Studio Tour: Francis Bacon in Dublin

Francis Bacon in his studio, 1985

We had the opportunity to see Francis Bacon’s reconstructed painting studio in Dublin a couple francis-bacon-three-studies-of-george-dyerof years ago.

Francis Bacon was one of the leading figurative painters of the late twentieth century. He lived and worked in 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, London, from 1961 until his death in 1992. The studio with its heaps of torn photographs, fragments, of illustration and artists’ catalogues provided many of his visual sources. It’s documented that his studio became his complete visual works. Apparently, Francis rarely painted from life.

studio quote

brushes

newspaperThe dust was deliberately mixed into his paint. The studio was cluttered, paint splattered with thick layers of debris and toxic pigments. Which apparently exacerbated his acute asthma.

quote

easel 2 easel

bike painting

looking into studio

Francis Bacon’s entire London studio was transplanted and reassembled – every paintbrush and speck of dust, along with the walls and floorboards – to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. The studio took three years to reconstruct in a Dublin art gallery with every detail of the work-space faithfully re-created.

skylight

The studio was donated to the Hugh Lane Gallery in and a team of 10 archaeologists and conservators spent three years dismantling the room and its contents and transporting them across the Irish Sea.

painting dust painting wall 2 francis-bacon-study-for-self-portrait-1964

Bacon was born in Ireland to English parents but he left Ireland when he was a teenager. He died in Spain in 1992.  According to Brian Clarke, Francis Bacon’s executor, “Bacon once said that he’d never come back to Dublin until he was dead,”

“And I think frankly if he were here today to see what happened, I think he’d be touched but I think he’d probably roar with laughter as well.”

francis bacon

Francis Bacon’s studio was the ultimate creative mess. I recommend a visit if you are in Dublin.

 

Women and the Making of the Modern House Part 2

Hollyhock House

American heiress, Aline Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design Hollyhock House because she wanted to build a theatre for her newly formed theatrical company. Her goal was to use her experience and vast wealth to establish a centre for art theatre in American to rival those found in Europe. She wanted a place where her architect, Frank Lloyd Wright “could build a theatre, a community, and a home that would match her dreams with a boldness and individuality of their own.”  Aline Barnsdall hoped her experimental project for an American theatre community would grow and prosper in California.

FLW 1This collaboration between Frank Lloyd Wright and Aline Barnsdall during the period of 1915 and 1923 was unusual because it called for a rethinking of building types and challenged the “notions of house design, family life, and domesticity.”  Hollyhock House was not designed for the private life of a family but rather as a centrepeice in a public garden, and a theatre complex.  This freed up architect and client to push the boundaries of architecture including the experiences of monumental form, theatricality, and how the house framed the landscape.

flw floor plan

The hollyhock is used as a central theme to the house, with many symmetrical decorations adapting the plant’s general appearance. Planters are decorated with the motif and filled with the plants themselves, and Wright’s stained glass windows feature a highly-stylized hollyhock pattern.

flw_hollyhock_hse_garden_pool_remc

flw_hollyhock_center_court_garden_remcflw_hollyhock_hse_windows_ext_bedroom_remc flw_hollyhock_house_windows_sun-room_remcflw interiorAlice T. Friedman contends that Hollyhock has a lot to teach us about “creativity and about the sorts of new experiences that become possible when conventions of social behaviour, program, and planning are challenged.”

Disillusioned by the costs of construction and maintenance, Barnsdall donated the house to the city of Los Angeles in 1927 under the stipulation that a fifteen-year lease be given to the California Art Club for its headquarters, which it maintained until 1942.Hollyhock has been used by various organizations and has had restoration work done over the years.  The U.S. Department of the Interior designated Hollyhock House a National Historic Landmark in 2007 (Wikipedia)

All photos are from Alice T. Friedman’s book, or as noted by Rick McNees.

 

Style: From Runway to Room

My birthday was August 14 and I spent the day with my daughter who is visiting from Los Angeles. We took a walk down Main Street, in Vancouver, which has become a funky, hip neighbourhood with many boutiques, antique and vintage goods, cafes, and recently, home decorating shops.

me at vancouver special

Here I am sitting on a sofa in Vancouver Special, at 3612 Main Street (read more below). My daughter took this picture and it made me realize the vintage dress I was wearing was perfectly matched to the decor in the shop. This brings me to two points I want to share with you. Firstly, my dress is awesome and it goes to show you what you can pick up for next to nothing at a vintage store. And secondly, fashion now, more than ever, is one of main predictors of upcoming home decorating trends.

fashion to room

Photo from Freshome.

The styles, patterns and colours that graced the runways of Milan, New York and Paris are soon strutting down the pages of glossy fashion magazines and then end up in our closets. Yet people’s home decor would rarely reflect the fashions that they wore. (from Freshome)

blue fashionPhoto from Sourceable.

However, this is changing. What is happening in Fashion will often predict and inspire the latest looks in interiors. In recent years, the world of interiors has seen about a 2 year lag from runway to living room. Given the speed of information transfer now that time will only shorten. Fashion is not only about clothes and shoes anymore. Trends in the fashion industry have a direct impact on interior design all around the world.

