Sunday, March 30, 2008

Polaroid Pics

Armilyn attended a "princess" birthday party for Maia, our friend's daughter. While we were there, Maia's parents broke out their Polaroid camera and snapped a few pics. Too bad Polaroid is discontinuing the film stock, so these types of pictures will become more and more rare.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Seattle Public Library

Back in 2005, we visited Seattle. One of the things I wanted to see was the brand new Seattle Public Library.

picture from AIA

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed the library. As you can see, the library is very modern, and while the design team later reluctantly admitted to having a "style," Joshua Prince Ramus (former head of OMA’s US office) explains the rationale in this video.

We visited the library on our first day and were lucky enough to get a free public architecture tour.

The librarian desk and Reading Room

Reading in the Reading Room (really)

Overhead view of the Reading Room

Red stairs leading to meeting room level

The Red meeting room level

That chair is made from the same spongy stuff as a Nerf ball

Upper level Mixing Chamber

Unfortunately I couldn’t get accurate pictures of the main part the library, which is the Book Spiral. Essentially following the same principal as a parking garage, the Spiral allows the library to store their collection on one "level" so they don’t have to break up the Dewey Decimal system. In other libraries, because of space, collections usually need to be split. In the Spiral that never will happen.

We loved the openess of the building and the natural light that the glass exterior lets drift in. It was a risky move for the city to go forward with such a modern, almost brutal design, but once you are inside, you forget about that and just enjoy the atmosphere.

More about Seattle soon.

post by David

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Straw Flowers

Here are some straw and raffia flowers and hairclips that I found recently at a local swap meet. My cousin Justine and I did some research online and found out these come from the Marshall Islands.

post by Armilyn

Crazy Japanese Game Shows

There’s human Tetris, which I heard might be coming to the US:

and then there’s Pac-Man:

Friday, March 7, 2008

CH Carolina Herrera stores

I have worked at some level of retail for almost 20 years and got into visual merchandising 15 years ago. I have been fortunate to have travelled across the US and visit a lot of shopping centers or neighborhoods, so I am really hard to impress when it comes to store design. A lot of high-end fashion stores choose a stereotypical white box and fill it with dark wood fixtures.

When I first came upon the CH Carolina Herrera store in Las Vegas, I was immediately struck by how elegant and modern both the exterior and interior looked. The store has a warm, masculine feel with a definite homage to the work of Jean-Michel Frank. Most fixtures are made from unstained walnut. The store is split into a series of rooms, that have the ambiance of a very nice Manhattan apartment. 

The men’s section

The men’s clothing has a very traditional American style, but with a South American influence, meaning some pieces are more fitted and tailored and color palettes are more daring. The women’s clothing runs in the same vein, though there are a wider variety of styles than the men’s. There are numerous accessories, ranging from the requesite handbag and shoe collection, to more obscure golf and pet collections.

I think the store and clothing succeed at creating a luxurious atmosphere. Even the scented candles they are constantly burning have a pleasant aroma. Two things I would suggest changing, the facade and the logo accessories. I have seen 2 stores, Las Vegas and South Coast Plaza, and both have cramped facades with store windows that obscure the inside, which seems uninviting. Everytime I walk by the South Coast store, it is empty, even on weekends when the stores next door are brimming with customers.

The logo accessories bother me because almost all the accessories are covered with them. This is a complaint I have with a lot of fashion brands. It’s just plain lazy design.

Desk at the entry with a Jean-Michel Frank lamp in front of panels of backlit alabaster--I think

Bar in the men’s section
All photos from

One element that doesn't show up in the pictures is the repeated use of red as an accent. All the packaging is in red, and becomes a visual element through stacked red shoe boxes in the shoe salon. The logo and packaging were done by Fabien Baron.

posted by David