Tuesday, April 28, 2009

[Pair]ing Down

To meditate on something is to think deeply and thoughtfully on something in order to understand an idea better while celebration is when you put something upon a pedestal to show off or commemorate. The full process of meditation and celebration is present in the design process in the spaces we as designers design and in the process of getting to that final successful design. Designers meditate upon ideas and models made to create that unique design before they chose to celebrate the design in a critique for the view of viewers and critics. Spaces themselves begin to take on theses properties when certain colors are chosen or even when a space becomes more enclosed and private from a celebration space that is open and vibrant. “The plan allowed for a double-story living room and balcony for each flat. Le Corbusier’s influence was also paramount for the individual domestic interior, notably with his decision to leave internal brickwork and concrete exposed in the Maisons Jaoul at Neuilly (1956).” [Massey 152] Celebration of the more structural elements of Corbusier’s building was notable and different for the time of post-war modernism, rather then just celebrate the space itself, the designer chose to celebrate the simple things like brick and concrete as well rather than just have them covered.

Light and shadow is a pair that is in constant company of each other, sometimes doing battle and sometimes commiserating harmoniously. Light on its own represents a sense of delight in its brightness and how it lights up spaces while shadow can cause a sense of contrast and a more darkening of a space, creating an entirely different mood in a room or area of a design. In many cases shadow cannot be produced without light and light cannot be celebrated as well without shadow, making the pair important when considering a space whether one being more than the other or visa versa. “Inside the chapel [Notre-Dame-du-Haute] the thick concrete walls are pierced by small colored windows to create the dramatic effects of shafts of colored light falling on the congregation.” [Massey 152] Light can be a real dramatic element when it is focused through something as opaque as concrete, the concrete being so solid creates a form of shadow while the light filters through and casts brilliant colors upon the congregation. Just having all the light alone wouldn’t make as big a contrast as the light and shadow together.

The act of transferring something and perhaps changing them in the process and the act of placing something side by side to something else most of the time for comparison reasons are two terms known as transpose and juxtaposition. Both terms mean to move something from one place to another in some way, shape or form.

The two main divisions when talking about categories of design is the difference and similarities between abstract and literal in a design and in idea. Literal meaning a straight forward interpretation of an object or idea that is present, while abstract being the opposite as an interpretation of an object or idea that is more in-depth and not straightforward in answer. “ The interior working-space was opened up, with rows of desks and small dividing-screens replacing corridors and small office rooms.” [Massey 146] In the era of post-war modernism, the spaces created are more abstract because they hint to separate spaces with the dividing screens being used rather than walls while still being literally a place of work in an office or firm like the ones designed and arranged by SOM.

In vocal and written ways, a monologue is an extended speech made by a singular person to anyone and its opposite, a dialogue is a speech or conversation between two or more people where interaction takes place in the form of a discussion. These two ideas can happen in design based on how a design communicates or interacts with people or the designs around it as well as the story it tells.

In conclusion, each pairing made in this week's opus are together for a reason, some of them are opposites like monologue/dialogue and others cannot make a complete composition without the other pair like with light/shadow. Abstract and literal, while being different still need to exist for the sake of comparison when trying to decipher a designs story or true symbolization. Its the same way with transpose and juxtaposition as you move and transfer information or design elements around to make comparison. Finally meditation/celebration are two ways to display a design in order to create a certain effect or function, this can tie into the other four pairings by using them so that a design can be meditative or celebratory.

History of Interior Design and Furniture By Blakemore
Understanding Architecture By Roth
Drawings and Photographs
By myself

Monday, April 20, 2009

[Action] Verbs

To speculate about something or someone is a verb meaning to think about critically and analyze something to understand deeper meaning. A lot of times as designers ourselves we are told to looked at a structure built by someone and find the deeper meaning as to why it might have been built symbolically or the idea behind the structure that is not what it may seem. From the precedent analysis we are told directly to speculate on this idea of meaning by using the buildings we selected months ago in advance. Casa Batllo in my opinion was built as a result of a new forming style, Art Nouveau, and a new way of thinking by the designer Gaudi as a way to push the envelope of normal building structure with the energy of its curves and forms in the building itself. “Since the dawn of human symbolic thinking, architecture not only has provided utilitarian shelter but also has silently expressed how humans view themselves in relation to the cosmos, to their gods, and to each other. “ [Roth 519] Symbolic thinking of architecture and designers is what causes the action of speculation; the way people and architects think and speculate causes new ideas in architecture and design to blossom and in turn create new stylist movements.

