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LBL Batons Satin Nickel Suspension Pendant Light
“When lighting looks like art, you know you have a winner!”
- D. Shultz, Interior Designer
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When we speak of design, we often refer to architecture, furniture and graphics, but rarely do we talk about letters. "Typeface" is a typography term that refers to the visual characteristics of a set of letters and numbers, and no typeface is more universally used, imitated, loved and loathed than Helvetica. A Google image search of the word Helvetica speaks volumes of its iconic place in 20th century communication design. What is is that makes this typeface so ubiquitous?
Developed in 1957 by Swiss designer Max Miedinger, Helvetica is the Modernist's dream - a sans serif typeface that eschews ornamentation for clean, crisp function. And it can be found absolutely everywhere.
On the New York City subway:
In the mark of some of the world's largest corporations:
And all over the place in graphic designer tributes such as this one (clearly inspired by the Russian artist Kasmir Malevich):
It arouses a range of emotions among designers. Some love it. Some don't:
Some imitate it. It's younger cousin Arial (developed in 1982), has been packaged with Microsoft operating systems since 1992 and is one of the most widely used computer fonts today.
I'll admit, the more I look at Helvetica, the more I start to notice that the same rules that dictate good typography apply to good design as well. You don't have to go far to see it, we have some on our website. Check out some of these fixtures below. There's the variable shaped bowl of Helvetica's "d" and "b" that reminds me of this Lite Source Kito Green Table Lamp:
And there are the straight, flattened finials at the top of both the Helvetica letter "t" and this Possini Euro Design Triple Column Wood Table Lamp:
I'm not suggesting that one influenced the other, but it is fun to note how the formal rules that govern typeface design are very much at play in the larger design world. The Modernist design principles that informed the creation of Helvetica are as ubiquitous as the the typeface itself.
Love it, hate it, use it, or don't. Whatever your reaction to Helvetica, one thing is certain: it's everywhere.
Images: AM Design Perspectives, Thirteen, Thomas J. Quinn, DeviantArt, Roberto Blake, Whitezine, Penny Finder,
As you know, here at ESL we are modern design enthusiasts, which is usually what we like to talk about. However, today we're going to acknowledge someone who enjoys going back in time to truly understand today's favorite modern elements. JF Chen is a curator of antiques with showroom locations in Los Angeles. Chen is not shy to say, his general collecting parameters include an unrelenting addiction to mid-century modern Danish. His collections are endless and his knowledge of what defines a classic is not to be rivaled.
He greets architects, designers, celebrities and design aficionados daily, helping them find what they're looking for, but making sure to stay out of designing their projects. He explains in an interview " I don't know how to sell, but I sure know how to buy".
Chen has recently published a book, "Collecting Eames" (above) surveying the iconic modern designs of Charles and Ray Eames. Upon debut of the book, he also held an exhibit at his showroom. I am, of course, very sad I did not know about this sooner.
The Eames chair he decided to use on the cover of his book is one of most rare Eames chairs in existence. Recently sold for low six figures, it was a prototype high-back armchair designed by the Eameses and Eero Saarinen in 1940-1941 for the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition.
This business is a family affair, Chen seen here (above) with his wife and two daughters. Like in any industry, the more you love what you do, the better you are at it. However, with Chen the saying might also be the more you love Eames, the more you collect.
It's important to develop your own aesthetic and favorite products, whether they are modern or a combination of different styles. But sometimes it's also fun to know where those designs came from and truly understand their form and function.
To learn about another Eames lover, be sure to check out this video with Ice Cube.
Images: 1stt Dibs, Exl Deal, Architecture Digest
Wishing you all a Happy 4th of July! Whatever it is you choose to do just remember to have fun, relax, and be safe!
Spending time with family and friends in the backyard is always one of my favorite ways to spend Independence Day and this outdoor cabana seems perfect for it!
Za Bor Architects developed this project for a popular TV show called, Dachniy Otvet, meaning The Village Talks. Unfortunately the TV show was not filmed at my home... I will have to find an equally cool backyard to celebrate Independence Day.
The concept behind this reality show intrigues me and this architecture definitely brings new meaning to outdoor cabana. The show invites designers and architects to re-design parts of a home for selected home-owners that agreed to participate in the show. These home-owners wanted somewhere to spend more quality time outdoors. The white tinted wood creates fourteen planes that are attached together, forming this nautical shape. The result is an outdoor structure, perfect for BBQ'ing.
