Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Trip to the Hamptons and a Sunday of Sundaes

Susana and Josh gave Grace and I the day off on Friday, so we decided to head uptown to go to lunch at the Rock Cafe. Once we got to lunch, Grace got a text from a friend that we met earlier in the summer inviting us to a house party he was holding in a house he had rented with his friends in the Hamptons. We excitedly accepted this invitation, and proceeded to head to Bloomingdales to purchase a new bathing suit to wear. Bloomingdales was actually having a huge sale, so Grace and I both got tops for only $30!

On Saturday, we woke up around 9 to start packing and planning for our trip to the Hamptons. We decided to take the Long Island Railroad train heading out of Penn Station at 11:45 for Montauk. We had to change trains once in Jamaica, but eventually we arrived at the East Hamptons Station. We called an Uber cab to take us to our friends house. When we arrived, we walked around to the back where there was a pool filled with people we didn't recognize. We finally found our friend and he introduced us to a ton of people that had also rented houses for the summer. Once the party started to die down, we headed over to another house with some of the new people we met. Their house was absolutely gorgeous. It had huge floor to ceiling glass windows that let in an amazing view of the ocean. Although it was a bit cloudy out, the view was still breathtaking. This a picture I took on their back porch: 

Our new found friends invited us to go to dinner with them at a local restaurant, so we called a cab and headed to dinner. We got a nice table outside and ordered pizza and drinks. Once the clock hit 7:30, we knew it was time to say goodbye to our beautiful vacation spot. We thanked out friends for everything, and told them we had to catch the 8:00 train back into Manhattan. Although we were not there for long, the trip was so fun and pretty, and I wish we could have stayed longer!

On Sunday, we were all pretty exhausted from the weekend, but there was one thing we all were in the mood for -- cake and ice cream. The best place to get cake and ice cream in the city, Serendipity, was not a far train ride from us. We put our name on the hour-long waiting list, and walked around the area until our table was ready. As we were wandering, I looked up the menu on my phone so that I could order as soon as I sat down! We all ended up highly overestimating how much chocolate we were all able to consume because once I got my dessert (a frozen hot chocolate AND a cake/ice cream sundae) I was shocked. One of our friends Megan ordered the Banana Split, and it was bigger than her head. We were all only able to make what looked like barely a dent in our desserts before we gave up and asked for To-Go boxes. It was so incredibly delicious, and I am really happy there were so many leftovers to take home and treat myself to throughout the week. This is a picture of how much food our table of 5 got. Needless to say, random people were taking pictures of our table.

And here is a picture of Megan with her massive Banana Split......

The Search for Navy

For our 7th week working for Chango & Co., our focus had to be on the Cortez house. The last time we visited their home, which is located right on the Hudson River, we came with a beautiful sea-foam  color palette, which she did not like. She asked us to find another group of fabrics that were navy, grey, and yellow instead. When Grace and I started looking in the fabric library for navies and yellows, we realized we did not have that many fabrics to choose from. When we presented the scheme we came up with to Susana, she agreed, saying that most of the fabrics we had chosen had already been used many times and she wanted to do something new and exciting. That was when we decided to take a trip to the Design and Decoration Building to chose fabrics specific to the Cortez project. We spent the entire day on Monday there picking out samples of fabric and wallpaper. 

On Tuesday, we started to look through everything that we had gotten the day before and we began putting colors together. When we were finished sorting all of the fabrics, we had three different schemes. One was dark navies and mustard yellows, one was a little lighter shade of indigo and golds, and one was light blues with lighter yellows.

The Indigo and Gold Color Scheme

The Dark Navy and Mustard Yellow Color Scheme

After we were done sorting fabrics, we kept looking for replacement furniture pieces and accessories and printed them out in high quality for Susana to look at and choose to show to the client.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The "Doughnut Hotel" Proves to be Pretty Sweet

