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Friday, April 27, 2007

Modern Homes New England

Modern Homes New England is a new website dedicated to, you guessed it, modern homes in New England. They are currently looking for content:

MHNE is looking for your photos and stories.

Are you dreaming of building your own modern, pre-fab home? Already in the permitting process? Renovating your kitchen with products from IKEA?

Do you have photos of modern architecture in New England settings? Are you an architect who would like to highlight the value in new design techniques?

MHNE is a community for you. Our upcoming launch will provide you free space to chronicle your project among friends in the greater New England region.

As we prepare the site for launch, we need your help and input: photos we can incorporate, content you'd like to contribute. We're looking to kick off with a strong start and provide a strong forum for you.

If you would like to contribute to this new effort, please email mjr@c77studios.com for more information.

Montage/Arclinea Contemporary Design Scholarship Competition

Montage and Arclinea have teamed up for the 2nd Annual Montage Arclinea Contemporary Design Scholarship Competition. The goal is to see who can best incorporate the design philosophy of Italian architect Antonio Citterio in one of two different kitchen/living room redesigns. If you are currently enrolled in an architecture/design program at any school in New England, you could win $5,000, $3,000, or $2,000. For full details, go to the scholarship website.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

West Medford Open Studios

Linda Garriot said to save the date, so here is my way of doing so! On Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29, 2006, from noon to 4:00 PM, check out the eighth annual West Medford Open Studios.

Over 45 artists - including visual artists, writers, and musicians - will be opening their studios for you. "WMOS is a chance to meet and talk to the artist right as you see or hear the art! You can learn what inspired the artist. You can understand the skills and ideas behind the work of art."

Question: Help with Modern South End Remodel?

A new question came in to DB Central, and I would like to share it with the masses:

Hi Gradon--
We stumbled upon your blog and love it. We share your interest in modern architecture and design and are in the process of purchasing a brownstone duplex in the South End that we'd like to do some work on as soon as possible. It was renovated itself rather recently, but in a Pottery-Barn-ish aesthetic (for lack of a better term) and we're dying to make some changes:

Among the issues we'd like to address:
*replacing existing hardwood floors with exotic hardwoods
*replacing a traditional staircase, which connects two floors and a roof deck, with something more modern and airy
*kitchen remodel (new-ish appliances are great, but we may want to change the layout and definitely replace cabinet/counters)
*2.5 baths full remodel
*possibly built-ins

As I said, we are amateur modern design freaks with no actual remodel experience and just don't know where to start. We're excited, but a little overwhelmed. We'll only have two months before move in to do a bit of major work, if that's possible, and then imagine we'll do the rest as we reside there. We have a ton of questions, but initially would like to know what you or your readers would advise in terms of:

* Whom to work with. Do we need a designer/architect or can we work directly with a contractor? What are the pros and cons of each approach? Do you have any recommendations for local contractors experienced in modern design/remodels? Or recommendations for good, yet affordable, designer? What should one expect to pay hourly when working with a designer/architect?
* Where to start. Do we need to address the stairs first, along with flooring? Can/should we do the kitchen at the same time, since floors extend thru kitchen?
* Boston Design Center. They seem to be a kind of clearinghouse for the types of products we'd want to incorporate and also have design services. But are we going to pay through the nose? Are there other options?
*Other advice?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Stephanie & Steven
Boston, MA

Thanks for the compliment, Stephanie! If it was just a kitchen remodel, I would say simply call a contractor. Replacing the stairs and completely redoing the kitchen and two bathrooms, though, is indeed a large undertaking, something an architect/interior designer can greatly help with. They will not only help you design the aesthetic and structural changes you want made, but also guide you through the permitting process and be the liaison between you and the contractor(s). What one pays for a designer varies by job, and could even be different between various designers.

Based on the work he did on his own South End brownstone, I would recommend you contact Daniel Sugarman. His home was recently featured in the Boston Globe, and is going to be on HGTV's Small Space, Big Style.

Daniel Sugarman Design

From what I understand, an architect will work with any contractor, but prefers to work with a select few that they know and trust. One contractor that I feel is worth looking into is Sustainable Construction Services Inc. They are a full service "green" contractor, so all of their work is done in an environmentally friendly way. I recently ran a feature on them.

Sustainable Construction Services Inc.
Daniel Glickman, General Manager

The Boston Design Center can be a wonderful resource. For your kitchen, I would highly recommend Alno, on the sixth floor of the BDC. They are a German company that makes some beautiful, modern cabinetry and countertops. Also, take a look at Poggenpohl on Newbury St.

For any built ins, I can throw a personal recommendation in for my friend Mark Heron. If you're interested in contacting him, send me an email and I will give you his info.

