Sunday, September 30, 2012

Amsterdam's Museum Van Loon

I was in Amsterdam exactly a year ago, so I decided to go back through some photographs and reminisce a little. Looking at the images from my afternoon at the Van Loon museum has made me fall back in love with the coral and blue color palette that runs throughout most of the house. It's warm and uplifting.

Will leave this post just to images. You can find out more about the history of the house on the museum's site, here.

The entrance of the Museum Van Loon on Keizersgracht, one of the city's most picturesque canals.

The blue drawing room on the main floor faces the canal, with gloriously huge windows that flood the space with light.

A settee in the blue drawing room.

Another drawing room, this one with beautifully painted murals and an intensified palette (which I really love).

I fully admit to being a fool for all things royal...

The red drawing room, originally used by the gentlemen of the home, is now presided over by a somewhat startling stuffed peacock. A certain irony, no?

This was such a pretty room (though a bit of a hodge podge). It's a tiny, sunny space and leads directly out to the garden through French doors. 

The central stair hall is decorated with paintings of family members and antiques, like the Rococo clock and 19th-century painted sleigh below.

An upstairs bedroom and perhaps my most favorite textile in the house. (Pardon the blurry pic!)

The ostrich. Not exactly a common toile subject!

The kitchen's tiled ceiling is vaulted between the beams. (An idea I'd love to see recreated in a modern kitchen.) It's a bright and cheerful place, and loaded with ceramics and painted furnishings.

You can't blame a cat for trying.

The rear facade and garden... with flower beds a bit tired out from a long summer. But it was still a glorious place to sit and rest. Wish I were there now!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The real side of faux: New York's Isabel O'Neil Studio

Isabel (1908-1981), in the studio with her students and clearly having a wonderful time.

Some daysome dayI'm going to enroll at Isabel O'Neil. I'm not talented and I'm not crafty (though I've tried to be) but damnit, Isabel's teaching process makes me think I could do this.

A few images of her beautiful decorative finishes on view at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

As London's new Design Museum goes up, a time capsule goes down...

A rendering of the Design Museum planned for London's Kensington borough.

As construction of the new Design Museum in London gets underway (it's due to open in 2015), some of today's leading architects and designers contributed items to a time capsule. The museum's architect, John Pawson, below, popped in a miniature model of Hans Wegner's 1949 Wish Bone chair.

Pawson, holding (and seated on) the Wish Bone chair, photographed by Luke Hayes.

The newly buried time capsule.

The full list of items to be recovered one hundred years from now:

Cecil Balmond  European Union Flag, One Euro Coin, 2p Stamp, USB containing images of jazz and blues music album covers, including John Coltrane and Bing Crosby
Sir Paul Smith  Isle of Man, London 2012 Olympic Games Stamps designed by Paul Smith
Sir Terence Conran  iPhone 4S, Tin of Anchovies, A good bottle of  Burgundy 
Deyan Sudjic  London 2012 Olympic Torch designed by BarberOsgerby, Badoiiing game, 2012 winner of the museum’s Design Ventura competition for 13-16 year-old D&T students
Margaret Howell  Image of Battersea Power Station
Zaha Hadid  Model of the MAXXI museum in Rome, Book by Patrik Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Vol.1: A New Framework for Architecture

John Pawson  1949 Wish Bone Chair (miniature model) for Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen and Son 

Kenneth Grange  Cylinder Line Coffee Pot designed by Arne Jacobsen
Marc Newson  Mini Lockheed Lounge

Thomas Heatherwick 
with Ingo Maurer  Standard light bulb 
The Mayor for London  Artists Tube Maps

A round up of a few of the capsule's items.

Below are renderings of the forthcoming museum, which is triple the size of the museum's current location. More room, more design!

Renderings courtesy of Alex Morris Visualisation

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Herrick Library: Hollywood history hidden in plain sight

The Margaret Herrick Library on busy La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Ever wonder where the ephemeral materials of Hollywood go after their moment in the spotlight? Why, to the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills.

The library was established in 1928 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is named for its first librarian, Margaret Herrick. Herrick oversaw the collection from 1936 to 1943 and later served as the Academy's director. She held the directorship for nearly thirty years and is an unsung heroine of Hollywood -- you can read more about her, here.

The reading room

The Herrick, as it's more casually known, is used by researchers from around the world, all of whom must visit the facility in person as it's a non-circulating reference collection. But that's really no hardshipit's a gorgeous place.

Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the 1928 structure was originally a water treatment plant. The Academy took ownership in 1991, and has since been giving treatment to some of the film industries most wonderful (and often little known) treasures. I knew of its magazine and book collections but until the tour, I had no idea that they actually have an in-house conservation department and a collection of posters and other objects. The Herrick's latest push has been, as with so many libraries, digitizing its collections. Spend some time exploring the site, they've done a bang up job!

My visit backstage, so to speak, was courtesy of friends at the ARLIS, the Art Libraries Society of North America, who kindly let me tag along with them. Below are a few images and highlights from the tour (pardon the slight blur of some... we were moving through pretty quickly):

A few stills from the collection laid out for us to see.

Throughout the offices and storage facilities are wonderful blow-ups of film stills from the archive.

This was my favorite! Wasn't sure who she was, but a friend from the film history site Cinema Gumbo identified her as Bette Davis. Thanks, JM!

Miles of storage shelving, but it's a vast collection and will out-grow this space soon.

Jimmy Stewart and Elvis Presley... together forever.

Anne Coco, the graphic arts librarian, shares a few items from the collection.

The poster collection is really the jewel in the Herrick's crown.

A rare poster from the 1927 production Wings.

This was particularly wonderful to see in the conservation lab: a newly repaired model airplane used in Wings. You can see them in the original trailer, here!

And, proving Hollywood is nothing without its fans, an album of Mary Pickford-related clippings created by a star-struck moviegoer and given to the library. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Capturing harmony: photographer Tomo Isoyama

Tomo Isoyama, at home in Santa Monica, California.

An invite into an artist's studio may be the most generous invite of all, and when it's a studio that doubles as their home, it's an even greater honor. To my mind, allowing friends, curators and collectors into such a private realm would require more nerve than hanging a show in a gallery! There's a magic to creation, and letting people enter the space where that energy is developed and expressed is hugely revealing. It's even a tiny bit demystifying at first, seeing an artist's process, but then the pendulum swings back to mesmerization as one looks around and sees objects reflective of the artist's outside interests, and realizes how all of those mementos and touchstones swirl into the mix.

I first met photographer Tomo Isoyama about ten years ago, when he had a work/live loft in downtown Los Angeles. We'd not seen him for a very long time, so when my boyfriend and I had the chance to reconnect with him this summer and visit his new place in Santa Monica, I was ecstatic.

Tomo, who was born in Tokyo, primarily focuses his work on the subject of cultural identity. He earned his MFA from USC's Roski School of Fine Arts in 2000, and has exhibited national and internationally. If it's not already apparent, I'm a huge fan of his photography. It's meticulous, smart, and exquisitely made. So it really wasn't at all surprising to find that his home and studio reflect those same attributes.

What I especially loved seeing were the many personal items set thoughtfully around the studio, like orderly footnotes at the bottom of an essay: books on art and medicine; a maneki-neko, or lucky cat; and that icon of American sport, a baseball and glove. (Even the appetizers brought down by Tomo's wife were artistically presented.)

I left inspired not just by Tomo and his work, but by the way he and his wife have merged their lives, their careers, and their homesomething my boyfriend and I are trying to do, too. The result of their efforts is a beautifully unified whole, and a tremendous expression of peace.