31 May 2010

Sarah Jessica parker et al, please retire.

Daily Shite

Sex and the City was a pretty funny sit com on HBO once upon a time. As such it was a moment in time. A group of women running around and acting like stereotypical gay men was funny in 1999.

It's not 1999 anymore.

Ladies, you're sullying your legacy. Let's call it a day. Shall we?


Out, out damned termites!

I came home Saturday only to find a bathtub full of termites. I don't know what the attraction of the tub was, but there they were in a fornicating mass. I've suspected that they were back for about the previous year but a combination of denial and avoidance had me waiting for solid proof. There were about a hundred examples of that solid proof in the tub when I got home.


Florida and most of the extreme southeastern US are in the hot seat when it comes to drywood termites. The species prevalent here is Incisitermes snyderi. I looked it up and ID-d the SOBs in the tub Saturday. Sure enough, they were I. snyderi, the same species as my last experience with them seven years ago. Incisitermes snyderi are called drywood termites because they never touch the ground.


Most termites are subterranean. That means they live in colonies below ground and make mud tubes up to wood they eat. Drywood termites actually live in the wood they're eating. Termites can be found just about everywhere on earth but they thrive particularly in tropical and near-tropical climates.

I live in a wooden building in a neighborhood composed of other wooden buildings exclusively. Building with concrete block didn't catch on in Florida until the boom that followed the Second World War. As a result, dealing with termites goes hand in hand with living in anything built prior to 1945 or so. Termites swarm in the early to mid summer here. When a colony reaches maturity, it starts to produce fertile males and females. These fertile termites are also winged. It's these winged termites, called alates, that swarm. Alates are the only termites that ever leave the colony and they take wing to start new colonies of their own.

California and the west have their share of termite headaches and despite the different species involved, they follow the same life cycle and wreak the same havoc.

Because I live in an old wooden house in an old wooden neighborhood, the termites are never really gone. Every time there's a swarm, each of us is at the same risk of getting them again. I think of them as a cold that a group of people keep passing around.

So now what? Well, the fix is to be tented.


When I first moved to Florida, I remember seeing fumigation tents and thinking that having to live through that would be humiliating. I don't know what I was thinking specifically, but I figured that those tents were a testament to a person's slovenly housekeeping, among other things.

Nothing could be further from the truth though. So in my very near future will be the three-day inconvenience of a tent fumigation.


A tent fumigation is the only way to kill drywood termites. Left to their own devices, they will destroy a home though it will take them a while. Tent fumigation involves wrapping a home in a plastic tarp and then pumping in sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2) and letting the gas do its thing. SO2F2 is the ideal fumigant, it's deadly but inert. That means it doesn't bond with anything or leave a residue after the fumigation's complete. Ultimately, the chemical bonds in it break and it turns back into the fluorine and sulfur dioxide it began as. Thou art Fluoine and sulfur dioxide and to fluorine and sulfur dioxide thou shalt return.

Because SO2F2 leaves no residue, it leaves behind no residual protection either. If I'm still sitting in this same living room in six or seven years, I'll get to go through this all over again.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare is one of my coping mechanisms, but in this case it won't help. I can pull a Lady MacBeth all I want. Out, out damned termites! But at the end of the day, I need SO2F2.

30 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising part five

The fifth and final (for the time being) installment in my design stories is something called Grounded. To reprise:

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write for the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio. It was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The fifth one is called Grounded and my body copy follows.
Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainable, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?


Your home is much more than an investment; it's your anchor, your oasis. It tells the story of being grounded. Medallion Cabinetry's Trinity door in chestnut-stained cherry, earth toned paint colors and forged hardware from Schaub and Company declare your kitchen to be the nurturing refuge it is. The clock stops in such a kitchen and there's ample time for unhurried meals and heart to heart conversations. Authentic, unpretentious finishes and colors tell this grounded story.

And that the last of them for the time being. We're going to keep debuting a new palette, a new story, every month through the rest of 2010.

29 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising part four

My fourth installment is called Energetic. To reprise:

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio. It was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The fourth one is called Energetic and my body copy follows.
Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainable, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?


Dynamic colors and finishes tell the energetic story of a life spent in high gear. Medallion Cabinetry's Bella door in a wheat stain combines with lively quartz counters from Silestone and  die-cast Marcel hardware from Du Verre to express the vitality of someone who's on the go and would have it no other way. Your life is active, dynamic, fresh, spirited and at Kuttler Kitchens, we can help your kitchen tell that energetic story.

