Wine Friday: HELLBENT

Such a cool label! Almost blank label with simple black and red lettering upside down at the bottom - HELLBENT. After a bit of a long week, the name was enough to entice me into purchasing this wine, even though it surpassed the designed budget. But to hell with it, I was hellbent on having a nice friday night! 

Unfortunately for me, nice was out of the question. 

The wine, "sniff, sniff", was, "snuffle, cough", OFF...
Crap. Really? Maybe not, lets try again... Oh yea, that's off... Crap.

Well I gave it a solid try, almost convinced myself that the wine was just really terrible, but couldn't make a go of it, it was most definitely off.  Perhaps the review will happen another night, the label is strong enough, it will probably entice me again...

Well, at least the bottle looks great! Particularly with that really sexy light behind it. More on that this weekend...

Designer: Christian Haas

Christian Haas is a German designer who currently works out of his own studio in Paris. He is a diverse designer, working on projects that include lighting, glass, porcelain, furniture, interior design, and graphics. Somewhat hard to distinguish between art and design, his work is quite spectacular. He has real talent with glass and porcelain, but he first caught my attention with the Ropes Light series that he developed in 2011. It is quite a light-hearted warm lamp that I would love to have hanging in a few spaces at home, especially our rumpus room. It just begs the question of what would happen when, not if, my boys try climbing them, I guarantee they would give it a shot.

Ropes - Lamps, 2011


Artist: Oleg Dou

Oleg Dou is a Moscow based photographer who mixes photography with design. Born in 1983, he has been surrounded by art and design his whole life as his mother was a painter and his father a dress designer. He was recently ranked in the top 3 photographers in the world under 30, and is touted as one of the most promising artists of his generation. Not bad!

His work is both beautiful and shocking, some pieces bordering grotesque, while others are adorable. A surrealist style that makes an emotional impact.

From the artist:
“I like having a tradition and seeing how it can work with modern material, how it can translate into new ideas.”
“I want to concoct a situation that happens, for example, in European films: there doesn’t seem to be a specific message, but the situation plays with our head and makes us ask ourselves questions like ‘what is this’ and ‘what is this for?”
“I find it extremely important to do what I do ‘beautifully’; not for beauty itself, per se, but more so as a tool that makes my ideas both interesting and workable.”
“I am looking for something bordering between the beautiful and the repulsive, living and dead. I want to attain the feeling of presence one can get when walking by a plastic manikin…”

It was hard to pick, but my favorites are White, Red, and Cheburashka, and Cheburashka 2...

Cheburashka 2. 2011 - Help Japan © Oleg Dou

Architect: Andersson-Wise

One word: Craftsmanship.
Founded just over a decade ago by Arthur Anderson and Christian Wise, the work by this Texas-based firm is, for the most part, stunning.  As is often the case, their best work is done in their houses. Some of their larger institution work is interesting, and in a few instances poetic, but as a whole it's just not of the same standard as their houses.

The designs use primarily local materials and incredible craftsmanship. Beautiful, tight steel work, carpentry, and concrete combine with delicate detailing and unique forms to create inspiring, calm homes. I would happily inhabit any one of these spaces.

Stone Creek Camp
Bigfork, MT


Product: "ish" Watch

Now here is a watch for anyone with kids, Prasanna Sankhe has designed the "ish" watch. Designed for people in India where "'fashionably late' is safely replaced with 'predictably late'. Cow blockades, politician escorts, cratered roads, compound the problem and offer a valid excuse." - From Hyphen Brands.  I, as a father, believe very strongly that no cow blockade has anything on two little tyrants refusing to put on their socks before heading off to Nana's house, or anywhere else for that matter, and as such, I believe this watch is not only for life in India, but for anyone who is a parent, or is a friend with said parent, or friends with the Misura twins, they are running on India time, no offense intended guys you are running at the right time if you ask me...

Wine Friday: Longue-Dog

Longue-Dog, 2010 French blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Pays D'Oc. 

