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February 27, 2006

Academy Awards, Oscars Designers

051219a_1We all struggle over choosing colors and styles for our homes, worried what our friends and family will think, if they'll like it, if we'll like it. It's these questions and their possible outcomes that make our Ask the Expert designer department so popular. But imagine the stress and "commitmentphobia" of designing for an audience of millions of TV viewers and a few hundred A list celebs who have their own homes detailed inside and out by today’s brightest design stars.

Such is the pressure endured by Roy Christopher, the man behind the Oscars' set design since 1979. But seeing as how successfully he’s done this before, Christopher's no shrinking violet when it comes to designing a grand set with dramatic themes.

"I'm humbled and I'm grateful and I never get tired of doing it. It's wonderful," he said in an interview with the BBC.

Last year's design was all about technology and modern advancement. By contrast Christopher's using the 2006 set to hearken back to the old days, when home theaters were unheard of and people went for entertainment at the local cinema house. In a year of dwindling box office sales, Christopher's bringing glamour back to the theater and setting the stage for nostalgia.

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February 26, 2006

Hurrah for Rollywood!

Rollout_floor_1We saw hANdwerk's handiwork at Vegas last summer -- and were thrilled to see them at Vegas again this winter.  The American-based company has roots in owner Andreas Nimmervoll's home country, Austria. He wanted to offer old-country craftsmanship in the US and work with manufacturer Brett a Porter to do just that.

hANdwerk offers custom wood floors that can be rolled out like an area rug. Solid wood planks are attached to a foam backing that hold floor tightly in place. No glue or nails needed! The best part is the floor can be rolled back up when you move!

Handwerk_rollywood_floorAvailable in ash, beech and maple (and combinations for a truly custom look) and in kiefer, ash or teak for outdoor decks, saunas or showers. Floors can be cut to your specifications, with a maximum width of 12 feet and a maximum length of 30 feet (outdoor = maximum 5 ft. x 15 ft.). Custom molding is available to finish the look.

And new this year, are the Industrial Designer Parquet floors. Made of non-toxic, natural materials. Choose the desired thickness, either 10mm* with tongue and groove fitting, or industrial 55mm or 87mm glue-down plates (unfinished).  Also available in 9.5mm veneer with cork backing and clicking system upon request. Custom order your finish, either oiled or water-based varnish.

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February 22, 2006

Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure

Apartment Therapy's book, The Eight-Step Home Cure, is about to hit bookshelves.

Get a sneak peak at the home owners how-to-guide -- including tips for eliminating clutter, revamping the tiniest of spaces, and lighting usage.

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Contemporary Cause

Haba_na_haba_green_pillow_coverCreated to support women-owned businesses and training trade skills to AIDS orphaned teens from Tanzania, e-commerce site Haba Na Haba centers on selling imported African textile goods, beginning with African pillow covers designed by Flotea Massawe Tanzanian craftspeople.

Based on contemporary designs from traditional East African patterns and style, the pillow covers are silk-screened and embroidered Tanzanian cotton.

Haba na haba, a Swahili proverb meaning "Little by little, fills the pot," is working to empower at-risk AIDS orphans.

To learn more, or to purchase, visit

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February 21, 2006

Munch, What a Scream.

Self-portrait, 1895, lithograph

It's one of the most widely recognized paintings ever, but "The Scream" tells only part of Edvard Munch's tale of emotional instability, loss, and a fervent talent that created over 1,000 paintings, 15,400 prints, 4,500 drawings and six sculptures.

For the first time in about 30 years, a major American retrospective seeks to tell the rest of the Norwegian painter's story. "Edvard Munch: The Modern Life of the Soul" opened Sunday at the New York Museum of Modern Art with 87 paintings and about 50 works on paper, including an 1895 lithograph of "The Scream," with the majority of works coming from the Munch Museum in Oslo.

The show will run through May 8, 2006.

