The Built Environment

Alys Beach

Those unmistakable Bermuda butteries form the entrance gates and visual markers to Alys Beach. Rooted in architecture from Bermuda, Antigua, and Central America, Alys Beach adheres to strict design guidelines and construction principles, which gives it a cohesive, distinctive look and design vocabulary throughout.

Originally, butteries in Bermuda were constructed to store perishable food like butter and milk. Made completely of stone, with a wooden door, these structures were detached from the main house, just a few stone steps away. The stepped minaret roof shape was made of limestone and many have found new use on the island as studios, tool sheds, etc. Since Bermuda has no fresh water source, the stepped roof had other functional reasons, too, like collecting rain water. Below is a picture of one from Bermuda and the ones at Alys Beach.

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Key West

Island Heart

Vernacular architecture, charming colorful cottages, narrow streets, warm weather, tropical flora and fauna and tough people who deal with mother nature’s constant threat by land or sea, my favorite places are islands.

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Key West, there is just so much to love on this tiny island.

And so many historic homes desperately needing to be restored. I need one of these to restore and preserve, either as a personal home or as a design project. The ceramic star on the outside of homes and businesses in Key West is given to properties that have displayed excellence in restoration and preservation. The designer, architect, contractors and craftsman who’ve worked on the project are given a certificate showing their involvement in the success of the project. Hoping one day to have a star myself.

 

You have to wander in Key West. The best finds are in the neighborhoods, tucked away from the crowds. The gingerbread in Key West is some of the most personal. Three of my favorite finds this trip are these below. I love it when I know a little something about the homeowner before I even meet them.

Southernmost House Hotel

Although this place is no secret, and in fact is one of the most well-known structures in Key West, the Southernmost House Hotel has the best beach view and cocktails by the pool. It’s the only beachfront, adult only property in Key West. The bar is open to the public, and it provides a quiet spot on the opposite end of noisy Duval St for a drink. This was the first home in Key West to have electricity, and Thomas Edison oversaw the electrical design and installation of the house himself. Built as a private home, during the prohibition, the mansion was used as a speakeasy with a restaurant and casino. Several gangsters on their way to Cuba and celebrities like Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Louis Armstrong and Tennessee Williams could be found here in the 1940s when it was a nightclub called Cafe Cayo Hueso. This tiny cottage on property sits right next to the old house, and I’m requesting this one next time we visit. The house is painted in aqua and a coral peach color with beautiful iron gates and tiny little decorative tiles set in the stone. Seems fitting that a colorful castle like mansion such as this would have some decorative castle tiles as an accent.

That morning an iguana fell out of a tree and in the pool at our hotel. The staff said they had never seen that happen. Everyone heard a loud smack, looked over and he was in the pool. Startled momentarily, he didn’t move immediately, then swam over to the stairs, got out and climbed right back up in the tree. In all my visits I have never seen such large iguanas in Key West- the Caribbean islands yes. I had my eyes in the trees for falling iguanas since that morning (remember that weird movie with Tom Cruise and the falling frogs- that’s what I thought of) and saw this guy. Look at how big he is. And, since we were there at Christmas, I had to snap a pic of their island Christmas tree with pink flamingos.

The Saint

Currently, my favorite place to stay in Key West is The Saint. Cool and contemporary, this hotel occupies the old Key West Hospital. Newly renovated, with dark woods walls and floors, contrasted by this large blue velvet tufted banquette in the lobby, The Saint feels dark, cozy and enveloping with all the wood, reminiscent of the inside of a Cuban cigar box you’d see on Duval, sheltering you from the island heat, with a signature smell that grabs your attention when you walk in. It was so good in fact, I had to order it from the company who makes it when I got home. The hotel has a bar and restaurant onsite, and even if you’re not staying there, you need to go have a drink or grab a bite to eat. In addition to that signature scent, the hotel’s signature color is obviously blue, as it is present throughout the entire property. Even that signature scent is called Blue, a beautiful blend of amber, sandalwood, mandarin, lemon and bergamot. Located on Eaton St, with a sister property in New Orleans, you have to check it out.

Grace on Frances

I have also written about Grace on Frances before. It’s my personal favorite in Key West, and I can’t rave about it enough. As I mentioned in a previous post, this secret little gem is part gallery, part shop, has rotating art of all types, and has mastered the art of display. This time I purchased this ceramic french press. I have a single cup press, but this one makes about three cups of tea, has that toothy, un-glazed pottery feel, copper top, clean simple shape, and if you take out the strainer, it can double as a carafe.

The Green Pineapple

This combo yoga studio, cafe, and shop is lovely. Offering an assortment of gluten free, healthy options, this shop/studio is on Duval closer to the beach end, away from the craziness.  Bohemian style fashion, jewelry and a quick grab and go snack, if you don’t have time for a class, are perfect in the morning before exploring.

Vignette

Easy, breezy style in a darling little cottage on Southard St. One of my new favorites for fashion, jewelry and a few small gift items.

The saddest part is most people never get off Duval St when they visit, and with the exception of a few places, most places are cheap souvenir stores. Do you have a favorite in Key West or have you stayed at a great place I need to know about? Let me know. I’d love to add it my list next time.

Thanks for reading!

