I am little delayed in blogging, what with summer diversions and all. But I am back, talking appropriately enough about LIGHT. It is one of Beasley & Henley’s Five Foundations of Design and in a nutshell, this is how designers make it work…
Generally we look at 3 kinds of lighting: 1. Natural light a/k/a, good, old-fashioned sunshine. 2. Ambient light, which is general room lighting. 3. Specialty lighting, which illuminates specific objects or areas.
In any one room, there should be at least one of each of these light sources. A few of each would be even better.
First, start with the natural sunshine: make sure your windows are unobstructed by heavy draperies, big pieces of furniture or other large items that would intrude into your sunlit world.
Second, look at the ambient lighting. Use a good general overhead fixture that provides ample room light. If an overhead isn’t possible, use enough lamps with floodlighting to generally illuminate the room. Hallways should be well lit with a sequence of lighting overhead or with scones.
Third, is specialty lighting. Some of the most creative designs involve this kind of lighting, which is used to illuminate specific items or special areas. For example, a lamp on a desk provides task lighting specifically for that area. A pin light from the ceiling can spot a piece of artwork. Wall washers can highlight a gallery. Under-cabinet halogen lights in the kitchen or on a large bookshelf will counteract cabinet shadows and also provide task lighting at the same time. Cove lighting in a ceiling design will provide soft mood lighting.
For maximum mood and effect make sure all your lights are on dimmers and remember to use low voltage dimmers for low voltage lights or you will get a burn out you weren’t expecting.
A few more notes about things people always ask us…
- Chandeliers: they hang between 36”to 48”off the table in the dining or breakfast rooms
- Recessed Cans: If you are using recessed cans, use halogen not incandescent bulbs- you get more light and they last longer.
- Also with 4”-5” cans available, there is not reason to poke 6” holes in your ceiling anymore.
- Green: We think ‘green lighting’ is a great idea, but it is still a work in progress. The bulbs cast a horrible light, so we are waiting for the next generation.
- Florescent bulbs? Let’s not even go there – they are loaded with mercury, have special disposal issues and they look bad. Sorry ‘green’ people!
Maybe it is my recent conversation with Sara Baldwin and all the great products on the market these days, that got me thinking about mosaics and tiles in general. Then, of course, there was our recent trip to Italy, ‘ la Costa Amalfitana’ in particular - the place most people associate with this kind of thing – where I saw some remarkable mosaics and tile designs.
Lots of things that fall into the categories of ‘ breathtaking’ and ‘fabulous’ . Lots of incredible traditional designs and beautifully executed floors and fountains and duomos from antiquity to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Surprisingly though, we were most taken with some of the MODERN designs. Yep, modern! In Italy!
Even in towns that are like 3000 years old we saw an inventive use of modern compositions and contemporary applications of this versatile art form.
Juxtaposed by the ancient or just merely really old, these designs were so refreshing, we loved them!
I did succumb to one wonderful application of mosaic from the late Renaissance at the Villa D’Este. The Villa is just outside Rome (or really outside if you take the bus-ugh!) and is world famous for its fabulous villa and beautiful gardens.
In one section the ceilings have a 3-D relief where roses are formed in mosaic and while it isn’t the most elaborate design ever, but I love the concept and it was gorgeous. You feel like you could just pick them off the ceiling…
I love imagination! Invent! Create!
Sara Baldwin, innovative founder of the incredible New Ravenna Mosaics recently spoke with me about designs, trends, and her love of mosaics. Sara has a lot to say, and when she gets started it is hard to stop – but why would you want her to!? Here is some of our recent conversation.
Hi Sarah! You just got back from this year’s Coverings show – how was it?
It was great and really busy for us. We launched a few new lines…our new Waterjet designs, our new stone line, and we showed our glass palette with all our fantastic 50 new glass colors. We had a great response. I am so excited about our new designs.
Well, New Ravenna has had a ‘great response’ since you founded it 18 yrs ago. With the whole home furnishings industry being so crazy this past year, what has been going on at your shop?
