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Archive for category: Finding Inspiration

architectural, setting

An Architectural Setting Enhances the Experience

I spent last ten days in NY, working on the Hamptons’ project mostly. Thankfully, there was a window of time to enjoy the city and explore a couple of current exhibitions. Giacometti at the Guggenheim. “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination” at The Met Cloisters. I picked these two because of their architectural setting. For me, experiencing how the buildings complemented the shows was just as relevant. Read More

Prokudin-Gorskii, Parfyonov

Russian Empire of Prokudin-Gorskii as Documented by Parfyonov

I’ve become a big fan of a Russian journalist Leonid Parfyonov recently. Watching weekly diary-format installments of his video blog Parfenon. Living vicariously through his reports of cultural news including visits to art exhibits, theater performances, and architectural landmarks. As someone born in St. Petersburg, I’ve been glued to a computer screen for hours watching Parfyonov-narrated tele-documentaries, paying attention to his interpretation of the history and present state of affairs in Russia. My latest obsession is the inspiring film about the work of Professor Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, an inventor and a pioneer in the field of color photography. Read More

truth, artist, Jasper Johns

The Artist and His Truth: My Discovery of Jasper Johns

I’ve frivolously associated Jasper Johns — his flags — with 9/11 up until last Sunday. That’s when I encountered the artist’s extensive retrospective Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth at the Broad. The exactness and graphic quality of the work, its planned proportions, meticulous fabrication, and methodical repetition engaged, captivated, and inspired to seek explanations. Thus, I set out to educate myself about the artist and his subject matter. Read More

trendy, timeless, style

Trendy or Timeless? But It’s Not About Style! Part One

I am nervous: adding to an existing house. In my opinion, the addition, instead of blending in, has to be distinctly autonomous. Making it trendy, reminiscent of everything else around, is safe. However, design is not about applying a style. The new has to work with the existing and the end result should be timeless. Read More

creative work, imitation

All Creative Work Begins With Imitation

Over the weekend, visiting Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I snapped a few images of Gerrit Rietveld’s sideboard and Red/Blue chair. At that point I was collecting ideas for my next post. The following day, another Maria Popova article struck a chord. Titled Oliver Sacks on the Three Essential Elements of Creativity, it stated that all creative work begins with imitation. Read More

midcentury, modern, landscapes

Ethne Clarke’s The Midcentury Modern Landscape

I recently saw a Gardenista article recommending a book by Ethne Clarke titled The Midcentury Modern Landscape. I’ve ordered and have just read it in preparation for an upcoming project. I’m going to Long Island, NY to plan a renovation and remodel. I will be adding an extension, a swimming pool, as well as (in Clarke’s words) “an easy-care landscape that ties it to the site.” Read More

design camp, creative, teens

Design Camp for Creative Teens Visit & Tour

A few weeks ago I received an email: “Dear Alla, I got your name through a neighbor of yours, Monika Lightstone. My name is Sharon, and I am an ex-architect who currently is in charge of an art department at a yeshiva in Los Angeles, Ohr Eliyahu. In the summer, I run a 3-week design camp for creative & religious girl teens.” Read More

DIY Like an Architect, workshop, generating ideas

DIY Like an Architect Workshop: Generating Ideas

Every time I teach DIY Like an Architect workshop through Art Center’s ACN, a sense of doing something meaningful gives me a jolt. Being able to assist with the process of generating ideas is uplifting. It’s so inspiring to come in contact with men and women who’d give up their Sunday to uncover new facets of themselves. I want to learn from them, actually. Read More

The Autobiography of an Idea, books, architecture, Louis Sullivan

Books on Architecture: Louis Sullivan’s The Autobiography of an Idea

A client wondered: “If I only have room in my backpack for three books on architecture which ones should they be?” I promised to get back to him and, in turn, asked a friend — she is the authority — to name three books that taught her everything she needed to know about architecture. She instantly replied that absolutely number one is Louis Sullivan’s The Autobiography of an Idea. Read More

Pantheon, engaging the architect within

The Pantheon and Engaging the Architect Within

Thinking of the Pantheon while engaging the architect within helps me begin, despite of uncertainty. Not knowing the outcome before embarking on something is really hard, but even if there are no guarantees, I can’t just sit around and wait for something benevolent to happen. Nervous or not, wrong or right — life cannot be avoided and I might as well plan for my thoughts to support, not undermine my efforts. Read More

making furniture, experimentation, David Gale

Making Furniture, David Gale, and Experimentation

Over the last 30 years, I’ve been making furniture that doubles as art for my own consumption. In college, I built it myself, but after practically cutting off a tip of my thumb, I started to rely on fabricators. That’s how I met David Gale; it was in 1989, right after I moved to LA from NY and was in the process of furnishing a new apartment. Meeting him inspired a wave of experimentation with metal. Read More

architect, Louis Kahn

How I Am Still Learning from Architect Louis Kahn

Since college, the work of architect Louis Kahn has been a constant source of inspiration. Recently, I came across a letter of recommendation my professor at USC School of Architecture Roger Sherwood crafted on my behalf. He wrote: “I was impressed by a passion for books as something more than a usual search for the latest classical detail.” Read More

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