To compose something is a verb meaning to create something or put together something out of existing materials. This idea of composition is a common term to use for musicians when writing music in terms of a designer it may be used as a verb when composing a presentation board with images/sketches for a presentation or critique like we’ve learned in Suzanne’s class. Datum lines, clean/readable text, and thoughtful composition of pictures can make or break a presentation in terms of being successfully translated to the viewers. “Mass production was now established as a means of manufacturing consumer goods, and Modern Movement theorists were inspired by concepts or rationalization and standardization. New materials and building techniques were to be used to create a lighter, more spacious and functional environment.” [Massey 63] As design style hit the Modern movement in architecture and design, the act of composition in spaces was drastically changed and reformed based on new materials and an idea for more spacious and functional design in order to make designs more successful.

Energize is a verb that means the activity that causes energy and activity in a person. Energize can also be used as a verb in making ideas, projects or compositions more interesting by adding a stimulating pattern to something or using a brilliant color to accent something. The holes drilled into my Light Habitat project, used to give interest to the windows of studio on the second floor, give a sense of energy to my idea that cut outs of organic shapes does not. A sense of movement energy from the compact to released areas of holes and different hole sizes cause light to move in interesting ways. “The Fauves, or ‘Wild Beasts’, were a group of painters including Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck whose work between 1950 and 1908 used vivid colours in shocking contrasts. Such colour combinations were adopted by designers as a reaction to the insipid pastels of Art Nouveau.” [Massey 95] Shocking contrast and dramatic color schemes brought energy to designs in rooms and structures during the Art Deco period as a reaction to the pastels of the older style of the Art Nouveau.

To shape something is a term that is very similar to the idea of composing where something is created or manipulated from an existing element. With our Light Habitat project we had to manipulate or shape a rigid form of MDF so that light could pass through the opaque substance and change the shape of an existing large board. “Modernism is the umbrella name for a bewildering array of movements – Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Serialism, Surrealism – and ideas – abstraction, functionalism, atonality, free verse – most of which appear shortly before or after the First World War.” [Weston 2] According to Weston what shaped the period of Modernism was a combination of ideas and/or periods of design used as elements for form or shape a whole new period of architecture and art all together.

Stretch is a verb meaning to bend limitations or ideas past their normal shape or idea, kind of like a rubber band with its elasticity. Many times in design architects and designers stretch the boundaries of styles in architecture and pushed the envelope to provide new design ideas and ascetics that moved the ideas of architecture from style to style. “This conviction that new technical means and aesthetic forms were needed to express the new life being created by industrialization grew steadily during the nineteenth century, informing the development of all the arts.” [Weston 5]New technical means and ascetic forms helped designers to stretch the idea of expression and style in architecture and design starting initially with the Industrialization of materials in the nineteenth century.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reflections:: Summary

[The Crystal Palace: a beginning in using new materials and a doorway to future ideas in design.]

For the unit of reflections, the major idea behind the designs and structures would have to be the continuous change of style and historic influence from other countries such as Asia and that of ancient times. Newly formed trade routes, revolutions, and revivals of ancient styles helped to contribute to new junctions of ideas and stylistic elements as well as pave the way for the idea of should architecture be revived in old styles for the sake of revival as a leading idea for the new section called explorations.

The section begins in France with Place de Vosges in 1605, the idea of a middle class is a relatively new concept in the world. For this design, the middle class homes in the area unified their frontal façade to make their home seem more like one big palace like that of the grand Versailles. This alignment of the all facades to look like a big palace of the middle class was called lenfilade, it also incorporated the idea of public and private space with the apartment homes and the public square it was built around. Classical revival was still in full force in France, yet Jacques-Germaine Soufflot built another replica that mirrored ideas from the Pantheon called the Panthéon. The structure was more about structural ideas rather then that of design ascetics.

