Alfama, Portugal Lisbon’s oldest district made famous for it’s tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College.
Spain and Portugal . . . according to history, the two countries intermarried, so when Isabella pawned her jewels to raise funds for discoveries of new lands, it brought them great wealth. Portuguese Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope to India and brought untold wealth to his nation.
Statue in Seville, Spain near the city’s main cathedral. Photo by Aylin Ozyigit from Pennsylvania State University. – See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.zhehSAUK.dpuf
In the latter years of the 15th century, the Portuguese, by an astounding expansion of their shipping, obtained their Indian, African, Chinese, and Brazilian colonies, and discovered the Azores. Portugal became one of the great empires of the world. Within the next century the Spanish conquistadors, Cortez and Pizarro, conquered Mexico and Peru, and for a century, Spanish galleons returned to Cadiz loaded with quantities of silver and gold. The ships that sailed under the Portuguese banner returned to Lisbon with the spices, silks, porcelains, and other products of both the East and the West of Europe. You see, Portugal was at intervals under the Crown of Spain but this arrangement was never acceptable to her people. She finally regained her independence and her former empire in 1665, but her people are of the same racial and cultural origins as those of Spain; her language is easily understood by the Spaniard and differs less than Catalan and Basque from the best Castilian.
Iberian Chair heavily carved in the stretchers and back splats.
I found the furnishings and the decorative arts of Spain and Portugal to be closely parallel. Although it does seem that the Spanish have somewhat more delicacy in their furnishings. Spain and Portugal were separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, so influence was predominantly North African, or Moorish. Both countries also had strong economic and political ties with the East, Oriental and Indian influences can be seen in Iberian furniture.
Spanish Vargueno closed
A fall-front desk of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries, having the form of a chest upon a small table.
The Spanish nobility led a relatively nomadic existence, so furniture had to be portable. Most furniture
was made of local walnut. Cabinets, or varguenos, had handles on the sides so that they could be lifted on or off stands. During the 16th century varguenos had been luxury items, but they became more common during the 17th century.
My interior design career took me all over the world. This gave me the opportunity to see and touch furnishings and the decorative arts of the early centuries. The Metropolitan Museum is a close second to my travels, where I brought friends and clients to experience antiquity, where you can see, but don’t touch. The Hispanic Museum in New York is another learning place for antiquity. It’s where I first found a cabinet with secret compartments that I thought I originated. But, no, this clever cabinet idea was designed in the 12th century. Building storage into a wall, or between two lally columns, and hiding the doors in some tricky, clever way. You’ve seen concealed places in the movies, even a secret room behind the library shelves. Doesn’t Harry Potter stories have secret places like these?
My artist friends who are going to Toledo, Spain with the great artist and workshop instructor, David Dunlop, will be hosted by the local El Greco museum. They are in for a treat, surrounded by antiquity. Opened in 1911, the museum is located in Toledo’s Jewish Quarter. It consists of two buildings: a 16th-century house with a courtyard, and an extension dating from the early 20th century. The two share a garden. The museum houses numerous works by El Greco, especially from this brilliant painter’s last period, as well as canvases by other 17th century Spanish painters, furniture from the same era and pottery from Talavera de la Reina.
Any questions? Ask away . . .
Leopard & black
Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.
La Ramblas, street in Barcelona
A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.
Like picking candy, which one?
Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children.
Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.
In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet.
Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.
Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.com
Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?
Frank Owen Gehry, CC (born Frank Owen Goldberg; February 28, 1929) is a Canadian-American Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles.
His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age”.
The tower at 8 Spruce Street in lower Manhattan which was completed in February 2011 has a stainless steel and glass exterior and is 76 stories high.
Gehry’s best-known works include the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, photo above; MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; Experience Music Project in Seattle; Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis; Dancing House in Prague; the Vitra Design Museum and the museum MARTa Herford in Germany; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; the Cinémathèque française in Paris; and 8 Spruce Street in New York City. But it was his private residence in Santa Monica, California, that jump-started his career, lifting it from the status of “paper architecture”—a phenomenon that many famous architects have experienced in their formative decades through experimentation almost exclusively on paper before receiving their first major commission in later years. Gehry is also the designer of the future Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.
