Happy Chinese New Year!

Year of the Fire Monkey

2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey. The monkey is a smart, naughty, wily and vigilant animal with intelligence and curiosity. This year is a good year for people to give birth and to look for love, but important financial decisions should be postponed unless you think you can outsmart the monkey!

May you have an unconventional year ahead, full of exuberance and success!

Colorado Gives Day 2015

CO Gives Day Logo

Colorado gives Day is one of my favorite days of the year and as it’s so close to the holidays, it is a good reminder that I am blessed with so much in life…warm clothes and a home, loving family and friends, work that fills me with a purpose and joy.

Because of life circumstances or experiences, I would guess that we all have a soft spot for someone or some place in need, and therefore tugs at our heart strings. At Associates III we create interior design; we give to entities that provide shelter as a meaningful way to express our love in creating home. We also practice green design; we contribute to environmental causes that reflect our passion and desire to make our planet a healthier place to live.

For me personally, my mum grew up without the influence of parents; our family volunteers time and gives to children in need in the foster care system in her honor. And at work, relationship building is a big part of who I am and the work I do in furthering the Associates III mission; any program that mentors young people is dear to my heart.

What is meaningful to you? I encourage you to take a moment to click on this link and give a little out of your own bounty. No matter how small your gift, I can guarantee you that it will add to someone else’s life immeasurably. And may all you give from the heart return to you tenfold in happiness and joy this holiday season.

https://www.coloradogives.org/

—Debbie

Chicago Cultural Center

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Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome

Visiting family in Chicago last summer provided the perfect opportunity to check out the Chicago Cultural Center, originally Chicago’s first Central Public Library and with a dome designed by Tiffany. We were intrigued and found it was well worth the time to go!

The dome is 38 feet in diameter and made with 30,000 pieces of glass. Designed with a fish scale pattern and signs of the zodiac at the very top, it’s not made with the brightly colored glass that is often associated with Tiffany. The glass in this application is a clear iridescent-type glass (Tiffany’s proprietary Favrile glass) that lets a lot of light into the space. While the dome was solely sunlit at one time, it is now lit with electric lights as well. Interestingly, the exterior of the dome was covered with concrete and copper in the 1930’s (what were they thinking?!) but restored to its original design intent in 2008.

The dome covers the Preston Bradley Hall on the second floor, once the General Delivery Room for the library and now used for special events of all kind. There are lovely Tiffany chandeliers throughout the space with the clear iridescence of the dome. The use of color was saved for the incredible mosaic wall designs that cover practically every surface and archway of this room. These beautiful mosaics made from Favrile glass, stone, and mother of pearl intermix symbols related to printing, libraries and books in a palette of bright green, turquoise, gold, gray and white. A variety of quotations carved into marble in many different languages is also part of the captivating wall decoration.

Chicago Cultural Center Wall Mosaic

The room has a definite feminine quality to it in a lovely, bright, refreshing way. I was surprised that it was not the dark, subdued colors found to be more typical during the Victorian era of Interior Design. This quote from the center’s brochure detailing the workmanship caught my attention: “The noted Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York executed most of the room’s decorative features, including the dome, mosaics and lighting fixtures, employing mostly a female labor force, as women were thought to be more adept at the fine handiwork.”

—Jill

Harmony with Nature

harmony with nature

In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Japan, and among the many wondrous elements of Japanese design, one design feature that really struck me and continues to influence how I approach design is the harmony created by courtyard gardens juxtaposed within traditional Japanese architecture.

Many traditional homes, both large and small, have a central courtyard that visually becomes part of the interior of the home. Often separated by shoji screens (which are usually kept open during the day), these gardens are instantly accessible from within the home, and provide a refuge as well as ever-changing visual interest throughout the year.

Common elements of Japanese courtyard garden design include a bamboo fountain that pours into a low stone basin near an entrance, lanterns, sand, smooth gravel, artful garden boulders that suggest mountains, ponds, wandering paths, and small bridges. These elements are carefully planned within and around trees and other plants to create a contemplative, serene environment – a special place accessible only to those within the home.

—Jason

Seeking Truth

ayla-3

My senior thesis project Vestige is a photographic examination of the collective human desire to document our existence, and the false security that comes with such documentation. The project began out of a personal need to connect with others and as a chance to break away from the self-portrait work that comprised most of my undergrad portfolio. As the project progressed it felt less like a way to connect, in some ways creating more distance between myself and the subject. Through research of contemporary artists and the writings of French philosopher Rolande Barthes the body of work has morphed into a reminder that a photograph is nothing more than reflected light captured in light sensitive materials; in this case traditional silver gelatin. Though we treat photographs as some sort of hyper-real, they are as Barthes says nothing more than “a new form of hallucination.” By creating an impossible space for the subject to exist in, I am trying to remind the viewer that the subject does not exist within the image like we think they do. The image is nothing but a chemical reaction between light reactive particles and a base chemical.