I will say right off, this is one I will get again. Firstly, awesome, simple label. Super cute prancing wiener dog stretched across the front and back label with a bright red collar as the only touch of colour. It grabbed my attention, and I'm glad it did. At $14.65 in the liquor venders, meaning it is probably more like $13.50 at a BCLS (I think), I think it was a really tasty good value for the buck.

Side Note: BRNO HDR video...

How about a side of video with your friday... 

Here's a video by Samadhi Production out of the Czech Republic Titled BRNO. It's shot in HDR (something I didn't know was capable in video = cool). It's typically done in photography by taking multiple, rapid pictures of the same subject, each shot set at a different exposure setting, then merging the images. The end result being highly saturated and very 'crisp', the image captures a greater dynamic range between the lighter and darker areas in an image, thus the name, High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDR). Enjoy!

Designer: Maarten Baas

Maarten Baas is a Dutch designer who works out of a barn turned workshop, on a farm near 's-Hertogenbosh, south Holland, with fellow designer Bas den Herder. For the most part their work is playful and whimsical, but in general I find it somewhat lacking in elegance and quite simply not my style. HOWEVER, they have one series of work called SMOKE, that is truly stunning. The chair grabs hold of my imagination, looks plush, refined, and incredibly sexy. Yes I called the chair sexy, and I want one.

Consisting of burnt wood, finished with epoxy resin, and fire retardant foam leather upholstery (the baroque pieces, my favorite, are produced by Moooi, the rest come from the duo's farm studio). The pieces are literally burned, then preserved in a clear epoxy coating to make sure your Versace suits don't get smudged. 

Side Note: The Mountain (Time Lapse Video)

I came across this gorgeous video capturing El Teide and the Milky Way by Terje SΓΈrgjerd of TSO Photography this morning and had to share. El Teide, Spains' highest mountain, is also considered one of the best star gazing areas on earth. Beautiful cinematography accompanied by elegant music, a nice way to start the morning, enjoy. More info here.

Artist: Banksy

I'm sure many of you have heard of Banksy, even if you haven't you have very likely seen some of his work. Banksy is perhaps the most well known street artist there is. He does not limit his work to the street, but that is where he got his start and where he continues to do the majority of his work. His art is often thought provoking, political, tongue in cheek, it frequently challenges society and norms, but on occasion it's simply goofy and fun. Some pieces are remarkably complex, while others are almost childlike in their simplicity. Most frequently, his pieces carry an anti-war, anti-capitalism, or anti-establishment message. It is his ability to abstract the ideas behind his work that truly makes his art stand out, that combined with a remarkable talent with stencils.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces…

Architect: Arkitektstudio Widjedal Racki Bergerhoff

Now say that 3 times fast...

Arkitektstudio Widjedal Racki Bergerhoff (WRB) is a small design firm based in Stockholm, Sweden. They have a wicked talent for seemingly simple designs (often the most difficult kind), that harness the power of materiality and site. One of the aspects of their designs that I enjoy the most is that each one seems so livable, and 'of' the site. They seem to link a person to place, and provide for them the ability to fully inhabit the space. Something many firms could benefit from, and perhaps should strive for. Their formal gestures backed up with beautiful details run parallel to my own design ideals.  

Soon after writing the post, I found out that WRB has recently moved on/split up, a practice that is not typical, but not all that uncommon in architecture. They have now formed two separate practices; ARKITEKTSTUDIO WIDJEDAL RACKI and BYGGFENOMEN

Product: Motorbike x 3...

It is with great pleasure that I bring you a post on motorbikes. A motorbike to me symbolizes speed, power, and ultimately, Freedom. Unfortunately for me, it is something I will never possess. Loreen has assured me of this. The motor bike is almost a taboo subject in our house. Being a nurse, Loreen has just seen too many brain and body injuries to permit it. And if ever she suddenly changes her mind, I'll really have to question her motives…

Not the end of the world for me, as I realize I would never be able to rationalize affording the ones that I lust over anyway. Although, I will always have a sense of longing complete with heart pangs when I see one of these beautiful machines rip past me while I'm strapped into my safe and sturdy car fully pimped out with air bags and welded steel cage.