Good things, thankfully! Our focus is still on strong mosaic designs, but we have just added our Waterjet designs. Waterjet gives a lot cleaner look than mosaics, which are a lot more textural, of course. We often still add mosaics into the finished Waterjet design by hand if we want the pattern to have some texture.
Also, we are using a lot more of our new glass in the mosaics. We have doubled the number of jewel glass colors available lately. I don’t really see any one else doing this like we are.
That’s cool. What else are you seeing in mosaics these days?
I see an overall trend toward cleaner looks and to more organic flow and motion in mosaics. Personally, that is what I am focused on. On the other hand, there is still a need for complex designs. For example, while the mid-century influence remains strong in furnishings, it is boring unless you juxtapose it with something else, something contrasting to give the project an edge. Then, even with all this “modern”, I am also seeing a trend toward Moorish and Near Eastern influences, even crossed with sort of Gothic influences. All very curvy and flowing.
Hmmm…Moorish and Gothic are two of my favs, so I am glad to hear that! What is your favorite mosaic pattern lately?
I love our ‘Jacqueline’ CBO914. It was based on a wedding dress I saw in a magazine; the dress had the most intricate lace details. Jacqueline is cut with the Waterjet, and then the material is all tumbled. For installation, we recommend sanded grout, to accentuate the beautiful texture of the stone. It is a very versatile pattern. I love it.
We took a tour of your workshop last year and it was incredible, a real eye-opener for us. What do you think are some misconceptions people still have about mosaics?
Mainly, that they are only an Italian inspired tile design. Mosaics are like paint on a canvas – you can have a painting that is modern, Baroque, impressionist, lots of styles – the same is true with mosaics. I mean, the Italians had many masters in painting, but people don’t shrug and say, ‘ Oh paint, it’s so Italian!” With mosaics, you determine the function and color, and you can make a mosaic be anything you need it to be. It is often that final design touch that sets a space apart from any other, the touch that makes the space intensely personal. Also, people think mosaics are very expensive, but there is a lot of range in price as well.
What are some unusual things people have done with your mosaics?
I heard that someone did a radiator cover with one of our designs at the Kip’s Bay Showhouse this year, but I have not seen it yet… anyone have pictures?
What are you seeing as new uses for mosaics?
There are so many. Really we have just scratched the surface of using mosaics in modern times. They can be for any environment. A floor, a ceiling, a wall, a fountain, a fun detail. I like seeing them on the outside as well as the inside – in landscape design, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, pools, they can be an outdoor ‘rug’. So many things!
Sara, you are endlessly creative! What inspires you?
What inspires me? That’s hard. What inspires you? (LOL! this is your interview!) Things in nature, my house, the beach, the woods, fabrics, anything textural. Last year I was into rivets, in fact I almost wrecked my car one day looking at rivets on a bridge. So yeah, nature, but really everything inspires me, I just have to let it in!
Sara, thanks for talking with me and thanks again for the tour. It was amazing to see those mosaics come to life centimeter by centimeter and all by hand. I have a huge appreciation for your talented team and the painstaking and beautiful work they do! Thanks Sara!
I was hunting thorough the pages of Contract Design Magazine and Interior Design Magazine for NEOCON exhibitors. There are some great products from the show and others not exhibiting but love what they have…
Here are a few of the choice Favorite Things!
(All pics from Contract Design, Interior Design or company websites)
Bernhardt’s Calibra Collection: Gorgeous collection with voluptuous and oversized seating, delicately hovering over faceted aluminum feet. A deep V-shaped cutout between the arms and backrest reduces the bulk and frames two thin, inlaid stripes of fabric that stretch across the back cushions.
Mickus Projects – Dense wool felt composes the seat and back, carved into gentle ridges that, as the name suggests, offer relief when you lean against them. The Relief Chair is part of a collection called solid/surface/series, which includes several other pieces of furniture experimenting with the same material.
