haters gonna…

Good design stirs emotion and elicits reaction. Think about how you feel when you walk into a cathedral…is that powerful awe? Or when you visit a library and find yourself whispering. Or you enter a bustling restaurant and you light up, ready to chat up the person on the bar stool next to you. When you hold a well designed tumbler does your whiskey taste better? This is the result of design done well.

But does it work the other way? Does emotion inspire design the way design inspires emotion? Clearly yes. Unfortunately the most prevalent emotions swirling the airwaves right now are hate and anger, but even those seem to spur some pretty interesting design solutions.

when hate inspires a revolution

The Women’s March on Washington spurned marches all over the world. The positivity of these marches was palpable, and the creativity that the divisive and hateful rhetoric in the news inspired was, well….inspiring!

dating for hate

Sunset walks, rainy nights by the fire and sharing a good bottle of wine haven’t found you the person of your dreams. How about finding someone who hates everything you do? On February 8 a new kind of dating app, based on what you both hate, launches. And Hater’s web page cites our new president, slow walkers and paying extra for guac as three possible things to hate. This could be very interesting!

hate is not a dream quencher

According to Budweiser, Adolphus Busch was not met with much love when he first emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1857. But his dream of making beer was stronger than the hatred that met him. Maybe he was just determined enough to show America that he couldn’t be beaten down. Or he had something to prove. Or he just really thought he could make the very best beer. Whatever drove him through the hatred, he definitely found success on the other side.

past hatred re-vamped

Last April, presumably a bit tongue in cheek, Tucker Viemeister created a logo for Trump as nominee that was based on an older symbol of hatred. The last two weeks have not done anything to quell the fear and animosity that our most recent election sparked. It’s chilling to think that this logo may no longer be a joke.

looking at hatred through a new lens

Insitum is a design research and innovation consultancy with offices in Chicago, Mexico, South America and Spain. Their employees in Mexico have been understandably disheartened by the outpouring of hatred from our new president and his constituency, as well as his talk of walls, taxes and immigration bans. So they channeled the hatred they were hearing, and the fear they were feeling, into some productive solutions.

Create jobs in Mexico and South America so migrants would fly back home. Or presumably stay there in the first place.

Create a neutral zone in the middle of both countries and develop prisons to keep the bad guys (dudes and hombres) from the U.S. and Mexico. {editor’s thought: does this align the US with North Korea and Mexico with South Korea?}

Design a program to employ US citizens in Mexico. Because honestly, if he builds the wall, many may want to be on the south side of it.

In an effort to keep things positive, I’m looking for the good that has come from this election and our new administration. If nothing else, there are many who were complacent who no longer are. Engagement in our democracy is what will keep it alive and functioning. And I daresay that we all know that now!

Keep in touch,

dear favorite client


You hired an interior designer for a reason. Your local building department said you needed one. The health department suggested that a designer could get your restaurant open more efficiently than you could. Maybe you wanted to streamline your office space. Or you’re one of those really wise people who knows your own limitations and architecture falls outside of your skill set.

You’re a left-brainer who thinks in spreadsheets and actuarial tables. What can you expect from a creative? What do they do exactly? And how?

there isn’t just one design process

Well dear left-brained client, we’re all different. We all do things differently. We approach projects differently and access solutions differently. We each have a creative process that is, at least in some way, unique to only us.


My process always begins with words. Lots of questions which always lead to more questions. Then I sit down and begin looking up definitions of the words that were answers to the questions. The dictionary is my first resource when I begin a project. And words guide my creative process until the project is complete.


Marcio Kogan, a Brazilian architect, sees his projects as movies. He walks through a scene in his head, creating his building as he does. Clearly he has a sense of humor…once the project is built he often creates a film starring the now real project.


David Darling and Joshua Aidlin camp out on the site of their future project. They feel living and sleeping at the site allows them to ‘extract a building’ from the location rather than adding a building.

playing with clay

Anna Heringer calls part of her process ‘claystorming’….conceiving her ideas by shaping hunks of clay. Like grown-up play doh.


