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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Image from Sparkly Like a Holiday

OK, I admit it.  I’m stealing this topic from Paul Anater, over at Kitchen and Residential Design.  But I’m not going to say the same things.

Yes, I quite agree that chalkboard paint is overdone – and way overdone in several of the images he shows.  It’s old.  It’s boring.  It’s dated.  There are clearly limits to its usefulness, safety, and definitely to its appearance.  Not only can it be toxic when it gets into your food as Paul mentions, but chalk dust can also be a major problem for people who have allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities, so it would not foster an accessible design for people who suffer from such afflictions.  It would also violate universal and visitability design principles, as it could create a similar hazard for other users of the space, particularly visitors whose sensitivities might be unknown.  Chalk dust doesn’t do anything for overall air quality, either, so that lowers the green design reusability quotient of the paint, never mind what the VOC content of it might be.

Now that we’ve looked at the potential health hazards, let’s focus more on the visual elements.

Looking at the images Paul posted, the ones that really offend me the most are the refrigerator fully covered in the dreadful green version of the paint, that huge, frightening expanse of black wall and door, and yes, that hideous kitchen. (more…)

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What do you do if you want the look of a lot of books (or space for actual books), but your space is too small to install bookcases? Do faux books look real enough if you don’t have enough of the real thing? How can you make the most of the space you’ve got? A question from a reader on an Amazon.com discussion forum about faux books got me thinking about these things the other day.


Faux books look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Faux books often look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

No, most faux books don’t look even remotely real. Because neither they nor the “shelves” they are on are real, they lack depth and characteristics such as shadows that would show in actual bookshelves with real books. They can be fun on things like cabinet doors or utility room doors to conceal them, but the moment someone goes to pull one off the shelf to look at it, they will immediately see what’s up for sure, and your hoped-for erudite image will be blown, so these things are not a great choice for other spaces, especially offices or libraries, where one would expect to find real books.

If you want the look of books but really cannot spare enough floor space to install bookcases for real books, or do need to just conceal an unsightly feature, one decorative (and much cheaper!) option is to just paper one or more walls or the offending element with a wallpaper design that shows books. There are several book designs available commercially, such as Brunschwig & Fils’ famous Bibliotheque design below, by Nina Campbell,

brunschwig-bibliotheque

but you could also make your own collage using photos of books that you take yourself or find elsewhere – or actual pages of books, magazines, or newspapers – and create a highly-personalized, one-of-a-kind design, which will save even more money, plus be unique, as in the chic bedroom image below. You could use images of books on shelves and try to make it as realistic-looking as possible, or tile and overlay the space with images of book covers, or get creative and play with angles and overlaps and adding in other elements as well, just for fun.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com.  Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com. Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

The best way to have the look of books, of course, is to have real ones – and naturally, finding enough space in a small room if you do have a lot of them can be quite a challenge, so what’s a bibliophile to do?

1. Look up

Bookshelves don’t have to sit on the floor, and you can get a lot of mileage out of putting them on the wall, and virtually double your usable space. Hanging shelves over a desk or sofa, above and surrounding doorways and windows, and even completely encircling the room near the ceiling level with one or two shelves can add a lot of extra storage space without taking up any precious floor space at all. Use smaller furniture, too, and less of it, and you’ll be able to fit everything in.

via Cote de Texas.  Is this your image?  Let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

via Cote de Texas; attribution unknown

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

You can even store them in the rafters, if your ceiling is open.

from Apartment Therapy

from Apartment Therapy

2. Look around

Try narrow bookcases (maybe with pull-out shelves) on either side of a chair or sofa instead of or behind your end tables. Match these up with the shelves above the sofa and you’ll create a custom niche for the furniture but use very minimal floor space.

3. Look inside

· Use built-ins or systems furniture (even Elfa shelving, if you can’t afford custom cabinetry or ready-mades) instead of free-standing furniture to maximize the use of space, and integrate cabinetry wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Even a tiny 10’x10’ room can hold a complete library and all possible office equipment this way; I’m working in a space just like this as I write.

from Circa Lighting website

from Circa Lighting website

by Meade Design Group

by Meade Design Group, http://www.themeadegroup.com/

· Is there a closet in the room? Add at least one more shelf above the rod, or, if you can spare the space, fill the closet entirely with shelves. Or hang a closet organizer designed for holding clothing or purses and fill it with paperbacks instead. The clever pantry shown below could just as easily house books or anything else you might want to store and/or display.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

· Look between the studs. Yes, remove the drywall and build it out a few inches, installing shelves between the studs, refinish it, and voila! – a whole bookcase anywhere you want one that only protrudes a few inches tops into the existing floor space of the room. Or replace the whole wall with a bookcase – maybe backed by a translucent plastic to let light in from (or lend it to) the next room over.

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

· Store some inside a multifunction piece of furniture, such as a storage ottoman.

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

· Build a window seat with shelves or a drawer in the base and/or side walls of the nook it’s in. Where drawers are shown in the images below, you could just as easily use open cubbies as bookshelves instead.

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

by Waldo Fernandez

by Waldo Fernandez, http://www.waldosdesigns.com


4. Look behind

If you’ve got as little as 6″ space behind a door when it’s open, with the addition of a large hinge, you can build a bookcase onto the back of the door. Or put the shelving on the front of the door. If you have the space, you can even do this on a bi-fold closet door, or a rotating door.

