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modern living + innovative design + inspiring ideas

  • Contemporary Organization: String Furniture

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    Gray shelving system

    Every modern space needs uniformity and one of the simplest ways to achieve contemporary organization is with stylish shelving. String Furniture offers lots of styles, perfect for any aesthetic. Their "string" system is minimal and open, ideal for adding decor to your walls without creating clutter.

    This sleek gray system (above) would be perfect for a loft with concrete floors. You could choose to keep the decor simple and neutral or give the space a color pop with some colorful accents or artwork.

    Walnut shelving

    This clean white system (above) with natural walnut shelves and doors is perfect for maintaining an open and fresh design. Natural wood furniture and rich metallic accents are perfect for white spaces.

    White shelving system

    Your home isn't the only place to execute cool organization skills. An office or studio can always using shelving so why not make it look good? When it comes to wall units, experimenting with uplights is always a fun idea and great way to highlight your decor.

    Dark modern walls

    There's no need to feel like you have to keep your walls bare and your furniture minimal in order to create a truly modern interior. However, organization is an important factor. Keeping your displays uniform and methodical is important. There's lots of great products out there to help you achieve your ideal modern space.

    Images: String Furniture

  • Shades of Gray in a Modern Bathroom

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    modern square bathtub

    Shades of Gray seems to be the "it" phrase right now among many woman of the world. Although they aren't talking about modern bathrooms, there just might be some similarities. There's something seductive and intimate about raw shades of gray in these bathroom designs. Some warm, some cool, some a bit wild, and some a little rocky. Combined, they create something fueled with an energy that's bound to intrigue you.

    The open-plan modern bathroom (above) uses porcelain wood floor tiles to make the space feel more like a living space, without the maintenance hassle. The frame-less glass shower in the center of the room is like a display case, unobtrusive to the beautiful materials around it. Lastly, the rhinos are a dynamic element, reminding you to appreciate the expansive bounty that surrounds us. "Surround yourself in cool comfort as the rhino does with his mud bath rituals. Again, let the rich abundance and stability of the mother (earth) enfold you and reassure you."

    organic stone walls in modern bathroom

    A sculptural masterpiece was created inside this 250 square meter apartment in Milan. Tiziana Serretta, a gallery owner who has dedicated her life to the arts, wanted to design something that was based on the principle of mobility and weightlessness. Such a dichotomy here, a cave-like design that looks so massive and solidbut has been made with such innovative materials that are nearly weightless.

    The smooth, solid white corian bathtub and sinks ground the space. These round, white elements appear to glow just like modern bath lighting as the skylight shines down from above.

    modern freestanding round bathtub

    Shades of gray (above) combine to create so much depth and interest in these custom made walls which are constructed from a mixture of chalk covered in resin, cement powder, chromatic pigments and non-hazardous plastics.  

    Concrete Walls indoors

    The strong contrast between rough concrete volumes and smooth white walls (above) add visual interest to this open-plan bathroom with a gorgeous sunken tub. Beautiful in it's simplicity and playful through its use of textures. Glass brings elegance into this sleek, organic design. 

    Combining chrome and glass accents with organic elements in a modern bathroom is a great way to establish the style of the space.

    Image Sources: Cara Valente Studio, Yatzer: The Futuristic Cave House, Yatzer: The Lik Houser

  • The Cutting-Edge Staircase

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    White modern staircase

    The most beautiful thing about design is turning something purely functional into something artistic, like the cutting-edge staircase. The challenge of course is maintaining the functionality and brilliant architects make a hobby out of this task.

    The modern staircase is something so fascinating and unique, like this organic design (above). It features natural-finish wood steps and no rise, resulting in a see-through look that is both fresh and open.

    Reclaimed wood stairs

    This staircase (above) is not only architecturally beautiful, but the use of reclaimed wood creates an industrial-chic statement piece. The use of wood as an architectural material or even as home decor is always a wonderful way to bring nature indoors.

    Stainless steel stairs

    The floating stair is so elegant, especially when designed in stainless steel. Selecting the right finish, whether it's architectural materials, modern lighting or furniture is so important.

    These are just three beautiful staircase designs. If you have the time and especially if you are currently designing your home, take a look around, research local architects.... You are sure to be inspired by how they merge function and design.

    Images: Eestairs, Trendir, Marvel Building

  • HD Expo: Modern Tile Trends for 2012

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    graphic tile patterns

    I made a quick trip to the HD Expo in Las Vegas last Thursday and even though I only had half a day there I sure did find some pretty amazing new products! I continue to be impressed by the innovative technology of Porcelain tiles. The patterns, textures, and finishes they are coming out with are just incredible. This iGattipardi Collection from Stone Source combines so many of my favorite elements. It looks like hand painted concrete tiles, but because they are made out of porcelain you won't ever have to seal them and you won't have to worry about maintenance. 

    graphic patterned porcelain tiles

    These bold graphic patterns (above) come in large format 24" x 24" tiles and when installed look more like a graphic art installation than tile!

    wallpaper patterned tile

    The Vera Rosa tile (above), from FAB Ceramiche looks like a precious vintage wallpaper, but with the durability of a ceramic tile. As you can see, if you still have pink tiles from the 60's, I would hold on to them becuase they're on their way back!