28 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising part three

My third installment is a story I call Classic. To reprise what this is all about:

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio. It was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The third one is called Classic and my body copy follows.
Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainable, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?


You've worked hard your whole life and now you've earned the right to have your home tell a Classic story. Medallion Cabinetry's Camelot door in cherry with an ebony-glazed amaretto finish joins floors in travertine and walnut announce a solid, stately elegance. Slate wall tile from Emenee and cast bronze Kelmscott Manor hardware from Schaub and Company add a period to the sentence, You've arrived. Classic kitchens tell a story of rarefied grace and sophistication.

27 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising part two

Yesterday, I wrote about my sustainability narrative. Today is all about tranquility. To reprise:

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write for the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio. It was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The next one is called Tranquility and my body copy follows.
Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainable, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?


Soft wall colors, subtle lighting and Medallion Cabinetry's Newcastle door in a Classic Paint color called Bliss can combine to tell a story of tranquility. Further additions like Schaub and Company's Montcalm hardware in antique nickel and back painted glass tile from Mirage Glass Tile add soft, nuanced layers to this palette. Tranquil kitchens bring to mind unhurried mornings where there's time and a comfortable spot to linger over a cup of Earl Grey.

26 May 2010

How to sell kitchen cabinetry: my slide back into advertising

I have a couple of sidelines, one of which is doing project work for an ad agency. Over the last year or two, I've been taking on some different things to see where I want my career progression to head next. Part of that is writing for this ad agency. Well as luck would have it, the agency happens to be the agency of record for the design studio where I ply my trade. I'd been unhappy with some of the copy that ended up in ads and on the website and as someone who's a pretty good writer and who has a vested interest in how a kitchen studio presents itself, having me write the new website was a logical choice.

In January, I was in a brainstorming session with the ad folks and we were figuring out how to position the studio in the new website. Kitchen design's a curious thing in a lot of ways. Kitchen designers make their money from selling cabinetry but selling cabinetry isn't what I wanted to emphasize. Any monkey can sell cabinetry, and many of them do. It takes a real designer to build on that and to make rooms that capture the fundamental essence of a particular client.

I refer to my essence capturing as story telling. I work with my clients to have their homes tell their stories. Good design follows a narrative. Always.

I've been at this for long enough that I know that kitchen design as a business presents itself to the world by showing completed kitchens. These completed kitchens are terrific for portfolios, they tell a potential client what a given studio is capable of. However, these completed kitchen designs don't allow a client to project himself or herself into the image. Often times, these completed kitchen images are a barrier. Most people lack the vision thing. And when I show someone one of these photographs, I spend a lot of time guiding the person in front of me. "Imagine your home with something like this but not really like this." It makes for unnecessary confusion a lot of times.

Usually, I assemble a presentation board of finishes when I'm rolling out an idea rather showing a lot of completed projects.

So when it came to how to show the skills of a kitchen design studio on its website, I wanted to take my presentation board idea and make it a more fleshed out marketing position.

The result is something I call design stories.

We played around with this idea for a couple of months and then three weeks ago we booked a photographer and a studio and I directed the shoot. Actually, it was a collaborative effort but my resume claims sole credit for it. Resumes exist to toot my horn, right? And just for the record, none of this would have been possible without the great Amy Allen of Allen Harris Design or incredibly talented and patient photographer Chris Stickney.

Anyhow, we spent the day in the studio and assembled five still lifes (I was calling them Still Life with Cabinet Door) and shot all five of them in a single day.

The first one is called Sustainability and my body copy follows.

Every room tells a story, and every room has a different story to tell. At Kuttler Kitchens, we consider it to be our top priority to help you select the finishes that tell your story.

To help you get started; here are five, very different color and finish palettes. Each one tells its own story and we call them Tranquility, Classic, Sustainability, Grounded and Energetic. Using these as a starting point, how can we help you tell your story?

Renewable cork floors by US Floors, rich fabrics and Du Verre hardware inspired by a pomegranate can tell a story of sustainability. A modern door in sustainably-harvested Wenge or Zebrawood can bring a touch of the exotic to your home while honoring your commitment to a cleaner, greener planet. Sustainable kitchens tell the quiet story of organic, earth-friendly comfort and balance.
When I started this blog, about the last thing in the world I would have predicted as an end point would have been a slide back into advertising copy writing. Directing was a bonus. I'm insanely proud of this project and it's been a real blast to excel in an arena so far removed from what I do usually.