The northern Zhejiang providence located two hours from Shanghai is known for its local treasures such as “handcrafted calligraphy brushes, premium tea, and silk;” however, in late 2012, this area gained a new treasure, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort. This hotel sits against the southern shores of Taihu, China’s third largest freshwater lake, and it is a great deal more modern than the “well-preserved Tang Dynasty-era dwellings” that have previously lured tourists to this area. Chinese architect Ma Yangsong of the Beijing Studio MAD, has designed and built a 27-level structure composed of two curved towers spanning 300 feet over the lake and coming together to form an arch. It is an understatement to say that this building was complex to construct. Ma decided to start with a “skin composed of three-dimensional hyperbolic glass panes,” resulting in a structure that shimmers with “reflections of the lake in the day and enlivened by coordinating LED lights at night.” Although the construction of Ma’s structure is very modern, the idea behind the project came from ancient Chinese tradition. This structure is an allusion to the arch bridge, a very important architectural feature built to accommodate the silk-laden transport boats passing through local canals.” Ma also wanted the design of the building to contribute to the already beautiful landscape. He explains, “Taihu offers a fabulous blend of water and light, which greatly influenced my design.”

Because of the structure’s unusual composition, each of 282 rooms was uniquely designed, and had to have its’ own rendering. Jade and precious stones fill the hotel’s public areas and guestrooms, which can be attributed to interior’s firm Hirsch Bedner Associates. Simply entering the hotel is an awe-inspiring experience, as one is greeted by a 29-ton jade sculpture imported from Iran. Above hangs light work completed with more than 20,000 Swarovski crystals. Through the use of jade—“a natural material that the Chinese traditionally associate with wellbeing,” the flaxen color scheme, and Ma’s admiration of light, architects have subbed this resort as “an ‘artwork of light,’ inside and out.”

Ma admits that “In the beginning, [my clients] were a little doubtful about whether it would even be possible to realize the building. Now they are very proud of the resort and are showcasing it to the whole world.” A wedding island and massive spa complex centered on the hot springs have recently been added as amenities to the already impressive resort.


Phish at Randall's Island

Randall's Island is a park in on what is mostly and island in the East River. The park holds outdoor concerts for the public's enjoyment. Last Saturday, the park hosted Phish, a band that is known and praised for their incredible musical improvisations. We had a lot of friends from UGA come into the city for the weekend to stay with us and attend the concert. On Saturday morning, we woke up early and went to a brunch at a Mexican restaurant called Agave. Their brunch special includes bottomless Passionfruit Mimosas, Mojitos, and Red Sangria for a fixed price. I ordered the egg and avocado skillet, which was delicious. After brunch was over, we ventured back to our apartment to print out our tickets and get ready for the show. We had to leave around 5:00 to catch the subway to Randall's Island because we knew there were going to be extremely long lines and the show started at 7:00 pm. We all got into the show successfully, and even were able to weave our way through the crowd to meet up with even more UGA people that weren't staying at our apartment. We ended up getting pretty close to the stage, and we throughly enjoyed every minute of the concert. It's really great that the city of New York is able to preserve this park the way that they do and hopefully I will be able to attend another concert there in the near future.

Week 6 Work Line-Up: 1 Presentation, 1 Client Meeting, 1 Installation

This week was Grace and I's busiest week by far. Although we worked long hours and even did some manual labor, it all paid off.

On Tuesday, Susana wanted us to revisit the Cortez house and present to her all of the new furniture pieces, lighting fixtures, and accessories that we had found. We also went down into the fabric closet and picked out some navy blues, beiges, and mustard yellows to put together a new color scheme that was more appealing to the client than the previous sea-foam green one was. We laid out all of our findings for Susana to look over. After she decided what we should bring to the next presentation and what we should toss out, we put everything into envelopes. She moved on to looking at the fabrics and the new color scheme. Although she said we were moving in the right direction with the colors, she felt that she had used some of the fabrics so many times that she wanted something new and fresh. We ended up setting aside all of these fabrics and decided to make a trip to the Design and Decoration building the following week in order to pull some brand new fabrics specific to the project. This is photo of what we priced together for the living room:

Client Meeting
Wednesday, we traveled to the Collins' house to present to them our design direction for their brownstone in Brooklyn. Once we arrived, Grace, Charlotte and I started laying out materials according to room. Susana started on the family room first because that was the biggest room that we worked on. This presentation went really well because she liked the fabrics that we had chosen for the pillows. This was especially exciting for me because the colorful fabric that she ended up going with was a fabric that I originally picked for the project. It reassured me that I was contributing to the project. We moved onto the dining room where more decisions were made, and again, she liked the fabric we had chosen. The next two rooms were the master bedroom, the living room, and the little girl's room. Solid decisions were made regarding all three rooms, with the only thing being left for us to find was a new fabric for the living room chairs. Although we will still be living in NYC for the installation, I am so excited to see pictures of the installation because we contributed so much to the beginning stages.

