monkey luv

: : this is our new friend, the monkey guy, in fact we have two. my grandmother passed away last summer, and she and my grandfather had so much style. they had all the latest design furniture and products when they were young. these wooden monkeys have become something of a design icon for Denmark, designed by Kay Bojesen. My grandmother had 3, I inherited 2. I love how playful they are and they have so much character. I spotted them in the window in these lovely photos by .sasa antic. (via emmas).
any suggestions for names for our 2 new friends?

summer garden party

: : these pictures of a summer social from .unruly things. and hot days in Boston right now make me want to throw a garden party. we had some friends over this past weekend on our newly decorated balcony (with new grill) and it was lots of fun. but a garden would be so lovely.

New small house plan available today!

You have got to check out this new home design by Jo Nagasaka and Schemata Architecture. The "PACO house" offers complete self contained living in a 3 square meter cube.

The Paco House is available in four basic plans. Plan A features the kitchen, shower, bathroom, epoxy painted floor and ceiling lighting at a total price of 6,300,000 yen. Plan B boasts a kitchen, epoxy painted floor and ceiling lighting at a price of 5,250,000 yen. Plan C features the epoxy painted floor and ceiling lighting for 4,725,000 yen. Plan D is the home’s basic shell, which you can customize to your needs and interests, selling for 4,200 yen.

Clearly much time and money have been spent developing the prototype. Indeed this is one very well thought out box. But I have one question. Who is actually going to buy this thing?

more information:


New Cottage House Plan

Ron Brenner Architects (Stillwater, MN) is creating a new Cottage House Plan design for Kyle Hunt & Partners. The design is characterized by a dramatic steep front gable roof line and will feature a modern open floor plan.

Kyle Hunt & Partners is a builder that specializes in crafting Architect designed homes. They have created strategic partnerships with several Architects including Ron Brenner Architects to provide services for their clients. This design will be featured at their Locust Hills neighborhood in Minnetonka, MN.

The two images below depict the design in two color studies.

Contemporary Designer Recliners

Orbit Recliner 
Orbit  Contemporary Designer Recliners

I am not usually a fan of recliners.  The traditional overstuffed giant recliners tend to be a white elephant in a room.  So needless to say  I was very happy  while researching seating for a media room to come across these contemporary well designed recliners in the UK.  They describe this recliner as: "One of their best selling recliners which reclines, swings, swivels and orbits to your desire"....and it claims to be "seriously comfortable".

Dakota Swivel Recliner

Dakota Contemporary Designer Swivel Recliners

The mechanism for these contemporary designer recliners operates by leaning back on the chair and using your body weight to hold back.

What do you think? 
Would you have one of these seriously fun contemporary designer recliners in your home?

Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design,
architecture, and travel, as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you.
© Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009

back in the country

: : hello : : I am back from vacation. I hope you have had a great summer so far. vacation was lovely! absolutely amazing! I have so many photos I'd like to share but I am still working on organizing them. I also have some great news to share....Iz and I are engaged!!

I'll be back after the weekend with photos. have a great weekend!
photos above from flickr .here.

LoftLife Magazine

For those of you who haven't checked out the magazine LoftLife Magazine - The Loft Style Guide to Life in the City, it is a must read. And I don't say that only because I am on their 'Board of Experts' - the Editors and Creative Directors at LoftLife Magazine are top notch. Their style and editorials are fresh, relevant and timely. Last fall Kyra Shapurji, Managing Editor and Linden Hass, Photo Editor of LoftLife Magazine paid me a visit at my office in Vancouver to firm up a feature they were doing on favourite shopping spots of mine and a few other Design Professionals in Vancouver. Linden Hass shot a few pictures of me and the drawing below is what resulted.

image Untitled-2 
Patricia Gray on LoftLife Magazine Board of Experts

I love the illustrations for LoftLife Magazine done by the talented Graham Smith from San Diego. He illustrates the masthead and the Panel of Experts for LoftLife Magazine. This month LoftLife Magazine is going to be on national newsstands: Borders, Barnes and Noble, as well as Hudson News. So pick-up your copy and read their articles. In the current Summer 2009 issue of LoftLife Magazine I particularly like:
  • LoftLife - Allure of Amsterdam: Dutch Design Beyond Droog. (I am lusting to visit Amsterdam)
  • LoftLife - Paper or Plastic? (really gets you thinking and hopefully acting)
  • LoftLife - Big Blank Wall: The mirrors on our minds. ( Love this round-up of mirrors)
    among others..........
    LoftLife Magazine also has a great Blog.

    Happy Reading!
    Please let me know if you have read a copy of LoftLife magazine and what you think of it by leaving a
Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design,
architecture, and travel, as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you.
© Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009

Valentino: The Last Emperor

Valentino: The Last Emperor
"What do women want? They want to be beautiful!"
This is the motto that Valentino has based his life on.

This weekend I went to see the movie Valentino: The Last Emperor for the second time. It has finally arrived in Vancouver. The first time I saw it I drove to Seattle because it wasn't out here yet. It is one of the few movies I have been to in my lifetime that everyone in the theatre clapped at the end. I was moved to tears as the great maestro Valentino took a bolt of his signature red fabric and started draping it over a live model, creating and sculpting the design for a new dress. He truly was the Master of Couture, a dying breed in the times we are living in. Valentino: The last Emperor is a documentary that was filmed over a two year period chronicling Valentino's life work. It is a must see, not only for the view into the life of a great Master of Couture but also for the great love story it is.

