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  • 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

  • Glamping: Glamorous Camping in Renovated Airstream

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     revovated Airstream 

    Interior Designer Rachel Horn and her husband Justin Kreizel combined their skills to renovate this 1969 Airstream. They are now ready for the great outdoors, but more importantly, they can spend their time camping in luxury.

    Moroccan pendants

    The interior is just as functional as it is beautiful. The built-in daybed is wrapped in glamorous fabrics and Moroccan accents, making it almost too beautiful to sleep in. The geometric mirrored coffee tables add a touch of glamour to the space.

    This table (below) will help you bring modern lines and a little glam into your own home.

    Zuo Tyrell Stainless Steel and Black Glass Coffee Table  

    Airstream kitchen 

    Although this wasn't the typical 10,000 square foot project Horn was used to designing, she didn't treat it any differently and carefully considered all the details. 

    Mixing modern home decor with Moorish, Turkish or Persian details creates something Horn decribes as "Luxe Nomadic".

    modern compact kitchen

    This modern kitchen is equipped with stainless steel appliances, a cappuccino maker, water filter, and all the amenities typically found in a luxurious home kitchen. Horn and her husband have everything they need to be comfortable while camping.

    Modern wall light fixtures are great for casting a nice glow onto counters and surfaces below, perfect for cooking those late night meals. Directional wall lights are great for kitchens without upper cabinets. This light (below) would also work perfectly in this type of setting.

    modern wall light

    Satin Nickel 8" High LED Spotlight Wall Sconce

    upholstered headboards 

    The bedroom is separated from the rest of the space with Moorish arches and curtains, tied back for easy access. The headboards mimic the arches of the overall structure and are covered in elegant fabrics. After a long day hiking in the rough outdoors, who wouldn't want to jump into these comfortable beds?

    For those of you who shy away from the rough outdoors and don't typically like the idea of camping.... Maybe it's time you give "glamping" a try!

    Images: Rachel Horn

  • 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

  • Landscaped Structure: Melbourne Hill House

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    Hill House in Melbourne

    When we study eco-friendly architecture and landscape, it's not often that we come across a landscaped structure. Architect Andrew Maynard designed "Hill House" in Melbourne, Australia to be the exception. This once single structure residence has been turned into, not only a much larger home, but a study on combining architecture and building.

    Melbourne is predominantly flat. This could be why Melbourne’s architecture is ambitious. There's no landscape to confine structure design, therefore buildings are free to become landscape.

    architecture diagrams

    The design goal was for a family of five to have a long-term residence, which could meet the requirements of three small children and their transformation into young adulthood. Above is the evolution of design toward that goal, starting with the just original building (white).

    Fundamental issues offered Maynard a starting point and he noticed that the original structure faced North which relegated the backyard, where the family spent much of their time, to shadow throughout the year. This was not ideal.

    modern window wall

    The proposal was to build a new structure on the rear boundary, which was once the back yard.

    multi-structure home

    The new structure now faces the sun and the pure cantilevered box above acts as the passive solar eave, cutting out summer sun, while letting winter sun flood in.

    Upon entry, you can see (below) how the structure effects the interior, creating a lowered dining area. The change in floor level creates a bench seat for the Maynard designed "Zero Waste Table".

    modern great room

    Despite structural efforts outside, there are ways for any interior to circulate aire and keep cool in the summer. There are some great modern ceiling fans the accomplish this without detracting from the decor. This fan below is our suggestion for achieving Maynard's design aesthetic.

    Turbina Oil-Rubbed Bronze Ceiling Fan

    multi-color dining chairs

    Much of the color in Maynard's design comes from the landscape outside, but he had a little fun with the dining room. Multi-colored modern dining chairs is a great way to add personality to a minimally designed space. We suggest this red Eames-style dining chair.

    Zuo Spire Red Dining Chair

    modern playground

    Wouldn't it be fun to have a well designed attractive home that is also your playground? Apparently, Maynard is the go-to architect for innovative, fun and smart design. "Environmental issues and responsible, intelligent solutions are trademarks of his work, utilising clever concepts for a dynamic output. Clients come to Maynard when they’re seeking a unique and challenging solution..." Alaana Fitzpatrick, DQ magazine.

    Images: Maynard Architects

  • 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

June, 2012