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  • Concrete Living In An Urban World

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    Concrete home art photo

    Using concrete in your home will not only add aesthetic interest, but will also slash heating and cooling costs plus help preserve the environment. Concrete homes are durable, cost effective and super stylish.

    This concrete living room above balances both colors and materials well. The concrete provides a clean slate for the modern furniture and stylish home decor accessories, allowing this framed art to really pop. The sofa, area rug and pillow poufs add beautiful soft textures to this hard surfaced interior.

    Modern concrete home

    In the same way that concrete allows the interior decor to stand out, it also helps the surrounding landscape seem even brighter and more bountiful. While allowing the environment to be noticed, it is simultaneously helping to preserve it by allowing a more efficient lifestyle.

    Concrete home with colorful furnishings

    The design of this eclectically modern living room uses the surrounding concrete materials to its advantage, highlighting all of the gorgeous texture and color. The soft eggplant upholstery and jewel tone area rug stand out beautifully against the soft gray floor and walls. Handsome brass floor lamps, like the one seen above, provide another smart contrast while the lamp shade and coffee table add a pop of white.

    Modern concrete home with colorful door

    There's no reason the cool tones of steel, concrete and glass can't be warmed up on the exterior just like we've seen it done on the inside. This bright orange door adds both personality and warmth to this impressive modern home.

    Concrete walls with wood furniture

    One of the major benefits to concrete homes is the ability to furnish with lots of wood. In a typical hardwood-floor home, you might want to monitor how many furniture pieces or accessories are made out of wood, but not here. Go ahead and express your love for this natural material in all color tones and sizes.

    Whether you're a modernist at heart or you just enjoy clean design, concrete is a gorgeous material to use both inside and out.

    Image credit: Miss Design, Fresh Home, Analog Dialog, Trend Design Interior, Arent & Pyke   

  • Container Architecture: Popping Up in Your Neighborhood Soon

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    Container Architecture Retail Pop-Up Mall Boxpark

    So many goods are transported via container daily and these containers have shelf life just like everything else. After about 10 uses they can no longer be used and they end up piling up at ports all over. The use of shipping containers for construction is a brilliant idea. Although it is not the newest idea out there, innovative uses are popping up everyday and are taking the world by storm. Whether it be an entire shipping container mall with pop up retails shops, a restaurant opening up in Times Square, or hotel rooms inside a large warehouse. The simple construction allows these retail stores to pop up on almost any vacant urban lot for any amount of time. They are also continuing to be integrated into interiors of modern industrial spaces to reduce the construction costs, bring efficiency, and affordability to innovative green buildings. 

    Retail Pop-Up Mall and Boxpark

    Boxpark Shoreditch, said to be the world's first pop-up mall is constructed entirely out of recycled containers. 61 containers are combined to create a multi-level structure with spaces for both shopping and relaxing. This idea is wonderful for small businesses that cannot afford long leases and want to take an innovative approach into the market. Look for many more of these structures to be making an appearance in your neighborhood  in the very near future!

    Shipping Container Conference Room in Hotel Lobby.

    Shipping Container Conference Room

    25hours Hotel Hafencity in Hamburg, designed by Stephen Williams Associates, has used a shipping container in the lobby to enclose the conference center just off the main lobby. As you enter you feel like you're about to go on an adventure in a shipping warehouse beside the harbor in Hamburg. Everything from the plywood box desk, the industrial luggage trolleys, and industrial lighting make this destination a true adventure.

    Pop Up Restaurant Container Architecture Time Square Snackbox

    Pop-Up Restaurant Container Architecture

    Snackbox Pop-Up Restaurant

    Snack Box, designed by Aedifica, takes the food truck off its wheels and stations it in one the most iconic spots in the world. It is an entirely self-sufficient structure and after a long day in Times Square it can easily be closed up and moved on. The visual identity and branding allow the structure to have a bold presence in this saturated environment.   This is a true innovation for container architecture and usage in an urban setting.

