Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WHAT: Federal Style Architecture

Though it is associated with classic American architecture from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Mass., the Federal style of architecture was actually created in Scotland by the Adams Brothers, who based it on houses and plans in Italy. The style became known as Federal because it gained popularity in the early days of the United States.

Identifying features of Federal style architecture include a fanlight over the door (almost always rounded, rarely squared); Classical/Greek detailing in entryways; Palladian windows; and balustrades. As in Georgian architecture, symmetry and double-hung sash windows are key elements. Some high-style examples of Federal style feature oval and circular rooms – the most famous example of this is the Oval Office.

Image (Evermay, Georgetown) courtesy CurbedDC. Info courtesy Dr. Tom Paradis, Northern Arizona University.

Monday, July 25, 2011

WHO: Pierre Charles L’Enfant

Though he is widely believed to have designed the current layout of Washington, D.C., Pierre Charles L’Enfant really designed only part of the city.

The French-born architect and city planner had developed a strong reputation in New York when George Washington appointed him to design a new capital city on the Potomac in 1791. The plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets would travel east-west, while others would travel north-south. Diagonal avenues later named after the state s of the union crossed the grid. The diagonal avenues intersect with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space. L’Enfant also included plans for a “grand avenue” to run through the city, an idea that would later become the National Mall, and a long, narrower avenue (now Pennsylvania Avenue) that would connect the Congress House with the President’s House.

Through a bit of political scheming, L’Enfant’s plans were co-opted by others and altered, and L’Enfant received only a nominal sum for his work. Though he fell into disgrace and died almost penniless, years after his death the Capital city came to embrace L’Enfant’s contributions to its unique cityscape and urban layout.

Image and info courtesy Wikipedia.

WEEKLY Ws: Washington, DC (Design City)

We’re celebrating Design City this week! In honor of a trip home this weekend, we’ll take a look at a few of the Ws that make Washington a design destination.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

WHY: May Sarton

A house that does not have at least one worn, comfy chair in it is soulless. - May Sarton

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WHEN: Sentimento Closing Sale

After 30 years in business, Sentimento Antiques will close its doors August 12. Designers may take advantage of deep discounts on one-of-a-kind vintage and antique furniture, lighting, art and accessories. The sale prices will be discounted 20 percent now through July 25; 30 percent from July 26 through August 1; 40 percent from August 1 through 5; and 50 percent from August 8 through August 12.

For more information, please visit sentimentoantiques.com.

Image courtesy Sentimento Antiques.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WHAT: Antiques

“Antique furniture is prized for age, rarity, unique beauty, association or documentary interest of personal sentiment. Though the United States Customs rules that antiques must be ‘before 1830,’ age alone is too relative and includes too much… Original worth or style is of prime importance, yet many crude or rough styles are valued. The market for antiques is therefore one of specialties.”

From The Encyclopedia of Furniture by Joseph Aronson. Image (“Highly Carved Chippendale Period Armchair”) courtesy Jayne Thompson Antiques via 1stdibs.com.

WHO: Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss excels at every aspect of design and design marketing. Her signature style draws heavily on classic Southern tradition and taste, while her licensed collections of furnishings from textiles to furniture reflect her connection to trends and changing market tastes. She recently announced a new collection for Century to debut in 2012. In the meantime, her web site will keep fans up to date on her latest projects, published work and presentations.

For more information, please visit charlottemoss.com.

Image courtesy charlottemoss.com.

WEEKLY Ws: Revisting the Classics

Everything old is new again! We love the classics and this week we get back to basics on cents (a big sale) and sensibility (read this week’s WHY before you pitch that old chair).

Friday, July 15, 2011

WHY: Mildred Pierce

“Do you know the best room I was ever in?... It’s that den of yours, or Bert’s, rather, over in Glendale. Everything in that room meant something to that guy. Those banquettes, those foolish-looking blueprints of houses that’ll never be built – they do things to you. Because it’s all a part of him. And that’s why the room is good. And do you know the worst room I was ever in?... It’s that living room of yours, right in the same house. Not one thing in it- until that piano came – ever meant a thing to you, or him, or anybody else. A home isn’t meant to be a museum full of Picasso paintings or oriental rugs, like this place used to be. It’s meant to be furnished with things that actually matter. Let’s have this place the way we want it. If you don’t like the Pie Wagon corner, I do.” – from “Mildred Pierce”

WHERE: The Brady Bunch House

Here’s the (real) story… Of that famous split level ranch. In 1969, producers of “The Brady Bunch” were looking for a home to use in exterior shots. Series creator Sherwood Schwartz, who passed away this week, told the Los Angeles Times, “We didn’t want it to be too affluent, we didn’t want it to be too blue-collar. We wanted it to look like it would fit a place an architect would live."

They found a house in the San Fernando Valley that almost fit the bill. But, to help the exterior of the existing house coordinate with sets under construction on Paramount Studios’ Stage 5 in Hollywood, set designers attached a phony window atop the house to give the appearance of a full second floor.

Image courtesy tvparty.com. Info courtesy The Los Angeles Times.

WHEN: John Lautner Day is July 16

John Lautner was one of last century’s important contemporary American architects. His work was concerned with the relationship of the human being to space and of space to nature. “Shelter,” he said, “is the most basic human need.”

Lautner practiced architecture for more than 55 years, designing unusual residences in and near Los Angeles, including Silvertop, the Chemosphere, the Sheats/Goldstein resident, the Levy residence and the Elrod residence in Palm Springs, as well as many others around the world.

