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  • Design Icon: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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    S. R. Crown Hall, 1956

    This week we celebrate the birthday of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, "father of modern architecture." In observance of his brilliance, let's take a look at his most notable accomplishments.

    Crown Hall (above), located in Chicago, was completed in 1956 during Mies's tenure as director of Illionois Institute of Technology's Department of Architecture. This design features industrial simplicity with exposed steel frame construction.

    Famous modern architecture

    Farnsworth House is a one-room weekend retreat built in Plano, Illinois. It is brilliantly designed to be one with the landscape. The glass panels and white painted steel construction are so simple and elegant, it's the perfect design aesthetic for a weekend home.

    Famous modern architecture

    The Barcelona Pavilion was completed in 1929 for the International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. Seamlessly merging structure with water, Mies selected marble, red onyx and travertine to create this stunning structure. Such extravagant materials contrasts this beautifully simple structure.

    In addition to Mies's profound accomplishments in architecture, he also designed modern furniture and his furniture is just as well known. For example, the Barcelona chair and ottoman (below). This noteworthy pair, inspired by ancient campaign and folding chairs, is made of steel with a chrome finish and leather upholstery. Like the Barcelona Pavilion, it was also designed for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. Mies designed much more sleek furniture which has been inspiring furniture design ever since, such as stylish ergonomic office chairs.

    Modern lounge chair and ottoman

    Tuesday would have been Mies's 126th birthday.

    Images: Wikipedia, Paul J. White

  • Acrylic Elements in Interior Design

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    Hotel Lobby Glass Roof Hardwood Floors

    My love for acrylic in interior design started with a stay at the Hudson Hotel in New York a few years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. I think acrylic is the perfect contrast against natural materials. It adds life and light without being too heavy or dominating. It's a perfect element of the unexpected whether it be clear or colored. It mixes perfectly with modern interiors and contrasts beautifully with traditional. Here are some amazing interiors to prove it!

    Concrete Porcelain Tile Floors Wood Table with Acrylic Chairs

    The clear acrylic chairs work well with the natural elements of this kitchen and breakfast room. By being visually unobtrusive they make the space feel larger and the modern lighting make a statement.

    Slab wood dining table acrylic chairs slat wood on fireplace with red laquer surroung

    The fireplace is the main focus of this space and the acrylic chairs do a great job of complimenting that. I love how the fireplace can be seen through the chair at the end of the table. Mixing transparent orange chairs and clear chairs is also a nice touch in this modern organic space.

    Modern Living Room shades of gray with acrylic sofa table and silver lamps with black shades

    This table let's the chrome lighting make the statement and let's the floors shine through. It really brings light into this rich setting.  

    Smoky Gray Acrylic armchairs on stone floor leading outside to patio

    The sleek and smoky outdoor dining chairs are perfect in this slightly rustic setting that opens up to the exterior.

    Black Acrylic Chair on Gray hardwood floors and white walls

    This black acrylic chair can stand all on it's own. It is the perfect accent in any space.  

     

    Images: Hudson Hotel, DecorPad, Arkimom, Design Indulgences

  • Open Shelving In The Kitchen

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    Open shelving in the kitchen

    One very hot trend right now is open shelving, but it's a little more than a trend I believe... This design method is great for saving space and adding many more platforms (literally) for home decor options. This clean modern kitchen (above) uses the open shelving for accents and the opportunity to bring in other materals, such as those gorgeous wood bowls. Having the combination of cabinets and open shelving is also a good idea so you can keep the less attractive items behind closed doors. But don't hide your ceramics just because they don't match, sometimes those make the best accessories!

    Kitchen with open shelving and dark walls

    You can't deny that the dark wall in this kitchen is perfect for accentuating the open metal shelves and everything on them. The stainless steel material was a great choice to keep the storage sleek and not too heavy.

    Large artwork in kitchen

    This modern kitchen does a great job of mixing materials. Spanish tile, warm woods and sleek stainless steel work together to create an eclectically modern kitchen with super cool open shelving. What a beautiful idea to open up the bottom cabinests and create shelving while keeping the walls free for art!

    Yellow kitchen

    You can add color with the shelves in addition to the accessories you place on them. The clean white tile and floors really make the love for yellow pop in this kitchen. Modern barstools are a nice addition for keeping this space functional. To see more yellow in the kitchen, be sure to read Annie's post - It is Always Sunny in a Yellow Kitchen.

    If you decide to implement these ideas in your space, notice how in each image only the more attractive accessories are displayed on the shelves and the rest are tucked away behind closed cabinets. Scales and colors are also important, but often times a difficult balance. Once you find the perfect combination, you'll see how open shelving can be a great way to maximize your space and look very cool doing it.

