I had to pick up a friend recently from a medical clinic where she was having a ‘procedure’ done and was not permitted to drive afterwards. So, I had to sit in the waiting room for a while, waiting (and waiting). The waiting room was large enough that all of us ‘drivers’ were not sitting side by side and practically on top of each other. The chairs were placed in a manner that enabled us to look in different directions so we were not staring at each other. There was no window that looked outside but there was a flat screen television that allowed us to have some focal point to rest our eyes upon. Of course there were many magazines and fortunately they were current issues. Nothing worse than 2 year old magazines where you are reading about Christmas in June! The chairs were clean too – that scores big points with me. As I looked around this office/waiting room I could tell that a designer had designed this space. The wall colour choice had been chosen by a professional not by the ‘builder’. The chairs were coordinated with the paint and the carpet. There was ambient light so there was a nice calm feel to the room, not glaring overhead fluorescent lighting. And the thing that caught my attention the most was the art on the wall. It was not some art that had been cast-offs and brought from home. (I am sure you have been in a Doctor’s office with art like that!) These pieces had been specifically chosen for this space. But the thing I found most interesting was how the art had been hung on the wall. The art was hung at the correct height (art is often hung too high) with appropriate space between the pieces (another common mistake) but I liked how someone had thought to stagger the art. It gave me something while sitting here and waiting to reflect upon. Interesting style. I liked that it was ‘leftward’ of ordinary.
As I may have mentioned I collect silk scarves. I love the feel of the silk. I love the colours and patterns on the scarves. I love the history behind many of the scarf labels. So, I recently added to my collection and treated myself to an Emilio Pucci silk scarf. Happy Birthday to me! The scarf is a very long rectangular shape with colours of purple, lavender, turquoise blue, yellow and black and bears the ‘Emilio’ name printed throughout. Emilio Pucci, born in 1914, the son of a wealthy Italian aristocrat, was a scholar, skier and WWII pilot but was best known for his work as a fashion designer in the 1950’s and 60’s. Pucci started using textiles with stretch and movement and brightly coloured patterns and dizzying prints eschewing the trend of the time of heavy fabrics and dull colours. Pucci clothes “looked like they’d sprouted roots and bloomed on their hangers.” Pucci’s transformation of fashion created quite a stir and developed a fan following from Sophia Loren to Jackie Kennedy. Even Marilyn Monroe was buried in one of Pucci’s dresses. Over the years, the Pucci design house often collaborated with home design companies; Rosenthal dishes in the 1960’s to Italian furniture maker Capellini. Pucci’s electric coloured, kaleidoscopic patterned fabric has adorned everything from pillows to furniture. Now if I could only adorn my home with a Pucci upholstered chair, definitely a room ‘wow factor’!
Image 1: www.capellini.it
Image 2: www.visionamidcenturymodern.1stdibs.com
While out for a stroll recently I spotted a dress on display in a shop window on the other side of the street. I knew instantly that I had to have it so I jay-walked right across the street to get to that shop and that dress. No second thoughts; I bought that dress. The dress is a black and white stripe long summer dress. Casual and fun. While paying for my purchase I noticed a basket full of colourful bracelets. Of course my eye immediately went for the orange bracelet. (As I stated in a previous post, ‘orange is my new red’.) So out I go from that store with a new black and white striped dress and an orange bracelet. Instant decision, happy me. Normally, I do not make quick decisions when it comes to my clothing or my décor but this purchase just seemed right. When I got home I laid out my purchases, added a white hat and a blue jean jacket and voila, a whole outfit came together. So the other day I put my new outfit on and stopped….! As I looked around my bedroom I started to smile and the realization hit me then. Not only was I dressed in black and white stripes with blue and a hit of orange but so was my bedroom!! My ‘summer’ bedroom had the same colour scheme happening too; white coverlet, black and white striped pillows, orange lamps and blue art. That is why I made such a quick decision on the dress purchase; it felt familiar. Interesting huh? So is it your clothes inspire your home décor or your home décor inspires your clothes? Next time you are wondering what colours to decorate a room with, colour that is suited to your personal tastes and comfort, take a look inside your closet.
