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June 10, 2005

Seniors Get Lift in Home Design

We’re used to hearing about those home upgrades that make a big difference in terms of value and investment: spa bathrooms, modern kitchens, patios, wet bars… You get the idea, but home elevators? That’s a new one.

Home elevator manufacturers say their lifts are on the way to becoming as de rigueur as the garage door opener. With senior citizens and aging baby boomers opting to stay home rather than check into assisted living or nursing facilities, home elevators have become a costly but satisfying option. Home lifts are now available in many sizes, styles, and price ranges, still expensive, but many say better and cheaper than the cost of finding new digs.

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June 08, 2005

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Designocracy

If you've used Google today, Frank_lloyd_wright
you've probably learned that it's Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday. The prominent American architect, most remembered for the Solomon Guggengheim Museum in NYC (Wright famously said in a 1949 letter to Arthur Holden, "I can think of several more desirable places in the world to build his great museum, but we will have to try New York.") and the E.J. Kauffman House, Fallingwater, left a legacy that includes coworkers, buildings, and artistic movements that are themselves the subjects of lengthy books and college courses.

But today to remember him, we'll focus on one fat slice of his productive, 92-year life, the Usonian Houses. His plan was to create well-designed homes for middle-income families with the goal of making good design within everyone's reach, not only the wealthy. He may have been a bit ahead of his time. Although 60 of his Usonian houses were built, Wright's project did not make widespread a sort of designocracy that we see in today's Targets, where world class designers play to mass market demands. But he made a strong impact, and the idea for his Usonian project remains a driving force in design today.

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June 07, 2005

Masterworks of Modern American Architecture

Modern American Architecture was honored recently when the United Stated Postal Office released stamps commemorating the work of 12 masterminds. The stamps illustrated Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Glass House by Philip Johnson, Louis I. Kahn's Library at Phillips Exeter Academy, Richard Meier's High Museum of Art, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art by I.M. Pei, the Lake Shore Apartments by Mies van der Rohe, Paul Rudolph’s Yale Art and Architecture Building, Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal, the Hancock Tower by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, William Van Allen's Chrysler Building, Robert Venturi’s Vanna Venturi HouseStamps_1 and the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Available at Post Offices nationwide, the stamps were names one of the Design Dozen by Newsweek, proving these architectural innovators continue to make their mark on the design community.

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June 06, 2005

Inside Out

Inside out may as well be the slogan of modern decor these days. With more and more Americans concentrating on personal fulfillment and emotional success, new energy has been focused on the benefits of relaxation and natural spaces. That means we're taking everything we know about interior design and moving it outside. From outdoor rooms to dining rooms with French door entrances to lush gardens of niche settings for enjoying a glass of sangria or a good book, we’re spending much more time, and money, outside. In the past year alone, the New York Times reports, Americans spent almost $3 billion on outdoor furniture. A figure you can bet The Home Depot, that great indicator of market demand, took a good look at. The retail chain this year increased its outdoor furniture line by 25%.

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June 03, 2005

Form, Function & Narration

About 5 years ago the San San_bernardinovalley_cu
Bernardino Valley College campus was found to be straddling a seismic fault line. Architect Steven Ehrlich was brought in to master plan five new buildings -- to replace five that are being demolished. The new buildings will be situated further from the fault line and engineered to withstand four-times the force required by code.

But Ehrlich is as much a story teller as he is an architect. The design of the new buildings is to be a reminder of the campus' former vulnerability -- and how education is the fortifier. SanbernardinocampusaerialCleverly, cross beams hold up triangulated metal roofs, the forms of which are a metaphor for tetonic plate movement, best seen by an aerial view.

"We did not want to bury or hide our systems," explained Ehrlich, "but to display them." Form, function -- and narration.

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June 02, 2005

Take a Seat

Emerging onto the contemporary design scene with leather, wood and granite or "crushed glass" is the dynamic, family operated Treff, srl. With aggressive styles and the influence of Italian design, Treff's line of modern tables and chairs should be on your next dinner party's guestlist. Treff_2

Added bonus for the contemporary kitchen with limited space -- each table is equipped with a spring lever that hides and installs leaves.

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New Machine Could Make Production a Cottage Industry

Fear of low-grade reproductions grips furniture manufacturers and designers worldwide; so much so that many refuse to sell their products online or to even show them there, with many who do opt for an online presence implementing heavy Flash presentations that don't allow the old cut and paste moves copy-cats use to recreate everything from designer trash cans to bedroom suites. But soon, as the BBC's Ben Andro reports, manufacturers of all sorts may have a new, almost paralyzing fear to deal with. Researchers at the UK's highly respected Bath University have developed a robot that can recreate almost anything from designs downloaded from the Internet. Now, these machines would cost about 25,000 pounds, expensive but maybe worthwhile for someone with disposable income who sees the value in owning a machine like this. But, as is the way with electronic breakthroughs, researchers hope to see the cost fall. They're trying to give these machines the ability to recreate themselves. And, if they achieve this, the machine will be available for what they say is about the cost of a tumble dryer. Their hope is not at all far-fetched. Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY recently created what they call a "simple robot" that can make copies of itself from spare parts.

Combine this ability with the production possibilities of the UK machine and people will derive a whole new meaning from the phrase "in-house fabrication."

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June 01, 2005

Thanks M.O.M.

A 'new' designer at 98 years old, Eva Zeisel has left an undeniable imprint on the world of contemporary design.

Eva_z_1 With a current survey at the Hillwood Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C. and a launch by Crate & Barrel of her "Classic Century" dinnerware, Eva Zeisel, at 98, is finally on the road to becoming a household name designer. Achieving that mass recognition goes hand in hand with creating objects for the masses, something Zeisel's done since the 1930s. Long, long before the Targets of the world even existed much less popularized the democratization of design, Zeisel backed up the trend by delivering her signature sensual curves through Sears, Roebuck and the Hall China Company.

Continue reading Eva Zeisel, Mother of Modern

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