December 20, 2010

DvH 'new concept' design projects 2010

Architektur 1x1 and DvH design -

wish to thank all our clients who either were already, or became good friends through this year’s collaborations. We have enjoyed being of service. Often challenged, but never beyond our capacity. This year has brought many new and varied experiences that will enhance our future endeavours.

Joyously, “YourTeam”

September 22, 2010

A Golden Rule for Decorating

“Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

-William Morris

For all the complexity of his career and the intricacy of his designs, the decorating philosophy of William Morris can probably be summarized in one word: simplicity. The older he got, the more enamored he became of whitewashed walls and bare floors (“If we really care about art we shall … choose honest whitewash … on which sun and shadow play so pleasantly.”)

His work is the embodiment of dreams in one form or another, this Victorian designer of just about everything. In an age that thrived on ponderous draperies and endless bric-a-brac, Morris’ “less is more” credo (a man after my own heart) made him something of a maverick. But it also meant that the design born of his imagination transcended his own age. His wallpaper and fabrics are sold today, and look at home in  modern settings.

While most decorating trends have come and gone, William Morris’ lyrical vines have quietly and sinuously crept into our contemporary notions of the beautiful. Morris loved all that was unpretentious and natural. He felt beauty played an important function in the house, as a spur to the creativity of those who lived there.

I have never been in any rich man’s house which would not have looked the better for having a bonfire made outside it of nine-tenth of all it held,” he once said. His mission was, quite simply, “to restore the dignity of art to ordinary household decoration.”

He succeeded-brilliantly.

Morris' spectacular success with printed cottons was a direct result of his experiments with natural dyeing, a craft rescued from near-obscurity.  Morris' dye recipes are shown in this 1880's workshop book.

September 19, 2010

Nature’s space re-invented

Yesterday is history & Tomorrow is a mystery…

…but THIS is a gift.

If you’ve ever fantasized about living in a perfectly transparent house on a mountain cliff with breathtaking views and where prancing around in your birthday suit couldn’t possibly be a sin, you are in for a treat.  The distinguished Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza, universally respected for his stunning buildings and the plethora of books he has published, has single-handedly inspired the dreamiest cabin in the woods of Hudson Valley, with a view to die for…

Yesterday is History,
'tis so far away
yesterday is Poetry,
'tis Philosophy --

Yesterday is Mystery.

Where it is today?

While we shrewdly speculate.

Flutter both away.

-Emily Dickinson

August 20, 2010

DvH 2010 05 Texas, a very big “country”

Architektur 1x1 & DvH design have gained recognition for designing structures that capture the essence of a building site, respond to the region’s climate, and connect its inhabitants to the natural environment.

This design was carefully developed through an inclusive and collaborative process. Through thoughtful consideration of the environmental context, energy modeling program, we developed a sustainable strategy to shape the designs, and ultimately conserve natural resources and create a healthy built environment.

August 10, 2010

DvH 2010 06 Northern Nevada

Each site and farm and their horses are unique. While there are certain common design features in all barns, simply copying an existing barn cannot begin to address specific needs. A custom design equates control over the layout, materials, special features, and ultimately the construction. The design of a custom barn or farm will address all of your wishes, goals and requirements.

We collect as much information about the property as possible. This includes property survey drawings, aerial photographs, zoning information, and acreage. Then we generate a list of what the client likes to build or develop (i.e., a list of buildings or spaces, number of stalls or paddocks, and any special features that he may desire). By creating an outline of his vision for the project, the design team strives to maintain that vision throughout the entire project.
Architekture 1x1 and DvH design, draws upon their equine experience to evaluate and accommodate the specific needs of the client and the site. Since we do not sell or rely upon a certain type of building system, our client received unbiased evaluations and recommendations for every aspect of his project.

July 9, 2010

DvH 2010 11 Macau, Macau

Autrefois, maison privee,
Temps de…
Aujourd’hui, maison privee.

I first made my friend's acquaintance in Europe. Later, she settled in Hawaii. Last year she decided to re-settle in Macau. She rang me to ask if I would consider restoring the house.

I did.

