Mies Times Three

While scanning through some files today I came across a few photos that made me realize I need to do some travelling – some more sightseeing.

Chicago Federal Building Mies van der Rohe

Kluczynski Federal Building


New York City Seagram Building Mies van der Rohe

Seagram Building


Toronto-Dominion Tower Mies van der Rohe

Toronto-Dominion Tower

Having the opportunity to play tourist in Chicago, New York City and Toronto, I got to experience 3 very different cities, but all with 1 architecturally similar skyscraper in their skyline.

The Kluczynski Federal Building (45-story) in downtown Chicago, the Seagram Building (38 story) in Midtown Manhattan and the Toronto-Dominiom Tower (56-story) in downtown Toronto were all designed by Mies van der Rohe.  All 3 of these buildings are of the International style in which the buildings’s structural elements are made visible on the exterior.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (March 27, 1886 – August 19, 1969) was a German born American who left his mark on the world in a very visionary, forward thinking, contemporary way.  And long before social media or technology!  Mies van der Rohe was an architect who was widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

These iconic skyscrapers that Mies van der Rohe dubbed “skin and bones” architecture still stand today as a testament to the adage “less is more”.

All images via Modmissy


Happy New Year!

I want to say farewell to 2012 – it was a good year.

I remember as a child on the 1st day back to school following New Years the teacher would write in big numbers on the chalkboard the new year.  And I would think “Wow.  The future.”  The future held so many unknowns, so many mysteries.  But that was when I was 7, 8, 9, 10…. and at that age my learning curve was steep and my ‘unknown’ curve was even steeper.

As one gets older life is broken down into increments of time.  4 year university degree, 20 year mortgage, 2 year bank loan, net 60 days, 40 hour work week, 8 hour shift, 3 weeks holiday, 2 ½ hour movie, 4 hour drive, 6 week delivery date, etc.  Life is intervals of time mapped out in doable increments.

The future is not quite as much a mystery but life undoubtedly is.

So let’s welcome in the New Year and start 2013 as a new beginning with lots of wonderful opportunities that lay ahead in our future.

Health and happiness for the New Year.


Happy New Year.

Brother® Business Smart

Nobody said you can’t have it all!

Speed, intelligence, versatility and outstanding good looks!

No not Superman but the Brother® Business Smart all-in-one printer.

Brother Business Smart MFC-J4510DW

At an exclusive event hosted by Yummy Mummy Wall Candy blogger, Sarah Gunn and Brother® I met the MFC-J4510DW.  And I fell in love!

With its cool, sleek, sexy design this new printer has the ultimate combination of printer, scanner, copier, fax and wireless networking.  With fast print speeds, low print costs and the ability to print 11” X 17” format using landscape print technology which greatly reduces the overall size.  The engineers thought of everything.

My Printer, Scanner, Fax vs. Brother Business Smart

But it’s the designers who I tip my hat to – this new piece of technology looks good!  In the past printers/faxes/scanners/copiers have not had a true sense of style.  Instead we always hid these bulky, boring ‘beige’ pieces rather than showcasing them.  We tucked them in desks, cupboards or drawers so they were out of sight.  Now not unlike other ‘smart’ technology the Brother® Business Smart is a piece of technology you display.  Its black and white, compact clean lined design fits into any home’s décor.  It’s cool, it’s hip.

As I always say “Design is everywhere” and finally that motto found its way into the world of printer technology.

Thank you Brother®!


One Small Step for Mankind

Green.  Green is the colour that symbolizes nature and the natural world.  It is the colour of balance and life.  And being green is to be thinking of the earth in sustainable and healthy ways.  We have not inherited this land from our fathers; rather we borrow this land from our children.  It’s about everyone doing their part.  Less impact on the earth; reduce, reuse, recycle.

I want to give a big ‘shout out’ to Keilhauer, www.keilhauer.com a furniture manufacture who I have previously written about (see here).  Part of Keilhauer’s mission statement is their sustainability program called ‘Planet Keilhauer’ – to create a company that is environmentally benign and socially progressive.  Their ‘Big-Time Corporate Goal’ is closed loop manufacturing – a sustainable system in which a product is created using renewable energy, with no pollutant output and no waste, the materials used in production are recycled and reused rather than discarded.

Wouldn’t it be great if all manufactures thought of this?!!

Well guess what?  Keilhauer has achieved their mission statement goal.  Their products are now LEVEL® certified.  LEVEL® is the sustainability certification program for the furniture industry that was created to provide the most open and transparent means of evaluating and communicating the environmental and social impacts of furniture products in the built environment.

