Italian Lighting Design

Some Beautiful Italian designed lighting fixtures. I love them all, but especially the first image of the "Feather Chandelier". How fun is that?! I would hang it in a bedroom, closet area, or maybe powder room. The second image is a classic "Fortuny" style design.

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These would be nice over a kitchen island

360 Italian Design

Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design.
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Ferrara Italy - The University of Architecture


It's official, I am going to be studying at the renowned University of Architecture in Ferrara Italy for the month of July 2008!!! This University is situated in the Medieval walled city of Ferrara and has been the top ranked University of Architecture in Italy for 8 consecutive years. The University of Ferrara was founded in 1391, and that makes it one of the oldest Universities. I feel very honored and privileged to be studying at this facility under the tutorage of top Italian Professors in the "Facolta di Architettura di Ferrara".

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Location of Ferrara in Italy This is a map of Ferrara and you can see the
outlines of the wall around the city.

Ferrara is a city in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th & 15th century. It is a walled Renaissance city, surrounded by 9 kilometers of ancient red brick walls. For its beauty and cultural importance it has been qualified by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Ferrara is a "bike city". When I arrive, I am given a bike to ride back and forth between campus and the Residence. It is apparently a 10 minute bike ride. Very European and very energy efficient, as well as good exercise.
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The city walls and one of the gates into the City of Ferrara Ferrara is a bicycle city--as you can see from
in front of the train station.
photos James Martin

I will be taking two courses juring the month of July:

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The Faculty of Architecture building

The first course is 19th - 21st Century Design
History of Italian Architecture, Interiors, Furniture & Graphic Design
Taught by Prof.ssa Dr. Giulia CERIANI SEBREGONDI
My text books for this course are two "Bibles" of 20th Century Architecture and Furniture Design

20th Century Furniture Design Modern Architecture Since 1900 by William Curtis
by Klaus-Jurgen Sembach The front cover is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Brick Villa Project, plan, 1923

2. My second course is Sketching and consists of three nodules
Module 01 taught by Prof. Mario MANGANARO
- Proportioning an drawing plans and elevations
- Direct perspective and exercises on representing elementary volumes
- Field exercises
- Examples of travel sketches (Rome, Venice, Naples, Palermo)
- Field Exercises

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Module 02 taught by Prof. Salvatore SANTUCCIO
- Part One: a theoretical lecture focused on sketching history in recent architecture from the experiences of Le Corbusier in the Middle East and Delacroix in Maroc
- Part Two: "on site" sketching in the city centre of Ferrara. At the end of class students should have a rich sketch book with some different drawings of Ferrara to show on final examination.

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Module 03 taught by prof.ssa Carolina CAPITANIO
Tools and methods for a sketching survey to highlight the major elements of an architectural text
Consists of 3 lectures on developing the sketching survey through:
The rules of classic architecture
The rules of modern Architecture
The interiors survey
The building survey
The townscape survey
The landscape survey

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As well as having classes on campus we have 3 field trips planned in Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan.
I can hardly wait as I have never been to Florence, Rome or Milan. And what makes it even more interesting to me is that instead of studying Antiquity, we will be visiting 20th Century Architectural sites. I will have an extra free day in each of these cities so of course I will visit the museums and Historical sites.

Stay tuned and I will fill you in on my adventures in these four Cities

I love this quote by Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore.
Dream. Discover.

the greener things in life

i heart green. I have always tried to be environmentally conscious, maybe moving to the US from Sweden made me even more aware. habits that were part of the everyday in Sweden, didn't even seem to occur to people here in America. and we've all hear about global warming and gas prices every day now, and we all know that there are things that we can do to help. but sometimes you need a little kick in the butt. and that's what I got last week, when a .lovely lady. at work introduced me to this short video.

it's called .the story of stuff.

you might have seen it already, but if you haven't, I encourage you to watch it and to share it with your friends and family. it's simple and easy to understand which makes the information accessible to everyone. it shocked me, but more importantly inspired me to do more. and in this case, doing more means using less.

I am sharing this with everyone because the environment and our current situation here on earth is a very important cause to me. and I have the power through this blog to influence others. so, I have made the decision to focus more of my blogging efforts towards .the greener things in life. as I set out to educate myself about greener options for my lifestyle, I look forward to sharing it with you.

below is a good list to start with. .10 things you can do. to save on energy and resources.