Casa Danzante, Prague–Inspiration dancing couple Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Much of Gehry’s work falls within the style of Deconstructivism, which is often referred to as post-structuralist in nature for its ability to go beyond current modalities of structural definition. In architecture, its application tends to depart from modernism in its inherent criticism of culturally inherited givens such as societal goals and functional necessity. Because of this, unlike early modernist structures, Deconstructivist structures are not required to reflect specific social or universal ideas, such as speed or universality of form, and they do not reflect a belief that form follows function. Gehry’s own Santa Monica residence is a commonly cited example of deconstructivist architecture, as it was so drastically divorced from its original context, and in such a manner as to subvert its original spatial intention.
Reception of Gehry’s work is not always positive. Art historian Hal Foster reads Gehry’s architecture as, primarily, in the service of corporate branding. Criticism of his work includes complaints that the buildings waste structural resources by creating functionless forms, do not seem to belong in their surroundings and are apparently designed without accounting for the local climate.
Reasoning has it his work is about possibilities… Form follows function is one of the long-standing slogans of modern architecture. Its use was pioneered by turn-of-the-century skyscraper architect Louis Sullivan, complemented by Adolf Loos’s 1908 assertion that ‘Ornament is crime’, adapted by Frank Lloyd Wright and adopted by Modernists and Bauhaus desginers such as Mies van der Rohe (‘Less is more’), Walter Groupius, etc. Originally meant to be defiantly honest – let the form of a building or product result from its function and no more – and anti-style, it eventually evolved into yet another set of un-interrogated conventions, and is now being both challenged and re-worked. Clearly seen in Gehry’s work.
Marques de Riscal Winery
Marques de Riscal winery is the oldest and most traditional of the Rioja.
Architecture students the world over are inspired by Gehry’s work. His work is think-out-of-the-box philosophy.
Does Gehry’s work inspire your thoughts to change the world in some way? Think also of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, so many others. How will you change the way we think, make the world a better place? Are you a mover, a shaker?
Parts cited from: Frank Gehry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brno Flat Bar Chair
The Brno Flat Bar Chair (1930) from KnollStudio® is a masterpiece of structure, paying tribute to early modernism’s gravity-defying skyscrapers. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to have a cantilevered base, the Brno offers the comfort of an arm chair without the old-line stuffiness or bulk of upholstery. Leather covers the cushions for long-enduring appearance retention and ease of maintenance-two especially important features for dining rooms, offices, conference rooms and waiting areas.
What is this all about? How famous is this Brno Chair, and who likes it? Well, it is historically as important as King Tut’s Throne and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, but only a select few know about this flat bar chair. You do not have to like modern furniture, nor do you have to own one of these beauties, but let me tell you…this chair is handsome, strong, and has amazing tactile sensations with its gorgeous supple leather and smooth steel frame. And as an owner it sets you apart from the rest of the world. It is impressive to own even just one.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair and Stool (1929), originally created to furnish his German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona, have come to epitomize modern design.
Barcelona Pavillion, Spain
Mies van der Rohe designed the chair to serve as seating for the king and queen of Spain, while the stool
was intended to accommodate their attendants. The Barcelona chair and stool is one of the most stylish and elegant pieces of modern furniture of the 20th Century and probably the most recognized piece of modern furniture around. Still produced to his original specifications, this chair and stool are of quality fit for royalty.
Bench classical seating
Funny feet seating are still popular. These designs are considered classical classics. The funny feet seating is in complete contrast to the modern classics.
Classic Dining Chair features animal feet
If you think about it, you’ll realize why a new philosophy was needed. We finally made it out of Victoriana with its clutter. By the time Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus in 1929, we had been exploring new ways of design.
Other styles evolved like Arts and Crafts Movement (today called Mission), Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. The art, architecture and designs of the Bauhaus were the exact opposite of anything that had come before. More common today are the country and classical reproduction designs of the 18th century.
Do you have room for both modernist and classical designs?
Have you ever thought you could add one of the modernist beauties into your classical interior for the pièce de résistance, or a fabulous authentic antique in your modern interior?
Please comment and feel free to ask questions. Come back next week for more surprises.