Baby Bauhaus: Revolutionary Rockers

Never fails to intrigue me, this cradle 
from the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar. 

It was a marvel to wander through the museum and see how brilliantly these men and women thought, how beautifully they brought new concepts of form and function to the modern world. 

Hard to believe it has been nearly a century since Bauhaus was founded by Walter Gropius. 
Hard to believe this cradle first rocked almost a hundred years ago. What design, now, is as revolutionary as this was, then? What shows us the future, now...are we paying attention?

Design like this shakes me from the complacency of "pretty things:" things that have been seen a million times, and always fall a bit short of beautiful. And far short of revolutionary.

Next Step

Yummy new blog called stair porn, by the brilliant minds behind materialicious. To salute their new step, I'm posting a photo I took last summer at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. 

There's another photo of these steps on one of my earliest posts, "Vedana--Eric Case's Weblog: Steve Jobs Inspiration Roundup." I mention this because, for me, today has been a day of connecting dots...remarkable dots. Mr. Jobs covers this sort of thing beautifully when talking to the graduates at Stanford. I think there is so much between the lines in what he says, also: so much that can be heard, but was not said. 

Funny thing about the Jobs "talk:" it's one for the history books, now. His words have been so often quoted, and ring so true, that it's more than just a commencement address. Worth watching; worth another watch, if you haven't seen it for awhile. Click here.


Drop Me a Line.

Although an incredible number of invitations and notes are sent on the internet, it's still the siren call of stationery--real paper, real envelopes, real stamps, real ink in a real pen--that gets to a lot of us. Maybe it's the retro joy of opening the mailbox and finding real correspondence.

Maybe it's the pure art of it, when it is well done: the thrill that comes when one receives their own little bit of thoughtful beauty in an envelope.

Here are two marvelous stationery moments:
the first, Cotton Idea Studio, has yummy stuff.
Chic, elegant: disciplined, yet soft. Nice. The other, also
from the beautifully curated black*eiffel,
is a delicious selection of designer's wedding invitations.

Full disclosure: I spent several years creating illustrations for invitations, having had a delightful little stationery business...with a lovely business partner. We had great fun, and I will promise you that, as with all else in life, a truly great invitation is achieved through much hard work. I tip my hat, therefore, to every marvelous stationer...it is an art, and beautiful to behold when done well.

Above, elegant penmanship from Friedrich von Schiller's house in Weimar.


Design for a Willow Glen Cottage

When a place has good bones, be it a cottage or a palace or a treehouse in the woods, one simply doesn't want to disrupt this fine circumstance.

Staying true to what already works...what is already beautiful...is important to the harmony of the house and those who inhabit it.

A lovely little cottage wants to grow with reason and care. A palace wants an Inigo Jones to create that perfect addition. And a treehouse, done well, feeds the souls of those who must climb the ladder to get there.

Therefore, I believe, one must try to build without rattling the bones.

Long ago, at this cottage, the sweet 20's garage might have housed an early version of Henry Ford's masterwork. Perhaps there was a cart, also, or a wagon, or some such thing--something to bring home baskets of cherries and bushels of plums from the surrounding orchards.

All things considered, the little building cried out for a good solid set of doors that looked like they'd been crafted to keep the cavalry mounts in for the eve. Somehow, in it's soul, the now-vintage space seemed far grander than a garage/fruit drying shed.

It might have held cherries, but I couldn't help thinking that the first inhabitant of the sturdy structure might've been a horse, rather than a horseless carriage. Anyway, it--the structure, not the long-ago-imagined horse--wanted us to make these doors. Bespoke, as it were.

Either way, I find myself hoping the Buffalo Soldiers would have approved wholeheartedly.

Above, the as-yet unpainted doors await final touches.

design: victoria thorne

Hearth for Home

The truly important part of home design is the collaborative effort behind it.

When the project is finished, the goal is to have created something that is useful and beautiful: the design needs to fit, like a glove, those who live there.

If you can create a space in which your clients can live well and happily...a space that holds, with care, the essence of their lives...then you've done your job.

To get a call from someone gifted with a great eye, an open spirit, and the desire to roll up their sleeves and work toward this vision with you...that is, clearly, the best of all possible worlds. This project is that.

When we started the work, I had just returned from France and had seen, in the Louvre, the original foundation of the Great Tower. The rough beauty of the 12th century stones was astonishing. There was a sort of quiet enchantment to the whole business...something that made you just want to be there, a solid peace.

To build a fireplace--the virtual heart of the project--and incorporate a bit of the feeling from this remarkable fortress seemed ideal.

The result sits firmly centered in the back of the yard now, holding down it's own little fort. It is solid and well-used, and has a bit of a sense of humor in it's stout and stalwart appearance. (When riffing--in California and elsewhere--on an ancient french chateau, a grain of Cleeseian Salt seems advisable.) The fireplace became the inspiration for much of the building and masonry that followed. Grand in it's own happy way, it brings a quiet bit of peace to the family on many a weekend, and work night.

A Little Cottage Project

This week: will be showing a few details from the cottage I've been working on...first, a little taste of the barbeque doors. The feeling I was going for was a bit of Brian Keith's groovy cali-ranch in the 1961 "Parent Trap" (one of my favorite movies, as a kid...still is...doesn't it just make you want to run away to camp?)...with a little touch of Connecticut Yankee thrown in.

The doors are set in the outdoor grill-o-rama, which is actually pretty subtle (read: not on steroids, thank goodness)...so these were sort of a fillip, adding a dash of elan with a sense of humor.