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modern living + innovative design + inspiring ideas

  • Sustainable Building: Passive House Design

    passive house

    It's not always bad to be passive, especially when it comes to sustainable building. Passive Houses are starting to stack up worldwide and this means good things for widespread, dramatic impact on energy conservation.

    You might be wondering what is a Passive House? Well, this level of sustainable building is a concept that represents today's highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%!


    "Passive" describes the system's underlying receptivity and retention capacity. A Passive House is a very well-insulated, a virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc.

    bamboo panelling

    When architect couple Milena Karanesheva and Mischa Witzmann decided it was time for more space, they decided to give up city life and build a Passive House outside of the French capital. They settled on the small town of Bessancourt, about 17 miles northwest of Paris.

    The bamboo that they decided to cover the house in, creates an avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized.

    modern ventilation system

    They incorporated double-flow ducts into the home’s interior, exposing them at various points. They distribute fresh air, keeping temperatures around 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 71 degrees in the summer, never going higher than 78. Perfect, right?

    modern great room

    They kept the interiors simple and modern through contemporary seating and stylish, modern lighting.

    It can't hurt to incorporate even some of the sustainable elements of a Passive House. Ironically, it would be a very determined and progressive step forward for any of us to take on....

    Images: Dwell, Green Source

  • Summer White: Home Decor Items For After Labor Day

    summer white

    Who says you can't wear white after Labor Day? Well, we think you can. But we also think white home decor items, simple pendant lighting, and modern furniture are stylish year-round!

    white home decor items

    1. Artcraft On the Spot Pendant Light 2. Profuse 19" Round Wall Clock 3. Zuo Wilco White Dining Table 4. Small Glacier Glass White Vase 5. Zuo Carnival White Modular Sofa

    Simply put, rock your style no matter what the season!

    Image: Fashion Gone Rogue

  • Modern Design + Form + Function: Koncept Lighting

    modern floor lamp

    We had a chat with the innovative designers at Koncept and we want to share it with you! We discussed modern design, the importance of form + function, as well as future ideas for Koncept. It all started a couple months ago when we attended the Dwell on Design event. At the event, we ran into Kenneth Ng (President) and Edmund Ng (Vice President) from Koncept and we promised each other we would schedule a longer chat at a later date. Well, we did....

    ESL: Are you led by aesthetics or function when you design?

    Koncept: Both are equally important. Ultimately it depends on project. For the Zbar / Equo both were equally important. Sometimes, it can even change throughout the process of designing any given project. The Equo was a little more aesthetic when it first came out and was not as functional as it has become over time.

    Tono floor lamp

    Tono Floor Lamp

    ESL: Where do you go for inspiration?

    K: We maintain a very free creative process, finding inspiration everywhere including magazines, architecture, open houses. New materials inspire as well. LEDs inspired us to jump in and design Zbar. If we find a good material, we are able to create an exciting design around it.

    ESL: Since you mentioned architecture, do you have any favorite architects?

    K: Frank Gehry, especially his residential building in Hong Kong. He inspires us to do something special that no one else is doing.

    Equo task lamp

    Equo Task Lamp 

    ESL: How do you select materials?

    K: Mostly market availability, need, and pure inspiration become the factors in our material selection process. For example, organic LED is a new material we are starting to work with. It's made with organic materials and consists of a thin sheet of material that glows strongly. They aren't cost effective yet so that's where need comes in. So far, it only last 10k hours vs. 50k of regular LEDs. It's jut not efficient enough yet.

    Z Bar task lamp

    Z Bar Task Lamp

    ESL: Why LED? What is all the hype? And what are the negatives, if any?

    K: LEDs lasts a long time and they are better for our environment. If we switch to LEDs for general lighting, we’ll have less impact on the environment in the long run. Even though the technology is more expensive, consumers need to see that they last 1000s of hrs longer. Consumers will come out on top by lowering their electricity bill and helping the environment at the same time.

    The good news is, the cost is coming down. There have been so many advancements lately. We predict  the demand for old bulbs will fade out and the cost will continue coming down.

    Mosso task lamp

    Mosso Task Lamp

    ESL:  What's in the future for Koncept?

    K: Well, most of our current products are for small areas, like desk tops. We want to expand into other categories and do more residential lighting fixtures, possibly large scale modern chandeliers and pendants. We also want to do ambient lighting as well, impacting an entire space with light rather than just a desk top.

    Of course we also want to continue monitoring the development of organic LEDs.

    Thanks Koncept!

    I think we can all agree that there is excitement for what Koncept does next and there's no doubt we will bring it to you as it happens!

    Images: Koncept

  • LED Lighting: The Future Looks Bright

    office and desk LED lighting

    Believe the hype: LED lighting can help you save money. When looked at holistically, factoring in the cost of electricity over the lifetime of the bulb, a house full of LED lights could actually save you hundreds of dollars. 