Niroko Kusunoki of the Paris based architecture firm Moreau Kusunoki creates intricate pen and ink cartoon style drawings, complete with thought bubbles, to place buildings in their surroundings and refine how they work.

photo courtesy moreau kusunoki/architectural record

photo courtesy moreau kusunoki/architectural record

Some designers begin with sketches, some with 3D renderings, some with photos, some with movies or music or art. Many with a combination of inspiring sources. We use whatever creative avenue works for us, then almost magically –and often in the shower, or upon waking in the morning, or while walking the dog—we are able to peel back the layers of the problem and reveal the solution.

embrace the process…and your designer

So get to know your designer before you hire your designer. This is a personal relationship as much as it is a business relationship. You may not understand how your designer thinks, but you need to appreciate how he or she gets from where you are to where you want to be. And you must trust your designer to know and follow their own process.

The perfect client, from our perspective, is the one who not only respects our creative process but embraces it. With every project we begin it is our hope that you will be our new favorite client.

Keep in touch,

tires, runways and cutting edge food

michelin poster

Confession: I watch Project Runway. And I spend a huge percentage of our income on food. I did not grow up this way.

My parents took us out to eat occasionally. A typical night out was Denny’s or Bob’s Big Boy. And a really nice night out was the local family run Italian joint, Paesano’s, in what was then the outskirts of Cupertino. Apple computer was run out of a garage and I spent my summers in the apricot orchard down the street. The Michelin Man* was the funny looking cartoon character that sold tires. And my clothes came from Mervyn’s.

Then I went to design school and began working in restaurants to pay the bills…the beginning of both my aesthetic and culinary education. I soon left the South Bay in search of better aesthetics and better food. Now I only return under duress, or when someone in my husband’s family has a birthday.

Cutting Edge Creativity


Recently, as much as I shun reality TV (aside from the PBS cooking shows which don’t count), my daughter hooked me on Project Runway. And I realize that the reason I enjoy it is the same reason that I enjoy the occasional night out in a really nice restaurant: it’s the cutting edge creativity. Food is food, and clothes are clothes. The raw materials don’t change all that much. But when a true craftsperson works magic with those raw materials, they feed my creative soul. when a true craftsperson works magic with raw materials, they feed my creative soul Click To Tweet

Cutting Edge Food

mind of a chef

As a working creative, stoking my fire is a necessity (that’s what I tell Steve when I’m trying to sell an expensive night out), so lists of really good restaurants psyche me. And Michelin just released their 2016 guide. Manresa earned three stars, which means a trip down to the South Bay for something other than a family celebration, right? And after reading up on David Kinch, I’m kicking myself for waiting this long. I’m guessing a reservation is a few months out so I have time to check out his cookbook and maybe even catch a few episodes of the PBS series The Mind of a Chef featuring Chef Kinch. So much to do!

Living on the Edge

And while I’m making plans to feed my creative soul, I’ll work on convincing Steve that we should start ticking off all of the Michelin one star restaurants. I don’t think once a month, okay once every two months, is completely unreasonable. I’ll keep you posted…

Keep in touch

*About the Michelin Man….I finally took the time to research why the tire guy and the fancy restaurant guidebook have the same name. It seems the Michelin brothers who sold tires in the late 1800s in France decided to put together a guidebook for those few people who owned cars. It gave those early adopters ideas about places to drive so that they could wear out their tires, thus building business for the Michelin family. Who knew? Brilliant business men.

scheduling creativity

Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days. Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

Is creativity schedulable? Is that a word? I’d say probably no to both. But the creatives of yore did keep schedules and Mason Currey wrote a whole book describing their schedules. Then various others riffed off the book to create infographics (here and here). Above is my favorite by Podio…if you click through to the original then hover over the various colored indicators, Currey exposes some of the peculiar activities that our creative greats enjoyed. Anyone for an ice bath on the roof (Victor Hugo)? How about a walk (pretty much everyone)? Or a few bennies to boost creativity (Wystan Hugh Auden)?

