My Design School Grand Finale

If you read my blog regularly, then you’re probably wondering where I’ve been. Well, it’s been a bit crazy finishing up my interior design program, but the great news is that I’m done! So I’m bound and determined to get back to blogging regularly again. And to read a book. And to do some yoga. But definitely the blog!

In case your curious about what exactly I’ve been doing in these all-consuming classes of mine, here I’m sharing my final project in my final class in the program, sort of my design school grand finale. The challenge was to design a conceptual three-story live/work unit inspired by the designs of both an architect and a fashion designer. In my case, I chose two people whose designs I feel compliment each other: Daniel Libeskind (architect) and Prabal Gurung (fashion designer). Here’s a photo of my inspiration board:

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I would not say this is generally the style I gravitate toward in my own daily life but that’s exactly why I was so excited by the pairing of these two artists. What I really like about them both is each of their use of geometric shapes to create battling senses of symmetry and asymmetry, as well as the ways in which each of them use contrast to accentuate their designs. In the case of Daniel Libeskind, I was especially inspired by his combining of the old and the new in some of his projects. Often the shapes he uses in his architecture resemble a crystal or iceberg protruding from an otherwise symmetrical, grounded structure.

All of us in the class were given the same 3-story space to work within, assumed to be one unit in multi-unit building. We were given a program which included requirements like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, offices, and common areas. After that, we were free to explore our design concepts in whatever way we chose. I knew I would need to add a Libeskind-esque iceberg-like element to the structure, and chose to do this by way of a skylight.
Exterior View

Below are four section-views (imagine cutting an apple in half, top to bottom, and looking at a perfect dissection of the inside). You can see furniture placement, materials, and the arrangement of the rooms within the space. Architecturally, I played a lot with the geometry of the walls. I wanted one cohesive set of geometry to pass through the entire space, which I used as the walls dividing each of the rooms. I wanted a person to be able to walk into the space and fully experience that geometry, not just see it visually. With that, I also wanted the overall space to feel very open, so I created a couple of double-height spaces; one is in the kitchen, which is open to the dining room above, and the other is in the living room which is open to the floor above, and then to the skylight beyond that. Section A color Section B color Section C color Section DThe first floor is essentially the “public” space and contains two offices, a common work/collaboration area, a powder room and the kitchen. The common work area also opens to the patio.
Floor Plan Level 1 The lighting is meant to be both functional and aesthetic, and includes a series of custom fluorescents inspired by Libeskind’s designs inset into the ceiling, as well as down-lights and wall-washers to highlight the entrance and the surrounding geometry on the adjacent walls.RCP Level 1

I chose a combination of geometric and industrial furniture furniture that compliment the style of Gurung’s and Libeskind’s designs while also creating a unique look that felt distinctly mine. On my materials board, I showed these as well as my custom design for desks for the offices. Throughout the design I dropped in elements of copper to brighten the look and feel of the color palette rooted in dark grays, champagnes, and whites. Finishes shown here include the carpet tile used in the private offices, paint colors for the non-sculpted walls, fabric used on the office guest chairs, a representation of the copper elements, and the kitchen cabinets, counter tops, and back splashes.DSCN5412

A rendering shows the entrance to the work-level of the unit. Notice the lighting on the ceiling and the shadows created by lighting on the walls at the entryway.
Render Floor 1

The second floor is the semi-private area, where the occupant would lounge and entertain. There is also a guest room and full guest bathroom on this level. Because I value a separation of work and home life, I designed the location of the kitchen (just below and open to the dining room) to be easily accessed from either the public work area or the semi private area without having to connect them. So if it’s a Saturday and you’re “off duty” you wouldn’t have to go through the office to get to the kitchen, and similarly you can heat up your lunch during the week without having to go “home” to do so. Also there is an additional entrance to this level so you can lock the doors to the office on the weekends and your cocktail guests can arrive directly to the party on the second floor.Floor Plan Level 2 The lighting here has the same goal as on the first floor, using similar fluorescents, down lights, and wall-washers.RCP Level 2

This materials board hightlights both the furnishings chosen for the dining and living areas as well as the typical finishes used throughout the entire three-story unit. You can see images of Libeskinds lighting and furniture design that inspired the lighting and furniture designs throughout the space. All the common area spaces are designed with polished concrete floors, and the sculpted walls are finished with a gray-washed wood finish. (This same wood color is also used for bedroom flooring.) Other finishes shown here include fabric for the custom Libeskind-inspired sofas, sheer drapery fabric, and paint colors for the non-sculpted walls.DSCN5413This rendering highlights the living room area of the second floor, and shows that it is open to above, with a chandelier hanging through the two stories.Render Floor 2Finally, the third floor is the private area consisting of two master suites connected by a landing which overlooks the living room below.
Floor Plan Level 3 Again, the lighting here has the same goals, but also includes bedside sconces and general ceiling lighting in the bedrooms that will be softer and warmer than the typical fluorescent lights used in the more open areas. Since the two-story chandelier would need to hang from the same location as the skylight, There will be a designed series of tension wires, one of which would deliver electricity to the chandelier hanging from the center of the skylight. This provides a practical solution with a designed execution.RCP Level 3

This is my favorite of the three materials boards, and includes bedroom furniture (my favorite is the upholstered leather bed) and fabrics for the bedding and lounge chair. You’ll have to take my word for it, but they are the kind of fabrics you just can’t resist touching! And the bathroom is intended to be high contrast, using black hexagonal floor tiles, a black and metallic geometric wall covering, and white marble on the counter tops and at the wall behind the tub.DSCN5414This rendering shows your view as you have arrived at the top of the stairs on the landing. There is one minimal railing to keep you from stepping off the edge. Clearly there are all sorts of building and safety codes that would not allow this to be built quite like this, but that’s why it’s so important to have an outlet (class) to explore conceptual ideas without restriction.Render Floor 3

In the end I had eight full presentation boards, plus an architectural model made from foam core, chip board, bass wood, and sheets of clear acrylic (below).IMG_0220 IMG_0221 IMG_0222 IMG_0223<big sigh of relief> And there it is! It took many hours of work to complete: finding materials and furniture, sorting out how these crazy shaped walls were going to work, and executing a cohesive presentation with all the documents to clearly express my design. But overall I had a lot of fun working on it!

