Thursday, February 26, 2009

things i'm loving: Eichler homes

Joseph Eichler was a home developer in California between 1949 and 1974. While not an architect himself, the homes he built in the mid-century modern style are known as the Eichler Homes. He built approximately 11,000 homes, all but 3 are in California. The other 3 are in New York. His style has become synonymous with the mid-century modern movement in the United States.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I call architecture 'petrified music'

This morning I made the trek from Jerusalem to Northern Tel Aviv to attend Jeff Pulver's Social Networking breakfast, and while I originally intended this post to be about that, it took another turn completely when visiting my brother's office in the Round Tower of the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv. The breakfast itself was interesting, though overwhelming for an anthrophobe (misanthrope?) like myself. I did talk to some people and hopefully made some good contacts. I did not actually hear Jeff speak, but he did say that he believes that email will be gone in 10-15 years. Which I can believe; these days I use mostly other social media to communicate. But I digress, the Azrieli Center is an office complex named for developer David Azrieli and originally designed by architect Eli Attiyah but after a falling out completed by the Tel Aviv firm of Moore Yaski Sivan Architects.
I think The Center is a very interesting example of modern Israeli architecture. It is a complex of three skyscrapers connected in the center by a shopping mall. The Round Tower is the tallest, with 49 storeys and is the second tallest building in Israel. (the Moshe Aviv Tower in Ramat Gan surpassed it in 2001). The Triangular Tower has 46 storeys and the Square Tower is the shortest at 42 storeys.
What I found fascinating about it is the effect it has from different perspectives. Seen from afar while looking at the Tel Aviv skyline, it looks so beautiful in the simplicity of three basic shapes, which I am imagine is the effect one might get from a bird's-eye view. Then, once inside the center, you see the close-up convergence of lines and angles, which is more complex, yet maintains the same beautiful simplicity.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Architecture is the masterly, correct, and magnificent play of form in light

Le Corbusier's Chapel

Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier né Charles Édouard Jeanneret (1887-1965) was a Swiss born architect. He developed the Modulor system using the golden ratio as Da Vinci did in the Vitruvian Man. He was a consultant on the building of the United Nations building in New York and he later got into furniture design and urban planning. His working motto, as written in Vers une architecture (Towards a New Architecture), was "the house is a machine for living in." His five points of new architecture, formulated in 1926, are: (1) the pilotis elevating the mass off the ground, (2) the free plan, achieved through the separation of the load-bearing columns from the walls subdividing the space, (3) the free facade, the corollary of the free plan in the vertical plane, (4) the long horizontal sliding window and finally (5) the roof garden, restoring, supposedly, the area of ground covered by the house. One of his most important works,Villa Savoye in Poissy, France (a suburb of Paris), employs this idea.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. - William S. Burroughs

Monkey Cat rests after a long twitter session (yay! a Mac-cat!)

When I left New York, one of the hardest things I ever did in my life was to leave Henry and Ralph behind; there were logistics and other factors that made their transport impossible, but not a day goes by that I don't think about them. I miss them terribly. What fills the void, not completely, but certainly makes me smile everyday, are my "anipals" I follow on Twitter. I know that to a lot of people it seems silly, but for me it certainly helps ease the pain of having had to leave my kitties behind. You can find my feline friends at Cats who Twitter and at Twitter Critters. But my furry friends are not just cats, there is also Max the Golden, a golden retriever who loves his tennis ball! It still may seem silly to some of you humans out there, and while it is not a replacement for the real McCoy, all you need is some animal appreciation and a little suspension of disbelief and you can feel some of the love offered by a pet. And, so I'd like to say hai! *headbutt* & *nosetap* to all! (and feel better Oscar!)

Brewskie Butt (artwork by BZTAT at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in

The Beacon Theater in Manhattan just reopened after undergoing restoration, and Leonard Cohen kicked off his first U.S. tour in 15 years there this past Friday night. Born in Montreal, he started off as poet and has gone on to become one of the most prolific singer-songwriters. In addition, he has authored two novels, including Beautiful Losers. He also produced 11 studio albums and has 3 tribute albums. His themes range from solitude to sexuality to Judaism. I couldn't possibly list all my favorite songs, but among them are Hallelujah (covered famously by Jeff Buckley), Everybody Knows, Take this Waltz, adapted from Federico García Lorca's "Little Viennese Waltz." And the list goes on.... But I certainly do wish I could have been at the Beacon this past Friday night.

