my mid century modern dream (re-post)

exterior frontAwhile back, I shared the mid-century house I lived in several years back. Been thinking about that house a lot lately so thought I would share once again . . .  It’s just a distant memory now. A place I laid my hat for a few years while living in the mid-west where architecture like this on a dreamy lot at the edge of the woods is attainable. Not worry free (I had my share of plumbing problems and the scare of two 30 ft. oaks going down just inches from my kitchen) but attainable none the less.

The house was built in 1964 by a local architect, John Findlay and his wife, who literally rolled boulders around the lot themselves. The house takes advantage of a sloping landscape and what looks like a small one story dwelling from the street, has a large lower level walk out making the most of an indoor/outdoor living concept. But most of my time was spent on the main level where the kitchen, living room and bedrooms surround an open plan central dining area. While the large eat in kitchen might have sold the house, it was the living room that I liked the most with its iconic stone fireplace and large windows framing an hypnotic view of the woods.

entrydininglivingAlivingBkitchen1kitchen 2The house looks beautiful all surrounded in greenery but it was in the winter, when the trees were bare and the light reflected off the snow, that this house was truly spectacular. I often wondered if the architect who designed and built the house at just 32 years of age (he would die 8 years later), planned it that way or was just lucky? At any rate, I feel the lucky one having lived here even if for a short time.

new on the web


Even though in stark contrast to the quiet voice of my most favorite brand, I can’t help but holler about the new website from Aesop. Of course, this is how they so eloquently announced themselves:

Aesop entryCome screaming or ever so quietly . . . upon entering the site you will find detailed documentation of the designs for many of their stores around the world. One after the other. Each unique. All specimens to behold and admire.




AESOP-AU-FLINDERS-LANE-7-7AESOP-FR-LE-MARAIS-10-2 AESOP-AU-NORTH-MELBOURNE-8-4I am tickled pink (and still a little bit amazed) that they can keep up this rapid growth of what I will call not just lovely stores, but true design experiences around the globe. Wouldn’t it be a fun journey to try to visit them all?  I have yet to get to all the outlets in just the cities I frequent: Melbourne, Los Angeles & New York — let alone the ones further afield. But now, whenever the urge strikes with just the click of a mouse, I can see what beauty awaits me should I ever choose to take this journey.

images courtesy:  taxonomy of design

weekend agenda: frank gehry

This weekend or any weekend between now and March 20, 2016 you can get up close and personal with some of the many many models representing the work of architect Frank Gehry. It’s like a wander through some sort of miniature land of the future where nary a right angle exists and buildings are more like super-sized sculptures than buildings.

IMG_5239Yes, this is a model of a building, one that actually got built. And what’s nice about the show, videos of the built work accompany many of the models so you can see how it actually came to life, how it scales and relates to a real environment.

Frank’s work is nothing if not stunningly emotional. Arresting even, especially in contrast to our mostly rectilinear world. In fact, i think that juxtaposition is what gives this work it’s power.

At 86 years old, there will only be so many more Frank Gehry buildings to be built. Although there are plenty in the works as evidenced by the show’s room of projects in progress punctuated by an image of the architect’s office — a sea of models:

Office shotWhether you are a fan of “object” buildings or not (admittedly some are more successful than others) there is no denying the genius of this man. It is well worth the $25 price of admission to sneak a peek into his world. And most interesting to hear in his own words and those of other creative geniuses across a wide range of disciplines, how and why he does what he does in a captivating film by Sydney Pollack. On the day i went, there were more people crammed into the little corner where this film is projected than viewing the plethora of models that make up the rest of the show. Say what that may about the show as a whole, just go. And then, because we are lucky in LA to be surrounded by a great many of his built works, take a drive around the city and see the buildings in person.

For tickets and more information on the show visit:

bottom image courtesy LACMA

weekend agenda

mazeInside the National Building Museum in Washington, DC you can feel what’s it’s like to be a mouse in a maze. An urban take on the classic corn maze, this plywood structure is oodles of fun for kids or about 4.5 minutes of distraction for adults. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fun activity. But I fault the design for it’s dipped center which while it makes for great views and a social media hot spot, once you reach that point in the maze the way out is clearly visible and the challenge is over. But super fun to watch patrons from above so be sure to venture up to another floor and look down on the activated structure. At $16 a head, it is a bit pricy but you get some added value with the tickets that are all puzzles in their own right — a nice little touch.

ticketsThrough September 1, 2014.

Note: the gift shop at the National Building Museum is very nice with a great selection of gifts, books, toys and more.

weekend agenda

If you happen to be in Paris this weekend definitely make an appointment to go see the home and painting studio of Le Corbusier.  And just in case you can’t make it there, here is a sneak peak how this master lived:

Corb 1Corb 2Corb 3Saturdays only. For reservations, contact Fondation Le Corbusier

the little school that could

Back when I was applying to architecture schools my options were limited as a girl who hadn’t taken an art class since elementary school and who possessed an unrelated undergraduate degree (I studied English Lit in case you were curious). Living in Los Angeles, I learned there was an art school up in the Bay Area that had recently established an architecture program and while it was undergrad only and unaccredited, it offered a study option for someone like me. So off I went to the California College of Arts & Crafts (CCAC) — today known as California College of the Arts (CCA).