Although each genius clearly had his or her own unique schedule, what they have in common is the existence of a schedule. I would posit that this is the key to unleashing creativity…develop a schedule then stick to it. I sat down and created a schedule for myself. It’s going up above my desk right now.

my schedule

So go ahead….make a schedule. See if it helps you to unleash your inner Picasso or Kafka or Freud. But stay away from the bennies.

Keep in touch,

your creative ideas are not original

this is my desk, the place where my best thievery occurs

this is my desk, the place where my best thievery occurs

Even if you think your creative ideas are original, you’re wrong. Your creativity is a mash-up of everything, or at least some things, that came before. Except now they are smashed together in a different way that transforms them, you transform them, into something that seems original. What is original is the time and place in which you create this transformation, the ‘you’ of the equation and the bits and pieces you choose to combine, and the hopeful perfection of this arrival. In other words, what is original is the time, the place and the process, not the pieces.

Austin Kleon exposes us to this truth about creativity’s lack of originality. Kleon legitimizes this thievery in his book ‘Steal Like An Artist’ in which he lays out ten principles for properly stealing what came before. Here are his ten principles by which I fully intend to live my future. No more stress while waiting for a truly ‘original’ idea. No more waiting for anything for that matter…..I will take whatever moves me and turn it into something that speaks. Now.

Those are Austin’s words. And these are mine. What are yours?

  1. Collect meaningful stuff: ideas, writing, languages, pictures, thoughts, dreams, songs, places, furniture, facts, people, books, boxes of things. Learn. Google. Ask. These are the bits and pieces that will inspire you. Leonard Cohen inspires me. So do my children, people speaking french, Hawaii, classical piano, autumn, bare feet, words.
  2. There is no there there. You are there now. If you wait you will have missed now. My sister had a plan for her future….but then she didn’t have a future. Don’t wait.
  3. You will do best what you enjoy. Don’t write plays if you don’t like to see plays. Don’t paint if you don’t enjoy painting. Don’t have children if you must be the center of attention. If it doesn’t fill you with joy do something else.
  4. Make things. Music. Art. Stories. Jewelry. Dog houses.
  5. All work and no play makes you dull. All of your bits and pieces unify you into a whole interesting being.
  6. There is no secret. There is doing and sharing. Stop being scared….or be scared and do it anyway.
  7. Go everywhere and see everything. Talk to everyone. Stretch your limits. In real life or virtually get out of your chair. A lot.
  8. You are your reputation. Be a good you.
  9. The devil is in the details….concepts and ideas don’t finish projects or pay bills. Finish your projects and pay your bills. All the little steps count.
  10. Focus focus focus. Some of the time. Don’t let unlimited possibility overwhelm you.

Keep in touch,

life is a journey…grow or slowly fade away

I share these here not because they apply to every life and offer some sort of blueprint to existence, but in the hope that they might benefit your own journey in some small way, bring you closer to your own center. ~ Maria Popova photo courtesy and


As you can imagine I read a lot in order to write. Well let me tell you, this is nothing compared to the amount that Maria Popova reads, reflects and reproduces on her amazing life journey and as the founder and author of Brain Pickings. (Ahem….excuse me for a sec while I pull up my soapbox.) I believe that in order to be fully who we are as human beings, as employers and employees, as parents and children and friends, we have to grow and change intentionally, strengthening who we are at the core as we evolve. If we sit in the same place believing the same things and acting in the same manner day after day and year after year, we are failing. At some point we are no longer relevant. We are no longer contributing. The world has changed and grown beyond us.

