Orange County Convention Center
Design. A crucial element of architecture. On a recent visit to Orlando, I discovered the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The building inspired me to step back into my training as an architecture and design critic. Hence, today’s blog!
Disney’s happy, fantasyland permeates Orlando. So many buildings reminded me of Disney, with arches, pyramids, turrets, moving walkways, and gorgeous, glowing sunsets draped over buildings. In particular, the OCCC. Locals call the twin-arched convention center, the “Center of Hospitality”. The convention center is one of the largest in the country, second only to McCormick Place in Chicago. Organizations like American Institute of Architects, AIA, and American Society of Interior Designers, ASID, secure spaces there for their conferences. Vendors exhibit the latest in building materials and design for architects and designers.
Arches culminating into a crown
I fell for the elaborate designs of the convention center’s arches that spike above the building. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to explore. The parts relate to each other. Smaller arches grow into the final crowning arches that tower over the building. Adjacent to these arches, there is a glass pyramid, similar to IM Pei’s pyramid at the Fontainebleau in Paris.
Yes, it’s GREEN! Orange County Government, who owns and operates the center must be proud of its place in power savings with solar panels on the roof on the South Concourse. On April 18, 2012, the Architect’s Florida Chapter placed the building on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.
I-360 changing colors, all 420ft, it’s gorgeous. It can be seen from almost everywhere around Orlando!
For another thrill, there is the I-360. At first you think it’s a Ferris Wheel. It does move, but it takes 22 minutes from start to finish. Besides being a ride, you can hire the whole thing out for a party or wedding. The wheel changes colors, as shown here. I hear the view from the top is astounding day or night.
If you like to read, my book, Indigo Sky is waiting for you. I hope you will read it, and I hope you’ll adore it. I’m going to choose three of you from my newsletter list to win a gift of my book on March 1st. Dash over to Facebook and say hello, and you’ll be entered two times.
You can order the eBook on Amazon and read it on Kindle. Download the Kindle App for free from Amazon for your device.
Amazon Indigo Sky buy Link
Roger Federer at Indian Wells 2013
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
What? I lost again. I have the best coach, I serve hundreds of balls, hit with my partner, practice my strategy. How come I lost again?
I am talking about tennis. But it could be any sport. Or anything? What keeps any of us from walking away with the trophy? Could it be a head trip? What are you thinking when you hit that ball? The difference between a good player and a great player has to be mental. It makes sense. You beat all the club players, but when you play in those tournaments, it all goes downhill.
And the higher you reach, the more you need mental stamina. You might have a tough exterior, but what about your interior? Your inner workings need toughness. Even if you are a Roger Federer, or a Rafael Nadal., or a Tiger Woods. How do they stay at the top? Physically … mentally. You need confidence, persistence, tenacity and most of all, focus.
I met Jane, a terrific tennis player, in interior design school so many years ago that I’m not saying. We traveled NYC together, studied together, built projects together. And in the summer, we hit the ball. I had just started playing and loved it. Jane asked if I’d like to learn. She had just passed a rigorous exam by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). I gawked at her, my jaw
dropped, and asked, “You teach tennis?”
Long story short, I practiced, practiced and practiced. Then I took that same USPTA exam and passed. Became pretty proficient, but I never could beat Jane. Even though she said, “What’s the matter with you? You’re now a better player than me.” She was my teacher, my coach, my playing partner, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t beat her. I never did. Head trip. And … I taught tennis for years before I was consumed by my career in interior design.
There are mental training specialists, not psychologists or psychiatrists. In my tennis organization there are those for just this purpose. Mental training is a critical part of success.
Take a look: Damien LaFont, PhD, Certified Mental Trainer www.mentaltraininginc.com.
Juan Martin del Potro
Anyone following Juan Martín del Potro? He did great this tournament. He climbed almost to the top at Indian Wells, lost in the finals to Nadal, a tough competitor.
How many of you know that Doubt Monster? Do you believe you have more tenacity than it? Can you turn your passion into progress?
Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona, Spain
Antonio Gaudi died under the wheels of a tram and was to be buried in an unknown grave. Yet, he is known for his Barcelona Gaudi Architecture – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló in Barcelona. He was an enthusiast of the nineteenth century popular style of Art Nouveau, a style celebrating art for art’s sake. A style that did not relate to any designs of the past. The style was an invention of a new kind of ornament based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms. Gaudi impressed the architectural community with his wild, vehement and whimsical forms of the curls and furls of the style. The stone and iron used in his work were bent and warped creating surfaces of great complexity that flow like molten lava. He used outlandish, original, colored mosaics and toyed with ideas in architecture, both interior and exterior, that bring visitors and tourists to Barcelona by the millions.