I wanted to create a sense of calm. The coolly elegant sitting room reflects the personalities of its inhabitants. The orderly arrangement of furnishings bespeaks a world where quiet and tranquility are at a premium.

June 19, 2010

DvH 2010 10 Oahu, Hawai'i

Air Apparent-

Open spaces was a good choice for this small house.  It was easy to update the basics were built in. Lots of big windows for light and breathtaking views, long lines of sight between rooms and down hallways, and peaked ceilings emphasizing height.

I trusted my instincts when I said that a few alterations would stretch the open feel of the house: A wall between dining room and living room, typical of the house’s era, cut up the floor plan. Removing this wall achieved a sense of flow, and the décor that followed enhanced the open space.

June 6, 2010

DvH 2010 12 Venice, Italy

"Many moon ago the dollar was 870 lire and I was thirty-two. The globe, too, was lighter by two billion souls, and the bar at the stazione where I arrived on that cold December night was empty"…

So begins Joseph Brodsky’s “Watermark”, his curious, quirky, and brilliant account of his enthrallment by the physical and metaphysical life of the city Venice. His meditation on the relation between water and land, light and dark, present and past, stone and flesh, desire and fulfillment, coupled with Venice’s architectural and atmospheric character speaks to all of us who have fallen under that spell.

When I first visited Venice, I was so overawed by its beauty that my fleeting visit stirred me out of an adolescent chrysalis. Venice has a strange stimulus that seems to pass directly into emotion, bypassing the usual thought processes. To wander around her, to drift or push through her, is as natural and as sensuous as a caress.

Henry James wrote of Venice: ‘There is notoriously nothing more to be said on the subject’

Venice has its rewards and its purgatory: it takes the patience of Job to infiltrate and survive the grueling treadmill of bureaucracy, followed by the passing of the many tests needed to enter into an elitist and secret society.

Following then, is my view of the inside of the oyster shell by a grain of sand that has managed to lie beside the pearl.

June 1, 2010

DvH 2010 13 Paris, France

May it inspire Romy Schneider to come and sashay.

When I ask Clive, my godson, how he envisioned his apartment. He said, “create a mood so I can imagine Romy Schneider sashaying through the place”.

Yet, he has rejected, what I thought to be a very Romy inspired bed.
A welcoming bedroom is an important part in a well-lived-in-house.

I understand that in my godson’s concentration on simple, modern design, the voluptuous bed that has been forever with the apartment is not to his taste (I wonder how Romy would feel about this?).

It belonged to our friend Brigitte.

The bed is big and curvy, and made of beautiful wood. It dominated the master bedroom throughout our five decades of friendship, and played a central role in all our lives. Brigitte was born in this bed. And, when Mona contracted German measles at the beginning of a school holiday, she spent her entire time in it. We always felt “at home” in that oh-so-safe bed. Such happy memories of four friends, together, engaged in long rap sessions on lazy holiday mornings.

Clive wants a sophisticated upholstered bed. Ergo, he shall get one, and we will put the family bed into the guestroom, so Mona and I can spend many more times climbing into the bed that made such a long journey through France’s history and was part of “our” French girl.

May 16, 2010

The Artisans of Venice-

-Glassmakers, porcelain manufacturers, weavers, goldsmiths, lace makers, and gondola builders continue traditions passed down over centuries. Each object created is a splinter, a piece of, fashioned to ensure that visitors never stop dreaming of the city.

Discussions of Venice’s earliest history usually emphasize the commercial genius of its citizens, their progress along the river, then the sea routes. But, to reduce Venice to banking and commerce, to imagine even for a moment that Venice produced nothing in its history but “merchants”, would be shortsighted. In fact, (for simplicities sake, from 1400 to 1800) the Republic of Venice survived thanks only to its artisans. At the time, the city teemed with tanners, blacksmiths, jewelers, weavers, armorers, glassmakers, porcelain manufacturers, wood-and ivory-carvers, organ builders, playing-card makers, and many, many others.

The art of bookmaking-of printing and papermaking-is one of the most respected of the many crafts in which Venetian artisans excel.

When one thinks of Venetian art, one conjures up the eighteenth century and the luminous, brilliant genius of the great stucco workers.

