If heaven were designed in the 60's...all white and 'futuristic'.
"I like spaces that are strongly connected to particular periods of time. When you go to all these new coffeeshops that are being built, it's very easy to say 'uhhh, everything's so the same'. But in about twenty years time, when only a few of those manage to be left, it will have that nostalgia because that period has past and there's that ability to reflect on it."Bethan Laura Wood's East London Inspiration (2:55)
I felt like I'd stepped into a 60's version of Venice. Pacific Science Center is a science museum located in a structure designed for the 1962 World's Fair. The archways and porticos reminded me of the Palazzo Ducale, although the entire building is in the style of mid-century futurism. The water, the reflection off the ripples and the stacked archways create a similar ambiance. It's nice to see the same result from a separate approach.
I enjoy old architecture, especially because it looks nothing like today's. When I walk around my parent's neighborhood, I'm disgusted by the new houses that pop up. Hundreds of new 'craftsman' style homes are being built in the suburbs around Seattle. When I came across Bethan Laura Wood's video this morning, I started to reconsider. Only a few of these homes will survive.
Lovely dramatic archways, I took a video while walking through
Why do I dislike mcmansion architecture so much? Maybe the ubiquity bothers me, maybe it's because the style has no story other than the story of being 'bourgeois'. These homes aren't made for people like me. They're new and affordable for growing families. Why am I holding them to a higher standard? They're not set up to be appreciated in the same way an old mid-century home is.
Covered walkways of this sort are not common in the US
One day, they will be special. I'll change my mind when this happens. These homes will disappear as the style looses favor but it'll be too late to appreciate because they'll be nearly gone.
Since I spend a lot of time at home, I'm only interested in clothing that'd be comfortable at home. The silk cotton dress above is from Horses Atelier. Although it looks appropriate for going out, it's something that has enough room to feel at ease in.
Abstract art provides ambiance that I don't easily tire of. Unlike images with distinct figures, shapes and colors can be anything you want based on mood. The warm wall painting is by Magda Kupinska.
Luis Barragan's homes are known for color. Here is a kitchen from Casa Pedregal covered in pink tiles. The sunlight illuminates the tile irregularities, exposing the differences in fire and glaze.
15 Jan '17  —
Finding a way by not knowing any way.
Driving around Whidbey Island, enjoying wild roads I'm unfamiliar with...
"Identity for all of us is this perpetual process and it's somewhat like constantly clearing out and re-arranging an attic."
"And it's as much about throwing out all the furniture and trinkets that no longer serve us...as bringing in new ones."
"In that sense it's just as important to continue defining who we are is to continue eliminating who we are not." - Maria Papova, On Being (15:15)
I got a little lost. My interest in home design directed me to a series of interior design books. The photos are attractive and aspirational--but not exactly spaces I'd actually live in. As I got frustrated thinking about how things would fit (picture frames to patterns), I came across Axel Vervoordt's book and realized: NO! Interior design doesn't have to be the way it's been massively represented. I don't need lamps, hanging pictures, extra pillows, and decorative accents running around. All I need is to find a way to live fuss free.
For me, that means flat walls in colors I appreciate and soft furnishings in natural cloth. Lots of storage would be nice in addition to finding ways to access them easily. I want a space to go about my day without interruption.
I felt a little silly getting lost, but I couldn't have gotten clarity without. I didn't know what was important until I started to delve into design only to find that I disagree with most home design techniques that are popular today.
"I don't think you can be deliberate about shaping your course forward because then you end up somewhere completely stale and expected."
One of my favorite rooms of all time sits in Axel Vervoordt's Belgian castle. There's nothing in this room that distracts me from seeing the most impressive details: wood grain and textile fibers...
Sometimes, I think: what am I doing addressing so many random subjects on this blog? One day I talk about a hike, next, homemade comfort food, then clarity on personal thoughts, and then a switch into home design... Actually, these subjects are all related to what I think it means to live a good life and how I go about living that life. These principles make their way into how I'd design my home.
