31 August 2008
My good friend Tom bought a swank apartment in Chelsea last year. It's in a new, uber modern building and it's packed with the kinds of stuff I fantasize about putting into someone else's home. His place is gorgeous, all clean lines and European appliances.
Tom had a party on Sunday afternoon and after his guests left, he started cleaning up. He did the dishes and once the sink was empty, he flipped the switch for is glorious InSinkErator Evolution and it started growling and grinding very loudly. The Evolution is a nearly silent machine when it's running, so he knew something was down inside his disposer that shouldn't be down in his disposer. Consummate Manhattanite that he is, he resigned himself to calling a plumber the following morning and didn't think much more of it.
Tom has two friends I'll call Jim and Jerry. Jim and Jerry are getting on in years and Jerry is starting to show some unmistakable signs of dementia. This must be heartbreaking to watch, as he was once a brilliant captain of industry and in the last years of his life he's been reduced to a shadow of his former self.
Tom got a phone call Sunday evening from Jim, and he informed Tom that there was a "minor emergency." It seems that Jerry left the party earlier that afternoon without his lower denture and last remembered taking it out to rinse it in the kitchen sink. In an instant, Tom knew what had fallen into to his InSinkErator.
You have to excuse the rinsing out the dentures in the kitchen sink thing when you consider the source, but still...
I told the slick and smart Manhattanite Tom to get out a flashlight and to look into his disposer. He did, and with the help of a pair of kitchen tongs fished out what remained of a $4000 lower plate. In the process of this delicate surgery, Tom learned that "the flappy thing" in the bottom of his kitchen sink detached to make cleaning easier. So Jerry's out a denture and Tom didn't need to call a plumber on Monday after all.
So remember, if you have an InSinkErator, the "flappy things" pop on and off. Just so you sound like you know what you're talking about if it comes up, those "flappy things" are called baffles.
30 August 2008
“Paris is done, Miami is done,” he said. “ St. Pete is wide open.”
That's is a quote from an actual Frenchman in last Sunday's New York Times. And he's talking about my St. Pete, not that other one on the Baltic either. The Frenchman in question is the Leon-born Raphael Perrier who, along with his wife, opened the fantastic coffee house Kahwa earlier this year. Kahwa is two blocks from me and is a site where I've written this very blog on more than one occasion.
Let's see, I've written this blog at Kahwa before; and last weekend, the New York Times mentioned Kahwa. I'm going to have this be yet one more example of that Newspaper's attempts to speak to me directly. I'm here guys! And yes I'll write for you. It's OK, just pick up the phone and call me already.
OK, now that that's out of my system, back to the article. The whole thing is a love letter to my beloved, adopted hometown. This is the second time in about a year-and-a-half that they've written a nice feature about this place. This is good!
29 August 2008
The addition of phosphates to detergents has been going on for ages. Phosphates in your detergents are what feed the algae blooms that make the Bay murky and they turn the Gulf of Mexico green. Stop using phosphate-containing detergents and fertilizers already. The fertilizer thing is a topic for another day, but in the meantime, get thee to Target and pick up a tub 'o Smarty and give it a trial run.
28 August 2008
Eco-$mart, Inc. was founded in 1993, in Sarasota, Florida, inspired by the creation of the Florida House Learning Center, a green living demonstration project jointly developed by Sarasota County Cooperative Extension service and the nonprofit Florida House Institute for Sustainable Development (I4SD). Eco-$mart's mission is to bridge the gap between understanding and applying sustainable development principals.
Eco-$mart, Inc. provides a number of services to facilitate sustainable living. We act as a distribution source for "green" construction materials, and offer free consultations to home owners, building owners, architects, developers and contractors. The nonprofit I4SD provides guidance regarding selection of these sustainable construction systems.
Eco-$mart, Inc. assists contractors and developers to take advantage of the free public relations and marketing power provided by programs such as EPA ENERGY STAR, SunBuilt and Engineered for Life, as well as promoting those businesses on Eco-$mart's affiliated media resources such as Earthzone TV and the Environmental News Network.