Regardless, these machines are incredible combinations of beautiful design and mechanical efficiency. There are so many stunning examples it gets difficult to pick out the best. However, I do have my own particular design style/taste, and I've picked out the ones that seem to stand above the crowd. 

Shaw Speed & Custom - Nascafe Racer  

(From the bones of a Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Nightrain)
A custom motorbike shop that uses Harley Davidson bikes as their base. They custom modify everything based on the individual customers desires. The bike also features a custom Bell & Ross time piece set into the gas tank. I believe this may be my all time favorite bike. For now.


Wine Friday: Barbera Da VINE

The wine for today is Barbera De VINE, an Italian Piedmont, 2007. Set me back $14.99, so it squeezes in (the supposed) $15 the budget, if just. 

Here's what caught my eye: cute simplicity. The cute 1950's style pin-up girl sitting on the barrel while holding a bunch of grapes, looking slightly innocent, yet showing a little burlesque attitude.

Designer: Omer Arbel

Omer Arble is a Canadian designer working in Vancouver, BC. He started up Omer Arble Office (OAO)in 2005, and has been generating beautiful designs ever since. His list of awards is telling. For me his true strength is in lighting, he has several gorgeous pieces that are covered in pretty well all of the prominent design magazines, and you can often see them lighting up the houses and buildings covered in Dwell, Azure, or MARK.

© Michael Boland

My favorite two pieces are the 14 and 28. 

The 14 is a simple solid cast glass sphere, with a small void in the centre for the light placement. What really makes the 14 work is the tiny bubbles and imperfections that naturally occur in the cast glass that the light reflects off of making an incredible sparkle and glow. Each piece is hand made, and thus unique. They look great as singular pendants, but even better in clusters.

Artist: Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren is one of my favorite artists currently working. I guess his work would fall under American conceptual lowbrow style, but I'm not really a big one for following these classifications, probably because there are so many genres, and it just gets to tricky. After falling in love with Yoshitomo Nara's work when I was in Japan, I started exploring some of the other great artists working in these newer forms, and found Sorren. And fell in love with his work. Beyond the breathtaking paintings and sculptures, Sorren is somehow able to capture the essence of the emotional response I get from his work with the most evocative and poetic titles. 

Bump - © Joe Sorren
Two things I really like about him (aside from the amazing art):
1. He was born in a suitcase factory in Chicago in 1970 (yes, you read that correctly)
2. He has two children, so I like him even more.

While the Trucks on the Highway All Howl - © Joe Sorren

Architect: Olson Kundig Architects

I've been eagerly anticipating this weeks Architect post, as I get to show off one of my all time favorites; Olson Kundig Architects, (previously Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen), and for me, most notably, Tom Kundig, who was the design principal on each of the projects listed below. As far as I am concerned, they are masters of material and form. One of the elements of their architecture that attracts me the most is their ability to enable a remarkable haptic experience. Many of their projects incorporate levers and pulley systems that operate windows, walls, skylights, all of which can be done by hand and effectively showcase beautiful networks of steel gears and components.

© Benjamin Benschneider for Olson Kundig Architects

The project that has always stood out in my mind as being their most significant is the Chicken Point Cabin, located in Northern Idaho. The project is simply gorgeous. The use of steel, concrete block, ply wood and glass are composed in a poetic harmony rarely found. The materials not only look stunning from the first, but they will only get better with time as they naturally patina. The layout is simple and effective. Everything a cabin should be, and even though it's a large size for a typical cabin, it has a very intimate and private presence. 

© Benjamin Benschneider for Olson Kundig Architects

Side Note: Ecotricity Video

Came across this video promoting ecotricity earlier today. Thought it was pretty great.

Product: BioLite CampStove

Well, seeing as I'm still coming down off the high of our weekend camping trip, I thought I'd share with you a really cool camping related product today. It's called the CampStove, by Biolite.

BioLite CampStove

Side Note: March Camping Trip

What a weekend! While there was no work happening on any of my designs, which is usually a source of chest clenching sadness, this was definitely not the case this weekend! I was just way too busy on our family camping trip! 