Can you improve on nature? Man or rather in my case – woman, will alter and change their space/interiors until they get it ‘right’. I will strive until I get the right paint colour on the wall, the correct fabric on the chair, the precise layout of the furniture. In my environment (my interior) I change things because I believe there could be a better alternative, a better design. Change is good, right? But year after year Mother Nature gets it bang on. Every year in late spring my favourite tree, the Cornus Kousa, a variety of flowering Dogwood, flowers to a beauty beyond words, true perfection. No improvement or change necessary here. This year the two Cornus Kousa’s in my backyard were prolific and created an outstanding display. The Cornus Kousa, with its creamy white petal-like flowers and softly rippled green leaves, requires little or no maintenance to maintain its natural form and beauty. Naturally beautiful. We don’t often think about it, but we do take our inspiration for design from Nature. Frank Lloyd Wright was well-known for using Nature, “Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.” So next time you fall short on ideas or inspiration, take a look outside and see what Mother Nature has designed.
Isn’t it amazing the difference a few weeks can make. In my backyard, truly the size of a small ‘courtyard’, my space literally transforms from an open patio into a hidden oasis; a very calm and private retreat. Both of my next-door neighbours have birds-eye views into my backyard as our homes are all 3 stories high but by late spring my backyard foliage fills in and I am in total privacy. Over the years I have strategically planted and re-planted many trees and bushes in my backyard. Not only do the trees provide shade they now provide my anticipated concealment. The trees have also grown in size that they provide a full canopy over the yard; similar to a huge sun umbrella. In fact I can no longer see any neighbours, beside me or behind my. I have created what I call ‘my fortress’. I do like my neighbours but when you live in the city a little solitude is nice. Similar to living spaces within the interior of a home, my trees are like pulling down the shades or drawing the blinds. Sometimes it’s not about what you see but what who you do not see!
‘Good design is obvious, great design is transparent’.
I came across this quote some time ago and have had it in the back of my mind pondering its meaning. I have come to a conclusion that for me this quote means….Good design is obvious, it has accountability, and great design is transparent because it functions in a manner not evident to the user whereas by contrast bad design has no accountability nor does it function well. Let me explain myself.
Three different homes I’ve owned have been 2-stories. Three bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. Makes sense, very standard. Obvious good design. But where great design should have been transparent was the bathroom door not located at the top of the stair directly in line (and view) of the front door. Instead in all three homes the house was designed so that the front door, stairs and bathroom door were all aligned so that when you sat on the toilette or stepped out of the bathtub you were in plain sight of anyone who came to call at the front door. And you know that doors are always left open. Terribly embarrassing. Where was the design accountability because this layout certainly had poor function? What was the designer, architect or builder thinking or rather not thinking when they planned the house?
In my recent home we renovated the bathroom (see my post – My Bathroom Reno) and tore the bathroom wall down to move the bathroom door over so that it was not aligned with the front door. Great idea. Now, no one will ever now that the bathroom door was ever in the wrong place because ‘great design is transparent’!
I thought in the aftermath of the (Lord) Stanley Cup playoffs I would write about the location I found myself at for the final championship game. Yes, I was a ‘jump on the bandwagon’ kind of fan but hey, I was there supporting the team. Ah….but which team??!! I spent the evening in a ‘Man Cave’!! My friend has outfitted his garage into a sports-central, man cave zone complete with all the necessary furniture and accessories; décor very befitting of a man cave. It is a double garage so the dimensions are good. The focal point is the built-in bookcases storage units with a LCD television mounted above it. There is an under counter stainless steel wine beer fridge and lovely amusing artwork hanging on the walls. There is the required punching bag necessary for venting at half time. There are numerous bicycles, shovels and power sprayers for hits of colour. There are lots of comfortable seating made of durable, heard-wearing nylon fabric complete with beverage holders. The chairs are foldable so they can serve multiple uses. The window coverings are vintage terrycloth towels. The lighting is by the glow of the television and the stars in the sky. Not to mention the beautiful full moon that was out last night. I enjoyed the evening very much as there were lots of friends and neighbours to share this momentous occasion with, not to mention that the setting and ambiance were perfect. My friend has definitely achieved what he set out to create; a fabulously designed ‘Man Cave’. Well done!!
“Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!” I heard that a lot growing up, but now along with eating your vegetables you are reminded to make sure you get your omega-3 fatty acids. A good source of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid is flax-seed. Flax seed is a tiny seed that is loaded with nutritional benefits; it helps lower cholesterol levels and cut the risk of heart disease. Sounds like a super food to me. But did you also know that both flax-seed and the textile linen come from the same plant, Linum usitatissimum??!! Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibres. Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant. Flax fibers are amongst the oldest fiber crops in the world and the use of flax for the production of linen goes back at least to ancient Egyptian times. I love to wear linen especially in the summer as the fabric has such a coolness and freshness to it. I find that clothing made with linen has great movement to it and I don’t mind the wrinkles either. But decorating with linen is something I have a real affinity for. Furniture covered in linen is beautiful and gives the piece a very organic look. I have covered an entire sofa in linen. (One of those sofas I no longer have!) My living and dining room drapes are linen. I have tablecloths, cushions and duvet covers that are all made from linen. But I must admit, when I use linen for decorating I like the fabric to be crisp and not all wrinkly looking. Crazy, right? No crazier than knowing that tomorrow at breakfast while eating your omega-3 cereal remember, flax – you can eat it or wear it.
Image 1. Modmissy Image 2. Naturespath.com
Winning the bid to be the hosting country for the Olympics is nothing short of outstanding; a gold metal accomplishment. As Olympic athletes prepare for their competition, the competition is also on for the hosting country to present a spectacular display of their abilities. As our world has advanced in knowledge and technology so have the Olympics with countries showcasing their leading-edge innovations in architecture, design and construction. Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the next Summer Olympics in 2016. Rio is not only the first South American country to be hosting the Summer Olympics but they are also planning to be the first zero-carbon footprint Olympics. To help Rio achieve this goal, Swiss-based RAFAA Architecture and Design has designed the ‘Solar City Tower’; an eco-architectural solar waterfall. Solar panels will capture solar energy and falling water will stimulate turbines to produce hydro energy. The proposed structure is both beautiful and green.
Solar City Tower built atop the island of Cotonduba.
The view from the air as visitors arrive.
Solar City Tower will also hold the Olympic flame.
Solar City Tower will be the point of reference for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well and the Solar City Tower truly becomes a reality. Definitely something to boast about!
Images via RAFAA
I have a confession. I am one of those people who before reading a greeting card (birthday, thank-you etc.) turn it over and check out the ‘label’ on the back. GUILTY! Now I know that some people take offence to this and feel slighted by my ‘flipping action’ but that back page tells so much about the card. On the back is a notation about the front page art or artist, or what charity is responsible for the card, or what country the card originated in, or whether the card is 100% recycled. Etc. Etc. Once I have these details I can then take my time on enjoying the inside of the card. Just my standard procedure. Now while on confessions, I have another one. When I am perusing through books, the hard cover kind, I always fold back the dust jacket to reveal the cover. I run my hand over it to feel the texture; some are smooth, some are rougher. Very tactile. I prefer when the hardcover is void of any printing or decorations. But my favourite part of the reveal is to see the colour of the book’s hardcover. The colour that was chosen for that particular book can tell so much. Classic design books, often black. Fashion tomes, the colours of the rainbow. Cookbooks, travel books – limitless. I love finding orange books, or chartreuse, or bright pink, canary yellow and robin’s egg blue. A stack of great coloured books (sans dust jacket) sitting on a coffee table can add so much to a room I once found two old books (vintage romance –sweet stories) that had the colour and texture of linen. So…….who else is guilty of this fascination?!!