Leonard Cohen Performs at the Beacon Theatre

What we call results are beginnings

I am very new to this blogging thing and I am still trying to figure out the best way to do this. I have been thinking of different things I would like to feature. This started out as a chronicle of my experience as I transition from picture editor to interior designer, and I will definitely continue to keep you updated on how the Thoreau apartment is coming along. And I will continue to share with you my own images. But I would also like to feature other things that I would like to share. I am trying to come up with the best way to incorporate this, so I would love to hear your feedback and will look for your comments. Do you think I should have dedicated days for different things? Or choose a topic a week, like focus on architects and feature a new architect throughout the week? Let me know what you'd like to see here! So far I have a couple of things percolating, so keep a lookout for posts on Le Corbusier, Leonard Cohen and Ansel Adams (whose birthday is February 20)
(The above photo is a self portrait c. 2001)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

things I'm loving: helvetica

There's been a lot of hype about this font, and for good reason; I think it is one of the most gorgeous fonts, so beautiful because of its simplicity. This was an ad in a graphics magazine in the 60s, and I absolutely love it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it

It dawned on me at some point last night that there might not be such a difference between my work doing picture research and interior design. The goals of both are to find the best-suited elements for a specific place and purpose. As a photo editor, I would find images that would fit the copy and make the best visual impact. It is the same with interior design, I would be looking for items that are most appropriate to serve its function in a given space. In both I was searching for the best form to serve a specific function. It could simply be there as eye candy, or it could be there to illustrate a point in the story, or in the case of interior design, a place to sit.
Both photography and design tell stories; and both, if done properly, will engage both the creator and the "experiencer" in some fashion. I think the best results in both come from those who really love what they are doing, and that is true in any field. I love being a photo editor, and I will love being an interior designer. But, as the song goes, "it's nice work if you can get it...."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

where you can see all the treasures of the house at one view

We went on a class trip today, to a big home fixtures showroom. I saw this little guy on one of the bathroom displays. At first I thought he was mimicking one of those Maneki Neko, or Japanese lucky cats, but now I think he is fixing his fur. Grooming makes more sense for a cat sitting on the bathroom sink. Though, everyone could use a little luck where ever they are.
They had everything, from floor tiles to shower stalls. Most exciting for me, however, was the claw foot tub on display as soon as I walked in, as I have been thinking about using one in Thoreau's master bathroom. Though I am not thrilled about the silver-y colored ball & claw, I was envisioning them in black.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society

Found these chairs. They're 'Zesty,' by Chair Baltic, a Latvian manufacturer. Made of molded plywood, they are super light and also available in birch, walnut and oak and can be customized in different colors. They're not necessarily for the Thoreau apartment, just something I'm liking.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance..

...among the pines

This photo was taken exactly two years ago, while waiting to board a TLV bound flight from JFK. That day had been what had become the blizzard of the "century." I was working at a magazine across the bridge in jersey at the time, and the office had even been closed that day, though I didn't find out until after I got there (the message said there would be a two hour delay; it was changed ten minutes after I had already called and left to make my bus). My flight was later that evening, at around 11pm. Getting to the airport was more of a nightmare than the flight itself! The SuperShuttle people called me 20 minutes before they were supposed to pick me up and canceled! Meanwhile, I hadn't heard about an major delays on my flight. The SuperShuttle people suggested I go to the street and hail a yellow cab. They didn't seem to understand that north of 96th Street, they're pretty hard to come by even during the most perfect weather (I lived on 184th Street). The car services I called didn't have a car for at least another 24 hours. I told them that doesn't help me make a flight that is in 3 and half hours. So out I trudged, with my luggage, through the 29.5 inches of sleet and snow to Broadway and started walking up trying to hail down anything that resembled some sort of livery vehicle, when lo and behold, I see a yellow cab, with his medallion light on, he stops, my urban knight in shining armor, I throw my bags in, shut the door, and say "JFK, please." He looked at me as if I were kidding. Did my huge duffel bag make it look like I was joking? He was nice enough to oblige; and 2 and half hours and 1 huge tip later, I was at the airport, taking off my boots.
While waiting for the flight, no one would clue us in as to what the deal was. So there I was, sitting by the gate, waiting to board the flight. The food stands by the gate had closed, so I go back out past security to get a cup of coffee, and they wouldn't let us back in with our beverages. We were finally told that the wheels of the planes had frozen to the ground in the hangar, so they had to melt the ice off which had caused a back log. We finally took off at around 1:30am (not bad for a blizzard!) after a couple of Xanax and 10 hours, I was in sunny Tel Aviv!
I remember the date because it happened to be on Valentine's Day; then, like now, it is something I lack, so I wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for stopping by and "listening" to my rambling and I hope you come back again soon!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Twestivus for the rest of us!