Xo,

Cass

 

John Hardy ~ Bali

Luxury and Sustainability

Usually these two words aren’t used in the same sentence, especially when describing high-end goods. So often, it seems things are either sustainable and lack the quality, beauty and durability we expect, or they are luxurious and seem wasteful, expensive and extravagant.  I was blown away by the mindful presence of both at John Hardy’s workshop in Bali. Follow me down the bamboo lined path to the creative world of John Hardy.

Like Jim Thompson in Thailand, John Hardy has made a profound, legendary impact in Bali, while creating a luxury brand known worldwide. Canadian born John Hardy established his workshop in Bali in 1975 after visiting the island and being inspired by the Balinese culture and tradition of jewelry-making. He spent time learning the methods and techniques and applied a new approach to those age-old traditions.

The John Hardy complex, including the workshop, showroom and outdoor dining room, was built in 1996 and is a beautiful testament to his mission and philosophy and stands as a model for conscious living and working. If the company were to ever fold, the buildings could easily be removed, recycled and consciously disposed of, and the land could continue to provide food for the people without damage to the environment. Set amidst farms and rice paddies, thought has gone into everything from the jewelry, to the buildings, to the environment, to the people. It is hard to wrap your head around how much intention and inspiration has gone into creating this superior brand, building this low-impact business, caring about the people who create and buy the jewelry and conserving the land. I have never seen a more earth conscious, quality conscious, people conscious brand.

Everything is made by hand from design through final production. The eight-step process begins in the design studio where artists and designers create design sketches for new pieces. Not a single computer is used. The final designs are even painted by hand with gouache or watercolor.  Wax molds are made and then carved by hand, absolutely no machinery is involved at John Hardy. It’s an example and display of the cultivation, protection and beauty of pure human talent and skill at work, and it’s surprising they have held to this model with the amount of volume that comes from the workshop. And yes, it is so hard to believe, every single piece comes from this humble looking workshop in the rice paddies. In fact, when we pulled up, aside from the security guards protecting the property, I thought, is this it? They haven’t compromised or cut corners to shave time off the process to speed up production, and it was refreshing to see humans creating with their hands, instead of computers or machines. For this reason, each piece is essentially a one of a kind, with tiny differences created by the human hands that have made them, while maintaining the brand consistency.

There are no goals for the artisans to meet at John Hardy, except pure quality, and there aren’t a set number of pieces they must turn out each month, no deadlines, etc. John Hardy doesn’t want the process rushed. Each piece takes however long it takes for the artisans to make, to insure the quality isn’t rushed. Each piece is painstakingly critiqued by individuals in quality control who look for imperfections before the piece is ready to be sold. The entire workshop is a testament to John Hardy’s belief in the quality and craftsmanship of each piece by the artisans. The company believes in the transfer of creative energy from the artisans during design and creation passed down to the wearer. All the silver used is reclaimed and comes mostly from the inside of discarded electronics. All the gemstones are ethically sourced and are set by expert gemologists in Thailand. The creative process and production are simply mesmerizing. Photo credit: John Hardy

 

Steeped in history and ancient cultural beliefs, each piece reflects life in Bali from the spiritual to the everyday. The classic chain, which you have most likely seen, is 100% woven, recycled metal, inspired by the art of weaving seen all over Bali as decoration for celebrations, baskets, etc. It takes one hour to make one inch of chain by hand. You can see below, the bamboo column is decorated with woven strips of leaves like the bracelets they make, spiraling up like a serpent (there is also a serpent collection at John Hardy). One of the artists wove the palm leaf greenery around that column pictured with our host we spent the morning touring the property with. The Balinese dress is so beautiful. Below is one the design sketches of the classic chain weave.

 

The Legends of the Naga collection is inspired by the Naga, the mythical water dragon, that lives in the mountains of Bali and descends the mountain to find his love the pearl. The Naga represents love, protection and prosperity in Bali. Watch this video with adorable illustrations depicting the story of the Naga. If you’ve been anywhere in Asia, you know the Naga, or some story of the dragon, is a positive, powerful creature in many Asian cultures. Below is a design sketch for a Naga piece with sapphire eyes and a special bracelet with a golden pearl from Lombok, an island off Bali. A love story expressed in jewelry, the Naga pieces that include pearls are very special, as this completes the entire story of the Naga and his love the pearl. It is said if you wear the Naga facing you, it will attract love. If you wear the Naga facing away from you, it serves to protect you. I even love the Naga Dome Ring which looks like the texture of the scales of the dragon’s skin. The black piece below is highly-prized, black mother of pearl.

One of my other favorite collections is the bamboo collection. Not only is it the main building material used around the property, for each piece sold, the company plants a certain number of bamboo seedlings. If you look very closely inside each bamboo piece, the company has etched how many seedlings were planted from the purchase of that piece. You can clearly see the bamboo seedling stamp inside the silver piece. I almost bought the yellow gold bangle below but decided on the classic chain in the picture above in a silver and yellow gold combination. Because I love the design sketches so much, I’ve included a couple from the bamboo collection.

One of the other details that makes a John Hardy piece so special is the Ukian etching or carving on the inside of many of his pieces. These depict secret mythical stories that only the wearer sees and knows. Ukian is a traditional carving method in Bali, and you can see a similar method was used on the wall in the entrance hall picture below.

Upon arriving at John Hardy, one is greeted by the beautiful Balinese people and a refreshing lemongrass cooler in a bamboo cup with a lemongrass straw. Whenever possible, everything is natural at John Hardy.

Design Studio

This building was also reclaimed and brought to the property. The designers work here in this light-filled space surrounded by rice and lemongrass. Pictures were not allowed inside the design studio to protect the designs they were currently working on. Each designer sits at a communal type work space, drawing and sketching new concepts.

Lunch Pavillion

Each day the company provides lunch for all the employees in this outdoor bamboo dining room and has a kitchen onsite where they prepare rice and food from the land surrounding the workshop. They eat in two shifts, and guests are invited to dine on traditional Balinese fare with the designers and artisans.

Workshop

You are not allowed to take pictures in the workshop to protect the production process, but having heard so many horrible stories about the treatment of people in workshops in Southeast Asia, we asked every question regarding their welfare. They work a standard 8-hour day, are paid a fair wage, get an hour for lunch, which the company provides, and so many people enjoy working there. We met two generations, a mother and daughter, currently working there together. Most are skilled in one step of the process and are masters at it, so that’s all they do, all day long. Seemed really tough to me. In the workshop, you have the opportunity to stand by the artisans, looking over their shoulders, while they work. The attention to detail is astonishing really. Later in the trip, we were told this is considered an excellent job for Balinese people, and they are treated very well here. I found this picture on DestinAsian of the inside of the workshop.

Showroom

The showroom, called the Kapal Bambu, is located in the building below. It’s highly sculptural and inspired by bamboo ships. The floor is open on each side and rice grows under the building inside the showroom. You can hear the trickle sound of water softly flowing all around the property, irrigating the rice and other plants.  All the cases are built of bamboo and glass, and the bamboo roof shingles in the shape of a turtle shell were really interesting. With the light pouring in from the glass, the entire building had a spiritual quality to it. Love that bamboo bubble chair. too.

Temple

There is also a Hindu temple on the property for daily prayers and offerings, which is usually done three times a day. Marigolds are one of the most used flowers around Bali. You can see them on the table at lunch and arranged in a cone shape flanking the temple steps.

Because of the philosophy of this brand, the quality and craftsmanship of the product, and the amount of love, detail and beautiful, conscious, human energy that goes into each piece, John Hardy has won me over.

If you’re in Bali, you have to put this on your list. It was on of the best experiences we had.

xo,

Cassandra

The Island of the Gods

Hanging Gardens Bali

The road to our hotel was as black as the night sky. There were no lights, no streets signs, no nothing. Just thick palm leaves, greenery on all sides and a canopy of hanging vines and flowers hitting the windshield from time to time. With just a few feet in front of the car visible by the headlights, and the constant, grinding, engine sound, indicating our bus might not make it up the next hill, this was turning out to be more of an adventure than I had expected or desired after such a long flight.

When our guide said, “They don’t send drivers to your hotel alone at night because of the road,” that made the limited visibility even worse. None of us said anything out loud, but by the look on our faces, it was obvious we all thought the same thing. What? What do you mean? Why not? “It’s too dangerous,” he replied. Instantly my mind flashed to all the stories I’d heard of tourists being carjacked, taken off back roads, robbed, raped and murdered, or their bus falling off a steep cliff on a single lane road, high in the jungle mountains at night. And since I have such a vivid imagination, I took that story a step further by envisioning we would be stuck at the bottom of a ravine in the jungle all night, possibly hurt, no lights, with the sound of jungle animals all around, and either no one would know we were there, or no one could get to us until morning.

I have friends who have visited Bali and raved about it, but that didn’t stop my mind from going to the darkest possible places. Every now and then, the trees broke, and with what little light illuminated the night sky and the thick, lush landscape, you could see the road dropped off on either side of the car. Exactly how far down it dropped off we couldn’t see, but we knew we were going higher and higher up into the jungle with every turn. We nervously laughed and joked to ease the silence. The first time I saw car lights coming at us on the road, I felt relieved we weren’t alone. I thought, “Oh good, there are other people out here.” And then the following conversation ran in my head:

Were they dropping off tourists they had murdered or were going to murder? Surely they were coming from our hotel. It’s fine. You’re being silly. You’ve checked out the hotel, all the reviews, all the pictures, read every blog post written about it. You’re overacting. Maybe so, but do you really know where you’re going?

The answer to that was, no. I had no idea where we were going. So much of travel is trusting reputable companies in foreign countries to help you get around, and that’s what we were doing now.

Then I realized the road at its widest part was at most, only one and a half lane widths wide, and we’d have to make room for the oncoming car. I went into a complete panic. There was no room for them to pass, and the road dropped off on the side we were on. Once I realized they were barely even going to slow down, and instead, planned on passing us at full speed, I ducked my head down in my arms, and almost as if we were in unison, we yelled out some sort of curse word together as they passed. Once again we all nervously (and thankfully) laughed, realizing we were still alive and somehow managed not to get knocked off the road and fall off the cliff, and questioned why the hell they didn’t slow down. It was a long, tense, nerve wracking drive up the mountain in the jungle that night, and each time a car passed there were audible gasps followed by heavy sighs of relief and nervous laughter. I thought we’d never get there.