25 May 2010

Buon compleanno a me


It's my birthday today. I'm 45 and that sounds weird to me. I certainly don't feel 45 although I suppose that how I feel right now is how 45 feels. It a curious thing to realize that I'm more than half way through and I have to say that where I am and what my life looks like at 45 bears scant resemblance to where I imagined it would be 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Ask me how thrilled I am that none of those old imaginings came true. I'll take things as they are right now any day.

The word for birthday in Italian, cumpleanno comes from the verb compiere. Compiere looks like but doesn't always mean to complete. In the sense that it's used in relation to birthdays, compiere means to fulfill. So my opening sentence, It's my birthday today would read Oggi compio gli anni in Italian and it would translate as Today, I fulfill my years.

I like to think of birthdays as fulfillments rather than as completions. Birthdays in English mark off time served. In Italian, birthdays commemorate a fulfilled life. It may be a semantics game but it helps me avoid dreading getting older. Thinking of my birthdays as fulfilled years rather than completed ones helps me concentrate on what a great, fantastic ride this is. When I think like this, it's easier to be grateful and stay grateful for the amazing people who begat me, the amazing people who surround me and the amazing people I have yet to meet.

So on that note, I am on my way out of town for the rest of the week as of this afternoon. I wrote a bunch of posts for the coming days that showcase my first foray back into the ad game in more than 15 years. I hope it's not too tedious, but I needed to do it as a credibility-building exercise. Bear with me and have a great rest of th week!

24 May 2010

This sums up the Deepwater Horizon nightmare perfectly

Of all the images I've seen of the Louisiana coastline and the Gulf so far, this image by Gerald Herbert for the Associated Press drives home the point most bluntly.


The AP misidentified this damselfly as a dragonfly, but the point remains that nothing's safe from this spill. Scrubbing your bathtub with a half a grapefruit and some salt won't do anything for fix this or alleviate it.

This spill is the result of an industry that regulates itself and the end result of 30 years of "business friendly" government policies. Encouraging investment and innovation is a good thing, but that not what "pro-business" means. What that expression means is to allow multinational corporations to run roughshod over anything that stands in their way. That's at best short-sighted and worst criminal. It's also been the de facto operating procedure of the United States since about 1981. Hearing the party that's spent the last 30 years systematically dismantling the EPA and anything that smacks of a regulation complain that the current administration isn't doing enough is a level of hypocrisy I find hard to believe. Hearing the party that stood by and let it happen trying to assert itself is almost as bad. This isn't about political parties, it's about a deeply flawed idea of governance.

This spill is bigger than BP, it's bigger than the Minerals Management Service, it's bigger than the EPA and it's bigger than the entirety of the US Federal Government. This is a catastrophe of a scale never before seen and one that will play out in the Gulf for years and decades to come. And for what?

Industries cannot regulate themselves. Repeat after me. Industries cannot regulate themselves.

Clean your tub with grapefruit and salt. Or not.


Those crazy kids at Apartment Therapy are forever touting labor-intensive and probably ineffective "green" alternatives to household cleaning supplies. The idea seems to be that if you're inconvenienced, then you're somehow saving the earth.

I am a huge proponent of sustainable practices and stewarding resources sensibly and equitably. With that said, scrubbing out your tub with a half a grapefruit and some salt is absurd.

The piece in Apartment Therapy went on to break the process down into four easy to follow steps. I have a better idea. Here are my four steps. At the end of my steps you'll have a clean shower and full tummy.

1. Peel and eat grapefruit, preferably an Indian River pink.

2. Sprinkle salt on some fresh, crusty bread. Top with high quality olive oil and be transported.

3. Spray down shower with SC Johnson's Scrubbing Bubbles.

4. Come back ten minutes later and rinse.


Done.

Many household cleaners are a gimmick, they are marketing messages in a bottle. Developed to exploit your fears and perceived inadequacies, they represent an absolute waste of resources in the sense that they waste your money and your time.

Similarly, just because it came off a tree doesn't mean something's benign.