Blogging from Twestival Jerusalem. Cool band playing "Mr. Tambourine Man" (the Dylan version =) - the kid even looked like a young version of the master poet himself) People are mingling from in front of and behind their laptops, wine's a-flowin'. Networking. Chatting. Donating. Now he's slipped into "59th Street Bridge Street Song (Feeling Groovy)" We are gathered (worldwide) for charity:water.

I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pont, in Concord, Massachusetts

I realize I should have posted the plan of the apartment first before going into any detail of specific rooms:

I have chosen all the bathroom fixtures, however I have not yet drawn them to plan in 1:20. But I did choose the rest of my kitchen.

Thomasville's Cabbot Maple Moss Glaze cabinets.

Craft Art Reclaimed Bamboo Natural Countertop

Restoration Hardware Dakota Cup Pull

and button knob

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All the attractions of a house were concentrated in one room; it was kitchen, chamber, parlor, and keeping-room...

While my version of Walden is not limited one room, I am still going to try to stay true to this idea by allowing the different rooms to serve different functions. This is the plan for Thoreau's kitchen. It very basic. Along the window on the left are two stools against a raised counter so he can look out the window while he eats or enjoys a cup of coffee. He can entertain a friend or enjoy his solitude. He can read or write in his journal, or, perhaps, simply do nothing at all.

These are the appliances I have chosen. I still haven't chosen the cabinets or counters. (I intend on having hardwood floors throughout the apartment). The sink, as mentioned in a previous post, is an acid-resistant ceramic over cast-iron apron sink. I am thinking of some sort of green distressed wood cabinetry and wood counter tops, perhaps birch or some other light colored wood. I'm still looking. Ideally it should be recycled or reclaimed.

The pocket doors on the right lead to the bedroom. Between that and the kitchen along the top wall, is some sort of plant. I am placing greenery in various spots around the whole space, as Thoreau did love nature, though I may choose to put the cat's (Ralph) food and water bowls in that spot.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong. Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday was election day here in Israel. I took my 2 year old niece with me to vote, instilling civic duty early. Luckily I got home from the polls before a major rainstorm; Israel really needs the rain. It was quite fantastic, with thunder and lightning. I guess since it doesn't rain in the summer, we get thunder storms in the winter.
Without getting into politics, I have to say that the system baffles me. I voted for a small party whose values seemed to be closest to mine, though in the end I don't think they won any seats in the Knesset. Both Livni and Netanyahu have declared victory, although I think Livni is the victor but the right has the Knesset majority. I am still very confused about this whole process. I don't know what causes what; the confusing system or that the political issues themselves are so complicated.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Now that there are no priests or philosophers left, artists are the most important people in the world

Today is Gerhard Richter's birthday, it is also Tu B'Shvat (Jewish Arbor Day). I also managed to accomplish some stuff, like going to the Absorption Ministry to get unemployment. Took my business card to the printer. Went to the doctor; he's starting me on physical therapy - that should give me more to do, given my unemployment. Looked into a program in Industrial Design at a local college; it is intense and I don't think I have the discipline to handle such a huge course load, especially in a foreign language. I have to figure out what I am going to do when the course I am taking ends. I certainly want to continue in the field. Speaking of which, I made some not so minor tweaks to my kitchen plan. I extended a counter so the kitchen area is more of a U than an L. I haven't decided the height of the extension; if it will be table height with a couple of chairs, or higher with a stools.
The two images are Richter's. I saw the Toilet Paper image at a MoMA showing of his a few years ago, and for some reason, this image resonated with me (as did the entire exhibition, but for some reason, this image especially). Also the above are his "Trees," fitting both with Tu B'Shvat and with the motif of my Thoreau apartment. If last post touched on the relationship between artist and viewer, then I suppose one of my themes in this post can be the relationship between nature and art. And, perhaps, photography as art. Gerhard Richter said of photography: "Photography altered ways of seeing and thinking. Photographs were regarded as true, paintings as artificial. The painted picture was no longer credible; its representation froze into immobility, because it was not authentic but invented."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

'To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.'

