Friday, April 29, 2011

US3 - Unit three summary - Explorations

Our third and final unit takes us from The worlds fairs up to the present.  We examined arts and crafts, re-form, art movements and their influence on design; as well as the effects of war.  All of which helped shape the multiple modernisms of today as well as the Scandinavians design aesthetic.

The World’s fairs were a great invention which reminds me a lot of trade shows that we see today.  They were international, commemorative, commercial, and collaborative.  At the core of the fairs is National pride.  The fairs were a way for everyone to show off their intelligence and ability to design and produce the next biggest and greatest idea/object.  Architecturally they are challenging in that most are temporary.  Creating an environment that inspires awe and can handle hundreds of thousands of visitors is quite the task.  Often there are a few buildings or structures that we are left with as reminders, such as the Eiffel Tower, The space needle in Seattle, and the arch in St. Louis.  The commercialism and industrialism showcased in the fairs is contrasted by the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Arts and Crafts movement focused on the handmade and the natural beauty and elements around.  Ching summarizes this when he states “ These Arts and Crafts houses featured a deliberate blurring of interior and exterior space through the use of decks, pergolas, porches, and terraces.” (Ching, 681)  One of the most exceptional examples of the movement is the Gamble house in Pasadena, which was designed by Charles Sumner Green and Henry Mather Greene in 1908-1909.  The idea of the house as a total design package is see perfectly here.  Every aspect of the house was part of an integrated design.  Cabinets, lighting, leaded glass windows, paneling; everything, was designed by the architects to perform as one cohesive unit.  This approach is also seen in other artistic movements and how their design aesthetic translated into the architecture as well.  We see this paralleling in the art nouveau style in Europe, where the free flowing lines of nature are the central theme.  Think no right angles.  Furthering these ideas is Art deco.  Beauty for beauty, surface adornment, shiny polished surfaces come to mind here.  The exterior of the Chrysler building in New York and the interior of Rockefeller center are excellent examples of this style.

We have learned in the class that most all design movements have a reaction movement or a focus on a new aesthetic.  Although not necessarily reactionary, the Bauhaus Movement seemed to have a more industrial nature to it  focusing as Roth states “on industrial production and the development of normative industrial standards.” (Roth 523)  Much of this was theoretical since the designs appeared very industrial, yet were often hand crafted.  Many names are associated with the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, the founder, Kandinsky, Klee, and the final leader: Mies van der Rohe.  The Bauhaus was eventually shut down by the Nazis in 1933 which tells us that war is among us and a new uncertainty is coming.  Multiple modernisms start to appear.  Classic revival, ultra modern, and post modern all start appearing more and more.  All are searches for what is modern and are modern according to those who are building them as well as the attitudes of how one should live.  The idea that people will adapt to the house and learn to live with how it is designed comes into play and is also criticized. 

Much of this criticism led us to look at the Scandinavian design aesthetic and how it brings a lot of what we are learning together.  Functionality, simple lines, pleasing aesthetics, affordability.  All ideas we have discussed come together as a whole here.  We learn that the house and it contents needs to be responsive to the individual living within for it to work.  It is human nature that cannot be changed for architecture, yet architecture that must change for human nature. 

The rise of the interior decorator and mega firm come to the playground as well.  We look at the people that make what we do now possible, such as Elsie de Wolf, Dorothy Draper, and Billy Baldwin, pioneers in decorating that opened the doors for us.  Mega firms such as Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill start appearing as are mega buildings.  Going up and up becomes the new direction.  The idea of no structure is realized with glass facades that cover entire buildings, completely hiding the structure.  The reaction to this as well, all the structure is shown on the outside, so the inside can be completely open, such as the George Pompidou center for art in Paris.  Ultimately we learn that Modern is a search.  A search for what looks, functions, and feels right.  Modern is not the same for everyone and will always be evolving.


The image that I feel best exemplifies the unit is the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier.  Built between 1928 and 1931 in Poissy France, just outside of Paris.  The building exemplifies Corbusier’s five points of architecture.  Elevating the building to allow the garden to extend underneath, A functional roof that reclaims the land occupied by the building, an open floor plan, long horizontal windows for light and air, and a facade as a skin.  All of these ideas we see re-emerging as important today.  The Villa Savoye to me is the predecessor of green or sustainable architecture.  It was designed around light and how it effects the building as well as the occupants and how they live and the presence of the automobile.  Ideas such as a steel structural skeleton that allows for open expanses and for the exterior walls to be an applied facade are both ideas that evolved and will continue to evolve and already allow us to live, design, and function the way we do today.  Le Corbusier's exploration of modern developed ideals that we continue to explore and utilize today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BP14 - my favorite Object, Space, Building, and Place

To wrap up the semester we get to choose our favorite Object, Space, Building, and Place to write about.  Here are some of mine.