    Let's do the math.

    LED Is for the Long Term

    According to "A conventional 60-watt bulb lasts about 1,000 hours, uses 60 watts of electricity and costs $180 to run for 25,000 hours. The LED equivalent lasts 25,000 hours (nearly three years if you left it on 24/7), uses 12.5 watts and costs $37.50 to run for 25,000 hours."  I've outlined the math below.

    energy savings incandescent vs LED

    The calculations above are based on the Philips Ambient 12 Watt LED Medium Base Light Bulb, a light bulb that fits into any medium base fixture, intended to replace incandescent bulb usage. However, there are also tons of designs available with the LEDs built right into the design.

    Save money by using LED lights in every room of the house:  

    The Entryway>

    The Dining Room>

    The Bathroom>

    The Office or Work Space>

    Discover a Warmer, Gentler LED

    You most likely have heard an incandescent bulb described as a "warm" light. This look or feel of the light is its color temperature. Lower color temperatures (in the range of 2700K to 3000K) appear yellow/white and, despite their lower color temperatures, are referred to as "warm" in color; higher color temperatures (5000K and higher) appear blue/white and, despite their higher color temperatures, are referred to as "cool."

    LED lighting has typically been associated with these harsher looking higher color temperatures. But that is changing. Increasingly, LEDs are reaching down into the warm 3000K range, resulting in color akin to incandescent bulbs and much more natural light than most fluorescent lights.

    LED on color temperature scale

    The environmental impact of LED lighting is difficult to compare directly against other options, but the circumstantial data is encouraging.

    • Requiring 1/5 to 1/10 the energy of an incandescent bulb, LEDs clearly reduce strain on power plants.
    • With a life span of decades, not months, LEDs reduce strain on landfills.  
    • Unlike the compact fluorescent light (CFL), the LED doesn't contain toxic mercury.  

    Natural looking. Cost effective. Environmentally friendly. LEDs are a slam dunk, right? Assuming you find a style you like, the answer is probably yes. In an interview blogger Cori Magee conducted last year with Edmund Ng and Kenneth Ng of Koncept Lighting, they discussed the role of aesthetics in designing for LEDs. "Both form and function are equally important," explained the Ng brothers. "New materials enable new designs. If we find a good material, we are able to create an exciting design around it."

    It's this type of commitment to design, technology and, ultimately, cost that leads us to believe the future looks bright for LEDs.   

    Images: Koncept, Kozai Modern, Toni Spilsbury

  • Modern Office Design: Concept Office “Attic” by Vasiliy Butenko

    modern office

    Many of us are greatly influenced by our environment and especially our work environment, but there are few modern office designs out there that really inspire you. Office design can do wonders for your productivity, creativity, and overall sense of well-being throughout the work week, but I think that many business owners fail to understand the full impact it has on their employees.

    Creating peace of mind in a stressful environment is something that can be hard to do, but the design of your space can really help you achieve this! Vasiliy Butenko did a marvelous job on the design of Concept Office "Attic" by creating a thoughtful plan and a more enjoyable workplace. 

    modern library

    A central volume within the space houses the workstations and is surrounded by a more comfortable lounge area with exposed vaulted ceilings. The rose colored volume becomes the main feature of this interior and is framed nicely by the natural wood walls and ceiling. Low, modern lounge sofas create a relaxed area perfect for flipping through the stacks of books that line the walls.  

    modern sofa

    Zuo Circus Gray Sectional Sofa

    open modern office design

    The sleek black furniture, warm wood accents, and modern pendant lighting balance nicely with the strong choice of color in the space. An exposed bulb glass pendant light works beautifully in clusters, or it can stand alone. It doesn't clutter the space, but still adds visual interest.  

    clear pendant

    LBL Isla Clear with Satin Nickel 9 3/4" Wide Pendant

    model wood paneling

    These textured wood walls create a beautiful softness while the pendant lights hang with grace from above. It's a modern environment with a cozy atmosphere that makes employees and clients alike feel like they're at home. Table and floor lamps are sculptural in form, and in this setting they're almost as beautiful as a piece of art.

    modern floor lamp

    Jonathan Adler Black and Brass Antwerp Floor Lamp

    concrete bathroom

    The concrete bathroom provides full amenities to the employees, making the office feel like an extension of their home. It's a beautiful bathroom in and of itself. In the work environment it's exquisite.  

    modern outdoor seating

    The outdoor seating provides a great area to relax and take in the ocean views. What an incredible place to let your creative energy flow.  

    white and chrome modern chairs

    Set of 2 Zuo Modern Whitworth White Chrome Accent Chairs

    I know that we can't all be this lucky, but I hope your office provides you with a productive and creative environement! Happy Monday and have a great week!

    Images: Vasiliy Butenko

August, 2012