Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


If I have a basement rec room in my new home then I'd like to have a wide, square coffee table like the one above.  I like to work while I watch TV and I like to spread out when I'm working, so a table like this facing a wall mounted TV would be perfect.  I picture a sofa where the wooden bench is now.

In back of the sofa (above, lower left) I'd have a long, shallow table or desk that would enable me to peek over the sofa and work or eat a meal while watching TV. The picture from a book that illustrates this only shows a corner of the table so I'm so I hope the idea gets across okay.

In the part of the country I'll be moving to it's common to leave basements unfinished, so the ceilings of rec rooms are often made of exposed wood. If that's the case then I'll sand and varnish the ceiling and add natural wood pillars like the ones shown in this Reggio Emilia school room above.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Here I am posting about old Paris again. This photo (above) from the Paris Exposition isn't really typical of its period but I can't get that event out of mind, so it finds a place here.  

Thinking about old France provokes me to announce my pick for the best Christmas gift a book lover can give or get this season..."The Other Paris" by Luc Sante (pronounced "sant", which rhymes with "font"). It's the best thing I've read in at least a couple of years... probably a classic in its field.

It's about the shady side of Paris in the 19th and early 20th Century: the pre-Haussmann streets, the bohemians, the prostitutes and dance halls, the hobo shelters, the rabblerousers, singers, pamphleteers, crooks, poets and painters.

It was a city that attracted non-conformists from all over the continent. There were no jobs for many of them so they had to improvise. The strange life they were forced to live on the streets created a restless, bohemian lifestyle that spread all over the West and is still with us today. How all this came about makes for a fascinating read.

For that someone who's really special, I recommend giving the audiobook version as well as the book. Yes, that's right...both! The text is the same but the book and the discs succeed in delivering different experiences, both valuable.

Here's Sante reading from his book.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Above, you'll find a room full of Memphis furniture (above) from the 1980s. That was the trendy furniture style of its day, the thing we 80s people all longed to have. Gee, 30 years later some of the pieces look like shag cat toys, and a whole room full of it seems like clutter. Even so, I retain an affection for it. Maybe it's worth examining to see where the movement went wrong.

First, lets talk about what they did right. How do you like these Cliff Sterrett / Picasso-style vaces (above)?  Probably flowers didn't look good in them, but who cares? They look great!

And the iconic bookshelf (above) by Milan designer/Memphis co-founder Ettore Sottsass (yes, that was his real name) was marvelous.  Everybody in the 80s wanted one.

The problem was that, although it looked good as a stand-alone, it didn't integrate into a whole furnished room very well. The fact is that nobody had an idea of what a Memphis-style room should look like.

That's a photo of Sottsass above. Yikes! He doesn't look very happy.

I suspect that the man had enormous problems with production and quality control.  I'm guessing that people who did knock-offs of his ideas made a lot more money than he did.

Some of his studio's designs were misfires (above)...

...and some (above) looked downright uncomfortable. That's okay...nobody bats a thousand. If he'd had more time to iron out the kinks I think Sottsass would would have dominated furniture design well into the late 90s, but time was running out.

Memphis was grounded in 80s rock culture but rock was quickly giving way to hip-hop and that movement had no use for Memphis influences like Matisse and Picasso, Miro and Leger, Klee, Stella, Gris and Mondrian.

Boy, poor Sottsass!


BTW: A couple of the pictures I posted may not have been of Memphis products per se, but I included them because they were close enough to be relevant.

Monday, July 11, 2016


No, these women (above) are not naked...they're simply wearing flesh colored leggings, which are all the rage now. 

Pants like these used to surprise me but now I'm used to them.  They're really nothing new. We white people have always liked things that are flesh colored.

Half the exteriors in my neighborhood (above) look fleshy. 

Half the rooms, too.

If you're caucasion like me, you just naturally seek out places to live that look like yourself. Maybe it's the camouflage aspect that appeals to us.

A white man stands against a fleshy wall and...Wow!...he's invisible! Maybe eons ago that's how we foiled the sabertooth tigers. No, wait a minute...they didn't have house paint then. Well then, maybe we just liked the color...I don't know.

