Archive for the ‘interiors’ Category

Ultra Ruin in Taiwan by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


“Ultra-Ruin is a wooden architectural organism that is growing from the ruins of an abandoned red brick farmhouse in the meeting place of terraced farms and jungle. The weak architecture follows the principles of Open Form and is improvised on the site based on instincts reacting to the presence of jungle, ruin and local knowledge.”

For more photos of Ultra Ruin see Marco’s post here. For my other posts on Marco Casagande’s work see Chen House and Apelle House.

I have always liked Marco’s work. His use of materials has an ancient feel – you often can’t tell if it’s modern or very, very old. The locks/door handles on this house are both beautiful and ingenious.

Taiwan is lucky to have a climate that allows free flow between indoor and outdoor area and you can see this realized in all Casagrande’s projects there.

This is a beautiful tree house – or system of houses between tree bridges – sitting fairly lightly on the land.

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - roofs

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - bench


Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande  bath


Marco Casagrande - Ultra Ruin - door_lock+open

Torggler doors

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Klemens Torggler door evolution

Two brilliant, beautiful door designs by Klemens Torggler. Above is the Evolution; below is the Stahltür. They work on a similar principle.

I find the doors so beautiful that to some extent questions about practicality seem a bit irrelevant, but let’s deal with those first. One architect asked what design problem the doors solve. The answer is perhaps that they avoid the space-inefficient arc of a swing door on the one hand, and the functional and maintenance problems posed by sliding door tracks on the other. While they are perhaps not as space efficient as sliding doors embedded in a wall, it’s a fact that good sliding doors are costly and time-consuming to install after the fact. I’ve done it and it’s a pain; you have to remove a lot of drywall, turn the studs on edge, install (which can be finicky) and re-drywall. Whilte it’s true that you can install sliding doors on the face of a wall (ie. a “barn door”), that too requires tracks and/or hangers. The Torggler doors avoid all of that hardware and setup. I’m unclear how difficult these would be to install, not to mention fix once the hinges or articulating folds break down, they look as if they have few parts.

The doors are probably not particularly soundproof without the addition of a door frame. Also, with the Stahltür’s almost medieval clang you could hardly creep in or out of the bedroom quietly. It’s as if there might be a knight on the other side when you open it. Or a dragon, or a dungeon.

Another reaction was “hopeless for children,” but then before a certain age children can’t reach door handles either. And if we’d had this in the house when I was a kid I’d have been profoundly impressed.

Quite apart from the basic function question, I would say that aesthetic pleasure and wonder are an important function too.  The beauty of this object at rest and in motion never gets boring. And how often is it that we see a familiar object like a door reconsidered in an entirely new way? This was a bit like seeing a Delorean open for the first time, but far more magical and arguably more practical.

The Evolution alternately reminds me of the slow wing flap of manta rays, Japanese origami, or actual magic.

I’d love to have both of these doors. My first thought was a wish my mathematician father were still alive to see them.

Friend and architectural photographer Krista Jahnke first told me about these.


Mobiles on the set of a Seekers concert, 1968

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The Seekers Stage Set Design

Beautiful. Why are things so overdone now? This was a great set. 1968, BBC, London.

[Sorry about the ads; being allergic to advertising I have ad blocker and never see ads, but I’m told there’s advertising on this one.]

Architectural photographs by Vancouver photographer Krista Jahnke

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Eames House detail, by Krista Jahnke

Eames House - Case Study House by Krista Jahnke

A small selection of architectural photographs by Vancouver photographer Krista Jahnke. Trained as an architect at Carleton University, Jahnke also has a BFA in photography from Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She’s taken some of the best shots of the Eames House I’ve seen. There are many photographs of that iconic house out there in the world, but Jahnke’s photos somehow situate the house in its environment in a different way.

