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modern living + innovative design + inspiring ideas

  • Mid-Century Modern Homes


    Mid Century Modern Homes

    Design makes everything better. At least that's the thinking that informs why so much of the modern world appears to be "designed." In architecture and home decorating, mid-century modern homes offered an egalitarian opportunity to apply design thinking to the masses.

    In the 1940s-50s, a handful of architects converged on the (then) affordable Southern California landscape to create cutting-edge tract home designs. Easy to build and cheap enough reproduce on a large scale, these concept homes represented a whole-hearted belief that modern design could revolutionize the way suburban families live. Open floor plans dominated the thinking of the day, sweeping floor lamps were all the rage, and modern pendant lights replaced the chandelier as the overhead lighting fixture du jour: 

    Mid Century Modern Living Room

    Chief among these inventive suburban tracts were Joseph Eichler's Balboa Highlands in Granada Hills. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Bazett House (which Eichler rented for a time), these homes were designed to allow in extra light and air through centrally located atria:

    Joseph Eichler House Atrium

    Architect Cliff May is one of the prominent designers of the long and low-slung ranch houses, a uniquely American style that fuses Modernist principles with the post-war ideal of living out West. The Californian homes of his Lakewood Rancho Estates exemplify the dream of high design at affordable prices, as you can see in this original sales brochure:

    Cliff May Rancho House Brochure

    Interiors of the Californian are tight, yet the high ceilings maintain a sense of openness, especially when accompanied by minimalist modern furniture:

    Interior Cliff May Californian

    Around the same time period, achitect Gregory Ain designed colonies of homes with his Mar Vista tract in Los Angeles and Park Planned homes in Altadena (pictured below). 

    Gregory Ain Park Planned

    In keeping with the aesthetic of the day, ceiling level skylights allowed sunlight to filter in. In both the original brochure photo above and in the present day photo below, using modern lamps and decor is the de facto way to fill the space.

    Gregory Ain

    Many designs informed by the classic ceiling lights you see in period photographs of these homes are still available today. Here are some of the popular designs we can help you with.

    modern pendant light

    Tech Lighting Pele White Glass LED Mini Pendant

    saucer shaped pendant lightPossini Euro Cocoon Matte White Pendant Light

    modern kitchen pendant light

    Three-Tier Shade Downlite Pendant Light

    Affordable design and the dream of high design at a populist price point motivated mid-century developers in much the same way that it fuels advocates of prefab and small space living today. Luckily, design is ultimately about problem solving. And if the same holds true today as it did for architects then, there is always a way to design the affordable dream home.

    Images: Los Angeles Magazine, Eller the Seller, Pasadena Star News, Rancho Style, Culture Spectator, Park Planned Homes,

  • From Outfit to Interior: Design Statement Circa 1970


    Design Statement

    Spring is here and Ms. 70s Statement is ready to take full advantage of all it has to offer! She's starting off with this strapless wide leg jumpsuit from Three Dots and going from there.

    Retro Modern Decor

    This Turquoise Glass Stupa Vase is vibrant and distinct, just like our lady. The color is said to have healing powers and provide a serene, healing aura – perfect for holding the few blooms she treats herself to each week.

    Ms. 70s Statement knows that turquoise and dark brown are a pretty color combo, so she perches her vase on this  Magnussen Allure Hazelnut and Glass End Table. The curvy base and glass top are a whimsical touch to her living room.

    Modern Decor

    A colorful Ikat Cyan and Coral Decorative Pillow or two gives her bed a bold pop of color, while the Modern Allegra Crystal Ball Possini Euro Arc Floor Lamp sets the mood with a dimmer switch from a nearby corner. Ms. 70s Statement loves the crystal and wire ball shades and the illustrious illumination.

    Modern TV Console

    This  Simon White Modern TV Stand is the perfect perch for her television and other media. The two drawers provide space to store Ms. 70s Statement's favorite movies and remotes, while the high-gloss finish gives it that extra something she looks for in pieces for her home.

    Image: Bloomingdales

  • Frank Gehry: Bringing the Art To Architecture


    Modern Architecture

    Frank Gehry is onto something again as he tries to bring a major museum into the City of Santa Monica. His proposed project is a mixed use structure with a 125-room hotel, condos, a museum, shopping, restaurants and of course parking. Santa Monica could use a little bit of excitement and who better to bring it than the Santa Monica native Frank Gehry? I can just see the modern furniture and stylish modern lighting filling the spaces and the streets lined with modern architecture and sculptures.  

    Architectural Model

    One of the amazing things that Frank Gehry does is mix architecture, art and culture into one. His projects are a destination waiting to be explored. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (above) is the largest museum in a series of cultural institutions planned as part of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. It will serve the world as a destination for the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of culture through the arts.

    Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

    The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (above) is scheduled for completion in 2017 and it will no doubt be a pleasure for the now 84 old Frank Gehry to see such a remarkable project completed.