This picture shows the final selections for the family room. The colorful watercolor print fabric shown is the one that I suggested for the project!

Susana trying out different stair runner rugs

the final Master Bedroom selections

The final selections for the little girl's room

Friday, I attended and assisted with my first home installation. This client, Golin, had worked with Susana previously on the bottom three floors of her home, but asked Susana to do her bedroom as the final installation to her eclectic and colorful home. Although the bottom floors were filled with bright yellows, blues, reds, and many antiques and interesting collectables, Susana wanted her bedroom to be calm, relaxing, and what she described as "sexy." Susana was especially excited about this installation because it was the first time she would be building a canopy for above the bed with beautiful drapes flowing down behind the headboard. We first had to get the movers in so that we could move all of the old furniture to the basement. The first thing we had to get into the room was the big and beautiful rug from India. It was an expensive rug, but the result was worth it. Next, we had to bring in the armoire. Originally the doors to the piece were clear glass, but Susana brought some frosting spray that you can just apply to frost the doors yourself. This allowed for her clothes and personal items to be a bit more hidden. It also added to the rustic feel of the whole room. Next, we brought in the beautiful metal dressers, the mirror, and the side chair, lamp, and ottoman. When the drapes installer arrived, we all sat in awe as he installed the window treatments and started on the canopy. He drilled the canopy into the ceiling and then drilled the drapes into place. We then let the mattress movers come in with the new TempurPedic mattress and nail the frame to the headboard. After adding some personal accessories to the nightstands and giving the room a good vacuuming, the installation was finished. It turned out so beautifully that you couldn't even recognize that it was the same room. It was so fun to see everything come together, and to see Susana so excited about her long awaited canopy install.

Frosting the armoire doors

Because the ceilings were so low, it was tough for Susana to find a ceiling fixture that was flush with the ceiling and still elegant, but she picked the perfect one!

watching the canopy installation

Canopy and headboard final result

metallic dresser on rug from India

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Knowing Your Client is Knowing Successful Design

Kevin Salwen, Martin Flaherty, and Paulette Thomas (Design Leveraged)

For this week’s current event, I decided to investigate why interior design is so important to the functionality and productivity of corporate America. This article gave some important insight on how, as a designer, to achieve design that benefits specific companies.

Design Leveraged, a new research team put together by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) and IIDA has begun a series of studies to report on why design is the most underutilized business tool. The report starts off by stating: “the smartest players in corporate America are parlaying their work spaces into a competitive advantage.” How companies are doing this is answered by former Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Salwen, who is one third of the Design Leveraged collaboration, with partners Paulette Thomas (WSJ alum) and Pencilbox founder Martin Flaherty. Salwen’s statements on this matter are seen in the first report of a line of case studies, which was released this year during NeoCon in Chicago. Interior Design sat down with Salwen to hear some of his study findings first hand.

The study starts off by expressing the importance of design for all smart businesses who wish to convey their over-all message. Salwen says that “the demand for innovation amid global competition is acute,” and that the solution for this lies in the workplace, where there is too often a miscommunication between the ideas of designers and how a business functions. In order for a business to run comfortably and efficiently, the overall goal and mission for getting work done must be communicated with the designer.

In order to make sure that this close relationship is made between the client and the designer, Salwen suggests an “immersion and a deep understanding of the culture of the company [by the designer]. You have to understand it in a way that is a little backdoor.” By investigating that culture of a company, a designer is able to realize three “universal truths”:
  1. The most powerful designs reflect your organization’s culture
  2. Today’s knowledge workers require variety and agility to get a job done
  3. Savvy design can reduce real estate costs
An example of incorporating a companies culture in the design can be seen at Pirch corporate headquarters, where there is an espresso bar that is almost identical to the one found in its shops. This espresso bar is embedded in the company’s culture, as has pleased shoppers, clients, and employees.

Salwen admits that he was surprised by how open most companies were in conveying their intimate struggles and inner workings of their offices. He has found that “when people talk about how design fails, it’s not personal. It’s a structural failing”.

