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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Informing Experience Design

What is the true power of architecture and interior design? To surround? To engage? To guide users thru space?  Yes, but it should be a lot more. It should be an experience, an architecture that interacts, and connects its user to space thru movement and all of one’s senses. As an architect and designer myself, I want to design experiences: moments where emotion, contemplation, learning and memory is addressed.  This narrative created between the occupant and the building allows its user to transform into a participant, where he/she is open to receive architectural cues and be inspired in some way. The participant’s needs are visualized through one’s senses. This kind of design is influential and needs further exploration because it has the capacity to teach, to dream and promote a positive difference in someone’s life.

If you connect with what I am saying, please share your ideas/ projects you know of on my FB page. I may highlight your project or idea on my 'Sunday Spotlight'.

Furthermore, I would like to share a great example of Experiential design. The video below shows how Philips design has been studying the idea of transformative spaces with the change of form, light and wind. A conceptual architectural product called Metamorphosis Shimmer shows a kinetic architecture that grows, expands and contracts.  Philips group says,” Shimmer is an architectural product concept designed to facilitate well-being through surprise, movement, natural noise management, air movement and natural light dispersion. The stripes are based on flexible elements that emit natural light and channel air. They can transform to change the interior characteristics of a space in response to people and the atmospheric/lighting conditions outside.”

Philips Design SHIMMER VIDEO
(The attached VIDEO starts off with the Shimmer product I am discussing and follows with other conceptual projects)

Amazing, right?
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Free Tip Friday: Re-claimed Barnyard door

Hey MDG,
Where can I find a re-claimed barnyard door? I would like to separate my office with a beautiful, rich colored wood door.

Hi Heidi,
I love Cliff Spencer's barnyard doors that he makes out of "Wine Oak," a name he coined.  Cliff Spencer is a furniture maker who likes to use re-claimed wood and reclaims oak staves from California wineries and transforms them into barnyard doors and other one-of-a-kind pieces. Yes, I did say wine. How cool would it be to have a door stained from wine- Pinot Grigio for a light stain or Pinot Noir for a darker stain? Check out the beautiful colors and great joinery and craftsmanship! They are uh-mazing! He uses hardware from Crown Industrial.

Cliff Spencer primarily works in Los Angeles but he does ship furniture across California and the Unted States.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Designer Spotlight Sunday: Kinetic Artist Theo Jansen


I am still gasping for air! The collision of physics and art has emerged from an imaginative, kinetic artist named Theo Jansen. Jansen who lives in Deft, near the North Sea has to be some kind of genius!! For the past 21 years, he has devoted himself to constructing wind powered animals called ‘Strandbeests,’ creatures composed of mundane materials such as stiff plastic yellow tubes and batwing-like sails set on a central crankshaft. The plastic tubes are the key element and Jansen says,” the number of tubes and the length of each tube determines the genetic code of each Strandbeest dictating how it will move and interact with the environment.” By capturing and storing wind, these creatures are set into motion down the beach in a herd-like manner. They have an uncanny ability to self-preserve: they can avoid getting stuck in the ocean and can anchor themselves in the sand when they are threatened to be blown away. Impressive! How will these critters evolve and what can they be used for? The future architectural potential is very intriguing! See this video and you will be amazed! Click: THEO JANSEN VIDEO





Friday, January 20, 2012

Free Advice Friday: Back-painted glass

Hey M,
I hate my mosaic kitchen backsplash! Any ideas for a crisp and clean backsplash?
Ann from Boston

Hi Ann,

I love Back-painted glass! It's a contemporary hot trend today where low lead or plate glass is painted on the back and then sealed or baked to give a luminous glow that is stunning! It is custom-templated to fit your backsplash, has no grout lines, easy to clean and is offered in limitless spectrums of color. The one drawback.. its not cheapo! Besides backsplashes, it is ideal for architectural elements such as walls and countertops. See some beautiful installations:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weekly Muse Essential: Designing with Stripes

to Muse : to brood,to chew over to ponder,to percolate,to mull over,to reflect,to speculate....

I love stripes! Stripes are right in front of us in nature and can be translated into furniture, interiors and architectural deisgn. There are so many combinations and possibilities that it is endless!!