I only realized the relationship between the topics when I came across Axel Verdvoordt: Wabi Inspirations. Axel Verdvoordt's personal philosophy shows up in everything he creates.
Breathing room: A couple of my favorite spaces in the book. Natural surfaces along with proportion and space are the 'decoration'.
"Modern living spaces are so often defined by fashion and commercial marketing strategies.
But Wabi is not a style, a fashion, or design trend.
Neither is it an idea that is likely to be imitated or replicated on a large scale.
For Wabi is neither formulaic nor can it be prescribed.
For it avoids showy objects and conspicuous displays of wealth.
The defining factor that sets Wabi apart is its purity and simplicity.
It is free from eclectic clutter and distractions that prevent us from finding inner peace.
As such it is tranquil, calm, and reassuring--completely centered."
And that is why there are no interior designers like him. The entire industry operates on formulas, displays of wealth.
"Wabi celebrates the very beauty of imperfection and incompleteness: qualities that I treasure more and more as I have come fully to understand their significance."
Interior design publications assume everyone wants a stimulating space. I'm not looking for that. After all, how stimulating can bold patterns be day after day? I want a calm space where I can feel stable, a starting point for whatever I end up doing in that space. Perhaps it's calmness, rather than an agitated mashup of designs, that stimulates me in the first place.
I also admire the idea of 'incompleteness'. While most interior design is about completing a room--matching coffee table, end table with sofa--Axel Vervoordt's rooms leave space for possibilities.
"As the silence between notes in music is critical, so the brevity and empty space present in art is just as important to magnify the intensity of the expression."
Throughout the book, Axel Verdvoordt shares his appreciation for nature. The beginning chapter is a about a rain hut where he and a group of colleagues sit inside and enjoy the sound of rain. They light a fire to keep warm. All of life's simple pleasures contained in the small space of a wooden hut.
"While Axel lights the fire we listen to the sounds of silence: raindrops on the roof.
Wood crackling on the fire."
Yesterday I made baked mac and cheese. Using Bon Appetit's best macaroni and cheese recipe, I swaped in smoked Cheddar for the Gruyère cheese (it's $11+ for 7 oz in the US) and added paprika. The result was a smoked taste that blended well with the cozy casserole warmth.
Previously, I made this in Europe using local cheeses there: Emmental, Gouda and Gruyère (less than $4 per pack in Europe). Cheddar is an imported good in Germany. To get too fancy on mac and cheese defeats the point.
You'd think the standard European supermarket would carry a larger variety of cheese than an American one. Surprisingly, in the smaller grocer near my parents and house, there were three separate cheese sections spread across the store. Each carried at least 10 different cheeses.
The mac and cheese came out lighter than I thought. With all the dairy, I thought it would come out rich. I wasn't slightly overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, my brother broke some hard news. Old Country Buffet closed down. The mac and cheese at the all-you-can-eat buffet was legendary. It was the only reason people went there. RIP.
12 Jan '17  —
Feelings for you, feelings for me...
My kind of mermaid, sometimes I want other creatures to feel some pain... The fountain of Neptune, found while wandering Piazza Navona.
The past two days I've been thinking about Oldboy, the classic Korean film about a guy who's locked up for fifteen years with no seemingly apparent reason and then released. I haven't heard of any revenge story as epic as Oldboy so it stays in my memory as a pure representation of vengeance.
Revenge is such an incredible force of nature. There's so much energy and passion involved. It can't be all bad, can it?
Today I somehow came across a link between revenge and compassion. The two seem to have nothing to do with one another but they're both driven by the same thing: empathy. When I'm upset someone put me in a situation, I immediately wish they could feel what I feel.
In feeling vengeful, I want others to 'taste their own medicine'. Not everyone reacts the same, so it's not about going through the same ordeal. They might be okay, no problem. Revenge is about getting others to feel the hurt, pain or inconvenience that I experience.