    Frank Gehry Architecture

    Gehry has designed more than fifty commercial buildings and residences throughout the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Disney Concert Hall (above), the Los Angeles Children’s Museum, the California Aerospace Museum and the Yale Psychiatric Institute just to name a few.

    He also renovated the famous Hollywood Bowl by adding fiberglass spheres which hang from the bowl’s shell to upgrade the sound of the acoustics.

     Modern Lighting

    And did you know he has also designed a series of modern pendant lighting called "Cloud" (above). The name evokes the poetic nature of these creations, which should convey the feeling of freedom and eccentricity.

    Who doesn't want to add a feeling of freedom and eccentricity into their home? One of the best ways to do that is through modern lighting, whether it be a ceiling light or a pendant!  Take a look at some of our suggestions below.

    Close to Ceiling Light

    Planetarium Chrome Ivory Fabric Possini Euro Ceiling Light

    Modern Aluminum Pendant Light

    Aluminum Lotus 16 1/2 Inch Possini Euro Design Pendant

    Modern White Pendant Light

    White Billowing Cloud Possini Euro Pendant Chandelier

    Now we can all bring a little bit of Frank Gehry into our homes or office.

    Images: Curbed LA,  A As Architecture, DilznackaModern Design

  • Landscape + Art = Modern Design Inspiration


    Modern Design Inspiration

    When we think of landscape design, we usually consider the interplay of foliage, hardscape features and outdoor lighting. A water feature may play into the mix too, but rarely do we consider art work or finding any type of usable modern design inspiration.

    LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division), a non-profit founded in 2009 challenges the notion of how we use and program public and outdoor spaces by curating temporary installations and performances of contemporary art work. From an astrological mapping in the Southern California desert to a car horn symphony orchestrated across Los Angeles, LAND's happenings force us to look at our interaction with space in different and often inspiring new ways.

    Miami Art Installation Adler Guerrier

    Perhaps most interesting among these exhibitions is the island (pictured throughout this post), a short-term, site-specific installation that plays with the fantasies and realities of being marooned on a desert island. For this single day exhibition held in conjunction with Art Basel Miami 2010, guests were boated to an island and induced to trek through sand, tropical plants and the water itself to discover artwork.

    Open Container Hanna Liden

    While the artwork was arranged like detritus drifted upon a shore, the effect was stunning. The relationship between the natural and the artificial was brought into dramatic relief.

    Bozidar Brazda Mess Age

    Participating artists included: Bozidar Brazda, Stefan Brüggemann, Scott Campbell, Brody Condon, Naomi Fisher, Michael Genovese, Luis Gispert, Adler Guerrier, Terence Koh, Kate Levant and Michael E. Smith, Hanna Liden, Justin Lowe, Kori Newkirk, Jack Pierson, Marina Rosenfeld, David Benjamin Sherry, and Rona Yefman. The exhibition was curated by Shamim M. Momin, Director/Curator, Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) and Aaron Bondaroff/Al Moran, Creative Directors, OHWOW.

    Stefan Bruggemann Installation Art

    Myakka Art Naomi Fisher

    Despite its highly conceptual approach, there are a number of design take-aways from the exhibition. What is our relationship with the outdoors? How do we design outdoor spaces in which the manufactured complements the organic rather than fighting with it? How can we develop our open and public land in a way that is sustainable and even regenerative

    These are the questions landscape architects and homeowners alike are asking, and with a growing interest in such mechanisms as energy efficient LED lighting, solar powered fountains, recycled materials and climate tolerant gardening, the land of the future promises to be a bright one indeed. 

  • Gender Neutral Design For Kids Rooms


    Kids Room

    Gender neutral rooms are becoming more and more popular and I have to say, I love it! They are fantastic if you have multiple children of both genders sharing a room or even just if you don't want your child's room to look too girly or all boy.

    This room (above) is my dream kids room. The colors really pop against the black and white scale, don't they? Notice that the pillow on the bed has pink in it, but it doesn't look too feminine because the gray scale and other subdued colors balance it out. I absolutely love it. Colorful pillows are always a great way for adding extra details.

    Gender Neutral Colors

    The trick is to use colors that work for either sex, obviously. But you also want to include neutral tones like gray or white as the base for the walls or even the majority of the furniture. If you have a blue dresser or a pink light fixture, it makes it a lot harder to get the gender neutral look. This nursery (above) is a great example of using white as the base color and then adding fun pops of color that aren't overwhelmingly boy or girl.

    Yellow Kids Room

    And this shared nursery is so fun. They used a neutral tone for the walls and then white furniture but then used yellow and orange for most of the decorations. It's bright and cheery and totally gender neutral. You'll also notice that there are more feminine and masculine elements incorporated too. Just because the overall room is gender neutral, doesn't mean everything in the room has to be!

    Images: Weekday Carnival, Apartment Therapy, Melissa Esplin

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