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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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Not since the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th century and its most prominent advocates (including landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York's Central Park) have designers, policy-makers and the public embraced ambitious landscape designs for public spaces. Today, as the world's foremost designers are joining efforts for the task of creating new urban green spaces, a few challenges arise: How to incorporate hardscape with landscape? How to design attractive drought-tolerant landscaping? What are the best practices in outdoor lighting? And with those challenges come solutions that each of us can apply to our own private green spaces.
The following six projects represent the vanguard of thinking in outdoor design. The first three are already completed; the second three may never break ground, but represent visionary thinking nonetheless in the greening of public space.
The Elevated Park - High Line Park, New York City
Manhattan's famous High Line park (above) opened in 2009. It occupies more than one mile of a former elevated rail line.
The Pocket Park - Materials & Applications, Los Angeles
This small green space in Los Angeles (above) is technically private property, open in the daytime to the public. With a rotating schedule of outdoor design exhibitions, M&A serves as a park space for neighbors and an innovative hardscape studio for designers and architects. Made from a series of interlocking plates, this sunscreen by Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues shares its inspiration with modern ceiling lighting designs.
Cassini Collection Bronze 16 1/2" Wide Ceiling Light Fixture
The Rooftop Park - City Hall, Chicago
Chicago was a leader of urban design 100 years ago with the advent of the skyscraper and it leads again today with rooftop parks popping up across the city. Among them, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago Center for Green Technology and Millennium Park. Perhaps the most prominent sign of Chicago's all-in commitment to forward-thinking urbanization is the rooftop garden atop City Hall (above).
The Vertical Park - SkyFarm, Toronto
The SkyFarm (above) by designer Gordon Graff is a proposal to erect a 58 floor "agri-tower" in Toronto's Theatre District, intended to provide fresh, organic produce to the surrounding city with minimal carbon footprint.
Despite boasting some of the world's largest parks located within metropolitan boundaries, the City of Los Angeles ranks far behind other major U.S. cities in parkland per capita... Which leaves designers and developers (as well as this blogger) dreaming of expansive park projects in the horizontal city.
The Flyover park - Park 101, Los Angeles
A joint project between several different design firms, Park 101 (above) proposes to cover a section of the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles with a green lid, uniting the city's civic, cultural, transportation and historic centers with vital green space.
The Reclaimed Park - The Piggy Back Yard, Los Angeles
The Los Angeles River (yes, there's a river) has long been a target of reclamation projects intent on returning the notorious concrete viaduct to its natural state. The Piggy Back Yard (above) proposal transforms abandoned rail yards near downtown Los Angeles into a drought tolerant park and river flood basin.
As important as the landscape design is, it's only one step in a functioning outdoor space. Hardscape design and outdoor lighting is key to increasing access and safety. In the July/August 2011 issue of Monocle magazine, Christine Loh, CEO of the Hong Kong based think tank Civic Exchange, explained the need for reasonable lighting in city parks and streets: "Street lighting can obviously make people feel safer but it doesn't have to be bright, bright, bright." To minimize light pollution, both amateur and pro landscape designers are increasingly turning to dark sky outdoor lighting. The examples below are attractive but unobtrusive by day, and bright but not too bright by night.
Hinkley Luna Dark Sky 16" High Bronze Outdoor Wall Light
Hubbardton Forge Lightfall 13 1/2" High CFL Dark Sky Light
Not everyone is landscaping acres of reclaimed land or rooftops. Despite plot size, home garden or city park, the same general design principles will always apply... Use native and climate-specific flora when possible, let hardscape enhance the space without overpowering it and use lighting modestly for best results day and night.
Images: The Architect's Newspaper, Aether Journal, Archinect, Growing a Greener World, Torontoist, LAist
Have you been looking for a way to incorporate contemporary gardens into your modern home decor? Well, Flora Grubb and other specialty shops provide lots of great ideas that double as artwork.
These small aeriums (above) have a "ship in a bottle" appeal. The're all unique, but typically feature tiny mosses, lichens, and tillandsias which all live happily together under glass. They have artists in the store handcrafting each one. If you want to make this a fun project for yourself, we also suggest using attractive glass containers, like this one (below) as a perfect way to display a variety of stylish succulents.
Fuller Clear Glass Document Box
In addition to the aeriums, Flora Grubb also makes plant "pockets" (below) that hang openly or against a wall. It's a great way to have an organized, yet beautiful mess of greenery. It's also a great way to apply plant life toward using vertical space.
Are you looking for a way to incorporate just a little bit of greenery, but in a more controlled manner? Try these "thigmotropes" (below). They're designed to be screwed into a wall and hold tillandsia plants. Just take them down to lightly water every once in a while.
As you incorporate more greenery into your decor, make sure to reap the full benefit of having plant life indoors and help circulate your fresh air using modern ceiling fans. This handsome fan (below) would do the trick.