So what exactly was I wearing on my birthday?

details of birthday outfit1. I am a big fan of vintage tiki and Hawaiian fashions. I found this dress recently at Community Thrift and Vintage, 311 Carrall Street. Cost $29.00. The dress is made of  colourful heavy cotton in immaculate condition. 2.  Shoes bought on sale for $50 from Madewell. 3. Silver charm bracelet handmade by Joan Scarabelli Jewellery Design. Each charm is a shoe based on the designs of Peter Fox Shoes and Manolo Blahnik Shoes.

Vancouver Special is a retail store offering a carefully curated selection of contemporary furniture, sofas, design objects, household accessories, and art and architecture books.’

Vancouver Special is a term used to refer to houses built in a particular architectural style in the period from roughly 1965 to 1985 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and its suburbs. The Vancouver Special house style has had a bad reputation because of its proliferation, its cheap materials, bland forms, kitschy decorations, ease of permitting and the fact that it was designed for two family occupancy. The Vancouver Special will be a topic of discussion in a later blog post.

Local Is The New Black

Bruce Nassbaum, in his book Creative Intelligence, talks about the new ‘maker movement’ that is happening. He talks about how Generation Y has seen the negative effects of globalization and ‘throwing your lot in with a big corporation that has no loyalty to you’. Craft, is popular again, as we can see from on-line commerce sites like Etsy. Individuals can now put out their own music, make their own movies, and sell their home-made goods in a variety of ways. This is making.

etsy

We all have a need to create things, and we want real, tangible, authentic goods.  HGTV television has shown us we can make through DIY projects. We recognize that organic or locally produced foods are better, and we love when our table is made from found materials. We are moving towards a climate of what I call, ‘local is the new black.’ In other words, GoLocal is the new Global. By buying recycled or used items (and locally made items with no transportation costs) we can realize some of the savings that were only to be had by exploiting underpaid foreign workers in unregulated environments.

final granville islandGranville Island Markets, Vancouver.

My husband’s theory on two key contributors to the decline of Rome, (and comparable to our own experience) and relevant to mention, are:

  1. Mercenaries doing the work of Romans so the ‘locals’ forgot how to make, and therefore, became lazy, relying completely on others expertise.
  2. Decline in technical innovation – how do you innovate when you stop designing and making?

So who is making a difference?

gild divanA lovely new shop, called Gild & Co, has opened my neighbourhood. The store is where ‘Modern meets Vintage’. As a collector of vintage goodies I have a real soft spot for what proprietor Bonnie is trying to do.

Bonnie explains her philosophy:

“Each piece at Gild & Co. carries a unique story; where it came from, how we found it, and why we brought it into the store. Our collection of inspired modern furnishings and embellishments is rounded out with revamped vintage gems, fusing classic forms with modern inspiration.”

gild template

She breathes new life into furniture that was manufactured at a time when high quality was the norm.  With our tendency to over-consume, and when so many of the products of western culture ends up in landfills, it is exciting to know that buying vintage reduces the need to manufacture new furniture and harvest new materials. It is the ultimate in recycling because there is something very nostalgic, evocative and connective in rediscovering the classic artifacts of our shared past.

3 gild 2templateMy friend Bette bought these beautiful Mid-Century Modern Chairs from Gild & Co to go with her new L-shaped sofa in a relatively small room. The chairs are the perfect scale, and are so comfortable and well made. It goes without saying, that it’s likely no one else will have these chairs! They are originals!

trayBeyond the great collection of furniture and embellishments, Bonnie is doing something for the vitality of our neighbourhood. It is not an easy neighbourhood in which to run a business. I have seen many businesses come and go, but as a designer and collector of modern furniture and cool stuff, I really want Gild & Co to be successful.

So please go out and support the local businesses that keep our cities vibrant!

Before and After: Adding Art Work

before and after bette's housePainting of Siwash Rock,  by Graham Smith.

To fully articulate a space beyond colour, finishes and furnishings, there are two key framed compositional elements that come into play; Windows and Art.

Of these, one is the window into your surrounding landscape, carefully edited to accentuate or conceal its strengths and weakness.  The other, your art selection is a window into your tastes and even your inner self.  Few interior choices say more about the inhabitant than their art collection.  As such, the ‘painting to match the couch’ phenomenon is to be strongly avoided.  Naturally, what qualifies as art extends to include sculpture, textile pieces, glass and ceramic artwork, prints and fine crafts.

Artwork provides an unequaled opportunity to create interiors with a unique and personal feel. Art chosen for a space dramatically affects the overall mood and ambiance and can ‘make or break’ the impression you are trying to create.  There’s are many talented artists in almost every community, pleased to find appreciative buyers. So, purchasing original artwork is always an option, even with a limited budget.  In addition, buying locally will often add a contextual regional flavor to your composition giving it a grounded and authentic presence.

And please….don’t dismiss the decoration of a space as insignificant to the overall design.  Indeed it is often this “layer,” that is most impactful and remembered.  Done properly the décor is an extension of the overall design and should integrate seamlessly with the massing, layout and materials of the base building.

