Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Cold Out There" by Jon Hopkins

I bought Jon Hopkins' enchanting CD "Opalescent" when it came out in 2001. And for its 15th anniversary last year, he remastered it for a vinyl release. And here is my absolute favorite track, "Cold Out There." It is enigmatic, somber, and majestically profound.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just watched...

..."Young Men," an exquisite dance film about war by BalletBoyz.

In 2015, the all-male English dance company BalletBoyz--started by veteran dancers and co-Artistic Directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt--mounted a highly successful live dance performance about World War I and the effect of war on young men titled, appropriately enough, "Young Men." And now that stage performance has been adapted and filmed on location in northern France in locations that simulate battlefields of World War I. Choreographed by Iván Pérez and danced--as well as acted--beautifully by the members of BalletBoyz, the film is hypnotic and intimate. It doesn't try to tell the story of an entire war, an entire armed force, or an entire country's reaction. It is told through the lens of a very small regiment, and most specifically a soldier for whom the war is clearly against his nature. At the core is a fight between two men: the Sergeant and the Soldier.

But the most arresting part of the film is the miraculous score by Keaton Henson (previously here). It is gripping, tender, and profound.

The trailer for the film gives you a good idea of its tone and timbre.

Here is the end of the "Training With The Sergeant" section:

And here is a bit of the "In The Trenches" section:

And finally, here is the disturbing "Shell Shock."

It was shown on PBS here in the States as part of the Great Performances series. I don't see where one can buy a DVD of the film. Looks like if you are in the UK, you can stream it from BBC, but otherwise, a DVD of the original stage production is available through the BalletBoyz SHOP section of their site.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Manchester, Enlgand...

...thinking of you in solidarity. Our hearts and minds go out to victims, their families and loved ones, and all touched by this tragedy.

BEAUTY: Installation--Lorenzo Quinn

The Venice Biennale started this month and artist Lorenzo Quinn unveiled a monumental installation piece. Called Support, the piece consists of two arms rising up from the canal to support the Ca' Sagredo Hotel to highlight the impending dangers of climate change felt quite keenly in this floating city.

Support will be on view through the end of the Biennale on November 26, 2017.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

BEAUTY: Object--Joseph Ernst for Sideline Collective

Oh, with the constant stream of disappointing and wholly expected criminal activity from the putrid Monster-In-Chief here in the United States, it would be such a joy to see nothing in the news...if he weren't there, if we had someone who could be trusted with the keys to the car, if we had someone who actually knows what the job entails and has ethics...oh, someday...

Joseph Ernst, an artist with Sideline Collective has created Nothing In The News. Their website explains:

"NOTHING IN THE NEWS: Newspapers from around the world with nothing in them.

We live in a world of constant sensory overload. 24 hours a day we are bombarded with information in real time by every media outlet and platform competing for our attention, one pop-up notification at a time.

And we play ball. We invest hours on end staring at our mobile devices. We want to know what’s going on, the why and the how. We need to know. But in our perpetual quest to fill every spare minute of our time searching for something meaningful, we learn nothing. We are so busy filling every waking moment with things to watch and do, and learn and listen to, that we have forgotten what it is like to just be. To sit around and think. To switch off and be bored. To daydream.

This project offers a little respite to all this information overload.

Yes, we live in particularly sensitive times. Times where the truth really matters, and where newspapers have a more important role to play in modern democracies than ever before. But for a society addicted to breaking news, gossip, and celebrity status, to Facestagram and Twapchat, the latest trends, and the top tens, to sports punditry, conspiracy theories, cat videos, and ridiculous amounts of porn ... for this cultural precipice, we offer the one thing you need more than anything else: “Nothing”. Absolutely nothing. Today, and today only, there is Nothing in the News. Enjoy it whilst you can.

