Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Venetian Vibe



While studying architecture in Italy, I had the extreme fortune of attending the Venice Biennale. Uncharacteristically, it left me speechless.

It is an unbelievable spoil of contemporary and highly controversial art.
What I loved about the exceptional collection of installations was their feral ability to deliciously "push the envelope". There is such a fine line between art and architecture that I bathed in each artist's journey of percolation. The pieces challenged traditional methods of human interaction and perspective within our benignly neglected surroundings.

Enjoyably, the Biennale was inappropriately perfect.

Floored


I had always been suspect of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. From a cast of thousands, it was he, who was shoved down my throat as an undergrad architecture student. His selection of over commercialized architectural sundries; pens, playing cards and picture frames left me feeling drown by his Fallingwaters.

I'm sure Fountainhead was tucked under my arm when I made an iconoclastic move to "stick it to the man" and boycott all things Wright.

And then I moved to the Upper East Side and realized my judgement was wrong. My morning run would inevitably take me past his Guggenheim en route to the Park. The formidable facade along Fifth Avenue would suddenly break open with the double-wide sidewalk in front of the Museum. Brilliant. Referencing the rotunda, the steel circles implanted into the skin of the sidewalk played out like a revolving fascination of sexy urban tats. Depending on pace, traveling through the space was a throwback to gym class- running through an obstacle course of hula hoops expertly designed to slow the occupier of the space down.
The architect's simple gestures had created a dance floor of human interaction. Genius.



Monday, December 19, 2011

"nothing good happens after midnight"

....were the words my father affixed to my social epitaph in high school.



There is always a temptation to embellish the fundamentals of necessity with excess.

In design, a sotto voce perspective takes achieved skill.

I'm in awe of those who can convey restrained volume in their work.

Maya Lin, Robert Smithson, Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy.






Friday, December 16, 2011

Runner's Hi


In grad school I was taught to design landscapes according to emotion. "How do you want the occupier to feel when they are in the space?" A Maya Lin memorial would command appropriate, grave pause and exposed retrospection as opposed to Central Park with pockets to provide a buffet for mixed emotions.

No matter the tone, I think an expected baseline of happiness should fuel the pursuit of positive open space. As any Landscape Architect would suggest, there are many technical and expensive avenues to achieve this but, I believe that there's a freebie out there.

I take great delight in experimenting with my theory. I run every morning on the well travelled roads of my Town. I'll see ladies pass in cars applying makeup, folks hiding behind steering wheels buttressed by flasks of coffee, bus drivers navigating their routes like cats chasing their tails and shop keepers prepping their windows for market. With many that I pass, I smile or wave. I reserve a peace out* to those whom allow me to cross intersections against the light. Each gesture is met with great return. Faces light up, mascara wands salute, horns honk, headlights flash, police sirens even give a quick beep. Immediately, the air and our surrounding landscape seems warmer, happier.

Not every landscape needs to be designed by a starchitect and his toolbox of expensive products to make it successfully defined. The power of the smile is the blueprint for positively transforming any canvas but, you just have to exercise it.



*I should note, not the dreaded Celine Dion chest punch but the good ole two fingered "V" synonymous with good will and ambassadorship not Canadian weirdness


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Looming on the Landscape



Magda Sayeg is a funky fiber artist who has taken her work to the streets. I respect her ingenuity and the color experiments she introduces to the given landscape.

My favorite, is the installation that covers tree trunks with knit legwarmers. I like the way it references Europe's historical practice of whitewashing it's lime trees with a glib "Flashdance" nod.



Her Sydney staircase ranks up there too. Traditionally, I see stairs akin to "designated drivers". You desperately need them to get you from A to B but, not so much in between. It's as if Sayeg gave this staircase a stein of Red Bull. The bold shot of color theory allows them to hold their own under any presumption.
Love it.




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

high design


I think the terrace at Armani's new Milan Hotel is beyond clever. By harnessing the reflective surface of the building's facade, the designer was able to make this scrap of real estate a destination.
Once the vertical garden had been dressed, the space immediately became a formal garden -only when you allow your eye to entertain the reflection seen in the facade. The vanishing point appears to seal the space where the planted wall meets the facade to create an "opening". All at once, the site feels exceedingly larger and greener than reality. Genius.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Rock'n Tree



Justin Bieber may have nailed his performance at Rockefeller Center's tree lighting service but, it was the mighty spruce that was the true star of the show. Captivating Christmas crowds is merely the beginning for this Pennsylvania charm. The best is yet to come.

