Posts

furniture in Milan

milan2014

Last week marked the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, billed the world’s largest furniture fair, in Milan.  I was right here in sunny California, but took a little tour via Pinterest just to see what I was missing. Check it out to see what’s new, or in many cases what’s old but with a twist or a new color or a different material. It’s all here with links to sources.

milan2014-4

milan2014-3

milan2014-2

 

If you were there, send pictures. I see some pretty amazing future palettes off these photos….maybe tomorrow!
Leslie

food palettes…a starting place

With every design project the designer must choose a starting point. For a restaurant project it might be the food. Here is my flight of fancy using food palettes as conceptual beginnings. All photos courtesy foodarts.com.  Click on  photos to get to recipes.

Cured Salmon with Oyster Panna Cotta, Crab, Avruga Caviar & Avocado/Crème Fraîche

food2

Chocolate/Almond Tortellini with Blood Oranges & Pine Nuts

 Oyster with Carolina Rice Grits & Ramp Capers

food3

 Burnt Heather Partridge with Celeriac, Watercress & Chanterelles

food4

Is this all making you hungry?  Or maybe it’s time to get out the paints. Either way, it was fun for me! What inspires you at the beginning of a project? I’d love to hear your thoughts

Keep in touch,
Leslie

Edison lamp redux!

photo courtesy venus opto

photo courtesy venus opto

The water is off on my street today, so I called my friend Jane to see if I could pop over occasionally to use the loo and maybe grab a drink. She’s English….that’s why I’m popping and loo-ing. So I was over this morning and noticed she had a lamp in her bathroom light fixture that I hadn’t seen on the shelves. Here I am back home in my own dry house researching this very interesting lamp and lo and behold it is an LED version of the much hated Edison lamp!

I found a few styles, most made in China so far, but very interesting indeed! Color temps as low as 2700k, CRI over 80, no heat sink, 50k hours…am I dreaming? Oh happy day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I even found a decorative fixture that is really modern and rivals the coolest of the simple, hanging Edison lamp. Can I take 3?

led3

 

It’s a good day indeed!
Leslie

eating fish in a barrel

a rant aside

If you’ve been reading me for long, you know that so-called ‘edison bulbs’ drive me crazy. Yes, they are pretty and trendy and give that old-timey back to the farm feel to things. But they also use a ridiculous amount of energy (versus their light output) and create a significant amount of heat which then needs to be removed (unless you are building your restaurant in the very far north I suppose). So all in all, there is absolutely nothing sustainable or earth friendly or green about them. IMHO, there is no reason to use them….be creative people!

So, as I perused the entries in one of my favorite contests, the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, in search of something interesting that has been entered from my neck of the woods, you probably heard the cursing. Nearly every US entry not only used the dang things, but they also feature them as a highlight in their photographs! At Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito the designers at least had the decency to use them very sparingly, and did not use them as a detail shot (at least not for the contest). Maybe some people are finally getting past this very over used and tired design trend. Rant over.

Barrel House Tavern

Barrel House Tavern was 2 years in the making in a building over a century old on the Sausalito waterfront. According to the website this was the original ferry landing for the SF to Sausalito Ferry pre-Golden Gate Bridge (1936) and has since been home to Water Street Grille and Houlihan’s. CCS Architecture and the owner, Chris Henry, crafted a warm wood and leather seafood restaurant with soaring ceilings and gorgeous bay views in the neighborhood where Mr. Henry grew up fishing and crabbing. There are touches of earlier CCS projects throughout, but it all comes together to create a singular feel without forcing the heavy ‘concept’ touches of its Houlihan’s past.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And by the way, if you have a project to enter, you only have until April 20!

Happy Thursday,
Leslie

 

 

my friends are so talented

Since we are on the topic of awards, the Northern California Chapter of IIDA just announced the winners of their tenth annual Honor Awards. A couple of my friends were big winners and their projects are amazing.