As we came to a clearing in the trees, we could see lights flickering up and down the mountainside across a deep valley from the mountain we were on. “OMG, what’s that over there?” we said. That’s your hotel, our guide said. Eyes widened, jaws dropped and we knew then, we weren’t going to become dead tourist statistics. Instead, we were headed to the jungle paradise I had seen in the pictures. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the hotel from that vantage point, but there was no way we were stopping on that road. We would find out later, the hotel puts candles around the pool and property every night, and that’s what we saw lit up across the valley.

We saw our first sign for the hotel and turned, drove through a very small, very poor village, and then the lobby appeared. Bathed in a soft glow of light, with no walls, the lobby was visible from all sides and the car drove right under the roof. We all looked around in amazement at the integrated design of the driveway and the lobby. Lightly scented hand towels, refreshing lemongrass drinks, beautiful flowers and candles were everywhere. Bali smells like a combination of sandalwood incense, lemongrass and sweet frangipani flower. If I ever go back, I hope I arrive at night again. It was sensory paradise. The two story, centrally located, nautilus shell chandelier in the restaurant lit up at night was a stunning sight as we descended in the cable car from the lobby.

To get up and down the mountainside, there are a series of cable cars, starting at the top of the mountain where the lobby is, then another one down to the restaurant and bar, followed by a final one to get to the villas.

The main dining room and bar overlook the jungle and pool, and similar to other parts of Asia, flowers are everywhere. These orange ones reminded me of hollowed out pine cones.

The walkways to our villa were lined with moss covered everything: vases, statues, and walls and monkeys roam freely around the property.

Our room was the traditional Balinese style design with wood trim and details, thatch roof, and a private infinity pool overlooking the jungle. I could have stayed in our villa for the duration of our stay, but I knew I’d miss so much if I did that. The air in the jungle was soft, moist and cool. I needed a light scarf or something on my shoulders in the morning at breakfast, but by midday the weather was perfect. August is the best time to visit Bali weather wise, but for that very reason, it is also the busiest. Thankfully, there are sarongs everywhere in Bali, so if you get out and get chilly, there is always a sarong nearby. Each room has it’s own temple outside the front door with a statue of a Hindu god, and the staff make offerings and decorate them with marigolds each day, another flower commonly seen in Bali. Every detail in the architecture and design of the villas and hotel was thoroughly considered.

Treatment rooms, massage rooms and massage tables are all over the property. If you don’t like one room, just keep looking. There are several to choose from. All are open air and many massage tables are situated under open-air pavilions near the river that flows down through the valley. There are small outdoor platforms for yoga, and the entire property is about resting, relaxing and being away from everything. Now I know why it was so hard to get here. All the fears I had on the nighttime drive getting here about falling off the cliff and no one finding me, were all put to rest, because the no one finding me part was a huge plus at this point. The frangipani flower is all over Bali. It grows in parts of the Caribbean, too, but something about being in a new place makes us aware of things we never noticed before. Maybe it was the abundance of these flowers that brought them to the forefront, but I’ve never noticed or smelled them in the Caribbean like I did in Bali. Not only are the trees everywhere, but the Balinese use them to decorate everything. They also spread them out to dry in the sun, grind them into a fine powder and make a massage oil (among many other things) with them.

Across the valley and over the river is the temple. This Hindu temple has a relationship with the hotel and offers guests the opportunity to dine at the temple after a private Hindu blessing with the priest. We all sat on the ground in the temple with the priest and were led through the Hindu ritual. Each person has an individual ceremonial offerings basket, which contains flowers of different significance, rice, and other organic items. Some you put your head, behind your ears or hold in the tip of your fingers while you pray. Incense are used to cleanse you spiritually and burn all around in the ceremony. They are believed to send our prayers up to God and remove harmful spirits. Bali is the most culturally rich place I have ever been, and I learned so much that it’s hard to put to words. After the prayer, we had a candlelight dinner at the temple, under the light of the Moon, surrounded by flowers.

A gecko decided to join us at dinner (somewhere in the thatched roof above), and if you’ve been to Bali or Southeast Asia, you know how loud that critter can be. I swear they are nocturnal, too. The gecko is all over Bali, and I think his favorite pastime is to make as much noise as possible. Even the littlest ones are insanely loud for their size. If you ever wondered why they are called geckos, YouTube a gecko sound and you’ll understand. It sounds like they are saying GEC-KO or UH-OH repeatedly! Our first morning in Bali, I heard a strange noise outside our villa and went to breakfast and asked the staff what that noise was in the wee hours. They said, “It’s probably a gecko.” Thankfully, their second favorite pastime is eating mosquitoes, so aside from that annoyingly loud noise, they are harmless, and since mosquitoes love me, the gecko can stay. They are also seen as good luck in Southeast Asia and are believed to be descended from dragons. Later there was one in our room (again up in the thatch ceiling) in Amed, and that thing called out like clockwork at midnight every single night. I took this picture of the priest before we sat down for the ritual and blessing with him at the temple. Through the smoky incense and temple lighting, it looks like a column of God-light is shining on him. Pretty much how this entire experience seemed-surrounded by God-light. Now we know why Bali is called the Island of the Gods. The last picture I took from our hotel looking across at the temple.

