Wednesday, March 9, 2011


This manhattan apartment designed by West Chin is a good example of a well planned space where casual, modern living was kept in mind. The layout is great for entertaining - large & open kitchen with a lot of storage to hide all the messy stuff. A dining table parallel to the island makes it easy for people to wander over to it after gathering in the kitchen, as most of us tend to do when we’re at a party. Before I move into talking about the rest of the space, I should point out how awesome I think the hood fan is with the white tile as a backdrop behind it - this design makes the kitchen feel open and like it’s part of the rest of the room and not just a dark wood kitchen stuck in the corner.

My favorite part about how this space was orchestrated was achieved by the clever choice of modular modern furniture. The sectional is like a giant island in the space, which while being one, it faces towards two very distinct areas - the Bocci chandelier above it accents this ‘island’ area. The smaller end of the sectional is the cozy side, right next to the fireplace. The fireplace is totally stripped down to its essence... all black, surrounding a black box where fire can flicker away inside. The long, black, strong horizontal fireplace surround perfectly anchors the oversized black and white photo which hangs above it. The fireplace & photography combination creates a strong focal point in the room, good choice of where to use black as a bold statement. The wall mount white built in buffet at the end of the dining table juxtaposes the fireplace form nicely.

The more open end of the seating island is combined with a pair of gorgeous chairs by Patricia Urquiola (Smock chair, by Moroso). I love the chair and the sectional and understand the design intent, however I think that the chairs are a little bit too high for this low to the ground sectional design, the scale is a little bit off. Judging from the choice in armchairs, I’d venture to guess that the people living here are probably into fashion, they just yell out high fashion to me, just like impeccably tailored apparel and luxury car interiors do. They’re sexy... The photos are pretty sexy and edgy - soft outtake of topless Marilyn Monroe along with the bold oversized black and white of a blond (who I'd safely guess is Madonna) from behind holding a whip.

This seating area faces another grouping across the room - the tv corner. I love love love the fact that they’ve managed to keep the tv in the open, not hidden it behind doors, but it’s only a focal point to the one area it faces. It’s not dominating the space, as it shouldn’t.

The choice in kid’s furniture are among some of the features that drew me to this space. A bright orange baby high chair by Bloom in the kitchen and a red sofa in the play room make the space kid friendly without taking away any of the grown up sophisticated qualities it has.

The colours are quite subdued throughout, other than a few bright pops of colour brought in by the kid’s pieces and the bold black fireplace surround, which manages to disappears well into its surrounding while still creating a strong focal point. More colour is brought into the space through small subtle accents, art work & flowers. For example, the bedroom, where monochromatic layers of sand tones and greys are accented with red flowers, red pillows and subtle red hints in the painting on the wall. The pink flowers in the TV area pull the tones from the painting hanging in that area and the black Calla Lilies near the fireplace. I love the use of flowers in interiors. Individually, I think of flowers as unique little living sculptures. As a group, they can transform the feeling of a room or simply add texture, life and colour.

My love for flowers and working with them really set in after taking a Flower arrangement course at the Flower School of New York. I love walking through places or seeing photos of spaces where the designer behind them obviously shared the same feelings towards the use of flowers with me.... Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you're enjoying it :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


It’s been a while since my last blog post and I’m feeling inspired to share some good stuff. In January I was lucky to spend some time in Maui, which was amazing. I loved my time there, but soon after I was brought back to reality. Upon my return home and to work, I’d daydream about Maui and figured there had to be some great modern gems throughout the island which I just hadn’t come across. Well, I found one and it’s sublime, simple and raw.

The home is on the North of the Island on a beach called Slaughterhouse Beach, near the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua. Olson Kundig Architects made use of simple and honest materials, such as corrugated metal, glass, concrete, rammed earth walls and Ipe wood. They combined traditional hawaiian architectural elements, modern sustainable features and functional creativity.

I would have loved to have seen this home in person, it’s huge, but in the photos it blends very well with its environment. From my readings, I found that not only does the house appear to blend well with its environment it also respects it and makes good use of it. The roof lines are reminiscent of traditional hawaiian roof lines, the extra deep overhangs to protect the interior from the elements. The roof is designed in a way to help ventilate the interior and makes use of the trade winds as a cooling aid. The thick (18”) rammed earth walls also keep the heat out during the day and keep the warmth in at night - the material used to build these walls is all local and toxins free.

The way the entire front of the house opens up to the vast views is what I most loved about the architecture. This fully pulls the exterior with its amazing views right into the home, the line of sight created by the massive, dramatic and amazing cantilevered accentuates this, taking your eye right out to the views, the horizon.. and the local surfers ;). The table’s end pokes through the glass front when it’s closed and seems endless when it’s open. The main room is effortlessly great with a lot of open space... simple and clutter free.

I can only imagine what it would be like to walk through there, pick up a mai tai and sit on this concrete table to watch one of Maui’s legendary sunsets or voracious rain pours.

Info & photos in this post came from various online sources, including the "La La Land" article featured in the WSJ: The Magazine from the Wall Street Journal

Saturday, November 28, 2009


During my last visit to New York, I lucked out big time with the chance to visit and experience Ernesto Neto's Anthropodino. It totally blew my mind! I highly encourage you to visit one of his installs if you ever have the chance, it's multi-sensory goodness. Researching, sourcing and reading are among my pastimes, so I sat down to learn more about Ernesto Neto and in doing so, I came across another incredible artist which I will be writing about in this posting. His name is Tomas Saraceno and he is a German based Argentinian artist who's work has shown worldwide… for those of you who know me, yes, I'm totally proud of him being from my motherland, mi Argentina querida.