A family owned company that started in 1981 manufacturing custom furniture for the local market Keilhauer products are now sold world-wide.  Since its inception Keilhauer’s values stressed respect and integrity for its people and its customers.  Today that includes people and the planet.


Metropol Parasol

Summer time to me announces ice cream season and what better way to enjoy your favourite flavour than atop a waffle cone.  Forget the Styrofoam-like cone and never out of a cup – I pay the extra $$ and always get the waffle cone.

In my neighborhood there is a small shop specializing in hand-made ice cream and last week I made a point of having my first ice cream cone of the summer season.

When I recently came across this photo of outstanding architecture I was reminded of my favourite waffle cone.

The Metropol Parasol is a unique infrastructure located in Seville, Spain in the old quarter district known as the Plaza de la Encarnacíon. The ‘Parasol’ scheme with its impressive timber/concrete/steel structure was designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann and completed in 2011.  Standing at an impressive 26 metres high and 70 by 150 metres wide the building claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world.  Designed in 4 levels, the underground level houses the Antiquarium where Roman and Moorish remains discovered on the site are displayed.  Level 1, the street level, is the Market and Level 2 & 3 is where the panoramic terraces and a restaurant are located.  There is also a raised winding walkway that allows for amazing views of the cityscape.

The Metropol Parasol has become a new site of ‘identification’ for Seville as one of the most fascinating cultural destinations in the world today.  Its role as a unique urban space within the dense fabric of the medieval inner city of Seville allows for a great variety of activities and tourist locale.

And now another destination to be added to my ‘Must Visit’ list!

Images via J. Mayer H.


AZ Awards for Design Excellence

Last Thursday I attended Azure Magazine’s AZ Awards Gala Presentation at the beautiful Thompson Hotel in downtown Toronto.  The AZ Awards for Design Excellence celebrates with designers and architects from around the world the very best in international architecture, interiors and product design.

The event was generously presented by Keilhauer and Audi.  Sponsors included GE Monogram, George Brown College School of Design and Grange of Prince Edward County Winery.

The evening began with wonderful food provided by executive chef Robert Mills, award-winning Grange of Prince Edward County Wines and mingling with friends and colleagues.

Then we got down to the business of the evening – handing out the awards.

Hosting the awards presentation was Diana Swain, broadcaster/journalist for CBC Television.

A jury of 6 (contemporaries within the industry) had the tough job of selecting winners for 14 categories from 621 entries, representing 30 countries from around the world.

The AZ award trophy was made from cast glass designed by Jeff Goodman Studio.  Loved it!

As winners went up for their awards I could feel excitement and pride in the air akin to the Oscars or the Emmy’s!!  Talent is talent regardless of industry.  The caliber amongst these winners is outstanding.  Congratulations to all.

  • FURNITURE DESIGN: Waver Chair by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra, Switzerland
  • FURNITURE SYSTEMS DESIGN: New Logica by Gabriele Centazzo for Valcucine, Italy
  • LIGHTING DESIGN: 28d by Omer Arbel for Bocci, Canada
  • INTERIOR PRODUCTS DESIGN: Open Space, EOOS for Duravit, Germany
  • RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE: InBetween House by Koji Tsutsui & Associates, Japan
  • ARCHITECTURE: COMMERCIAL <1000sq/m: Sunset Chapel, BNKR Arquitectura, Mexico
  • ARCHITECTURE: COMMERCIAL >1000sq/m: Nike Football Training Centre, Soweto, RUF Project, Canada
  • LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: People’s Choice: Sugar Beach by Claude + Associés, Canada
  • TEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE: Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts by Thinc Design, USA
  • RESIDENTIAL INTERIORS: V4 House by Studio MK27, Brazil
  • COMMERCIAL INTERIORS: Alchemist Boutique by Rene Gonzalez, USA
  • UNBUILT CONCEPTS: Cottages at Fallingwater by Patkau Architects, Canada
  • UNREALIZED CONCEPTS: Multi-Sport Training Facility by Mark Horton Architecture, USA
  • A+ STUDENT AWARD: Polytropism: Tower Concept by Newsha Ghaeli & Caileigh MacKellar, Canada

The Cottage Renovation continues….

Winter time is ski season so the cottage renovation went on hold for a few months……..

Fortunately the snow finally melted and work was back on.  Of course one thing lead to another and a small renovation became a bit larger renovation.  While moving the kitchen cabinets they literally fell apart due to age.  So we had to replace them.  While working around the kitchen window it cracked so we had to replace it.  The silver lining to all this is that it gave us the chance to re-think how we could improve the function of the kitchen/cottage.  We decided that the view was more important than storage so we opted to install a larger window over the counter and forgo the upper cabinets.