Saturday, July 16 would have been John Lautner’s 100th birthday. This year, California will recognize John Lautner Day, a celebration that will kick off several weeks of exhibits, lectures and other events celebrating the work and life of this influential architect. For more information, please visit johnlautner.org.

Image and info courtesy the John Lautner Foundation.

WHAT: Design Loves Art at the Pacific Design Center

Design Loves Art is an experimental arts program launched in late 2009 with the aim of providing a platform to explore art and design issues. The program addresses the design centers unique context of interior design to reflect particularly on design as an extension of artistic practice, spanning a variety of disciplines and mediums. Project room space as well as specially site-specific commissioned work is provided for artists and curators upon invitation. The program is made possible by Charles S. Cohen and is conceived and directed by New York-based curator Helen Varola.

For more information, please visit pacificdesigncenter.com.

Info courtesy pacificdesigncenter.com. Image courtesy wolfgangpuck.com.

WHO: Mary McDonald

Mary McDonald is one of California’s quintessential designers, as comfortable in front of a camera (on “Million Dollar Decorators”) as she is on a job site. She’s known for a style that infuses classic elegance with a modern sensibility – think of bold patterns, Chinoiserie and Indian influence executed with clean lines and confident color. House Beautiful described her best: “Her work is timeless and glamorous all spun together with a keen fashion sense… She’s a fearless, exuberant accessorizer.” Sounds like a perfect description for this fashion-forward former milliner!

For more information, please visit marymcdonald.com. To purchase “Mary McDonald: Interiors” please visit bn.com.

Info courtesy marymcdonald.com. Image courtesy House Beautiful.

WEEKLY Ws: California Dreamin'

This week we’re California dreamin’ and celebrating West Coast design characters from Mary McDonald and John Lautner to… Mike Brady and Mildred Pierce!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WHAT Happened to the Ws?

We're doing some tech upgrades this week, but never fear - 5 Ws of Design will be back covering the Who, What, When, Where and Why of architecture, interiors and furnishings this weekend! In the meantime, please feel free to email us. We love hearing from you!

Image courtesy Kate Spade.

Friday, July 8, 2011

WHY: Ellen Goodman

I don’t know exactly why the notion of homeownership has such a grasp on the American imagination. Perhaps as descendants of landless immigrants we turn our plots into symbols of stability. – Ellen Goodman

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WHEN: “All American House” Design Competition Entries due August 5!

MADE: In America recently awarded Century Furniture it’s BEST: Made in America Award in recognition of the company’s significant, long-term contribution to the Nation. The award was presented at the annual Take Pride in America celebration in Washington on July 4.

MADE: In America is now accepting applications for the All American House Student Design Competition. Featuring an honorary steering committee that includes Mario Buatta, Alexa Hampton and other giants of American design; a media preview day; and a Congressional/VIP reception, this could be a young designer’s opportunity of a lifetime.

For more information, please visit madeinamerica-usa.org/mia/Design_Competition.

Image courtesy The Editor At Large.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WHAT: Washington Square Arch by Sanford White

In 1889, to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as president of the United States, a large plaster and wood Memorial Arch was erected over Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square park. The temporary plaster and wood arch was so popular that in 1892 a permanent marble arch, designed by the New York architect Sanford White after the Arc de Triomphe, was erected. In 1918, two statues of George Washington were added to the north side.

The arch is inscribed with a quote from Washington: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

Image and info courtesy Wikipedia.

WHO: Miles Redd

Miles Redd started his design career working for the legendary John Rosselli, then Bunny Williams, before striking out on his own. He studied film at NYU and painting in France, a combination evident in his interiors, which enliven traditional room arrangements with unexpected mixes of surface textures. He defines his style as a “playful mix of high and low, emboldened by color and modern gestures but grounded in practicality.”

For more information, please visit milesredd.com.

Image courtesy Domino magazine via Mimi + Meg.

WEEKLY Ws: Hooray for the (Miles) Red(d), (Sanford) White and Blue!

In honor of the Fourth of July, we’re celebrating some American design icons. Check back throughout the week for Miles Redd, Sanford White and other colorful Ws!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

WHY: Gladys Taber

Old houses, I thought, do not belong to people, ever, not really, people belong to them. – Gladys Taber

WHERE: The Morgan Library

The Morgan Library & Museum was founded to house the private library of J.P. Morgan in 1906. It was designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead and White and cost $1.2 million. Morgan’s son, John Pierpont Morgan Jr., made the library a public institution in 1924. In 2006, the library underwent a major expansion project designed by architect Renzo Piano. The expansion extends above and below street level, doubling the size of the original Library. Piano set the new reading room under a translucent roof structure, to allow scholars to examine manuscripts in natural light. Piano’s four-story steel-and-glass atrium links McKim’s library building and the Morgan house in a new ensemble.

For more information, please visit themorgan.org.

Image courtesy archpaper.com.

WHEN: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” through August 7 at the Met

More than 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from the prolific career of the late Alexander McQueen are on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 7. According to the Met’s web site, “McQueen’s fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.” His designs are displayed in several environments that complement the incredibly detailed fashion with over-scale occasionally over the top visual and audio elements. Taken together, the work and the display create an enthralling portrait of an iconic designer.

For more information, please visit metmuseum.org.

Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

WHAT: Chandeliers

Though they started in the Middle Ages as simple crossed planks with candles nailed to the boards, chandeliers have become synonymous with glamour and sparkle. Classic chandeliers often draw inspiration from French or Italian antiques, combining metal cages or arms with gemlike drop crystals. Some recent designs go beyond the function of lighting and into the realm of art. Tord Boontje’s Ice Branch, designed for Swarovsky, is an incredible example of a current take on a classic piece.

Image courtesy businessweek.com.