Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Architecture on Film: Sketches of Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of a handful of contemporary architects whose work has transcended his field and permeated popular culture. Even those that might not recognize his name will likely have read about his work or even seen it in person. His use of dramatic curved surfaces and shiny metal exterior skins are trademarks of Gehry's style that every novice could point out.

So, it was particularly exciting for me to learn that an architect of Gehry's fame and prominence was going to give the public a window into his creative process. In a new documentary directed by Sydney Pollack entitled Sketches of Frank Gehry, viewers get a glimpse of a renowned architect at work. For instance, many viewers might be surprised to learn that Gehry's geometric complexity evolves initially from a messy doodled drawing not a hi-tech 3-D model, as Gehry is not very computer literate.

I'm sure an architect on Gehry's scale is a skilled bullshit artist - at that level, you have to talk the talk about your "creations" if you want others to buy into the hype and pay you untold millions for your name brand. What surprised me, however, was that this documentary appears to be extremely candid in its portrayal of Gehry (at least, if the trailer is any indication). Pollack is a personal friend of Gehry, and, while I doubt there would be anything too scathing included in the film, it appears Pollack's access to Gehry allows for a much more intimate portrait of him than would otherwise be possible. And it seems that Gehry is enough of a character to make that portrait extremely interesting.

Check out the trailer here. I know this film is now high on my "must see" list.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My Kingdom For A Paperclip

Would you be able to find someone to trade you a house for a red paperclip? Sounds highly unlikely, but that is just what Kyle MacDonald is attempting to do. Kyle started with one paperclip and is making a series of trades in the hopes of eventually receiving a house in return. He is documenting all his transactions on his blog, One Red Paperclip.

While Kyle obviously doesn't have a career in web design (the site is SLOW), his ingenuity and sales skills are already paying off. Through a series of trades, Kyle is already up to a rental apartment for a full year in Phoenix (which he got by swapping a recording contract, which he obtained in exchange for a moving truck, etc.) His story has been covered on Good Morning America, and in a host of newspapers, and I'm sure that house is just around the corner.

If the story interests you, definitely keep an eye on Kyle's website. That is where he lists all the competing offers he has on the table for any given item. So far for the Phoenix apartment he has offers for a 24 hour lapdance, a low rider, and a summer rental in Hollywood complete with a Porsche.

I'm still amazed he found anyone willing to trade anything for a red paperclip, but it seems like the biggest jump was when someone traded him a snowmobile for a keg of beer and a Budweiser sign. That is a significant change in value in my eyes.

To me the most genius aspect of the project is that it correctly predicts that people are willing to sacrifice material goods to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That, and the fact that Kyle is getting a once in a lifetime experience for free, and will be a homeowner long before me!


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Small Is The New Big

Two interesting media explorations into efficient modern living in cramped quarters.

The first comes from Apartment Therapy's Second Annual Smallest, Coolest Apartment Contest. What I enjoy about this resource is the variety of design ideas and styles exhibited by the entries, and the fact that many of the ideas are actually within reach of the average design fan. Not everyone can afford $4,000 Knoll couches, Sub Zero fridges and Ligne Roset storage units. There are a number of entries that show creativity in both their materials and their budgets that is inspiring for amateur design enthusiasts. Of course, there are also some drool worthy entries thrown in for good measure. Gideon and Tracy's Pocket Knife gets my vote as the most inventive, as they have an entire wall that pivots to alternately open up the living space or provide privacy for the bedroom. However, my favorite is probably Jane and Darko's Cozy Thicket - it is one of the few entries that looks lived in. The bold use of color and graphics are fun and interesting, and it has just the right amount of "modern" for my taste. James and Margaret's Iconic Studio should also get a shout out for best transformation - they transformed a confining floorplan into a comfortable living space.

Winners are annoucned on April 20th, but, for me, the contest is more about just perusing the entries.

A shot of one of the entires, James and Margaret's Iconic Studio

And secondly, this month's issue of Dwell features several interesteing homes, all under 1700 Sq. Ft. While that is about double the size of my apartment, it is reasonably small compared to the expansive homes normally featured in the magazines. I really enjoyed the ingenuity of the Puzzle Loft and the natural emphasis of the Kozely/Farmer Residence in Venice, CA. (The latter of which was featured in this year's CA Boom Home Tours program)

Is the Super-Size mentality of America changing? Unlikely. However, it is nice to hear about some designs that factor in efficiency as a desirable characteristic.

Photo of the wet room shower in the Kozely/Farmer Residence, via Land + Living.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Believe It

Hoyas the Team to Beat in '07

"They easily play the smartest basketball of all the major schools, and he’s the best coach of a major school. They can play a Princeton (slowdown) style with athletes. That’s a rare combination."


Sunday, April 02, 2006

PRADE Weekly Update 4.3.06

Surprisingly, I think more people visit PRADE on the days when there are no updates. But in order to test this theory, here's what is catching my eye from around the "interweb." Feel free to shout out your responses in the comments.

Skylines Beginning with 'S'
Diserio.com posted its list of the 15 Best Skylines in the World. I can't say I agree with all the placements, but it is a fairly diverse list in terms of Western and Eastern cities. And all the pictures of the skylines are pretty spectacular. Although San Francisco is glaringly absent, Singapore, Sydney and Shanghai are probably my favorites on the list. I had never seen a picture of Shenzhen before, but the colorful lights definitely make for a unique skyline (pictured below).

A Daily Dose has a great feature on a series of photographs by Chris Jordan entitled "In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster." The photos don't seem exploitive at all, but rather seek to unearth personal and intimate images set against the bleak backdrop of the destruction of the storm. One of my favorites appears below

Baptist church, Ninth Ward neighborhood

de Youngian
Tropolism shares its take on San Francisco's de Young museum (which I am embarrassed to say that I've only toured from the outside).

Drops of Jupiter
Pruned gives us a new way to look at the heavenly body courtesy of recent images from the Cassini spacecraft.

Snootchie Bootchies
A humorous yet intimate story of drug addiction courtesy of director Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob. Smith relates the history of his buddy Jason Mewes' battle with addiction in the frank, conversational style he is known for - a great read. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4 still yet to come.

Fishscales on The Corner
Two tidbits from the music world. XXL's Elliott Wilson has a great column on all the samples featured on Ghostface's new album, Fishscale. Sampling has a long history in hip hop, and the unwritten rule is that you don't blow up someone's spot by pointing out where they dug out a hot sample from. However, Wilson points out only the samples that have been officially cleared by the label.

And if you dig music, be sure to check out the new blog from Thomas the Intergalactic Soul Child called The Corner. You can r
ead about the first ever performance of Funk Sway (a supergroup featuring Erykah Badu, Questlove and Jazzy Jeff) or explore his feature on Taiwo Duvall - one of the most prominent figures in the history of African Drumming in the U.S.