Artist: Joseph Ernst. For stockist enquiries contact"

If you'd like to own one of these serene newspapers, they are for sale via the Sideline Collective site. Just scroll down and click "BUY ONE."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Succulent Cakes by Iven Kawi

Jakarta-based home baker Iven Kawi bakes succulent treats. Literally. She decorates cakes and cupcakes to look like succulent and cactus gardens. It reminds me of Alana Jones-Mann's succulent creations previously posted here.

Her artisan cakes and cupcakes are available in Indonesia through her bakery. Visit her website.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BEAUTY: Installation/Light Sculpture--Cerith Wyn Evans

The Tate Britain Museum commissioned Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans to create an installation for the cavernous Duveen Galleries that occupy the central section of the museum. Wyn Evans chose to create an impressively massive neon sculpture that uses over a mile of neon tubing in an homage to movement and choreology, or the art of notating movement. Wyn Evans began his career as a filmmaker and assistant to Derek Jarman, and working with famed dancer Michael Clark.

Tate Britain says:
"Forms in Space…by Light (in Time)

Forms in Space…by Light (in Time) is the 2017 Tate Britain Commission in which we invite a contemporary British artist to respond to the Duveen Galleries at the heart of Tate Britain.

The artwork is made from almost 2km of neon lighting, suspended from the ceiling and configured into straight lines, sweeping curves and spiralling forms.

Wyn Evans first came to attention as a filmmaker producing experimental films and collaborative works. He has subsequently expanded his practice to incorporate sculpture, photography, film and text to communicate his interest in language and perception."

The installation can be seen until August 20, 2017.

Wyn Evans is represented by White Cube Gallery.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Arms Out" and "Panic" by Forest Swords

Forest Swords (the nom de musique of English composer/producer/artist/graphic designer Matthew Barnes) just released a new recording, "Compassion," and here are two songs from that release. "Arms Out" is a unique, shifting piece with a lovely string section. And "Panic" is, as its name suggests, a throbbing, nervous affair. Both pieces have a vague, ethnically ambiguous sound I just love but I wonder if I am being influenced by the minimalist, nearly-Asian look of the art direction in the videos. But music magazine The Fader said Forest Swords' music "exists in that sweet spot of musical influence between everything and nothing." So, it's not just me. See if you agree...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

They're Back!

OK, call me silly but this made me tear up a little bit. It harkens back to the second Golden Age of Television with wonderful variety shows like Carol Burnett...and of course even farther back to the first Golden Age of Television with Lucy...

I'm so excited for their return!

Monday, May 15, 2017

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2017

As regular readers know, I am an interior designer and one of the highlights of the year for me is the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase (previously here, here, here, and here). I love to see what other designers have come up with and to find new and exciting products and materials.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, one of the most well-known and prestigious designer showcases in the country. And the home this year is at 2698 Pacific Avenue in The City. It is an 11,000 square foot Classical Revival home built in 1904 by the legendary San Francisco architecture firm of Newsom and Newsom for Julius J. Mack and his wife Irene.

The entrance to the pleasingly symmetrical, "pebble dashed" stucco house is through a colonnaded portico. New landscaping shows off the structure nicely.

Dutch designer Martin Kobus turned the library of the home into a modern take on Dutch only naturally he would. He kept the existing, Gothic-arched wood paneling and beams but stained them an even darker, more dramatic color. (Indeed, I was pleased to see many spaces in the house embrace darkness and a darker color palette.) Kobus sourced plaster panels to go above the picture rail moulding and between the ceiling beams. The relief pattern on these panels is an organic form of leaves and branches yet the almost-Art Nouveau style perfectly bridges Old World and Modernism. Modern ringed LED chandeliers partner with modern furnishings in this antique space. This contrast brings great interest.

Another clever way to blend old and new are the art pieces Kobus chose for the room. Enormous, oversized works--one by Rembrandt (A Lady and Gentleman in Black, a piece that was stolen from the Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990 and remains missing to this day), and modern photos of women, one in a hat of flowers and another in a shredded paper doily collar reminiscent of Dutch clothing of the time period--are backlit and take on a living quality because of the glow.