Object:  Espresso Maker

my espresso maker delivers fantastic coffee, just like any fine coffee house.  The design is simple, elegant, and functional.  Th footprint is half that of my microwave which gave me more counter space as well.  Espresso wakes me up in the morning and allows me to function and learn.

Space:  Kitchen

For me, the kitchen is a creative outlet.  I enjoy cooking and preparing meals more than anything else that I do.  It is a way for me to be creative and experimental while at the same time creating amazing food.  I like to entertain and the kitchen makes or breaks this for me.  Having a well designed, functional, and appropriate space is critical.  I live in my kitchen so it needs to be one of the most special places in the house.  There is no room for fast food in my kitchen.

Building:  Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice Italy

I ended up here almost by chance.  While in Venice a friend of my parents suggested that I stop by here to visit.  I barely had time to see what I wanted to see, let alone another art museum.  Boy was I glad that I made time for this place.  The museum was the home of Peggy Guggenheim for over 30 years.  Originally it was designed to be a palace, yet was never finished.  All you see it the first floor.  I enjoy that it stands out on the grand canal.  It's only one floor when most building are at least two.  The gardens are amazingly simple and unexpected in the city.  What I truly enjoy the most is the interior.  The pale pale brown terrazzo floors, the clean lines, the simplicity.  All juxtaposed against the exterior facade.  I was there in August, It was so hot and so humid outside you were soaking when just from stepping outside.  When I arrived here and entered the building it was cool, dry, calming, and pristine.

Place:  Blue Ride Mountains, Allegheny County NC

This is where I spent a lot of time during the summers growing up.  The air is cool, crisp, and thin.  The smell is clean and un-polluted.  The views are stunning.  The life is simple.  There are no bugs!!!  Picnics in the pasture, nights in a one room cabin, little or no electricity.  Ice cold lake water.  A spring house a smoke house, things I had never heard of, that now I want.  This is where I want to end up, forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

St. Mary's House - A writers Retreat Drawings and Ideas

These are the original drawings that I did for St. Mary's writers retreat.  They may be easier to see than the final boards that I have uploaded to the blog.  There is additional information on the final boards that is not on these drawings.  I've also included some commentary and thought process as to why I have laid the space out as I have. 

First floor plan.  The office is at the front of the building to the left.  The space can accommodate a conference table for 8 as well as an office/writing desk.  The living room is directly behind the office.  There are stairs up to a loft.  The Living space is large enough to accommodate intimate seating at the fireplace, a sitting area in the center of the room and a small space for dining for two.  The bedroom is at the back of the living space to create more privacy with an en-suite bathroom as well.  The kitchen connects the living room to the public reading room in the rear of the structure, far right.  This allows the kitchen to function for both spaces and also create a privacy gradient between public and private spaces.  The public reading room has been opened up to the outdoors with french doors and windows all around.  If possible a screen porch on the back would be ideal.  The reading space also has a built in desk for writing, chair storage, and a public bath.  The space can also be used for dining for larger crowds.
Second floor loft plan.  Writing loft is at the front of the house to the left.  The rear loft can act as secondary living, reflecting space, or additional sleep space if necessary.  The rear loft is open to the central portion of the public reading space and could be used as an elevated reading platform as well.
Section Elevation looking east.  Shows the Kitchen, office, living, reading and second floor loft spaces.
Section elevation from inside the public reading room looking south.  This shows how the ceiling is vaulted in the center and how the second story loft interacts with the space.  The writing desk is in the middle and kitchen door is on the right side. 
Section elevation from the living room looking north.  This shows how the second story loft interacts with the kitchen below as well as with the living space.  The window in the loft is 6' tall, the addition of a scale figure could have made the loft space more clear.
Elevation of the west wall.  The fireplace is central.  Book cases with storage underneath flank the fireplace and continue up to the ceiling of the loft which is 9'6".  Next to the book cases are the reflecting nooks.  These provide a space for writing and reading as well as additional seating when necessary.  Keeping this section of the space open from front to back maximizes light in the space.