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February 20, 2006

Your Color Personality

It's nice to know what colors say to us, but more and more, we're considering what colors say about us.

Think about paint color trends. There was avocado and orange, black and white, the sage green of the early nineties and the recent surge of blue and brown. Whether you like them or not they come and go (some not nearly fast enough) to make way for the next wave.

Jbuisson2_1 But where do these trends come from? According to Josette Buisson, Artistic Director for Pittsburgh Paints, people are internalizing their reactions to world events and expressing them with color.

Buisson has studied the range of reactions to world events and has created a Color Trend report that reflects what we see and how we react to it in terms of choosing colors for our homes.

She calls the current trend The Light Years saying the name represents the color White, a common color in the four unique color trends she’s spotted. The Light Years trend are Prana, Strategy, Modern Artisan and Color Delight.

Tren_pran_03_mPRANA––A reaction to violence and the accelerated pace of life. Prana is found in peaceful objects and represents a desire to slow down life and enjoy beauty. The colors of Prana are soft aquas, light purple and pink shades.

Tren_stra_01_mSTRATEGY––focused on function and simplicity. Strategy is influenced by technology and the industrialized world. Think red, black and gray, sleek, strong colors.

Tren_mode_01_mMODERN ARTISAN––represents a movement toward conscious living. The Modern Artisan trend is found in an appreciation and respect for all things, like seeking out green products or making ethical choices. The true colors of the earth are expressed in Modern Artisan with deep blues, greens, warm browns, and oranges.

Tren_colo_01_mCOLOR DELIGHT––expresses a youthful, colorful look on life. This trend embraces the joy of discovery and feelings of optimism. Think bright pinks and greens, like the colors of candy and the lights of a carnival.

“The new trends for 2006 incorporate the many expressions of our changing society,” said Buisson. “Trends are about ideas, and can be translated into color opportunities.”

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February 16, 2006

The Personality of Color


Colors have personalities too. Some of them very strong, strong enough to make you think you're famished or full, sleepy or wide-awake. Some might spark your hospitality, or your love life.

And getting a handle on what colors say to you can be a great help when you're choosing paint colors for your home.

Red Red packs a wallop, physiologically speaking, increasing blood pressure, heartbeat and energy in most people. It instills feelings of intimacy and passion. Red also increases the appetite, which explains why it is used so often in restaurants, and why it can be a good choice for a formal dining room.

Orange Orange, like red, tends to warm a room, but in a more friendly and welcoming way. As a result, paints in various shades and tints of orange work well in living rooms and family rooms.

Yellow Yellow is also warm and welcoming, but it is more attention- getting than either red or orange. For this reason, it is a good paint color to use in poorly lit foyers or dark hallways.

Blue Blue, which is part of the cool color palette, makes us feel calm and tranquil, so it is ideal for use in bedrooms. But since blue works as an appetite suppressant (perhaps because there are few blue foods) it is not the best option for a dining room ... unless you're on a diet.

Green Green is another relaxing color that is much more versatile than blue. Light greens are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms; mid-tones are good for kitchens and dining rooms (many foods are green). Also, because green is calming, it is often used in hospitals, workplaces and schools.

Violet Violet is a tricky color, psychologically speaking. Many adults dislike purples, but are fond of the rose family, which can work in many rooms, including dining rooms, bedrooms and libraries. Young children, on the other hand, respond favorably to violet, so this color can be used successfully in children's bedrooms and play areas.

Thanks to Debbie Zimmer, color and decorating expert with the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute.

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February 15, 2006

Radical Toaster


How can you not love this? The "Six Part Toaster," by designer Matt Gossington. Individual toasting compartments attach to central heating unit. Not sure if it fits a bagel.

Thanks ModMom!

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February 14, 2006

Porcher's Tetsu Spa

Porcher_wall_unit_4Porcher, the luxury brand for American Standard, unveiled "Tetsu" at the Luxury Kitchen & Bath show in Florida in December. Tetsu (Japanese for peace), with its pre-hung cabinetry is actually a designer-spa-in-a-box.