"Say what!?  It's March out there! Brrrrr...."

Our thoughts exactly... And so, seeing as we do not have a luxury camper, we decided that instead of traveling miles to a campground of frozen tundra too hard to get tent pegs in, we opted to travel only a short few feet... to our living room. This turned out to be a huge success. We had all the benefits and luxuries of being in the home (even movies viewable from the tent!), but also the fun of camping out.
Watching Movies

Wine Friday: "glimmer of hope"

It is my experience that in many architectural offices there is a common tradition that I rather enjoy: Wine Friday. This happy event occurs at the end of each workweek, whereby staff finish up whatever piece of the current puzzle they are working out, and get together to open a bottle or two of wine. The staff then mixes about to discuss projects, current events, and more or less simply relax and socialize. Some offices have a more formal affair that includes office presentations, while others more social events to laugh and relax at the end of another week. Regardless of office specifics, the tradition is an important part of Architecture office culture, of which I am both an advocate and active participant. As such, I've decided to dedicate my Friday evening post to all those who enjoy relaxing after a hard week with a bottle of wine...

Lady and the Wine (she's a Pediatric Nurse if you're wondering...)

Side Note: Tilt Shift Video of Carnival 2012

Yes, another tilt-shift video, but I have to share this one it's fantastic... 
Creators Jarbas Agnelli and Keith Loutit did a remarkable job of capturing a different perspective of Carnival in Rio. The video is actually made up of 169,000 individual photographs, from 416 different time-lapse sequences. The specific timing between shots, specifically of the floats and people, makes me think of old Claymation videos, while the nature shots seem to be flybys of urban design models, powerful illusion. Enjoy...

The City of Samba from Jarbas Agnelli and Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Sorry for the previous lack explanation regarding tilt-shift. So, lets think back to my Photography classes a few years ago... Right, here it is - first off, it's actually a bit of a misnomer as this type of photography rarely uses the shift, mostly just tilt. The 'miniature faking' result is a form of photography, sometimes called Smallgantics, the development of which is commonly attributed to Olivo Barbieri who came out with a line of still photos in the 1990's done in this style. It is done by tilting the lens to the back plane of the camera, creating the a small range of focus occurring in a small part of the overall image with blurred edges all around. The resulting photographs have the same look as a macro photograph where there is a shallow depth of field. 

Note you don't necessarily require a crazy expensive camera either, the effect can be recreated using a regular photograph with a bit of effort and a careful eye using Adobe Photoshop or other photo editors with blurring mechanisms.

Designer: Uhuru

I came across the company about a year ago when I was doing a little research for a wood coffee table. My design was incredibly simple; essentially made of two massive 12" x 12" x 3' pieces of wood with several wooden splines to join them, and horizontal legs running under. As with many things I 'invent' these days, it had already been done, and boy was it done right. At this point, the project was put on hold and is currently sitting in my huge list of unrealized hopefuls, with perhaps some design changes to make it more 'mine', but mostly just awaiting my boys to grow up a little as I can imagine I might be a little upset with a gorgeous piece of 12" x 12" heart pine being covered with crayon sketches and sticky jam tarts.

BEAM Coffee Table - Copyright © 2010 Uhuru Design

Artist: Yoshitomo Nara

A few years ago I had the privilege to travel with Loreen and Keiran to Japan. I had been awarded a travel scholarship through my Masters of Architecture program at Dalhousie for a proposal I wrote to study Pet Architecture, a phenomenon that has been popping up all over Tokyo. Very cool stuff, perhaps I'll talk more on that another time. While there, we had an amazing time, and made promises to return again one day. The trip was awesome, as I was not only able to get lots of studying done on my subject matter, but we were able to do a fair bit of touring around. We hit up Tokyo, Atami, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miajima, Nara, Kyoto, and then back to Tokyo. Perhaps a bit of a whirlwind, but utterly amazing...

Over the course of our adventures, I found a little book, and fell in love... It introduced me to Yoshitomo Nara's work and style, and I've been a big fan ever since.