Eco-$mart, Inc. has also created ways for individuals and organizations to get personally involved and benefit from helping to spread the word, through our Agent and Referring Partner programs, as well as our Green Investment opportunities.
Our goal at Eco-$mart, Inc. is to help people to live and work in buildings that are healthy, efficient and cost effective. We firmly believe that once people understand what choices are really available and the impact of those choices, they will likely choose to design a better future for themselves, and for the planet.
If you are in the market for building supplies or if you are considering building a new home, please take that short drive across the Skyway Bridge and talk to my new pals at Eco-Smart.
27 August 2008
From his website:
Ultimately, his work is about ordinary objects – and people, and places — that really aren’t so ordinary when you look at them the right way. His embrace-and-celebrate attitude is in part a reaction to his fear of ordinariness as a youth (“a fate worse than death”). Now he’s learned to celebrate it. “In the ‘fabulous, kiss, kiss, darling, love that dress ... Versace?’ world of art and design,” says Trice, “I hope my work emits a ‘get down off your high horse and sit a while’ feel.” From a focus on furniture and lighting, his work has recently expanded into hats and accessories, which are more about wearable hardware than anything else. His awareness of our need to conserve the Earth’s resources has grown significantly since this endeavor began about 12 years ago.
A ceiling fixture made from a toaster
Oil lamps made from light bulbs and some wire
A ceiling fixture made from a fan cage
A lamp made from a measuring cup and a kitchen timer
A ceiling fixture that was once a punch bowl.
And my favorite, a wall sconce made from a rat trap and some copper screen.
This seals it, all hail Rodney Allen Trice!
26 August 2008
A ceiling light made from paper cocktail umbrellas.
A chandelier made from glass punch cups and the copper tubing from an old refrigerator.
A ceiling fixture made from old kitchen canisters
A table made from crutches and steel wire
This is a riot! A cocktail cart made from a walker the artist dubs "The Johnny Walker."
End tables made from old luggage
This stuff's clever and attractive. It's a great combination. Check out the rest of his collection at his website here.
25 August 2008
Last week, I wrote a shameless plug for Google's SketchUp here. I drew the bar above using SketchUp because it was too complicated for my "professional" software to handle. Well, call this a success story because I sailed through my presentation and they bought it. Woo-hoo. All hail SketchUp!
Oh, and the wall and bar supports are going to be made with Kirei board, which I plugged shamelessly a couple of weeks ago here. Life is good!
24 August 2008
If you look at the map from pretty far back, you can get a feel for just how many solar installations there are.
Here it is a little more zoomed in.
And here's my friend Jim's street --one of his neighbors has a rooftop installation.
San Francisco has set a goal of being host to 10,000 solar rooftop installations by the year 2010. That's pretty amazing, but when I consider the source, it's not really surprising. However, about the last place on the planet I think of when it comes to sunshine is the great City by the Bay. San Franciscans will never admit it, but coastal northern California has some of the most overcast skies I've ever experienced. I'm talking weeks spent behind a veil of clouds and fog so dense it makes me lose my will to live. Don't get me wrong. San Francisco's a gorgeous city and I'm eternally grateful that I can make my weather-related generalizations from first-hand experience. But still, San Francisco's not the place to go if you're on a quest for endless summer. Yet, somehow, they make solar work.
In today's St. Petersburg Times, there's an article about Florida's Public Service Commission and their lackluster attempts to meet Governor Charlie Crist's ambitious alternative energy goals. To paraphrase the PSC:
Florida energy companies are resisting a more ambitious renewable portfolio standard, arguing that it would drive up costs for customers because the state does not have good potential for wind or solar power.
More from the Times article:
Among the new draft provisions: Any new renewable energy projects must not exceed a 1 percent increase in cost to consumers. Renewable energy advocates accused the PSC staff of adopting a double standard, pointing out recent requests by utilities to increase consumer charges by more than 20 percent for construction of new nuclear plants.
I'm confused. Why is it OK to jack up my rates to pay for a new nuclear power plant (and jack them up in advance of its eventual construction) but solar and wind projects have a 1% rate increase cap?
