Halloween Inspiration

As the hubby and I were cashing in the first day of our annual Disneyland passes, I was excited to see the park at Halloween time. We even picked up a little inspiration for our own house at the Haunted Mansion.

Of course Disneyland was sure to boast happy pumpkin versions of favorite characters our front so as not to scare the kiddies.

DSCN3565 DSCN3579 The whole of Main Street was decked out with pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, and general fall decor.DSCN3571 DSCN3568 DSCN3577 In the New Orleans portion of the park though, things got a little more dark.DSCN3574 The Haunted Mansion was spectacularly decorated for the season, and was especially fun to see at night. It’s lined with flickering flameless candles, glowing jack-o-lanterns, skulls, cobwebs, and black and purple ribbons. DSCN3606 So we brought some of those ideas back home with us. We threw a Halloween party and practically plastered the house in cobwebs (equipped with little black spiders) in time for the festivities.DSCN3638 We lined the mantel with flickering flameless candles and left the main lamp in the living room off to create a dark, spooky glow about the room.DSCN3637 I created one pumpkin and skull vignette on the coffee table…DSCN3642

…and another on the dining room table. I think it sort of says “Maybe we’ll eat YOU for dinner.”
DSCN3644 One friend pointed out that we could not have gotten to our books if we’d wanted to! But it’s amazing what a plethora of cobwebs will do to make even the newest of book collections seem ancient.DSCN3643 And of course, no Halloween house would be complete without ghosts! The great thing about placing this one in the window is that it also creates a ghost silhouette when looking into the house from outside. A perfect greeting for party guests as they made their way up the steps to our front door.DSCN3639 I found these little black birds online and perched them atop the lamps, silhouetting them a bit and creating the illusion that they are looking down on you, maybe even watching you.DSCN3641 DSCN3647 We even strung cobwebs from the dining room ceiling, creating a seeming canopy of creepy crawlies.DSCN3645 DSCN3648 Outside next to the beer cooler, we created a spooky graveyard, complete with bones and dismembered limbs.DSCN3630 Even an unfortunate soul “unearthed” in the vegetable garden.DSCN3631 And of course more flameless candles in a row of jack-o-lanterns on the hedge and in a lantern by our outdoor lounge furniture.DSCN3635 DSCN3636What is your favorite thing to see in Halloween decorations this time of year?

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What Have I Been Up To?

Well folks, I have to admit getting used to a new routine involving an intensive hand-drafting/hand-rendering class and a busy work schedule has been a challenge. I’m starting to get a hold on how to best manage my time so I can get back to blogging! I’ve got a couple up my sleeve, plus I’m heading to New York for a friend’s wedding celebration and will surely have lots to write about when I get back. In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Among many things, at work I’ve been pairing fabrics in our library.

fabric And shopping for fabrics in the Fabric District in Downtown LA.fabricdistrict At home, the hubby has been cooking up a delicious storm, including roasting these tomatoes and peppers.tomatoespeppers We watched the Breaking Bad series finally, accompanied by these red velvet cupcakes the Village Bakery made in honor of the final paragraph of the live of Walter White.bbcupcakes I snuck away from my drafting table for a night with girls at Street Food Cinema… Princess Bride screened outdoors in a nearby park, plus lots of food trucks. Mmmmm Umami….umamiburger princessbride This oh so scrumptious hot cookie and ice cream dessert at Pop, a champagne and dessert bar in Pasadena, where we met a wonderful friend from college during her brief work-related visit.cookiedessertAnd Disney lovers hold on to your seats… my AMAZING husband, who clearly knows me too well, gave me annual passes for Disneyland for our anniversary! BEST. GIFT. EVER.
DSCN3580I’m looking forward to sharing regular anecdotes with you all again! Next week: a nod to Halloween.

Why I Love Turquoise

I have had turquoise on the brain lately! So today I’d like to share why. Firstly, it’s a fantastic color. Personally I especially love a dark shade of turquoise, but that’s the great thing about it. It looks great in dark or light shades, on walls, furniture, or even smaller accessories to give a room a certain punch. It’s a little blue, a little green, and as I learned after hours of mixing paint during my color theory class, sometimes it takes a bit of orange to create just the right shade. It’s a color that goes well with every other color, and to top it all off it’s a color that comes from nature.

