Colored Glass in Architecture: Dreams Do Come True!

I have the blessing of living in a neighborhood filled with beautiful Victorian houses and every time I take a stroll, I always find new beauty on each house. A few weeks ago, while Simon and I were walking back home from a nearby restaurant, we were especially receptive to all the beautiful colored/stained glass windows some houses had. Instantly, Simon told me that I should make a blog post about colored glass in architecture. Here you have it.

Some of the earlier versions of colored glass were in the form of stained glass at gothic churches in Europe. It was seen as a way for God to shower human beings with beauty and guarantee that parishioners kept on going to church.

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Stained glass at Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral. One of the few places on earth that tears run down my face as soon as I walked in. Certainly God knew how to shower me with beauty that day. – Take note that it took almost 200 years to build this magnificent place.

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Beautiful stained glass at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. A must place for visitors.

Colored glass was also used at mosques and other religious buildings around the world.

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Vibrant colored glass at Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Beautiful Middle Eastern architecture dancing with colors.

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Imagine walking down this hall. Being showered by the colors of Iran. Take note at the unique tile and rug work.

There are also more contemporary religious buildings where colored/stained glass is used in a more up to date form.

Chapel windows by Jean-Jacques Duval at Jean-Jacques Duval's Connecticut Synagogue.

Chapel windows by Jean-Jacques Duval at Jean-Jacques Duval’s Connecticut Synagogue.

The beauty about stained glass is the fact that enhances space from big dimensions such churches to smaller places such houses.

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Small details such as this butterfly and three roses can make a small Victorian room the best place to hang out.

Not only Victorian houses serve as good hosts for colored glass. More organic and contemporary houses are also good at that.

Nautilus House in Mexico City by architect Javier Senosiain

Nautilus House in Mexico City by architect Javier Senosiain. Inspired by the shape of a conch.

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Talking about wonderful spaces to hang out.

And talking about housing. I personally would love to have a colored balcony when my body cannot be as adventurous.

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MVRDV’s WoZoCo 100 unit senior living facility matching up with the Dutch daylighting codes that are required throughout the country.

Colored glass is also famous among commercial architects, for human beings are universally attracted to transparencies and color. Here some shots at these buildings.

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Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision by Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk … architects still relatively unknown in the United States. And no, they are not trying to clone Rem Koolhaas.

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Your Rainbow Panorama Circular Pathway in Denmark . If you are thinking of the best place to take your tech/artsy date for a short stroll, this is it. Resting atop the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, the fascinating colorful glass panoramic rooftop allows visitors to get a 360 degree view of the city.

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Well, hopefully when you are on your date, there are not as many people.

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And here is where you kiss! … Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, who were inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Not only glass can be colored. Plexiglass also serves as a wonderful surface for color. “Kolonihavehus” by NY-based artist Tom Fruin is an outdoor sculpture made out of thousand pieces of found plexiglass. The piece resides in the open plaza of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen.

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Now this is a structure that aims at interior and exterior lovers at the same time.

Stained glass can beautify spaces even in small dozes. Here a gorgeous butterfly we bought at Looking Glass Collage on Upper Haight Street. Altogether with another butterfly, they make our breakfast and lunch times on our dining area much more beautiful.

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Happy Valentine’s Week everyone!

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2013 From Fashion to Spaces: Trends in Color

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Colormix event organized by Sherwin Williams where I was introduced to the 2013 forecast on colors for architectural spaces. I would like to share with you the stunning upcoming palettes for next year and how they have transitioned from fashion to space.

  • Speakeasy:

From John Vavartos Spring-Summer 2013 Collection to the interiors of Highpoint-Bistro in NYC. Both inspired by the colors of Manhattans, Blod & Sands and Dick Tracy.

  • Earthy and Natural:

Making their first appearance at Paris Fashion Week, Valentino’s “From the Earth” shoes to calm and earthy spaces.

  • Mod:

From Michale Kors’ mod inspired 2013 red fashion to colorful blobject like interiors and furniture.

  • Phosphorescent Vegas:

Hot-Pink Dining Room, Burberry Prorsum Spring-Summer 2013 Hot-Pink Collection (more), and Sonia Rykiel Maison bathroom design with electric pink accents.

Hot-Pink like tonight’s fireworks above San Francisco after seeing the Giants going for the world series. Go Giants!

Beauty, Eco & Human – Friendly … Area Rugs

Good news! I am officially a certified Green Accredited Professional by the Sustainable Furnishing Council. While preparing for one of the six exams I had to take to receive my certification, I learnt about carpets and rugs. Did you know that “the standard carpet that covers 70% of floors across the U.S. often contains materials that can be hazardous” and can even affect our health? I am sure many of you recognize the “new carpet smell”. Well that smell comes from “volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted as gases. Some side effects of exposure to VOCs are headaches, allergic skin reactions, irritation in the nose and throat, fatigue and dizziness”. The US Green Building Council doesn’t recommend that “carpet containing VOCs be used in baby nurseries as the gases emitted are not something that should be looming in the air around a new baby”. Allergies are also a common problem for people exposed to carpet VOCs.