Window covering specialist Chris Bergin put fascinating modular architectural panels in the front windows instead of expected drapery or shades.

And here, side by side, is a BEFORE and AFTER comparison. I love it when the designers make available a BEFORE photo...

Next on the tour was a delightful powder room by design team Benni Amadi and Courtney Springer and another example of dark space. Powder rooms are natural candidates for something dark and dramatic and Amadi and Springer ran with this idea, painting the walls a high-gloss black. Color relief comes with the extra large marble sink basin, the wallpapered ceiling, and the gorgeous floor of blue Fireclay tiles laid in a herringbone pattern.

One must pass through a double-sided elevator to travel from the vestibule and powder room on to the home's side entrance and kitchen. And of course, as with any Decorator Showcase, no space is spared: this elevator by artists Jane Richardson-Mack and Victoria Weiss features verre églomisé panels (a French term referring to the process of applying both a design and gilding onto the rear face of glass to produce a mirror finish) well as a gilded ceiling and floor!

As one exits the other side of the elevator, one is at the side entrance of the home and the start of the kitchen...the sweet little black and white sheep in this foyer set the tone for what is to come...

The kitchen in this year's Showcase was designed by Jon de la Cruz and is actually House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year for 2017! Congratulations Jon! The SF Decorator Showcase housed another kitchen of the year in 2014, a spectacular black affair by Steven Miller, previously here.

Jon de la Cruz used the idea of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for his kitchen color (and texture!) palette in this space he calls "Mise en Place." The space is cavernous and can take a lot of different and unique finishes, starting with the floor. The designer said he wanted to create a black and white floor to honor the history of the house but instead of laying an expected checkerboard pattern, he freshened the idea of a black and white floor with large scale tiles of Italian white marble and Belgian black limestone...lining up the black and white tiles but in a slight offset that moves back and forth in a diagonal. The stunning, light colored weathered oak cabinetry along with brass and gunmetal hardware support the sea salt and cracked pepper motif.

A custom-made pot rack by metal worker Jefferson Mack hangs over the double-prep sink island, offering organic, twisting shapes to balance the linear kitchen.

Fireclay firebrick tiles in Meteorite are set in stacks of three (a FANTASTIC touch to stave off the inevitable subway tile ennui) with a one-third offset for a fresh look.

An open, vertical pantry of black walnut and steel emphasizes the 12-foot high ceilings and is stocked with mason jars labeled in custom stickers listing the ingredients and nutrition information!

The walls and ceiling of the inviting eat-in breakfast nook are papered in a Thibaut wallcovering.

When I saw some sneak peek photos of the Showcase this year, I have to confess that I was quite doubtful about Jonathan Rachman's salon vert. But once I saw it in person, he totally won me over. There is something so comforting about being enveloped in a monochromatic color scheme. After designing a grand entry inspired by Kate Moss for the 2014 Showcase house, Rachman this year looked back at the friendship between Audrey Hepburn and fashion legend Hubert de Givenchy for inspiration. Green was chosen to represent Givenchy's green salon in his apartment on rue de Grenelle in Paris. In fact, the room is titled "A Muse'ing April In Paris."

Rachman chose to hang the San Miguel chandelier by Boyd Lighting as the main pendant fixture in the room. The beautiful matte and polished brass chandelier has nearly 1,000 teardrops that hang from mesh panels and "tinkle" with a passing breeze.

Only the rosettes on the plastered ceiling are gilded.

Here is a lovely, iconic photo of Hubert de Givenchy and his friend Audrey Hepburn walking along the Seine.

More images of Givenchy and Hepburn...

The bespoke wallpaper by de Gournay is not only hand-painted but hand embroidered as well! You can see it in the light detail at the bottom part of the leafy fronds. (Oh, by the way...the wallpaper alone for this room came in at a heart-stopping $65,000.)