As we were told during our vacation in Turkey, the word “turquoise” originated in Turkey. (Hear the connection?) Here in the US we are most familiar with the mineral turquoise as it pertains to Native American art, but in fact it was first mined by Persians thousands of years ago. And in its most natural form, straight from the earth, it even contains a bit of silver.

So, how to use it in a room? Well, I’m about to do just that. I mentioned on Tuesday that I came up with a plan to redesign my living room for one of my final projects. Well, that plan includes a dark turquoise paint, and I cannot wait. This is similar to the color I plan on using.

I also particularly like this clean, bright use of turquoise.

And this is a great way to incorporate  it if you are a little reserved about using bold colors. This light tint of turquoise is safer to be sure, but still give the effect of using such a wonderful color.

It’s a pretty easy color to find these days too, so I’ve been coming across all sorts of fun patterns and bold shades of dark turquoise. Here are a few fun turquoise accessories you can put in your house if you’re feeling in a turquoise mood.

I love the contrast of the white honeycomb patter on this dark turquoise background. It’s clean and modern, bold but understated.

This one uses the natural colors of peacock feathers as inspiration but still incorporates the blues and greens that make up a good strong shade of turquoise.

For a bigger accent to your room, try a whole piece of turquoise furniture.

Or for a more subtle nod to nature’s color, try a summer set of dishes.

Or some small accessories around the room. Maybe try mixing some turquoise accents among your other favorite colors. It goes with just about anything.

If you want a big display of turquoise but you’re not ready to paint your room yet, maybe a set of turquoise curtains.

And I loved coming across this rug with my favorite color combo, turquoise and orange. In a nod to the Turkish origin of the word, this rug almost looks like the Iznik tiles we saw all over Turkey.

Have a few ideas for turquoise in your home? Tell me about it.

Let’s catch up. I’ve missed you.

Well, it’s been a wild two weeks! Between my awesome new job and final projects for three classes, let’s just say there’s been no time to feel bored. So what have I been up to?

I made a lighting fixture out of birch veneer strips. (It lives in my guest room now.)

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I designed a lighting  plan for a theoretical Downtown LA loft.

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PS. I love these table lamps I used in the lighting layout!

I redesigned my living room. (Stay tuned for a low budget “how-to” living room makeover, with a partial execution of this plan!)

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I created a repeating pattern with gouache paint.

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I finished a full rendering of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion.

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And I bought an awesome second-hand drafting table. After a little elbow grease it’s as good as new! I’ll be spending the better part of the next three month at this set up.

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I’m looking forward to getting back to regular blogging again. I’ve missed you! Have you missed me?