Perspective of the public reading room.  This space is large enough to accommodate 40 individuals seated.
Living room looking west.  A two point perspective that shows how the stairs, loft, balcony seating area, and built ins work together.  Scale figure to the right shows the scale of the space and how open and high the ceilings are.
Living room looking back towards the kitchen on the left, bedroom in through the door on the right.  The kitchen is a galley style kitchen and connects the private quarters to the public reading room.  The allows the kitchen to function for bot public and private spaces while maintaining a privacy gradient for the more personal spaces.
Second floor loft looking south towards the front of the house.  This view shows another reflection nook and writing desk as well as more built ins for storage.  The addition of a scale figure would help show how an individual would interact with the space.  The distance to the top of the window from the floor is 6', and the distance to the top of the book case from the floor on the right is 5'5".
My original Parti for the project.  Reflect is the main concept.  Areas of reflection for the writer are key.  The environment is very muted and filled with earth tones.  The richness and life comes from how one lives in and utilizes the space.

St. Mary's House - A writers Retreat - Final boards

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two Views of Design

Today in class we broke into groups and discussed 5 question in relation the Eames’ legacy and HGTV’s design star.  We began with education and the role it plays in interior design.

 While some feel that it’s being in the right place at the right time, others know that you can create the place and time.  Education teaches you the rules, so you know how to break them and when to break them.  Education gives you a foundation so you know the correct ways to do things, such as produce drawings for construction.  Education gives you a set of tools that help you succeed.  Education teaches you history, so that when you buy a louis xiv chair for a client, you know it’s authentic because of what you learned to look for in your education process.  Education is insurance for your clients.  A good education is going to put you in front of the top design firms that you want to work for.  With out the education most will simply overlook you. 

Working for these firms allows you to build experience and credentials.  Both of which allow you to get better clients and better contracts.  Holistic designs are awarded to designers that have the where with all to put together a cohesive package that reads as one.  Being able to understand what your client is asking for and being able to deliver it are two totally different things.  Many times it is up to the design professional to educate their client about the different possibilities.  The client puts their trust in you because you  know what you are doing and how to do it. 

Having a network of other design professionals gives you back up.  If you have a client that you are working with and they want something you have not done before, you instantly have a peer group that can help you out.  Being able to work these things out and knowing how to work with your contractors to get things done right is what your clients came to your for. 

The design star mentality glosses over the surface.  Everything looks good, sort of, maybe, kind of, or not really.  Everything is superficial.  Good, educated, design will solve problems and will have substance.  A good design that works well for you, solves your problems, and lasts a long time is something that you’ll not get from design star.  Hire a professional, they know how to do it the right way the first time.  Sure it’s more expensive up front, but you’re not re-doing it over and over and over to try to make it right.

BP13, Kennedy, Blog Post #13, IARC 221

The Legacy of  Scandinavian modern has instilled in us many valuable ideas.  The ideas that come to my mind are:  Simple, Affordable, Minimal, and Functional.  The Scandinavians have taught us that we all can have thoughtfully designed products that are generally problem solving and based on substance.  The top light, created by Design House, Stockholm embodies these elements. 

The idea is simple.  A candle holder.  However, it's not an entire candle holder, only part.  You are forced to recycle an object you already own to make it a complete candle holder.  The finished product is also simple.  No excess adornment, only what you need.  It's also affordable at $35.00.  

The top light is also versatile and adaptable.  Us it in your grandmothers carafe or in your water bottle from this morning.  You get to choose how it's finally used.  The simplistic, functional design allows it to co-mingle with all styles.

RR 12, Biomorphic


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Outside Inspiration (theory 5)

For our final theory reading we were asked to review and recommend three different design journals or websites. Here are three that I have been frequenting for quite some time.  I find inspiration in them and have always looked to them for enjoyment and ideas.

Planet Magazine -

This is by far one of my all time favorite sites to visit.  The site looks at design on multiple levels.  Photography, Architecture, Art, Culture, History, and Travel.  They encourage reader participation quite often.  I am always amazed at what I see here.  They content is global and real.  I enjoy the site the most because it give you a complete view of design.  Seeing what people are wearing and displaying on the walls in spaces that are newly created paints a picture for me.  A picture of use, daily life, and functional beauty.

