Friday, May 29, 2009

Design Convo #9: Projects

Click on image to see a larger version of the invite.

It's that time of the month again: Baltimore's design conversation returns to the Wind Up Space on Wednesday, June 3. This time the topic is "projects" and you are invited to bring new work and ideas to share with the group. Or just swing by for a cold beer and some good conversation. For more information, contact the "projects" organizer Fred Scharmen:

The 411:
Design Convo #9: Projects
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
6:30 - 8:30 PM
Wind Up Space
12 W. North Avenue
AV set up available for presentations; Cash bar.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dismantling Prefab

The 2,380 sq. ft. Sidebreeze by MKD.

Sad news came in over the Memorial Day weekend about California-based Michelle Kaufmann Designs. As the L.A. Times reports, Kaufmann will close her firm after 7 creative years pioneering sustainable prefab designs. She is probably best known for her Glidehouse:

Kaufmann says a confluence of factors resulted in her needing to shutter the business, including the fact that several major prefab factories have gone out of business. On top of that, increasingly stringent rules for mortgage financing have impeded clients' ability to underwrite their homes. Having just refinanced myself, I was shocked at the difference in process from a few years ago. Some of this is understandably necessary to combat the laissez-faire banking practices of the last few years, but the pendulum seems to have swung in the extreme direction. As the owner of my own small business, my "non conventional" employment meant that I had to jump through some serious hoops. I can only imagine the challenge of getting an experimental prefab design past the processors at Wells Fargo. What we may find is that financing will continue to impede design innovation.

That said, contemporary prefab hasn't exactly captured the home buying market. Even with all the hype over the last few years, it represents an infinitesimal percentage of homes in this country. Why hasn't architecturally-sophisticated prefab taken off? Writer Karrie Jacobs has an interesting theory: What if prefab were in the hands of product designers, like IDEO, instead of architects?

Well, you may never be able to live in a Glidehouse, but you can at least take a virtual tour:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

House File: Updating the Porch

The porch.

Next on the list for the house: painting the porch. In truth, the entire roof of the porch needs to be replaced, but that's going to have to wait. In the meantime, Matt and I need to fix the peeling paint and broken trim and try to spruce it up a bit.

The view from the other side. This is a duplex, so there are two doors to contend with. We live on one side and rent out the other.

One of the challenges is that we replaced the gutters last year and decided to match them to the existing green paint. Which means we have these forest green rain spouts.

It makes it a bit of a challenge in picking out exterior paint colors. I really wanted a bright red door with a little orange or ruby tone to it, something that might match the rose bush that blooms at the front of the house. But combined with the green, it would look too much like Christmas.

My mom made a trip to a Budeke's, a paint store in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, and the staff helped her select some nice exterior color combinations from Benjamin Moore. Here's what we've decided...

The porch itself will be painted Rainforest Green, which appears to have enough gray in it to match the mortar. I really wanted to get rid of that evergreen color.

The doors will get a deeper burgandy red, to keep it from looking too garish with the green:

And the trim between the front door and the screen door will get a lighter accent color to make the door pop. (This was suggested by the experts at the paint store). Again, we went with something that picks up the mortar of the stone house:

There is a crew coming today to help wet-scrape and sand the flaking paint off the porch. We hope to have the paint job done by the weekend.

We still need to pick out a screen door for our side of the duplex. I want a French screen door that can be switched out with glass in the winter months and can therefore function throughout the year. Opening the doors lets in so much light on our first floor. I've been looking at the doors at Walbrook Lumber and online at Vintage Doors.

So do we try to match the style of the adjacent screen door? Or do we pick our own?

I tend to lean towards a simple screen door made of wood that is split in two sections.

Imagine these painted in that Burgandy color to match the front door.

This has a more intricate split: two pieces of wood in the center instead of one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Design Wrap Up: What I Saw at ICFF

There was a lot to take in at this year's International Contemporary Furniture Fair. (I posted quite a bit about the show for Metropolis magazine over the weekend and a list of those posts is included at the end.) Here are some of my favorites...

The amazing Vegetal Chair from Vitra. I absolutely love it. So do other designers—it won an award at the show.

One of my favorites: a powder-coated steel rain collection system from HERO Design Lab. No more plastic rain barrels!

The Oslo Collection by Moe

New radio collection from Tivoli.

Chairs from Itoki.

The new branching light fixture from Lindsey Adelman (pictured above).

Ceramics with advice (above and below) from Areaware.

More ceramics from Areaware.

Not so much of a favorite as an oddity. I call this "When cotton balls attack."

Ferm Living! I got to covet all the wallpaper.

Hutch from Iannone.

I love the legs on these chairs.

The MICA booth. Hometown Baltimore represented beautifully with this well-conceived student booth. MICA was one of only four schools invited to participated. Martin Pedersen, the Executive Editor at Metropolis, picked it as one of his favorites.

Inna Alesina demonstrating product designs in the MICA booth.

A close-up on one of the MICA Panels: food being delivered to urban neighborhoods via a Light Rail system.

I was surprised how much I liked the brushed gold fixtures from Kohler. They look amazing with the new "Honed" collection of sinks.

The British designers had a strong showing this year. I love the wall art and textiles from Catherine Hammerton, above and below.

Adjustable white shelving units from Blu Dot. I want this for my living room.

Fold out sleeper sofa in red from Blu Dot.

New line of lighting from Blu Dot includes a red fabric-wrapped cord. There was lots of that at the show this year: making the cord a part of the design rather than something to hide.

So many gorgeous wooden chairs. Here are two samples - above and below.

More wood: a cantilevered chair in the Virginia Tech booth.

The pressed glass pendant from Tom Dixon, above and below. It will retail for $290 and will be available in October.

The Ribbon lamp with adjustable head.

Hands coming out of walls seemed to be another trend...

Lots of parties throughout the weekend. Here's the crowd at Blu Dot in SoHo.

I've always loved this red desk from Blu Dot, even when littered with the remnants of cocktails.

More of my ICFF Coverage:

The Elephant in the (Show)Room
Live @ICFF: Coming Clean
Live @ ICFF: Ceramic Tiles of Italy
Live @ ICFF: Pattern Book
Live @ ICFF: Pendants Galore
Live @ ICFF: New from Blu Dot