    Shipping Container in Industrial Loft Space Guest Bedroom

    When this travel and art obsessed San Francisco couple bought the 3,200 square foot former Chinese laundry and tooth powder factory they knew that had to do something incredible with it. How do we create volumes and rooms in this space without breaking it up into individual spaces and blocking the natural light that shines through the unit? Shipping Containers....of course!

    Industrial Loft Space Guest Bedroom

    The original idea for the guest room in the middle of the space was a railroad car, but the shipping container quickly became the answer! Copper piping, industrial sconces, and teak accents evoke the utilitarian feel of the cargo. Everything about this space is perfect to me!  

    Reclamation Drive-Thru Starbucks Container Stores

    Even Starbucks has tapped into the container market. The Reclamation Drive-Thru container coffee shop is part of Starbucks new branding strategy to encourage green building, reduce operating costs, and continue to stay innovative in their approach to environmental design in retail. I like the direction that they are going.

    Images: Boxpark,  25hour Hotels, Design-Hotels, Arthitectural, Dwell, Business Insider

  • Part II: Avenue Interior Design

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    Modern business lounge area

    Trendy reading corner

    Yesterday, I introduced you to the fabulous ladies of Avenue Interior Design. If you missed the post, you can catch up here. There's no shortage of talent in this collaborative design team founded by Andrea DeRosa and Ashley Manhan. Their projects consist of a fun range including hospitality, residential, restaurants and night clubs.

    Modern business office

    Who What Wear Offices, Los Angeles (top three images) opened in April of 2011. This workplace has an open floor plan and looks super stylish. The eclectic combination of modern furniture and decor creates a unique look. The tall gold finish table lamps at every workstation are a nice detail. Here's what the girls had to say about this project:

    Andrea/Ashley:  Who What Wear is a fun fashion based website and after we were featured in Daily Candy in the spring of 2010, they asked us to design their offices. As you might expect, they were very savvy clients!

    Trendy lounge

    Trendy music lounge

    The Sayer’s Club, Hollywood, opened in Fall of 2011. The design delivers a chic look, creating a super cool place to hang out and listen to a band jam. The tufted leather sofas add elegance to this trendy hangout and the modern pendant lighting creates a mellow environment.

    Andrea/Ashley:  SBE Entertainment Group has made a name for itself in Los Angeles as having some of the hottest, most exclusive clubs in LA. Opened in the fall of 2011, the Sayer’s Club is no exception. The overall feel of the club is very relaxed, vintage, hip and industrial.

    Modern hotel lounge

    The Long Bar at the Borgata, Atlantic City opened in June of 2011. The sleek counter tops and textured wall coverings create a stylish place to mingle and relax. Here's what the girls had to say about the custom modern light fixtures developed for this project.

    Andrea/Ashley:  The client wanted a bar on the property that was modern, clean and casual. Previously, all the places to grab a drink on site where nightclubs or formal restaurants. The chandeliers were custom designed and were constructed of matte, black, acrylic domes with a hand applied gold leaf ‘interior’.

    Thanks again to the ladies of Avenue and good luck on all your future projects, which are sure to be amazing!

    Images: Avenue Interior Design

  • Schindler House: Recessed Lighting Magic in Modern Architecture

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    schindler house feature recessed lighting

    Walking through the historic Schindler House in West Hollywood this past Sunday, I discovered something amazing about recessed lighting: namely that something so hidden could look so amazing. 

    First a little history lesson: Austrian born R.M. Schindler worked under Frank Lloyd Wright and in 1920 was sent to Los Angeles to oversee the construction of Wright's Hollyhock house. In 1922 Schindler set up his own practice with the construction of his Kings Road House in West Hollywood.

    schindler house modern architecture

    Fast forward nearly one century to this past Sunday, and I found myself strolling through the nearly empty rooms of the house (now managed by the MAK Center, "a think tank art, architecture, urbanism, design, and international discourse") listening to the sound of reel-to-reel tape recordings in a sound art performance curated and produced by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS). The layered, eerie tape recordings were mesmerizing. But so was the space itself. 

    modern interior by schindler

    What struck me most was how the furniture-less rooms hardly seemed empty. There wasn't excessive ornamentation in the rooms (Schindler's work is philosophically absolutely opposed to that), yet there was an extraordinary sense of depth. Materials like wood and cement mixed beautifully in the rooms. Daylight didn't stream in per se; in fact, the space was designed such that it feels like daylight is allowed to enter by permission only.