While researching new kitchen cabinets we decided that the original layout was a bit awkward with the stove blocking access to the last cupboard so we decided to design the new cabinets in an L-shape configuration.

No gut job is ever nice.

A photo from an issue of Canadian House and Home magazine featuring a space with a sloped ceiling and exposed beams with the combination of whites and wood provided some inspiration.

The renovation keeps moving along.  Stay tuned.




Yonge and Adelaide St

Sitting at the corner of Yonge St and Adelaide St in downtown Toronto are the Lumsden Building and Dundee Place. A picture of contrasts; old architecture and new architecture. Bricks and mortar. Granite and glass.

I always write about change; that change is good. But sometimes change is not by choice but is the result of modification to fit the present and accommodate the future. In 1909 a transformation took place, one of Toronto’s early skyscrapers was built. Standing at an impressive 10 stories high The Lumsden was unrivaled by the 3 and 4 story surrounding structures. In 1909 Yonge St was lined with drug stores, Biltmore hat shops, YWCA Cafeterias, tea rooms, menswear shops, luncheonettes and tailors. But the future was business, and businesses needed upscale addresses. The Lumsden provided that. Fast forward to 1991, more opportunities were needed at the corner of Yonge and Adelaide so Dundee Place was built providing 31 floors of business opportunities. So….which building will stand the test of time?

Here is a photo showing The Lumsden on Yonge Street in 1939.

  1. Photo Courtesy of City of Toronto Archives
  2. Photo by Modmissy



Electricity – Food for Thought

This morning when I sat down at my computer…..no internet service.  Arrrggh!!  I got it up and running after a while but not without a little frustration.  Soon after while researching for today’s post I came across a photo I had taken.  The photo actually stopped me in my tracks and made me reflect.  I had risen this morning to the sounds of my clock radio.  I had turned on the light in the bathroom to brush my teeth.  I had plugged in the kettle to make a cup of tea.  I had cooked my oatmeal in the microwave.  I had started the dishwasher.  And of course there is always another load of laundry to do so I started that too.  So by the time I sat down in front of my computer, with or without internet service, I had used electricity several times; without even thinking about it.  I had subconsciously assumed it would be available to serve me in all my requirements.  And it had.  So when I saw this photo I realized how fortunate I am to have electricity.  Most houses were connected to electricity in the 1920’s to 1930’s.  This photo showing an advertisement from the February 1925 issue of The Ladies Home Journal magazine stating “Does the Home You Love Love You?”  gave me a reality check.  With the introduction of electricity into the home the method of boiling water, cooking food, ironing clothing, cleaning house, heating bath water or warming baby’s milk became as easy a “pressing a button – or pushing a plug into a handy convenience outlet”.  In the advertisement Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company asked if your beautiful home gave you anything back in return for the love you bestowed upon it.  “Does it make your days easier and your evenings brighter?  It both can and does, if it is an electrified home.”  Remarkable!!  Could you imagine life without ‘appliances’?  And I was annoyed because my internet was slow. 

All images via Modmissy

Progress Giving Back

Whenever I am in my car driving I have my radio tuned to a ‘talk’ radio station.  I find that it is a great time to get my update of news, current events, etc.  For me it is my ‘newspaper on the go’.  The other day I heard an interesting question put forth by the radio host, “What would you like progress to give you back?”  I liked this question; it made me stop and think.  (But not in the middle of traffic!)  In these days of up-to-the-minute advances and have it all abundance……What do I miss???  Well, the computer has provided me with an infinite source of information so I will never miss out on not having the answer to any question.  I can easily travel to faraway places so I will never miss out on knowing what is on the other side of the world.  I will never miss out on hearing the sound of a loved one’s voice because I can carry a communication device in the palm of my hand.  At the push of a button I can cook my food, wash my clothes, heat my home and turn on a light.  I can stay healthier, look younger and live longer.  Hmmm!?  I often write about the Mid-Century Modern era because I am quite enamored by the furniture design, architecture and style of that era.  An era where the word ‘modern’ truly existed because changes did not happen daily.  Items that were ‘new and improved’ stayed new and improved and were not outdated almost overnight.  I also become very nostalgic when I think of my childhood, when things were simpler and life moved at a slower pace.  When people strolled instead of ‘go, go, go’.  But would I go back now to the 1950’s, 60’s or 70’s?  Would I miss all the modern conveniences or inventions of today that I have come to depend on?  My octogenarian Mother-in-Law said she would like progress to give back “politeness”.  My teenage son said he would like progress to give back “a healthier planet” because earth has really taken a giant ‘kick’ from the effects of progress.   So, what would you like progress to give you back??  Let me know.