As a designer, if I still created the same palettes now that I began with in design school, the world would be a dizzying mess of gray and mauve. Remember that? My ability to design and understand and communicate the needs of my clients has solidified as the designs I create have changed. And if you, as a restaurateur, are still serving the same dishes that made your restaurant famous twenty years ago, you probably no longer have a restaurant (except for these old standbys…but even they have changed and grown to fit today’s clientele). The world changes, people change. If we sit adamantly by in our armchairs watching and stubbornly clinging to ‘the old days’, well, just don’t. It’s too sad. Read Brain Pickings and grow your mind. Grow your soul. Take a few minutes and go meet Maria…she is so worth your time.

And while you are there, check out her seven life learnings. My poster is already on the way.

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
    • don’t borrow opinions, take the time to cultivate your own convictions
  2. Do nothing out of guilt, or for prestige, status, money or approval alone.
    • figure out what you really like, not what you’d like to like
  3. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words.
    • enough said
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.
    • you can’t force the muse, and besides, sleep boosts creativity!
  5. Maya Angelou famously said, ‘When people tell you who they are, believe them’. But even more importantly, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
    • other people’s assumptions about you say more about them than they do about you
  6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. As Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
    • be where you are
  7. Debbie Millman captures our modern predicament beautifully: “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”
    • it’s a journey…be patient and enjoy the ride

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your seven years of Brain Pickings and giving us an easy starting point to learn and grow and change.

Keep in touch,

Watson’s in the kitchen…

It’s a joke in my house that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. And if I make something once, I very likely will not be able to duplicate the effort a second time.  My problem is not an inability to cook, it is an inability to stick to the program. Any program. So when the recipe calls for an ingredient that I don’t have, or that doesn’t smell as ‘right’ as another ingredient, I just switch. And measuring implements, bah. I know how much a tablespoon of olive oil is! For years I wasn’t allowed to bake…although that is changing slowly and with a great deal of resistance from my family (I’ve learned that baking is chemistry and I’ve agreed to use the called for ingredients and to measure them). Someday maybe I’ll share some of my most embarrassing baking stories. But I digress…

tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash...created without watson!

Tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash. But of course I could never do this again. I didn’t write anything down nor did I measure. Sigh…it was good, too!

Do you remember Watson, the computer of Jeopardy fame?

Well he is apparently changing careers from Jeopardy Human Destroyer to Chef. And if you’re lucky, he will help you in your kitchen. IBM has teamed up with Bon Appetit Magazine to teach Watson how to cook…kind of. Based on the ingredients you input (in my case whatever is in my fridge), the type of dish you’d like to make and the style you’d like to try, Watson will create a list of ingredients and a recipe (actually 100 recipes) to follow using the data collected from Bon Appetit’s 9000 recipes. IBM and Bon Appetit’s intention is to allow the home cook to increase his or her creativity based on the information provided by Watson.

Watson is what IBM calls a ‘cognitive computing system’, meaning that the information that was input into the program is re-organized by Watson and output in a different form….a new recipe never before tried (at least as far as Watson knows), like an Austrian Chocolate Burrito. The technology is amazing and I won’t begin to pretend that I truly understand it, but I am excited at the chance to be part of its development. If you want a chance to play in the kitchen with Watson, here is your opportunity.

Happy cooking! And if they choose me, you can expect lots of pictures!

small is the new big

small is big

Small living has been getting bigger and bigger the last few years. Between slim wallets and the growing interest…and let’s be honest, dire need…to build more sustainably, the mcmansions of the last century seem to be falling out of favor. Can we all say hallelujah? (Any excuse for a little Leonard). When designers and architects are faced with constraints, it allows opportunity for some pretty impressive creativity. Four of this year’s AIA award winners for small projects are featured in FineHomebuilding and include the Fall House, designed by Fougeron Architects, along my very favorite stretch of California coastline. The three bedroom vacation home sits on the land quietly, following the natural curves of the site, and is wrapped in glass to honor the beauty outside. And to add my own bit of love to the story, it is near enough to Esalen to run on over for a quick tub in their natural spring fed hot tubs (that is if you tire of that awesome built-in glass tub).