Red lighting fixtures, or any color for that matter, bring so much dynamic energy into any dining area while modern white dining chairs keep the space very clean, allowing nature and colorful accents to stand out.
The second part to the structure houses the outdoor kitchen. The char-grill is made of brick and steel and is sure to cook up a killer BBQ!
BBQ until the sun goes down, then turn on the modern outdoor lighting. This sculpture is sure to turn into a artistic light installation after sundown...
The architect’s concept for the construction is "transparency and openness which inspires a contact between man and nature".
Hope you get to spend some time outside today... Happy Independence Day from the ESL team!
Images: Do You Love Where You Live
All last week we provided you with our team's recaps and experiences at the Dwell on Design event. We wrapped it all up yesterday with Annie's post about the Sander Architect's Green House. Today, I'd like to start back at the beginning and talk about what I discovered on my way to the event...
I had to pick up a friend at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and then head over to the convention center not too far away for the Dwell on Design event. Since L.A. traffic is always unpredictable, I arrived about thirty minutes early and was wondering where I would wait. I drove maybe 100 yards past Union Station and found a large, modern looking structure with the word "bakery" on it. Perfect.
Not only did I have the best powder-sugar almond crousant, but I made an incredible discovery. Homeboy Industries is a non-profit organization, founded by a Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle, which helps former gang members and recently incarcerated youth rebuild their future and their life. It is the largest gang intervention program in the country.
It provides programs designed to meet multiple needs, such as counseling, tattoo removal and education. There are also four businesses that serve as job-training sites, such as the bakery where I stopped in that morning. The first thing I noticed when I walked in, besides the fact that it was packed, was the energy level... It was so positive and it was everywhere.
Through various charities and profits earned from the bakery and cafe (which just sold their first products to the Ralphs grocer chain), Father Greg Boyle provide and his organization are able to provide second chance opportunities, most importantly hope for change.
For more information you can visit their website.
Images: DB, KCET, Homeboy Industries
One of the many beautiful projects in this year's Dwell on Design Home Tours line up was Sander Architect's Green House pair. This set of townhouses on one single lot face each other over a drivable courtyard. They are very similar in appearance, yet not identical. Both buildings are wrapped in a skin of 1" x 2" aluminum edges that give it a very distinct appearance, but also act as a shade screen throughout the day.
This pair is what Whitney would call a Hybrid House. "This is a new type of house that we have developed, using a prefabricated metal frame, skin and roof. We have achieved unprecedented economies by using prefabricated building (warehouse) fabricators to manufacture the most expensive parts of the houses at a fraction of the normal costs. We have also achieved unprecedented scale."
The windows are wrapped in the same material used for bus graphics, which allows the home owners to see out, but no one to see in. What a brilliant idea! The custom pattern was designed to reflect the surrounding environment.
They photographed a tree and blew up the image so each building looks as though the the trees are reflecting in the windows. This organic element brings a lot of character to these ultra modern homes.
The front townhouse faces the street and features a quaint zen garden for a front yard. The concrete floors blend with the natural stone wall to create a very calm and peaceful area, filled with lots of natural sunlight. Simple organic wood furniture paired with these modern materials create a great balance in an industrial style space.
What a stunning kitchen! The dark oak Italian kitchen cabinetry contrasts perfectly with the concrete floors, while the two-story oxidized metal panels dominate the space.
The second floor living room features a glass railing and glass walkway which overlooks the kitchen. Modern glass dining tables are a great choice for an open plan. From above the dining table basically disappears.
The soft industrial aesthetic of this modern dining table (below) will help you get this look in your home.
Zuo Plume Clear Glass Modern Dining Table
The contemporary chandelier adds an elegant touch to the industrial space and brings the organic elements of nature indoors.
If you love the chandelier, but aren't one of those lucky enough have these gorgeously high ceilings, a shorter capiz shell pendant would work beautifully in your space.
Dolce Capiz Shell 25" Wide Pendant Chandelier
Many innovative green materials were used throughout this entire project, including passive heating and cooling, natural daylighting, shade screens, bamboo flooring, green cabinetry, and recycled glass countertops.
There were many amazing homes on the the Dwell Home Tour schedule and this is just one of them! I hope you had a chance to check them all out! But if not, there's always next year.....
Images: Sander Architects
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