Ray Kappe: Architect, Urban Planner and Educator, California

Photo - Ray KA TRIBUTE + RESOURCE

An internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953, Ray Kappe‘s much awarded and published work is considered to be an extension of the early Southern California master architects: Wright, Schindler, Neutra, and Harwell Hamilton Harris.

Some good advice In the words of Ray Kappe:
“I’ve always sought out the edges, the views, and a feeling
of expansiveness.”

“I was once asked what I think are the ten most important principles that helped make me a successful architect, planner, and educator…

(1)  Think positively, not negatively.
(2)  Accept structure but know that it is to be questioned and broken when necessary.
(3)  Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent.  Do not accept the status quo.
(4)  Know yourself and keep your work consistent with who you are and how you think.
(5)  Maintain good moral and social values.
(6)  Be humble, honest, compassionate, and egalitarian.
(7)  Have conviction about your work.
(8)  Be open and say yes to most ideas and requests. The good ones will be valuable, the bad ones will cease to exist.
(9)  Allow employees and fellow workers freedom and the ability to work to their strengths. Avoid hierarchy.
(10) Money should be the residual of work, not the goal.  But do not compromise your worth.”

rayk1_1

Getting Inspired

Nothing inspires me more than travelling. For some reason, I open my eyes wider when I am in a new place. As an example, during these past few days in Los Angeles I toured some remarkable Canyon and Valley homes, took a blogshop course, and got to see some extremely cool restaurants and shops.

My point: It is amazing what you can learn and absorb by just looking around a new place with fresh eyes. Particular pieces will resonate with you and you just have to stop and ask yourself why it moves you. It definitely gives insight into your own feelings about design and style. Here are a few things that inspired me this past week.

The Dwell On Design Modern design event at the LA convention Centre

trubridge lightingcopy[pinit]
David Trubridge lighting. David Trubridgeconsiders himself a “Cultural Designer,” one whose designs encourage sustainable living while also nourishing people spiritually and culturally. Each design is manufactured on site in New Zealand using sustainable practices throughout the process, from the harvesting of sustainably harvested timber to the use of non-toxic oil-based finishes to shipping each finished piece as a compact kit set for low-energy (and low-cost) shipping. (A beneficial side effect of this practice: Needing to assemble each piece at home makes the owner part of the cultural design process and serves to enhance the bond between the two.)

Pygmy Hippo Gift Store

emee

Meet Emee. Emee has a lovely shop in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles. The shop is tiny, not more than 60 sf but is full of all kinds of interesting finds. From vintage books and cards, to jewlery and ‘zines’. Meeting Emee is worth the visit alone. Have a look below at some Emee’s stuff: hairpins in the shape of records, vintage squirrels and state plates. Emee is doing what she loves. This is inspiring!

pygmyhippo goodssqirrels

Street Life

These trailers were parked across the street from where I was staying. Not only did they look out of place, but the fact that there were two of them, made me wonder what their story was. Why?vintage trailers Who? What? The stories your mind can create with the right stimulus….

What inspires you?

What inspires you? One way to find out is to put together a collection of images that you like, and see where you end up. I did this as a course assignment for the Blogging Your Way Bootcamp, on-line blogging course I am taking. This is what I did and what I found out about my own design aesthetic.

This Inspiration Board defines my style, shows what I personally love, and what I would like to share on my blog.

This was a very interesting and challenging exercise for me. I have wide ranging, eclectic tastes so when I had to chose what I personally love and how it reflects my personal style I had to be very selective about what I picked. So here it is.

I would call my style ‘simple with a twist’. I love white interiors because they accentuate architecture and provide a clean backdrop to all objects of art, including furniture, paintings or quirky collections, allowing them to stand out and be articulated. I love the calm and serene feel of a white room but I also love a splash of turquoise. I love how modern architecture is about the relationship between inside and outside spaces.

I love mid-century modern furniture with its modern lines yet so evocative of the past. In that same retro spirit I adore vintage finds from depression glass to dresses from the 60s. I collect vintage Hermes scarves, because to me they are wearable pieces of art.

Through this exercise I found out, to my surprise, I love Chinoiserie – in porcelain, fabrics, fashion, and art. I think that one can be stylish no matter what their age. The key is to keep it simple but always throw in a bit of bling or a splash of bold colour.

To reiterate, my style is ‘Simple With a Twist.’

 

 

Design Influences

As a designer I know that everything that surrounds us is influential; None of us design in a bubble. It goes without saying that the more you expose yourself to the world, the more design will factor in your life. Influences can come from a variety of places as you can see below. They can come from architecture, holidays, food, fashion, the environment, nature, and the list goes on.  Sometimes it is hard to determine what came first, the chicken or the egg because we internalize design and what we see after we are exposed to it.

My necklace and earrings are by jewelry designer Gay Isber, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Cabaret Vintage on Queen Street West in Toronto.

When I was looking at old photos I realized how similar my hallway is to my son’s ensemble and the Hawaiian surf boards he is standing in front of.

I had to include this image because not only is it beautiful but it so clearly describes the blurring of design boundaries. The image is from KontaktMag.

So, keep your eyes open and let the world of DESIGN enter your psyche.