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  • Happy [Modern] 4th of July!

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     white pendant light

    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!  

     geometric architecture

    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.   

     modern white dining table

    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.  

     outdoor kitchen

    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!  

     modern outdoor kitchen

    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...

     architectural volumes

    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

  • Homeboy Industries: Providing Second Chances

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    Homegirl Cafe

    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.

    Mayer of Los Angeles

    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.

    Father Greg Boyle

    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

  • JF Chen: A Love For Eames

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    Highland showroom warehouse

    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".

    Collecting Eames, the JF Chen Collection

    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.

    JF Chen

    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.

    Eiffel Tower base

    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

  • Iconic Design: Helvetica

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    Kasmir Malevich inspired Helvetica poster

    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:

    Helvetica in urban transportation design

    In the mark of some of the world's largest corporations: 

    helvetica in modern logo designs

    And all over the place in graphic designer tributes such as this one (clearly inspired by the Russian artist Kasmir Malevich):

    Malevich inspired Helvetica tributeIt arouses a range of emotions among designers. Some love it. Some don't:

    typefaces and fonts

    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.

    How Helvetica differs from Arial

    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:

    typeface modern lamp design

    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:

    Modern lamps and letters

    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

  • Iris Apfel: Style + Design Icon

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    bohemian eclectic style

    "Taste you can learn, but style is charisma"- Iris Apfel

    Iris Apfel, an interior designer, business woman, and fashion icon is still as charismatic and stylish today and she was in her youth. "I'm a geriatric starlet, my dear, don't you know" explains Iris.  At the age of 83, 13 years into retirement, is when she actually became a celebrity. In 2005 the Metroplitan Museum in New York had an exhibition featuring Apfel's style. What was truly amazing about this exhibition was not only the clothes, but the way the she wore each piece. Each outfit was put together like a work of art and with such style.

    At the age of 90, believe it or not, she is even more famous today than 7 years ago. She has a ridiculously successful line of makeup at MAC, an accessory line, a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes named after her, and so much more. She's a true style icon. Take a look at how her personal fashion style can be interpreted from an interior design perspective, which is how she got her start. The rooms are as eccentric on the inside as she is on the out!

    midcentury gold chandelier
    The layers of gold, brown, and charcoal gray silk taffeta in this Lanvin gown, circa 1985, are as sculptural as the gold chandelier in this room. Adding gold accessories to your space can feel both elegant and eclectic.

     jewel tone pillows

    This deep jewel tone silk-taffeta Nina Ricci evening dress, designed by Gérard Pipart (circa-1985), belong in this sitting room. The colors of the painting and rug, along with the bold deep hues of the pillows combine to create a bohemian eclectic space as rich in color as the dress. Colorful pillows can bring a lot of energy into any room and is a great way to accessorize!

     modern graphic art 
    The hot pink blouse blossoms and flows like the dye on this stylish comforter. The necklace makes a bold and dynamic statement and pretty pairing in color, much like the painting above the bed . The bold black in the art and in the pillows create contrast and a strong grounding element for the colorful decor. Playful, sophisticated, and whimsical define both the room and the outfit.     

     black and white tartan plaid

    Tartan plaid and a furry friend, that's why these two go hand in hand! Sophisticated and casual is what makes this outfit and this room so lovely.  

     sculptural necklace

    And of course Iris Apfel has her own jewelry line as well! We can't help but notice, her sculptural White Bone Necklace resembles the form of our White Flower Ceiling Light! Her jewelry collection is "Natural, eclectic and fun". You can channel a little bit of Apfel's energy by wearing any of the pieces from her collection or designing your space with color and lots of personality! 

    Cheers to hoping that we all can have a small dose of Iris Apfel in us when we're 90. She is a true style icon in every sense of the term.  

    Images: Architectural Digest, Architectural DigestRue Magazine, HomesteadDesigns2Wear

July, 2012