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  • Top Artist Colonies

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    Artist Colonies

    Looking for the next hot spot? Follow the artists. So goes the adage at least that artists are quick to inhabit soon-to-boom neighborhoods. If you look at the world's best art districts and artist colonies, you'll notice a simple trend: once the artists move in to under-utilized places, the cafes, galleries and luxury boutiques are sure to follow. 

    high line chelsea

    Manhattan’s Chelsea district (pictured with the iconic High Line park above) was once a mash-up of rowhouses and tenement housing until high rents in SoHo forced the New York art world to head north.

    For decades, the Marais district of Paris had long been an aristocratic (but sleepy) stronghold of the city. Now home to the Picasso Museum and the Renzo Piano designed Pompidou Center (pictured below), le Marais is an art destination that currently houses many high-end contemporary galleries in its meandering back roads. 

    pompidou center paris

    In Santa Monica, California Bergamot Station is an abandoned rail yard turned art gallery complex:

    bergamot station arts center

    In the early 2000s, Bergamot Station gave way to Chung King Road in Los Angeles’ historic Chinatown (pictured below), as well as the industrial intersection of La Cienega and Washington in Culver City as the go-to West coast art neighborhoods.

    chinatown los angeles galleries

    Across the pond in the real China, 798 Art Zone in Beijing has grown into a vibrant art complex over the past 20 years. Housed in a Bauhaus-inspired factory from the 1950s (pictured below), the art complex grew out of a movement of avant garde artists looking for a place that would draw little scrutiny from the government.

    798 Art Zone Beijing

    Common to most of these revitalized areas is the industrial design aesthetic: raw, repurposed spaces and warehouse-style hanging pendant lights (as in the above picture).

    Lastly, there are art communities that nearly avoid the map altogether. Black Mountain, North Carolina was home to the American (and European ex-pat) avant garde in the first half of the 20th century.

    Santa Fe (part-time home to legendary New Mexico artist Georgia O’Keefe) houses a healthy scene of contemporary museums, art galleries and artists. And Marfa, Texas, is a high-desert mecca for practicing contemporary artists. It’s home to works by Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Claes Oldenburg, as well as the pop-up Prada store (well, sort of) pictured at the top of this post.    

    Images: Maison Gray, Art Observed, Britannica, Dave's Travel Corner, LA Design Festival, Shanghai Focus

  • How to Design With Modern Benches

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    Styling Modern Benches

    Benches aren’t just for the park, anymore. In fact, benches are an ideal, functional decor accessory for the home or office. Any piece that offers both style and purpose to a space is worth investing in. 

    I’ve long been a collector of chairs, picking them up here and there when I’ve needed them or have had no place for them at all. There is just something enticing to me about a piece of furniture that offers someone a place to rest. Lately, I’ve expanded my seating search to include the modern bench. While we might not linger on a bench as we would in a chair, they are still a place to rest weary feet, share a meal or help hold our most important things needed for our daily comings and goings.

    Rustic Decor

    One of my favorite places, which is a bit obvious, to place a bench is in an entrance at either the front or back of the home. In these entryways above benches are best to offer a quick seat of stability for taking off or putting on outer garments, such as boots and coats. They also offer a place to catch our bags and belongings or hide our baskets filled with gloves and hats, as we come in after a long day.

    Modern Dining Room

    Another usual place that benches can be found is at the table. I think mixing chairs and a bench at the dining table is always interesting and never gets old. And if you have children than the idea of bench seating can be a brilliant one.

    Modern Bedroom

    I have a few benches in my home and find myself moving them around for different purposes at different times. But these days, I’m loving benches for beauty. I love plopping them in space that needs some sprucing up, like maybe filling in that empty space at the foot of your bed. They add beauty on their own, yes, but I also love styling them with a variety of beautiful things. Covering a bench with pillows to add texture, pattern and depth is a favorite. 

    Modern Decor

    And another great idea is to use a bench as a place to display some of your favorite things. You can gather a grouping of books, candles, or set a large vase of beautiful branches on it, just off to the side.  

    The possibilities of decorating with benches are endless and the functionality just can’t be beat.

    Modern Benches

    Top to Bottom: Viceroy White Faux Leather BenchZuo Heywood Modern Double Natural Wood 60-Inch-W Bench, Zuo Novel Modern 46 1/2-Inch-W Double Indoor BenchCrawford Brown Faux Crocodile Leather Bench

    Image: suvi sur le vif  / The Marion House Book /  Martyn Thompson Studio  / Sacramento Street  / Cecil Ieslykke

  • Outfit to Interior: Relaxed + Comfortable

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    Outfit to Interior

    Being both relaxed and comfortable are keys to wardrobe and interior styling! Finding pieces that make you feel like the best version of yourself are worth the time and effort, just ask Ms. Relaxed & Comfortable.