In conclusion, the most important message to take away from this study in Salwen’s opinion is that “design can’t move forward unless it has a business rational…but manufacturers and designers can be successful if they focus on what the people in the corporate tower need”. Design Leveraged is currently working on its next report, dated to be released at NeoCon 2015.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Baseball, Bones, and Birdies

I attended multiple "cultural events" this week, as one of our roommates parents came in town and treated us to a Yankees game, and it was the first week Grace and I were actually given some time off of work to enjoy the city. This was also the weekend of July 4th so I traveled to West Virginia to attend the Greenbrier Classic, as well as a Maroon 5 concert at the State Fair Grounds, with my best friend.

On Monday night, our friend Ann's parents took us to Yankee Stadium to the the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays. It was a beautiful night for a baseball game, and I was excited because I have never been inside the stadium before. We found out that it is relatively new, being redone in the last 5 years. There was plenty of good food and good beer to last us 8 innings. We left before the last inning because we wanted to beat the wave of people coming out to catch the subway back into Manhattan. At this point the game was tied 2-2. Ann's parents took us to a rooftop bar to enjoy the incredible view of the city all lit up at night. The game ended up lasting 12 innings, and unfortunately the Yankees lost 4-3, so we were glad we had a better view than a thousand+ disappointed fans leaving the stadium and cramming on the next train home.

Since we did not have to be at work the next day, Grace and I decided to get up early and go to the Natural History Museum to explore multiple exhibits, cultures, and time periods. We started by visiting the Hayden Planetarium and watching a documentary called "Dark Universe", about how outer space came to be what it is today, and how it is ever expanding with dark matter. We learned that the stars, planets, and galaxies are constantly moving away from each other as gaps between them are filled with dark matter. No one knows how big the universe is, or how much these spaces are capable of expanding. The theatre is really cool because you look up onto the domed ceiling and actually feel like you are flying through space during the duration of the show.

Next we moved onto some exhibits dedicated to animals living in different habitats and areas of the world. We saw North American Mammals, Ocean Creatures, African Mammals, and Asian Mammals. We also explored Asian and Native American Peoples, which were exhibits that showcased each cultures customs, clothing, rituals, antiques, religions, artwork, war-fare tactics, etc. After this, we traveled to my favorite part of the museum -- the dinosaur exhibits. It is so amazing to me that archeologists are able to discover such massive artifacts and piece them together into something so gigantic and mythical looking. There are so many species of dinosaur that all have different physical characteristics. The most mind-blowing portion of the exhibit for me was one that had the discovered skull of a baby triceratops next to the skull of a fully grown triceratops. It is absolutely crazy that something that started out so small could grow into something so incredibly massive. The museum was fun and entertaining, as well as educational, and I am really happy we had a whole day to explore everything. After we were finished at the museum we found a local bar to watch the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match. Although the US ended up losing to Belgium 2-1 in overtime, it was still an exciting game and they played their hearts out.

On Thursday morning, I woke up at 7 AM to catch my 10 AM flight to Washington D.C. With all of the weather from the hurricane, I was delayed 2 hours, so I ended up missing my connecting flight into West Virginia. I had to get on the later flight for 5:45, and around 3:30, this plane too was delayed until 7:45. I finally arrived in Lewisburg, WV at 9:20, to attend the Greenbrier Classic Golf Tournament the next day, July 4th. It was well worth the grueling traveling. I have never been to a golf tournament before, and although I did not know the golf terms or even what hole I was standing at, and I had to be relatively quiet the entire time, it was so incredibly beautiful that I had no problem enjoying myself. First, stepping into the Greenbrier hotel was breathtaking. The decor is so sophisticated, yet fun and playful at the same time. Then, as you travel through to the golf course, the view of pure and perfect greenery is even more breathtaking. After being in a city so long, it was nice to get some open, fresh air, and see miles of green grass. After the tournament started dwindling down, we headed home for some hamburgers and to get ready for the Maroon 5 concert that was to be in the State Fair Grounds that night. Maroon 5 is one of my favorite bands, so it is no surprise that it was one of the most fun concerts I have ever attended. Not only did they sound almost exactly the same as they do on the radio, but I knew almost every word to every song and didn't stop dancing or singing along the whole time. The next day was spent on the river at my friend's Aunt's cabin house. It was so relaxing and I was relieved to get some sun after getting pretty pale in the city, where you've really got to be part of the "In-crowd" to belong to a pool. We ended off the day/night with drinking some wine around the bonfire. Even after the terrible time it took to get there, my July 4th weekend in West Virginia was well worth the wait!