The Goldsmith displays his work in a showroom behind which houses the workshop. For them, so they like to say, time stopped with Benvenuto Cellini. But, was the great Florentine goldsmith of the Renaissance familiar with the soldering iron?

The Cannaregio neighborhood houses a foundry that has been making ornamental objects in bronze and brass since 1918.

Crea is unarguably Venice’s most famous and colorful gondola maker. He is the only one in Venice whose shipyard produces all the pieces that make up a gondola.

Murano is not only home to master glassmakers, but to etchers on glass-and mirror-makers as well. Everywhere the spirit of artistry arises from most ancient traditions. “Of all the arts, I know none more adventurous, uncertain, and therefore more noble than the arts that call on fire,” said Paul Valery. And of all the “fire arts”, the art of glassmaking seems to be tied to Venice both historically and symbolically. The “city of light” had to shine, and it shone thanks to its master-glassmakers. How does one transform such poor and lusterless materials-silica, limestone, and soda-into a glimmering surface? Here, in my opinion, is the entire history of Venice concisely.

Fabrics are still woven on eighteenth-century Jacquard looms and tapestry-makers create new and restore fine old hangings.

The dresses designed by Mario Fortuny crystallize in Venice our timeless nostalgia for days gone by.

At the Burano museum, one can admire the detail that made the lace of Venice famous. On the island’s main square rises the Scuola Merletti di Burano which is one of the last lace making schools in the world. The lace school requires two years of study and a graduation piece may take up to six hundred hours. Each piece of lace involves seven workers, from the designer to the finisher. I know no other beauty as secret, as unsettling as lace, which captures Venice to such a degree.

This artisan, like his father and grandfather before him, restores antique furniture and paintings.

Terrazzo alla veneziana, flooring made of marble chips embedded in a putty matrix, adorns practically all the palaces and great houses of Venice.

Were it not for the excellence of its artisans, Venice would be a dead star. Are these artisans representative of a vanishing species? I dare hope they are not…

April 25, 2010

A space re-invented for special needs

DvH2010 02 Malibu Lake

Because of disability, ordinary movement becomes difficult at times. This requires a re-invention of the living space.

For a person using walking aids, and with uncertain footing, doors should ideally have wide openings, clear of doorstops, and any bulky fittings. Handles should be easy to grip and strongly secured since they will probably be used for support as well as operation. Double doors or sliding doors work better than conventional designs.

Wide traffic paths and an even floor plan are best. Furniture with sharp corners should be moved out of the way. Sofas, beds, and chairs ought to be generously proportioned with high seats that are easy to get in and out of, plus high, straight backs and sturdy arms for support.

In the kitchen cupboards should be within easy reach, taking into consideration the occupant’s range of movement and, if necessary, provide some means of sitting at the worktop. Extra strong illumination for failing eyesight. A two element ceramic cook top at the back of the work surface works well so that hot, heavy pans do not have to be lifted, but can be pulled forward safely. A wooden handrail fixed along the front gives support and provides a place to hang a walking stick. Reduce unnecessary movement by storing kitchen equipment on open shelves and pullout cupboards.

For many older and impaired people ordinary bath are too low. A sitz bath which is shorter than average, but much deeper, with an integral seat at one end so the bather is completely immersed without having to lie down is ideal. The wall-hung basin can be positioned high enough for a tall person to use without bending.

A high bed is easier to manage. Built on a platform with drawers underneath. This arrangement will do away with the need to clean under the bed-an awkward task when bending is painful. At the head of the bed is ample storage for all electronic gear and reading materials. The content of the wardrobe or closet is easy accessible behind curtains. Wire baskets on runners, shallow drawers, and low hanging rails.

For our client, an artist, we designed and built a glass-enclosed deck that allows easy access, easy movement, and plenty of natural light.

The house, built in the 1990’s, was upgraded to more energy efficient standards. The surrounding landscape has been left in its “native” state, requiring no watering and only an annual clearing and pruning of trees.

March 28, 2010

Adaptive re-use in house design DvH2010 04

New buildings aren't always entirely new. A desire to protect the environment and to preserve historic architecture is inspiring architects to re-purpose, or re-use, older structures.