Moving from France with the revival of the classical and middle class grandure ideas, England was experiencing similar epiphanies as to using classical influence with an English twist to it. Palatio, using his influence with the classical world, helped other architects like Indigo Jones and John Vanbrugh re-worked the idea of landscape architecture with the Queen’s House and landscapes of Castle Howard. The English idea was to use the natural part of nature to create beauty in design rather then make nature more ornate then it really was. This less formal idea was also transferred to the United States because of its simplistic appeal. In the United States, revolution had spurred change like so many others, though this revolution was that of independence from Britain rather than an industrial or intellectual revolution. Parson Capen House [1683] and the home of Paul Revere were just a few of the examples of 18th century architecture and design with the ideas Palatio perceived from Europe. In visiting Thomas Jefferson’s house and UVA we as a class got a better understanding of the architecture up close and a better feel for the stylistic period.

Revolutions continued in many different forms in the 19th century, iron became a new form of building material and design element accompanied with glass. This new material also created new building forms such as greenhouses, arcades, train stations, factories, and exhibition buildings. The Crystal Palace created by Joseph Paxton was a modern marvel of the time it was created, people didn’t know whether to even categorize it as architecture because the material was so new to them. The Crystal Palace was an exhibition building for the World Fair, countries and cultures from all over the world came to exhibit their works and riches, spurring an interest in foreign ideas that would later affect the design world itself.

Going further into the 19th century, the tail end of gothic revival was being used in New York with the creation of the Trinity church by Richard Upjohn and then the second Trinity Church in Boston by Henry Hobson Richardson. This revival style was that of a Romanesque feel and was a linking of the past as well as a creator of questions as to how and when ancient styles and revivals should be made in architecture itself. The 19th century principles as it progresses were that of social changes, the need for meaning, romantic pasts, and new materials. Going into new materials in the United States lead to the creation of early skyscrapers as the architects built upward, which in a way rivaled the reaching heavenward idea that the Europeans used when building bigger and more ornate cathedrals. The only new difference was the glass and steel used, which was especially important to the big city of Chicago after the fire of 1871.

Overall this section was about revival style influence and new materials that would lead to newer ideas and designs for the budding country of the United States and the always-prevalent European nations. While history was important it was not the most important thing as nations striven to move forward in design and their own history.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Opus: Roadtrip

Roots refer to the precedent of something or older influence of a style or event that indicates how something is created or why it was created in such a manner. In design, this is common especially when talking about Roman and Egyptian influence in designs from other architects. In using these roots, new designs are created that mirror some traits of ancient time buildings.

Congruence in mathematic terms is when two objects are alike in shape and composition but not necessarily in shape or color. The quality of something like a design agreeing with another element or material, also called coinciding is a better definition when talking about design and architecture. If two things are not congruent they conflict, causing flaws or errors in a design that make it less successful in commodity, firmness, and delight.

Concept is a basic idea in the beginning stages of development into something greater or even more successful. This idea of concept is seen in the design process when creating iterations of work in the forms of sketch models or drawings that depict the idea before it is finalized. Depending upon the designer and the design itself, several concepts could be gone through in order to reach the ultimate goal of success.

Materiality is the quality or state of being; also it refers to materials the noun itself. As designers now and in the past, materiality is rather important when taking into consideration the location of the designed building and the needs of the design itself to become more successful.

The method of compression and release is when something, such as air in a compressor in the wood shop, is pushed inward or together with something past its normal limit while release is the sudden let go of pressure. This idea, while not talking about air, can also be used in design where if a person was designing for a small space they could compress their design in order to fit the needs of the consumer or release it into a more grandeur scale depending on the space itself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

[Trading+Spaces] Iarc Style



First drawing by Iliana Menendez, second one by me. For class we had to take someone else's rendered perspective and change it how we saw fit.
Media: Prisma Markers, white pen, ink

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Between Silence + Light

The term that measures a quality of work on an object or put into a design, used a lot in our own studio class itself is known as craft. Good craft is the essence of a successful and understandable design when presenting a body of work to someone else who may or may not know the project as well as the designer. In studio, good craft is a must when presenting everything from iterations to the final presentation. The first image is an example of bad craft because of the rough edges and pencil lines present on the iteration from the third skin project. The second image, also the final product, represents good craft in woodshop with smooth, intentional edges and clean planes that do not distract the viewer from the idea of the project or what it is ‘saying’. “C.F.A Voysey (1857-1941) was an architect of the next generation who designed houses and their interiors with the Arts and Crafts regard for the vernacular and honest workmanship, and extended his interest to designing wallpapers, textiles, carpets, and furniture for his schemes.” [Massey 17] Voysey’s dedication to his designs with everything from the walls to the floors to the things within his houses exhibits a big level of craft in everything he does in order to make his design more successful.