The use of analog materials is important because it not only creates a dichotomy between the real and the hallucination, but reminds the viewer further of the falsehood of all photographic mediums, not just photoshop. The process is slow and methodical, consisting of hours in front of a light table layering negatives to find visually stimulating imagery that obscures the subject yet enhances them at the same time. The use of film and traditional methods also ensures longevity of the work. If taken care of properly, film negatives and silver gelatin prints will survive a century. Digital files on the other hand corrupt easily, especially as technologies advance and change exponentially. Most of the imagery created in this digital age is expected to corrupt and disappear leaving a large gap and disparity in imagery for future beings to study. Unless meticulous care is taken to take pictures in a lossless file format and constant hard drive backups, most of what is taken on your cellphone won’t be viewable in as little as 50 years.

“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.” —Rolande Barthes, Camera Lucida

See more images www.aylaleroyce.com

—Ayla

It’s National Chocolate Day!

Charlotte Flower Chocolates

I was incredibly lucky to spend some time in glorious Scotland earlier this year and in visiting the wee town of Aberfeldy, struck the proverbial chocolate goldmine!  It was my great pleasure to spend some time with Charlotte of Charlotte Flower Chocolates, a wonderful chocolatier with a panache for beautifully crafted handmade chocolates, with flavors inspired by natural ingredients.  She literally roams the hedgerows and landscape for local and seasonal ingredients, fruits, plants and flowers, such as elderflower, wild mint, rhubarb, meadowsweet, hazel and beech nuts, honey and roses.

During our short visit, Charlotte had just received a new cocoa bean and was experimenting with roasting techniques and timing.  Curious to know how she came to this line of work, we asked, and rolled up our sleeves and listened while helping a while to separate the cocoa from the warm husk shells.  Charlotte shared her background of being a forester and forager by nature.  After an encounter with a well-known Parisian chocolatier, she began on a journey to see how she could combine local wild flavors with high quality chocolate in uniquely Scottish ways. I’m guessing there were hiccups, albeit delicious ones, along the way!

I’m not the only one who thinks these sweet creations are divine; several were celebrated by the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards – including Product of the Year for her Meadowsweet Thins – and at the British heats of the International Chocolate Awards winning the Gold Award for her Smoked Hebridean sea salt and Java Milk chocolate.

Our conversation turned to sustainability, naturally, and we heard about her passion for fair trade and environmentally sound practices. I was sold. Out came my purse to take as many as I could carry with me, to share with family and friends.

A lovely delicious day!
Debbie

“When gathering herbs and blossoms from the wild, we are careful to ensure that we are only taking a small amount from any one place; we are very careful about avoiding damage to the plants as we pick.  We are members of the Scottish Wild Harvests Association (www.scottishwildharvests.org.uk )”

Fall Decorations / No-carve pumpkin ideas

Late summer/early Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the mix of cool, crisp days when it’s finally time to pull out your favorite boots, flannels and sweaters, and the lingering warm, summer-like days that help you ease out of your summer frame of mind. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, especially because of the decorations. Instead of the typical carved pumpkins, here are a few fun twists to add to your decorations this year.

Painted Patterns

Painted Patterns

I was fortunate enough to visit Eastern Europe in September with my husband, Steve. We took a 10-day riverboat cruise on the Danube River. It was our first trip to Europe and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see the beauty of the European architecture in person that I have been so drawn to in images. I enjoyed focusing on architectural elements and applied design in my many of my photos and plan to share some of my favorites in this and future blog entries.

This Entry is focused on the beautifully painted patterns on the architectural surfaces of the Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary. The church has been beautifully re-built and restored since WWII.  It was the first of many, many churches we visited on our trip but the richly painted designs in Matthias Church were my favorite. The rich, bright colors and changing design patterns flowed across practically every wall, ceiling, and molding whether they were flat, curved, or carved. They added depth and movement in a whimsical, playful way. I thought they were delightful and evoked such a different feeling when compared to their more serious counterparts that were filled with clouds and heavenly beings, glimmering gilded elements and stone columns carved in black and red marble.

Enjoy!
Jill Bosshart

House to Home: part 1

Day One

Have you heard the phrase, “those that do for others, don’t do for themselves”? Or perhaps a better example is, “The cobbler’s children had no shoes”. As a designer, those phrases have always been the case for me and my abode. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved creating a home but it’s been on an extreme budget (think second hand stores (except for mattresses, I shudder at the thought) and dumpster diving), but this past May my husband and I went all in and purchased a home in town that has been worn down, and neglected for thirty plus years.

When we first heard this home in our dream neighborhood was “coming soon” we immediately called our realtor and drove over to the house. It was in utter disrepair, but we were blind to the reality. . . we only saw our future home. After a competitive bidding process against developers who wanted to tear down the historic home and build two new homes on the almost half acre site, we came out victorious only after promising the owner that we would renovate the home back to its original splendor.

With title and keys in hand May 25, our contractor started on May 26 clearing the overgrown land and demolishing the damaged interiors. It’s already been a long journey, with many, many lessons, despite the fact I’ve been in the business for over 13 years, but it’s been a dream come true. I’m excited to share more stories from this experience in future blog posts. I hope you’ll come back to read more and to see the progress of this gem in the city!

Cheers! Momo