And for the rest of us, small is growing as well. There are ‘tiny house’ blogs and websites, and it seems that every couple of months there’s another news story about a family downsizing and simplifying. Karen Baumann and her two large dogs live in 460 square feet in Marin County, one of the country’s most expensive areas. She says that living small allows her to spend less time cleaning and organizing and affords her more time and money for the things she loves like entertaining and traveling. Micro-apartments are also becoming quite the rage, especially in the most expensive cities around the globe. Curbed has a column dedicated to micro-dwellings which seem to get smaller and smaller. The smallest they’ve listed so far in San Francisco is a mere 200 square feet (that rents for a whopping $1275 per month). And in Paris these micro-apartments get even smaller. Architect Julie Nabucet’s 129 square foot apartment includes an elevated kitchen above a bed/couch in a drawer, linens that tuck away and a tiny bathroom.

This is a bit too small for anyone with, say, clothes, but somewhere between the 129 square foot apartment and the 2600 square foot average home size, is the right house for most of us who are trying to simplify and live within the means of our limited ecosystem.

I’m off to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for their quarterly night out….have a great night and keep in touch,

my disruptive life

l design disrupted

You know that I’m an interior designer specializing in restaurant design. You’ve read my bio. But you read my posts daily and wonder how does all of this writing fit with your understanding of what I actually do for a living? The answer is I’m practicing my own version of disruption.

Disruptive thinking is the term of 2014. And it follows close on the heels of design thinking. According to Fast Company, design thinking is a ‘proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results’. Disruptive thinking takes this idea a step further and in a slightly different direction. To think disruptively you must look where you haven’t looked before to find first the problem that no one has yet discovered, then solve it creatively. Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business, published in 2010, was written by Luke Williams, fellow at frog design’s New York office and an Executive Director at the NYU Stern School of Business. (frog design, if you will recall, was instrumental in helping Apple Computer create its design edge.) Luke Williams contends that finding the problem, disrupting the status quo, is the first creative step in the process. Much like scrum has transformed the way problems are viewed and solved, disruptive thinking transforms the way processes are viewed then re-defined and executed. According to Williams, there are 5 steps to disruptive thinking:

  1. Craft a disruptive hypothesis: be wrong at the start to be right at the end
  2. Discover a disruptive opportunity: explore the least obvious
  3. Generate a disruptive idea: unexpected ideas have fewer competitors
  4. Shape a disruptive solution: novelty for novelty’s sake is a resource killer
  5. Make a disruptive pitch: under prepare the obvious, over prepare the unusual

In my case, I’m at number two: discovering my opportunity. I’ve designed space for over twenty years and loved it, except the part where design separated me from the research and writing that feeds me. So on weekends and during my scarce evening hours (I am raising two kids remember), I’ve taken classes and written fiction and essays. Fun, yes, and a nice distraction, but not fulfilling. So I’ve battled with how to be both a designer and a writer for years and finally had that ah ha moment a few months ago….just do both and see where it leads! That is my Disruptive Hypothesis. I’m doing this by reading and writing every day about things that are connected with design, architecture and food. The only three things that I know for sure are that I am a designer, I am a writer and one feeds the other. By researching and writing from the perspective of a designer I am finding ways to meld the two, making me better at both.

As I continue to research and write, I learn daily about all of the possibilities out there and I get closer to disrupting the current system and finding a place we haven’t been before, a place where design and writing can work together that allows me to contribute meaningfully.

That is my very long winded answer to the many who have asked me….what do you do?