Unless you have been there, you cannot possibly imagine the overwhelming pomposity, grandeur, and fantasy of this church. I have traveled the world over, from the USA to England, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Bangladesh, Africa, and to other countries. I have seen churches, I have studied churches, I have painted churches . . . and to clarify before you have a chance to verify, the churches I painted were on canvas. Never have I seen, explored, or experienced any like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. His work has been described as “melted butter.” The towers here, in the above image, with the rippling contours of the stone facade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun.
The holy figures of stone imbedded into the fascia are unbelievable. From afar, the details blur some. This image shows the details. The church began its life in 1882. From 1883 Gaudi worked on the architecture until his death. He left a legacy of information. The church, in the lower level, has models, architectural drawings, and yards and yards and yards of information to continue building to completion. And so it goes. There are always cranes on site. Always workers on site, always lines of onlookers on site. The church is open to the public everyday all year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Gaudí’s funeral (12 June 1926)
On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu Hospital, where he received rudimentary care. By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.
Gaudi is dead, long live Gaudi.
Roof architecture at Casa Batllo
The towers of Sagrada Familia can be seen from almost everywhere in Barcelona. Buildings . . .architecture, set the tone, the culture, for a town, a city, a country. Architecture is a live, breathing, functioning sculpture. You cannot hold it in your hand, but you can become part of it. You can love it, hate it, tolerate it, but like it or not, architecture sets the pace by which you live and survive.
Are you familiar with the architecture surrounding you? Are you aware that architecture is public art?
The sun warms our planet, provides us with light and is crucial to all life on Earth.
One of my readers asked me to talk about windowless rooms. I sent a query back to her explaining that rooms w/o windows can be so depressing. “What tactic do you want me to take? ”
Her answer: Safety from natural and man-made disasters. Not depressing.
Well folks, with my 40 plus years of interior design work, I can tell you that a windowless room can be depressing. So, before I talk about creating one that has live-in possibilities in case of disaster, I want to let you know that without access to natural light and fresh air, bacteria has no way to dissipate.
It’s the ultraviolet light of the sun that grows our veggies that make us healthy, and kills the bacteria that make us sick. Oh sure, you can get special indoor artificial lighting that does some sun imitation, but living in a space where there is no natural light of the sun, is not ideal. Not ideal physiologically or psychologically.
The president of the company always gets the corner office. The one with the windows. It’s not priority by seniority, it’s productivity by possibilities. The ones who make the decisions get the best window(s). Important decisions are made in this conference room.
Conference room with natural light, lots and lots and lots.
The more important it is, the bigger the windows. The industry tried to change this philosophy, but it did not work. The natural light makes the grade.
When’s the last time you gazed upward and marveled at the mysterious, life-giving force that is the sun?
If you believe the whole staring-at-the-sun-makes-you-go-blind thing (which is actually true), you’re probably not doing a whole lot of sun-gazing. But it’s a real marvel: The sun warms our planet every day, provides the light by which we see and is necessary for life on Earth. It can also cause cell death and make us blind. It could fit 1.3 million Earths inside its sphere [source: SpaceDaily]. It produces poem-worthy sunsets and as much energy as 1 trillion megaton bombs every second [source: Boston Globe].
All of this, and our sun is just a plain old average star, by universal standards. It’s really just proximity that makes it so special to Earth. We wouldn’t be here if the sun weren’t so close.
And what about cruise ships? My son Paul frequently goes on cruises with his friends and family. He gets an exterior stateroom with a balcony, but there are interior staterooms as well. But those staterooms have no balcony and are windowless.
Ship interior stateroom windowless
They use the old mirror trick to give the impression of light. The mirrors are in the oval/round shape of the ship windows. Not too shabby.
I prefer windows, even on a ship. A windowless room, bah, humbug. Even if you got stuck in a basement apartment when you got out of college, just a slit of a window inspired a happy dance. But if you have one of those theatre rooms,
Windowless Theatre Room
most likely in a lower level with no windows or you cover the window or eliminate the window. Now we are talking about an on-purpose windowless room. This room is not to live in unless…unless there has been a disaster and you must stay in this room until the disaster ends. The room pictured here is pretty fun to spend some time. Light colors and reflective surfaces, and if you turn out the lights and put on the movie projector, turn up the sound, munchies at hand, not too bad. Add battery powered lighting, shelving, canned/dried food/water and potty, some warm clothes, you got a great place to wait out a disaster.
A safe place, a secret room below ground, a tomb in a pyramid.
King Tuts Tomb
New for 2020. Tomb construction with all the amenities for windowless winning spaces. Protect the people, protect the environment.
King Tut's tomb map to make your own passage
Will this go over big in the future? Will we need to construct windowless rooms with secret passages to protect our sanity, our children, our lives?