The first picture I saw of Hanging Gardens in my research was the pool. It was the single most memorable image I saw while trying to figure out where to stay. It’s what initially sparked the desire to want to stay here. Bali has the most incredibly designed hotels I have ever seen in one destination. It’s as if each hotel is trying to outdo the other one. Consistently one of the top-rated pools in the world, it looks as if it was inspired by the undulating shape of the rice terraces found all over Bali-giving this design a sense of place. Every morning there was an enchanting layer of mist slowly rising from the treetops like a veil lifting away to reveal the jungle before our eyes, and the pool was like a mirror reflecting the clouds. It was magic.

Having been all over the world, it has always been hard to pick an absolute favorite place, that one specific hotel that has it all for me. Hanging Gardens is it, and surprisingly, it doesn’t have a beach. I love the secluded feel, the private villas with infinite pools, the food, fresh juices in the morning, the service, the quiet, exotic natural location. I love how close you feel to nature and how far away you feel from civilization. I don’t know if it’s called Hanging Gardens because of the flowers on vines that hang from the jungle trees, or if it’s because it’s literally hanging on the edge of the jungle, cantilevered out over the treetops. I found this aerial image on the internet, and unfortunately couldn’t find the photographer to give photo credit to, but you can see how it looks like it’s hanging on the edge of the mountain.

Hope you enjoyed it. I can’t wait to share more about Bali with you in the next blog.

xo,

Cassandra

Neocon Design Conference Chicago

Functionality|Artistry|Creativity|Innovation

Between the classes and the products, it takes a bit to digest everything at Neocon. There is so much to take in, see, do and remember. Below are pictures of installations, tile work, trim details, furniture, rooms, and new trends in design I saw and thought were noteworthy or loved, for one reason or another, in both residential and commercial design.

Artistic Tile’s fashion inspired mosaic tile jacket and dress were works of art. I can’t imagine the painstaking process of making that dress and capturing the draping of the fabric around the curves of the body. Mosaics usually come on a mesh material to make it easier to tile in large squares, but these had to take a great deal of both planning and patience.

 

Devon and Devon’s updated version of the hot and cold faucet were my favorite faucets.

 

Luum Textile’s vertical, suspended, fiber installation was a huge hit and had everyone walking through it, touching it and feeling it. They had several stations set up so you could interact with the fibers, weave a small carpet while you were there, and basically play with their materials. Isn’t that what everything in an interior should be about, the ability to touch, feel and use all of our senses to experience it?

 

Mannington Commercial‘s back-lit and up-lit, cut and torn paper scene gives me all sorts of ideas, specifically about something wintry for Christmas.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t recall where this was when I saw it, because after multiple floors, showrooms and booths, you tend to lose track, but I love the idea of creating an art installation as a visual barrier to define and divide space, instead of using walls. This installation was made of rope and what looked to be printed paper with the molecular structure of something. The installation was shaped like a V, and inside the V were tables and chairs which provided an envelope for those wanting to rest and be away from the noisy crowds.

 

The most innovative product I saw was Sedia Systems’ Jumpseat. This seat is pure genius, can support a full size adult, mounts on the wall or floor and flips up like theater seats when not in use. When folded up, the seat is only 4″ thick, making it the perfect solution for tight spaces. The first picture was their display at Neocon and even their imagery was clever showing a man mid-air as if he was jumping.

 

Samuel and Sons’ trim showroom, much like Artistic Tile, went down as my favorite for using their products in non-conventional ways. Although Samuel and Sons is carried here in Atlanta by Ainsworth Noah, there isn’t a showroom dedicated specifically to trim. Samuel and Sons is a passementerie lover’s dream. It was their creative use of fringe trimmings on paint brushes and tape trim to make the fabric for the outdoor sling chairs in their beach display that I loved. Samuel and Sons is a library of every trim imaginable arranged by color and grouped by style, making it easy to find the trim you need.

 

West Elm Workspace won the Best of Neocon Award in three categories, one of which was the furniture systems category. As people are now discovering, the open work environment is actually more prohibitive to working efficiently and productively. Really? I was wondering when that was coming. I’ve never understood the open working environment to begin with because who can concentrate? West Elm has come up with a new way to tackle the privacy issues in the open environment with their Haus concept. Haus is designed for individuals or small groups to work away from the busy, noisy open office without the need for walls, while providing both visual and acoustical privacy in three different configurations. And as you can see, it looks like a tiny house, thus making it seem less like an office and more like a social place for collaboration. I’m so thankful I don’t work in a traditional office setting. If I did, I would need one of these for sure. This is such a great solution for the office without having to put up walls and take them down based on how the team changes, grows and/or diminishes over the years.

 

There are some gorgeous kitchen showrooms at The Mart that will make you drool and rethink your current kitchen at least a couple of times. de Giulio  is one of them. If these kitchens resemble Siematic at all to you, it’s because Mick de Giulio has designed several of their collections including their New York showroom. There aren’t enough accolades for this man. The finishes are luxurious, and the solutions for problems we face in the kitchen are brilliant. I need that built-in, hanging pot storage.  On a side note, have you seen one of these Elektra Italian Espresso Machine? It’s the real deal and definitely deserves it own special task light along with that arched, tiled niche to give it pride of place. I’m pretty sure I recall seeing one in Venice while we were there.