Habitat for Humanity has created an aggressive recycling initiative once the holiday showcase is spent. Entire homes are now whittled from the tree's carcass to provide for the homeless. I love the provenance that is rooted in each of these homes and the bolster of self worth a tree is capable of.

Ya Dig?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Green Goods


Decorator Suzanne Kasler has introduced a full line of holiday accoutrement through Ballard Designs. Her thoughtful selections are understated and tasteful. I loved the clutch of bucket planters she used to dress the front door. Visit www.ballarddesigns.com for her full line of festive trimmings.

Ya Dig?

Friday, December 9, 2011

GAGA



Lady Gaga has hit the landscape of New York City this holiday with a window display at Barney's New York. Planted on Madison Avenue, a series of vignettes feature varying exotic incarnations of the Pop Queen.



"Gaga Constellation", an 8'x5' video wall is my favorite. It allows the occupier of the space to completely interact with the window through Twitter. With Gaga as the focal point, a constellation of tweets from her "little monsters" comprise the background. From your mobile device, you can tweet #gagastars and watch for your note to be posted in the window. Religion aside, it reminds me of Israel's Wailing Wall, a modern day take on a personal exchange of information in a forum-style setting.


Ya Dig?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beach Blanket Lingo


I love this giant beach blanket. Made by Masin and Co., the line is named after Australia's first nude beach.
This would definately make a statment in any beach community. A touch pricey but, well worth it. Visit www.maslinandco.com to view their full line of fabulous.
Ya Dig?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trash Talk



The New York Times recently featured an article about an Upper East Side couple who "branded" their trash containers in hopes to prevent their street side theft.

As I read the piece, the Bonanza theme music began playing in my head. Morphing Ponderosa and Park Avenue, I envisioned herds of trash bins individually branded as per owner.

The branding process could become similar to a family tartan, an iconic seal, motto or crest that is assumed with pride from generation to generation.
Hey, this could be fun!

While the owners of the article took on Gucci, Prada and Fendi as their avatars, what about a little poetry, haiku or Broadway chorus? If it were my concern, I'd opt for recycling stats from Fresh Kills landfill, the recipe for compost tea or ideas for leftovers.

Ya Dig?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Treeditions


The tree lighting service at the Brick Church in New York City is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Started in 1945 as a tribute to the veterans whom had lost their lives in World War II, the festivities continue to honor and hallmark the advent of the holidays. Folks of all ages flock to the site of the Church (Park Avenue and 91st Street) every December to join in the spectacular caroling service.
Despite mild temperatures, chills will be felt as the service ends with the trumpeting of TAPS in tandem with the illumination of 2 1/2 miles of memorial trees up the center of Park Avenue.
Check out the website for more information or donation material at www.fundforparkavenue.org

Ya Dig?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Panel Discussion


www.frommetoyouxo.blogspot.com is an awesome blog that my sister-in-law started with an old and dear friend from college. Frequently, I visit the site for fun tips, great ideas and inspiration. This past week she featured a company called O'verlays that specializes in updating neglected furniture with interesting grilles. Such a neat idea. I touched base with the company and sure enough, their product line is suitable for outdoor use as well. Old wood urns or tired stair risers would equally benefit from this concept.


Where I would really go nuts though, is to attach a fretwork grille on the side of a house and train climbers through....roses, wisteria or ivy. This is a great way to dress up the often naked facade of a garden room.
Visit O'verlays website at www.myoverlays.com for the nitty gritty.

Ya Dig?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Alluring Architecture


Tacklebox Design first hit my radar when I was befriending the florist, Saipua in Brooklyn. A couple of Googles later I was smitten.
This architecture firm has nurtured a skill in working with materials in their most natural state and in a truly inspiring way. For Saipua, the firm cobbled a small, street-side seating vignette from simple rough-hewed wood slats. I also admire the Grand Central Station kiosk they created for Aesop from 1800 recycled newspapers. The rock floor details are stunning too.
I love the way their portfolio references nature while being inspired by the urban context of the installation.