Dinner at Terroni, Downtown LA

Several of our favorite dinner experiences in LA have been at the Terroni in the Fairfax district, near West Hollywood. It is well designed, has an intimate atmosphere, the service is always great, and I’ve never eaten anything there I didn’t love. Admittedly those favorite dinners also included some of our favorite people, but we always had a blast and felt inclined to stay for an extended dinner and plenty of great wine. So when we heard they were opening a location in Downtown LA (closer to where we live now), we kept an eye on its progress. We finally went there this weekend to check it out, and I was particularly excited to see the interior design after seeing some teaser photos during construction.
DSCN3526 The downtown Terroni is located at 8th and Spring, in the old National City Bank building. Above the restaurant are some loft apartments, part of the gentrification that we’ve been seeing downtown over the past six years or so.DSCN3525 DSCN3524 When we first walked in, straight ahead was this awesome bar. Comfortable seats, slick, moody overhead pendant lamps, and highly designed wood set the tone. Especially striking was the under counter lighting that highlighted the texture of the wood on the bar.DSCN3522 Around the bar were plenty of bar-style place settings. It felt like an updated version of the Terroni we have grown so familiar with, and I could just imagine this space packed with people eating, drinking, and laughing the night away. But it was right about then that I realized it was 7:30 and the place was nowhere near to becoming packed. I know that’s early for dinner for some folks, but usually we find that’s prime dining time at most of our favorite places, so we always make a reservation to eat at that time of night.  I was surprised not to see more people there.DSCN3523 I loved this striking modern chandelier, set over a large table right by the window (presumably so it can also be seen from outside).DSCN3521 The hostess walked us around to the other side of the bar, where the larger dining room was located. Immediately I was loving all the original architectural details that they not only kept, but accentuated.DSCN3519 My favorite bit of history was the ornamentation on the ceiling, just the kind of thing you would see on an LA Conservancy tour. And I loved that they were still able to include the modern sculptural design and red accents that play into Terroni’s Italian theme.DSCN3513The space was equipped with huge arched windows, another original architectural detail they embraced in designing this space. I loved the way the space looked. But after we were seated, I noticed that something didn’t quite feel right. I think a big part of it was that when we first arrived, the sun was still making its way down, so there was a significant amount of natural light spilling into the huge windows. The space was so open that, combined with the daylight and the booth-style seating throughout most of the dining area, there was something reminiscent of a food court or franchise restaurant. Also, all the walls were painted white. My personal opinion is that they need to do something to darken the space during daylight to make it feel more intimate. Plus, the service was good but way fast. We went there for a leisurely date night, but instead they had us in and out in 45 minutes. Not exactly the leisurely night out we were hoping for. (We went elsewhere for drinks afterward, because we weren’t ready to end the evening yet!)DSCN3517 The still included their signature projected old black and white Italian movies.DSCN3515 And we were enjoying trying to figure out this map, which was on the wall behind me in the booth. We think it’s some sort of recipe map.DSCN3516 And my husband the foodie is always a fan of an open kitchen, so he can watch the bustle behind the scenes. I was loving that they had continued the awesome wood pattern and under counter lighting here from the front bar.DSCN3514 As we were leaving, feeling a bit rushed out to be honest, we happened by this back room. Now, this is the environment we were hoping for. Intimate but modern, and the kind of place you could really take your time chatting over a glass (or three) of wine. Unfortunately this room is reserved for large parties only, but I really wanted to have dinner there. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a birthday party there or something sometime. (Although admittedly for a smaller, intimate dinner with my husband or just a couple friends, I probably won’t go back here. I will stay loyal to my Terroni on Beverly and Fairfax.) To me, this is a fantastic restaurant environment, which I would have loved to see continued throughout the whole space.DSCN3520

What makes a successful dining environment for you?

A Morning at The Huntington

I have long been told I should visit the Huntington. It usually comes up when I mention how much I love the Arboretum. This time, I took advantage of a class assignment to visit a museum, grabbed the hubby, and we set out for a leisurely morning. The Huntington is a huge piece of land just outside of the borders of Pasadena, and is home to beautifully maintained botanical gardens, an intriguing book collection in their library, and well rounded art and furniture collections in their art galleries. Because it is such a huge, beautiful place, and because it’s so easy to take tons of beautiful photos there, I’ll just share my favorite spots with you. If you live in or are visiting the LA area, this place is definitely worth a visit. We only spent about 3 hours there, but we easily could have brought a picnic and a book and spent the entire day lounging on their grounds an perusing their galleries.

First, we paid a visit to their Conservatory for Botanical Science, and it was quite a treat. The inside is split into different climates of course, but unlike some of the others I’ve been to, this one had classrooms and information stations throughout where you could learn about different plants and their environments.

DSCN3369 DSCN3328 DSCN3316 DSCN3318 DSCN3320 This pitcher plant is much like ones we saw when we were in Costa Rica a couple years ago. They lure flies and other insects into the pitcher, where they hold a digestive liquid that, well, digests them. DSCN3321Because the conservatory is so geared toward education, and surely there are lots of field trips for kids there, just outside they had created this adorable Children’s Garden. We didn’t stay long out of fear of stepping on a small child (they were running around all over the place, care free!) but I loved the entrance to it. This door reminds me of some doorway Alice might have come across while chasing the White Rabbit.
DSCN3323Child-sized furniture inside this little garden hut made the perfect shady spot for a mid-play snack.
DSCN3326 DSCN3325 I love a good art gallery, and the Scott Galleries on the grounds held a small but fantastic collection of all kinds of art for all eras. The architecture came across quite modern, with plenty of opportunity for natural daylight to spill in through the windows out front as well as through huge skylights installed in every gallery.DSCN3329