What do you think? I’d love to hear!

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Adorned with Art at Love Adorned, SoHo

Back in the fall, I made the trip to New York City to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. While I was there, I did a little shopping with the girls and couldn’t resist stopping into one of my favorite shops in SoHo for some eye candy! I say eye candy because much of the things I fall in love with here are out of my price range, but that doesn’t stop me for appreciating all the beautiful artistry on display.

DSCN3725 The shop is called Love Adorned, and it’s insides are scattered with an array of handmade goods, from jewelry to rugs, home decor accessories, throw blankets, and more. I love the presence of nature in the store, both in its decoration and it’s merchandise.DSCN3717 Much of the woven goods have a tribal feel to them, and such great colors!DSCN3726This mask reminds me of some of the totems I saw on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago, shooting a documentary on the Maori healers there.
DSCN3718 Each case displays a different jewelry artist’s pieces. They asked that I not take pictures of the specific jewelry on display, but I must direct you to their website to see some of them. This is one of my favorites.DSCN3720 This two sided antique velvet sofa provides a striking visual “welcome” into the store.DSCN3724 …And this one was just a nonchalant bystander, used as a display for some hand-woven blankets.DSCN3721 They had a few display tables for affordable gift items like these, which would be great purchases if you’re not in the market for jewelry. They also sell some select leather goods, and many one-of-a-kind pieces.DSCN3722 This little nook is a great spot for their eclectic collection of home goods and knickknacks.DSCN3719 So if you’re in SoHo, stop in and check it out. You won’t be disappointed! I will definitely be back, and maybe one of these days I’ll walk out with some of these.DSCN3728

Do you have a favorite shop somewhere? Let me know about it!

How I Fit Everything I Need For A Two Week International Vacation Into One Carry-on Bag

Ok, to be fair, the time of year helps a lot. In the UAE we’re expecting low temperatures of around 85 degrees and highs in the 105 degree range (Fahrenheit). My history in Arizona makes me specially qualified to be able to predict what this will be like (hot, but manageable). Then in Turkey we’re expecting lows of around 62 and highs in the 75 degree range. Just like California! I have to admit, it is definitely comforting to have a pretty good idea of what to pack. I am a chronic over-packer, but this time I was determined to pack light. There is the likelihood of doing a load of laundry at our friends’ apartment in Abu Dhabi before we all jump on a plane to Istanbul. But even so, this was challenging. Here’s how I did it.

Dresses are key! When packing for a vacation like this, I wanted to be able to dress light for the weather, be comfortable, and also have a few different outfit options over the course of the trip. There will be lots of pictures, after all! I started with these four dresses. Dresses take up much less space than a pants/shirt combo.

DSCN0828I do want to switch it up a bit though, so planning ahead I put together a variety of outfits. These lightweight khakis are ankle length and I love that they’re colorful, but not too loud. I’m bringing a lightweight long-sleeved sweater and an easy-going white t-shirt to pair with them.

DSCN0860I am, and probably always will be, a jeans-kinda-gal, so I couldn’t resist including these outfits too. I tried to include a variety of sleeve lengths to account for the range of temperatures we’ll be experiencing.

DSCN0863I’m aso bringing a couple lightweight cardigans and a jean jacket. These will serve two purposes: they will keep my arms warm on a cool night, and they will also function as lightweight cover-ups when we’re in conservative areas that may traditionally prefer women to be more covered. These three basics will work with just about every other item of clothing I’m bringing with me.

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I threw in this catch-all little black number for a night on the town, specifically for the hubby’s birthday dinner at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It will be a cause for celebration!

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I’m also making sure to bring a swimsuit for those luxurious resorts we’re hoping to drop into in Abu Dhabi, and my favorite yoga outfit so I can go to one of the classes our friend will be teaching while we’re visiting her and her husband in the UAE.

DSCN0845And of course shoes. This is a little more tricky and one of the areas I usually have the most trouble with, but this time I packed shoes on a need-only basis. I’m also lucky that my friend there has the same size shoe as me, so if I need an alternative option I can borrow one of hers. (That’s the plan for shoes to pair with that little black dress I’m bringing for the hubby’s birthday dinner!) So for bare necessities, I chose a loafer and a sandal. Both are Born shoes, which are super supportive and comfortable. Comfort and support are necessary with all the walking we’ll be doing.

DSCN0851Adding in a couple sets of pajamas and of course all the underwear and toiletries I will need, and the suitcase is pretty full. But not too full, so I can carry my bag on the plane if I want to. Mission accomplished! It’s a little heavy, but I’m sure the hubby will help me lift it into the overhead compartment if I bat my eyes a little bit. 

Do you think you could do it, pack for two weeks in a carry-on?