Architect: Dean/Wolf Architects

Dean/Wolf architects. Awesome. This partnership is serious about material, craftsmanship, detail, detail, detail, and a generous dose of light and transparency.

They first grabbed my interest with their Inverted Townhouse, where they really showed some amazing use of sensual materials, and a wicked way of arranging these sort of hanging double height spaces.

Inverted Townhouse - Dean/Wolf architects

Side Note: TO-DO...

I have a plan.


I am an exceptionally talented writer of to-do lists.
My iPhone has close to 50 lists on it, each with an approximate 20 items to do, 98.5% of them falling under design to-make items. I do eventually tend to cross off (most of) the items, even #346! but as Loreen would LOVE to point out, it sometimes takes me a while to get there…

Regardless, I have a PLAN! And it involves a list!

As a current resident of chaos, I will be attempting to make this blog relatively organized.
Quite the opposite of the current state of my home 'studio', which is perhaps more aptly called "The Man Cave"… Sorry, but Loreen will not allow me to post an image of it until I've cleaned it up at least a bit. Consider it a forthcoming #345.

Here is the PLAN:
It is with great hopes that I will be organizing the subject matter of the blog based on the day of the week.

Product of interest.

Architect (or building) of interest. 
Side note:     I'm not doing this on Monday as it's one of my favourite topics, being an Intern Architect myself, and I dislike Mondays as a matter of principle (ration and logic can stay out of that one).

Art(ist) of Interest.

Design(er) of interest.

This is a surprise. You can find out Friday.
Hint: My pallet is very excited about the research involved with this…


Status updates of my own projects and other miscellaneous items of interest.

Now, please note, this is a proposed list of weekly to-do's and I may veer off path from time to time, but it excites me that I am making an honest attempt at organization. I may intersperse the posts with other tid-bits (such as a song I'm really digging at the moment), but as a general goal, this is it.

How about it then!? Have you any thoughts or suggestions for things you would like to see here?

Product: Edible Spray Paint!?

I'm usually a purveyor of food that are as natural as possible for my family, I'm not always pushing organic, but we do make an honest effort at healthy choices. I typically avoid as much pre-package foods, mixes and toppings as possible (I won't lie, they do come in handy at times...). However, as a father of two wee imps, who on occasion refuse to eat in accordance with any sort of edicate whatsoever (there are still stains on the upper reaches of the dining room walls from last weeks tomato based pasta sauce), I think this new line of 'food finish' to be hilariously ingenious! What a fun way to make a meal a little more attractive! Now this can give a whole new meaning to the 24 Karot carrot cake! Just imagine eating baby blue brussel sprouts, or brilliant red broccolli? Even if it doesn't win big with the boys, I know it's at least peaked MY interest! Though, the gold coated Chicken may be taking it a bit too far for my liking...

For some added food fun, take a look at the new line of edible spray paints from The Deli Garage Food Cooperative in Germany. Very cool concept, and the company's product branding is pretty awesome too. Check out more of their awesome products here.

The Deli Garage

The Deli Garage

The Deli Garage

The Deli Garage

My Design: Living Room Lights... Part 1

So, it's settled. I'm working on a new light for the living room. We really only have one light over the dining area and even with the western facing picture window (seriously 10' x4' and single pane - very scary with two little boys that like to press their little hands on it!) it's just too dark these days.

Now, the question is, can I make something that gains a  positive from the household critics!? We'll see...

So, with this in mind I did a little design research, then discussed it with my oldest boy Keiran (4 years old). We decided it should be something out of wood for the warmth. Something very simple so that even I can do it, quick, and easily transportable. With this in mind, I drafted up a quick design, and off we went out in pursuit of some materials from the local hardware, lumber, and steel shops around town.

Now, from the pictures, you may see we are picking up a few things that are not necessary for this "oh so simple light." This is because we also had it in mind a few designs for coat hooks that we've been planning...

Helper Keiran
Lunch Break!
Hard at work

Design sketches, as scratchy and simple as they are, will follow...