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.


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 for her full line of festive trimmings.

Ya Dig?

Friday, December 9, 2011


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 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

Ya Dig?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Panel Discussion 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 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

Ya Dig?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


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 or call them up and ask about their beautiful thistle wreath 718.624.2929.

Ya Dig?