Sun photo above courtesy of NASA
Sit yourself down my dear, in your favorite chair, do not fret, do not sweat, for all you cherish is beneath your seat.
Kitchen Chair 16x16x32"
The crème de la crème is from the 1988 Harry N. Abrams, Inc “397 Chairs” collection. The “Kitchen Chair” by artist Sylvia Netzer. The chair is made of steel tubes, silicon and found objects.
The almighty chair we all take for granted is not always what we expect. For the last two weeks we have discussed the talented, think-out-of-the-box, architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. His architecture reached new heights (oops, an unintended pun) of creativity and function. He designed the interior to reflect the exterior in design, use of materials and function. His seating was accommodating, but uncomfortable with its too deep seats and too stiff backs.
Dining Chair Robie House
All seating must have some pitch to the backs to allow for butt space. But not too much then you will see dangling feet. It is important when getting seating to test your best not only for pretty, but also for fitting your purpose.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect of Horizontality, designed this dining chair for the FLW Robie House in Hyde Park, Chicago. See what I mean by back pitch in the drawings below.
The Boynton Dining Chairs now being manufactured by Copeland were designed for the E. E. Boynton House in Rochester, New York. Mr. Boynton wanted comfortable seating for his guests, so Wright designed a chair back with a compound curve in it that would support a person’s shoulders and give lumbar support for the lower back. Lacking the technology to actually create the compound curved panel, the design was relegated to Wright’s archives for the last 100 years.
Let’s take a last long look at a really comfortable chair. The good old Club Chair.
With James permission here he is in his fav chair…James Kaston, of Remains Lighting, NYC with his cat, Pinky, in his antiques-filled apartment in Stuyvesant Town. Besides his Pinky, the cat who has gone on to pinky heaven, James loves his Napoleon III chair. Can you see enough to get the idea of comfort for your weary soul, pardon, I mean seat?
Have you experienced seating that you can’t wait to get out of and run away as fast as you can? Like, how many of you sit and relax at White Castle, like our stockbroker friend who couldn’t fit?
Until next week…more U-know…wrapped around another story.
Victoriana was stylized as modern in the 19th century. The latest and newest interiors were influenced by the manufacture of ample materials used in profusion without any aesthetic considerations. Ornament was almost entirely produced by the turning-lathe. Balusters, spindles, wooden grilles, and dwarf columns were used in profusion without any consideration given to order. Layered mixed designs were used on all vertical and horizontal surfaces. Wall composition and orderly furniture arrangement were disregarded.
Excessive use of unrelated patterned surfaces on walls, floors, and upholstery were common. Walls were covered with wallpaper of poor design, painted stencil patterns, or real or paper-mâché imitation Spanish leather. Windows were dressed with heavy draperies, swags, valances, and jabots, enriched with heavy fringes. The machine, manufacturing furniture, accessories, wallpaper and accessories, all highly profitable products dominated the industry.
Drawing room in Robert Edis London house circa 1870
According to Peter Thornton’s book 1984 “Authentic Decor” this image depicts the profusion common in Victoriana. The ceiling had stenciled decoration. The deep frieze at the top of the wall was painted by an artist. Gas-piping beneath the frieze was used as a picture-rail. Walls were papered with William Morris’ designs in a pomegranate pattern. The cabinet was ebonized (stained in a black finish) and had painted heads representing the season. Curtains covering the shelves were common. Floors were covered with patterned rugs. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
These images show layers and layers and layers in design profusion of confusion. Even the most elegant interiors were smothered in mixtures of patterns, designs and color. Every corner, every window, every door had some kind of finish, not necessarily designed to work together.
The Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut built circa 1870’s had the same fate as the Robert Edis house. In its elegance the Drawing room walls, ceiling, floor, all surfaces and windows were covered with fabrics, furniture, accessories and mirrors to double your view. Take a real tour. See Victoriana for yourself.
Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum Drawing room circa 1870
Victoriana ended when it was realized quality of design had gone lost. New ideas of simplicity became easier to live with. And handmade furnishings became important again as they are today. If not for the history of Victoriana we would not understand the importance of uncluttered, organized, well-designed spaces.
Steampunk is designed to be tongue-in-cheek Victoriana.
Victoriana house remodeled to stylize Steampunk
You can have some fun, see Steampunk and roam through this house at www.modvic.com.
Enjoy. If you want to get some Steampunk, call the vendor. The contact information is below.
Don’t forget to leave your comments, questions and challenges. My question to you, what have you always wanted to know in interior design and didn’t have anyone to ask?