Anyway, bathrooms (above) are almost always flesh-colored. A neighbor I talked to bucked the trend and foolishly colored his bathroom sea foam green.  He gave it a nautical look, which seemed to make sense because, after all, it's a room you're always splashing around in. Well...a year later he had to repaint it.

He said the blue walls drove his wife nuts, as if somehow they'd violated a universal law...and in a way, they did.

He repainted the walls flesh and it had an enormous calming effect on his wife. Camouflage? I don't know.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Boy, I'd like to visit the Greek Islands and see how life is lived in those beautiful hillside towns. Imagine what the architecture must be like!

I wonder what it's like to live in homes (above) that are like theatrical stage sets.

And on hills. What's that like?

Greek exteriors are great, but everybody knows that already. I wonder what the homes are like inside.

 The interiors you see in books (above) are radically different than anything you'd find in America. Do they work? I don't know. I'd have to spend some time in them before I could tell. There's no doubt that they're beautiful, though. 

When I researched this I was surprised to find that a lot of island interiors looked Turkish. An internet site says the Greeks were slaves of the Turks from the fall of Constantinople in the 1400s to Greek independence in 1830, so I guess that explains it.

Here's another home with a similar bedroom. The beds are on what appears to be a theatrical stage, complete with theater curtains. Wow! What an interesting idea!

I do wonder, though, how you get sex privacy if everyone sleeps in the same room. Also, what do you do about snoring?

Beds are frequently left unmade during the day. Even so, the rooms still look good.

Meals are often eaten outside.

Sometimes dining areas are similar to outdoor rooms (above).

This idea of a room that's both indoors and outdoors is intriguing.

I'll end with this open-air basement for drying clothes. Geez, a place that can make the drying of clothes look interesting sounds like a destination to me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


As many readers know, I'll be moving to a small farm town in a few months and I'm having trouble finding a house that excites me. In desperation I considered taking a house that (possibly) nobody else wanted...something the local eccentric used to live in,  with a dining area in the hallway and a half-hidden kitchen. It had a weird vibe, an exorcist would be required.

But scratch that. I'm too superstitious to live in something that needs an exorcist. I don't want to be dragged into Hell just because I tried to eat a piece of pie in the middle of the night.

That's not the house I was talking about above, but it's similar. This one is a lot more cheerful. Anyway, thinking about eccentric little houses in the woods got me thinking about older houses and how they frequently have more to offer than newer ones.

Now I'm thinking that a remodeled version of something old may be my best bet. I like this redo (above) of a traditional French kitchen. It has space for a large, cottage-style social table, and that's useful for more than just entertaining.  It's a staging area where you can lay out all your ingredients for a meal before cooking, all the while listening to audio books or music. Nice, eh?

BTW, I noticed that older French houses are frequently built a little bit lower than ground level. Why is that? I assume its an adaptation to the uneven level of the ground, but maybe I'm wrong. Doesn't rain water seep into a house that's below ground level?

Who wants to live in a modernist box? I can't imagine entertaining friends in a house like this (above).

But what am I talking about? Apart from relatives I won't have any friends. People where I'm going think Californians are freaks. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Big cities are a gift to photographers. If you have a camera you'll never run out of subjects there.

What do you think of these Manhattan photos taken by photographer Charles H. Traub in the 70s? Wow! He calls these his Lunchtime pictures.

In a big city it's tempting to take pictures of tragic subjects like public alcoholics but Taub prefers to photograph the more ordinary people who thrive there. That's the kind of subject that interests me. I like to see people enjoying the city they built for themselves.

These black and whites weren't by Taub, but I don't know who took them.
They make a powerful argument that cities should legitimize and promote whatever activity looks good in photographs...within reason, I mean.

Sometimes I like the clutter of advertising. It reminds me that one of the purposes of life is to make things that you sell to other people. The fun of commerce is that it connects you with a community of people who all compete to make life more interesting for each other.

Some areas should be zoned to allow advertising to run amuk.

Any excuse for scaffolding and cranes works for me. Seeing Portland's Steel Bridge converted me to the cause of exposed structure.