What is your MUSE? What inspires you?
To share, click Muse Memoboard: where art,design,architect and technology communities can come together to discuss and share and interface ideas.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Designer Spotlight Sunday: Photographer Charles Cohen


I really get inspired by a photographer whose work pushes the boundaries to create images that are emotional, edgy, cognizant and original. My good friend from high school, Charles Cohen is one of these photographers who has stamped his own innovative imprint on the landscape of photography. His work applies abstraction to ordinary subjects and provokes the viewer to complete the meaning of his work. My FAVE is his 'Analog Time' series where a ghostly silhouette contrasts with its background. When looking at it, I realized that the silhouette is not literal. It forced me to want to know who the 'cut-out' is and why it is desired? So cool when Art can create intangible pockets or spaces where you, the viewer becomes the participant to the work.  Read on, and learn more about Charles Cohen's unique and mesmeric work.
How long have you been taking photos and how old were you when you first realized you loved photography?
It feels like I’ve been using a camera since the beginning of time, but I do distinctly remember getting a kodak instamatic as a gift when I was much shorter than my subjects.
How would you describe your photographic style?
I use the words abstract and conceptual, probably more liberally than is correct, to describe my work. To be more precise, I say that I look at subjects that you would not normally consider abstract or profound in an abstract and thought provoking way—a point of view that is accessible and often overlooked.

His 'About Face' series depict abstraction and abstract thought as a point of view. Charles says, "these images of bottles in profile' void familiar context, the product's identity and it's original purpose (usually to clean or lubricate in some fashion) inorder to promote the overlooked form and color all by means of a point of view."

Can you describe your creative process which involves video, digital imaging and sculpture?

Generally, the message dictates the form and therefore process, but pieces tend to evolve quickly. The inspiration comes from a fleeting experience followed by a descriptive note-to-self. It’s easy to get satisfied with just the words on a scrap of paper (I have a massive backlog), but an idea only comes to life by means of an audience. The medium generally doesn’t change from an original vision. I choose photography, digital imaging, video and mechanically produced sculpture because of the democratic nature of the products—each copy is just as much an original as the next. It feels very honest to communicate to an audience in this way, even though, not so strangely, these media, because of their ‘transparency’, are at the forefront of deceptive practices.

 'Standard Double' is a complelling series where stills are extracted from a five minute video. The piece shows moments from television shows where he frames the unexpected appearance of a character's twin. Charles wanted to reveal, " what it would be like to meet yourself?"



In his Analog Time images 'Why I Prefer Digital Clocks and Can No Longer Pretend to Like Analog Time,'  Charles says, " Despite the indication of any weakness on my part, I love Digital, I love her."




How did the signature silhouette come about and how does this idea provoke the viewer?

The use of the silhouette, in my Buff series, came about from looking at a porn image attached to an email. I was more disturbed by the random things going on “off set” that were left there without regard to the product or me, the audience. I was clearly supposed to look only at the naughty bits and not the picture as a whole. I simply inverted the subject to subvert the image. Suddenly, in this experiment, I realized other levels of meaning were exposed—ultimately how the viewer completes the circuit by co-authoring the meaning. Below are pictures from his provocative 'Buff Series'.


Where do you typically draw inspiration from?
Typically, inspiration comes from participating in the banal: watching television, going to the grocery store, taking out the trash, walking down the street, and most certainly, doing these things while traveling. It’s about finding that tiny wedge in the facade of normalcy and suddenly seeing that which we project as empty and full of potential.
What photograph are you most proud of and why?



That’s a great question for me. Great because it’s hard to say and I tend to avoid favorites in general, but I think that a break through image of mine was one of a McDonalds sign taken from the side or as I have called it, the Profile. Merely by changing a point of view, literally, all that was intended for and expected of this sign was rendered nil to make way for interpretation. I am more after the feeling of potential than I am of dictating a narrative about something. The moment of inspiration is feeling nothingness and “everythingness” (oneness, perhaps) at the same time. I always wanted to take a picture of nothing and for me, in this image, there it was.

I love the ' THAT' ! These pictures make you wonder and force a dialogue with oneself. Thank you so much Charles for the interview, your art is extremely provoking!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Free Advice Friday: gapping in Engineered wood

Hey MDG,
Why are the joints in my engineered wood floor expanding? Is it a mositure issue and what do I do?