On the other hand, compassion is feeling for others, willingly, without force. When I'm compassionate, or when I have empathy for others, I'm open and willing to imagine what it'd be like in someone's shoes.
Both situations involve pain to be addressed. While compassion can come in a variety of ways, the empathy I yearn for when I want revenge is a specific form. I can easily feel 'things suck' when my friend is going through something troublesome while also acknowledging that I have no idea what they're going through. In wishing for revenge, I want the person who trespassed me to feel exactly how I feel--a very specific flavor of empathy.
I would have never have thought the two emotions were linked.
09 Jan '17  —
The strange combination of being both over and under confident.
When I'm in line checking out at the shop, I find myself longingly looking at the lines around me. Should I have lined up at the next cashier? It may be slightly longer, but it seems to be moving faster.
There's an idea that there is a right answer. That life would be more successful if I had just gotten in the right line.
This morning I found where my self doubt comes from. It's not from lack of self-esteem or confidence. It's not from having a habit of second guessing. My self doubt comes from the belief that each decision yields a drastically different outcome and that outcomes can be ranked according to better or worse.
What would my life be if I had gotten in the next line? 'Oh look, that line is getting ahead. I knew I should have gotten in--oh I would have been done by now, on my way home.' It's so easy to see how the grass is greener on the other side.
I don't know for sure what would've happened months or years after. The imaginable immediate future drives a perception that there is a definite better outcome. The same checkout scenario is seen in larger decisions across life, for instance whether I should have gone to grad school, if I should've taken a particular job, should I have gone on that date...etc. Whether it's five minutes or several years, the information gathered in these periods of life cannot be extrapolated across a lifetime. I would never know what would've or wouldn't have happened. Paradoxically, the perception of knowing creates self doubt.
I am doubting the wrong thing. I should doubt how much I know about the future rather than doubt my decisions. Without the premise of a better or worse outcome, all my decisions are fine. Self-doubt doesn't play a role when I know fully that I don't know where things will lead.
08 Jan '17  —
An encouraging interior design book.
From The Finer Things, I learned about a wallpaper company that makes brush stroke wall paper. Porter Teleo's hand painted fluid tones via porterteleo.com.
I woke up thinking, "I'm here again. I thought I was interested in interior design, so much that I started doing research on how my own home". This morning, I found it all meaningless. How do I con myself into starting a project that I end up losing interest in?
After reading about folk architecture, I realized the design I want for my home is simple, functional, uncluttered. What was I thinking spending time looking at how pictures are framed? I was moving some furniture in the hall with my husband and a wall lamp got in the way. At least the lamp was functional. I can't see how I'd enjoy living in a space with pictures on the wall, no matter how nicely framed they are. How did I believe I could get into interior design?
As I grumbled, I sat down and opened Christiane Lemieux's The Finer Things. The book not only discusses elements of interior design, but also gives an overview on how elements are crafted along with a bit of history.
My life is more 'Anything But Fine'...sick on the couch right now in the comfort of my mom's basement
After a few pages, I got myself to the level of excitement I had when I first started looking into interiors. Published in 2016, the book addresses contemporary issues: eco friendly choices, possible DIY implementations, and a way to keep a space simple and uncluttered.
Going through the first chapter on wallpaper, I was enthralled by the different types available and the amount of craftsmanship. The paint chapter offered endless possibilities that seemed possible for me to implement. Both chapters emphasize the use of color and contrast in creating an ambiance that requires no additional artwork. Rooms can be kept simple and at the same time, have a dramatic ambiance.
I realized that my frustration is part of the design process. Although framed pictures show up in all interior magazines, it's not a must. At the end of the day, it's about crafting a space I'll be comfortable in. The way to find out what I like is to find out what I don't like.
I don't like framed pictures. I can finally say this with confidence, although it took a lot of patience to acknowledge.