See Jahnke’s site for some Vancouver architectural masterpieces and landmarks, both public buildings and private houses such as the Merrick House, and other sites abroad. She is also an award-winning designer. See here (P. 66)

Krista Jahnke

Museum Of Anthropology by Arthur Erickson, photo by Krista Jahnke

house at night by Krista Jahnke

Living Space, by Krista Jahnke

Vancouver Planetarium (HR Macmillan) by Krista Jahnke

LA Case Study House by Krista Jahnke

East Van, by Krista Jahnke

eames house by Krista Jahnke

Vancouver bean bag installation Krista Jahnke
Above, Vancouver’s Robson Square from above, showing the “Pop Rocks” white bean bag public seating installation by Matthew Soules and AFJD Studio; Jahnke was involved in the project as official photographer.

Kibune Sushi – perfect food, perfect interior

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Kibune Sushi - ricepaper and bamboo lamp

Kibune Sushi, Vancouver

Kibune Sushi  is one of my three favourite restaurants in Vancouver. I would have promoted it more in the past, but like many others, I suspect, I’ve selfishly tried to save it for myself. However, on behalf of the lovely owners and staff of this restaurant—Endo-san and Yoko and all our other friends there—I wanted to give it the recognition it is due. I wanted to remind Vancouverites that older, perfect restaurants like this still exist in Vancouver despite our runaway development problem. Kibune has been in this Yew Street location for 31 years, owned and run by the same people, people who have never let the quality of the food drop and who have kept the beautiful interior virtually changed.

The place was a favourite of Bill Reid, who lived nearby—my aunt and I used to take him out for lunch there when he was ailing. It was his choice. I sometimes see David Suzuki there, and the walls are lined with messages from many illustrious types who’ve visited.  Ask to see the lovely killer whale drawing Bill Reid made for Endo-san (it’s a copy, since the original was becoming threatened by theft or wear and tear).

I only expose this secret now because in Vancouver’s distorted real estate climate, I want to support smaller, non-franchise restaurants to make sure they survive and thrive. I really hope this place remains a beautiful refuge for decades more.

A few doors up Yew Street is Hapa Izakaya, full of giant TV screens, hockey and the same clientele you’d see at a sports bar. It’s more busier than Kibune is, which seems a travesty. In any other city you wouldn’t even be able to get a seat at Kibune.

As far as the menu goes, the goma-ae spinach salad (actually closer to an ohitashi in style) is by far the best one in Vancouver. Even for those who shy from the idea of eel, the barbequed unagi is completely addictive. For those who love tuna, the tuna bowl (tekka donburi) contains some of the best sushi tuna you’ll ever find. Any of the sushi is good. Try the gobo (burdock root) salad too – faintly spicy in an interesting way. It’s worth trying the specials on the board or just ask what’s good.

Lastly, for a designer, the interior of Kibune Sushi is perfect in every detail. (I’ve written about it before, in the context of the poverty of most Vancouver restaurant design.) In particular, notice the joinery’d eaves and shingled roof over the sushi bar as well as the beautiful handmade booths with peeled log posts and ricepaper screens. One of the screens is missing its ricepaper, and I’m almost certain my nephews had something to do with that, for which we apologize.

If you know me and are wanting sushi, or are coming in from out of town and want to see it, contact me and I’ll join you there.

Kibune Sushi , 1508 Yew Street at Cornwall (next to the Starbucks), Vancouver. Ph: 604-731-4482

Kibune Sushi - Joinery

Kibune Sushi - long view

Kibune Sushi, Vancouver

Kibune Sushi - sushi bar

Kibune Sushi, Vancouver

Kibune Sushi - bar details

Nathan Barley

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Julian Barrett as Dan Ashcroft in Charlie Brookner's Nathan Barley

The 2005 UK miniseries “Nathan Barley” features a venerable ensemble cast of top British comedians and satirizes what seems to be a thinly disguised Vice magazine (here it’s “SugarApe,” sometimes written SugaRape) and scenesters in general. The show is named for the bombastic Nathan Barley, creator of the website (“It’s trash, that is all around us, and then bat.”) Nathan Barley stars Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding (of The Mighty Boosh), Richard Ayoade, Claire Keelan, Ben Whishaw in one of his first roles, and others. I’m not a fan of cringe comedy generally but Julian Barrett saves the show with his performance of understated, nearly fatal disgust.


Episodes two, three, four, five, six.

Nathan Barley, tshirt as pants

SugarApe office interiors:

chill out zone

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 1.22.43 PM

Nathan Barley - office, toy bike