DSCN3342The galleries really attempted to harken to the eras in which most of the art was created, all this by way of paint color choices.
DSCN3331 DSCN3350 My favorite gallery was the contemporary art gallery (although that came as no surprise to my husband, since I’m always amazed at the skill and vision that goes into abstract and contemporary art.) I was pleased to come across a couple of recognizable Andy Warhol pieces.DSCN3333 Also, I had never seen this Robert Rauschenberg painting before. I’ve long been a fan of his. (Give me a Rauschenberg, Johns, or Rothko, and I’ll be occupied for hours.) DSCN3334 And then just around the corner, we came across this room, the center dominated by beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright furniture.DSCN3349 Not to mention the surrounding pieces, like this Tiffany lamp….DSCN3347 …and this Stickley side table. When I think of Stickley furniture, I think of bulky, chunky, mission style wood and leather chairs. But this table was so delicate, almost a little Art Nouveau.DSCN3346 In yet another room, I found on display this Charles Honore Lannuier card table, which I’m pretty sure I used in a project once, designing a spec room in the American Classical Revival style.DSCN3358And I just thought this chair was interesting, designed by Samuel Gregg.
DSCN3363 They also have an entire gallery devoted to Greene & Greene, designers from the Arts & Crafts movement, but there were no photos allowed inside. I’m disappointed I can’t share it with you here, but hopefully that gives you another reason to visit the Huntington yourself. In the meantime, here’s a link to the Gamble House in Pasadena, designed by the Greene brothers. I’ve been there 3 times, and it never gets old.DSCN3365 After walking through their daylit sculpture gallery, we walked around the side of the building, through these ionic columns…DSCN3370… and past this gorgeous, inviting green field…
DSCN3375 DSCN3376 …into the Huntington’s rose garden. It was beautiful! They have created a number of different paths and series of trellises to walk through and smell the roses.DSCN3381 DSCN3382 DSCN3383 DSCN3390 I thought these were an interesting idea to file away: concrete formed to look like trees, bark and all. Great for vines to grow on.DSCN3393 DSCN3391 DSCN3396 I think one of the biggest surprises we came across was how elaborate and perfectly manicured their Japanese Garden is! It felt almost otherworldly being there, and so peaceful.DSCN3398 DSCN3400 DSCN3404 And just up the way, there was also a Chinese Garden.DSCN3407

The courtyard that welcomed us in boasted beautiful stonework.DSCN3412 DSCN3411 All of the structures in this garden surrounded a large pond, and there were plenty of spots all around where you could sit, rest, and watch the fish.DSCN3410 DSCN3415 DSCN3418 DSCN3421 I had to stop to look at these bonsai trees. (Yes, bonsai is a Japanese art form, but it originated in China, where it was called penjing… ‘learn something new every day.)DSCN3424 DSCN3425 After wondering around the grounds some more, we ended our meandering in the library exhibits, where they seemed to be focusing on sciences of all kinds. There were some incredible, and very old illustrations throughout, and we had a lot of fun looking over them.DSCN3442 DSCN3443 DSCN3445 DSCN3446 And in a little nod to my Lighting Design class, I couldn’t resist snapping a couple photos of these awesome old light bulbs.DSCN3447 DSCN3448 DSCN3449

Would you be most excited about the gardens, the art galleries, or the library?

Markets of Istanbul

One of my favorite things to do in Istanbul was to peruse the markets. Whether we were shopping or just walking through, it was wonderful to see so many varieties of foods, spices, teas, and handmade goods. I was constantly tempted to stock up on all sorts of things I never would have had enough room for in my suitcase!

The first one we came across, and maybe my favorite, wasn’t even really an official market. We were wandering around trying to find our way to the Suleymaniye Mosque and ended up strolling through an area of town that seemed relatively untouched by tourists.Istanbul097

All along either side of the narrow road were tables set out with local fruits and veggies for sale, all for a very reasonable price.Istanbul091 The colors of the veggies were so vibrant! Istanbul090 Istanbul089 Istanbul088 I’d never seen so much garlic in one place as this little set-up.Istanbul086 Dried fruits and spices smelled so delicious as we walked by!Istanbul082 Istanbul081 The next day, on our way to the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern, we found ourselves walking through the middle of the Spice Bazaar. We passed through here quite a few times during our stay in Istanbul, since it just happened to be right in between our apartment and a lot of the sites we visited. Istanbul283

Sure, there were lots and lots of spices around every corner, but it was also easy to find turkish candies and sweets, and rows upon rows of beautiful teas.Istanbul276 Istanbul279 Istanbul275 Istanbul287

