Sunday, January 30, 2011

You Are My Inspiration__________

One of my all time favorite movies is the 1959 movie, "Pillow Talk" with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Jan Morrow (Day) is an interior decorator and shares a party line with Brad Allen (Hudson) who is a musician/playboy. I don't want to give too much information so that if you watch the movie, the plot won't be spoiled, but one of my favorite parts of the movie is when Jan re-decorates Brad's apartment.

As you can see, it's a Moroccan theme...gone wrong.

My favorite part of the space is the the use of bright colors and textures. Although this is pretty much one of the tackiest interiors I have seen, I think it does have potential. I also love how it kind of feels Moulin Rouge-esque. However, I would definitely get rid of the moose head, as well as the Pepto Bismol pink piano and the nude statues by the stairs.

What's interesting is that some of the aspects in the apartment are actually seen today in interiors. So does that mean the phrase, "out with the old and in with the new" needs to be changed? What is really considered new in design?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Electronic Wasteland...Are We Really THAT Advanced?

Today in my Sustainability class, we talked about values and norms and how the relate to our society in terms of sustainability. My professor was discussing how it is now the norm to see green recycling bins on the curb every week how it's frowned upon to not recycle. But the question becomes, where does all of our recycling go? When you recycle your electronics, such as computers and cell phones, where are they sent to and how are they broken down? There was an interesting 60 Minutes segment in 2008 which gave a possible a answer. According to Scott Pelley, the answer is China. Pelley's segment stated that we throw out 1,300 computers every day and throw out over 100 million cell phones every year. Electronic contain numerous toxic chemicals, like lead chromium, mercury, cadmium, and polyvinyl chlorides, which can cause not only kidney cancer, but significant brain damage. With our electronics, we are essentially poisoning others. In the town of Guiyu, families melt down electronics for gold. They also melt down plastics, which, according to the report, "Chlorinated and brominated plastics is known worldwide to cause the emission of polychlorinated and polybrominated dioxins". So essentially when we recycle, are we actually doing that act? Does this mean I will get rid of my iPhone or laptop computer? No. What it means though is that when recycling electronic items, be sure to do a little research to see where the recycled items actually go.

In the design world, we are all about creating spaces that are essentially, "bigger, better, faster, stronger". Technology is a key component in our civilization. How does this affect designers? With the constant change in technology, designers must get rid of the old. Make sure that you urge your clients to recycle responsibly as well as suggest maybe just making adjustments to their old systems, such as adding hardware to make it run faster, add memory, etc. (unless they are old, then recommend that they dispose of them properly and ethically). Albert Einstein one stated that, "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity"...let's just hope that it doesn't end our humanity.

To see the 60 Minutes segment, "Electronic Wasteland", visit:

To read the segment, visit:;contentBody

To read a rebuttal about the segment, visit:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe For Good Design

Today I was going through some old cookbooks and started to think about how good design is like following a recipe. Sounds kind of crazy right? How can designing a space be like making chocolate chip cookies (by the way, I don't recommend making bacon chocolate chip cookies...they're kind of gross!)? Well, both use a step by step process of adding ingredients; if you forget an ingredient, your creation may be okay, but it won't be spectacular. All the aspects of the space have to combine to create perfect harmony. Take for example a retail space. You have your flooring and wall color, which is the the flour and sugar of a cookie recipe. They are kind of the base or beginning point of creating a space. Next comes the butter, egg, vanilla, and brown sugar. These are the "glue" of the space, such as shelving, reception area, seating, textiles, etc. which help make the space more coherent and put together...basically the structure of the space. Finally you have the chocolate chips, or the "main attraction" which could be a fun lighting fixture of art piece which not only creates a focal point, but ties the whole space together in to one cohesive design (you can't make chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips, right?) If you can make cookies, you can make enticing spaces that people will want to continually come to. So the next time you are in a design funk and can't think of what to do, just grab a cookie and some milk, and you'll be just fine!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ecological Footprint...How Bad is it Really?

I am currently taking class which focuses on Sustainability and had to take an Ecological Footprint Quiz to see how my actions impact the Earth. It was interesting to find out that my results were that if everyone lived the way I do, we would need 5.62 earths. This got me to designers, how much do we waste? How often do we use products that are from recycled materials? I know that this doesn't go with certain concepts, like Cradle to Cradle, but how much would that choice of using carpet made from recycled materials effect our world? Instead of choosing an item that has to be shipped from China, maybe using one that is made locally, or at least in the continental US. My goal for studio this semester is to truly try to use products that are more eco-friendly as well as local. Even choosing to use energy efficient lighting can make a difference.

To take the Ecological Footprint Quiz and what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, visit

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"I was tired of working hard to be less bad. I wanted to be involved in making buildings, even products, with completely positive intentions."
-William McDonough

Yesterday, I watched an interesting documentary called Waste=Food, which explained the Cradle to Cradle design concept, created by William McDonough (an architect) and Michael Braungart (a chemist). The idea behind the Cradle to Cradle concept is that a normal life cycle is composed of cradle (where it began or where it came from) to grave (what the finished product is and when is it no longer used), but what happens to the products after we use them? They end up in a landfill or end up being reused for another product....but is that really helping our environment? McDonough uses a plastic water bottle as an example what really recycling is; when a bottle is recycled, it is taken apart and reused for another product, such as plastic wood boards...but what happens when the plastic wood is not longer needed? It is usually burned down to be reused, which emits chemicals into the atmosphere. (I bet you won't look at a plastic bottle the same again!) He explains this is more or less decycling, rather than recycling. Their solution to a more green environment is to use materials that really have no life cycle; it is continuous. For example, a textile company using natural fibers, rather than synthetic, and non-chemical dyes for their materials. With the scraps of the materials, they can be combined to form a type of wool material for farmers to cover crops, such as strawberries. This provides not only nutrients for the food, but a productive way to get rid of waste. For interior design, this means that spaces can be renovated more often, due to the fact that it helps the earth, rather than harms it. This can also mean that buildings will be created more efficiently in terms lighting and insulation through the use of green roofs and natural lighting, thereby increasing worker productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. It's a win-win why don't we do this now?

More info on Cradle to Cradle: