This Week I Loved…

Reliving our hot air balloon ride in Turkey.Cappadocia096A bill-free day of mail.
1092076_10100582355317315_1430268217_oMy first big install with the designers at work, and these awesome pillows I found for it.1237758_10100586898432875_372879956_o Turquoise and Rose-Violet.1021023_10100582714098315_1416184951_o This week’s Color Theory class project using 6 random colors and abstract shapes of our choice.

1070135_10100583045778625_49520087_oAnd rewatching The Great Gatsby.

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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?

This Week I Loved…

Reliving our visit to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.Istanbul611 A new bedside reading nook for my husband. (PS. This is an awesome, low budget, small space solution for a bedside table!)booknook Dinner and drinks with the girls at The York on York in Highland Park.york A delicious blueberry pie and dinner with friends.pie A visit with my ASID chapter to the Sirtaj boutique hotel in Beverly Hills.sirtajThe chandelier tree in Silverlake. (Yes, literally a tree full of chandeliers!)
chandelier tree This monster zucchini from our garden!

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And these adorable stray kittens in Istanbul.Istanbul291

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.
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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?

Circle Cafe: An Adorable Oasis in the Middle East

One of the things I love about visiting unfamiliar places where friends live is that they have had the advantage of time to find all sorts of hidden gems around their area. (For our friends that visit us in Los Angeles, I have a ton of them!) So we were thrilled to visit some of our friends’ favorite places in Abu Dhabi.

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On our second day there we had a delightful and delicious lunch at Circle Cafe. It was a lovely place with enormous windows that let in an incredible amount of natural light, which was soothing and hapiness inducing. AbuDhabi150

I’d not thought about creating a design theme around one geometric shape before, but somehow the “circle” theme was inspirational to this interior designer and became a successful grounding element for the entire cafe.  Circles were repeated in the tables, chairs, ceiling, and lighting fixtures throughout the cafe. Even the placemats were circles.AbuDhabi151

And smartly, those circles were broken up by beautiful brown leather chairs and natural wood tables that were set up in an invitation that seemed to say “come in, stay a while, bring your laptop or borrow a book and be our friend for the day.” And there were a few people there who had done just those things it seemed.AbuDhabi157

I loved the unfinished wood pieces along the sides of the space as well. I am a total sucker for combining modern and vintage/antique furniture, so this subtle nod to that method made me feel right at home.
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Of course I also felt at home staring at their baked goods all during lunch. Yum! I should also say, they had chosen the perfect gray wall color to contrast with the white furniture and trim. This place feels much like what I hope our kitchen will feel like when we’re finished redecorating it!AbuDhabi152

And I loved their paper lighting fixtures. They are definitely decorative (I don’t think these would light the space at night in the slightest), but I love the way the light within glows through just enough to highlight the edges of the strips that make up this whimsical design.AbuDhabi139

Ok, I know this isn’t design related, but I can’t resist mentioning how delicious these juices were. The green one was the best mint lemonade I had the whole trip. Yum!AbuDhabi137What do you think? Do you like the design of this cafe?

Architecture of Abu Dhabi and Dubai

One of the things I was most excited about when planning our trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai was the chance to see, in person, some incredible architecture that I’d only previously heard about in books or on the web. Because the area is so new, and so rapidly developing, there is a tremendous amount of innovative, almost futuristic looking design on their skylines. Some of the skyscrapers will make you feel like you’re living in a science fiction movie. By contrast, there’s also an effort to create full-experience environments in some other cases. Those buildings seem to emphasize opulence, sometimes boast a specific theme, and have a bit of the feeling of Las Vegas or Disneyland. Going from one to the other can seem a little disjointed at times, but it’s all an important part of the look of the cities.

In Abu Dhabi, there was a recurring style element of buildings that almost looked like sliced sausages, with the roof sitting at an extreme angle. We saw this all over the city.

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Of course there’s the surreal environment I talked about last week created at the Grand Mosque. This design was the result of a combined effort by architects and designers from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

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We also stopped by Ferrari World to take a look at that architectural feat. It’s an indoor theme park (so imagine a structure big enough to house Disneyland), home of the fastest rollercoaster in the world. Designed by Benoy Architects, the scope of the structure is hard to describe. There’s no easy way from the ground to get a good view of the entire building, but from the pictures I’ve seen of it from above, it doesn’t look real! The design of the building and it’s entryway were quite modern and futuristic feeling. And very smartly, the architects included a light funnel to bring daylight into the center of the structure.

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In the more residential parts of Abu Dhabi, we came across a different kind of design style altogether. These buildings were much more modest, and seemed to embrace the desert and Middle Eastern cultures and traditions much more than the competitive skyscraper designs.