    Modern Wall Lighting

    Hallways, consoles and entries all benefit from a little extra lighting love. Ms. R&C loves the warm bronze and amber glass of the Murray Feiss Wall Sconce for warming up shadowy corners and nooks.
     
    The Nico Bronze Besa Wall Light with its stone gold foil glass lives happily in any reading corner or next to your bed. Our girl has one over each nightstand for when midnight snack cravings strike!

    Modern Entryway

    Warm woods can't help but be welcoming, just like the Daniel Dark Wood Console Table that sits in Ms. Relaxed & Comfortable's entryway. It's a great spot to corral mail, keys, and portable electronics as well as a place to set up a mini bar for entertaining guests. Versatility.

    The same thing holds true for faux bois, in this case the Dark Weegee Table Lamp. The brushed metal legs of this table lamp paired with the dark shade give this lamp a feeling of delicate substantiality that is verycozy indeed.

    Modern Dining Chair

    This set of Laine Wood and Faux Leather Dining Chairs are just asking for a late night chat around the table, fireplace blazing in the near distance. Ms. Relaxed & Cozy like to serve up her signature Hot Toddys while she and her best gals chat away and solve life's puzzles while curled up in these cozy seats.

  • Cool + Collected 1.23

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     Modern Dining Room

    Cool + Collected is our regular Friday post covering modern lifestyle topics from around the globe. You'll find everything from design icon biographies to modern art, photography and architectural surprises. And of course modern design!

    +If you want to see a "Before & After" that will change your life then head over to Bri Emery's blog. Her and Emily Henderson partnered up to transform her living room and dining room.

    +It's officially Spring which means we can all start biking more often... Good for our health and the envinronment, right?! Well, Refinery29 found a company with the most stylish bikes for riding around the city.

    +If you're looking for colorful kids toys that also add some style to your modern decor (while they're splashed out all over the floor), then Brinca Dada is for you.

    +Blogger Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo featured the 500 sq ft S.F. home of fellow blogger Jordan Ferney. You've never seen tiny done this well before, trust us!

    +If you're into cool books, then check out Buckminster Fuller: Poet of Geometry and help Cole Gerst finish this book through KickStarter. It's a full color book about the life and work of designer, author and inventor Buckminster Fuller.

    Image: Design Love Fest

  • Adding Interest to Your Kitchen Design

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    Kitchen Design

    The kitchen is often known as the heart of the home, which makes kitchen design an important matter. Traditionally, the kitchen is where meals are prepared and then eaten. However, these days, they're are not just for preparing and enjoying food but also where everyone seems to congregate.

    While meals are being prepped, kids are often found sitting on a bar stool, at the counter doing homework or just hanging out. It's certainly the one room where everyone comes together on a daily basis. While kitchens have become more of a gathering place, they have also become more of a decorated space.

    Modern Task Lighting

    George Kovacs Honey Gold 19-Inch-H Modern Desk Lamp

    Yes, functionality is first and foremost, but now, more than ever, kitchens are designed with beauty and interest in mind. Kitchens have grown into warm and inviting spaces that carry just as much detail as other rooms in a home. There are many affordable ways to update your kitchen without a renovation. Three ways to add big impact with little effort are as follows.

    Add a lamp. A lamp nestled on the counter top is like a functional piece of art. It adds interest to a space and brings with it warmth that brightens up the entire room.

    Modern Wall Mirror

    Round Frameless 36" Wide Beveled Mirror

    Add a mirror. Mirrors aren’t often used when decorating a kitchen but they are known to open up any space and make a room feel bigger than it actually is. If your kitchen doesn’t have a lot of windows, a mirror is the perfect way to open up the room.  And if anything, a mirror adds an unexpected touch to a kitchen.

    Modern Bar Cart

    Zuo Xert Modern White and Glass Serving Cart on Wheels

    Add a Cart. Think beyond a mini bar when looking at a cart for your kitchen. Carts can be used to curate your favorite kitchen items and they're great for keeping appliances all in one spot, within reach. Quite possibly, one of my favorite ideas for a cart in the kitchen is using it as a shelf for herbs and plants. 

    Don’t be afraid to add a touch of the unexpected to your kitchen. It’s the little things that can sometimes make the biggest difference.

    Images: Dwell / Plaza Interior / Simply Grove

March, 2013