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  • Landscape + Art = Modern Design Inspiration

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    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. 

  • Modern Design With Ikat

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    Modern Design

    Oh, ikat. It's the one trendy pattern that still, after all this time, I still can't get enough of. Among those of us who love modern design, there's no room this pattern doesn't make better.

    Modern Living Room

    Maybe it's because there are so many different color variations and patterns within the designation of ikat that no matter what your style, the room type, or mood, there's probably an ikat to fit the occasion.

    Modern Dining Room

    I'm loving the simple pops of ikat in the bedroom (top image) which is perfectly brought in with throw pillows, as well as the dramatic upholstery job on the dining chairs (above). And stunning chandeliers never hurt the modern design of any space!

    ESL has you covered if you're in the market for a little dash of ikat, from lamp shades to pillows. Here are a few of my favorite pillows.

    Moder Pillows

    1. Tribal Ikat Canvas Pillow 2. Leopard Print Ikat Pillow 3. Butterfly Ikat Canvas Pillow 4. Chevron Ikat Canvas Pillow 5. Kite Square Ikat Pillow 6. Bardot Tribal

    Images:  A. Malson Interior Design, Dawna Jones Design, LRI Designs, Cynthia Lynn Photography

  • Cool + Collected 1.24

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    Modern Bedroom

    Cool + Collected is our regular Friday post covering modern lifestyle topics from around the globe. You'll find everything from design icon biographies to modern art, photography and architectural surprises. And of course modern design! Starting in April, we will switch it up a bit and only do a link round up 1x/month. It's new name will be Design Spotlight. Stay tuned...

    +We encourage you to take a look at this super cool home on Emmas Design Blogg. It's modern, edgy and just plain rad.

    +Do you know what's even cooler than sustainable, green design?.... Tracking it! This new project for a high rise in Century City, California has an entire website dedicated to real-time environmental display.

    +Are you an animal lover, but don't love the tacky furniture for pets? Check out Home Made Modern for a fun and easy DIY project. This is the coolest dog house we've ever seen.

    +You have not seen architecture like this, we promise! It's the Chinese Coin House by Juan Carlos Menacho Durán.

    +We have some buzz for you and to be honest, it's just us bragging a little. We've partnered with some great design bloggers and we're pretty proud of it. Read the full article here.

  • Gender Neutral Design For Kids Rooms

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    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

  • Mid-Century Modern Homes

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    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,

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