I'm confused too by the assertion that Florida doesn't have good potential for wind or solar power. I can sort of see the wind thing. Florida seems to lack prevailing winds --the winds change directions too much for a turbine to work efficiently. But the solar thing mystifies me. I've heard it before, that Florida's doesn't have good solar potential. But I've never heard that assertion made with any kind of evidence to back it up. It's almost as if its a forgone conclusion that solar won't work here and it makes no sense to me. Anyone? Anyone? Why won't it work here?
23 August 2008
On the end of my desk sits this coffee cup. I bought it at MOMA a year-and-a-half ago. Before Starbucks invaded the Isle 'o Manhattan, every cup of coffee sold in the city came in a paper version off this cup. It amuses me.
MOMA has a great online store and they've added to it significantly for fall. They sell gorgeously-designed and reasonably priced objects that are either reproductions of works in their galleries, or pieces inspired by the museum's holdings. It's a way to bring a little New York into your life and for those of us out in the provinces, a piece will have to do. Check it out.
22 August 2008
I love the work of Charles and Ray Eames as I've said before on many occasions. In 1956, the Eames' released their Eames Lounge and Ottoman through Herman Miller. Herman Miller still produces them now, but in 1956, the Eames/ Herman Miller combination hit pay dirt and released an instant classic. This chair is a design icon for obvious reasons. Designers go ape over it still and it remains as popular now as it was at the time of its unveiling.
An industrial designer named Joanna Hawley took her inspiration from the Eames Lounge and Ottoman and used that inspiration to design a prosthetic leg while she was a design student at Carnegie Mellon University. Hawley partnered up with Kayhan Haj-Ali-Ahmadi, a pre-med student. Kayhan's knowledge of anatomy and Joanna's design skills combined to terrific effect and the fruit of their partnership speaks for itself.
When I think of prosthetic limbs, If I think of prosthetic limbs, the idea that they should be beautiful never occurs to me. When it comes to medical devices, I always assume that function trumps form every time. Who says they can't work together? Clearly, not Joanna Hawley.
In her own words and from her website:
Prosthetics generally lack humanity, style and grace. Often, they look much like landing gear and make the wearer uncomfortable, self aware, and sometimes depressed. By channeling the Eames' use materials and iconic style, we designed a leg with Steve McQueen in mind. We sought to convey a creative use of positive and negative space, a balance of materials and a reflection of the wearer.
I corresponded with Joanna Hawley a bit the other day and I asked her why a prosthesis? Here's what she had to say:
Today's generation is faced with the Iraqi war, particularly the reality of soldiers coming back without limbs. Diabetes is also the leading cause of amputees in America, which is a little known fact. Finally, as an Industrial Designer, its my job (and passion!) to think of ways to improve people's lives. All these reasons simply rolled into one very intense and exciting project. I've always been a huge fan of Ray and Charles Eames (as you can probably tell by the rest of my work) and I wanted to give this prosthetic a very eye-catching aesthetic. I know veneering can be polarizing, but so far people seem really excited by the possibilities. And really, that's what the point of the project was, to identify the possibilities in the future of prosthetics.
Get this woman an award.
21 August 2008
I think you have to have spent some time over there to realize how truly remarkable the kitchen in the Boathouse is. Getting your hands on those kinds of building supplies when you're on an island in the middle of the Atlantic is an undertaking I don't want to contemplate.
Here's a map of the entire island nation of The Bahamas. You can see pretty clearly how its location relates to Cuba and Florida.
This is a close up of Cat Island itself. Fernandez Bay Village is marked about three-quarters of the way down the west coast of the island. Pigeon Cay and Flamingo Point are a bit farther north on the same coast.
So thanks Globalnomad, you've given me a new place to go exploring next week. And in the meantime, go look at The Boathouse's website. If there's a heaven, it looks like Cat Island, trust me.
20 August 2008
My quest for an interesting kitchen started with an inspiration photograph. Here's my inspiration. I'm love the supports below this glass bar, and I really like the idea of sheathing a knee wall in bamboo veneer as has been done here.