How about this beautiful raw honey comb!Istanbul273

Not only foods, in the Spice Bazaar there we plenty of vendors selling dishware, linens, and scarves. Admittedly some of them seemed intended to draw in tourists, but there were still lots of wonderful treasures to be found.Istanbul281All the beautiful spices and teas made the whole bazaar so colorful!Istanbul284We made sure to stop by Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar, which is much more geared toward Turkish goods, like linens, scarfs, ceramics, tapestries, and rugs. The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest covered markets in the world, and has been around since the 1400’s.Istanbul435

Sadly we were mistaken about what time was closing time, so we got there just as most of the vendors were closing shop. But with the sheer number of vendors that had shops there (somewhere around 3,000), you can imagine how crowded it must be during the day! On the plus side, with the lack of crowds, we were able to take some time to look at the architecture and decorative details of the place.Istanbul437

It was a huge space! Each hallway seemed to go on forever, and all of the arched corridors were beautifully painted. Istanbul443 Istanbul441 Istanbul450Istanbul447 Istanbul444 Of all the markets we came across, I think my favorites were the unexpected vendors that set up shop on carts, sometimes pushing their way into crowds in search for business. Even though much of the city seems to be built of stone, these markets provided delightful bursts of color throughout Istanbul.

Istanbul117What is your favorite find from a bazaar or market?

Hagia Sophia: A Treasure in Istanbul

It took us a couple days before finally getting to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, but oh! what an amazing place! In a way, I guess I’m glad we did this on our last full day in the city, because if we had seen it first it might have made everything that came after it seem less exciting. The Hagia Sophia as it stands now was built in the year 537, but it’s the third structure to stand in that location. (The first two were burned to the ground in riots.) Built as a Greek Orthodox church, it was converted into a mosque during Ottoman rule in 1453. Now it is officially a museum. A slew of restoration projects over many years have once again revealed some of the Christian imagery that was painted or plastered over when it became a mosque, but living in the same space still are the names of prophets written in Arabic calligraphy. (It strikes me as an important message in today’s world for evidence of these two faiths to live side-by-side like this under one roof.) The sanctuary inside is enormous, beautifully constructed of marble and stone, with seemingly no surface untouched by decorative details like painted patterns or incredible mosaic frescos made with gold tiles. Certainly pictures could not fully do this place justice!

Istanbul510 Upon entering, we were greeted by a set of these rather imposing looking doors. They actually predate the current structure, and are too tall for the doorway they are in so they are built into the floor and cannot be closed.Istanbul512 Immediately, the pattern and detail begins in the first hallway.Istanbul515 At the end of this entrance hallway we saw our first mocaic, a scene of Emporer Justinian gifting the Hagia Sophia to the Christ Child. Istanbul517On the interior dorrs, you can still see markings where the cross was removed and replaced instead with this arrow-like symbol often seen in the Muslim faith.
Istanbul520 Sometimes it was difficult to discern which details were painted and which were mosaic, because of the attention paid to detail in the design.Istanbul522The first time you step into the sanctuary, it’s admittedly a little overwhelming! The space is several stories tall, the dome gilt with gold leaf. The flowers in the four corners around the dome were revealed in a recent restoration project to be covering images of angels from the days when it was a church. You can see the face of one that was recovered in the lower left-hand flower. (In the Muslim religion, no pictorial depictions are allowed, which is why the preferred decoration in mosques has more to do with pattern and calligraphy. All images in the sanctuary were covered over with paint and/or plaster when it was converted to a mosque.)
Istanbul523Incredible amounts of beautiful marble can be found all over, on walls, floors, columns, you name it. Much of it had been imported from Egypt at the time the Hagia Sophia was built, and some marble types were rare even then.
Istanbul530 Each column is topped with some of the finest carvings I’ve ever seen. It all seems so finely detailed, and perfectly executed. Istanbul531 Istanbul536 This tile mosaic of the Madonna and Christ Child had been covered with plaster before the restoration projects began. Istanbul546 All of the corridors have high ceilings and low-hanging chandeliers, which used to be candle-lit and needed to be close to the ground so they could be reached easily. And while the more modern lighting throughout the entire building was certainly helpful, there was plenty of natural lighting flooding in through large windows and skylights.Istanbul550 Istanbul551 In order to get up t the second level of the sanctuary, we used a dark, undecorated corridor and system of ramps, which were apparently used during construction for pushing, dragging, or rolling materials to the upper levels.Istanbul554 Istanbul590 The sheer size of the space was even more apparent from above, where we could see how small the people below seemed. Istanbul561 Sadly in the years before the Hagia Sophia had proper protection as a museum, people would take the little tiles that made up the mosaics as souvenirs, so many of the frescos are missing the tiles that could be easily reached. Now of course there are security personnel to make sure no one gets too close to these. Istanbul562 But look at the incredible detail! Rosey cheeks, the shading of the beard, the folds in the clothing. Unbelievable! This is as detailed as any painting by one of the masters, but  this is made of tiles. We took our time browsing and taking in all of the mosaics on the second level. Istanbul564 Istanbul574 Istanbul578On the second level, we found this pattern, which we didn’t seem to come across on the ground level. It’s much darker than a lot of what we saw elsewhere.Istanbul570 Also, it was a treat being so much closer to the details on the ceiling of the sanctuary. (And there’s that previously hidden angel again!)Istanbul572 Istanbul589 We even found this little corridor of Iznik tiles, a signature of Turkey.Istanbul591 Back down on the ground level we snapped a few more pictures of this incredible space. Istanbul600 Towering marble columns were on all sides.Istanbul601 Istanbul606 Istanbul616

