Friday, May 22, 2009

Spoleto, Arts Southern Style

Free time on the holiday, Spoleto festival takes over Charleston. Just had to have a brief mention as it is often overlooked. Three things I love, the arts, the beach and Charleston. It is a 17 day festival with an eclectic bent. May 22-June 7. So I don't have feel guilty about going to Charleston just to eat at Cru Cafe (luscious orangecicle cake)

 or the Wreck (of the Richard and Charlene) for seafood.  Literally a wreck from Hugo, shrimp right off the boats. Come dressed, but you'll fill out your own menu. Bring cash, no cards accepted. Local character abounds. You can see the wreck on land just to the right of the green building hidden partially by an overgrown shrub.

 Hit the beach at Isle of Palms a plus.

Really, I have an intellectual reason to take it all in. 


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mirror, Mirror...TV?

I love multitasking items. Pantel has this uber cool tv where you can watch both your favorite things, television and yourself. Mirror TV- the image above is of a TV. When off it is a mirror, on television and it is waterproof.  They also have a very cool line of weatherproof TV's for outdoors. I really need these indoors, yes I have spilt drinks onto tv screens. No alcohol, just water from tripping in the room. I know what you were thinking. Like I said, I guess you can tell I'm catching up on a week worth of mail.

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Going green gone wrong....

From AOL:Although the real estate market won't stay slow forever, Milligan sees a future for his business. Southern California is short on water, and Milligan said he could envision using plastic plants and other tools to make landscapes look lush again. "I see an evolution of this business," he told the Times. "It's only a matter of time until people get sick of watering their lawns and ask me to paint them." (Sources: Getty Images,

In the south we have a saying. Bless your heart. Only really two uses and always with the best intention. First way: On hearing of loss, illness or other tragic event. Second way: on hearing you come up with something that we call a bit teched (touched) in the head.

This is about the second. This is green gone wrong. Mind you, I have used the "organic" green landscape colorant for photo shoots, special events. Totally agree it works in these situations, but in day to day living on a residence, plastic plants.  Bless Milligan's heart, this is the wrong answer to long term solutions. It just bugs the mess out of me when people who are supposed to be in a green industry, don't offer green solutions.  He does have a great business for special events and home sales. Areas where short term solutions are needed.

Tired of watering your yard, get rid of grass. Xeriscape.

That's my rant for today, might be more. I'm catching up from a week of news and emails- I see it has been a full moon.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

In the land of Os, a pursuit of elegance...

Os Gẽmeos, there's one for you. Slipped through the cracks.

I was meandering through my twitter posts when I came across a tweet by Lance Armstrong about a picture he was just texted. It was a graffiti painting by Os Gẽmeos in Havana. High end graffiti art and though they have been around for years, I missed it- totally. Have you ever had that happen, totally seemingly clueless to something that has impacted a culture. Pause, humble moment here.

Brazilian identical twins. Who dream of people with yellow faces, who can finish each other's illustrations. Whimsical, thought provoking with a hint of social commentary. Never trained, but picked up  admiration of the US hip hop scene. They have actually changed the landscape of Sao Paulo as their art is sprinkled through the city. Graffiti artists changing the world, who'd a thunk it. They are as much a part of Brazil as Carnival. But then they are part of Carnival

What I miss most in our new citysscapes is character. Neighborhoods are designed like video games. Click put a house here, click put a house there. HOA's rules removes the character that most people love in their neighborhoods and cities. I'm willing to sacrifice living next to a house with pink shutters if it will give the neighborhood some character. Okay maybe not pink shutters, how about salmon or teal. Once lived next to a house with checkerboard sky blue and white blocks on their garage. Did I say I grew in in the 70's drug era. 

Generica has become the norm, I'm hoping this blip in our economy pushes people to be more creative. Maybe allowing people more freedom in how they live. 

I am always amazed that people love the quaint neighborhoods of yesteryear. Painted ladies of San Francisco, the artist lofts of NYC. Yet when we build, even so called "custom" homes all I see is a sea of brown. 

Which is why I am a big fan of Matthew May. Matt has given us a primer on making good choices.  Simple, elegant wise choices. I do not know his opinions on brown neighborhoods.

He's written a great new book on " In Pursuit of Excellence".  In an interview with Guy Kawasaki, my favorite suggestion of his is that companies should have CTO's in addition to CEO's. Chief Taste Officer. To me what Matt really covers is the pursuit of elegance in design  across many medium. Simple elegance, means making good choices. This is an excellent resource for training your brain. The essence of good design.

 Os Gẽmeos gives art with simplicity even in their details. They choose the right details. That is the essence of design. They don't give a whole cityscape they choose images and make them part of the city.

In design, every element should  look to become part of whole, but bring to it it's own uniqueness.  I usually throw everything on the table and then start taking away. 

In school  a great lesson was learned from my old english prof Webby. 

In college he was given an assignment to write a research paper by one of the most respected professors on campus.  Webby worked weeks on it before the first draft was due. Prof called Webby in for his review, told him he needed to shorten it up.  So he hammered on it over the weekend with all nighters. Turned it in on Monday to the prof.  Friday, he was called in again, asked his prof if it worked this time. He said he made some great strides, but still needed to be condensed-get to the point. He actually repeated the same the next week and again marched into the professor's office with full vigor only to be shot down.

At this point Webby said he had had it. With several  months of work at stake,  he took the paper and slammed it back down on his professor's desk and told him he couldn't cut it down any more, he had shaved it to the bone.  His professor then retorted, " Well- now I'll read it".

Lesson learned.  
If you want to expand on this concept read Matthew E. May's  new book and maybe check out a show or a streetscape by Os Gimeos. Get inspired, pursue elegance, pursue learning from the best.



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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Design Twaddle...

I'm a big proponent of  historic educator Charlotte Mason. A right brained educator who believed in twaddle free lessons. She also believed in developing the whole mind. Hey that reminds me of Dan Pink, might they be related?

Twaddle can include, silly or non relevant information. Architectural design, whether interior, exterior or landscapes is full of it. Rampant in DIY sites and on those series that show a home being built or renovated in thirty minutes. Viral in blogs.

First twaddle free thought: A house doesn't get built or renovated in thirty/sixty minutes in the real world. 

Second twaddle free thought: Everyone wants to be a designer, doesn't mean they are. Nor are all designers in the same league. 

Third twaddle free thought: Good designers are going to tell you some things you don't want to hear, but with civility. Avoid kiss-up artists.

If you are in the trade, people hire you for your knowledge and professionalism. Part of that is speaking the truth. Don't be a naysayer, every project can be made-indeed. Just be realistic in what it is going to take to accomplish it. 

Good design meets three parameters: Form, Function and Finance. 

1. Form is the fun part, where you get to use that design and artistic sense.

2. Function is the practical part, where you make sure it meets the parameters of the client needs.

3. Finance is the realistic part, have to meet the budget. 

No twaddle, to the point-how's that for a twaddle free Tuesday...


Friday, May 1, 2009

Flashing Green News...

From the United States Green  Building Council

LEED for Neighorhood Development: 2nd Public Comment opens today view here.

I love giving my opinion, but to be balanced I encourage fellow designers, architects and industry pro's to give their two cents. I'm giving ten.