 

But by far, my single favorite thing at Neocon was Atelier Gary Lee’s Lady Stinger Chair. Highly sculptural and displayed in American walnut matte finish, this chair, with its combination classic, 18th century cabriole legs, bee stinger vertical back, and modern sensibility, is to die for in my book. I have the perfect place in my home for it, too. It nets at $9K, though. Eek!

 

Whether it’s commercial or residential design, I take inspiration from all aspects of this industry. So often you see a small detail that leads you to something else, or points you down a different path. Exposure to all forms of art, design and creativity inform my work on all levels.

Looking forward to Neocon 2018!

xo,

Cassandra

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Contemporary Architecture Tour

Atlanta Design Festival | Contemporary Architecture and Design

Last weekend we did the Contemporary Architecture Tour here in Atlanta. The tour is an annual event in conjunction with the Atlanta Design Festival and gives tour-goers the opportunity to view some of Atlanta’s private contemporary homes. There were also public spaces on tour, as well. We had one day and just a few hours, so we decided to focus on the private homes, as we knew they would probably never be open again. We did four houses (and stumbled upon an art gallery in one) and focused mainly on the ones closest together for driving purposes.

Unfortunately, there were a ton of people touring the homes, so I snapped the best pictures I could. I skipped over spaces that were crowded with people, as you couldn’t see anything anyway.

 

This first house is probably my favorite from the outside (well, except the brick one, but you can’t beat that one for history). The huge windows and combination of glass, wood and cementitious panels is such a great textural combination. This was probably my least favorite regarding the interior finishes, but this staircase is perfection.

880 Kings Court

Architecture: Brian Ahern
Construction: Darby Construction

The idea for the house is to create a masonry “frame” that allows the siding to figuratively become more than just a means to enclose the building envelope. Both the house and landscape emphasize pattern of materials. For example, two types of cementitious panels are used to create a collage on both the East and West elevations of the house.

 

 

The second house was in walking distance from the first. They had a car parked in the driveway, so a great exterior shot wasn’t possible.

908 Kings Court

Architecture: Kirkman Architects
General Contractor: Cablik Enterprises LLC

This home is an example of Cubist modern architecture located in the heart of Morningside. The home is primarily stick framed with engineered lumber trusses and beams. The exterior is a mix of cementitious panels, haricot stucco, and concrete. Some of the notable design features include: 12 foot ceilings in a recessed living room overlooking the wooded ravine below, large Pella Windows and double sliding doors throughout, full length floating private deck off of the master suite, wet room, shower and tub configurations, ensuite bathrooms for each bedroom.

 

 

The third house we toured was the one I could see myself living in. It’s a great example of adaptive reuse.

Mifflin Hood

Renovation Architect: BLDGS

Mifflin Hood, BLDGS’ renovation of a 100 year old brick building that formerly was the headquarters and showroom of the B. Mifflin Hood Brick Company was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The B. Mifflin Hood Brick Company building served as a showroom and offices for the company from 1921 to 1947. The first portion of the building was built in 1909 and consists of four bays that create a square shaped building. In 1921, when the company bought the building, they constructed a seven bay addition to the east of the original building. In the 1930s, a small rear addition was added to the property. A simple brick cornice, several pilasters, and four 25-light metal windows with keystones comprise the decorative features of the façade. The sloped topography of the site means that the 1909 portion of the building is lower than the later addition. The building has recently been rehabilitated into a single-family residence with an office and studio space. B. Mifflin Hood was an important voice in the Progressive Era movement as he did not use convict labor and fought to overturn the convict labor system —making this property a good example of the City’s social and industrial history.

 

 

The owners of this home also own Brickworks Gallery attached to the building with a separate entrance on the side and one internally. The gallery was named best new gallery in 2016 by Atlanta Magazine. The owner, an artist herself, was onsite that day in her studio. I love to see studios where artists work. I enjoy seeing all the media and tools they use to create. Paper is her main media and when I first walked in, I thought these were fabrics. She has brought these papers back from all over the world, and from the looks of the textiles on their beds, I would say those probably came from her trips, as well.

 

 

The last house was also a favorite inside and out.

Ashley

Architecture: TaC Studios
General Contractor: Principle Builders Group
Landscape: TaC Studios, Install by GardenHood

Ashley was designed for jewelry designers. Located 1 block from the Atlanta Beltline, the clients desired to maintain the large tree in the front yard, as it retains a connection to the original neighborhood’s landscape plan of trees that line the block. The bronzed screen at the front of the house relays the plan for the city blocks of the old 4th ward and screens the setting west sun.

The brick is a material that relates to the surrounding homes. The home has; 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, roof terrace, a garage designed for car lifts, a living level that allows for direct connection to the pool terrace, retractable screen….. The clients had a long wish list. A challenging site, 55’ wide x 146’ deep, the front and rear yard setbacks limited the location of the pool and residence. The grade change of 4 feet from the front door to the rear lounging terrace, presented the opportunity to step the procession through the home and transition the experience from the front door to main entertaining space. Large 12’ tall sliding doors open to the terrace, which can be enclosed by the retractable screens. Each area was planned for seating a minimum of six from the pool area to the roof terrace and media room. Custom millwork throughout the home was TaC studios designed and built locally by McMeubel/ Michael Courtz.