    japanese inspired modern interior 

    Looking about, I noticed that, aside from two pendant lights in the main room, visible light sources were conspicuously absent. Instead, the entire home was lit tastefully by recessed lighting, giving it a dramatic, staged look. Subtle architectural details took on a new life under these tucked away lights.

    led recessed lighting fixture

    LR6 12 Watt LED 6" Recessed Light Module

    Sometimes the beauty of an object lies in what you don't see, as is the case with the Schindler House's lighting design. Modern energy efficient recessed lights stow away nicely, and an LED fixture (pictured above) in particular will produce relatively little heat. For a warmer, spotlight style like I found in much of the Schindler House, you might want to consider a halogen light (pictured below).   

    modern halogen recessed light

    Juno 4" Low Voltage Flush Gimbal Recessed Light Trim

    Some recessed lighting fixtures are adjustable as in the above, allowing you to swivel or tilt the light, and some are fixed...and as I recently learned, in the right space, they can all be stunning.

    Don't believe me? Check out the MAK Center website for upcoming events at the house. You won't be disappointed. 

    Images: Moby, Wikipedia, Markus Canter, Architecture Week

     

  • Commercial Design - Earmarking Public Art

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    santa monica place public art

    Over the last three decades, a growing number of public "percent for art" programs have transformed commercial design projects into city cultural stewardship projects. How?

    The concept is simple: for major commercial design projects (capital improvement projects and new developments), an increasing number of major cities require funders to earmark a set percentage of the overall budget for the purchase and installation of public art. Effectively, property developers become the arts benefactors and beautifiers of the cities within which they build.

    While not all public art pieces are universally a hit, most would argue they certainly intrigue. Pictured above is Cradle, a 2010 installation by Ball-Nogues Studio for the Santa Monica Place shopping mall in Santa Monica, California. 

    One of the earliest adopters of the percent for art concept, Chicago began asking developers to earmark 1.33% of project costs back in 1978. Weighing in at 100 tons, Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (nicknamed "The Bean") is a favorite in Millennium Park. 

    The Bean sculpture in Chicago

    The "Percent for Art" idea traces back domestically to the early 1960s and then chairman of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Michael von Moschziskerhe. As von Moschziskerhe explained to TIME magazine in 1962, "I said to the other four members that maybe we could let it be known that we would look with favor on bidders who offered to spend 1% of construction costs on frescoes, murals, bas-reliefs, mosaics, stained-glass windows, and fountains with statuary in or around them...Psychologists and efficiency experts now find that beauty increases productivity. It necessarily follows that true functionalism in man-made edifices must include artistic expression." 

    Visitors to Los Angeles will recognize the "pylons" at LAX. This kinetic installation of multi-color lights by Paul Tzanetopoulos is the result of the city's 1% for art program.

    LAX pylon light sculpture

    The distinctive pylon look can be adapted to the home with torchiere floor lamps.

    modern floor lamp designs

    Possini Euro Design Hybrid Torchiere Accent Light Floor Lamp

    Public art can be seen as a talking point, an eyesore, or a design centerpiece, as with Eclipse, a  40 foot high, 12-sided dodecahedron by artist Charles O. Perry located in the atrium Hyatt Regency in San Francisco's Embarcadero. I love the string lights hanging from the ceiling in the background. They remind me of the droplets on some of my favorite crystal chandeliers.

    interesting geometric public sculpture

    In the case of some public art, it can be so formally driven that it verges on looking functional. Can you tell which of the below is sculpture and which is a chandelier?

    (Hint: One is the Bowling Ball Curtain sculpture by Eung Ho Park; the other is the Possini Euro Floating Bubble 6-Light Round Ceiling Fixture)

    sculpted ceiling lights

    Public art infuses public spaces with color and interesting forms which inevitably become the common social and cultural bonds of a city.  

    Images: Ball-Nogues Studio, Art Observed, Daily NewsHyatt Regency, DM Contemporary

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