No no no, this is surprising! From my experience, Engineered hardwood flooring is a moisture-resistant wood hybrid unlike our solid wood friend who has the tendency to distort in the presence of moisture. Love, love Solid wood hardwood, dont get me wrong but Engineered wood is the best choice for flooring that can be put just about anywhere because its more resistant to changes from the elements. For example, you would only want to use Engineered wood ontop of radiant flooring otherwise your planks will cupp. My guess is that your contractor improperly installed your subfloor and probably did not give the wood enough time to acclimate to the humidity in your house. I would have your contractor take some boards out and check the subflooring. He is ultimaltely responisble to correct this issue.
Hope this helps,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Designer Spotlight Sunday: Waterpressure lighting


I never say no to great eye candy! I am in love with uniquely shaped lighting, especially lighting inspired by the natural element - Water. Waterpressure lighting owners Evelyn Hutter and Arthur Malfitano conceived the idea to illustrate water's forceful temperment into suspended animation. Yes! the designers interpretation of water provokes whimsical and elegant modern chandeliers. It fantastico when you get a chuckle from design! For this reason my FAVE is the NYC sewer grate ......."a mysterious urban underground perspective, down to the tiny sewer mice peeping up from below." (See pic below) What is also so interesting is their unconventional combination of materials. The chandeliers are composed of LED's, architectural perforated metal and 100% STRASS Swarovski crystals all suspended by stainless steel wire. In person, it is stunning...the refraction of light is visually sintillating!  Learn more from my interview with Evelyn Hutter:


Tell us a little about how you started your business and who are your customers?

Working as designer/contractor, we were looking for the perfect fixture in a bathroom that was under renovation. Actually, here’s the lowdown from our website:

The idea for water pressure® was literally conceived during a bath renovation project in the futile search for the perfect light fixture intended to hang over the tub. Located below the bath of an upper floor apartment in which the plumbing was questionable, to say the least, we joked about needing a fixture where, if those pipes ever failed, you probably wouldn't know the difference. So "lather up!" was born as the whimsical portrayal of a rush of water meeting soap to build an invigorating bubbly shower.

Our customers are architects and designers working on a variety of projects including residential, hospitality, commercial and even healthcare.

From idea to finished product – how does your designs become a chandelier ready to go on the market?

It pretty much starts as an idea from an everyday image. We might just be staring at something very simple, like sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in, when it’s like “hey, look at that image”. Then the rough sketching comes into play with thoughts on types of components and lighting alternatives. Those ideas (and sketches) are then refined. From there we make the prototype, and once it’s in a tangible form, the design may be further refined. I’ve always been a believer that when you THINK you’ve completed a design, you must walk away from it and return a couple of days later to look at it anew. The fresh look reveals any issues or further refinements that are needed. Only then is it ready for market.

Can you describe how your chandeliers are crafted?

Well, for starters, they’re all handmade. We can customize our standard designs to what a designer might need for a particular project. The steel for the fixture bodies is perforated, cut and then roll formed (depending upon the particular chandelier design). After that, the pieces are powder coated. For the designs in our crystal collection, we literally string each individual chandelier component by hand and apply them to the fixture body, making sure the component properly relates to others around it in order to give it the chandelier the overall “step back and see the forest, not the trees” image we’re trying to portray.

How does the reflection of light from the Swarovski crystals affect the mood of a room? What room do you envision your fixtures for?
The reflection of light emitted from the Swarovski crystals is a constant dance. You move around the chandelier and the light is constantly moving with you. That’s the unfortunate part of photography of these chandeliers—you don’t see that aspect. Many people who view these chandeliers in real life tell us that the photos don’t do them justice, and I think it’s because of the lack of movement in a still versus the experience in person. The crystal chandeliers lend a bit of “opulence” to a room; those in our “steel” series, however, are a bit more industrial, and the mood conveyed is more rough and urban, yet at the same time sensual and feminine, such as in the “rogue wave” chandelier.

Our fixtures lend themselves to many applications, but I always see something like “lather up!” as fitting for a bathroom or spa, simply by virtue of the showerhead and bubbly lather image. And “nyc sewer grate” is perfect for a Soho loft space, though there have been times when I’m standing on a NYC Subway platform and think to myself how that particular chandelier would look great in the gritty Times Square station ordered in rows along the Number 2 train platform. (See introduction for pics)

 How do you see the lighting market in the future?

I see demand for more handmade/bespoke products, not just in lighting, but many other products on the market. People want something unique, and mass production just doesn’t provide that to them. Also, on a technical level, we see LEDs becoming more of a household item—even in the last couple of years that we’ve been producing our chandeliers, we see LED technology having really evolved. The LED ribbon light strip is the best product we’ve come across so far, particularly because it lends itself to being formed to the shape of our chandeliers. It’s also dimmable, long-lasting and energy efficient.
These chandeliers are wonderful converstion pieces and would accentuate any architectural space! Thank you Waterpressure Lighting for a wonderful interview!

(would love feedback on my FB fanpage)