After I had figured out the essential plan of the multi-functional space that was to become my home and ‘the improvised life’s Laboratory, I started bringing friends by to get their opinions and input. I also hired an interior designer to consult for a short time, to consider my ideas, challenge them, add to them, as well as help source the many items I would need, from sinks and plumbing fixtures to door knobs. Hiring a consultant for a fixed amount of time is a good strategy if you you’re don’t have the resources to hire a someone to see the project though, or don’t need start-to-finish service.
I met Scott McFarlane through friends and liked ideas he’d come up with for their recent renovation, as well as his attention to detail. Although I have a strong design sense, it was clear that there was A LOT of things I could use advice on. I hired Scott to consult on critical elements of my plan so architect Emily Johnson could draw up plans that contractors would understand. Scott and I spent many hours in the empty apartment busting holes in walls, tacking up images I’d clipped from design blogs, measuring, brain-storming.
Scott came up with A LOT of clever solutions to some extreme design problems (all pictures below are from the in-process days of the reno). For starters, read more…
….they are not merely ignoring the art on the walls, but literally looking beyond those walls….This is intense, curious looking… The square grid-like vent seems congruous with the canvasses of the modern art gallery, and the children are inspired to look beyond the surface of lines and shapes. They might be unknowingly challenging expected behaviors within the museum, but the little girls are also undertaking the exact type of close scrutiny and imaginative looking that curators and artists dream the art gallery might inspire.
We should all ‘see’ like that…
And it begs the question: What is REALLY interesting?
“Standing immobile throughout the day, these vivid objects, with their fantastic shadows on the wall behind them shifting and elongating hour by hour with the sun’s rotation, exuded a kind of darkness for all their color.” Cantilevered structures self-supported over the void. From: The Gormenghast Novels.
Who knows what the story is, whether the house is real or fake? Is it a fantastical image from The Gormenghast Novels? Comments on the flickr page yielded no info but lead us to a tove of images at The Cantilever Project, which got us thinking about cantilevers: A projecting structure, such as a beam, that is supported at one end and carries a load at the other end or along its length.
(Video link here.) We know a lot of people who live in a constant state of anxiety at how fast technology is moving, often feeling ashamed that they are unable to keep up with it, wondering if NOT using it is keeping them from manifesting their true creativity.
We hope they’ll be comforted by this video from Woody Allen: A Documentary in which he shows the tools he has used for sixty years, for every essay, joke, screenplay and script he has ever written. Allen uses a manual typewriter for writing. He “word processes” by cutting-and-pasting with a scissors and stapler.
“It’s very primitive, I know,” says Allen, “but it works very well for me.”
Allen doesn’t seem like a Luddite to us, but just a guy whose sticking with what works, for him.
Although we saw little mention in the news of Martin Luther King Jr, whose birthday coincided with Barak Obama’s inaugeration, his presence was everywhere. In the almost 50 years since his famous walk from Selma to Montgomery fighting for civil rights, a lot has changed — albeit slowly. We see the results daily of his mandate to move forward, one step at a time, however imperfectly.
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Omar Sosa and Ana Dominguez of Apartamentomagazine, with photographer Nacho Alegre, created a series of still-lifes with balancing bread. They’re beautiful, though I’m a little doubtful they are just balanced breads, no pins or stuts anywhere. To my former food-stylist’s eye, they seem, well….
…possibly faked, though it would be fun to get a bunch of breads and try. Nevertheless, they’re a charming reminder that read more…
The other day, we spotted natural fiber rugs on the floor of a Swedish farmhouse — they look like coir or jute — that seem to have been stenciled with a pattern. Brilliant, why didn’t we think of that?!!! The technique would allow you add simple geometric designs to inexpensive and durable rugs. It might even be a way to give new life to stained or worned sisals (sisals ain’t cheap and show wear like crazy).
The other day, I accidentally knocked a treasured cup off a table and watched, in the slow motion of a car accident, as it crashed onto the stone floor. It was gone in a moment, an object whose beauty I’d enjoyed daily since my friend Suzanne Shaker had given it to me over a decade ago: Ted Muehling’s nymphenburg porcelain ‘convex’ cup, a wonder.
As it flew through the air, I found myself thinking “It’s only an object…Nothing terrible has happened…no lives lost, no illness. An object only.” In the face of all the losses we’ve read about recently, that we’ve all seen in our own and other’s lives, it paled.I thought of the guy who remarked so matter-of-factly in the face of the huge beautiful trees blown over in the hurricane: “It’s Nature.”
I’m contemplating glueing the cup together, not to make perfect mends, read more…
When we were renovating the bathroom of our new place, we chose a wall-hung sink in order to make the small 7′x5′ room look bigger (vanities take up a lot of space and close things in – see below). We were very careful to give the plumbing sleek lines to keep the spare look, at a good deal of thought and effort and $$ (nice looking p-traps cost more than garden variety ones…starting at about $50 bucks and going up well over $100 for fancy, moderne ones). It isn’t easy to make plumbing look pleasing…UNLESS you take off in a totally different direction…
…and PUSH the visual impact of the the plumbing, as in this photo from a Swedish family home. They used bold loops of PVC, copper, and stainless pipe along with a outsized brass faucet.
Although we LOVE the spare, relatively low-budget and now-spacious bathroom we created (details to come in future posts)… read more…
(Video link here.) When Sue Austin got a power chair 16 years ago after an extended illness, she felt a tremendous sense of freedom — yet others looked at her as though she had lost something. ‘Limitation’, ‘fear’, ‘pity’, ‘restriction’ were the words people used when they tried to imagine using a power chair.
I was seeing myself not from my perspective, but vividly and continuously from the perspective of other people’s responses to me.
Realizing she had internalized these responses on a core level, she repurposed her wheelchair to become an object to paint and make art with, a vehicle for transformation (in which she even deep sea dived). read more…
Ever since we moved in view of massive old trees in a New York City park, and witnessed first-hand the devastation wrought on some of them by Hurricane Sandy, we’ve been obsessed with trees. Sandy woke us up, big time. We’d always enjoyed trees, but seeing the 150 years of rings in a downed oak — the very same oak that neighborhood people had played chess and baseball, and had picnics under all spring, summer and fall— made us realize the many pleasures trees provide, how long they take to grow, and how much we need them (they provide nearly a third of the world’s oxygen…people heal better when they can see trees…among other things).
I realized the more fun I had, the more relaxed I was working, the better I worked.
Q. That seems to be a philosophy you apply not only to your work but to your entire life.
A. Well, I’ve made some mistakes in that area too. The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.
We were wondering how old wiseman Bill manages to stay so relaxed when we found a post on ZenHabits about exactly how to relax and let go of tightness no matter where you are. Leo Barbauta boils relaxation down to a few simple steps: read more…
(Video link here.) The other day I was in the park across the way doing my ad-hoc workout while listening to the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s My Heart, My Life on my iPhone. (Click to listen while you read.) There was NO WAY I couldn’t dance to that music. Suddenly skipping seemed like the rhythmically perfect move to make. I felt a fleeting moment of foolishness as I skipped around the meadow in the snow, beside-myself with joy at the music and the beautiful day and my heart beating and some kind of crazy oneness.
Skipping, h-m-m-m…haven’t done that since I was a kid. Maybe skipping is a good exercise for me, since it seems to be much lower impact than running.
Of course, a few days later, I came across this video of a guy who is just crazy about skipping read more…