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Friday, June 13th, 2014

5 Fantastic Houseboats and Floating Houses

Becky

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There is something so romantic about a floating house. Maybe it’s because we imagine a sweet widower played by Tom Hanks and his precocious son living in one in Seattle. I don’t know, what do you think? Anyway, I’ve found myself collecting images of float houses and houseboats on Pinterest lately and searching out float house designers to interview at my other gig over at Houzz. Here are five that caught my eye.

by flickr member _wim_

This brightly-colored houseboat has an ingenious turf roof. And yellow and blue make (grass) green. Simply charming in its simplicity and color palette.

via Dyna Contracting

Float houses are different than houseboats in that you don’t actually drive them around the bay. They are tugged to their slips, usually in float house ‘hoods and give a whole new meaning to living on the water — literal one. This one, designed by Ninebark Design Build and built by Dyna Contracting has one bedroom and one bathroom and a wonderful open living space with big views.

photo by Marcus Peabody

It was a little hard to track down much information about this house as I fell down a Pinterest rabbit hole trying to find out more, which led to nowhere. However, thanks to Google reverse search (thank you “Catfish” for helping me learn how to use that), it seems it was posted by inspiration green in a blog post. The cabin floats atop Perry Creek, near the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. I’ll have to look for it this summer when I’m up there. I love the way they have created a container garden out in the middle of the water around their float home!

This amazing home in Portland, Oregon got its 15 minutes of fame on a recent episode of Portlandia. It was designed by architect Robert O’Shatz, who is a master of organic architecture. It was in the episode featuring Steve Buscemi as The Celery Guy and served as evil Bacon’s house.

When I was visiting some friends who moor their boat in Georgetown, Maine last summer, I was struck by these romantic little float houses you can rent. They are towed out into the harbor at Robinhood Marina. I’d love to wake up surrounded by this beautiful place. Click here for more information on renting a snug little floating house.

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Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Designer Interview: Brad Musuraca, Owner of Tronk Design

Becky

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After graduating from The University of Cincinnati with a degree in classics,  Brad Musuraca  noticed his friends in the architecture school working on their final furniture-building projects, and thought that it looked like a lot of fun. He carved out a spot in his family’s factory to start experimenting during his free time outside of working there, working with wood and metal and creating prototypes. This led to him starting his own  furniture company, Tronk Design.  Here’s more about how he got his start, his design process and advice for budding designers. Thanks to Brad for answering our questions today.


Tronk Design Hudson Table with Inlay

What was the first piece of furniture you ever built?

The very first piece I ever built was a tall long thin table you might put in a hallway and throw your keys on it as you came into the house. It was very simple because I only had one machine, so the wood came from Lowes and I stained it, trying to make it NOT look like cheap pine. It’s actually still around in my Dad’s office.
Cincinnati is chock full of great design history — are there any examples of local designers/designs  that inspire you in particular?

Honestly I really like Charley Harper, as does everyone I suppose. I actually tried to get in touch with their studio to see if I could integrate some of his iconic animal designs into my furniture. Nothing happened with that, but I’m still holding out hope.

Your work has the vibe of a contemporary take on mid-century modern. What are some of your favorite elements/principles from that era that you like to use in your work today?

I try and keep the furniture as slim and elegant as possible without sacrificing functionality. Yes it is very minimalistic, but each item has something subtle that adds a little pop to catch the eye. Ultimately mid-century furniture was designed to be high quality, but also able to be mass produced.
Can you walk us through your process a bit, from the time you get an idea to the finished piece of furniture?

I’d like to start off by saying that I tend to have a bit of an obsessive personality.  I will literally think about a new product idea non-stop for days. I have a long list of ideas sitting on my desk that honestly, I will probably never get to make. Usually I just end up making the latest idea that pops into my head.
It starts off with a prototype, roughly fashioned with cheap wood from the hardware store. Then I’ll make whatever changes I would like from there, because nothing ever seems to look exactly as you imagined it. Once that is done I’ll make another prototype out of cheap wood, but this time do all the joints properly to see what it will actually be like in reality to make the thing. If that goes well then I’ll make all the appropriate jigs and make another prototype out of slightly better wood, which I usually stain to get a feel for the color of the final piece. This prototype inevitably ends up in my house. Finally I’ll make the real deal and make up a manufacturing direction sheet from everything I just learned through the prototyping process. A lot more methodical work than inspiration, unfortunately!


I love the way the Franklin Shelf works a corner — how did you come up with that?
I just wanted to design some type of shelf that fit into a corner. I went through all the usual suspects you would imagine. Then I thought “well, what if it was just a flat board in an L shape?” Then I figured it would need support so I added another shelf and connected them. Then I thought it would be interesting if they could stack, so I added another shelf on top, which  gave me 3 layers of shelving. Then I thought that if the user wanted to put something on the shelf that was larger than 10″ in height, they would have a problem. So I made one side of the top shelf a little shorter than the shelf below it — this created a little shelf where you can put a vase or something else a little taller. Then for the sake of symmetry I did the same thing to the opposite side of the bottom shelf.

Do you have any advice for budding furniture designers about running their own shops?

Be prepared to work 60+ hour weeks for little or no pay, and focus on PR.

What do you have on the boards next?