Does anyone else have any suggestions/advice?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Design Boston interview with Sam Grawe

I was supposed to meet with Sam Grawe, the Editor-in-Chief of Dwell, last week at Residential Design & Construction. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but Sam was nice enough to answer a few questions for me via email:

What is your personal design philosophy?
Less is more, except when it isn't. Since I'm not really a designer, I don't really have a design philosophy, per se. If I was an architect, I would make sure every home I designed had a conversation pit.

What is the most recent design object you have purchased for your home?
a couple of beat up eames/alexander girard la fonda chairs

What aspects make up "good design," in your opinion?
There's no real laundry list where you can check off the boxes and pow, you have a good design. I think good design is something special, something well-made, something that you will hold on to, something your kids would hold on to. That being said, good design is also sustainable. A piece of furniture that will last for over a hundred years—that's sustainable. Good design also usually implies that it somehow improves your quality of life. Something like oxo good grips are good design because they help people with arthritis do stuff in the kitchen, and they also appeal to someone without arthritis simply because they make, opening a can for instance, just a little easier.

How do you think Boston fares as a design city?
Boston interests me because of its history. California provided fertile ground for post-war modernism because for the most part there was no historical precedent to work with. But with Boston, on the other hand, basically all you have is historical precedent. With Harvard's GSD and MIT there's a lot of great, forward-thinking architectural minds at work in Boston. But a lot of new construction is too obsessed with cornices, balustrades, and cupolas—mimicing historical details. I had the chance to visit the new ICA, and I thought that was a really great space for art, and also a very fresh space for the city—in part because it is so outward looking. You spend a lot of time in that building looking at the water and at the city.

Critics say that two planned towers in downtown Boston - one in Downtown Crossing & the other in Winthrop Square - ignore Boston's historical qualities as a "brick city" for a more New York-esque glass-and-steel style. In what ways can a city respect its design history while still reaching forward?
There are ways to respect the character of place without the argument getting to the point of whether the designers should be using bricks or glass and steel. Let old Boston be old Boston. It's good. It works. Keep it. I actually feel like its more of a disrespect to the old buildings and the character of place when new buildings try to emulate 'colonial' style or what-have-you. There's no such thing as a modern colonial. It's a farce. It's Disneyworld. Smart designers can look at things like scale and massing, things like how buildings are used, programmatic things which can be duplicated or harmonized without trying to make a new building fit the Boston context simply by making it look a certain way.

You started with Dwell as an Assistant Editor in October of 2000, and shortly after six years, at 29, became its Editor-in-Chief. What's next?
While my title will most likely stay the same for a while, I am always facing new challenges and looking for ways that we can evolve. I'm looking forward to keeping the magazine vital for the next six years and beyond....

Aside from Dwell, you are part of the electronic music group Windsurf . You have a 4-track EP available online. Any chance of a full length, domestic CD release?
We have a cd release in the works with a Norwegian label called Internasjonal. Also, they are going to release that digital ep on vinyl hopefully before summer. My solo project, Hatchback, has a 12" of a tune I did called White Diamond, coming out on this English indie label, thisisnotanexit with a remix by Norwegian producer Prins Thomas on the B-side. I also have another 3-track EP coming out very soon on Sentrall. Also I should mention that my pal Dan Judd, who is the other half of Windsurf, goes by the name Sorcerer, and has a couple of 12" to be followed by a full-length out on a different English indie label called Tirk. Highly recommended listening.

What reading would you recommend for those interested in learning more about modern design(Aside from Dwell, obviously)?
A few titles I would recommend are:

Problems of Design by George Nelson
(Whitney Library of Design, 1979)

Domus 1928–1999, Vol. 1–12 by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, editors
(Taschen, 2007)

Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design by Paula Antonelli
(MOMA, 2006)

Tapio Wirkkala 1915-1985: Eye, Hand and Thought by Marianne Aav, editor
(Helsinki, 1999)

As you can see, Sam is quite knowledgeable about modern design. I look forward to (hopefully) meeting him this fall at Dwell on Design in San Fransisco.

Sustainable Construction Services Inc

What do you think about this kitchen? Your typical, modern kitchen, with plenty of stainless steel and dark wood accents? You wouldn't be wrong if that was your guess, except for the typical part.

This kitchen was refurbished by Sustainable Construction Services Inc, a Boston-based "green" contractor. SCSI "performs high quality construction with a goal to maximize a home's efficiency and effective use and minimize its polluting and toxic effect (i.e. mold, fiberglass dust, led, toxic gases, energy loss, greenhouse gas emotions)."

I met with a couple SCSI reps at Residential Design & Construction last wee, and spoke to Daniel Glickman, the Founder and General Manager or SCSI, yesterday; he is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the green industry. The best thing is, a green design/build company (that does incredible work) is right here in the city.