Valentino: The Last Emperor
Valentino's 5 Pugs who go everywhere with him. This picture is taken on his private jet.
Please let me know if you have seen the movie and what you think about it by leaving a comment.

Official Web-site for Valentino: The Last Emperor
A 56 minute Interview by Charlie Rose March 2009
Valentino: The Last Emperor Movie Trailer: Valentino: The Last Emperor

Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design,
architecture, and travel, as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you.
© Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009

Rammed Earth Walls

Rammed Earth Walls

I recently returned from a road trip through the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The Okanagan Valley is the home to a budding Wine Industry. I was pleasantly surprised with our stop in Osoyoss to visit The Nk'Mip Winery and Resort. NK’MIP Winery Resort is a four-season aboriginal tourism resort destination that features deluxe accommodation and visitor experiences including an award-winning winery, gourmet dining, desert golf, a cultural centre and full-service spa.

It was a feast for my eyes to view the walls of the Cultural Center from the parking lot at Nk'Mip Winery. I was struck by the beauty of this facade that looked like a giant slab of the most sumptuous marble. On closer inspection and inquiry I was informed it was built with "Rammed Earth Walls".

Rammed Earth Wall NK'MIP Winery Osoyoos Rammed Earth Wall NK'MIP Winery Osoyoos

Rammed Earth Walls at Nk'Mip Winery and Resort also known as pisé de terre or simply pisé

(above left) Notice how thick these walls of rammed earth are - approximately 20% thicker than standard concrete walls. (above right) The rammed earth walls are formed in layers of approximately 6" thick , which gives the walls a beautiful horizontal variegation resembling quarried marble.

Rammed Earth, also known as pisé de terre or simply pisé, is a type of construction material. Pisé de terre (rammed earth) walls are an ancient building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and more natural building methods. Traditionally, rammed earth walls or pisé de terre walls buildings are common in arid regions where wood is in scarce supply.

The basic recipe for rammed earth walls starts and ends with plain old dirt.

RECIPE FOR RAMMED EARTH WALLS - Soil about 5 litres Water - Water about half a litre - Cement 10 percent - Pigment 1 percent (about 1 tablespoon)

The mixture for rammed earth walls is compacted in layers between forms. Each layer of the rammed earth walls is approximately 6 inches deep. As each form is filled, another form is placed above it, and the process begins again. This is continued until the desired height of the rammed earth walls is achieved. Forms can be stripped off as soon as the form above is begun, as the compressed rammed earth walls are self-supporting immediately. Most builders of rammed earth walls use pneumatic rammers to compact the earth within the forms.

Rammed Earth Wall NK'MIP Winery Osoyoos

Deep inset Window detail in Rammed Earth Walls Nk'Mip Winery. My Dad and me.

Some interesting facts about Rammed Earth Walls and Rammed Earth Walls Construction:

  • Rammed earth walls are 20 percent thicker than most concrete walls so it is better insulating against heat and cold.
  • Rammed earth walls improve Indoor Air Quality because of the simple finish of exposed rammed earth walls have no toxic finishes.
  • Rammed earth walls are so solid that they boast superb acoustics and rank with the best in terms of fire resistance.
  • Because rammed earth walls don't rely on wood the structure will never rot, nor will it be host to carpenter ants or termites.
  • Rammed earth walls evolved in hot dry climates, where wood is too rare and precious to be used as a building material.
  • Rammed earth walls have been the standard in house construction in Southern Europe and the Middle East since biblical times.
  • None other than the Great Wall of China, or at least most of it was built of rammed earth wall construction.
  • Does anyone know why it is called Rammed Earth Walls?

Rammed Earth Walls - Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China - Rammed Earth Walls construction

Rammed Earth Wall Construction
Rammed Earth Walls

Rammed Earth Walls Construction in Residential Bathroom with a Stump window
which was made from the base of a tree that was growing on the house site.

Rammed Earth Wall Construction
Rammed Earth Walls

Iron oxide layers have been added to these rammed earth walls in sedimentary layers with inset of abalone.
Above 2 photos or rammed earth walls Terra Firma

 Rammed Earth Walls Construction
Rammed Earth Walls
Rammed Earth Walls
The Rammed Earth House Walls Book available at Amazon
Details the construction of building homes with Rammed Earth Walls construction technique.

Additional Resources on Rammed Earth Walls Construction Wikipedia Rammed Earth Walls Construction Terra Firma Rammed Earth Walls Builder / Why Rammed Earth Walls in Construction? Walls of Rammed Earth Rammed Earth Walls DIY Rammed Earth Walls Construction Nk'Mip Winery and Resort, Rammed Earth Walls Cultural Center Rammed Earth Walls Construction Diagram You Tube Rammed Earth Walls Video Images Rammed Earth Walls

Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design, architecture, and travel,
as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you.
© Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009

Architects love modern house plans

Dwell, the design magazine, has unveiled the newest project in its own line of prefab homes: The Skyline series (as seen below), designed by Marmol Radziner.

This is one more example of the direction the prefab industry seems to be taking - the trend towards Modenism. But the market has been reluctant to embrace the concept of modern prefab. So on one hand you have the "trailer trash" image of a cheaply constructed mobile home, and on the other hand you have this modernist expression. And as much as I love modern design, I don't think it necessarily belongs on every infill lot in America.

There seriously must be an alternative architecture that works for prefab. An architecture that embraces the modesty and the economy of materials that the prefab industry has been known for; but packaged in a high quality, functional and sustainable design that can be compatible within most existing neighborhoods. An architecture that the people can actually see themselves living in. Come on prefab industry, let's give the people what they want!

Simply Elegant Home Designs