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I loved these bridges, which combined so many different shapes; they were geometric but also somehow organic at the same time. They were always a really interesting view on the water.

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Next to a museum we spent some time in, we also stopped to take a look at the UAE Pavilion. Designed by Foster and Partners for the 2010 Shanghai World’s Fair, the entire structure was reassembled in Abu Dhabi and is now used as an international art museum. Unfortunately it was closed the day we went, so I didn’t get to see the inside. (Side note: Right nearby they are working on building a Louvre and a Guggenheim museums, which promise to be spectacular!)

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Our friends who live in Abu Dhabi have an apartment high up in one of this cluster of buildings. They are new skyscrapers, built within the past couple of years, and definitely seem to fit with the efforts to build now with future design in mind.

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But then they have a view of Emirates Palace, which is just about as opposite as you can get. Emirates palace has a bit of the pretend-world feeling that Las Vegas tends to have.

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Dubai sometimes took that Vegas-like pretend world to another level. We took a stroll through Atlantis, a huge, over the top, themed resort that made me feel like I could be in the king’s castle in The Little Mermaid. No corner was left untouched by the ocean theme. They even had a very impressive aquarium.

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The Dubai Mall also had an amazing aquarium, sharks and all. And outside of the mall was a dancing water fountain, designed by the same people that designed the water fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

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Dubai’s reputation in architecture is a bit more well-known, largely because of two buildings. One is the Burj Al Arab, designed by architect Tom Wright. Built to look like a sail, it is currently the fourth tallest building in the world. It’s a high end luxury hotel and sits on a manmade island, connected to the mainland by one bridge.

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And the other is, of course, the Burj Khalifa, by architect Adrian Smith. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. It’s hard to mentally process just how incredibly enormous this building is. It only starts to become clear when you realize just how much taller it is than any other building that surrounds it. It is so tall in comparison that it gives the impression of being the only building in the sky. To put the sheer height of this incredible structure into perspective, there is a new project I heard about recently in Los Angeles to build the city’s tallest building, which will sit 78 stories high. The Burj Khalifa has 163 floors, and you would be able to see the curvature of the earth from the top. Aside from the extreme height of it, it is a beautiful building. It really seems like this perfect precious gem among all that surrounds it. This was my favorite building we saw, and having drinks on the 124th floor was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Only since I’ve been home have I begun to realize how rare of an opportunity that was.

Dubai106 Dubai125 Dubai141 Dubai152 Dubai165What do you think of the architecture in the UAE? Do you like the style?

Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque

While in Abu Dhabi, we took some time to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque. This was the first mosque I had been to, and quite an extravagant one for me to make my introduction with. (This mosque is worlds away from the seemingly ancient mosques we visited in Istanbul the following week.) As I mentioned earlier this week, Sheikh Zayed was the president of the Emirates and the beloved leader who was responsible for the oil lease arrangement that ensured the wealth of their country and its natives. This enormous structure is a striking symbol of both that extreme wealth and of their dedication to the Muslim religion.

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This mosque is the source of the daily prayer for the entire city. Unlike the centuries-old mosques of Istanbul, which seemed to almost compete for your attention, in Abu Dhabi the call to prayer is broadcast out to all of the surrounding mosques in one unified declaration.

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The outside of the mosque features pools of water meant to shows the mosque’s own reflection when lit up at night.

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The floors and columns throughout are climbing with vines of inlaid stone floral designs. An incredible variety of stones  were used for these designs, and they are the most colorful ornamentation on the grounds.

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Gold leaf is also used in detailing and on columns, highlighting the opulence of all the materials used.

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When you first walk into the lobby area, before entering the courtyard, you immediately begin to get a sense of the scale of this enormous place, with high ceilings and the even higher inset undersides of the domes. Each dome is ornamented like lace, and each seems to be of a different design than the last.

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A little bit of a precursor to our trip to Istanbul, there were also a couple walls of Iznik tile designs. We would be seeing lots and lots of this in Turkey!

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Even the ablution room (where worshipers go to wash their hands and feet before prayer) is an incredible place, built almost entirely of green marble.

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The entire structure is constructed of white marble. Between the marble and the bright, hot sun, when you enter into the courtyard you feel like you might be in a glowing white dream world.

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There is an incredible amount of detail carved into the marble, again in the form of these beautiful, lace-like vines.

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Each dome is topped with a crescent moon, an important symbol for Islam.

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The lobby at the entrance to the prayer room boasted a different kind of design. Almost a combination of the inlaid stones and the carved white marble, these flowery vines used the same tremendous variety of stones but were embossed rather than inlaid.