Have a great week,


slow the f*^# down: ten tips +1

preparing a midday meal

preparing a midday meal

The race to nowhere is not just a phenomenon applicable to high school kids pulling their hair out (or worse) trying to get into the ‘right’ college so that they can get the ‘right’ job and live the ‘right’ life. It’s a phenomenon that exists everywhere and affects everyone. And where are we all racing to? The end of the line is truly the end of the line, so what is the rush? We are already where we need to be….smack dab in the middle of our lives. And a number of people in a number of countries are beginning to notice and slow the f*^# down.

Carl Honore gave a TED talk quite a few years ago on this very topic and much of what he discussed then is still quite relevant. He highlights the connection between our need for speed (speed dating, speed walking, speed dial, speed reading, even speed yoga) and eroding health, productivity and quality of life. This focus on speed also creates stresses that limit creativity, something that I find unbearable. He posits that with the advent of the Slow Food movement we are beginning as societies to see the benefits to slowing down. Slow food has given way to slow communities, slow sex, even slow money, a topic that came up at a food conference I attended recently and was a reference to crowd funding.

Arianna Huffington suggests that this need for speed is an addiction to ‘busy-ness’ with the goal being success based on money and power. She proposes a ‘third metric’ borne of a commencement speech she gave in 2013  at Smith College. The third metric is success based on quality of life, or thriving, rather than defining success as money and power. Guy Kawasaki created a list of ten tips from Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder that can help us to create a life where we care for our health, sleep enough, and do not live to work. I paraphrase (and expand) his tips here:

  1. Redefine success: base success on the joy you’ve brought to people’s lives and whether or not you’ve made the world a better place.
  2. Avoid burnout: working longer and harder does not reap more success.
  3. Nurture your well being: exercise, meditate, do music and art, spend time with friends and family.
  4. Sleep: getting enough sleep will improve every aspect of life.
  5. Take a digital break: turn off all your devices some of the time.
  6. Keep learning: learn from your relationships, read, attend events inside and outside of your business expertise.
  7. Listen to your inner voice: pay attention to your gut reactions…your intuition is based on cues that may not be conscious or obvious.
  8. Act like a child: enjoy life, do what is fun for you, see the world from a younger, clearer perspective.
  9. Find solitude: clear your head with meditation or non-thinking time to unleash your own creativity.
  10. Give back: share your unique talents to improve your corner of the world.

I’d like to add number 11 to this list. Bring the midday meal back to your life. My husband enjoys a midday meal once a week with a friend. They take turns bringing food to the office to prepare and enjoy together, away from their desks. Peter Miller just released Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. He and his staff make and share lunch each day, setting deliberate time aside from the busy-ness, the computer and the clock. Number 11 is a nice concrete start to the lesser defined 1 through 10. And it’s nearly 1 o’clock as I finish this post, so I’m off to my midday meal!

Keep in touch,


thursday fun

In an effort to embrace Thursday as the new Friday, enjoy these two bits of fun. Yuma Kano is a young Tokyo designer who looks at the ordinary and makes it not so. He’s taken products as mundane as the picnic blanket, the common screw and screwdriver, the used incandescent bulb and recreated them in his own vision. Inspires me to start looking around at what could be instead of what is…..

Photos courtesy

So it’s a lovely Sunday afternoon and you have the option of going to the museum to see some really beautiful art or watching 360 people in duck suits and superman costumes slide down a huge soap covered hill on their bellies. English installation artist Luke Bellam thought that the soapy hill might prove more engaging for the Bristol community. Apparently he was right. Nearly 100,000 people signed up for the available sliding tickets. 65,000 people came to watch the sliders slide. When was the last time you saw that many people at a museum?

Luke will post instructions online for anyone to create their own urban slide…register interest on his website. Are you listening San Francisco? Sign me up to be part of the organizing committee!

Photos courtesy

See you tomorrow!

napkin sketches

It’s award season, I know. So all the Fabulous’ are entering their super fabulous projects in super fabulous contests and winning great acclaim and more clients. For the rest of us (and the Fabulous’ as well), there is my absolute favorite reachable contest of the year: the napkin sketch contest put on by Architectural Record. Go get a pack of 5×5 white napkins, set one in front of you with a pen and a second adjacent with your cocktail of choice, and sketch baby! All napkins must be submitted by June 30, so now’s the time. Here are a few sketches for inspiration from the 2013 contest. And even you don’t win, you could always make your sketch into a nice little notebook and start practicing for next year.

