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  • Urban Gatherings: L.A. Art Walk

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    black and white photography

    People often complain that Los Angeles is so spread out and impersonal. Arguably, it might be and there is no denying it. However, there are certain events that occur throughout the city in an effort to distance itself from such an apathetic reputation. Rather than condemning the vastness of our overpopulated city, we should embrace its variety.

    The Downtown Art Walk is a free, self-guided public community event bringing together art lovers and community friends. It takes place on the second Thursday of every month. Activities occur mostly in and around the galleries located on Spring and Main streets between 2nd and 9th streets. However, there are several art related events and openings, activities, and special programming that take place all over downtown.

    The small groups that form and the conversation that occurs outside each gallery, restaurant or bar, discussing a range of art and artists, is enough to make a large city seem small.

    modern art using watercolors

    Road Trip / Watercolor, ink, gouache on paper

    The art depicted above and below are from Ching Ching Cheng, a Taiwanese born, Los Angeles based artist who works mostly in sculptural mixed media and paintings. If you like what you see, you can find her work in the DAC Gallery, located on Main Street.

    modern art using gouache

    Tenement / Gouache, pen on paper

    modern art using ink

    Invisible / Watercolor, ink, pencil on paper

    modern art using acrylic

    Cell / Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper

    As Brent discussed recently in his post Commercial Design - Earmarking Public Art, art makes an impact not only on city urban planning and development, but it also makes a positive impact on the inhabitants of that city. Whether they're arriving at the airport and taking in the beauty of structural art or conversing with friends outside a gallery just before entering a local pub for more conversation over a drink....

    Images: LAist, Ching Ching Cheng

  • Sailing Style: Modern Yacht Interiors

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    modern yacht designs

    High style on the high seas is not just a fiction one finds in Bond movies. The following rundown of the best in modern yacht interiors suggests that good design sense need not be shore bound.  

    When looking for a custom boat interiors pro, Art collector Dakis Joannou commissioned famed artist Jeff Koons and interior designer Ivana Porfiri to outfit Guilty (pictured above and below), a colorful 35 meter yacht that is a floating homage to contemporary art and design. 

    yacht interior design

    Clear chairs maintain an uncluttered aesthetic - perfect for the limited space of a yacht. Get a similar look with clear outdoor dining chairs. This set by Zuo Modern (below) are perfect for the job. 

    modern transparent chairs

    Set of 4 Zuo Allsorts Transparent Outdoor Dining Chairs

    The Antigone 80 meter yacht (below) is a sleek concept yacht by Pama Design. In looking for a style that would integrate well with the surroundings, the designers turned to an aesthetic perhaps most suited to the flat expanse of the sea: the classic Modernist look.

    Mid century yacht design

    Use floor lamps and modern seating to replicate the signature style.

    arc modernist floor lamp

    Possini Euro White Marble Base Arc Floor Lamp

    Modern white chaise lounge


    A high style sense is not just limited to custom yachts. Houseboats may not be built for the open sea, but they're excellent spaces to get creative within. This houseboat (below) berthed in Oldenberg, Germany, is designed with a minimalist look. Synthetic materials can be used when possible to save weight.  

    European house boat design

    White lounge chair

    There are those, of course, who prefer to never leave shore at all. This boathouse in Ontario, Canada (below) is a stunning reason to forgo time on the water entirely.

    Contemporary boathouse design

    Sustainable vacation home design

    Designed by GH3 Architects, this is an efficient model. The house is sited on a granite slab, an ideal thermal mass for the solar radiation that passively heats the space. Louvers, ventilation and the lake-front location keep things cool in Summer. With a space like this, keeping your land legs beneath you just might be the best idea of all.

    Images: Hok Life, Tuvie, Home Designing, Contemporist

  • Saturday Night Live Sources Euro Style Lighting

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    SNL set design

    Check out this video from Saturday Night Live. It looks like they refer to Euro Style Lighting when they need a sleek, contemporary set design!

    Clean, white interiors are always a great option for achieving a modern aesthetic. Brushed steel or polished chrome is great finish for lighting fixtures to pair with modern white furniture.

    Interested in any of these stylishly modern products that SNL selected?

    Robert Abbey Anemone Ceiling or Wall Light, Brushed Steel Finish 59 3/4" High Floor Lamp, Zuo Modern Singular White Leatherette Sofa

    Video: Hulu

    Images: Euro Style Lighting

  • Plan Check: Industrial Restaurant Design

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     handwritten restaurant menu

    Plan Check Kitchen + Bar is a quaint little restaurant located in West LA's Little Osaka. Many of you might be familiar with this area for the sushi, but maybe you've frequented the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety on a regular basis to have your plans reviewed for permitting. The concept behind this restaurant design embodies the creative lifestyle of architects, designers, and developers that flock here on a regular basis.  

     modern restaurant patio

    The minimal industrial warehouse vibe of this gastropub has the laid back feeling of a corner general store or corner bar in any small town.The outside patio is very welcoming with its warm, minimal lighting aesthetic. Modern outdoor lighting paired with industrial awnings makes for a perfect L.A. evening hang out.  

     industrial interior

    The long communal tables are centrally located with an open bar on the left and sculptural wood booths to the right. The natural wood and metal tables do a great job of warming up the space. Poured concrete floors and industrial modern lighting fixtures consistently create a warehouse style interior.

    These gunmetal barstools paired with this bronze wall sconce are perfect for giving your space that feeling of an industrial warehouse.  

    industrial barstool

    Set of 4 Zuo Modern Marius Gunmetal Counter Stools

    industrial wall light

    Robert Abbey Iris Bronze Plug-In Swing Arm Wall Lamp

    menu design

    Even the menus look like a set of plans!  How great is that?  But really, what's so great about this place is the menu.  

     gourmet hamburger

    Umami Burger's, Chef Ernesto Uchimura, has created a menu of comfort food topped with things like bacon candy and ketchup leather and stuffed with things like bone marrow and swiss cheese fondue. You can't go wrong with anything on this menu.  

    Now you've got something to look forward to next time you're visiting the Department of Building and Safety!

    Images: Plan CheckGDX

  • 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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