Studio O+A

Primo Orpilla and I went to college together in Silicon Valley when it was still young. We graduated from San Jose State University in 1988. Primo went on to open O+A with his wife, Verda Alexander. Together they’ve changed the look and feel of the Silicon Valley of our youth….the offices of that day tended to a lot of very sad beige. O+A won two prizes last week at the IIDA award ceremony.  They won the ‘Work Medium Honor Award’ for their project for Open Table in San Francisco.  And just to prove that the world is tiny, the structural engineer on this project was my buddy Bobby Vaziri of Vaziri Structural Engineering.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

O+A also won the ‘Work Small Merit Award’ for Giant Pixel in San Francisco’s Mint Plaza.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EDG Interior Architecture + Design

My friends Cindy Kupka and Catharine Tarver collaborated with the rest of their team on Elena and Pony Line at the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires to win the ‘Anywhere But Here Honor Award’.  When I worked at EDG a few years ago I had the luck and pleasure to work with both Cindy and Catharine….both talented designers and so much fun to work with!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

awards time!

One of the things that I love about San Francisco is that people will forego paying the heating bill if necessary in order to eat great food. There is so much amazing food going on in Bay Area restaurants that sometimes something has to give. I can always burn old chairs for heat, but never in this lifetime will I be cooking like Kim Alter or the Rich team. This time of year is always a little frustrating because there are so many great places that I still haven’t eaten and they’re all in the news at once…awards time. So I’m just starting a list of who’s in contention for which award in the Bay Area and I’ll start pecking them off one by one.  Please don’t let on to Steve that this plan is in the works.  He might shut me down.

Food & Wine, the People’s Best New Chef (Bay Area contenders)

Matthew Accarrino, SPQR

photo courtesy spqr.com

photo courtesy spqr.com

Kim Alter, Plum

photo courtesy sfgate.com

photo courtesy sfgate.com

 

Brett Cooper, Outerlands*

*but the restaurant is closed for renovation and Chef Cooper won’t return, so guess this might save one chair

Evan and Sarah Rich, Rich Table

Ari Weiswasser, Glen Ellen Star

photo courtesy glenellenstar.com

photo courtesy glenellenstar.com

 

James Beard Foundation Award Nominees (Bay Area contenders)

Best restaurant design or renovation:  Jensen ArchitectsShed

photo courtesy healdsburgshed.com

photo courtesy healdsburgshed.com

Best Chef: West

 Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions

photo courtesy statebirdsf.com

photo courtesy statebirdsf.com

 Corey Lee, Benu

 Daniel Patterson, Coi

Best New Restaurant: Coqueta

photo courtesy coquetasf.com

photo courtesy coquetasf.com

 

Outstanding Wine Program:  A16

Outstanding Bar Program:  Bar Agricole

Outstanding Service:  QuinceThe Restaurant at Meadowood

photo courtesy therestaurantatmeadowood.com

photo courtesy therestaurantatmeadowood.com

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Belinda Leong, b. patisserie

Outstanding Restaurateur:  Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen)

Rising Star Chef of the Year:  Jessica Largey, Manresa

Outstanding Restaurant:  The Slanted Door

photo courtesy slanteddoor.com

photo courtesy slanteddoor.com

 

Outstanding Chef:  David Kinch, Manresa

photo courtesy manresarestaurant.com

photo courtesy manresarestaurant.com

It’s a long list!  Congratulations to all of our local semi-finalists. I’m looking forward to trying at least a few before Steve catches on.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

remember paper? check pencil!

photo courtesy fiftythree.com/pencil

photo courtesy fiftythree.com/pencil

Remember way back in early 2012 I told you about Paper, that remarkably cool app that made me consider buying an iPad? Yes, well that’s now ancient history…Steve got me an iPad for my birthday that year.  Not only did I immediately get the Paper app (and watch every single episode of Breaking Bad), but a couple of months ago the good people at Fifty Three came out with Pencil, a stylus designed especially for Paper.  I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this tool is.

So now I have the app and I have the tool, and in case you were wondering if I actually drew anything, here you go. Something I drew.  And if you scroll down, you can see some really gorgeous drawings that other people have drawn. Check out ‘made with paper for more amazing drawings.  And no, there’s no pay for play here.  I just REALLY LOVE these toys!  I mean tools.  (I do use them as tools as well, in case you were wondering…this is a great way to begin to conceptualize space and NOT have to throw away all that sketch paper).