After one last look up in the sanctuary…Istanbul611…and one last look at the beautiful ceiling patterns in the corridors…Istanbul602 Istanbul603 …we got a glimpse at the few remaining artifacts from the previous structure that this Hagia Sophia had replaced. This was all that was left after it burned down, but it is so important to acknowledge this as part of the history of this place. Istanbul619What do you think of all the detail in this nearly millenium-old place?

Mosques of Istanbul

As soon as we had arrived in Istanbul, it was apparent just how many mosques there are all over the city. Hundreds, probably thousands, line the skyline in any given direction. And what’s more, they all seem to carry an incredible amount of history with them. A stark contrast to the very new, glamorous mosque we had seen in Abu Dhabi just the week before.

On our first day in Istanbul, we spent most of the day wandering and ended up at one of the more well known mosques there, the Suleymaniye Mosque. It sits on top of a hill, where it can be seem from all different points around the city.
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It was a huge structure, surrounded by a beautiful green that somehow reminded me of a university campus.Istanbul108

Once we stepped inside the courtyard, we were surrounded by arches.
Istanbul120Outside, the minarets towered overhead.

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And inside, the domes created a cloudlike cover of color and pattern.

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Because images are not allowed in Islamic places of worship, instead of painting murals or frescos, verses from the Koran and the names of the prophets are written in beautiful Arabic calligraphy inside and out.

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Lanterns (now retrofitted with CFL bulbs) hang from long cables attached to the very high ceilings. This allowed the candles to be lit easily from the ground (before electricity was available).Istanbul138

And as we left, we were treated to this incredible view!Istanbul158

The next day we went to visit an even more famous mosque, the Blue Mosque, or the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Located right across the park from the Hagia Sophia (which will get its own post very soon!), it is most easily distinguishable from a distance because of it’s 6 minarets. Mosques here usually have only four minarets, but legend has it that there was a misunderstanding and instead of the gold capped minarets the Sultan asked for (the work for gold is “altin”), the architect built him six (“alti”) minarets. Oops! Lucky for him the Sultan liked them.Istanbul301

Inside the courtyard, the scene was very similar to the Suleymaniye Mosque’s courtyard, but boasting taller, wider arches with a more airy feel to them.Istanbul309

Admittedly I expected the inside to be more blue (there were plenty of other colors to accompany the blue details) but it was nonetheless an incredible collection of pattern.Istanbul319

One of the historical facts I find interesting and very apparent in this part of the world is that while Europeans had begun to perfect the human form by way of religious depictions of Jesus, Mary, and other biblical icons, art in Islamic countries was all about color, pattern, and calligraphy (being that they were not using human depictions of important religious figures, but rather their written names). Istanbul324

This makes for some beautiful decorative details. Seeing the way they handled pattern has really made me change the way I think about pattern in general. A few more photos to show you what I mean…Istanbul325 Istanbul333 Istanbul336 Istanbul344 Istanbul345

The reason the Blue Mosque picked up this nickname is because of the amount of Iznik tile used throughout the interior. The tile order for this project was so massive that the Sultan forbade any tiles to be produced for any other purpose until this mosque had been completed. There are over 20,000 of these tiles in the Blue Mosque.Istanbul347 Istanbul348

It was indeed quite a treat to have spent some time inside this mosque, an incredible work of art in its own right.Istanbul351

After a long day of walking all over the city, I caught a glimpse of this tile wall peeking out over a balcony above us as we walked by.Istanbul457

We wandered up the nearby staircase, toward the tile, and discovered the Rustem Pasha Mosque. It was almost hidden, sitting in the middle of a densely built area.