    Chrome Tiles

    Porcelanosa showcased their Sea Silver Tile (above), which is truly unique to the market. It's a porcelain tile with a soft undulating pattern that has been plated in Chrome. It's definitely a showpiece and would look great as an accent in so many applications. Sleek, modern bath lighting is a great accent against modern textured tiles.

    stone textured tile

    The Ona Beige tile (above) also from Porcelanosa looks and feels exactly like carved stone. Not only is it maintenance free, but a fraction of the price. You have to see this one in person to believe it!   

     textured black tiles

    Musicians merging into the design world seems to be the trend. Goccia by Lenny Kravitz for Lea Ceramiche (above) is a beautiful tile collection incorporating texture and movement into the living environment.

    white glossy ceramic tiles

     This series is only available in black and white, but I'm totally into that! 

    metal tiles

    As I learned from my trip to Milan recently, oxidized metal is about to become very popular in the kitchen and bath world. The Oxy Collection by Mirage (above) takes the look of oxidized metal one step further and incorporates painted steel sheet and metal oxidation, which allows lived-in corroded matter to define a new aesthetic. concrete tiles

    The Nolita Collection by Mirage (above) is a gorgeous expression of sophisticated urban style. The look of raw concrete mixed with subtle patterns, like X and O shown here, or bold comic patterns add a lot of personality to contemporary bathroom design. Modern chrome accents always have a way of adding elegance to any urban style setting.


    Image Source: Porcelanosa, FAP Ceramiche, Stone SourceLea CeramicheMirage 

  • Starchitect Modernist Service Stations

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    Foster & Partners modernist gas station

    When one thinks of the quintessential examples of Modernist design, one doesn't usually think of the roadside service station. And yet, look at the gas stations in almost any flyover town and you'll see the undeniable signature of modernist design philosophy: an emphasis on function, a simplification of form and a reduction of extraneous ornamentation. This philosophy is particularly well-suited to the gas station, a venue that ostensibly provides two services to the road-weary traveler: automobile re-fueling and restrooms.

    You'll see something else too: the insertion of brand identity directly into the architecture itself. Case in point: white, orange and red canopies serve as the focal point of Norman Foster's Repsol service stations throughout Spain. The design is directly in line with the brand's tri-color scheme. From a roadside standpoint, it is strikingly bold, broken up only slightly by the need for lighting fixtures overhead. In a case like this, recessed lighting does the trick discreetly and elegantly.

    Eliot Noyes Mobil stations

    Don't credit Foster with the canopy-as-branding concept however. The idea of branding a company through its physical touchpoints, especially in the case of the service station, goes back to industrial designer Eliot Noyes. Noyes began his career as a curator of industrial design at MoMA in New York, but later worked in the 1960s as a design consultant with IBM and Exxon Mobil. He is credited for creating Exxon Mobil's iconic round gas station canopies (below), providing a memorable modernist touch to distinguish Exxon Mobil from the more traditional gas station designs scattered across the United States. 

    Aside from the company-wide design campaigns above, the last 60 years have also seen a handful of one-off service stations designed by some of the biggest names in architecture, including Mies van der Rohe, Albert Frey and Arne Jacobsen. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the gas station has attracted such starchitects. Modernism and the automobile shared a golden age for nearly 25 years from the late 1940s through the 1960s. 

    Los Angeles googie architecture

    Jack Colker's Beverly Hills Union 76 station (above) is an example of the space-age branch of Modernism common during this period known as Googie architecture. His design is a star in a city full of them.

    When the stars head east to Palm Springs for a winter getaway, they're greeted by a similar triangular themed Modernist design by Albert Frey (below).

    Albert Frey Palm Springs architecture

    No discussion of Modernism is complete however without mention of the great European designers. Mies van der Rohe's Nun's Island gas station (below) in Canada is a perfect example of his stark design style, unabashedly reminiscent of his iconic Seagram Building in Manhattan.

    Mies van der Rohe architecture

    Looking through these designs, you may have noticed that most architects have worked with simple fluorescent lighting fixtures. They're energy efficient and throw out plenty of light. But they're not the only option out there. This Texaco gas station (below) by celebrated Danish architect Arne Jacobsen in Skovshoved, Denmark, breaks the pattern with some beautiful streamline uplight wall sconces. Today, there are plenty of modern outdoor lighting products available to help you break the fluorescent tube trend. 

    Danish modern architecture

    The designs above span over half a century of Modernism. Looking to the future of gas station design, we return to Southern California, the center of global car culture to discover that visionary gas station design, and the belief that it can have a positive impact on brand identity, is still in full effect. The eco-friendly BP Helios House is doing its share to reverse much of the damage fossil fuels have caused in recent decades.

    The Helios House station is a model of sustainable design. It collects, filters and reuses water runoff; collects solar energy with 90 solar panels spread throughout the property; it's built from recycled and renewable materials; and it's designed with carefully planned angles and a rooftop drought tolerant garden to minimize urban heat island impact.

    Clearly there is reason to hope that, as cars look to be cleaner in the future, the stations that service them will too.

    Images: Foster & Partners, Flavorwire, Matchstic, Los Angeles Times, Architizer, We Are Private, Azure Magazine

May, 2012