Have a great weekend….get out and draw!
Leslie

ps….I’m considering a drawing a day so that maybe one day I can draw a bubble.  Are you with me?

this one by yours truly

this one by yours truly

paper and pencil

image courtesy allisonats.tumblr.com

paper and pencil2

image courtesy http://briangasmena.tumblr.com/

paper and pencil3

image courtesy eichan68.tumblr.com

what do biorhythms have to do with silicon valley?

biorhythms

photo courtesy procato.com/biorhythm and my biorhythms

Two of my biorhythms are down today.  It’s one of those ‘I just feel crappy and I want to go back to bed’ days so I went online and checked.  Yup, physical and intellectual are down, but at least emotional is up.  So I can laugh.  Around May 17 it’s even worse, so you’ll want to give me a wide berth.  But come the end of May it’s party time in my world!  When I was in high school, my math teacher, Mr. Headley, installed a computer that filled a classroom.  He created a program that told us all what our biorhythms were doing.  My math teacher was also Steve Jobs’ math teacher.  I lived in a world of super nerds amongst apricot and cherry orchards that would eventually all be razed to create Silicon Valley.  And raze they did, then they built it all up.  And unfortunately, not in a very nice way.  The last orchard was levelled about a decade ago, and in its place yet more concrete.  Probably another parking lot.  Silicon Valley was designed around cars, not people.

can this

can this

and this

and this

become this? photos courtesy fastcodesign.com

become this?
photos courtesy fastcodesign.com

I’m not the only one who left Silicon Valley as soon as I was able.  Silicon Valley was another name for the area around Santa Clara, where all of the tech companies were building their headquarters.  But it has sprawled east, west, north and south from there, and one concrete town bleeds into another.  The young tech crowd, while still a nerdy bunch, have a different ideal for environment than the techy nerds I grew up with.  And they don’t seem to want to live in this concrete jungle.  They all want to live in San Francisco.  And let me just say that San Franciscans aren’t all that happy about it.  It’s kind of like the way the Arizonians and the Texans feel about their border crossers. But saying ‘go back where you came from’ isn’t working when all that money is changing hands. Now San Jose, a town that wasn’t even part of Silicon Valley originally, has a 30 year plan that hopes to change all that.  Fast Company has done a really interesting story on the urban future of San Jose.  Can a city built around a deliberate suburban framework reshape itself to be a more compelling urban environment? San Franciscans can only hope it can, and it will.

Here’s hoping all your biorhythms are up!  Keep in touch,
Leslie

design: happy?

I recently posted about good design and what I’m willing to pay for it.  It matters.  But does it make people happy? And what about the happiness of the designers who create the design?  Are they happy?

Happy Clients

A couple of nights ago a residential client of mine invited me to a small gathering at her house.  We recently completed a remodel of her somewhat drab, poorly lit, dysfunctional kitchen.  There were several compliments on the look of the kitchen, but there was one guest, Stuart we’ll call him (because that’s his name), who had apparently been asking for me since his arrival.  Stuart told me how much he liked how the kitchen looked, but what really made me feel like the project was a success was when he went on about how it made him feel.  He was so excited about how the space felt to him:  open and airy and comfortable.  And in his opinion, it worked just perfectly (although all he was doing in it was drinking wine and noshing).

When I approach a new design project I always begin with a questionnaire or a long conversation where I ask a lot of questions.  One of the questions is always ‘what mood are you trying to create?’  Of course I want my design work to look good.  But my first order of business is making it work.  Does it provide the service that is needed, and  equally important, does it feel the way the client would like it to feel.  So far, I haven’t yet had a client tell me that the mood they were after was sadness.

Happy Designers

If I’ve created a project that makes people some version of happy (because that is usually what they are after….I haven’t yet done a mortuary), then I will be happy as well.  But there are other components of designer happiness. Stefan Sagmeister talks a lot about happiness and design.  He is a designer (with a very wide list of talents) who has created a few TED talks.  One is below, and this one particularly speaks to me.  It’s shorter and a bit sweeter than the typical TED talk, so listen while you have a cup of coffee.  Or two.  He mentions a couple of awesome New York City visual projects in his talk that make him happy.  Both are a bit surprising, which is part of what creates the joy.  Links follow the video.

photo courtesy thebubbleproject.com

photo courtesy thebubbleproject.com

The Bubble Project

Subway signage pranks

Keep in touch,
Leslie

ps…..I’m photo-ing the kitchen remodel this month.  Pictures coming!

buried in taxes

I’m up to my eyeballs in taxes today, so am just posting a few links that I’ve enjoyed from around the web.  Hope you do too!