Tim Maicher, VP marketing and visionary for Tetsu, had sought to find a way to recreate the 

the spa experience at home. To that end, the first consideration was the materials.

Woods were essential of course and Machier opted for Mozambique, with its dark dramatic lines, and bamboo (about the hue of a natural maple), both woods are hearty, environmentally plentiful and resistant to mildew. To complement the woods, he wanted minimalist glass, bronze -- and hewn-edged stones that are finished with chislers' hands. "All very natural materials to keep the look warm and soothing," he explained.


Next came the modularity. Sinks are pre-mounted on panels -- or not, and outfitted with mirrors and shelving. The mirror can be exposed -- or behind doors -- in case you are in a no-mirror mood day. Just mix and match modules to fit the size and storage needs required.


It is always the details that separate the high end from the pack, and Porcher excels. Towel racks operate by touch -- to appear when you need them -- and retract when you don't. Bathroom furniture in impervious outdoor fabric allows relaxed seating with no sweat.

A nice little extra is the  wall-mounted candle box that is lined with curved stainless to add a literal warmth and glow to your zen-like setting that says, ah, Tetsu.

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February 13, 2006

Gehry goes to Vegas

Famed architect Frank Gehry has lent his talent and bold vision to Las Vegas, helping to create an Alzheimer's research institute.

Gehry unveils design for Las Vegas medical centerFrank_gehry


LAS VEGAS (AP) - Architect Frank Gehry presented his design for a new Alzheimer's research center in Las Vegas on Saturday, unveiling an uneven stack of blocks anchoring a swooping trellis made of Gehry's signature contorted steel.

The latest work from arguably the most famous American architect will house the Lou Ruvo Alzheimer's Institute, a proposed center for the research and treatment of neurological disorders funded by Las Vegas liquor distributor Larry Ruvo.

Backers are hoping the building also will become the city's first architectural icon that doesn't house slot machines.

"This is something that will separate us from any other place on the face of the earth," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. "I know (tourists) are going to come down to downtown Las Vegas to take a look at this phenomenon."

The 55,000-square-foot facility will sit in a corner of a 61-acre site in downtown Las Vegas, the epicenter of the mayor's efforts to create a cultural hub in a city struggling to establish its highbrow credentials.

As he unveiled his model, Gehry called the design a "mouse that roars," in part because the 5-story building will likely be dwarfed by planned high-rise developments on the site and a boxy nearby furniture market - not to mention the 200-pound elephant five miles south, the Las Vegas Strip.

Gehry said he didn't consider the glitz of the Strip when creating the design and he didn't intend the building to be a riff on the complexity of the human brain that will be studied within its walls. Some have suggested the more ordered geometric medical office and research building that anchors the design represents the right side of the brain, while the chaotic steel and glass canopy enclosing a banquet hall is the left.

Instead, Gehry, 76, said he envisioned Italian Renaissance painters' renderings of a mother's arms cradling a child.

"It's always about the fold," he said. "That is the metaphor, it's a comforting image."

Gehry said the canopy will be made of steel, not the titanium used in one of his best known creations, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Gehry also designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

Ruvo, senior managing director for Miami-based Southern Wine and Spirits, named the project after his father, who died of Alzheimer's disease.

He's compiled a well-funded group of supporters and honorary board members, including first lady Laura Bush, former first ladies Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan and California's first lady Maria Shriver. Shriver and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were scheduled to attend a fundraiser for the center Saturday evening at the MGM Grand hotel-casino.

The price tag for the construction is currently $60 million, said Lynette Boggs McDonald, president of the Keep Memory Alive, the foundation raising money for the institute. Boggs McDonald said about $30 million had already been raised and the foundation hopes to finance a portion of the project with tax-free economic development revenue bonds.

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