Monday, December 7, 2009

NINETH ENTRY: Italian Renaissance

NOTE: 15th to 18th Centuries

Above Michelangelo's Laurentian Library in Florence, 1519.

The word renaissance means "rebirth". It identifies the renewed appreciation of the achievements of ancient Greece and Rome. This all begun in Florence during the 14th century and eventually spread throughout Europe.

Italian Renaissance was a revolutionary and not an evolutionary development in the history of design. It seems as it creativity was due to the profound change in human nature.

*GEOGRAPHY: Italian renaissance was mainly found in Florence, Rome and Venice for this is where all the painters, designers and architects thrived. Economic and political influences were found in Genoa, Milan, and Pisa because marble quarries were in the nearby mountains to help supply marble for flooring and intarsia, which is explained below in Renaissance Decoration.

*RELIGION: The Catholic church, with its headquarters in Rome had become very powerful in Italy. But with great power had come the corruption and misconduct of church authorities. This was due to the taxation system of church goers which eroded the faith in the church.

Some important religious leaders: Dominican Monk Savonarola, and German priest Martin Luther.They both lead activities of Reformation.

*BOURGEOISIE: The Medici family rose from obscurity to wealth through their work as merchants and bankers. They commissioned lots of the artists work of their time.


Palazzo Davanzati, Florence: The facade of the late 14th century, the exterior has 3 wide-arched openings on the ground floor. The interior combines old and new elements with the painted wood ceiling beams that could be mistaken for medieval designs. as well as the hooded fire place is also a relic of older times. The walls have been divided into geometric bands, and the band nearest to the ceiling has been frescoed with a pleasant arcade of vaults on pairs of Corinthian columns.

Florentine Arches: Round arches that are met in the middle with Corinthian columns paying homage to ancient Greek and Roman architecture. This is the rebirth. This is The Renaissance.

**The image above is of the courtyard at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

The Villla Capra: Also know as "The Rotonda" near Vicenza and was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1557-1583. Its four identical porticoes that outlooks the countryside. This was created for a priest, Paolo Almerico, on his retirement from the Vatican. His house was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
**Blow is the Floor Plan and Section:

The Basilica of St. Peter's: It has been called the pinnacle architecture achievement for the Renaissance. It Occupies the same site as the Old St. Peter's which was the most important of Early Christian structures. It covers 227, 000 sq. ft. and is roofed by barrel vault's that support Corinthian pilasters.

Buildings on the right are parts of Vatican City.and at the centre of the piazza is an obelisk from Egypt.


Michelangelo: Painter, sculptor, architect and engineer he was considered a renaissance man for the many traits he possessed; being able to be multi-talented. Known for his fresco's like the Sistine Chapel, Laurentein Library, St. Peter's Basilica, to name a few...

Statue of David: One of the great works by Michelangelo in 1504, Florence. Made out of marble and stands 17ft tall, David was the young boy who slayed Goliath in the biblical times. This statue captures David prior to the battle, unlike many other depictions which show David after the fact.

The statue came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city state threatened by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the The Medici Family themselves.

Leonard Da Vinci: Considered to be Michelangelo's rivial he was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, botanist and writer. This again is what iluustrates a Renissance man! Leonardo's great works include: The Last Supper, The Virtruvian Man theory, and Virgin of the Rocks.

Mona Lisa: Is considered the most famous and iconic paintings of the world. This piece was done by Leonardo Di Vinci in the 16th century with the medium being oil. The lady's name is Lisa Gherardini and was nobody of fame but a wife of a wealthy man.

Here is a video on The Mona Lisa:


Sgabello: used for dining and as general seating. It has a hexagonal seat with a solid back that is carved of wood. The leg support design is a tressel base.

Savonarola: Named after the monk, it has interlacing curved slats with a carved wooden back and arms. It has 2 different forms fixed or folding. The main reason of design was to be portable.

Dante: X design and folding like the Savonarola chair. This piece usually has leather seats and the main construction is wood. Heavily carved arms and legs.

Cassone: was a chest or a box of any kind, from small jewel casket to the enormous and immovable wedding/ dowry chest that was the most important piece of furniture in the Italian room.
-Hinged lid
-Used as a seat or table
-Highly decorated (carved or painted)

Cassapanca: large cassone with a back and arms added to form a settee or sofa with storage below. Very popular in Florence; loose cushions used for comfort.


Intarsia: It derives from the Latin word 'interserere' which means "to insert". It was originally developed in Siena, Italy during the 13th century by crafters using inlays of ivory inserted into wood and also into wall murals, table tops and other furniture.

**Seen above in the cassone and cassapanca funiture pieces.

Fresco: is the art of painting hand ground natural earth pigments on a damp lime plaster wall. As the painted plaster wall dries it absorbs into the wall instead of sitting on top of the surface. It then becomes part of the structure of the wall.