    Images: Live, Apartment Therapy, Revel, House & Home

  • Avant-Garde Art in the Home

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    Polka dot installation art

    For most of us, art plays a central role in our homes. It speaks to our interests, our ideals, and in a very visceral way, to the core of who we are. And yet, as much as we might love a Jeff Koons balloon dog or a Damien Hirst stuffed shark at the museum, how many of us are game for bringing the truly avant-garde into our homes?

    For serious art collectors, art rules the home. Some see their homes overrun by their collections. Others build homes specifically with their art collections in mind. Some will actually see their homes become the art itself, as in the image above, in which artist Yayoi Kusama transformed a home in Australia with polka dot stickers...to the children's delight of course.

    The Sapphire Gallery in Los Angeles was designed as a home addition by XTEN Architecture to house the owner's art collection. Mixed in with the artwork is a tasteful blend of furniture and contemporary lighting fixtures.

    Contemporary art in the home

    Contemporary art galleries benefit from clutter-free interiors when they show new work. Real life doesn't always allow for that, however. When their son outgrew his childhood toys, Manhattan Beach collectors Homeira and Arnold Goldstein commissioned artist Simon Ouwerkerk to build a sculpture out of them to be hung from the ceiling. You'll notice that recessed lighting is used discreetly throughout the home to showcase the rest of their extensive art collection.

    Toy sculptures

    Maybe you want to commission the artist for your clutter too? Here's a detail shot of Ouwerkerk's work recently at Garboushian Gallery in Beverly Hills.

    Toy art installation

    New York gallery owner Paige West's Tribeca home is a stunning testament to her profession. Contemporary art pieces, fresh colors and interesting wall treatments combine well to make a pretty good case for living with the art she sells.

    Art in the home

    We may not all have the means to erect temples to house our contemporary art collections (nor the means to amass a substantial art collection), but I'd like to think it's possible to look beyond purely decorative art and instead collect and display the art you really love - no matter how avant-garde it is - in even the most traditional interiors. As long as you love the piece, you'll want to live with it, right? So the saying goes anyway.

    Images: Freshness Mag, FreshomeLos Angeles Times, Garboushian GalleryThe Cool Hunter

  • The Future of the Kitchen Island

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    Automatic Wood Kitchen Island Top

    Next week I will be off to Milan for EuroCucina 2012 and will be drooling over all of the latest and greatest in the kitchen world. I keep asking myself what's next? What am I expecting? What do I want to see? Besides the new finishes and door styles I'm really looking forward to the technology and sculptural elements of the kitchen. I have a feeling I will see a lot of this happening in the kitchen island. The kitchen island in many open plan kitchens is an entire workstation in itself that needs to be beautiful in aesthetic and function like a machine.   

    Automatic Wood Kitchen Island Top and Exposed Bulb Pendant Lights

    This sliding top by Minimal is a perfect solution for the functional and modern island. This wood slab top slides forward to reveal an induction cooktop and a Corian counter with integrated sink. As it slides out it creates the perfect seating/workstation combination, but when it closes it's a beautiful linear block concealing all the functional aspects of the modern kitchen. The kitchen above is a great example of how island pendant lighting can take the center stage in a minimal space. I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot more mechanical devices integrated into island tops in 2012.

    T-Shaped Kitchen Island with floating cabinets

    This stainless steel workstation by Toyo Kitchen stands on its own quite nicely. The sculptural and functional elements unite in such a way that create a very powerful and elegant presence. All the plumbing and electrical is hidden with the central stainless steel column which allows the cabinetry to float through the space. The INO Leone line is a work of art. I'm looking forward to seeing some beautiful sculptural elements in the kitchen.

    Samsung Galaxy Tablet integrated into sleek black countertop

    Modern Kitchen Island and Samsung Galaxy Tablet integrated into sleek black countertop

    This futuristic kitchen from Toncelli takes user experience to an entirely different level. This sleek countertop features a sliding cutting board and built in Samsung Galaxy Tablet for this technologically advanced world. I'm looking forward to seeing some really smart kitchens.

    Modern Kitchen with Table cooking areas composte

    Modern Kitchen with 4 workstations: compost/harvest, preparing, cooking, and eating

    The Rehilete Kitchen designed by Agent for Mabe appliances explores the kitchen in an entirely new way. It's based on the understanding of using the kitchen as a cycle. Agent’s concept contains 4 stations (or “wings”), which are intended to have dedicated functions, as part of the kitchen cycle: compost/harvest, preparing, cooking, and eating. It allows the architect to envision the space in an entirely new way by truly designing from the inside out and beyond the use of walls. The wood dining table and white dining chairs truly soften up the composition to create a soft contrast and functional surface against the stainless steel and Corian tops. Who doesn't want a kitchen with everything at their fingertips? I'm looking forward to seeing some very thoughtful kitchens in 2012!

    I can't wait to share all the treasures from Milan with you in the next couple weeks!  

    Images: Trendir,  MocolocoAgent

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