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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inspiring Skyline

Seeing the skyline of a city can be a major component in the experience of visiting a new place. Its the first impression, that first glance you get from the highway of the city as a whole. Having lived in the Chicago area most of my life, I am used to the impressive array of skyscrapers the windy city offers as you round I-90 heading east for the loop.

I never expected to be impressed with the architectural beauty of a Texas skyline. On my most recent visit to Dallas, I went on a night time photo excursion to capture the neat lighting display that the city offers in the dark. Like any major urban area the land is spotted with amber lights, and the addition of architectural lighting offers this skyline more structure and design possibilities. Notice how they outline the structures, giving the skyline more of a frame against the black sky. Also, some of the displays such as the white ball feature flashing and running lights. Overall I found the lighting display of the Dallas skyline to be fun and inspiring, but not the most sophisticated direction this approach could have.

Speaking of sophistication, while out searching for good photo opportunities, I drove by one of the most impressive and aesthetically intriguing pieces of architecture I have ever seen, The Irving Convention Center. Since I first spotted it at night, I was struck by the sharp, dynamic lines and glowing lighting display. The building was completed early 2011, designed by RMJM Hillier Architecture, and is a multi-use facility designed with cutting edge contemporary architecture. 

The Irving Convention Center is a 275,000 SF structure built on the 40 acre multi-use entertainment district in the Las Colinas Urban Center. The building features a highly flexible verticle design that allows for concurrent functionality. Even more unique than this buildings contemporary stacked silhouette is its stunning sustainable building materials. The exterior facade is constructed from a perforated copper, a pattern specifically designed for this project by RMJM, that overlays the exterior glazing and structure system. The copper overlay is not only a sleek design finish, but it also is a non-maintenance material that provides a natural interior shading system. Also the Material allows for a breeze to flow between the copper and glass insulating the building and saving energy. Also the perforations allow for light to shine out at night, which is what first attracted me to this building.

Additional reading lead me to the architecture firm responsible for this innovative building, RMJM Hillier. RMJM Hillier is an international firm, with projects in over 20 countries worldwide. They operate in a number of countries, and are based in Scotland. I was very impressed with their website and porfolio. Check it out!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Dual functionality is an emerging trend in many facets of the design industry. The conceptual process of designing an aesthetic product that can serve multiple needs is not an easy one. There are a number of designers out there that are attempting to take on this challenge and market higher quality products that can be used for multiple functions or made to look different with a simple transformation.

One such designer is Peter Vardai. His transforming carbon armchair is a great example of a product that can be used in more than one way. The chair serves as both a rocking and still chair and features a very contemporary, ergonomic look. The seat is an unattached piece that sits in the transformable base. When the user is ready to switch from still to rocking chair, the seat is lifted and the frame need only be turned upside-down and the seat replaced. This transformation is not only a great change in functionality, but is simple to use. Without any fancy mechanisms to switch the functionality, I think that Vardai has created a highly marketable product. The aesthetics of the chair are my only critique of the piece. While it has a modern look with sleek lines that I find appealing, the carbon frame and hot red seat are a bit harsh for me. The colors remind me very much of a gaming chair for a little boy. I would like to have seen it done in wood or even just painted with softer colors for in home or patio use.

Another designer that strives to create pieces that can be transformed for multiple uses is clothing designer Laura Miller. Every facet of Laura's work is carefully considered from the way it looks, the way it moves, the materials utilized, even to the number of ways it can be worn. I was fortunate enough to meet Laura Miller earlier this year at the Fashion Incubator in downtown Chicago. Her pieces were not only fabulous, but she was such a delightful, inspiring young woman. She shared her path to this career and how her values and convictions have led her to creating her own business.

Now, about the clothes! Laura's pieces are designed in such a way that you can turn them upside-down, inside-out or fasten them in a way that creates an entirely new aesthetic. From a long knitted sweater into a short cowl neck sweater, from a strapless slinky dress to a halter top - the versatility to her clothes is never ending. For functionality and look Laura's work gets an A+. the only drawback to her pieces is the extreme price point. There are a number of reason why the clothes are so expensive. Firstly, every piece is made from hand loomed, recycled or organic fibers. Sustainability is a very important factor in Miller's work. Secondly, the clothes are all hand made and the multiple functionality of these pieces make it more than one item of clothing. The expense of her products have made it more difficult for her business to take off. In a culture that is obsessed with quantity and often overlooks quality, it can be difficult to market such a pricey product. However, the manufacturing process and the versatility of the clothes makes these articles of clothing completely worth owning. It is my hope that I can be the lucky owner of a Miller piece someday.

click here to see Laura's website and clothing collections!

About This Blog!

Hello and welcome to my Blog! My name is Kelsey and I am a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago. When I was in school I kept a blog for a Design Culture class and it was a great way for me to keep myself reading and learning about the wonderful world of design. My interests are vast and I hope to share with you a plethora of cool, weird, entertaining and great design ideas from products, interiors, fashion, architecture and more! I haven't publicly shared my writing before, but I thought I should give it a shot. So here goes...