Miss Ko

photo courtesy restaurantandbardesign.com

photo courtesy restaurantandbardesign.com

Check out the latest from Philippe Starck.  Miss Ko (the restaurant) was branded by GBH and designed by Philippe Starck and lies smack dab in the middle of Paris (49/51 avenue George V – 75008 Paris).  It is one out of the park crazy design that features Miss Ko in all her yakuza glory and is infused with symbolism that should keep you on your smartphone for hours trying to figure out what it all means.

Homemade Ricotta

Allison Eats is a beautifully crafted website.  Lovely graphics.  And some pretty amazing recipes as well.  I was just at a talk last week (thanks to my friend Brooke over at Too Many Apples) featuring the good people from Cowgirl Creamery and Strauss milk, two of my local favorites.  I love cheese more than anything, and that’s what they talked about for an hour.  So Allison’s recipe for Ricotta hits me right where it counts.  I’ll be trying this once I clear all the papers away…

Humphry Slocombe’s new location

photo courtesy insidescoopsf.sfgate.com

photo courtesy insidescoopsf.sfgate.com

A special note to my good friend Errol, Humphry Slocombe is now open in the SF ferry building.  I’ll be checking this out in the next few days!

where I live

my house, circa an hour ago

my house, circa an hour ago

the Brunner house, circa 1935

the Brunner house, circa 1935

15 years ago we bought the ugly duckling house on the beautiful block. All we saw was the charm and potential of our little Victorian.  Based on what little bit of research I’ve done, our house was probably built in the 1880s by two young Irish brothers named McElnay.  The original footprint was a single story 4 room house.  It probably didn’t have much of a kitchen, and the potty was out back.  It was built simply in the style of the time, but simply at that time included plaster walls, beautiful wood trims and moldings, and high ceilings with ceiling medallions. Before we bought it, the house was added to and remodeled so that what was once a 900 square foot home with a wrap around porch grew to nearly 1800 square feet.  Not big by today’s standards, but definitely big enough for us.  Between 1880 and 2014 we believe that 4 families have lived in our house.  First the McElnays, then the Brunner family, before us the Kahlers, and finally my family.  The earliest photo I have of the house is above, from about 1935 when the Brunners owned the house.  See the cobblestone street?  Grandpa Brunner was apparently very proud of his roses and grew them in both the front and back gardens.

During and after WWII the house was subdivided and most of it was rented out to servicemen. We have found 3 different locations for kitchens during the course of our renovations.  Grandma Brunner lived in the front bedroom at one point and used the closet for a kitchen (I presume her husband had died).  Sometime during their tenure much of the wraparound porch was enclosed to create a sunroom on one side and a closet on the other.

this is one of three doorways that has the original trim

this is one of three doorways that has the original trim

But back to the ugly duckling part.  When we bought the house everything was pink, the windows were all aluminum framed, the 12′ ceilings were dropped to 10′ and a step and wrought iron railing were added in the living room.  The fireplace was gone (presuming there was one), there was vinyl flooring and shag carpet everywhere, and the beautiful wood trims had all been removed and replaced with 3″ flat oak trim.  Apparently the family before us was enamored with the tract home style of the 60s, and I don’t mean the cool designs of people like Eichler.  So over the course of 15 years we’ve moved a few walls, remodeled every room, updated systems, replaced windows and tried to fix what was ugly and broken.

the before....like the beige/pink laminate everywhere?

the before….like the beige/pink laminate everywhere?

The final room (and it’s really silly that it’s the final room since it’s the room we use the most) was the kitchen.  We began that remodel in late 2011.  I’d done a virtual remodel at least 2 dozen times (tearing down a wall in Autocad is much cheaper than it is in real life).  We settled on a plan and our god-like general contractor came and executed it. Unfortunately my dad got ill mid-remodel and we took a bit of a hiatus before being able to finish.  Last year Steve and I finally installed our tile backsplash to finish (well almost….I still need to add undercab lights) the project.  Now I have a beautiful kitchen to go with the rest of our once again adorable Victorian home.

And I’m going to enter it into the This Old House reader remodel.  Once I take some photos with something besides my iPhone, I’ll upload them.  Suffice it to say there is no pink.

Keep in touch (and enjoy the California rain),
Leslie

what does Friday taste like?