When talking about design and architecture there are two main categories when talking about how people interact with a space, these genres are known as commercial and residential but can also be called public and private. Commercial buildings such as shopping mall and corporation buildings are a good example of public places because people frequent in and out of the space, though doors are present as a more private element it still does not deter from the fact that there are frequent meeting of people together in general areas throughout the space to have meetings or socialize. And example of a more private building would be someone’s home or to go even farther magnified, a person’s own personal room. Residential homes do have guests that can frequent in and out of rooms as well as the people living there but there still is a private aspect of the structure that has the air of a sort of sacred place for the people who actually live there. “ Much of Wright’s early career as an independent designer was devoted to houses in and around Chicago, described as ‘prairie houses’ because of their proximity to and sympathy with the huge, flat expanses of land in the Midwest.” [Massey 50] An example of a residential (private) designer would by Frank Lloyd Wright and his prairie style homes that he built in his early years. Within these homes Wright designed everything the family would need to make the home completely personal and private to the individuals themselves. Arts and Crafts was a big implement in the design to be more homely rather then seem public and machine made. “In Mains Street Mackintosh created an intimate atmosphere in his dining room with the somber brown of the walls, which were covered with coarse wrapping paper.” [ Massey 53] The designer Mackintosh used color to implement the idea of a more intimate and private setting in a residential dining room.

The element that makes a design unique depending upon the architect or designer is the technique used in implementing a design or constructing something. Everyone has a specific technique or trick used to create a signature piece or to create a design in general, whether it be a way to use adhesive into your design rather then just use it to stick things together or it be a signature design used in all your designs techniques just make everything unique. “ The style [of the Belgium and French] is characterized by the asymmetric whiplash line that gives a sense of dynamic movement wherever it is applied: to furniture, wallpapers, stain glass and metalwork.” [Massey 32] The art of forming designs out of the new material, metal, needs a certain technique that at this time only the French and those from Belgium had mastered because of their experimenting. When rendering artwork, everyone has their own techniques they use to make something successful. In Suzanne's class I used Prisma markers to emphasis my design changes to Illiana's room design such as with the fireplace and the dark colored walls.

Language is a description for a method of communication between two or more people when trying to convey a message or idea. The process of conveying architecture and design is a language all its own that goes beyond the barriers of verbal languages like French, Japanese, and English. Vocabulary terms such as juxtaposition and vernacular are just a couple examples of the elaborate language used by designers to describe an idea or design to a person or client trying to understand. Each designer/architect has their own way of using this intricate language, as unique as the techniques they use to create their designs even.

The existence of something without actual being there is known as the term called virtual. When I think of the word virtual I automatically think of a virtual reality video game where it feels like you are actually inside the game play for the character when really your just wearing a helmet that projects visuals to make your brain think your actually there when your actually in a regular room. On our trip to Falling Water in Bear Run, Pa; Frank Lloyd Wright achieved this idea of virtual with all the glass panes that littered the walls of the structure, making it seem like you were actually outside because of the lack of solid walls when you actually have a barrier from the outside and protected from the elements. “He [Gaudi] designed complete interiors with organic or flowing, lava-like forms.” [Massey 46] Though this is a short quote, it give a snip of the idea of something virtual, the swirling forms as Gaudi’s Casa Batllo are virtually lava-like in appearance without the presence of actual lava. Anything that can be mimicked from nature by a designer can be described as virtual because the actual item of inspiration isn’t actually there.

