Gustav Klimt


Gold leaf has been used in the art world for thousands of years.  Gold leaf is simply the process of hammering real gold into paper-thin sheets and then adhering it to the art with an oil, egg tempura or glue substance.

Gustav Klimt was one of the first artists to use gold leaf in a new and modern manner.  Klimt was born near Vienna, Austria in 1862 and best known for his evocative and controversial work most often depicting the female figure.  Early in his career much of his work was in murals and traditional architectural decorations.  His later work was often unfavorably received due to the exotic representation of the female body and the new and unseen ways of his craftsmanship and technique.

Klimt’s most acclaimed work was during his “Golden Phase” where he created paintings using gold leaf and a perspective technique reminiscent of Byzantine mosaics.  He is known as an advocator of Art Nouveau, a movement that Modernism built upon.  Despite also being known as a “decorative painter” and a Symbolist, his art is some of the most modern and innovative work in the history of art.


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Family House


What does an architect do when stricter-than-normal, local building regulations that include the shape and pitch of the roof, the height of construction, and the distances from the property lines, curb your design process for a modern house?

Here in the Czech Republic, studio pha uses restraint with materials to achieve the desired modernity.  Using almost the most simple shapes and forms of a house, the architects achieve a level of modern minimalism while complying with these neighborhood codes. The clean edges form the mass of the house.  Any interference to this, such as gutters and drainpipes, are embedded inside the wall. There are no eaves or overhangs to complicate the profile of the massing. The windows are located by the simple necessity of the interior floorplans.

The beauty of this house comes from its simplicity of form, restraint in details and expression of wood.stringio-3stringio-1stringio-2stringio-4stringio

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What is Mid-Century Modern?

mid-century-home-blogsThe term Mid-Century Modern is being used often these days as a style indicator.  It is sometimes mis-used and erroneously applied to architecture, objects and styles.

The term refers to an aesthetic that developed in the mid-20th century between 1933 to 1965.  It was a time period of great exploration, experimentation and creativity in the art and design world.  In the United States, mid-century modern was the spread of ideas from the Bauhaus from Germany and Europe in the 1930’s which included great designers such as Mies van de Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, among countless other cutting edge designers. The influence on early 20th-century masters of the United States, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Ray Eames, also introduced many original ideas that spread rapidly at mid-twentieth century. The International Style gave widespread publicity to these designers, but started the reduction of many original, unique and context-based designs to a simple identifiable “style.”

Now, mid-century modern as a broad style, is identified by clean lines, truth to materials, no ornament and economy of means.  A second and third generation of designers continue today to explore and build upon the fundamental design principles of the original masters, creating original masterpieces for the people, place and time of today.


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Something old, something new


Modern design can provide a meaningful contrast when set in counterpoint to an older existing context. Matt Gibson Architecture and Design in Melbourne, Australia designed this addition to a Victorian home located in the Middle Park neighborhood of Melbourne.  Like other homes in this historic neighborhood the original front remains while new amenities are added to the rear.

This design includes three white cubes adding an improved kitchen, living and dining space.  The client was adamant to not only ensure the house was ecologically and sustainably responsible but also ensure that space was efficiently used with a relationship to its small backyard.  The color green was chosen as an accent color to the all-white addition to give a nod to the “green” characteristics of their new design.

Reclaimed and recycled materials — recycled timber flooring and decking — were used in addition to rainwater collection for recycling purposes.  Passive heating and cooling systems were designed as well as utilizing low-embodied energy construction methods and materials.

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Dietlind Wolf

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Ceramics are, in the most basic sense, clay pots and vessels that have been hardened by heat.

Dietlind Wolf began making ceramics in her friend’s basement when she couldn’t find the colors, textures and shapes she desired.  She was inspired by the Sung Dynasty ceramics she saw in the Museum of East Asian Art as well as the aesthetics of Japanese Wabi-Sabi and Chinese Daoismus.

An artist and designer from Hamburg, who previously worked as a prop stylist for food, Wolf thinks a lot about materiality and how the senses respond to certain ceramics and stoneware.  Her designs are each unique in texture, shape and color.  They are modern and give a new language to ceramics and how food is presented.

What I find compelling about Wolf’s ceramics is the way the clay clearly shows the result of being touched by the hand and how this uniqueness brings great beauty to each piece.

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Slate House


Slate is a metamorphic rock derived from shale and evolved from a sedimentary rock of clay or volcanic ash.  It works well in compression and can have a durability expectancy of up to 100 years.  For years it has been used for roofing, floor files and any smooth flat surfaces. 

Here we see slate used as residential siding which not only gives the house a unique appearance but also performs well with thermal efficiency.  This house in Laval, Canada, a suburb of Montreal, is sited in historic farmland in a subdivision with great sensitivity to the existing topography, stream and mature trees. The house uses sustainable processes such as geothermal and passive solar heating, natural water collection and low energy electrical fittings.

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