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Inside, we were the only tourists sharing the space with a couple of Islamic worshipers. Some of the details inside were quite different from Suleymaniye and the Blue Mosques, like this wonderful carved and painted wood ceiling detail.Istanbul460

And the decorated dome overhead was just as spectacular, perhaps especially in that it occupied such a small space.
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More so than the Blue Mosque, we felt enveloped in blue Iznik tiles. They were everywhere, covering just about every flat surface from floor to ceiling.Istanbul464

And among the tile, some beautiful marble and painted pattern details.Istanbul468

No surface seemed untouched by decorative detail, not even these ceiling panels. Istanbul472

As the sun was beginning to set, we felt privileged to have happened upon this small, seemingly hidden, spiritual space. We were so tired when we entered the prayer room, feet throbbing from walking all day, and yet this space brought us a surprising sense of peace. It was a wonderful place to rest for a few minutes.Istanbul476

What do you think of all this pattern and detail? Do you like it?

The Parlour Room: Vintage Lighting for an Intimate Dive Bar

Today I’m taking a break from vacation photos (and maybe you need a break too!) to share a little bit of what I’m working on in one of my classes. In my lighting design class, we were tasked with essentially doing a case study in lighting on a bar, restaurant, or hotel lobby. So I gathered the troops (aka a few willing friends) for a night out in Hollywood to check out the Parlour Room for my project… and for a few cocktails, of course!

Note: These pictures were taken without a flash and are intended to highlight the lighting elements of the space. The colors have not been altered, and are a fairly accurate representation of the warmth of the actual lighting in  the bar.

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The Parlour Room in Hollywood is known for its “dive bar” atmosphere. Its small space and dark, high contrast lighting give off pockets of lit areas where you feel as though you should have a whispering conversation with close friends. But more than your typical “dive bar,” the furniture, wall coverings, and chandeliers lift this one into a much more trendy status, but also seem to imply an old-world mentality, as though this bar could have easily survived since the early twentieth century.

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The ceilings were decorated with wonderful vintage chandeliers that provided only very low amounts of ambient light throughout the space. It was just enough light to give you a sense if the pattern in the wallpaper surrounding the room.DSCN3086

I was very surprised to notice the amount of candle light used to actually light the space. Im more farmiliar with a little candle on a cafe table at night to provide ambience, but here the candles on each of the cocktail tables were necessary to light the space. They even used candles to light this brick wall, which significantly helped brighten up this corner of the space. Also, if you think about how low candle light is and notice that the chandeliers are about an equal amount of light to the candles in this photo, that will give you a sense of just how dark and cozy this bar is.DSCN3085

The bar itself still had pretty low light, but a lot more of it. I’m sure this is a huge help for the bar tender, and also helps you as a patron see what they have to offer on the shelves behind him.DSCN3078

I’m not a fan of these red track lights, but I have a feeling they are pretty necessary so no one trips on the raised platform where these super comfortable sofas lie. The lighting is the same here, only lit by very low chandelier light, candles, and a couple of downlights bouncing off of the dark, warm, patterned surface of the wall.

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I love this mirror over one of the sofas, and it definitely helps reflect some more light into the space.DSCN3088

Even the short hallways were lit with this very low light coming from (smaller) vintage chandeliers.
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Once we discovered the back bar (which we overheard someone talk about), we parked it here for the rest of the night. Same low lighting, but with a fire going in the center of the space to contribute to the intimate atmosphere. This is my kind of drinking spot! It wasn’t cold when we were there (it is summer, after all) but if it was, I’d happily sit right next to the fire all night with one of their delicious cocktails.
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I especially loved the vintage sconces they had outside, much more suited for the outdoors since they have more of a covering over the top of the bulb, but still with the same vintage feel.DSCN3087Plus, the back bar was open air! We caught the tail end of dusk there, but I would imagine in the winter when the sun sets much earlier, this opening doesn’t provide much light at all. It does, however, provide a nice amount of air flow and a little bit of glow from the surrounding lights of Hollywood.

What do you think of the lighting? Would you like to settle in here for a beverage or two?