I was playing around with some images for an "HDR" effect; this is one of the results. I posted them on flickr and I got some good feedback, so I figured I would share it with you all. It was taken about a week after 9/11, the first time I'd been down there since the attacks. You'd think this photograph would evoke a more emotional or cathartic response in me, but I just see it as another photograph, I guess until now when I am putting into the context in which it was taken. I guess that is another example about the "dilemma" in photography, and art in general, the relationship between the creator and its viewer or "experiencer." I may be getting a bit Jamesian, so I shall stop.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A room without books is like a body without a soul

One of my assignments was to create some sort of logo that represents what we are trying to create in our apartment design. This is what I came up with. It is some sort of representation of Walden Pond, which I'd like to be reflected in my color scheme. The brown will be expressed in Thoreau's apartment by the use of wood (hopefully recycled & reclaimed). My color scheme is comprised of a mossy green and different blues. I'm still not sure how it will be incorporated, but this is a work in progress. I also had the idea of exposed red brick on the walls. At some point I'll post the actual plan. Of course there are lots of bookshelves. I imagine this big bed surrounded by bookshelves, and the headboard is under a set of shelves. In the middle is the entertaining area with banquet seating along to-the-ceiling windows, and a sofa which is all under a big skylight. The kitchen area is on one side and on the other is his desk and an armchair with ottoman near more bookshelves. The master bathroom will have a deep claw-foot tub. I really love my plan, I wish I could really build it for myself. And it is also getting me excited to take on my own real projects. For now, I'll bide my time as Thoreau's architect.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music

Here's a photo of the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. It happens to be where Nate & S hook up in the first season of Gossip Girl. I didn't meet Prince Charming last night, though I did have a good time at the ball, and it was a charity event, so all in all a successful evening. And I got home after midnight without turning into a pumpkin.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

everything but the kitchen sink

I chose the rest of my appliances and my kitchen plan is now drafted in 1:20 scale. I may play around with the appliance placement a little more, but for the most part I am satisfied with how it's turning out. Except for the sink (I'm sticking with the Hawthorne, it only seems right =) ), I went with all stainless steel. My color scheme is based on the above photo, taken at the Van Cortlandt Golf Course (the oldest public golf course in the U.S.). In fact I think I may just use this photo as an inspiration for the whole apartment, given that it is for Thoreau.
On to other things..... I am going to a charity ball tonight. Who knows, maybe I'll meet my Prince Charming? Doubtful, but I'll remain a little hopeful. I don't know anyone else going, so I think I'll bring along the New Yorker. I wish I had an iPhone. I don't know how that relates to anything, just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

stovetops and fridges and sinks, oh my!

Just got back from class. Walden Two (no, nothing to do with B.F. Skinner) is coming along swimmingly. I have to tighten up the plan a little as far as precision of measurements, but other than that, it's lookin' good. No class next week, but the next time we meet we're going on a field trip to check out materials and stuff. Our assignment is also to design the kitchen, with appliances and everything. I'm liking this sink, and appropriately enough, it is Kohler's Hawthorne model:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them

Let's get to some architecture... I got some positive feedback from my teacher, which is quite encouraging! My big project for the semester is to design an apartment for a famous person; I have chosen Henry David Thoreau and am creating a modern day Walden (which he will share with his cat, Ralph ;) ) Of course, in the plan I have included his MacBook (it's drawn to scale... the apple logo isn't)

It is Super Bowl Sunday, not as exciting as last year, when the Giants won, so I will not be staying up to watch it, and I am sorry to be missing the Puppy Bowl.

Here's a photo of Ralphie. I really miss him and Henry. I am so sorry that I had to leave them behind when I relocated.

a star danced...

So, this is my first posting. I feel like when I was a kid and I used to get a new diary, I would always start, maybe continue for a few days and then forget about it. This will be different. That being said, welcome to my new blog. I suppose I'm a little late jumping on this bandwagon. Nevertheless, here I am, former picture editor, future interior designer ready to share my adventures with whomever is willing to listen. So as I go from photos to architecture, let's start with the more familiar...
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