If you read that there was 1-Dimethoxy-2, 5-trimethyl-4-hexene, Acetic acid and decyl ester in something you were about to slosh around your bathroom would you be concerned? Well, they are but four of the thousands of chemicals in a grapefruit. They're probably harmless (I say probably because no one really studies them) but why are they inherently better than Disodium Ethanoldiglycinate, Butoxydiglycol, Ethoxylated Alcohol, Quaterinary Ammonium Chlorides? Those are the four ingredients that make Scrubbing Bubbles so gosh darn effective.

Chemicals that come from a lab and chemicals that come from a tree aren't inherently good or bad. In chemistry it's all about dose and duration. Most synthetic chemicals are engineered specifically to break down into their component parts and to do so quickly. What's in them is controlled tightly and studied thoroughly. I don't know that they're safer, but at least they're known.

Whether or not you use them is entirely up to you. There are some things I won't use because they waste resources. Usually my money, often my time and a lot of times I don't use things because they waste the earth's resources or they'll have an impact I don't want them to have. I say there's a balance you have to strike and the best way to strike that balance is to arm yourself with knowledge and to make decisions based on reason and not emotion.

To that end, SC Johnson has a new website called What's Inside. What's Inside is a product-by-product list and explanation of what's in their products. It's enough to make me buy more SC Johnson products if only to demonstrate how much I applaud their move.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my neighbors the other day. He's looking for a pesticide to kill off the caterpillars that are eating his tomato plants. He's concerned about what he's going to spray and rightly so. However, he wants something "natural" because he thinks it'll be safer. I reminded him that rattlesnake venom is natural but I doubt I'd eat a tomato that had been treated with it.

23 May 2010

Cuban tile isn't encaustic, it's cement. It's not really cement either, it's concrete.

For as long as I've lived in Florida, I've been enamored with what's known in these parts as Cuban tile. Cuban tile was all the rage in Florida from the turn of the last century up until the 1950s. The embargo against Cuba pretty much sealed its fate as a lost material until fairly recently.

I live in an old neighborhood and this house is down the street from me.


Wild as it is, all that Mission-style mish mash and stucco is original and that house is about 70 years old. The front porch had been closed in at some point after the advent of air conditioning, but if you look in the door you can see what's on the floor in there.


It's an original Cuban tile floor.


I've written about Cuban tile before though it's been quite a while. All this time, I've been using the terms Cuban tile, encaustic tile and cement tile interchangeably but it's come to my attention recently that encaustic and cement tiles are very different things and to split the hair even finer, cement tile's more accurately called concrete tile. Zoe Voigt, a writer and great friend of this blog, explains the differences thoroughly in an article called The Difference between Encaustic and Cement on Tile Style.

In the comments that follow Zoe's post, Richard Holdshuh explains that cement tile isn't really cement after all. It's concrete. Richard's opinion is backed up in a follow up comment left by Jorge Aguayo of Industrias Aguayo.

Industrias Aguayo is one the world's few manufacturers of concrete tile. From their factory in the Dominican Republic, Aguayo keeps alive the Cuban tradition through a concrete tile series they call Herencia Cubana. That's Cuban Heritage in English.

Bill Buyok, another friend and occasional contributor to this blog, happens to sell Aguayo's Herencia Cubana from his fashionable shop, Avente Tile, on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. I think we can safely call it Cuban Tile 90210.

Bill's Flickr stream is where I got these images of traditional Cuban patterns that are back in production and readily available.









So the next time someone asks, Cuban tile is cement tile and not encaustic tile. And it's not really cement tile either, it's concrete. Got that?

22 May 2010

Some off topic notes about Facebook


@greenbes: You're not Facebook's customer. You're the product they sell to their real customers - advertisers. Forget this at your peril.
So wrote Steve Greenberg on Twitter yesterday, and I have to say it's one of the better Tweets I've ever read.

It landed in the fertile field of my attention because moments earlier, I had been shaking my head over the idiocy of yet another petition on Facebook someone had sent me. This time, the petition was "No, I will not start to pay for Facebook!"

Facebook has no intentions to charge its users a dime for the very reason @greenbes pointed out. Facebook's users are their product, and as of the last count, there are 400 million of them worldwide.

Facebook got its start in 2003 when a sophomore at Havard named Mark Zuckerburg started a web site he called Facesmash. Facesmash was an underground thing, and Zuckerburg got into all kinds of trouble for hacking into Harvard's computer system to get the photos and names of his fellow students. Facesmash was shut down by Harvard's administration and they charged him with invasion of privacy among other things. Harvard being Harvard, the charges were dropped eventually.