10 things you can do

10 Little and Big Things You Can Do

  1. Power down! A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money. And, if you can switch to alternative energy by supporting a company that sells green energy to the grid or by installing solar panels on your home, bravo!
  2. Waste less. Per capita waste production in the U.S. just keeps growing. There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace….the list is endless! The more we visibly engage in re-use over wasting, the more we cultivate a new cultural norm, or actually, reclaim an old one!
  3. Talk to everyone about these issues. At school, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus…A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” You get the point. Talking about these issues raises awareness, builds community and can inspire others to action.
  4. Make Your Voice Heard. Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last two years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about Climate Change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. Letters to the editor are a great way to help newspaper readers make connections they might not make without your help. Also local papers are often willing to print book and film reviews, interviews and articles by community members. Let’s get the issues we care about in the news.
  5. DeTox your body, DeTox your home, and DeTox the Economy. Many of today’s consumer products – from children’s pajamas to lipstick – contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary. Research online (for example, before you buy to be sure you’re not inadvertently introducing toxics into your home and body. Then tell your friends about toxics in consumer products. Together, ask the businesses why they’re using toxic chemicals without any warning labels. And ask your elected officials why they are permitting this practice. The European Union has adopted strong policies that require toxics to be removed from many products. So, while our electronic gadgets and cosmetics have toxics in them, people in Europe can buy the same things toxics-free. Let’s demand the same thing here. Getting the toxics out of production at the source is the best way to ensure they don’t get into any home and body.
  6. Unplug (the TV and internet) and Plug In (the community). The average person in the U.S. watches T.V. over 4 hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community. On-line activism is a good start, but spending time in face-to-face civic or community activities strengthens the community and many studies show that a stronger community is a source of social and logistical support, greater security and happiness. A strong community is also critical to having a strong, active democracy.
  7. Park your car and walk…and when necessary MARCH! Car-centric land use policies and life styles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet. But sometimes we don’t have an option to leave the car home because of inadequate bike lanes or public transportation options. Then, we may need to march, to join with others to demand sustainable transportation options. Throughout U.S. history, peaceful non-violent marches have played a powerful role in raising awareness about issues, mobilizing people, and sending messages to decision makers.
  8. Change your lightbulbs…and then, change your paradigm. Changing lightbulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That's a no-brainer. But changing lightbulbs is just tinkering at the margins of a fundamentally flawed system unless we also change our paradigm. A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, beliefs, and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.
  9. Recycle your trash…and, recycle your elected officials. Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city-wide. Also, many products – for example, most electronics - are designed not to be recycled or contain toxics so recycling is hazardous. In these cases, we need to lobby government to prohibit toxics in consumer products and to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, as is happening in Europe. EPR is a policy which holds producers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, so that electronics company who use toxics in their products, have to take them back. That is a great incentive for them to get the toxics out!
  10. Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less. Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our dollars support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights. Look beyond vague claims on packages like “all natural” to find hard facts. Is it organic? Is it free of super-toxic PVC plastic? When you can, buy local products from local stores, which keeps more of our hard earned money in the community. Buying used items keeps them out of the trash and avoids the upstream waste created during extraction and production. But, buying less may be the best option of all. Less pollution. Less Waste. Less time working to pay for the stuff. Sometimes, less really is more.
information available on
graphics by .jennifer ashman.

where my mind is

: : more longing......refreshing dips in the ocean, old charm, swedish cinnamon buns, coffee and raspberry lemonade on the patio. Sweden is so wonderful in the summertime!!

these photos are from Swedish design magazine .sk├Âna hem. , showing a house in the archipelago outside of Stockholm.

swedish summer [svensk sommar]

: : it's the time of the year again, when I'm a few weeks away from going home to Sweden, and I'm starting to really long for those lazy days at the summer house. this house reminds me of our summer house, a sophisticated version of our summerhouse. I love all the white.

via .style files.

Swedish light

: : wonderful polaroids of life in Sweden. by polaroid queen, .marie ek.

Ottomans, Benches, Foot Stools, Hassocks

Ottomans have become a favourite of mine to use in family/media rooms and dens. I like using them for several reasons. First and foremost they serve as the indispensable coffee table. I like to make mine with tight tops and rather flat as opposed to padded with a pillow effect. This way you can set things on top of them without worrying about them toppling over. Secondly you can comfortably set your feet on them and be in a semi-reclining position to watch TV, read or maybe even fall asleep. Thirdly I can have them made any size to fit the requirements of the room. This is a real benefit because large coffee tables are hard to find and are more costly than having an ottoman custom designed for the space. In the space below the ottoman is made out of deep chocolate brown faux Ostrich. This family has two young daughters and they use the ottoman to color on and do their craft projects and have snacks. Spills can be wiped up easily, and the deep brown faux ostrich adds and a nice textural interest and makes a dramatic center focal point for the room.