Trend-setting houses can be constructed from the shell of an outdated factory, an empty warehouse, or an abandoned church.

This lovely old house, formerly a house of meditation and worship, was converted into a private retreat.
It has wonderful architectural character, beautiful vaulted ceilings, and views of the Pacific Ocean and the hillsides.

We have recycled the original house (saved it so the materials would not go into a landfill). Saved all mature trees to provide much needed shade in the summer. We did rainwater irrigation (the gutters and drain spouts are directed to the landscaping, cutting down on the need to irrigate the drought tolerant natural landscaping). No AC (strategically placed windows encourage excellent cross ventilation). Fixtures, fittings, floors, tiles, spiral staircase are from architectural salvage and demolition sites. Low-E coated windows with low-emittance coating will block heat and UV rays from entering the house. Low-Flush toilets, Low-flow showerheads cut down by as much as 50% usage, and all Energy Star appliances add additional savings. All paints and finishes have low levels of toxic volatile organic compounds.

March 12, 2010

DvH2010 01 Kalihiwai Bay, Kauai, Hawai'i

DvH2010 01 Kalihiwai Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
residential green new built, main house, guest house,
and fiddling hut

Modulating a dialogue between Architecture and Nature.

Anyone who fears that a modulated design will produce a dull house with the appeal of a shrink-wrapped box should study building trends over the last decade. This 1,200-square-foot house (and 600 sq. ft. guesthouse) is designed to blend into the breathtaking enveloping natural landscape. The client, who loves the outdoors, wanted his home to reflect that. His primary goal was to have a design that will establish “a dialog between the built and the natural.” This will be achieved by organizing the house along mathematical guidelines that both anchor the house to the earth and create vistas between interior and exterior. All interior doors pocket into walls, creating a different configuration of privacy, light, and perception.This modulation of space is crucial when designing smaller dwellings.

But lest the house seem to grounded, we added a kinetic counterpoint: a butterfly roof. The two-winged roof has functions beyond the poetic. Tropical areas such as Hawaii have utilized the Butterfly roof to harvest precious rainwater since the middle of the last century, but these new ones are angled at the steeper 20 to 30 degree angles that are needed to maximize solar production.

With the steeper angle the tropical downpour is also more efficiently harvested in the roof’s center rain-funnel shape, where it is then filtered, stored and pressurized to the tap. The energy generated from solar panels on the roof, and hydraulic, gas and telecom services run in two vertical cores accessible from the bathrooms and kitchens for maintenance.

Passive cooling is achieved the old fashioned way with wide verandas, and a gallery open to the elements and sea breezes and to shelter the interior spaces from the tropical sun. The wooden skin that wraps the gallery filters the glare, providing intimacy in the bedrooms, shading the interior while framing the views outward. The roof shelters the house from the Sun while keeping it permeable to the cool winds to avoid the need for air-conditioning.  Self-sufficiency is what the client desired most.

March 8, 2010

DvH 2010 09 Ventura County California

The client grew up in the house in the '60s, and aside from a television set and a few new appliances, not a whole lot had changed since then. That's not to say the place had gone to seed-on the contrary, it was maintained quite well, and it still exuded much of its original charm, a welcome respite from a majority of the re-builds. All that was required was a small facelift. Voila!

Coastal dwellers love their beaches.

Watch the surfers when Rincon is breaking in the winter. Many people may live near a beach, but not many can claim that they actually live on the beach. Well, you can live on the beach just 20 minutes south of Santa Barbara.

While the house's interior wins with its charm, the exterior views are downright mesmerizing. Sit on the patio as the sun fades into the ocean and leaves behind a sky full of opaque oranges, and ravenous reds.

During the daytime, you can spend hours on the wooden beachside deck, and watch the seagulls hover in their endless search for scraps.
Walk along the beach and admire the variety of homes, especially the old and funky. To maximize the view, residents don't build big walls or plant dense trees and shrubs to maintain privacy. When the tide is low, small strips of beach emerge, and you can collect interesting rocks and shells brought in by the lazy shore break.