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

You could also try the Sticklebook, a really cool invisible bookshelf you could install on any wall, for about $28. http://www.sticklebook.com/index.htm

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison

sticklebook2


5. Look down

Line up or pile books underneath your desk, occasional tables, or even the sofa, if you’ve got one that sits on relatively high legs and has no skirt. You can even put some shelves underneath the desk. Pile books artfully around the room on top of tables, desks, windowsills, and on the floor, and display your decorative objets sitting on top of the books. And finally, if your obsession becomes too great, do as Sharon Stanley Ruggiero confessed to resorting to at http://www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2008/08/living-with-books-lots-of-them.html in Joni’s fabulous post on living with masses of books, and place them between the spindles of the banister on your stairway.

6. Books as furniture

Forego one or more end tables and coffee tables altogether, and just use stacks of books. This can either be a permanent solution, or used just until you can afford (or locate) the perfect furniture piece. By themselves or mixed with other items, books are great decorative objects.

Webb Design stacks of books

Webb Design, Cote de Texas

//thepeakofchic.blogspot.com

Keith Irvine via http://thepeakofchic.com

7. Don’t forget other rooms

You don’t have to fit all of your books in one room; where else in your house can you place some? Even the bathroom, kitchen, and hallways are fair game for creative book storage.


8. Edit, edit, edit

Yes, it’s anathema to a book-lover, but eventually, almost all of us have to prune our book collections to some extent, so take a good, hard look at how many, and which, books are most essential to you, and find new homes for as many of the others as you need to, when the time comes.

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NOTE:

– Please pardon any formatting errors or oddities; I’m still learning how to use this software and deal with the graphics.

– For any images without attribution, if you know the photographer and/or designer, or it’s your image, please let me know and I’ll update it with your tag line.


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I like belonging to professional organizations mainly because of the networking and educational opportunities. While I am highly opposed to any sort of mandatory licensing of interior designers, I do still very much believe in increasing our knowledge base so that we can do the very best job we can for our clients. If nothing else, there are so many new products and product categories coming out every day that we’ve got to have *some* way of staying abreast of new developments just so we can always offer the cutting edge to our clients.

I do think that having some kind of initials after one’s name does lend a certain air of “legitimacy” that *some* clients seek, but the longer I am in this business, the more I realize how little that really matters to most prospective and existing clients.

More importantly, I’ve also realized how little those initials actually mean in terms of “proof” of competency of any sort.

Many of the very best designers I know and know of would never qualify for membership in these organizations – and at the same time, I hate to say it, but some of the absolute *worst* design work I’ve seen has been done by ASID professional members. It seems as if there is almost an inverse relationship in many cases between the presence of letters after a designer’s name and the quality of his or her work.

I’ve also noticed that many of the people who tend to be most actively involved in the leadership of these organizations in particular are generally not the best designers around. The *really* best ones are clearly far too busy doing what they do to be bothered with meetings and all of the petty politics and so on that the organizations also bring with them.

Being a good designer requires a mix of technical knowledge and creativity. Anyone with a brain can learn the technical material just by reading books and various industry publications, or on the job (lord knows that almost nothing of what I know was taught to me in school), but the creativity that really gives one an edge and defines what an interior designer is at core cannot be taught and is innate. Education can foster it and bring it out further, but it cannot instill it where there is no fundamental underlying facility.

In a well-run professional organization that is truly responsive to the actual needs and preferences of the majority of its membership base, these groups can also be very powerful proponents of a profession, and do a lot of good.

However, when a small percentage of the leadership and membership decides that they speak for a majority and stand for a position that will actually *harm* the majority of their own membership base, as ASID is doing, then that organization has outlived its usefulness and should be shot and put out of its misery. It most assuredly should not be allowed to create legislation or internal policies that will adversely affect the lives – and livelihoods – of thousands of people the way it is trying to do nationwide without giving them all a direct say, especially if it is going to use their dues money to fund these initiatives.

Once an organization has gone out of control and is running amok wreaking havoc on the very constituency it ought to (and claims to) be serving, it completely loses all legitimacy and credibility.

So why do I continue to belong to one of these groups that is out of control when I obviously have so little respect for it? Mainly because my boss basically made it a requirement of my employment, but also because I’m somewhat of a Pollyanna at heart, and am still (almost undoubtedly naively) hopeful that I can help the organization “see the light” and correct course to be what it used to be and *ought* to be – a real resource for its membership.

Addendum:  This is why I let my membership in ASID lapse, because I can no longer support an organization that has been so bent on passing legislation that will put so many people out of business, and so restrict entry into the profession by new people.  They’ve been at this for 30 years, with little success, because there’s no merit in the position.  Such laws have been struck down as unconstitutional in several states, and yet they persist in spending millions of dollars of members’ dues that could be much better put to other purposes such as educating the public about the value that professional designers bring to the table.  I’m eligible to qualify for membership at the professional level, but it’s just wrong to do this.

I do continue to attend continuing education event sponsored by my local chapter, as that ongoing education is very important in this field, and they provide many excellent classes.  But it’s obtainable without belonging to such organizations, and responsible, professional designers take advantage of it wherever they can, even when they have no obligation to for sustaining a credential or designation.

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