Laurel 8408
Patricia Gray Inc. Photo Roger Brooks

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Patricia Gray Inc. Photo Roger Brooks
These ottomans (in the same house as the photo above) go against my tight top rule, but who couldn't resist sitting down in this den and putting your feet up on a down filled leather pillow top ottoman.

Louie 13

Patricia Gray Inc. Photo Roger Brooks

Gray-Louie 4A LG

This ottoman is large by ottoman standards 5 feet by 3 1/2 feet. It is covered in Holly Hunt, Hair on Hide Leather, in a creamy butterscotch color. It was made long so 3 people sitting on the sofa could all put their feet up on it, and I made it deep enough to that there was still room at the back for the inevitable books, magazines, remote controls and trays for snacks and drinks. It also doubles as extra seating for parties. What coffee table has that much versatility?

pat_gray_homer_1 Patricia Gray Inc. Photo Gary Beale
The Ottoman in this penthouse I had made in charcoal gray Beacon Hill "Pashmina". It is soft and luxurious like a Cashmere blanket and makes a nice warming contrast to the leather sofa. It sits on top of the same color of Belgium wool area carpet. Facing the sofa is the view with the TV hung and framed between the windows. Where else do you put the TV in a room that is all windows & view.

Patricia Gray Inc. Photo Gary Beale

Below are some more designs for ottomans, benches, foot stools, and hassocks that I like.

tufted bench1 tufted bench5

tufted bench3 tufted bench4

tufted bench tufted bench.jpg2

madeline stuart greek key ottoman Tangier hassock michaelbermanlimited  ottomans

Madeline Stuart Greek Key Ottoman Tangier Hassock by Michael Berman

Illusion Feadship - White Bedroom at Sea

In continuing with my theme of "White Bedroom" postings this week here is another one!! This white bedroom is in a newly refurbished Feadship yacht designed by Frits de Voogt in 1982 named "Illusion" and is featured in this month's Architectural Digest magazine. You can read the full article here. The Interior Design Firm - Bannenberg Designs out of London "covered a wall in white wallpaper, they white-lacquered the cabinets, they upholstered the bed in squares of white leather and they furnished the space with pale oak pieces." What might have been startling is instead restful, in a way that only white can be when it is properly employed. As well as wanting to curl up in this restful bedroom, I would also relish curling up on the Aft deck (shown below) with a good book this weekend!

Master Stateroom decorated in multiple textures of white

1983 Feadship "Illusion"


Aft Deck

life happens

: : life happens and it's hard to predict what's coming next. I had visualized myself having lots of time on my hands these past few weeks to work on getting our home organized....but have only been left with a few hours here and there. i know I promised pictures, and these are not the ones I visualized, and there will be more, however I won't promise when.

these show some snapshots of our wonderful balcony at the front of the house [there's a second one in the back] where we are currently enjoying all of our evenings. a pretty rose, two lemon trees, a mango tree and some rocks from our favorite new england coastal town makes the balcony our own little garden haven.

below that are some pictures from my spinach risotto making the other night. my new favorite sauce pan, a white beauty, found at a flea market in Virginia. and the cooking mess in our kitchen. by the way, .jamie oliver. rocks! we use his cookbook almost every day .

life also comes with unexpected news every day. first the happy ones, that another one of my best friends is getting married in Sweden. I couldn't be happier for them! almost ten years of love to celebrate there.

then followed by the sad news that my wonderful grandmother [.mormor.] passed away. she was such a joy in all of our lives. I was far from her, but always felt close. we had become even closer over the past few years. she never let me run out of her homemade almond biscotti. they would come delivered in the mail or were brought over by family members. I feel so lucky to still have a whole box left!! I eat them slowly, one at a time, dipping them in raspberry lemonade [hallon saft], because according to .mormor. that was the best way to enjoy them, and I think of her. she will always be here with us, in all the memories we have of her.

Another White Bedroom

I don't know how I missed including this picture in my last posting on White Bedrooms.

Shabby Chic via Cote de Texas

Shabby Chic via Cote de Texas
Cote de Texas describes this picture as: Gustavian and Shabby Chic - the new combination.
I would love to sleep in this bedroom!!

Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design.
While you're here, subscribe to this feed so you don't miss out.