Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh Joan.......

I have always known what I wanted, and that was beauty... in every form. Joan Crawford
I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door. Joan Crawford

Isn't that second photo the most pretty you've ever seen Joan Crawford? Have a great weekend, everyone!

One more just for fun...
Women's Lib? Poor little things. They always look so unhappy. Have you noticed how bitter their faces are?
Haha - really, Joan??? I mean - REALLY?? Who was more liberated than you!

Friday, January 9, 2009


It's been feeling like winter has finally arrived here. Check out these snowflakes swirling around this unusual light fixture on the campus of Carnegie Mellon Univ. I love the orange reflection......

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Samuel Mockbee

Samuel Mockbee (1944-2001) was a very famous architect: not neccesarily for his own buildings but for the studio he created at Auburn University, the Rural Studio.House with wall made out of cardboard scraps
Lily Friedlander addition - Atlanta, GA.
The Rural Studio took architecture students into poor parts of Hale County, Alabama and created homes for the needy. Not FEMA quality basic housing, but works in the high art of architeture, using donated and found materials (car windshields, anyone?) interiors of a chapel -which utilized 80 Chevy Caprice windshields at the cost of $120 Yancey Chapel interior, 1995, made from concrete and old tires!
Not only did the students get hand on learning experience from building their own projects, design experience and facetime with the 'client', but the field of architecture was brought in touch with those who normally expect architects to be for 'rich folks' (a quote from the film). The following clip is from the film 'Snake-bit' which was just released based upon this studio.

the Hale County animal shelter
Mockbee believed in regionalism, houses built for their specific location and client; not mass produced, cookiecutter mcmansions. There is something to be learned from that. These houses were not expensive and were highly efficient while providing a home for the owner to be proud of. restroom at Pearl LandingHe was aiming to inspire these poor communities into something greater: they deserved better than substandard housing and a substandard life in a rich country. All of the recipients were so proud of their houses and many helped in the construction of them.the 'butterfly' housebottles cast into this wall of this house in Masons Bend, AL. provide light.
A friend and coworker of mine attended the rural studio and she is so proud to have been a part of something so magnificent. I think this shows that we can all go out and make a difference in the world in many different small ways. Mockbee made a difference not just in the lives of these young architects and the many people he helped to house, but in anyone who is inspired by his work.detail of home created from old license plates adhered to a waxed cardboard frame.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mercer Tiles

Many of you have probably heard of Fonthill and the Mercer Museum outside of Philadelphia -the eccentric concrete buildings by Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). One of the things he was best known for was his tile work.
One of his many interests was pottery and after leaving his position as the curator of archeology at the University of Pennsylvania (where he earned a law degree) he began to study German pottery. Mercer eventually started the Moravian Pottery and Tile works (seen below, which is still in production) in 1898 which became hugely popular -especially for his arts and crafts movement tiles. The tiles are in prominent buildings all around the world -but the largest collection of them is at the Pennsylvania state Capitol building in Harrisburg ( even the Casino in Monte Carlo has Mercer tiles!)Here you can see a large selection of tiles adorning a fireplace in the Mercer Museum. I think you can see the strong similarity between these unique tiles and the German stove plates which he collected. There are a large number of these (seen below) still in the Mercer collection.
Below is the Mercer Museum ( too beautiful to not post!).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Italian Hotels

The post at Cote de Texas yesterday about the Florence Four Seasons hotel reminded me of a charming hostel I stayed at in Naples (Italy, not Florida) 2 years ago, LaControra. I quickly dug up my photos to compare. I wish I took more pictures (don't you always find yourself saying that?). While nowhere near as luxurious as any 4 season hotel, it has a certain Italian charm to it.
Located in the old monastery attached to an old cathedral (that was abandoned after being bombed in WWII) it was recently restored. Very simply done, the frescos were painted over with white -but the forms of the vaulted stone rooms stood out. I was lucky enough to have a great room facing the crumbling facade of the cathedral with immensely tall barrel vaulted ceiling and a little tower/turrett closet!
The courtyard was beautifully kept and filled with orange trees (like most of the city) -great for a mid-day snack! I highly recommend this hostel / hotel (make sure to get a private room with private bath, it is a hostel after all!) It was very inexpensive at 28-30 Euro a night! You can find information about it online at
While Naples was FAR from one of my favorite places I've ever traveled to, it has a LOT of charm and GREAT old buildings with a lot of old-world character. It's not terribly touristy which is a godsend and Capri is a short boat ride away while Pompeii is simply a 15 minute cab ride! Besides, where better to travel than the birthplace of Pizza! Traveler beware -they take their pizza VERY seriously in Naples!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Worstershire Country House

This beautiful brunch was featured in a beautiful country house in Worstershire. Isn't it a great place to spend a cold winter's day?
Has brunch ever looked so good?

Blue and white - so classic....
As featured in Classic Entertaining by Henrietta Spencer-Churchill