Moving up the stately central staircase to the second level reveals an arresting wall treatment by artist Elan Evans. She took M.C. Esher's "Liberation" as a starting point and turned cut paper triangles into three dimensional origami birds soaring upward on a perfect turquoise sky.

The perfect turquoise continues to the landing of the second floor where Simon Breitbard Fine Arts has installed large-scale photos from Andy Freeberg's series Guardians which depicts women security guards, some obviously on a volunteer basis, in Russia's national museums.

Molie Malone turned a small bathroom into an edgy yet luxurious statement with a black and white graphic wallpaper that riffs on classical Greek design. Floor tiles made to look like patinated metal and a bright orange ceiling are the perfect foils.

A little boy's bedroom with a sweet, African safari-theme by Sherry Hope-Kennedy boasted a little ready-made fort based on the enormous mounds termites build on the veldt. The young man from Hope-Kennedy's design firm who was manning the room that day was encouraging people to get down on the floor and crawl inside to see the view up toward the roof of the structure. No one took him up on it except your blog master... because that is just how I roll. And it was worth it--look at how the chimneys appear from the ground looking up!

A bedroom for a teenage boy was both muted and exciting thanks to Ian Stallings' design skill. Not one afraid of a theme (see Stalling's Stevie Nicks-"White Witch" room from the 2016 Showcase here), he explained to me the inspiration for the many-textured stripes on the wall (the stripes when one adjusts the tracking on old VCR machines) and the deliberate height choices of the bed, art, armoire, and drapery rod. This room is a very personal manifestation of memory for Stallings who included movie posters from his youth and the very armoire from his bedroom when he was thirteen, the age of the boy this room was designed for. And of course the ultra-cool Lindsey Adelman light fixture is a thing to behold in and of itself.

Like I said earlier, no space is spared in a Showcase house and Krista Hoffman created a striking little bar area located on the loggia of the second floor she calls the "Curio Closet." Pewter wallpaper with matte black roses, deep blue cabinetry and shelving, and softly glowing sconces make this an engaging spot to stop and pour a bourbon...

Inspired by the classical revival period of the house itself as well as John Milton's idea of paradise from his epic poem "Paradise Lost," Beth Martins created a floating, ethereal sanctuary of a master bedroom. Light creams and tans offset by cornflower blue let this room whisper.

The fireplace surround is softly antiqued mirror.

But the element I most fell in love with in this glorious bedroom was the foggy ceiling painted by the incomparable Willem Racké. I just marveled at how the clouds of color shift without any clear boundaries. This is the work of a true master decorative painter.

"The Balancing Point" is what designer Kari McIntosh calls this home office/getaway for a busy, working mom who needs time and space to balance her family and her job, as well as herself. Located off the master bedroom as an antechamber to the master bathroom, the room is clad in St. Frank's Indigo Dots wallpaper (up close it feels charmingly like tie-dyed denim). A wonderful abstract art work gives this small room a big focal point.

I was particularly drawn to the chandelier...turns out this intriguing fixture is wrapped in silk cuttings from Bolt Textiles! It gives the chandelier an undefinable even looks as if it is covered in candle drippings! I love it!

Cecilie Starin (who created a show-stopping graffiti-inspired dining room for the 2015 Showcase house, previously seen here) titled her breathtaking master bathroom "Restore and Refresh." Every single element in here is pitch perfect. I adore the floating vanity with waterfall sides, the gorgeous bracelet chandelier, the marble-lined walls, the alternating herringbone floor, the high gloss cove ceiling installed by Starin's team, and the chic but organic gold/cream/tan color story.

Now I know some of you might be looking at the photos and thinking, "But she hung mirrors in the window!" Well, I know firsthand how interior designers often have to work within the limitations of existing architecture and plumbing. But Starin made sure the mirrors did not intrude too much and each one is hung on a pole featuring a mechanism that allows it to be pushed aside to let more light in...and of course to enjoy the million dollar view. Eighteen million dollars to be exact--the house is currently on the market.