 

 

I find so often that people are either in the historic design and preservation camp or they are in the contemporary design camp. Having studied both in design school, I have developed an appreciation for both and believe both are appropriate, valuable, relevant and have their place.

I hope through this post, you can learn to appreciate this style as a viewer, even if it’s not something you would personally choose to live with.

xo,

Cassandra

Key West

Shop Galleries

When you tire of bongs, thongs and the Duval Crawl…

Yes, I said it: bongs and thongs. Because let’s face it, you don’t have to look far to see them in store windows, on mannequins, or sitting on carts with all the other smoking paraphernalia. There’s no shortage of tacky, shiny objects and cheap, fluorescent t-shirts on racks pushed out by storefronts in hopes of catching the eyes of those doing the well-known Duval Crawl. The first time you go, it’s sensory overload. Lower Duval has a bit of a stale alcohol smell early in the morning, because that’s where the majority of the historic, iconic, party bars are located. Gypsy chickens scurry around in the streets where their loud crowing can be heard all over town, and a little further up Duval in the evening, you will most definitely pass by the stars of the local drag show hanging out on the street in front of their venue inviting you in to see them perform. Key West is not for modest types, but this is part of the eclectic mixture that makes the island. I have written about the island before and most definitely will again and again. There are rare finds and creative, captivating people all over the island, and one day, I hope to write about a trip from Key West to Havana, Cuba. Until then, I’m collecting stories and pictures.

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Good Health | Good Design

 The Elements of Good Health (and Design).

Just finished up my health food store project last week with a fantastic grand opening, ribbon cutting and outpouring of support from the community for my client’s new business and my design. It’s so rewarding to see clients happy after several months of designing, construction, intense periods of decision making and financial stress, laced with fear, doubt and questions about if their business will work or not. It’s more exhausting than people realize.

When I was approached about this project, I almost didn’t take it at first. The Patels had seen my Tiny Bubbles project and contacted me, and I thought, I’ll at least meet with them and see what they have to say. In the meantime, my mind began pondering, how great can one really make (what essentially boils down to grocery store) look, and how can I really change the way it functions and feels, and should I? Ultimately, stores of this nature are set up in rows to make navigating with a cart easier, as well as identifying the products one wants to purchase. Changing that doesn’t make sense. Speed is key to circulate around, spot things quickly and get out.  For those who do like to linger, read labels, and learn about new products, that needs to be possible, too.

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Cargotecture | Arkitainer

Cargo Container + Architecture

In a world of portmanteaus (Bennifer, Brangelina, Kimye, etc), Cargotecture or Arkitainer (architecture + container) is the combination of two very different words to create a specific type of upcycled, cutting edge architecture, and it’s trending all over the world.

These intermodal containers, aka shipping containers, conex boxes, and freight containers, are standardized containers meant to be shipped across all modes of transportation (truck, rail and sea) in the globalized shipping system. They are designed to be loaded, stacked and shipped based on a system created after WWII in an effort to minimize transportation cost. They are tracked via computer, each having its own number, and moved by cranes and lifts. There are an estimated 20 million containers in use around the globe today.

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The Pineapple Island, Briland and Pink Sand Beaches

Eleuthera and Harbour Island, aka Briland

A narrow, ancient coral outcropping, flanked by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, dotted with pineapple fields and pink sand beaches-that is Eleuthera. Earlier this year, Delta began non-stop service to Eleuthera from Atlanta two days a week, making it much easier to visit, by eliminating the stop in Grand Bahama. The airport’s size hasn’t caught up to the new service yet and landing in a big jet there feels a bit like landing at a highway truck stop. Since the airport is so small and doesn’t have a gate, you wait across the street at the restaurant/gift shop before boarding, which by the way, is a gold mine waiting for someone to put a decent bar and restaurant there for travelers to wait for their flight. Once through security, you wait outside until its time to board, because there is simply no room in the airport for passengers.

 

Eleuthera was the world’s largest pineapple exporter until the industry collapsed in the early 1900s. Prior to that, Eleuthera shipped pineapples to both the US and England, and the island was the first to produce pineapples on a commercial scale. While researching for the trip before we left, I found this quote from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1874 about the locals on Harbour Island discovering…

“a livelihood cultivating pineapples on Eleuthera. A fleet of 200 boats is owned in the settlement. Every morning at sunrise this little fleet spreads its wings to the tradewind, and wafts 800 men and boys, black and white, to the lovely beach and cocoa-nut groves on Eleuthera, two miles away. Every night they return. The pineapples begin to ripen in April, and only grow to advantage on a peculiar red soil that is always thin, and is found in but few districts. The plantations are on undulating ground, the highest in the Bahamas, and are skirted by mahogany, logwood, and cocoa-nut groves, overgrown with the brown love vine, and abounding in scarlet-flowered hop, clitoria or wild pea, and various other flowers, while the song of the brown thrush resounds in every thicket. A pine field when the pines are ripe looks as if it were on fire, the scarlet of the spiked leaves forming a flame-colour with the vivid orange-yellow of the fruit. There are two principal varieties of the pineapples, the scarlet and the sugarloaf, the latter of which is the best.”