February 26, 2010

DvH 2010 08 Las Vegas

Grand Flourishes (a new, old sense of Europe)

European interiors often have a certain drama and stylishness. One reason is that late Renaissance and baroque buildings provide startling and extravagant frameworks for interiors. Designers today rarely get a chance to try their hands at such spaces.

The client wanted his living space to reflect his traditional European taste. There was actually nothing European here except the furnishings, so we created “a look”. We took the well-proportioned rooms and transformed them via color, texture, finishes, art, and furnishings.

Retired from the Swedish Foreign Service the client decided to live part-time in Las Vegas. During his worldwide postings, he accumulated an eclectic mix of art and he inherited an exceptional collection of fine furnishings.

Because entertaining is such a big part of his live, the furniture in the living room is arranged to make dialog natural and easy. We opted for neutral walls and modern seating to set off the antique Italian celadon-green boiseries and art.

In the dining room, a new glass-topped table is encircled with antique chairs, upholstered in embroidered fabric.

In the private rooms, the walls are “clean” white, with no deep pigments to create pink or blue undertones. The white works well with the abundance of natural light from the large windows. Bed and seating were custom designed.

February 16, 2010

DvH2010 07 Condominium

“Good design should seduce you”–John F. Saladino

The standard condominium or apartment floor plan has little to seduce you. The amenities are concierge service, valet parking, restaurants, and entertainment within walking distance. Therefore, it is the designer’s task to transform the space into an unexpected pleasure.

Natural and artificial lighting can be orchestrated to create a relaxing, welcoming sanctuary in any room. In this minimalist-style living room, the expansive window is the focal point of the room. The undressed window provides warm, natural light and a priceless view to the changing kaleidoscope of colors from morning to night.

Contemporary furnishings and crisp architectural styling blend with the classic proportions of a grand piano. Neutral colors, rough and smooth textures, enhance the impression of a cohesive, inviting space.

Ceramic tiles in Wedgwood Blue and Indigo, in the bathroom make a dramatic counterpoint to the neutral scheme of the living room. The color palette makes such a strong statement that few accessories are needed.

Green is said to be the most restful color to look at, because its light rays fall most directly into the retina. A shift in mood for the dining room in color, texture, and style. The client enjoys old-fashioned European dining with late suppers well into the evening. Comfortable seating and intimate lighting will inspire sparkling conversation and hearty appetites. At least that is my hope.

The apartment provides open-air dining on a small terrace. Added to the fun of being outside is the pleasure of such an experience right in the heart of the city. It is always a special occasion, something like being on a desert island, far from the hubbub of the city below.

January 22, 2010

DvH 2010 03 Vancouver, B.C. Penthouse

This project could have starred as a designer's nightmare. The high-rise culminated in a dusty muddle of bare-bones supports and grimy pipes emerging through rough concrete floors from apartments below. The only thing to recommend it was the promise of a home with wrap-around view— fog-shrouded mountains at eye-level, sunrise, and sunset.  Remodeled and reconfigured it will function as a living/working space.
The client had these requests: "Room for books, a space to work and keep the place open, don't block off any view, and leave everything as clean as you can."

Generosity and the seamless interconnection of space were the inspiration for the design. The interior epitomizes contemporary living, and the client’s admiration of simplicity in style formed the foundation. Day to day practicalities, such as robust materials, and an abundance of built-in storage were essential for clean, unobstructed lines. The cool palette is enhanced with an innovative lighting design, and layered with natural and neutral tones.
Project completed and ready to receive guests for the Winter Olympics. Let it snow!

January 1, 2010

The Best Year Ever

Every January First gives us a crack at our best year ever, and this year is particularly relevant to thoughts of seizing another chance.

RE-inventing RE-habilitation RE-modeling RE-storing RE-decorating RE-novation



Re-inventing a wasted top floor of a building.

Re-habilitating an energy consuming McMansion.

Re-modeling a listless concrete box.

Re-storing aging beauties.

Re-decorating a cookie cutter apartment.

Re-novating and imagining a new space for horses

All those “re-“ words mean doing it again, BEST WAY EVER. I hope there will be happy endings for all of us in the year to come. I plan to continue to encourage clients to realize their dreams this year, next year, and whenever we get to say, as I do now, Happy New Year.