"Green" design has been a growing trend over the last several years, and it is something that I don't see going away, but rather becoming a more standardized practice. Companies, like SCSI, that have jumped on this early wave of enthusiasm for environmentally conscious design and construction, will be leaders in the new industry.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dolce Vita Kitchen & Bath

Dolce Vita Kitchen & Bath had the most striking kitchen display of the whole show. (Sorry for no photo, I'm working on getting it!) Clean straight lines; modern accents of wood, color, and metal. Absolutely stunning. Of course, it's Italian!

Dolce Vita offers the complete line of various Italian kitchen and bath cabinet-makers, including Aster Cucine and Bamax. Beyond the kitchen and bath, they offer beautiful closet options. Best of all, Dolce Vita is located right in the Metro-West suburbs.

When you go, ask for Serge Graff, who was exceptionally helpful to me.

Dolce Vita Kitchen & Bath
323 Speen St.
Natick, MA 01760


As everyone but a few politicians seem to be aware of, our use of fossil fuels is the single biggest factor in global warming. I met with a few reps from one company that's working on changing that: groSolar.

In only six years, groSolar has gone from a husband-and-wife team, to a company with offices throughout the Northeast, Colorado, and eastern and western Canada. As it says on their website, "We are dedicated to the triple bottom line: profit for the company, social justice for our employees and customers and environmental protection. Solar energy allows us to create communities of people, employees, customers, suppliers and others to come together for positive change."

Their website offers a ton of information on going solar, as well as a page of faqs.

I was also told about an all-solar condo development coming up in Brockton. I'm waiting for some photos; once I get them, I'll put them up for you to see.

East Teak Fine Hardwoods, Inc.

I'm a bit behind in my reports back from Residential Design & Construction. After looking over all that I collected while I was there, I decided to highlight a few of the companies that really stood out to me. Of course I was looking for great design ideas, but also environmentally conscious companies as well.

The first company that I met with was East Teak Fine Hardwoods, Inc. The nation's largest importer of teak and other exotic hardwoods, the company started out supplying boat builders, as teak is outstanding for its water-resistance.

After dominating the boating industry, East Teak ventured into the world of building construction. In it's media kits, East Teak says "the company is the leading supplier of First European Quality teak and exotic hardwoods for construction and renovation of:

  • residences, both interiors and exteriors
  • commercial buildings, including boardrooms, courthouses and concert halls
  • hotels, from lobbies to restaurants
  • boats, both decking and interiors
Obviously, teak is the main wood that they supply. But they also offer a wide range of "exotic" (South American, African, and Asian) hardwoods, including Ipé, Cumaru, Afrormosia, Merbau, and Sapele.

The aspect of their business that I am most impressed by is their line of FSC-certified 100% recycled & reclaimed teak and rosewood. Teak that was cut when the trees were 200+ years old, then used for 100+ years, are coming back to be reused in new applications. The coloring of it is a beautiful grayish brown. The moment I saw it, I could only think of how much fun the Danes would have making furniture with it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Question: Ideas for wedding location?

This question just came in, and it's such a great question that just couldn't post it right away:

Hi there,

I have a bit of an odd question for you. I came across your blog and noticed your affinity for modern architecture and design (me too!). I'm looking for a contemporary or industrial space in the greater Boston area to host a wedding. I wondered if you might know of any interesting spaces? Any insights or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

For a contemporary space, I would guess the new ICA, or the Intercontinental Hotel, could be worth looking into. For industrial space, I'm not sure.

Does anyone else have ideas for Kate?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Residential Design and Construction 2007

For the next two days, I will be at the Residential Design and Construction expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. I'll have a camera handy to take a ton of photos, and I have plans on meeting several new people, including Sam Grawe, Editor in Chief of Dwell.

Keep an eye here over the next several days for updates on all that I see and love!

Angela Adams Handbags and Totes Collection

I've loved Angela Adams' rugs since the first time I saw them. She has an amazing sense of color and style. That style is a bit more, well, portable now, with the Angela Adams Handbags and Totes Collection, now available from Design Public.

As Angela herself states on her website, "Our new handbags are made with rich, lush leather and cozy woven fabrics. I wanted them to feel like rusted fallen leaves and the snowy landscape of a Maine winter." With as much functionality as good looks, the bags would look great on all you ladies walking around the city all day.

Painter Girl

The ranks keep growing. Meet Carol, aka Painter Girl. Carol is a professional, em, painter girl, and her new blog highlights her work with various techniques on client projects. Very cool stuff.

We're now up to six Boston area bloggers. Welcome to the blogosphere, Carol!

$20,000 living room makeover from domino magazine

What changes could you make to to your living room with a $20,000 budget? Well, start thinking about it, because domino magazine is giving one lucky person that chance. How do you enter? Simply go to this page, give a gift subscription of domino to a friend, enter in your information, and you're entered (you can also enter without giving a subscription, just read the page).

Good luck, and send me before & after photos!