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The chandeliers throughout use Swarovski crystals, including this one in the lobby, and were surrounded by even more elaborate ornamentation.

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You are greeted by more gilt gold as you enter the prayer room.

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The grand mosque’s prayer room is large enough to house 40,000 worshipers at a time.

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Upon entering the room, the first thing you will notice is the giant Swarovski crystal chandelier, estimated to be the third largest chandelier in the world. It’s also surrounded by a tremendous amount of beautiful ornamentation, some carved and some inlaid.

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It seems that little goes untouched by ornamentation here. Inlaid mother of pearl, carved marble, and gilt gold details can be seen throughout.

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Not even the wood elements, like the carts that hold copies of the Quran for worshipers or the wood panels that line the room, are free of this incredible detail and craftsmanship.

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The wall opposite of the entrance is not only peppered with the names of the profits (written in Arabic), but the detail around them glows from daylight being subtly let in from the outside through the vine-like designs.

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The carpet that lines the floor in the prayer room is the world’s largest carpet, handmade by more than a thousand people. It is one piece that covers the entire floor, and is even made to perfectly fit around the flower-petal column bases.

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The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is otherworldly, a sight I am so glad we took time to experience while we were there. A product of architects and designers from around the world, the craftsmanship is impeccable and the use of materials and ornamentation seems to be of another era altogether. It’s hard to imagine this was just recently built (in 2004). It’s such an integral part of the Abu Dhabi horizon, it seems that it should have been there forever.

What are your thoughts on the ornamentation and inlay?

LCDQ Legends 2013: Kelly Wearstler

Last week at La Cienega Design Quarter’s annual Legends event, I went with a friend to Kelly Wearstler‘s storefront for her book signing. The store is in the high-end stretch of Melrose, only a short walk from her design studio, and was filled with all sorts of wonderful things. Here she mainly sells clothing, jewelry and sculptures. They also had a bunch of her books for sale that day, so if you hadn’t come prepared with one you already owned, you were able to pick one up then for her to sign.

In my efforts to stick to a budget, I just asked to take a picture with her. I told her I’m a design student and that I was excited to be in her store for the first time. She seemed pleased that my friend and I had stopped in to check it out. It was very cool to see her in such a casual, nonchalant state, as opposed to being all dolled up for a photo shoot.

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If you don’t know much about her, Kelly Wearstler has very quickly built an impressive brand and a very recognizable style. She is responsible for several of the Viceroy hotels, including the one in Santa Monica. They are hip and young, colorful, but also classy. I’m not a big party girl, but even for me hanging out in the bar at the Santa Monica Viceroy makes me feel glamorous!

I love the way she uses bold patterns and sculpture, making the room it’s own piece of artwork.

Bright colors and gold accents make this space feel glamorous, young, and energizing.

Kelly Wearstler has a bunch of books, including her latest “Rhapsody,” and all are a delight to page through.

Do you follow Kelly Wearstler? What do you think of her style?

LCDQ Legends 2013: Susanna Salk on C.Z. Guest

Last week I was able to go to the La Cienega Design Quarter (LCDQ) in West Hollywood for their annual Legends event. I had been once before, a couple years ago, and had a great time. This year I sat in on some great presentations and discussions, on topics including how to use social networking to help brand your design business, and the state of the interior design business today.

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On Thursday I sat in on a presentation by author Susanna Salk, who recently finished book all about C.Z. Guest. I’ll admit I didn’t know much about C.Z. before but Susanna had some fantastic tid bits on her very interesting life.

C.Z. Guest was a high society debutante from Boston who is most known for her all-American sense of style, both in fashion and design. Susanna described C.Z. as having a mischievous desire to be kicked off the social register. She was friends with the likes of Truman Capote, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Joan Rivers, to name a few. She once accompanied Joan Rivers to an interview with John Gotti in prison, mainly because she was curious and thought it would be interesting.

Rather than having a traditional wedding as would have been expected, she and her husband we married at Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba, with Hemingway as the best man. This was quite a departure from high society expectations!

Many people know that she commissioned Salvador Dali to paint a portrait of her. What less people know is that she also had traveled to Mexico to pose in the nude for Diego Rivera. This was quite scandalous at the time, especially for a debutante of the her stature. The resulting portrait hung over a bar in her and her husband’s home until, it’s rumored, her mother ordered it burned. To this day no one can be certain whether it was burned or simply hides in an attic somewhere.

Susanna Salk’s book on C.Z. Guest is called “C.Z. Guest: An American Style Icon” and includes some incredible photos that have never been seen before. It was a pleasure hearing about her process of collecting these images and some of the storied she collected from the people she interviewed in her efforts to know C.Z. more intimately.