I cannot imagine a better person on a project team than someone with synesthesia.  As a designer and a writer it’s always my goal to engage as many senses as possible in whatever experience I’m trying to create.  So someone whose senses are already intertwined would be an awesome asset.  Do you know a synesthete?  Are you a synesthete?  Lucky!

Dr. Richard Cytowic is a neurologist who studies synesthesia.  In this talk at the Library of Congress he refers to synesthesia as elevated perception and discusses links between synesthesia and creativity.  I wonder if I can develop it?  The color red is definitely sweet and hot…..but maybe I’m just confused with red hots.

Sigh….have a great weekend,
Leslie

red hots

words as design element

photo courtesy of radisson blu

photo courtesy of radisson blu

The newest addition to the Radisson Blu group in the US, the Radisson Blue Warwick Hotel, just opened in Philadelphia.  They utilized one of my favorite design elements to engage their guests:  words.  The project, created by Scotland based Graven Images, uses words on the lobby carpet to express the historical role that Philadelphia  played in the birth and growth of the United States.  The walls of the lobby express the viewpoints of brothers born at the same time in the ‘city of brotherly love’.  It’s a beautiful use of language to express a theme and create a mood.

photo courtesy 1amsf.com

photo courtesy 1amsf.com

When the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit opened a couple of years ago at the de Young Museum in SF, 1 AM SF, a group of graffiti artists gone mainstream (and I mean that in a really good way), provided the visual component.

papas room

2 years ago, when my dad became too ill to care for himself, he lived with my family.  So for the last 30 days of his life his home became the room that we had always called the sun room.  Now it’s Papa’s Room.

When I’m working on a project my first stop is the dictionary.  Words are always the beginning, so it’s fitting when they are part of the ending too.

MLK in words

photo courtesy Philly Word Art facebook page

If you want some really cool words for yourself, check out Dan Duffy, aka Philly Word Art.  You can have a photo of MLK drawn in own words, your favorite Philly sports hero using his stats, or a picture of your pet rat using the words from Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ (that would be a custom order).

believe it or not I have two complaints about Coi

photo courtesy sf.eater.com

photo courtesy sf.eater.com/maren caruso

If you’ve been reading Parti* Notes (my newsletter and blog) for any length of time you know that I’m a bit of a Daniel Patterson groupie.  I’ve eaten at his restaurants, bought his cookbook, follow him around when he speaks, and scavenge the restaurant rags for any item pertaining to the esteemed DP.  Steve and I had the awesome good fortune (and I seriously mean fortune) to spend some well earned dinero at Coi in December.  So when I saw that Coi had received a facelift last month I suggested that we might, just maybe, have another go?  Please?  Steve just laughed.  But the seed is planted.

Eater SF visited the newly updated space and provided some nice photos.  In December there was only one thing, well maybe two, that I found less than absolute perfection.  Of course the food was awesome.  But I’m a bit of a lighting nut when it comes to restaurants.  And the lighting at Coi was not great.  The tables were not lit properly to really show the beauty of the food.  DP prides himself on appealing to all of his guests’ senses, and in most cases he is spot on, but not with the lighting.  Pun intended.  And apparently this is one of the things that he fixed with this update.

The other very minor complaint that I had on my visit was the restroom.  While it was most assuredly eye catching (round mosaic tiles everywhere, cloth towels for hand drying, gray rocks in the sink to catch the water), the tile work, while interesting, was not well executed.  In addition to lighting in restaurants, I’m also a freak about bathrooms.  I would never complain about this bathroom at all except that it was at Coi where most everything is perfect and it was just slightly less than so.  And apparently during this reno it was taken down to the studs and redone.

So the seed is planted and I’m very much hoping that my hubby will surprise me with another visit so I can check out what’s new in person.  In the meantime, let me know if you get a chance to visit and tell me what you think.

scratching the surface of color

my mid-century palette

my mid-century palette

Have you discovered colourlovers yet?  So cool.  Load a photo and pull a color palette or twenty.  Then create patterns that use your palette.  One of my new favorite color tools to play with (and by new I mean I barely know what I’m doing yet but it is a great way to waste several hours getting side tracked with color).  Check it out and let me know how you like it.  Any other great color tools you use?

a pattern that I created from this palette

a pattern that I created from this palette

the picture that started it all

the picture that started it all