Now a knee wall is usually a structural thing that adds support to an island or a peninsula. As a structural element, we usually hide them. But in this case, the designer drew attention to it, so much so that it's arguably the focal point of this peninsula. So for my interesting kitchen assignment, I want to take the idea of this exposed knee wall in a peninsula and apply it to an island. Two islands in this case. Easy right? Wrong.
I work with some very expensive professional software called 20/20. 20/20 bills itself as "the world's leading interior design software." You need to have a license to buy it and operate it is how exclusive a proposition this software is. You'd think that with all that exclusivity, I'd be able to render something resembling the back of this peninsula to show to my clients. So you'd think.
Here's the best 20/20 could do after about four hours.
20/20 can't draw a curve on something that's standing up, like my bar supports here. It can't apply a bamboo veneer texture to my wall or supports. I can't show the curved glass bar. Not only can it not do most of what I want it to do, my system crashed three times trying to get it as far as I have. PATHETIC. So now I get to tell a client during a presentation "Ignore those straight supports, let's pretend they're curved like in the picture I showed you. Now pay me $40,000."
That's clearly an unacceptable scenario. So my next option would be to hand draw the rendering above. However, that would take me the next two days to complete and I need to show my ideas to these people today.
So, I launched my FREE copy of Google's SketchUp and banged out this in about ten minutes. Now I ask you, how can software that cost three times as much as the laptop I run it on be trounced so soundly by software that's free for everybody? How does that happen?
19 August 2008
Let me quote myself:
Here are some shots of a slice of heaven I'll be returning to in a week.The Out Islands of the Bahamas are for the most part an undeveloped Eden about an hour's flight east of south Florida. My friends and I rent the same cottage every couple of months on Cat Island at a resort called Fernandez Bay Village. I use the term resort loosely....
There are no hot stone massages or organic meals. Rather, there is a 40-mile long, virtually uninhabited island. There are beaches with no foot prints on them, reefs that aren't charted, nights illuminated by the stars, and a blissful quiet that turns my overworked brain into jelly...
Nothing to do but kayak, dive, swim and read. Ahhhhhh. Having no telephone, no internet acess, no television and zero contact with the outside world for a couple of days is the ultimate tonic; even if it's bitter at first. Having all of that plus daily maid and turn-down service is almost too much to bear!
Austin-base graphic designer Alyson Fox opened her home to the editors of Apartment Therapy and I for one, am glad of it. It's an interesting room but what really caught my eye was the poster hanging to the left of the cooktop. What a great directive for life in general and today in particular.
It turns out that Keep calm and carry on was a British propaganda poster commissioned in 1939 by the Ministry of Information in the lead up to war with Germany. A couple of souls at Barter Books in London found an original and proceeded to reproduce it and sell it on their website. It's a pretty cool thing all around. A vintage feel, a way to touch history and a firm yet kind directive for every day living. It's a killer combo.
So as we gear up for today's arrival of Fay, let's remember to Keep calm and carry on.
18 August 2008
Apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan.
All this talk about impending storms got me thinking about snow globes. Well not really, but it reminded me of these beauties I first came across on Apartment Therapy.
Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz are a Pennsylvania-based husband and wife team who gang up on the humble snow globe and drive a dagger into its heart. Precisely what art is supposed to do if you ask me. But check these things out. Who would think to take something so wholesome, so simple, so aw shucks American and turn it on its head? These things are brilliant. Beautiful to look at and painstakingly constructed.
Their art comes in two species; the globes themselves and then limited edition photographs of the globes. If you'd like to inquire about their art, you can contact the artists directly here. Or you can reach their representatives at the P.P.O.W. Gallery in Manhattan.
I'm going to start giving an award periodically: Kitchen and Residential Design Blog Award. Future generations will come to call it the KaRDB Award. I predict that in time, winning a KaRDBA will carry the kind of cachet that a Tony or Drama Desk award does today. So with that said, I hereby grant the first KaRDBA to Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz.