Author Archive


September 22, 2009


I love when it storms.  Watching water pour from the sky, lightening flash, and listening to the thunder rumble is mesmerizing and soothing.  There are two places that I love to be during a storm.  One is snuggling under the covers.  When the sky becomes dark and the wind starts blowing, I immediately want to hop into my pajamas, and dive into bed.  It is time to slow down, and listen to nothing else but the rain.

However, I miss out on all of the excitement if I sleep through the storm.  That’s why my other favorite place to be in a storm is in the car.  It is the closest I can get to nature while still having protection from being struck by lightening (which ironically seems to be one of my great fears). From almost every direction I can watch the water fly through the air, and bright bolts of lightening strike down from the clouds.  The air conditioning even brings in that unique smell of fresh rain.

To combine both atmospheres, I imagine designing a space that provides the same proximity and protection as the car, with the comfort of my bed.  I’ll call it the stormPod.

The stormPod is an extension of your home that extrudes from the exterior wall.  It is similar to a window seat, but its glass enclosure provides a view of the storm from 3 walls and the ceiling.  The floor is a mattress with a perimeter of a hard surface for setting a drink or a stack of books, much like platform bed.

The stormPod provides an experience that enhances many of our senses during a thunderstorm.  The feel of soft sheets is comforting during the rumbling thunder.  The experiences of seeing rain pour and run down the window, and lightening light up the sky would be enhanced with the unbeatable view provided by the stormPod.  The platform would even have vents that provide air to circulate and bring in the smell of fresh rain.

For necessary safety precautions, the stormPod would need to be a safe distance from trees, and be made of a glass thick enough to stand hail. It is not recommended to be in the stormPod during a tornado warning.

The stormPod provides a way to observe a thunderstorm with the most exposure, while inviting you relax and lounge as you experience one of nature’s greatest wonders.

“If you like Pina Coladas, and gettin’ caught in the rain.”


Bedroom | Clarksville Residence

September 14, 2009

spatial forensicsWhen asked to think of a space which I knew intimately, I immediately pictured my bedroom.  With this summer’s record breaking temperatures, and an apartment AC that couldn’t keep up, my bedroom was the only place I could find relief.  I closed all the vents in the apartment to push air back to my room, boarded the window with black out shades, and kept fans on high speed at all times.  I even moved living room furniture into my room so that my guests would have a place to sit other than climbing in bed with me.  My dark, cool, retreat coined the name, “The Cave”.

In the first part of the exercise, I practiced non-spatial cognition, remembering the place and how I feel about it.  I described a space that was refreshing, comfortable, warm, and relaxing.  My documentation in the second part of the exercise serves as evidence for why I have those feelings.

The icey blue color of the walls, comforter, and chair as well as the white couch and white wood furniture create the sensations of refreshment and coolness. My main source of light is my bedside lamp, which glows dimly through the brown shade (less than 5 footcandles!)

The lighting, combined with the caramel and chocolate brown tones of the desk, headboard, and sheets, as well as the scent of vanilla and sandlewood create warmth in the space.

My first priority in my bedroom was to have deliciously comfortable bedding.  A pillow-top mattress with the softest sheets and overcompensation of down pillows and comforters provides quite a landing pad after a long day in studio.  The size and layout of the room provide an opportunity to have a seating area at the foot of my bed, which adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

Comparing my initial sketches and thoughts to my documented knowledge of the space, I found striking similarities.  Furniture placement was correct, and I decently free-handed the appropriate scale.  The only contradiction between my memory and the facts, was the missing collection of water cups, unopened mail, and piles of laundry erupting from my closet (not pictured for sake of reputation).  It is evident that the emotions evoked about my room are supported by facts.  Soothing materials, colors, and lighting leave a lasting impression of comfort and calmness – even at 9:30 am on a Tuesday morning – when this exercise began.

“To the Batcave!”

Motivation: Family

September 7, 2009

idea house

Steven Reiss identifies family as one of the sixteen motives that “propel human beings through their lives and … can be related to physical places.”  The physical environment of the home is directly related to the values of raising and supporting a family.  Reiss explains that when a space is created for gathering, the environment “communicates important information to our family”. Because a majority of square footage is devoted to living and dining rooms, this message expresses the priority of togetherness in the home.

It has become part of our culture that we gather for meals, so naturally the dining and kitchen spaces have become places to congregate in our home.  The tradition of sitting down for dinner provides a family with a routine of spending time together.  This tradition is often less about the food, and more about prioritizing a time to share with each other.  Whether a family sits down for a gourmet feast, or crams in fifteen minutes standing over a bucket of fried chicken, the important factor is the togetherness.

For the minimum standard, a dining space can be as simple as a table and chairs.  In this form, the important message is still communicated:  This is place to stop, and spend time in.  Sitting around a table, facing each other provides the opportunity for conversation, as talking and sharing is the priority when eating with others.

When more attention is given to the kitchen and dining spaces, it is possible to create even greater opportunities to spend time together.  When convenience and comfort are standards for the design of these spaces, they become the most desirable rooms to inhabit.  The study of a vacation home in Port Aransas, Texas is a fine example of a home that prioritizes family living.

Three different zones make up the plan of the room:  a dining nook, kitchen workspace with bar seating, and a lounging zone.  Each space is conveniently accessed from the other, without ever leaving the company in the room.  Convenience also plays a role, as the kitchen is the first stop in the house before heading upstairs into the more private zones.  When coming home in the evening, the gathering place is the first stop, inviting one to spend a little extra time in the company of others.  The comfort of the dining area, an upholstered booth, provides a place for relaxation or a convenient place to work, while still remaining close to others who are cooking.  While kitchen spaces are most common for gathering, they tend to have utilitarian qualities.  Integrating a more comfortable environment boosts the potential for quality time, the most important ingredient for a happy, loving family.

“Families that play together, stay together.”

Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten

September 1, 2009

barefoot contessa

Barefoot Contessa, a Food Network program hosted by Ina Garten, features gourmet recipes that are simple to make.  Ina teaches how to elegantly entertain with an easy-going attitude.   What contributes to Barefoot Contessa’s success as a honest and inspiring cooking program, is that her show takes place in her own home.

Ina’s home is located in the historic town of East Hampton, New York, where she lives with her husband Jeffrey.  Barefoot Contessa is filmed in Ina’s kitchen, which features an 18 foot long island workspace with black quartz countertops, white wood cabinetry, and stainless steel appliances.  The neutrality of the finishes allow for the colors in the food and flower arrangements to be emphasized to their fullest and most appetizing potential.  The kitchen, in plan, makes the most sense in a functional way, as a “work triangle”.  The sink is built into the workspace, which is parallel to the stove and refrigerator.  The length of the workspace allows for Ina and her assistant to work side by side while testing recipes for the show, but isn’t too long that she “needs roller skates to get around”.  The design of Ina’s kitchen provides an ideal for a pleasing and functional workspace.  The success of this design is proven on television, as the viewers watch her work efficiently in the space.

Ina’s priority in entertaining is not only preparing delicious food, but also creating a quality atmosphere for her guests.   She emphasizes the importance of enjoying yourself and your company, and demonstrates this genuine hospitality by throwing a party for her closest friends in each episode.  This is a refreshing idea compared to most cooking shows on the Food Network.  Instead of cooking for a studio audience, she invites friends to test her food.  Instead of looking out a fake window on a studio kitchen set, the camera follows her outside into her beautiful garden.  The viewers even join her on excursions to the local farmers market, bakery, fish market, and florist.

Whether it’s a dinner party in her backyard garden, cocktail hour in her living room, or a romantic dinner for two by the fire, the setting is her home, a character that is invaluable to both Ina, and her cooking show.  Viewer’s look forward to who’s coming over for supper, what flowers are growing in the garden, and when her husband Jeffrey is going to come downstairs to test-taste the brownies.  With the gesture of bringing the show into her own kitchen, the audience feels as if they are invited to pull up a barstool and join in on the fun.

“Now how fabulous is that?!” – Ina Garten