Trade secret :)
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Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Designer Process: Silkscreening With Thomas Paul

Becky

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Today we’re going to take a trip to India, and you don’t need to fight over all of your vintage Louis Vuitton luggage with your siblings ala The Darjeerling Limited beforehand. Designer Thomas Paul is taking us through the steps of how his dynamic prints come to life through the ancient art of silkscreening. I have many Thomas Paul items around my house, including a version of this amazing octopus shower curtain, and as I type, my elbow is resting upon a Thomas Paul Zebra pillow. After seeing exactly what goes into creating his pieces, I am even more of a fan. I hope you enjoy this virtual field trip, and thanks to Thomas for taking us on it!

Thomas Paul Octopus Vineyard Shower Curtain

The final product: The Octopus Vineyard Shower Curtain. This shower curtain requires a four color process.

Thomas Paul

1) The design is printed on vellum.

Thomas Paul

2) The screens are shot, one screen per color, and then washed to reveal the design.

Thomas Paul

3) The screens are dried.

Thomas Paul

4) Swatches are chosen.

5) Colors are mixed.

Thomas Paul

6)  The fabric is laid out smooth for printing.

Thomas Paul

7) The screens are inked.

Thomas Paul

8) The screens are cleaned.

9) Ink is pulled through the design onto the fabric

Thomas Paul

10) The process is repeated along the length of the fabric, one screen per color.

Thanks so much to Thomas Paul for providing us with the art and process. If you’d like to see more of his designs, browse all Thomas Paul here.

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Modern Gardens

Becky

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Hey all! I’ve had modern gardens on the brain lately, rounding up images from the interwebs and dreaming that my backyard wasn’t a mosquito-infested jungle. Here are a few standouts.

The dramatically high artificial green wall emphasizes the vertical and serves as a lush (appearing) contrast to the sleek white Richard Schultz furniture. I love the way they restricted the palette to almost all green, white and black — it makes the space appear larger and it’s very calming.

Rees Roberts + Partners LLC

In this New York City townhouse, clipped hedges and a crisp edge along the pool create minimalist lines.  The result is a serene oasis. Please note that you should not plant bamboo unless you have a very controlled space like this; it will spread like wildfire. Even in a space like this, the roots should be controlled by planting it in a container beneath (and often it will manage to jump that as well).

Saul Zaiks Fort House 1962 - photo by Lincoln Barbour

Originally built in 1962, this mid-century home was designed by Saul Zaiks. It recently underwent a renovation by Mosaik Design. The home has a wonderful relationship to the site, nestled into the landscape and enjoys views through large windows to the outdoors. A small wood deck floats over the concrete deck, and the plants soften the edges in the courtyard.

by Little Miracles Design

This modern patio mixes squares and rectangles, and warms things up with rich wood. The furniture is clean-lined yet comfortable. Best of all, there’s a fantastic fire pit for getting toasty on cool nights.

photo via Flickr member Philip Lench

Finally, this beautiful garden seems to take its inspiration from Europe and the Japan, reinterpreting the elements into an artful modern scene.

How are our outdoor spaces shaping up for summer? Please share your plans with us in the Comments section.

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Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Our Top Five Favorite Movie Architects

Becky

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Architect seems to be the favorite job for movies to give a certain kind of character. Here’s a look at our top five fake architects, all for various reasons. Please add yours to our list in the comments section. And apologies to Gary Cooper for leaving you out, but I liked the book a lot more than the movie.

photo via Vancouver Lookout

5. Richard Gere in Intersection (1994). Yeah, this movie bombed at the box office, but the building they chose to pretend Gere’s character built was a superior choice. It’s the Musuem of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus, designed by architect Arthur Erickson and built in 1976 (with a stunning landscape designed by Cornelia Oberlander). The fact that the movie pretends this was designed and built in 1994 shows how successful and surprisingly timeless the mix of brutalist concrete and glass and how well it fits into the landscape are.

photo via moviescreenshots.blogspot.com

4. Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day. This tale of one woman trying to have it all is exhausting, and her work situation doesn’t seem all that realistic, but the breaking of the model, well, anyone who has ever dealt with one sure felt that pain. Man though, that is one ugly building, huh? I think the model deserved what it got.

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer (2009). We gotta give this movie props for being ahead of the chalkboard paint wall tipping point, and for using it better than anyone else has to date. I loved the way it fit in with the sketchy architectural graphics used in the movie as well. A broken heart and reassessment cause this sweet lovestruck man to drop out of the greeting card business in the funniest way ever, and rekindle his true passion, architecture. Plus, his love of architecture provides a lot of special moments from his favorite bench that overlooks the city. Kudos.

photo via Twentieth Century Fox

2. Matt Dillon in There’s Something About Mary (1998). Pat Healy is the fakest fake architect around. He claims he’s working on a soccer stadium in Santiago Chili, he skirts his way around answering what the difference between Art Deco and Art Noveau is, and he has a pocket full of Napelese coins. Chompers is an all-time sleazy favorite. And a big part of his sleaziness is that he’s claiming to be an architect when he’s not.

photo via hookedonhouses

1. And our favorite movie architect is … drumroll please … Steve Martin! The problem is, we can’t decide if we find him more appealing as the hapless Newton Davis HouseSitter (1992) or as the self-defeated sensitive guy who is giving Meryl Streep the kitchen of her dreams in It’s Complicated (2009). Well, who would redo that perfect Nancy Meyers movie kitchen anyway?”  Newton Davis reduced me to a puddle, laughing on the floor when he sang “Toorah Loorah Loorah,” so the winner is HouseSitter. We look forward to seeing Martin play another architect soon.

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