The image above is Annibale Carracci's ceiling in Palazzo Farnese, Rome

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Donna Karen's Escape in Turks and Caicos

Fellow Libra Donna Karen is a New York based fashion designer, who used to work for Anne Klein before she launched her own line. She is featured in the latest issue of Architectural Digest with her family to reveal her estate in Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos.

Here she is with her daughter Gabrielle (from her first marriage), in the Main House and Pavilion.

Here is a site plan of the property, displaying all the houses she owns within her estate. Must be nice! One day...

This is the infinity pool, still located in the main house. It is inspired by Bali, one of her favourite places in the world. Love the canopy bed!

This is the living room section (in the Pavilion) with glazed walls and sliding doors. On the deck there is a suspended sofa from the ceiling which allows her to be a "guest of nature"; viewing the sea and have close access to the infinity pool.

This is the living room in one of her guest houses that she has decorated with African art from her travels. I love all the wood with the white accents, Gives a clean minimalist feeling with nature.

This is the master bedroom of the spa villa with dark-stained cedar walls and rattan ceilings. Nice warm colours and different textures.

Love this sofa! It looks so comfy and relaxing! And lets not get started on the scenery!
Signing off... N/\MI 4 Life!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New and Up Coming Attractions: TORONTO

Exhibits are in our town and I'm excited! See what appeals to your self

1. Gord Peteran: Furniture Meets Its Maker

September 8 to December 4

After a successful run at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, Toronto artist Peteran brings his solo show home. He uses thread, gears and other found materials for his one-off creations, which blur the line between sculpture and furniture.

University of Toronto Art Centre
15 King’s College Circ.
(416) 978-1838

2. In High Fashion: The Condé Nast Years, 1923­–1937

September 26 to January 3, 2010

Over 200 portraits of celebrities, political figures and designer fashions by former Vanity Fair and Vogue chief photographer Edward Steichen will be on display.

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St. W.
(416) 979-6648

3. A Question of Place

To January 3, 2010

Three Canadian firms create installations that define the architectural typology of their cities.

Architecture Space, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W.
(416) 973-4221

4. Parallel Nippon: Contemporary Japanese Architecture 1996-2006

November 10 to January 11

110 architectural models of buildings constructed primarily in Japan from 1996 to 2006, are presented against the backdrop of Japan’s socio-cultural and economic environment.

Design Exchange
234 Bay St.
(416) 361-6121 *In relation to my last entry on Japan!

5. Fashion Forward

October 24 to January 24

Designers, curators and historians present haute couture as a force for change.

Ontario College of Art & Design
100 McCaul St
(416) 977-6000

Funky Wall Rugs

I found these on Azure's website and I think these rugs are so beautiful. I would use them as wall rugs like Pursian rugs. It was never my style but now-a-days there are so many prints and styles, Why not use them as art pieces.

The middle one is my fav!
*Above left: Forest Floor by Angela Adams
The 3-D topography of Forest Floor’s earthy design features moss, rocks, star-shaped plants and soil. Part of the Birds and the Bees line, which Adams describes as “a tribute to Mother Nature,” the rug is complemented by colourful tables and chairs and a wall tapestry. ­

*Middle: Prayer by Amy Helfand
Brooklyn artist Helfand found the inspiration for her Devotion series in Nepal while overseeing the production of her rugs. After visiting numerous shrines and temples and coming across Tibetan prayer flags, she set to work translating these visuals into a collection. Prayer’s abstract pattern is available in a standard size of 2.4 by three metres as well as custom dimensions.

*Right: Fire Island by Emma Gardner
Gardner’s inspiration for this rug came after finding a seashell on the beach. Hand knotted in shimmery Chinese silk and Tibetan wool, the rug comes in three sizes in a pale shell or blue-green palette, as well as custom colours and sizes. All of Gardner’s designs are guaranteed for life.

***For more info or another rug maker please check we carry her line at my workplace (Roomy Home Interiors), she also designs wall paper. Here are one of my fav's by Judit

Inside Neverland

Made in 1982 by real estate developer William Bone who fully furnished the home and sold it to Mr. Jackson in 1988. Tucked away in California’s Santa Ynez Valley this estate carries a Traditional style with lots of wood, exposed beams, and interesting pieces.

The King of Pop and his Maison:

Exposed beams made of oak, marble fireplace, and a library wall which featured a hidden movie screen that lowered from the ceiling.

Very old American style with the Windsor chairs, which we will touch on later on through the History Period Styles.

17th century monastery mirrors embroidered frames hung above a wood sculpture that were once a collection in the Louvre. An antique French work table with a Chinese porcelain tobacco jar in front.

Kitchen with Portuguese tile, 2 walk in pantry's and a skylight with leaded-glass.

Bathroom with a marble counter top, camel-hair Heriz rug, and a mid-19th-century linen press and an antique stool. Very interesting.

One of my fav concepts for your backyard! Bouquet Canyon stone and Douglas fir (wood) for the barbecue area, which had a gas grill, a dishwasher, an ice maker, a trash compactor and two cook tops.

