Nov 13 2011

house projects 2011

I finally realized summer is the only time I am going to do any major house design projects since the endless hours and LA sun certainly help to get the most of 12 hour workdays. this year it was installing new hardwood floors, building a tv cabinet and installing some new light fixtures and some other smaller tweaks. I had the pleasure of finally visiting Anderson Plywood, which I had passed a couple dozen times over the decade or so in LA but I had never ventured in. well worth visiting as the staff is the most knowledgable I have met. They are mostly all South African and seem to know everything there is know about wood, plywood, machine tools and finishing. They work with you as well and are non-confrontational- which typically when you work with experts – they have a way of talking down to you if your don’t know their ‘shorthand’. They guys were far better than that.

The projects were completed in two weeks and have made our home a far better environment. Until next summer…

this is the av cabinet I built in the livingroom out of both birch plywood and walnut laminate plywood

here are some views of the completed projects

Nov 12 2011

collaboration + innovation workshop

last week I gave a talk at the annual Opportunity Green conference – which took place at LA Center Studios on November 10-11, 2001.


The idea of the workshop was to uncover some of methodologies and practices of creative individuals and groups working together. The first discussion was the folk story that I have always loved, Stone Soup. The story is about an outsider who comes to a small town long ago and as he walks down the street the local people shut their doors and stay inside. He sets up a fire and a pot in the town square, adds water and then reaches into his satchel to bring out a large stone. After placing the stone in the water he begins to stir the pot and wait. Eventually people come out to inquire about this magical soup he is making and soon offer some of their own produce to add to the boiling broth. Carrots, greens, potatoes, onions and meat are added and eventually everyone partakes in eating the hearty soup.

Of course we know that the soup did nothing to add flavor or even start the base but what it did was bring everyone together so they could share in something greater than what they each had in their own homes. That is the message of how I start each design project and work with my own teams. Sometimes I add more to the soup as well.

RISD Wintersession

I had attended the Rhode Island School of Design for both Fine Arts and Architecture in the 1990’s. The education at RISD begins with a well-known foundation program that is based on the principals of the Bauhaus Vorkurs program. For the first year at the school – no matter what your major, be it painting, printmaking, architecture, etc., every student takes the same set of foundation courses. The curriculum covers 2d, 3d, English and some other design skills.

The goal of the RISD foundation course to provide an equal footing and understanding of all aspects of design before one focuses closer and closer into their chosen field of the fine arts they wish to pursue. It builds an empathy for all things related to design, construction, fabrication and creation and it positively affects everyone who goes through the first year of the school.

There is a fail-safe to building silos between each design profession and focus – which is the Wintersession program. RISD has a long Fall semester and Spring like most schools – but they shave off just enough to allow for an 8 week period in between when the Wintersession can occur. What the students are required to do is study anything at the school outside of their own major. If you are architecture – you might study sculpture, if you are in textile design – you might study typography. The goal over your four years is that you try different things and almost build some secondary skills to your focused major. One other important outcome that is evidenced in the Spring semester at RISD – is the knowledge that is brought back into one’s own work. An architectural student might now make their study model out of welded metal instead of cardboard, an Illustration student might use a variety of paint media when before they only used ink and paper. What you find when you meet a RISD graduate is that they have some very precise memories of what they studied at Wintersession and how it affected their own professional work today.

More to come…

view the slides here

Nov 10 2011

opportunity green gathering

we had a great kickoff to this year’s opportunity green conference – at the greenberg-green ‘green’ house in the hollywood hills just above doheny drive. the newly renovate eco-designed green house was also full of a favorite RISD alumni’s photography work, jill greenberg (’89). I had seen some of her work at the venice biennale a few years back and I have always love the haunting starkness and surreal quality of her images.

read the LA Times article on the house and view some panoramas inside

Oct 30 2011

dieter rams – less and more

I headed to SFMOMA to see the richard serra show of drawings this weekend, which was a bit disappointing. Unlike someone like max beckman – who used heavy tones and moods in his painting and his sculpture – the thick dark oversized drawings were devoid of the emotion that his sculpture provoke. I suppose it would be like his work being in blackened steel vs. the warm colors of corten.

the real treat at the museum was the dieter rams show: less and more. Like a lot of designers – rams is the quintessential designer’s designer of simplicity, clarity, precision and innovation. he has long been heralded as the inspiration for apple’s jonathan ive  – who readily admits this connection. I had previously only seen glimpses of rams’ product designs on a few web postings and of course in retro shops in the us and europe. well worth a visit if you are in san francisco anytime soon..

Dieter Rams: Less and More, The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
SFMOMA – through February 22, 2012
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Jan 10 2011

jennifer french – paintings

some paintings by a RISD classmate and friend, jennifer french. I love the darkness and strong characters of her animal work – also the richness of deep blacks found in georges rouault and egon schiele – 2 of my other favorite painters…

from her website:
Her current work is infused with a sense of narrative reminiscent of folk tales and medieval icons. Jewel tones and flat perspectives are incorporated into sinister, dream-like terrain inhabited by children and anthropomorphic animals. She is inspired by the Western American landscapes of her childhood as well as the mill towns of her current home, and by the darker history of those places. read more…