Your blog master in Starin's room.

The water closet is a work of art too, with a textured wall treatment, a glass bubble light fixture, and contemporary California art.

And the spacious shower is a room unto itself...

Just as pitch perfect is Mead Quin's guest bathroom. It is fresh, white, and clean without being sterile or severe thanks to Quin's use of light wood and marble, organic materials which serve to ground a space and add natural warmth.

A great design I want to use in future bathroom designs is this notched handle glass door for the shower. Quin told me she does not like to use hardware on glass shower doors as it interrupts the material. And take a look at the waterfall tile that continues into the shower pan: Fireclay once again.

A green living wall was the focal point in a bedroom that was otherwise a little disjointed. Designer Jaimie Belew also transformed the closet of this room into a bright red laptop nook...with a desk and the Fiorita Chair by Giuseppe Rivadossi made from maple and a back made from actual stripped and sanded privet trees.

The third floor powder room by Stephen Stout and David Bjørngaard took its inspiration from ancient Roman baths. The rounded corners and limestone plaster walls look like they are hewn out of stone. The mirror tilts, recessed into the wall, and fades to white at the top, evoking steam from a spa. The sink below it is a stunning study in restraint. This is a remarkable space--despite the minimalism, the room conveys a rich story with subtle materials that need to be experienced in person.

Since the harried woman of the house got an office retreat, so too does the man. Another seductive and inviting dark space, designer Chris Eskra used both dark wood paneling and a striated paint effect on the walls of what he calls the "Executive Refuge." The live-edge desk is a one-of-a-kind piece of art (the burl at one end acts as a built-in shelf!). And the 1950s scroll side wingback chair with cabriole legs is by Arturo Pani, freshly recovered in a luscious grey mohair.

"The Thousand Watt Bathroom" is what Adele Salierno decided to call her space. She clad the shower in a rough hewn Cambria but the real star of the room was the vanity wall made of hundreds of...wait for it...drinking glasses embedded in a resin wall and backlit with LED light.

Here is a shot of the style of glass Salierno used...

...embedded so their bottoms face out and magnify the light within.

The teen girl's room by Kristen Peña is chic and sophisticated...what every thirteen year old girl aspires to be when she is exploring an identity and creating a personality of her own. Wallpaper by Juju, a Peg Woodoworking headboard, and hanging macramé rope lights by artist Wendy Chien bring layers of texture to this room.

Dina Bandman took de Gournay's hand-painted "Thousand Li" wallpaper as her starting point for a sumptuous laundry room/dog washing station (her portfolio shot shows a real dog in the basin but the day I was there, she naturally and adorably had a stuffed animal dog to convey the idea). You might notice that this is the second time de Gournay wallpaper is used at the Showcase and that is because this famed luxury brand just opened up a showroom in San Francisco! Bandman showed at last year's Showcase and did a powder room using de Gournay's fabulous Deco Monkey wallpaper, here.

The third floor's largest area is an airy lounge with balcony access. Catherine Kwong (who did a great Cy Twombly-inspired living room floor for the 2013 San Francisco Decorator Showcase seen here) was thinking of the California coast and places like Big Sur when she designed this elemental space with an adjacent bar. Unadorned windows let light flood in. Bleached wood walls, a live-edge cocktail table, a woven hemp rug, and the colors of the sky, pine trees, and the ocean, all seen through fog imbue this simple lounge with a tranquility that one could feel while sitting on a cliff at Esalen looking out over the Pacific Ocean. I love the subtle nod to surf culture with the picture of surfers over the bar...and of course she included a turntable to play old 70s "Hotel California" by The Eagles perhaps...

And here is the $18 million view from Kwong's California lounge...overlooking Alcatraz and Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, looking north toward Marin, and topped by our glorious California sky. Just lovely.

If you are or will be in or near San Francisco, please try to visit this spectacular showcase of talent and materials. It is open through May 29, 2017. Check the website for times and additional information.