Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The new (taupe) face of a grand old office.

The oval office recently underwent a makeover while the Obama's were on vacation in Martha's Vineyard. The walls were treated with custom color paint and handmade custom wallpaper, this is essentially the only part of the redesign that I like. New sofa's were added that are covered in a brown velvet looking fabric (ugh). On one sofa sits a navy throw pillow to pulls in the navy color base of two table light fixtures that sit on side tables right next to the sofas...you do not need to pull in a color that is no more than five feet away. Between the sofa's is a new wood coffee table that is somewhat reminiscent of of table I recently saw at Target.

A new custom area rug was also added. In the center is the presidential seal and along the outer edge are a collection of five historical presidential quotes selected by Mr. Obama. What is the main color of this new rug you may ask? Taupe. The only other piece of new furniture is a new leather desk chair in...brown. Of the other chairs, two were reupholstered in a small patterned brown and taupe (I know, right) fabric and the other two redone in...wait for it...brown leather.

I am happy to say that Mr. Obama kept the Resolute desk and that beautiful grandfather clock that have both graced the oval office for many, many years.

As one might have already guessed, I am not a fan of the new look. It lacks life, it lacks richness and worst of all it absolutely lacks any personality whatsoever. What are your thoughts?

Here are some images from past oval office interiors.

JFK's office

Taft's office, c. 1909

Reagan's office

Nixon's Office
(No other president used Bob Hope, he was placed in White House storage)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not exactly a man's world.

I have been an Interior Designer for some time now and can easily say that men are not my standard client. While I have had men clients (all great experiences) the vast majority are women, I am sure most other designers will say the same thing. For the most part a husband will interject from time to time to ask about costs and time frames and to give a half-hearted opinion to a fabric or color choice when prompted by their wife. To be honest this bothers me, I want the man to be a participant, to be a voice in the process.

I believe the situation is the way it is because most men don't feel like their aesthetics are good enough to even talk about and that they have nothing to add. Allow me to state that this is not entirely the case. There exists a genre of design items that appeals to most men, though they don't even know about it. Many in the industry, yours truly included, call the gene "Mantiques".

Mantiques include such items as old cast iron / metal toys, vintage signage (especially those of car and motorcycle companies and gas and oil companies), old sporting equipment, antique bar ware, trophies and vintage tools / work related items. While this is not the entire list it should give you a good idea of the total feel of this genre. These items are things that most males will respond positively to, things that feel manly and indeed things that can easily and beautifully fit into just about every interior design scheme.

The trick is to find good examples of these items. You want to find examples that are not terribly mass produced and not to old and beaten looking (not a hard rule as often a terribly aged item can be perfect). Look for pieces that have some inherent character, something that you feel a connection to.

So men, exert yourself into the design process as you most definitely have something to add. Women, get your man involved, let him know that things that guys like can fit in to your space...and look damn good too. Also ladies, make sure to use the phrase "look damn good" in the conversation, us males respond positively to this sort of communication.

Below are some examples of "Mantiques" that I love.
Probably the most iconic gas sign in history.
Not sure what the product is but this sign is PERFECT.
Old  boxing gloves look great even if just hang on a nail.
Framed and hung this woud be beautiful.
I miss the days when sport uniforms had a bit of class

A truly wonderful cast iron toy.
Possibly the best toy I have ever seen. 
Hung on a wall this is art, pure and simple.
Industrial design at its finest + could be wired to make a great sconce.
These loving cup trophies have so many uses they deserve their own blog post.
If this is as much of a Mantique as you could possibly imagine...
disregard everything previously mentioned

Friday, August 13, 2010

Interior Designing....the things I carry.

I always like to try to apply aspects of Interior Design to everything I do. Sometimes I just sit around, when time permits, and think about new ways to apply these concepts to random things. A couple of months ago I did this to the "stuff" that I carry with me on a daily basis.

As an Interior Designer I always carry a bag of some kind with me, be it a briefcase, messenger bag, tote, etc. , designers are forever going somewhere to pick up samples or to get swatches or whatever. At any rate, it dawned on me one day that my bag was filled with a ton of stuff I did not actually need. So I brought forth the best most useful tool in the Interior Design arsenal....."editing".

At the end of the editing process I ended up with the items below. While there are items that are thrown into the mix from time to time (lip balm, sunscreen, moisturizer, etc.) these are the items that are with me whenever I leave home.

1. watch - simplest TIMEX ever w/ J.PRESS nato style strap.
2. fob - BILLYKIRK (only available at '09 Pop Up Flea in NYC)*
     keys - skeleton (because it's cool), home, mail...done.
3. phone - IPHONE w/ music, books & apps for well...everything.
4. notebook - MOLESKINE, the best notebooks ever.
5. pen - PILOT VBALL, wonderful inexpensive pen..a must.
6. mints - ALTOIDS, LOVE THEM, I'm up to 4 mints at a time.
7. sunglasses - Ray-Ban New Wayfarer, updated and classic.
8. specs - Oliver Peoples "Riley" in dark mahogany. timeless.
9. card case - TUMI Meridian, "L" pass, debit card, ID...done.
10. utility - every man should carry a pocket knife.
11. utility part 2 - every man should carry a handkerchief.

* Since I couldn't make it to the Pop Up Flea, mens fashion blogger Shaun Barneveld (Port Authority) was kind enough to pick up the BILLYKIRK fob for me. Thanks again Shaun, much appreciated.
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