Saraceno's mind is brilliant… I have been reading about him and his work and admiring the incredible architectural art he creates for far too many more hours than I should admit to. He is an architect by training and a completely visionary artist who's work merges art, science and technology, while also addressing many current issues of our times, relating to border disputes, xenophobia and the ecological problems we're facing. He often experiments with innovative and lightweight materials and with the help of physicists and engineers he's been able to bring initially thought to be utopian ideas to fruition.

He works with different mediums including photography, video, sculpture and drawing. I would love to one day watch the film and see more photos of his project in Uyuni, Bolivia - the largest salt flat on the Earth, which during rainy season gets covered by a thin layer of water, creating a mirror effect, reflecting the sky on the earth… The few photos I have seen are magical, powerful and ethereal.

Saraceno is fascinated by the topic of floating cities. In an article I read about him, he explains "his thing with balloons" as a need to elevate himself from the earth and detach himself from it as a double thought. On one hand the Earth isn't what is longed for, but at the same time it is, because only when you view it from a certain distance you get to know it better. He compares this to viewing the Nazca line drawings, which can't be perceived from the earth, but can be from a certain height, in which case the distance actually becomes closeness.

He thinks cities should be like clouds - flexible. Hi work has a very architectural aesthetic and often consists of spheres and clusters of Spheres. In his Flying Green House project, the centre spheres shelter green house plants and the ones around it insulate it, providing a constant temperature. Another project which involves green thinking is the work he did for the Walker Art Center, where real grass is growing from metallic spheres suspended in the air, becoming an ecosystem with the grass in the gallery is watered by sprinklers that are powered by a wind turbine that sits on the patio outside.

Airport City stems from the concept of a floating city in the sky, which is a re-occurring theme in his work, where among other concepts, borders are blurred... "The habitations would move like clouds, eliminating geographical and political boundaries, generating human and political communities in continuous transformation and re-definition. These airport-cities would be freely constituted in compliance with the international laws, challenging the political, social, cultural and military restrictions presently in effect around the world"

Tomas Saraceno's "Galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets of a spider's web" is part of the Making World exhibition at the Venice Art Biennale 09. Here, he explores how the black widow's gossamer filaments can hold heavy weight through the use of geometry.

Tomas quickly became another one of my latest favourites and in researching him I came across a number of great blogs and websites that have a slew of inspirational material, among them where:, and… the photos came from many sites including the above mentioned, I would love to credit all the photographers in these images, but I'm unable to.

Monday, November 9, 2009


One of the many things I really enjoy about my job is the vast number of amazing and talented people that I meet on a regular basis, clients and talents in my industry. As my blog progresses I will be writing about many local architects, designers, artists and trades I am lucky to call friends. To kick this off, I'd like to introduce you to Nigel Parish from Splyce. Parish's work is modern, light, comfortable and appeals to the senses. Natural woods, concrete, and other noble materials are combined through very well thought out, planned and executed details and designs. His spaces always make a great use of space, playing with volume and adding flexibility through multifunctional sliding doors and other such aiding architectural elements. Now that I've walked through a few of Nigel's projects, when I'm there I tend to find myself slaying "ah!" while I'm looking through unexpected peek windows in clever places, admiring perfectly thought out material joints and simple details that make the ceiling look like it's endless and may just be disappearing.

The photos in this posting are of a project Nigel recently completed in Shuswap Lake, BC. This project is exciting for me for different reasons, one being that I think it's great to see Vancouverites moving more and more towards modern life and architecture. This project and much of Nigel's other work is a perfect blend of modern design with a west coast personality. Kudos to Nigel's clients for committing to a modern lifestyle and taking this sensibility into their weekend retreat.

The project was designed for a couple who likes to entertain, but the house isn't planned solely for entertaining, it has a large sliding wall panel which allows them to divide the space if they feel so inclined during times when they want to enjoy it alone. The large oversized exterior sliding doors allow the space to open up almost completely into the views of the lake and natural surroundings. I really like the small covered area on the deck, which I find hard to distinguish if it's the deck that is encroaching into the interior floor plan or if the interior itself was carved out to add a refuged area to the deck. Just like in most of the other houses that I am drawn to, there is a harmonious and symbiotic relationship between the outdoors and the indoors.

The simplicity in the selection of interior finishes create a very peaceful atmosphere, grey, white and natural wood - no fuss goes a long way. The fireplace being a darker charcoal color and a monolithic full height form adds drama and interest to its peaceful surroundings. When it's dark out and the view disappears and all eyes can focus on the attention demanding fireplace surround, which in turn must seem to slighting disappear when the lights are dimmed and the fire is crackling. Not to go on and on about the fireplace, but there's one more thing that has me stoked about it… it's a unifying element within the space, stretching from the concrete hearth to the ceiling, It brings attention to the beautifully crafted exposed wood post, beam and joist roof structure.

I think it's wonderful that Nigel and his clients committed to this project and saw it through into completion, because modern designs aren't always the easiest to build. Modern design requires great attention to details followed by very, very precise construction. Vancouver is slowly becoming more modern, with builders and trades who understand the aesthetic and the level of involvement and commitment that it requires. For this particular project, the builder had never built a modern home before and Nigel had an ongoing challenge of coordinating and providing adequate documents and instructions to the builder who was 400 kilometres away. The magic and successful expected level of detail happened through strategically timed visits and thorough communication.

Model photos...