This school, established back in 1907 around the time of the Arts & Crafts movement (hence “Crafts” in the original name), was the most amazing place I had ever been in my life. Students much younger than I with the confidence to create things across a multitude of mediums, classes that revealed art as a true barometer of the world’s social and political history, real life practitioners interested in teaching their craft to a new generation. Painting, drawing, sculpture, graphics, industrial design and of course, architecture.

I spent only two years at CCAC (I moved on to an accredited graduate program back in LA that wasn’t nearly as nurturing or engaging and that I ultimately left after a year and a half somewhat lost and bewildered – which may just have been sleep deprivation I’m not sure). But I have to say, those two years at CCAC were the most influential, best years of my life. For real. And I wish that everyone could experience some form of art/design education in their lifetime. It pains me that the arts have been so mercilessly cut from our education system for lack of funding. And I wonder, often, what effect this will have on the world of the future.

So it pleases me to no end to see a school like CCA thriving. Their architecture program is now accredited and offers a graduate degree as well. They have built a beautiful new design campus and continue to attract top notch staff and talented students. For a school that has been around for over a hundred years, it is little known. It should be better known which is why I thought a little story on a little blog might help get the word out at least a little.

And to my classmates from that other school who reunited in Los Angeles this past weekend, I am so glad I know you and that we shared what we shared and learned what we learned together. And I am ever so grateful that many of us are still good friends today, but CCA(C) is the school I celebrate in my heart all these years later.




three great masters, one great day

The Modern_AndoThe Kimball_ KahnAmon Carter_JohnsonAndo, Kahn and Johnson. The Modern, The Kimball and The Amon Carter museums, respectively. All located in Fort Worth, Texas a stones throw from one another. Each one a masterpiece. And now, you get a fourth for the price of three with a new building by Renzo Piano recently opened as an extension to the Kimball.

I thought I’d died and went to heaven. Who cares about the art — although taking in a little Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollack, Francis Bacon and Donald Judd always makes me smile (a true modernist at heart) — the buildings are what I came for.Details_3museumsEven the 90 degree heat couldn’t deter me. I could have sat on the concrete loungers, looking back at the silent power of three glass pavillions seemingly floating on water at the Modern all day. But that would have meant not sitting under the shade of a vaulted portico at the Kimball taking in the echo of cascading water and visitors footsteps as they navigated the grove of holly trees that act as transition from lawn, to courtyard, to vaulted building.

The surprise of the day was the Amon Carter Museum. The first built in the area back in 1961. The original museum, a small but arresting monolithic structure, sits up on a hill before a stunning green space with views of Dallas in the distance. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of Acropolis reference. Quite the stretch for the Western art collection housed inside but true to form for architect Philip Johnson who also designed the 2001 expansion on the back side.

views_3museumsIf you are ever in doubt about the power of architecture on the soul, watch the documentary My Architect by Nathanial Kahn, son of Louis Kahn who designed the Kimball Art Museum (along with his mistress Harriet Patterson, mother of Nathanial). If ever a piece of film has moved me more I cannot recall. I wept and wept — not because of the personal story of an illegitimate son piecing together the life of an absent father who had three separate families and died unidentified in the men’s room at Penn Station — but at the sight of magnificent building after magnificent building. True artworks juxtaposing the geometries of built form and nature, in locations all around the world. All by one great master whose calling it was in life to build buildings. Great and powerful buildings. Buildings that will move you to tears.

according to me

ai wei weiA beautiful day in Toronto and a few hours to kill before going in search of sandwich (see more here) I started walking from my hotel in the direction of Dundas street thinking I would take in a bit of Canadian son, Frank Gehry’s architecture at the Art Gallary of Ontario (AGO). To my delight, the museum was hosting a very moving show of Chinese born artist & political activist, Ai Weiwei. My afternoon was about to take a very unexpected and profound turn.

Not that the architecture wasn’t arresting. Indeed the facade of the building is unmistakably Gehry with a large multi-plane glass “sculpture” tacked on to an existing building a full city block long. Inside, a wooden circulation path snakes its way in and out of the hallways and arches. It is a study in contrast that comes to a beautiful crescendo in the form of a circular staircase seemingly levitating in the central atrium. stairs by gehryBut Gehry’s circulation path wasn’t the only “snake” in the building on this day. Installed at the entrance to the Ai Weiwei exhibit, was a serpentine sculpture made of nylon back packs commemorating the more than 5000 children who were killed when their poorly constructed schools collapsed in the massive Sichuan province earthquake of 2008.

snakeInside the show were a host of equally thought provoking objects, each meticulously crafted and beautiful in their own right but filled with the power to make any viewer question the world in which we live, the history that unfolds around us each and every day, the governing bodies of China and the world beyond, and not the least of which, our power as thinking individuals. phases of the moonpainted heirloomsrebarUrn DropAi Weiwei, According to What remains at the Art Gallery Of Ontario through October 27, 2013 before moving onto Miami and Brooklyn. A must see exhibit according to me.