Check them out at www.tackleboxdesign-ny.com.


Ya Dig?






Thursday, December 1, 2011

Saipua



Saipua is a great boutique florist and soap shop located in Brooklyn. I think that their homemade olive oil based soap would make a great stocking stuffer. Visit their website at www.saipua.com or call them up and ask about their beautiful thistle wreath 718.624.2929.

Ya Dig?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

gift idea


The holidays are around the corner....here is a gift idea for a kind hostess, teacher or girlfriend.

www.vivaterra.com is offering kumquat topiaries in their virtual Christmas boutique.

Ya Dig?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wintour Garden



At the helm of Vogue Magazine, Anna Wintour is renown for her flawless taste. With little surprise, her style at home is equally matched. The World of Interiors flaunts footage of her fabulous indoor garden room. I love the simplicity of the design. The "seasonally independent" room allows the occupier to satiate their connection with nature with relative ease. White walls, potted plants, rustic furniture and sunlight are the main elements that make this garden room so successful. This winter, rely on her palette to create your own glamorous enclave and ditch those winter blues.

Ya Dig?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Garden & Gun



Last year, I stumbled upon Garden & Gun Magazine and signed up for it's email newsletters immediatley. It just oozes with Southern charm. The feature stories, recipes and garden highlights are welcome visitors in my inbox. Visit them at www.gardenandgun.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Field Trip


Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA would be my dream field trip for this Thanksgiving weekend. I have never been, but recently read an interesting article in Landscape Architecture Magazine about the planted walls of monkey grass in one of of the pavilions. Check out their website at www.longwoodgardens.org to be equally impressed by their photos and upcoming events. The upcoming Bruce Munro light installation looks fantastic.

Ya Dig?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

mish



Ages ago, I worked in the sculpture department at Sotheby's in NYC. During my stint, I became familiar with the talented alumni of the company. These were noted graduates that had tested their entrepreneurial skills and started business for themselves. Among them was the now revered jeweler MISH.

Recently, he open a salon in NOHO to display the tentacles of his swelling business. I love the reception room wall, a hand painted wood veneer by Uriu Studios. In the heart of the city, you can be at one with nature.
Ya Dig?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

exchange of wows



With all the buzz over Miami's Art Basel I began to think of the great architectural jewels in South Beach. My fav is the Herzog & de Meuron parking garage and retail complex. It is just so stunning that many choose to get married on site.
Visit www.1111lincolnroad.com to see it's clever marriage of in and outdoor space.


Ya Dig?


Friday, November 18, 2011

Ryoan-jeans


Calypso's new location on New York City's Upper East Side affords the retailer exponentially more square footage than their previous Madison Avenue digs. Silk and denim garments are displayed in a bohemian-style laze that cocoon a lounge area to tame restless male shopping companions. In my opinion, the best feature to this new and generous footprint was the hidden courtyard tucked off the boutique's backside.


Mirrors, a clutch of garden stools and ornamental furnishings were thoughtfully arranged within a room draped with a white blousey shell. Locked behind double glass doors, the courtyard reminded me of Ryoan-ji, a famous Japanese viewing garden that is meant to be enjoyed from points beyond the physical site.
It is such a thumb to Manhattan's economy of space, I think the Calypso courtyard is sheer brilliance.

Ya Dig?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Planting



I consider Terence Conran's Planting to be the visual bible of garden design. I’ll bring it to sites and it is swooned over because of the fabulous photo montages and truly original planting concepts. Emanating from Europe, it’s content has been largely unpublished in the United States which makes it just so covetable. In my opinion, this is the most luxurious plant manual, offering fabulous inspiration conveyed through its generous scale and insane photos. It leaves Dirr in the dust.

Ya Dig?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Natural Selection



John Houshmand is a fabulous furniture designer who relies on nature to coax his creations. Wood, glass, metal and acrylic are the materials he draws from to create truly interesting household artifacts. My fav is this smooth poured aluminum tabletop supported by rough wood stilts. Visit www.johnhoushmand.com for his full portfolio of perfection.