The following semester, Zuckerburg launched a somewhat more reputable site called The Facebook. I say somewhat more respectable because within weeks he was facing another lawsuit from angry Harvardians who accused him of hacking into their e-mail accounts. The Facebook is what became just Facebook in 2004. The rest is history.

All of that information is readily available anywhere on the internet. Clearly, this is not Sergey Brin and Larry Page we're talking about.

A lot of people get all poetic when they talk about Facebook, if I hear it called a global village one more time I'm going to scream. It's not a town square, it doesn't exist to allow you to play Farmville, it's not there so that you can reconnect with people you knew 20 years ago. Sure, it does all of those things, but they are not why Facebook exists. Facebook exists to make money. That's by no means a bad thing, but it is something to keep in mind when you're adjusting your privacy settings.

Put simply, as Facebook's product you're performing two tasks. First, the ads on the right side of your Facebook page are there for you to click. Facebook makes money when you do. The second task you're performing is filling out your profile and leaving it in the open for the world to see. Facebook uses the information it gathers from your profile and your activity to draw a profile of you. It can then place more ads in front of you that you're more likely to click. It can also sell its carefully drawn demographic information to anyone who's willing to pay for it.

The global village is a Potemkin Village after all. (Look it up.)

I see the petitions and moot protests about paying for Facebook and I can't help but think that the folks at Facebook are laughing about the red herrings people grab. Facebook will never charge a user fee, but as their latest grab at your private information shows, that's the last thing in the world to be concerned about when it comes to Facebook.

Through it all, I find Facebook to be useful and helpful. I keep track of my multitudes of nieces and nephews through it. I keep in touch with old friends, fellow bloggers, fellow Twitterers, readers and friends. I syndicate my blog through it and thanks to Facebook, I never have to remember when peoples' birthdays are.

But I take as many measures as I can to keep the profile information I don't want to fall into the wrong hands out of the wrong hands.

My pals at the ACLU put together a quiz that shows you how much of your information goes public every time you take a quiz or use a Facebook app. Take their quiz and I guarantee you you'll never take another quiz.

I dug through the labyrinth of Facebook's new privacy settings a few weeks ago. Just the other day, the great and powerful Nancie Mills-Pipgras had a link on her page to something called Reclaim Privacy. Go to this website and follow their instructions. Reclaim Privacy will audit your Facebook settings and let you know what you're leaving out in the open.

So go use Facebook, and have fun while your there. Just remember what you're dealing with.

21 May 2010

Architectural panels from Veritas liven up commercial interior designs


Last November, I wrote a post about a new movie theater concept that had just opened in Tampa. I fell for the interior design at first and as beautiful as they are, it's the concept of the theater that keeps me coming back. Cinebistro is a movie theater for adults. It has a full bar, a full menu and white linen table service. I won't see a movie anywhere else.


It's a great idea and the interiors of the place really set the tone. The theater in Tampa is a picture of contemporary eclecticism and every time I go back I find more cool stuff to notice and admire. Getting any information about who designed it and who supplied all the finishes in the lobby particularly has eluded me until now.


All of that changed when I heard from a company called Veritas™ Architectural Solutions this week and Veritas™ makes resin architectural panels and they happen to be the hallmark of the movie theater lobby I'm so enamored with. It's a small world.


Veritas™ architectural panels, called ResinArt™, come in a huge variety of stock sizes, patterns and colors. What makes them really unique is that they have a custom program and you can design your own panels on their website. They've made the process wonderfully simple and you can order a sample of your original design right there.


The panels come in six thicknesses, 1/16", 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2". And their end uses seem to be limited only by the designers who specify them.


The images I'm showing here are the lobby of my beloved Cinebistro in Tampa, but I can see these Veritas™ ResinArt™ panels used as shower doors, room dividers, ceiling panels, interior windows, privacy screens... the mind reels. Check out Veritas™ ResinArt™ architectural panels on their website and be sure to look through their photo gallery.


20 May 2010

Keep your eye on Christopher Peacock's new designs

Attention trend watchers, keep and eye on Christopher Peacock and his new contemporary direction. The man is a genius. Just as demand for knock offs of his Refectory kitchen starts to gain real traction. Just as cabinet manufacturers all over double up their ability to paint cabinetry white. Just as smart set embraces what's variously called the all-white kitchen, he goes in a new direction.

Here's the Refectory people have been swooning over for the last couple of years.