Happy drawing….


good houses

I don’t read the online magazines that feature opulent houses with overdone window treatments and too many pillows on the sofa. I read the online magazines that talk about the future of design and architecture. That includes building small, building sustainably, and building smart. Check out these three homes.

Origami House

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TSC Architects designed this home in what looks like a Japanese suburb. The website is in Japanese, which unfortunately I don’t speak, so I have no background on the house. But what strikes me is the opportunity that a design like this provides for using passive solar techniques to minimize power needs. Siting the home so that the main exposure is to the south, (if you live in California…check your location for best practice ;)) and protecting the windows with extended eaves accomplishes several things:

  • it minimizes summer cooling needs because the hot summer sun is high in the sky and does not reach the protected windows,
  • it increases winter heating when the sun is low in the sky and shines through the wide expanses of glass, therefore decreasing the need for artificial heating,
  • it allows light to penetrate into the house through the many protected windows reducing the need for artificial light.

All images courtesy TSC Architects.

A Recipe to Live

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Another project in Japan, Materia found this one which is built at Waseda University. The home is self heating as a  result of walls that continually compost, keeping the home at an even temperature year round. And the house is continually making black gold for the garden!

All images courtesy

Tower House

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Built on a small, steep, tree covered lot in Portland, Benjamin Waechter designed this home to go up rather than out to minimize environmental impact. The home is also wrapped in corrugated steel with rounded corners to minimize the additional need for trim at square corners. A beautiful light filled home on a difficult lot…proof that constraints can encourage greater creativity.

All images courtesy Architectural Record/Benjamin Waechter/Lara Swimmer

Happy May Day!

image packer: awesome photo tool

Images courtesy,,,,,,,,, listdose,com,,

Images courtesy,,,,,,,,, listdose,com,,

The architecture and design worlds rely heavily on images to both inspire design and communicate design. When I began my design career we collected thousands of magazines that we would page through in search of images. At my last firm we spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours researching and testing software to allow us to collect and tag images for our in house image library. Since I began my own petite firm three years ago, Pinterest has been my image collection system of choice. It is an amazing resource for collecting and using images digitally, but is still a bit of work to create presentation materials from those images.

Reddit user thoriumoakenshield created a tool  called Image Packer that makes downloading multiple full size images a single click process (along with all source credits….copyright laws do apply). I created the compiled image above in about 3 minutes while drinking my not nearly as pretty cup of coffee. Awesome. Check it.

Enjoy your morning coffee and have a really productive week!

8-3-16 edit: Image Packer seems to be gone.

biomimicry…the beginning of the story




noun: the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes.

Our planet and its organisms have been growing, creating and evolving efficient life systems for over 3.8 billion years. The science of biomimicry studies and models man-made processes after these biological systems. The term biomimicry seems to have been coined sometime in the 1970s (perhaps around the time of the first oil shortages when I remember sitting in long lines of cars with my dad on our designated day waiting for our turn to get gasoline) and has rapidly grown in usage since 1997 when Janine Benyus published her book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In the last decade the study and use of biomimicry principles has grown exponentially and architects and designers are learning to look first to nature for solutions.

In the desert of Lima, Peru an engineering company, Utec, developed a billboard that pulls water from the atmosphere and purifies it for consumption by the locals. Kind of sounds like a beetle in the Sahara (you have to watch the video above to get the connection). Click on the photo for the story.


photo courtesy

Nature knows….we just need to pay attention. I’ll keep you posted on projects that I find inspired by nature. In the meantime, check out asknature. It’s an awesome creative resource and a lot of fun too.