Signing off for the King of Pop.
R.I.P. Michael

Sunday, November 1, 2009


China profoundly influenced Japanese design, along with Korea, Europe, and Polynesia. With that said Japan imbued the foreign styles and forms with their own character. In Japanese design one will find that they liked things impromptu and off centre; in contrast with China's axiality (everything placed around the perimetre of the room) and formality.

**NOTE: A.D. 593 - 1867. Design determinants: distinctive character of plainness, attention to minute detail, and the signature material is wood and bamboo because of their plentiful forests. Wooden structures are safer than heavy masonry ones, however granites and volcanic rocks are often used for foundations.

***Geography- Japan is made up of 4,000 small islands with volcanoes that crowd the main islands, which are intensively cultivated and densly populated.

***Religion- Shinto meaning "the way of those above". They were not worshipped with icons or images. You will see the structures of the temples below. Another; Zen Buddhism which fostered its own style of worship and of art. These religions have definitely affected Japanese design.

Now onto some images of their work:

Folding Screen: just like China but with their own flare. 1821 Sakai Hoitsu. Ink, gold and silver on paper. 6 ft.

*Japanese Architecture and Interiors:

Contains rows of columns infilled with thin rice paper movable panels, mainly because there are no hallways. Framing is orthogonal (vertical and horizontal) or known as post and lintel like Greek and Chinese architecture. Graceful curves are introduced in column outlines, rafters, roof brackets, and great overhanging roofs.

The wood construction is incapable of long spans, meaning the buildings include repetitions of bays that are in odd numbers like 3, 5 and 7.

The chief element of the exterior wall is called the shoji, a sliding panel made of light wood lattice with panels of translucent paper, functioning either as a door or window. This was often covered a sturdier sliding wood shutter called a amado.

Katsura Imperial Palace: is made up of 3 main buildings: Old Shoin (below), Middle Shoin and New Shoin, located in Kyoto, Japan around 1615 AD. Known for their gardens and teahouses. Katsura was once owned by the princes of the Edo period (Hachijo-no-miya family).

Katsura's Old Shoin

Interior of Old Shoin: reception room with fusuma (movable screens) above them are panels of open wood lattice. The slightly raised niche is called a tokonoma for flower arrangements, scrolls, or other works of art.

Tatami Mats: placed over (the floor) wooden planks and made from rice straw (modern times is now reproduced in vinyl), its edges bound with black tape. 2 inches thick and slightly larger than 3 by 6 feet.

*Japanese Ornamentation: Just like Chinese design with ornamental metal fittings including: locks, latches, escutcheons around keyholes, pulls, hinges, and handles. They were made of brass, iron, copper, and silver. The motifs are designed by the influence of nature.

Different ornamentation's for the nail heads to add ornamentation and flare.

*Furniture: In Japanese Interiors the centre of gravity is low and the focus is on the floor. The furniture is minimal and flexible to move around so spaces can be transformed.

Footed Tray Table: Lacquered and 8 inches high with a top of 12 inches square.
Pedestal Tray Table: Lacquered and made in the 16th century which is 7 inches high.

Reading Desk: lacquered desk for religious purposes. 17th century 8 inches high.

Merchant's Chest: used for storage and made of zelkova wood that has been polished with rice bran to accentuate its grain. The 19th century,piece is 34 inches high and regularly called tansu.

Friday, October 9, 2009

IIDEX 2009

This year's IIDEX didn't have as much traffic as the past few years. I did enjoy a glass of champagne and a cheese platter, along with the spirit of design.

Here are my pic's of interesting retailers and neat exhibits:

Global Lighting one of the biggest manufactures in he lighting trade. They make: wall sconces, hanging pendants, ceiling mounted, floor lamps, and desks lights.

Teknion! How could you go to IIDEX and not see them! Lol one of the biggest in office furniture systems; like desks, panels, seating. You name it!
Here is inside their display. Very clean; forest feeling and not cluttered with minimal seating. Two years ago they launched the marketplace line.

Design Green Toronto was displaying the works of green designers around the city like Evan Bare of 608 Design.

Cubert Chair also available in green. This chair has storage compartments for your blankets and controllers under the seat or in the arms. Check out 608 Design

Another interesting piece at the Design Green Toronto display.

Interesting glass wall motifs...

Boss Design is a UK seating manufacturer for commercial projects.

Very beautiful display! One of my fav's

Up close
Another one of my fav's

Interface flooring very popular and known for their carpet tiles.

Weaves Art was there and they always have interesting area rugs. They also throw contest every year for students in the A+D industry to design the graphics for 1 rug.

Cape! How could we forget my friends! They recently bought TUFF-EDGE inc (a table manufacturing company). Doing big things over there!

I stumbled upon a Light Art Installation and took a pic of the process.

Milliken another carpet company. This year they were featuring their new line designed by graphic designer, Todd van der Kurik.

And finally Azure for your latest trends in the design world.
Signing off