Wednesday, March 5, 2008

‘Ornament & Crime’

The essay by the Austrian architect Adolf Loos ‘Ornament & Crime’ written in 1908, argues that all ornament is criminal in nature. Loos, “holds the Papuan up as an example of man who has not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, and who will therefore kill and consume his enemies without committing a crime. Had a modern — meaning a Western man — done the same thing, he would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate. By the same token, the Papuan may tattoo his skin, his boat, his oar or anything he may lay his hands on ... He is no criminal. But a modern man who tattos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. Tattooed men who are not imprisoned are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If a tattooed man dies free, this is because he has died prematurely, before committing his murder.”( ‘Adolf Loos: The New Vision’: Joseph Rykwert) Ornamentation, he contends in modern society is without merit. It forces the laborer to perform work that performs no function, other than signatory (say, a crown moulding signifying the top of a wall). Loos professes that it’s a waste of material, effort and a needless expense. Ornament freezes a building in time, Art Nouveau, in Loos’ time…perhaps pluralism or minimalism in our time.

No trim, no ornament, no crime.

Stonco 150L, with 4A backplate

Does our house look dated already by virtue of the lack of ornamentation? There’s validity in the argument that economy has driven many of our decisions, including those to eliminate ornament…but I wouldn’t have chose ogee moulding even if I had an extra five grand sitting in my pocket. I question some of Loos’ arguments and the social conditions he supports them with, but at heart I have to say I agree with his thesis. Loos worked hard to allow each material to be expressive of its inherent qualities, the only object on my walls (until I can afford artwork…is that ornamentation?) are my $11 Stonco exterior grade lampholders…a modern torch of sorts. Oh yeah…there’s the Enje roller blinds (IKEA, 39”x98”, $29.99)…which I considered stitching colored thread horizontally to add some color to the room…ornament, tsk tsk.

It’s no wonder my kids are pining for the outdoors, their required reading lists now require German translation.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Influenza A/Brisbane H3N2...

has disrupted my life for a good 2 1/2 weeks....but I see traffic has really picked up around here, thank you for the nods on the design blogs mocoloco, materialicious, and others thank you-thank you!

We've been settling in to our new home for close to four months now and of course the punchlist is longer than it was on move-in day last November. I've been busy checking off things inside as the snow outside continues to pile up. One of those tasks was a radon test. I figured we would be borderline given that we've built on solid granite ledge, but the tests in the bedrooms came back at 10pci, the EPA threshold for action is 'act' we must. The basic idea is to drill a hole (or two if you own an eighty foot long house) insert a pipe and depressurize the slab beneath by installing a small fan in the attic space connected to that pipe exhausting to the atmosphere...where radon (being heavier than air) settles right back down on the ground?! Anyhow, the company we've hired to install the system guesses the current levels in the basement, where the radon seeps into the house, are in the 20s, not an ideal place to send the kids on a winter's afternoon to ride their bikes I suppose.

Thank you to the IRS for funding this project with $1800 of fresh hot rebate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

There's a difference

between drawing, design and the take your pants off kind of living you do day to day. Where do we put our clothing? Where do we put the vacuum? How about books? Where should the bar of soap sleep it off? Why does the beautiful rainshower head function more like a misty morning? I find that designing affords freedom...line on paper lacks realism, it's all about composition, the layering of materials, walls meeting at 90 degrees. Now I'm a victim of my decision to 'cut costs' by not allowing for enough storage...not a single closet. I had an idea of where all of these things might live eventually, now I'm facing the reality of what it means to store things in the basement. Out of arms reach is quite inconvenient for things like your vacuum or...the 'diaper champ'. I'm not sure modernism allows room for things like diaper champs anyhow, but you get the idea. That's making it on the top 10 list of misgivings.
In stereo...with time lapse...

Photos of the antechamber / dressing area that transitions between the main living space and our bedroom, the pocket door to the room keeps us from frightening the children. The wardrobe works well and its size forces regular donations to the Salvation Army. These doors would make great room dividers, translucent tempered glass in aluminum frames (by IKEA).

I was checking out hinoki products after spying a stool I loved on VivaTerra and in lieu of spending a small fortune on bath mats, I spent $17 on an 8' piece of clear vertical grain western red cedar, ripped it into bite sized pieces and created a small shower rest for keeping soap, shampoo, etc. Punctuates the need for wood and other warm tones in the bathroom.

Soap tray for our shower...d-line, $197.10.....right.....keep looking

Monday, January 7, 2008

Interior skins...

January 7, 2008
Still there?
We'll have more photos this week of progress inside. The holidays have kept us from posting as visitors and celebrations took priority. The top 10 lists are on the way...we've been busy skinning the interiors, the wardrobe is complete, the desk area is taking shape, the chalkboard at the kitchen island (dining side) is complete, shelving is in place. The main bathroom needs more wood...far too gray. I have some ideas about canvas panels with turnbuttons... last...notice the blackboard backdrop

Living looking southwest

Lack wall shelving by IKEA, $14.99

Turnbuttons for canvas paneling