Clearly, the man grows tired of doing the same thing every day and good for him. Here's what he's working on these days, Christopher Peacock Contemporary.






Mark my words designers, in three years, these are the eclectic, contemporary designs your clients will be asking for.

Some notes and observations about LED lighting in bath design

Check out these LED-equipped shower heads.





They seem to be all the rage and the design press dutifully repeats what they're fed by the manufacturers. "Chomatherapy is good!" "Light is therapeutic!" "Colored lights will heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk again!"

Hogwash, all of it.

What no one seems to be willing to say is that these showers are tacky. Multi-colored LEDs are tacky. There I said it.

Multicolored LEDs belong in theme parks, not in homes. The surest way to ruin a perfectly lovely modern bath design is to install one of these things.

19 May 2010

Thirty pieces of silver

Rembrandt: Judas Returns the 30 Pieces of Silver

OK, I received two, count 'em, two offers for paid links and or posts today. By that I mean someone would pay me somewhere between $50 and $100 in exchange for a positive review in a post or even a link in my "Links I like Section."

I have never engaged in this behavior and I get approached at least once a day by someone dangling an offer. I think it's sleazy so I don't do it. I don't think I'm some kind of a moral guardian about it, but I like the idea of having my readers be able to tell what's my real opinion and what's a sponsored opinion.

Now, it's true that I accept products and I've been on more than my share of trips I didn't pay for. But I never accept anything as a quid pro quo. I have a cushy relationship with Brizo but I liked their faucets long before I met anyone associated with the brand. If they came up with a real dog I would say so. I don't feel compromised by my association with them, mostly because they don't expect me to treat them with kid gloves.

Accepting money to endorse a product I don't believe in seems different to me, less forthright. When someone sends me a book or a faucet and I review it, I say "Taunton Press sent me a review copy of [fill in the blank]." Accepting something and disclosing it to my readers keeps me on the stright and narrow so far as I'm concerned.

But the point of these paid posts is for me not to disclose that money changed hands. The expectation is that I'll write an endorsement that comes across as legitimate and honest.

That's the difference in my book. I'm writing this because I'm curious to hear how other people handle it. I'm turning down a not-insignificant amount of money these days but I worry that once I say yes the first time it'll just get easier to keep saying yes. Once I'm on that slide downhill I'll never regain something resembling integrity.

Of course, there are people who say I lost my integrity the first time I got on an airplane and flew somewhere to meet a vendor. For the record, that was Google in February '09.

I don't think I've lost anything, but it is a balancing act.

What do you guys think? How do other bloggers balance whoredom with integrity?

What happens when the lights go out in Spain?


Check this out. The Tau Advanced Group rolled out the ultimate showstopper at Cevisama last February. Cevisama is the annual showcase for the Spanish tile, surfaces and bath industries. 79,000 people were in Valencia two months ago and all 79,000 of them stopped in their tracks when Tau asked and then answered the question, "What happens when the lights go out in Spain?' Watch this.

This is an ordinary looking floor, right?


Well, watch what happens after dark.


The process Tau pioneered is called Afterdark and it's a resilient surface treatment that absorbs light in direct proportion to a light source's intensity. After it's exposed to intense light, it glows brightly. After exposure to less intense light, it glows less intensely.

Afterdark isn't a gimmick but a genuine break through in the way cities can think about light. Afterdark is intended for use in public spaces and as sheathing for buildings. In a subway station, emergency lighting that requires no power to operate could be a life saver. Where I think it will prove its worth is when it's used on the exterior of a building. Imagine the energy savings if a building's exterior architecture or its signs required no electricity to light up a skyline.

In a situation like a nightclub, Afterdark's responsive luminescence could make for interactive lighting installations. Check this out.


Here's an example of Afterdark in mid glow. If you take a penlight, you can write on the tile with the beam and the tile will absorb the light energy from the penlight and glow back more brightly.


Somebody wrote "Tau" with a penlight here and the name will glow like this for hours. I can see a wall covered in Tau's Afterdark in a restaurant or a club and every night it could feature a drawing. Or patrons armed with penlights could cover the wall with what ever moved them. What a great idea!

Glow in the dark stuff has been around for ages, but I don't think anyone's ever thought of a real, practical application for it. At least not one like this. So what happens after the lights go out in Spain? Coolness happens, that's what.

Check out the rest of Tau CerĂ¡mica's offerings on their website.
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