Walpapper -

This site is somewhat similar to Planet magazine, however they do have an editorial slant.  They focus more on architecture which is great, especially since they critique spaces, show plans, and multiple images.  You can almost immerse yourself in the buildings the review.  Seeing plans is extremely important for me to understand how the space flows and how the individual spaces within the space function with each other.  Their bias is toward a more modern and simplistic style that focuses on quality and substance.  Unfortunately, this is often on the extreme side of expensive.  The ideas are good and give good inspiration for design.

Design Sponge -

This is purely a design blog, updated daily and run by Grace Bonney.  It's fun, quirky, un-expected, different, inspiring, and fun.  I like fun a lot!!  Little touches here and there make all the difference in an interior space.  The little nuances make it your own and make a space stand out.  Her focus is on home and product design, so interiors and objects abound.  Good design ties them all together.  Occasionally food is featured which is huge for me.  Food brings people together in my home and is its own form of design.  I enjoy Grace's take on things and always have found inspiration in her site since it started some 6 years ago.

Monday, April 11, 2011

RR 12, Pavilion

Image sources:




Kennedy, Blog Post #12, IAR 221

The Flip Flop - Good Design for all....

For me the Flip Flop represents good design for all.  Flip Flops are inexpensive and available to almost everyone in the world.  They perform a basic function of protecting the sole of the foot.  This is a necessity for most cultures.  Here in the states they protect our delicate feet from super hot asphalt and beach sand during the summer.  In more rural areas the protect the sole of the foot from the rugged terrain.  The simplicity of the flip flop means that almost anyone can make them, regardless of education.  In their simplest form they can be made from local materials that are on hand or they can be more elaborate and be made with leather and adornments.  One of the beauties of the flip flop is the ability of an individual to personalize them.  Choose your own color, choose the decoration, create your own style.  This expressionism allows the flip flop to go from casual to formal, cheap to expensive, utilitarian to uber comfortable.  These are the reasons why the Flip Flop represents good design for all.

Friday, April 8, 2011

US2 - Unit two summary - Reverberations

Unit Two - Reverberations

Searching.  This is the word that comes to mind when looking back through the second unit of the semester.  Everyone is searching for the next architectural style, the new thing, the best, the biggest, the most modern.  In our previous unit we looked at foundations, setting the first stones, learning and making mistakes.  This unit is the next level and builds upon the first.  For all these new styles to be developed one thing is necessary, money.  During this time period the church has the greatest where with all to build buildings.  Therefore;  we study a great deal of churches.

Cathedrals stand out in the west and are the focus for Roth.  Their massive size, their awe inspiring height, the great use of glass, and stone.  They are solid, stable, and enlightening.  Exactly what partitioners are looking for during this scary time to be alive.  Fear makes everything the church does possible.  We examined the progression of styles of churches from early romanesque buildings, which are heavy and dark, to the high gothic buildings that are light and airy.  We compared these structures to music and the music that would have been played in the cathedrals when they were being built.  The music and the architecture hold a very close bond and we decided that architecture is indeed frozen music.  When we look to the east we see a more harmonious evolution of temple design, which Ching focuses on.  In india we see the shikara, the hindu cosmos.  This idea leads the eye all around the building, constant motion, with no one place to settle.  The styles in the east also relate to the music they are playing. 

The east and the west are connected by this concept as well as the concept of Regional Dialects.  Stylistically buildings are starting to speak a similar language, yet their dialects are different.  Materials used in the building showcase this the best.  A prime example is the Duomo in Florence Italy with it’s clay tile roof,  which is the roofing choice of the region.  For these buildings to have a similar language means that people are now traveling. 

When people travel they need a map to help them get where they are going.  In the map’s oldest form we use the “method of Loci.”  This puts everything in spatial terms, think cognitive, mental, or mind map here.  Everything is centralized around the one and only, you, as long as you’re the church!  Most of the early maps represent a small area and are christian based. They quickly expand and start to become world maps which would indicate world exploration.  This also indicates an enlightened population, not only in the people, but, also in the architecture or places.  Through this enlightening process we create a set of rules, based on the past and what did not work in the past.  In the west we focus on moving forward, putting man in the center,  and strive for harmony and order in all things. Think calm, serene spaces where individuals stand separate.  In the  east we focus on community needs, sustainability, and maintaining continuity with the past.  Overall, we are still searching for what is modern.

In an effort to find the next set of modern ideas, we break all the rules we have just made in the west.  We examine the Baroque period where we stand as a player in the scene.  We engage all the senses and employ drama in everything.  Then we take these ideas even further, breaking all the rules of the renaissance, with the evolution of Rococo.  Everything is adorned, decorated, and touched.

So far we have made lots of progress.  We know what does and what does not work.  We have created rules, broken rules, lost all our knowledge and regained it.  Things are pretty good on the home front so now it’s time for us to go exploring and expand our world.  Colonial expansion begins and we begin to spread our ideals everywhere we go.    This means change, lots of change, which leads to revolution.  Small things start becoming more important.  Collecting wealth and showing it off is important.  Personal possessions start to show worldliness and having means.  Chairs are seen in sets.  It’s expensive to make a chair, even more expensive to make a matching pair.  Sets of 6, 8, or more make a very big statement.  Multiples of items become somewhat easier to obtain with the onset of the Industrial revolution.  This takes us to a new set of ideals with mass production.  Think tinker toys and erector sets.  Everything that was once impossible and unattainable will start to be available for everyone.  Styles become more simple and basic again.  We have a new set of rules to write now.  It’s almost like we are starting over, or is it just another revolution in the design process? 

Revolutions are constant in our world;  from person, to object, to space, to building, to place.  We are surrounded by revolution on a daily basis.  It’s part of our quest to be modern.  Our constant need to search for what is modern creates revolution in our lives.  During the past unit we have explored the creation of modern.  Through this we have come to understand that all buildings when built embody what modern is.

The image above is of the Galleria Vittorio in Milan which opened in 1867.  When it opened " it was seen as an engineering and urban marvel." (Ching 665)  To me this building exemplifies the reverberations unit.  The rules are followed and the rules are broken here.  Classical facade layout has been practiced.  However; interior elements, like frescos now appear on the exterior facade, domes reserved for the church are now in the shopping mall, streets are covered, not open and the roof is now glass and you can see through it. Multiple styles have been combined with new technologies to create a modern space for shopping.  We still use this format today for a mall, yet if we look closely we see new malls now having outdoor street sections, revolution.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kennedy, Blog Post #11, IAR 221

For this weeks blog post I'm choosing the Farnsworth House, Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to explore the rise of modernism.  
At its roots the Modern movement is based on a new machine aesthetic.  We see the ideas of no adornment, standardized construction parts, new materials and new techniques.  More functionality combined with lightness and space are key ideas.  The Farnsworth house exemplifies all these ideas. 

The house has been reduced to a ceiling and a floor.  The roof, now flat, abandons the previous peaked roofs that are more standard.  There is no Grounding element other than shadow.  The typical base that a house sits on is now 10 poles.  The walls have been replaced with glass, completely the opposite of traditional construction.  New technology and techniques are a must for this type of structure to be built.  We see a connection to the landscape, not by the house, but for the occupants.  They are now thrust into the landscape around them, the outside is now inside, completely.  The floor plan has evolved into an open plan with public and private spaces overlapping.  We see no adornment and there is a lightness with the structure.  It barely touches the ground and seems to be floating. 

Modernism is important for individuals at the turn of the century for a variety of reasons.  The movement shows a sense of education is present.  A sense of accomplishment.  New materials and techniques show a society that is progressing and is smart and rich enough to build the newest and best.  This is a concept that has been around since the beginning and we see it repeat over and over.

RR 11, Prairie Style

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monticello - Plan from memory and ponderances.....

From our trip to Monticello and Falling Water, I chose to write about Monticello.  Monticello is a more formal layout which resonates more with and how I live.  There is a privacy gradient from formal to personal space which I enjoy in a home.  I am most intrigues in the ways that Jefferson built the house.  The structure was a constant design evolution, Putting up and Tearing down.  His does seem to be an extreme case though.  The technologies that he used intrigue me.  Using octagonal rooms to avoid dark corners and give you more usable wall space.  I didn't think this would work in theory, yet in actuality it does so quite well.  Triple hung windows, aid in ventilation as well as act as impromptu doors.  The brick pattern, which ads strength to the structure.  I really enjoy tall ceilings and the relationship to how one feels in the space.  What is tall enough and what is too tall or not tall enough.  This concept was definitely challenged at Falling Water.  The ceilings there were 6'4", which I thought would be extremely oppressive, yet they were not.  I was most perplexed in Jefferson and his "perfect outside" of his home related to the many un-resolved interior issues.  Such as window sizes, Moldings and trim not being correct.  I would have thought that he could have this figured out.  Seeing a classical structure such as Monticello and comparing that to A modern structure such as Falling Water was amazing.