Fanimation Torto Bronze Ceiling Fan
Succulent wall art is such a big trend right now. They're low maintenance and they look great. Although time consuming, and depending on the size, they're easy to make and could be a fun summer project.
The best part about succulent wall art is that they can be any size and work indoors or out. All you have to do for watering is spray them using a water bottle.
There are so many inventive ways to incorporate plant life into your modern decor, indoors or out. And many of them could also make fun DIY projects. Although, some are more simple than others, should you need help you could always refer to resources like Flora Grubb and other creatives.
Images: Flora Grubb
Relaxing on your patio is the perfect way to spend these hot summer nights! Making your outdoors chic is as simple as adding bold pops of color. This ceramic stool is not only a beautiful piece of outdoor decor, but functional too. Lush greens, concrete fireplace, and large planters create a serene backdrop and really allow the colors to pop in this setting. Get the look of color with this sky blue glazed ceramic stool (below).
Sky Blue Glaze Ceramic Decorative Accent Table
Other times, staying neutral and even all white is better. The slats covering this patio (above) create a dynamic linear effect while maintaining the natural aesthetic. Simple, modern outdoor furniture keeps any space clean and open. Create your outdoor chic space by choosing monochromatic pairings, like an all white dining set. These modern outdoor chairs (below) add interest, but do not visually take up a lot of space.
Zuo Gumdrop White Outdoor Dining Chairs
Keeping it all natural is another great way to create your chic outdoor patio. The element of fire in any outdoor space, along with natural modern outdoor lounge chairs creates a very cozy atmosphere. Perched high above the city, you could lounge in these chairs for hours and just take in the views.
Zuo Modern Cartagena Outdoor Arm Chair
Whether you have a tiny outdoor patio or a huge backyard, designing in style is sure to help you enjoy your Summer!
Images: COCOZY, Apartment Therapy, JMA
The winners of the 2012 AIA Design Awards are presented in the May/June issue of CA Home + Design Magazine. Winners are either located in San Francisco or designed by local firms. These Bay area architects are given the spotlight for their innovative designs ranging from parking spaces recast as parks to an office that balances work and life.
Bar Agricole, designed by Aidlin Darling Design is located in San Francisco's industrial South of Market district. The design was inspired by the sustainable agricultural roots of the restaurant's artisanal food and cocktail menu. It's currently in the process of becoming LEED certified.
Track lighting is a great way to add an even distribution of light while creating a chic, urban aesthetic. It can be used in commercial settings or residential, scale being the largest difference. Check out this idea to get the look above.
Two Rail Adjustable Ceiling Fixture
The illustration below demonstrates the architect's sustainable strategies and the detailed planning involved from the ground up.
For example, there is a wood "hull" made from whiskey-barrel oak, which sits above the guests, giving intimacy and scale to the space while also providing openings for the sculptural light scoops. Bar tops, table tops and banquette seating (below) was made from reclaimed barn-beams.
Small pendant lighting is a great way to illuminate each table top without taking away from the gorgeous wooded surroundings. This mini pendant below is a great way to get this look.
Piper Satin Nickel Tech Mini Pendant
If you live in the Bay area, make sure to stop by and see this award-winning design. You can feast on some deliciously fresh food too!
Images: AIA SF, Aidlin Darling Design
Wall & Deco introduces an incredible new collection of of outdoor wallpaper called OUT-Outdoor Unconventional Texture. The visual solutions for exterior decoration will blow your mind. Graffiti and street art have greatly influenced the design culture in the last few years and now Wall & Deco has taken this concept to the next level and combined it with innovative technology to create something completely unexpected.
There are so many expressive possibilities which make these bold and graphic outdoor wallpapers an architects dream! Adding color and graphic wall murals into urban settings makes for happy places and it actually brings inspiration to communities. Goodbye outdoor tile, hello outdoor wallpaper! Just take a look at some of the amazing exterior applications.
BauHaus: This colorful graphic pattern creates such a bold contrast with the natural environment. Imagine how this could light up at night with the use of modern up lighting.
Kefia: The Houndstooth pattern adds sophistication to this modern architecture. Pair it with colorful outdoor chairs and let the fun begin!
Tokio Stripes: Black and white patterns are a bold, yet classic statement. Modern outdoor furniture in neutral tones helps maintain balance and doesn't compete with this bold pattern.
Pop Pop Pop: No repeat on this pop wall mural. Just look at how the image seems transparent and you can still see the "wall" behind it. Such amazing innovation.
Loren Ipsum: Combing the old with the new. How can that not be ancient text carved into a concete wall?
Camooo: Camouflage your building or create a bold graphic statement. Imagine using this on a government building in your downtown!
Wall & Deco has just proven to us that architecture is about to get more fun!
Images: Wall & Deco
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