One of Eleuthera’s most well-known sites is Glass Window Bridge. When Winslow Homer visited the island and painted the natural bridge, he named the painting Glass Window. The name stuck and as the natural bridge eroded away, the man-made bridge was built. The one lane bridge at the tiny isthmus connects North Eleuthera with the rest of the island. The bridge is often in need of repair from crashing waves, and during a bad storm, known as a rage by the locals, waves have been known to wash up and sweep cars and people off the bridge. For that reason, during a rage, the bridge is closed.

The Cove Resort

Not too far south of the bridge lies The Cove resort. This stunning, all white, luxury resort is the perfect getaway. Everything from the suite, to the food and service, and the design, were top-notch. It’s secluded, quiet, situated on two private beaches and well-appointed in every way. The sushi was excellent and the staff did everything for us, even down to putting our towels on the beach chairs for us. Gregory Town is down the road, as are a couple local places, so if you are looking to get out, I would recommend taking a cab. If you are looking to be worlds away from everything, which was my mission for this trip, then this is the perfect spot. Although we did see a couple of kids and they do have a game room, I think the Cove is geared more towards quiet couples. After coming off a very busy time at work, this was just what the doctor ordered. Peace and quiet. We stayed in a beach front suite and I practiced yoga every morning on the front porch overlooking the ocean. I even had a local resident join me on the mat one day. Achoooo! 😉

 

Harbour Island, aka Briland

While there are pink sand beaches on Eleuthera, Harbour Island is known for its pink sand beaches. The colorful, vernacular, candy colored, island architecture lines the streets and golf carts are the mode of travel around the island. A water taxi takes you from Eleuthera to Harbour Island and you can rent a golf cart once there to venture out on a self-guided tour around the island. Maps are available from the golf cart rental vendors, and the entire island can be driven around in a day.

 

There are so many cute places on Harbour Island to shop, eat, and explore. Here are a few of my favorites from this trip.

Sip Sip

Legendary on the island are Sip Sip’s lobster quesadillas. For some reason, this really hopping place is not located on the map and the signage is difficult to see from the street. After getting lost twice and asking everyone we passed, “where is Sip Sip” or “how do we get to Sip Sip from here” laughing at ourselves, we almost gave up.  The passion fruit sangria was so refreshing after that hot drive around the island and the lobster quesadillas totally lived up to the hype. The portion is large enough to share and rich enough to make you thankful you didn’t order a single one for yourself. The place is tight but not uncomfortably so. The view is to die for and the shop is adorable too. After overhearing ladies complaining about cost of things, it’s worth noting, most things cost more on an island because of the process it takes to get it there. Buyers pay an import tax for items to be shipped to the US and then must pay for the them to be brought into the Bahamas (or wherever the island may be). Some places in Asia can ship directly to the Bahamas, but most must go through the US first, then they are shipped to the smaller islands, like Harbour Island. All this shipping overseas via container, local shipping and transporting, import taxes, etc drives prices up. There are things I know I can find stateside cheaper if I look, but I buy local anyway just to support these small island businesses.

Ocean View Club

Directly adjacent to Sip Sip is Ocean View Club.  It was like walking into an Anthropologie store with dogs lying on the floor, stacks of books, an old gramophone, and furniture that looked mixed and matched but somehow worked perfectly together. Art was certainly a main feature of this place and all the objects made you just want to linger longer. Next time we visit, we will definitely plan to stay here a couple of nights, because the tub alone makes me want to book a room. During an interview for an article I read, the owner was quoted as saying, if you don’t like dogs, this is not the place for you, which makes me love it even more. You have to peruse the images on their site.

 

Blue Rooster

The hospitality in this traditional Bahamian style, gingerbread house couldn’t have been better. I bought the most beautiful white linen dress from the shopkeeper, who was just as friendly as could be. Blue Rooster has relaxed, casually elegant, resort wear and jewelry. Easy, breezy dresses in solids and colorful patterns made of lightweight breathable fabrics in a darling little setting. I must have said, “oh my gosh, this is so cute” at least 50 times in this quaint little shop. I had such a great time chatting with the girl inside I forgot to take pictures of the shop, but I did capture this one as I was leaving. You can also check them out on instagram.

 

 

Shine

First, can I just say, I love the name! It just sounds like a happy place run by a happy person, because of course we all want to sell and buy things that make us shine, so I just knew I was going to love this spot. Shine has two locations situated across the street from one another. One shop has more decorative interior pieces, and the one across the street has jewelry and other small items that the owner makes herself. Notice the heart on the outside of the building? Such a cheerful island store that shines! Check them out here.

 

Ocean Tally

This Mediterranean inspired jewel is probably one of the most special places I have been in a long time. Down a long, winding dirt road, secretly perched high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Whale Point, this small, intimate hotel and restuarant captures the imagination and senses. The Atlantic Dining room upstairs has an extrodinary view and the bar downstairs, as well as the exterior courtyard, has some beautiful tile details. The ocean front cottages overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and the fire pit area serves as a front row seat to watch the waves crash up into the tidal pool below. Nothing short of spectacular and something that needs to be experienced in person. Until then, visit their website and be mesmerized.

While I love the beautiful colors of the islands, texture is always my favorite. Below is a collage of my favorite textures I captured at The Cove. Be sure to click the small thumbnail below to see the full collage.

And two more illustrations I did while there.

Thanks for reading. Hope you loved it!

xo

Cassandra