So let’s imagine that we all decide to move towards hard surface environments. Well, the downside of that is that spaces may become colder and hard on the feet. Of course, we can always use area rugs. Let me introduce you to the beautiful world of natural fiber area rugs. A world that doesn’t cost more and can make you a healthier human being as well as a more environmentally friendly citizen of this planet. These rugs are made out of: wool, bamboo, jute, sisal, shag, seagrass and other natural fibers.

Wool rugs can be so much fun. Only imagine walking on this hand tufted rug by Gan Rugs.

The textures are sophisticated and unique.

You may even bring the look and feel of natural elements such as pebbles shown in this Pebble Rug by 2Form Design.

And may even have fun around the house with rugs such as the Brain Dead Rug by Timothy Liles.

Of course there are choices for everyone. You may visit Pottery Barn’ wool rug selection.

Bamboo shag rugs are so beautiful and soft that no one can resist relaxing on them.

Shag rugs may also come in leather. So pure and sophisticated.

Here a shot of our famous shag rug where many of my girlfriends enjoy laying down while having a chat and a glass of wine.

There are also beautiful sisal rugs that can be used in more classic environments.

And they also come in darker colors such as the Tonga Deep Sea Rug by Merida Meridian.

Seagrass rugs can be used on foyers and they look so good.

They also come in different shapes and patterns, so you can play with them.

Jute area rugs look and feel so delicate and natural.

They also are fun to mix and match.

Get in your zen zone, be good to your body and respond to the planet. Enjoy a natural fiber area rug!

Simple & Beautiful: Grey-White Color Combination

Color surrounds us all over and helps us express our emotions and desires. As much as I love rich tones that speak for my Latin roots, as much as I have embraced more earthy tones that calm me down and provide me peace.

This week I am feeling the simplicity and beauty of Grey & White.

Grey and White, so simple, so peaceful.

Pretty Chevron Chair. Sold at Urban Outfitters.

Girl or boy? This Olio Crib Bedding is perfect for a unisex nursery.

Peaceful bedroom with taupe accents by Bella Mancini Design.

Playful and hip diningroom with a touch of dark aquamarine.

Elegant, country style kitchen with a yellow dining room in the background.

Funky living room with spiky sculptures and a touch of yellow by Martha O’Hara Interiors.

Mountain Peaks Bath Basket for the contemporary bathroom.

Grey & white Zen.

Also in graphic design. *Follow their advise and goodnight.

Design Details of the Caribbean

Bonjour monde!

It is nice to be back home and bring with me images and memories of an unforgettable trip to The East  Antilles islands of the Caribbean. Here are some beautiful design details that I spotted while traveling in St. Martin, Anguilla and St. Barthelemy. Please enjoy with a shot of vanilla rum.

Beautiful tile design going up the outdoor stairs at Le Petit Hotel in Grand Case the food capital of St. Martin (French side).

Hand painted tiles on the outside steps at Le Petit Hotel

Wall details with contrasting soft colors at hotel’s lobby

Dropped textile ceiling, dramatic light fixtures and Roman arches at Holland House Hotel’s lobby in Philipsburg the capital of Sint Maarten (Dutch side).

Bright colors on balcony  at Old Street, Phillipsburg.

Dutch details on Old Street

Red wooden balcony on Old Street

Yellow house, red roof and beautiful flowers inspiring pigeon courting

Contrast of street elements and vernacular architecture

Beautiful and original recycling system at Anse du Gouverneur in St. Barth

Hand painted tiles used for the beach’s sign.

Graffiti spreading love on a sign at Anse du Gouverneur.

Making signs much more fun to see.

The beauty of building codes reflects when all the roofs are terracota at Gustavia the capital of St. Barthelemy.

Detail of hand painted floor tile at Bistrot Caraibes at Grand Case.

And the most beautiful design of all, mother nature in the form of sand, water and sky at Shoal Beach in Anguilla.

Au revoir!

Messenger/Bicycle Bags for Women? do they actually exist?

My frustration has been building over the last few years, and today I am sharing it with the world.

About three times a week, I ride my bicycle, and many times I carry a lot of things with me (books, clothes, tapeware, groceries). About four years ago, I decided to invest on a Timbuk2 messenger bag. Not only I wanted to support local designers, but I also was inspired by seeing all the bicyclists in San Francisco sporting their Timbuk2s. Once I started using my cool messenger bag, I realized that it wasn’t made for my body. When carrying a lot of things and leaning on my bicycle, the strap that was supposed to go across my chest started pushing my breasts. It was painful. Since then I have tried to change my pose when riding my bicycle, put pads around the straps, and pull the straps every five minutes, but I am loosing patiente with it. And please dear Timbuk2kers do not take this wrong. I love your designs and support them fully, but I am not sure if you thought about women when designing this product. Trust me, I would be more than happy to go over your studios and help brainstorming on how we may develop more female friendly messenger/bicycle bags.