Interior Design Since 1900 by Anne Massey
Drawings and Photos by Me

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Precedent Analysis [First Pass]

The unusual and intricate building along a street of discord that is reminiscent of a dragon is called Casa Batlló, a structure designed by Antoni Gaudí and constructed from 1905 to 1907 in Barcelona, Spain. The interest in this piece that made it of notice in architecture is mostly for its air of fantasy, extraordinary curving facade incorporated with engaged and decorative columns, and inspiring brilliantly colored mosaic walls throughout the building made simply to be categorized as an apartment building.

The man behind the unusual design of Casa Ballto is Antonio Gaudi, born in Reus, Spain in 1852. The Spanish architect’s work was most classified in the modernismo period and even into that of the Art Nouveau style of the 19th century. Casa Ballto and its counter part Casa Mila are late examples of Gaudi’s commercial design beginning construction in 1905. The building itself is still in the same condition as it was the day it was finished and it a popular tourist attraction in the city of Barcelona, Spain. Tours are given of the main floor, Piano Nobile, where the Ballto family who owned the aristocratic apartment lived and the attic terrace on the roof where the chimneys and elaborate roof is located.

When brought up in conversation, the most elaborate and recognizable part of the building of Casa Batllo would have to be the front Façade seen from the streets of Barcelona. The pillars and balconies are depicted to many as having a bone like appearance leading to its nickname of the “House of Bones”, sometimes it is also described like teeth of some yawning beast as well. Stain glass windows and Catalan style mosaic tiles adorn the front of the structure as well adding to the fantasy aspect of the building genre and making it all the more appealing to come up to, especially in the sunlight. It is thought that the inspiration for this idea came from marine life, especially when talking about colors of natural coral. The front façade of Casa Batllo has a very contrasting designs as opposed to its sister design, Casa Mila which is smoother and more stone like appearance with beige monochromatic colors. Continuing through the building, Casa Batllo does not disappoint on the interior in comparison to the exterior front façade, the theme of irregular shapes and curves is continued in the doorways, hallways, stairwells, and ceilings as the building builds from its base to its peak. Great attention to detailed was paid throughout the building from the wooden curving doorways to the designed to be in it to the fireplace that looks like it was carved right out of the wall. More mosaic accents mimicked from the outside are brought inside as well to continue with the colorful theme of the apartment. The final and more ostentatious part of the building would have to be the rooftop terrace. The rooftop itself continues the curving hill like pattern adorned with colors and textured stones that make it look like the back of a dragon according to authorities on Gaudi’s architecture, many think it may be associated with the medieval story of St. George and the dragon with the bone like items on the front façade being the remains of the dragon’s victims.

All designs have to start from somewhere in the realm of architecture, many designers and architects take inspiration from old designs of ancient times and sometimes the influence is unintentional because these old designs were the building blocks for the new. Casa Batllo and its elements that make it so successful mimic many different proceeding buildings from the past as Gaudi made it in a more modern style for the future. The idea of using mosaic tiles came from the Romans when they created the Roman public baths for their citizens, the tiles added an element of delight then as they do now with Gaudi’s design when reflecting the sunlight and lightening a room. The idea of the roof top décor being based of the story of St. George and the Dragon is a medieval concept from art in the Early Christian Byzantium period where the cross like form of the elaborate chimneys represents the sword that slew the dragon. One more interesting precedent comes from the French Baroque ideas in that frivolous curves dominated the style of architecture and played on the idea of Trompe L' oeil, also known as a fool of the eye with shapes and structure. This is mimicked by the vortex like ceilings and fontal façade of the ‘creature’ within the building. Going aside from the ostentatious designs and elaborate ideas of Casa Batllo, even the most basic layout of the apartment itself has precedent to the past. The whole idea of porch, court, and hearth adapted first by the Romans with their temples is still emulated even in Gaudi’s design: the porch being the frontal façade and balconies of the structure, the court being the main floor and staircases since they would be the most used by either the family or the other renters, and the hearth being the fireplaces or central parts of the ceilings that seem to be like swirling whirlpools that bring the viewer to the center of the structure.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


In the dictionary, the word rotation is mostly defined as the act of something turning as if on an axis. In one way this describes how our earth turns on a tilted axis at the north and south poles to show changes in days and nights around the world, the earth itself is rotating slowly around the sun as well as having rotation on its poles that causes change in seasons. A rotation, or rotary motion, in terms of the history of design can be more described as a planned reoccurring sequence of events or movements in architecture and design. “What precipitated these fundamental social changes was a cycle of interrelated sweeping reorganizations and upheavals that collectively can be labeled “revolutions”. These revolutions are so interconnected that they can be thought of as operating in a circle, each feeding off into the next.” [Roth 439] This idea of the rotation of reoccurring events helps us to better understand why rotations in design happen, some based on rising organizations or even political stand points, all of which influence design and architecture itself.

