with someone who knows me, loves me, accepts me. There we’d be, all cratered with age, laugh lines like gullies, holding hands together on our porch. That’s it, the whole fantasy: holding hands on the porch I share with a man who’s grown old with me, who’s lived a long life alongside me. So far, no contenders, but I imagine there will be dogs on my lap as I sit on that someday porch. And I can think of worse places for that porch to be than this lovely, grass-roofed aerie overlooking the Golden Gate.

It was built in Sausalito, California, for a couple in their eighties; and sustainably designed to suit their needs exactly. The living roof blends into the hillside, and helps keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But even better, can’t you imagine having a picnic in that grass, overlooking the red-orange span of the Golden Gate Bridge, our version of the yellow-brick road, that sure path to Oz? I would pack a blanket, a basket, and a book, and watch the wind riffle the water and the ships come into the harbor and head out again, bound for China and other points west.


Bookshapes, Cityscape

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

My sister just moved to an adorable house in a very cool neighborhood in Kansas City, a place where the restaurants aren’t just a medley of sandwich shops and more sandwich shops. (With some sandwich shops mixed in for variety.) I’m a little jealous, in case it’s not clear. I miss me some city, and I find these urban longings express themselves most often as a fixation on food.

But I also miss the downtown-ness of cities, that pulse of traffic and skyscrapers and people moving quickly to jobs, to museums, to restaurants featuring the foods of many lands. So I love what KC did with their public library, taking books of importance to the region and creating a pretend shelf running along the main branch of the library’s parking structure.

fachada 1

Isn’t this the perfect example of well-considered form elevating necessary function? Stacked books have always seemed like towers to me, places with far views and rich contents. And libraries are cities unto themselves, my cathedral (although I often fail to tithe in a timely fashion).

I can’t wait to head down and see it.



Fleeing The Fray

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Oh, if only. Isn’t this straight where you’d head with a fat novel and a cool compress after jailing your dogs for barky-barky yapcrimes?


Yeah. Me, too.

From Design Sponge via Ffffound.

Meme Watch: Shark Attack!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

We really are living every week like it’s shark week around here. Have you noticed all the shark fins breaking water lately?

Imagine a shark appearing in your split pea soup:


This shark fin soup bowl, designed by Apostolos Porsanidis, is available at Industreal.

Really wake yourself up in the morning with a Sharky tea infuser, designed by Pable Matteoda:

sharky 1
sharky 2

Fantastic! You’d need a little red tea for the best effect.

Or how about a shark attack in your sapphire and tonic? Give your drinks more bite with shark fin ice cubes:

fin ice 2
fin ice

Soup bowl discovered on the ever-inspiring Monster-Munch. Thanks for the infuser hat-tip, NotCot. Pix are via. Ice cube trays seen all over the place, but pix are via

Typographic Mapping

Friday, December 19th, 2008

The best maps are revelatory; they tell you something about the world that you didn’t know. Not just where places are and what they’re near, but what they’re about. These maps make the world feel both familiar and new. I love how we get such a suggestive glimpse of the letters for each country on this typographic map:

typographic map

And I love type that stretches to the edges, that gets blown out by the characteristics of whatever it’s naming. See how the D in Canada has been eaten by Hudson Bay? Yet we recognize the name, even without access to all the letters.

Thanks, Vlad Studio! It’s even better bigger, so download the map here.