My messenger bag

Because I am a designer ,and I cannot just sit and cross my arms when facing a design problem, I have decided to see what would be possible for bag developers like Timbuk2 or The Norh Face or even Jansport  to look at when designing a messenger biker bag for us women.

We women love tote bags and bags that  can be carried on the shoulder.

Super functional tote bag

Many of us dislike pink and flowers, so please do not think that by simply changing the color of the backpacks you have made them for us. You must be aware that we have anatomical diferences.

Pink messenger bag for “women” … because it’s pink

We love soft materials and leather. We actually like earthy/natural tones.

Leather messenger bag that still needs to adress the issue of comfort when being used for bicycle riding.

We like bags that are thought out throughly for us, taking into consideration our needs, our anatomic challenges, our tastes, and our busy schedules.

Vera Bradley’s Barcelona backpack.

The thing is that, we probably don’t want to show up to girls happy hour with a backpack … that makes us feel too high school like.

I personally dream of a bag that doesn’t push my breasts …

Study of my current bicycle bag straps pushing my body

I also dream of a bag that can be multifunctional, and when needed, I can carry on one shoulder, and when riding my bicycle, can be carried on my back with the help of my chest … not my breasts.

Front solution for my dream messenger/bicycle bag

From tote to backpack … that is perfection!

And that hopefully uses reclaimed materias such as the beautiful bags from Cyclus Colombia .

Really cool design, made out of reclaimed rubber tires … that is what we like!

I can’t wait to get/develop the perfect messenger bag for women. If you want to team up or get some feedback, please feel free to contact me. It would be my pleasure!

Happy biking everyone!

Lighting Fixtures … To never leave your house …

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a lighting design lecture at the San Francisco Design Center and learnt about three incredible lighting designers. Here are they designs …

CLEAR BAND PENDANTS by John Pomp Studios. ~ Hand-blown crystal glass pendant fixture with thick clear band lens and edison bulb.

INFINITY CLUSTER by John Pomp Studios. ~ 15 pieces of hand-blown/sculpted glass crystal with iridescence.

NESTING CYLINDERS SCONCES by John Pomp Studios. ~ Two tiered hand-blown glass cylinders on blackened steel frame.

Ballad Wall Sconce by McEwen Lighting Studio

Signal Floor Lamp by McEwen Lighting Studio

Barrel Ceiling Lamp by McEwen Lighting Studio

Richelieu Chandelier by Jonathan Browning Studios

Cinq sconce by Jonathan Browning Studios

Keule 5 Light Chandelier by Jonathan Browning Studios

Now dim those lights and finish the day with a delicious glass of Carménère.

Taken by a muse called Coco

You heard it right. I have been taken and converted into a Coco Chanel … Interiors … admirer and lover.

Chanel needs no introduction in the world of fashion, but many may not be aware of her interior design tastes. She was sharp and sophisticated and reflected her style in her villas and apartments in France. For that, she could not go unnoticed in the world of Interior Design.

This is why …

Her so well known taste for ivory and black - 31 Rue Cambon, Paris.

Her superstitions ... see crystal spheres on coffe table at 31 Rue Cambon.

Open space, mirrors and unique lounge chair - 31 Rue Cambon.

Diva/Muse on her chair. Black and Ivory the law of color.

Mademoiselle Chanel on the stairway connecting her fashion shop and her apartment.

Clean touches reflecting her fashion statements - Foyer at her Paris Ritz Suite.

Always forward thinking on all sorts of design - Paris Ritz Suite.

Time for a bath at the Ritz, then apply some No. 5 and conquer the world of design.

Top Five Bookends for Young and Not so Young Adults

Hola from the darkness! No, I have not forgotten about you. I was just finishing my graduate studies and was sucked right away into a few intense interior design projects. So Christmas is here, once again, and you may wonder … Continue reading

iDo Colombia – Two Powerful Videos Thanks to Steve Jobs

Yesterday, I spent all day editing two videos from the iDo Colombia final graduation ceremonies delivered at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes. Despite the fact that this was a time-consuming process, I was overjoyed by the fact that I could be my own video editor. This experience was facilitated by iMovie and my iMac, both by Apple. Thanks to Steve Jobs and  his vision of making technology accessible to everyone, I was able to choose what to share with the world. Cheers to his life and his direct influence in the work I do.

Today, I am asking you a favor. Please take twenty minutes of your time to watch these two videos. I would like to pick the best one to share at my graduate final presentation and to send to people interested in learning and hopefully supporting iDo Colombia. Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions. If you don’t know what iDo Colombia is, please check my March 2011 post. You can also see the process on my June and July 2011 posts.

Thank you for your time and help,

~Isabel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHPayulijOk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sys_8zSgwa8