36 Pleasant Street
Sharon, MA 02067
Philip Johnson Glass House Contemporary Interior, New Canaan, CT
Please note the clean, contemporary, organized space in the Philip Johnson Glass House.
All images are from Victoria Lyon Interiors www.victorianlyoninteriors.com.
This week’s blog is about space, order and design and has nothing to do with taste. Taste is ambiguous and personal. You can apply your taste to any of the basic concepts discussed.
The images above are vignettes of traditional design.
Old world elegance mixes with modern colors and textures to create the master bath/dressing area for the lady with very discriminating tastes. Designer Victoria Lyon says her space “evokes the casual elegance of an English country house,” but also brings in modern touches that “let us know that the lady of this manor definitely belongs to the 21st century“.
The dressing area features sweeping curtains, a feminine skirted dressing table and a plush chaise. Old world fixtures, a free standing burnished metal tub and a sparkling marble shower create a bathroom with character and class.
The image below “Traditional Country” is an uncluttered, well-organized, well-designed space. The soft, warm color on the vertical planes (walls) is comforting and pleasing. Warm deep colors have vibrations, move forward into the room and take up visual space.
Traditional Country www.victorialyoninteriors.com
Crowding can cause conflict in a life, in a mate, in a child. All this talk about beauty, function, good design, what does it mean? If you like lots of stuff around you, okay. But how is it arranged? Is there order? Is there negative space, meaning quiet space? A place of peace?
Function … what in the world? Clocks have a function, cars have a function, computers have a function. So what has function got to do with space? Space has to provide a place for you to stand up, lie down, sleep, wake. And all the activities in-between. Where do you write your checks, where do you write your stories, where do you play? If you have any, where are the kids, where do they snack, where do they do homework, where do they play?
Here are a few examples of functional items. Clocks, clocks tell time, what would we do without time? Cars are constructed to take you from point a to point b, computers output and input information. If we take a look at the world around us, everything we need is organized in some way.
You may like contemporary, you may like traditional, you may like the American style (mixture of both), it doesn’t matter. The images above are well-designed, well-organized, functional spaces.
Nineteenth century Victoriana had no specific order. The more stuff squeezed into a space, the more it supposedly displayed great wealth.
Order is important for our well-being.
Thank you to Victoria Lyon interiors for her gracious participation in this blog. www.victorialyoninteriors.com.
Come back next week for more Victoriana surprises. Remember to post your comments. I especially enjoy your inquiries and challenges.
What about you, your home, your office, your play space? You love clutter. OK! But is it organized?
Mighty news is in the works – Victoriana is back. I never thought I would see the day. From all I remember as a youngster, to my concentrated academia and career in the arts and disciplines teaching about beauty, I believed Victoriana had produced some of the ugliest products ever made in history. Like living in “Dark Shadows.” My years of work and study in art, design, and architecture have produced in me a clear idea of how space, color, and unity can be utilized to produce a well-designed and functional environment. Environments like schools, sports stadiums, spas, places of worship, galleries, museums, our homes and more. The list is long.
According to Wikipedia: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power was widely used—usually the Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of Steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Image below on the left is a handsome 21st Century clock by Roger Wood made in the aesthetics of Steampunk style. Metal and layers. See more on his website. http://www.klockwerks.com
Steampunk garnered its name from the idea of steam power and the inventions of the industrial revolution. It is based on history. Robert Fulton and his steam engine were instrumental in changing manufacturing. Eli Whitney and his cotton gin made extracting cotton from the plant easier. The spinning jenny run by steam made weaving easier. The Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in human history.
Image on right is the only surviving example of a Spinning mule built by the inventor Samuel Crompton.
Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Machine-based manufacturing became protocol. Victoriana produced thinkers of future possibilities and science fiction, hence Steampunk; layering, metal, designing with objects of technology.
Image on right, Victoriana style, is a Herter sofa made for the Lockwood’s, circa 1867. Two of the sofas can be seen in Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk CT. The mansion is still looking for the other pair. Lockwood is open to the public. www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com
Remember a couple of years ago in fashion when layering became popular? Now it’s more popular than ever. We discovered layering works, both indoors and outdoors, and it is fashionable. For fashion, so many designs are being shown in layered form.
Free People fashions for Bloomingdale's
2011 Free People on the left in particular.
Image above on right: 1905 Duster keeps the road dust from the new automobiles off her layers of underclothing.
Mrs. Lockwood layered in corset, petticoats, slips, blouse and can you see more?
Image on left: Let’s look at Mrs. Lockwood in the 19th Century in the Rotunda of her home, Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum. Layers once again. Can you figure out how many layers she is wearing?
Come back next week for another look at Steampunk and Victoriana. How are those layers being translated? Are we heading for another Victoriana or will we stop before it goes overboard? It may be too late!