Reflection on previous work or a finished design is a crucial part of getting better as a designer with further analyzing. In reflecting on the first result of my 3rd Skin project in studio, I was able to pick out key elements that made the design successful and interesting to look at, namely the organic tendril like shapes that were mimicked about the whole structure. Though this idea alone was not completely as successful as I had thought for the final it was still a step in the right direction because I reflected upon what I had and how I could further a design. “ A complete union of the landscape with residence was sought. The landscape became even more important than it had been in the Baroque period, during which the landscape was conceived as a continuation of the mansion’s classical rule.” [Blakemore 250] Reflection on past ideas such as landscaping can lead to new ideas and goals as they did in France around the time of Early Georgian, England. Looking back on the way monarchy always utilized these massive landscape designs lead the way to a change into landscaping for more residential areas as a continuation.

An item that is a basis of inspiration or point of reference is usually referred to as a source, especially in the world of architecture and design. An example would be something along the lines of life drawing or even figure drawing, the subject you are drawing being the person or object being used as a source for the design of a drawing or painting. “Palladio’s Villa Rotonda (Villa Capra) at Vicenza appears to have been the model for some of the residences designed by Colen Campell.” [Blakemore 248] In this reading in Blakemore, Palladio’s villa is mentioned as a source of inspiration for preceding buildings built after it years later, showing that its influence on society was very successful to make other designers use his design as reference.

This is even related to current day designs in the furniture field of design, even successful designs like the ones we browsed about in Suzanne’s class for perspective is used as sources of inspiration to create something similar to the precedent or something entirely different.

Movement is much like the idea of transition from the previous Opus entry of Grammar:Syntax, it is the transfer from one place to another or one subject to another over a period of time when talking about architecture and its history as styles and ideals evolved. “Jacques Ange Gabriel (1698-1782), as a leader in the neoclassical movement, represented the French tradition since he was descended from a long line of architects and received training from his father.” [Blakemore 284] Here, the neoclassical period of art is identified as a movement because it was a period of time where one specific style reined over other in a specific part of the world; the neoclassical style itself is a revival of antiquity designs of Greece and Rome. In studio, we use the concept of movement as a dynamic element when adding interest and delight in a design. The flow of a design can be interpreted in many different ways, for example, my finished product in the 3rd Skin design was imitative of a root system under a standing tree that flows in a downward movement as the tendril branch out to brace the structure and interact with light in its environment.

Illumination is a verb used to describe highlighting an object or space within a composition in order to make it stand out or take high importance in the overall picture. This can be done with color, light, hierarchy, or other surrounding features that are different from the object or space that is most important.“What these Englishmen were trying to do was to recreate in real materials, ins soil, water, and carefully arranged masses of trees and plants, the pastoral Classical landscapes described by the Roman author Virgil.” [Roth 453] When recreating the space of classical landscapes of old, the English wanted more natural elements to be illuminated or displayed in the overall design in residential spaces. This in turn gave new way to style in landscape architecture, showing that it was more than just fancy fountains and perfectly trimmed trees, it was about the beauty and even imperfection of nature being celebrated.

In conclusion, these words for the week of [Re]Visions seem to be based on architecture and how it is celebrated or revived from period to period in design. The constant rotation of old being converted to new brings new ideas to the table for reflection as to what can be changed in a design and what can be done to better a design based on references from sources of other designers. New movements in architecture are not to be forgotten for their importance as they are the plethora of new ideas that keeps coming and going through the process of design, each idea illuminating a topic of discussion more then the next depending on what the society is faced with politically and socially.

History of Interior Design and Furniture By Blakemore
Understanding Architecture By Roth
Drawings and Photographs
By myself