At Neocon, Arcadia will introduce their new Achella line an expressive lounge collection featuring straight and tapered lines beautifully counterbalanced with fluid contours. Combining metal, wood and upholstered elements, Achella benches, lounge, love seat and sofa models deliver stellar form and aesthetic brilliance – not to mention a variety of options to realize a purpose beyond simply waiting.
How cool is this sofa! From Brazil, Domingo Tortora’s line of furniture and home accessories is krafted from natural paper and banana fiber.
I love this piece by Sylvan SF, a mahogany sideboard finished in beached parchment.
Rodolph Fabric – Love it!! Engaging II is all about the drama, with a double-sided, laser-cut, faux suede window treatment, featuring a motif of interlocking rings. It’s 100 percent polyester, and the finished laser-cut width is 45.5 in. It can be treated to pass NFPA-701 small scale and is also available as the single-sided Engaging I.
I recently spoke with Michael Voll of Electronic Systems Designs, ESD for short. Michael is very smart, knowledgeable about electronics and a great guy, but sometimes, when he gets techy, I have no idea what he is talking about. So he graciously offered to try once more, and this time, I think I got it!
Hi Michael. Your company, ESD is multi-faceted…. Tell us about what you do, in layman’s terms.
We are multifaceted, but basically ESD specializes in “systems integration”. We integrate the electronics and technology of the entire home into one, centralized control.
Why is this in demand, why is this important?
Technology in homes is become more complex. When you buy electronics, you also buy the controls that go with them, so you end up with remotes all over your house! There is a remote for your ceiling fan, pool, TV, then there’s the stereo…. It goes on and on. People want a central control for it all.
Yeah, that gets to be a mess. I never could get the remotes right or even find them sometimes!
Exactly! It is better and easier to have one ‘go-to’ location.
How does this fit into the interior design?
With interior design trending toward more clean lined and modern, people want their electronics and their controls to be the same way. A smaller package for everything in one interface. Easy.
What other movements or trends are you seeing in the world of home technology?
Hands down it’s the ‘green movement’. On almost every job now don’t just program lighting we make it more efficient. We call it the “Green Scene”.
Yeah, we program the system so the lighting automatic dims by 10%. That saves people about 15% on lighting bills and extends bulbs by 50%. It reduces bulbs and acid in landfills plus it improves efficiency in your home. You gotta have a Green Scene!
Yeah! I don’t know that I have a Green Scene. I have to look into that. Actually what pops in my mind is, why don’t people just buy lower wattage bulbs?
Well, sometimes you still need brighter lights, just not on an everyday basis.
So in addition to getting Green, what are the Must Haves that you see in home technology?
Flat Screens still! In bedrooms they are about 32” and then up to 55”- 60”in family rooms. I have one client doing 103” right now! Also HD (high-definition) video distribution is important now. People want HD on their flat screens but not all the boxes that go with it. So we set up one control area but the HD goes to all rooms. It’s great!
What are some of the mistakes Home Owners home electronics?
Easy – not pre-wiring for options they may want to add in the future. If you pre-wire, you are all set for future purchases. Plus, it is a lot cheaper than cutting up your house to add wiring later on.
Another mistake is not going with a reputable company or looking just at the lowest bidder. You get what you pay for! There are a lot of start ups out here who come in low, but they are here today, gone tomorrow.
With electronics, we know there is always something new on the horizon, so look into the future a bit – what about the Must Haves of tomorrow?
I would have to say it is digital streaming of video content. As MP3 revolutionized the music industry the same thing is happening to videos. We wont buy DVD or Blue Rays or any of those. We will be downloading videos to personal storage and saying, ‘remember when we used to have to go to a store to actually buy this”? LOL!
Video will be integrated more and more with mobile devices. Not just for entertainment but for communications too. Then in homes we will see the disappearance of the home phone, which is already underway. Whole sections of the Gen X, Gen Y groups, only have I-phones. Telephone jacks and landline phones are disappearing.
Thanks Michael – I appreciate it and I get it!