Ya Dig?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheap Thrills



The L'Occitane boutique on New York City's Upper East Side is a sweet escape from the stringent big box stockists. Their products bring instant levity to any "Groundhog Day" morning routine.
The Sun Verbena Protective Lotion SPF 15 is perfect for the Fall and Winter months and a great gift idea for the outdoor enthusiast. It has a smudge of protection and scent that not even Egyptian Magic can rival and it's braille inspired packaging can be found with just one eye open.

Ya Dig?

Monday, November 14, 2011

timber wave



Amanda Levete Architects has been commissioned to design a temporary installation at the entrance of the V&A Museum in London. "Timber Wave", features a three-dimensional, latticed, oak spiral that stands an awesome three storeys tall. My fav part of the piece is how it was designed to spill down the Museum's front stairs to wrestle with and entice the pedestrian population. Check out her website to see what else she has up her sleeve.

www.amandalevetearchitects.com

Ya Dig?

Friday, November 11, 2011

dine and dash



James De Wulf has designed the most sophisticated indoor/outdoor dining table on the market. Poured from concrete, the sleek table offers ample seating for entertaining family and friends. My fav part of the design is that it morphs into a regulation size ping pong table once dessert has been devoured. Now, that's a concrete idea for a party.

www.dwconcrete.com

Ya Dig?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Private Gardens of Connecticut



Resplendent residential grounds within hands grasp! I love Private Gardens of Connecticut for our plant zone practicality and high purchasing capability. With a gentle mix of photo and text, Garmey spans multiple genres of gardens to appeal to vast tastes. The splashy expose of Oscar de la Renta’s pristine pool scenes and episodic double pear tree allee is sure to give pause to any green thumb leafing through its pages.

Ya Dig?




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Regal Grounds



I love the urban sophistication of New York City's Palace Hotel. Similar to noted and nearby Paley Park, both are small pocket parks that serve as welcome mats to the mass of surrounding architecture. The colossal iron gates that protect the site are fabulous and the little lantern hanging above the entrance works well to adjust the scale for the occupier of the space. It's green touches of evergreen urn offerings are welcome additions to the concrete dominated landscape and the simple site furnishings work well to appropriately complement the visitor. An intimate respite from the city beyond, I think it's genius.








<

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

www.glampinggirl.com



If campfires, canoes and kumbaya are quickly displaced by marred memories of mosquito bites, iodine tablets and polar bear dips- its time to rethink camping. Glamping Girl is a website geared toward elevating the camping experience. Check out the properties in Italy and France. Suddenly, you might warm up to the idea of tackling the great outdoors.




Ya Dig?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Foundation Plantings


Strong coniferous foundation plantings are an essential element in any garden's successful design. Considered the skeletal system of the proprerty, these plantings are responsible for carrying and accentuating the appearance of deciduous trees and shrubs, perennials and annuals through each season. I found this sketch on www.vulgare.net. It reminded me of this concept. Once a sturdy foundation has been established, the options to build off of it are endless.

Ya Dig?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pamplemousse Design



Pamplemousse Design has a nifty website brimming with truly enviable interiors. Just about every photo features a gorgeous bouquet, arrangement or my personal fav, a fig tree. Peonies, lilies, hydrangea and hyacinth appear with greatest frequency.

Now is the season to plant bulbs, think about what flowers you prefer to display in your home and plant accordingly. www.Pamplemoussedesign.com

Ya Dig?








Friday, October 28, 2011

The Architecture of Death



In the spirit of Halloween....

Carlo Scarpa's Italian Brion Cemetery is breathtaking. The memorial was meant to be not only the ultimate resting place for the Brion family but also pose as a green oasis for it's visitors to enjoy.
His keen attention to detail is evidenced in every aspect of the design. On my visit, highlights were abound. Cleverly, the height of the perimeter concrete walls are level with the corn fields beyond as a means to stitch the site into it's surrounding landscape. I loved the inaccessible island of land he positioned center in a pool of water as an allegory to the afterlife. He truly used every opportunity to design each centimeter of the space which took him 10 years to complete. His affinity for the project was deeply rooted. Tucked away in a remote area, Scarpa himself is buried here, vertically.





Ya Dig?