Monday, October 29, 2012

Arch+Details: Ceilings

When it comes to Architecture there really isn't a single component that dictates the comfort level within a home or any other structure. Now, some play a larger role than others, but I feel there are a couple components that are taken for granted. In this weeks installment of Arch+Details I want to focus on one of the most under appreciated aspects of a structure: ceilings. It makes sense though, looking up is not a comfortable or natural position, but I think when people walk into a new home or structure it is natural as humans that we observe our surroundings in every direction. And from this observation our comfort level is created, so even though it is an overlooked aspect to the general public, architects acknowledge the importance ceilings play. And it is not just in the structural aspect, but the impact it has on the design, decor and overall comfort of a room. The last thing somebody wants is having to stare up at the ceilings when laying down in bed or on the couch and have the comfort level equivalent to that of a waiting room in a hospital. I hate the stucco ceilings my apartment has, and yes, it is a cheap and popular material when designing big projects with many units like an apartment building, but sometimes I feel like there are other materials that could've been used. That being said, I truly appreciate the attention to detail designers have with ceilings through the design process. Traditionally our notion of ceilings are flat and essentially a wall parallel to the ground. But it has becoming more popular to find a play between low and high ceilings, the incorporation of a sky light, an exposed frame and a variety of materials throughout the home. Joseph Gilday, the marketing director for Maryland's Gilday Renovations, states 'You walk into a space, and it either invites you to stay, or it repels you. So when you have good design, a room is visually appealing, yet it’s more than that: it has vitality. Ceilings can lend vitality to a space.'  If you have low ceilings there is a sense of suffocation, but if you have a mix of high ceilings than it adds another dynamic to the home. It impacts the air flow and comfort of the house. When it comes to public spaces in a house, there tends to be higher ceilings to take into account the higher foot traffic and bodies compared to more private rooms in a home. And if higher ceilings are not an option for various reasons than incorporating a sky light or exposing the frame adds to space either visually or literally. Lately it seems as though architects are using the past to inspire and create in the present and down the line in the future. Chapels and cathedrals interpreted ceilings as the heavens, so in classic designs there are decorative and structural examples of this interpretation. In The Pantheon there is a large hole at the top of the dome that reveals the sky, which for the religious structure, was more a structural feat in connecting heaven to earth. When it comes to decoration, the Sistine Chapel is probably the most popular example with the incredible paintings by Michealangelo. The incredible imagery resembles the heavens with scenes from a couple books from the bible. It is really interesting to see how each architect interprets ceilings, and an easy way to do so is seeing how much detail they put into the architectural component. It is important to take into account the overall design of the structure, because even though some ceilings may "appear" boring and forgotten, it doesn't necessarily mean that the architect didn't care. Check out the cool examples I found of ceilings!!
















Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can't Knock the Hustle: Neyson Cruz

(scroll below for the updates!)

We all have our own unique talents & aspirations. For some of us, Wall St. is calling our names, for others it's becoming a top notch lawyer or the latest designers in various mediums. And in today's world  there is large group of people who are highly qualified to do a strong job in their respected field, but the ones who are at the top bring something unique to the table. It can be in any field such as sports, music, fashion, medicine, business architecture etc, but the people who are at the top offer services and ideas that are new, take risks and push the envelope to the edge and over. Those type of people are not afraid to fail because to bring something new and unique is at a high risk because their concepts might be rejected or essentially it doesn't work. But to be persistent & redefine your craft when it isn't good enough is what makes people successful. 

And with these principles in mind let me introduce you to Neyson Cruz. It wasn't until recently that I realized we lived right down the street from each other when we were younger. So I took a visit to the old neighborhood, where he still lives, to talk about the creative stuff he is doing with fashion; specifically with hats, both fitted and snap backs, and other cool apparel (which are still in the works and will be released later, so stay tuned). We went to same middle school and high school but didn't really keep in touch, but we would always catch up here and there. But what really caught my eyes and always made me follow his progress were all the pictures he was posting up of his custom hats he makes. And at first I didn't think much of it because I didn't know how serious he was about it, but lately I have seen more and more of his work being push out consistently. So I would check up on his hustle and I would see the high demand for the hats, which most of the time resulted in Neyson replying back to people that he sold out and they have to wait for him to make more. A couple weeks ago I reached out to see what is going on with this project and it blew my mind away where he started, where he is at, and where he is going to be. He is a big collector of hats both fitted and snap backs, and one day he started taking them apart and customizing them. From the material of the bill, patches and adding studs to his hats, he does everything and anything. And if you don't see something you want, just tell him and he will do it. It is a plus that his brand is highly driven by the customer. Rather than having a locked brand, his brand pushes creativity and flexibility and revolves around the premise that every person is unique and their hats should reflect that. He showed me some samples and it really is incredible that he started this in his room with glue and scissors, and now his work is professionally put together with sewing machines and stitching. Now, there are other brands that do customized hats, but they are limited in materials and compared to his pricing, way over priced. I have seen sites where similar hats sell for over $130 online, but none of his work comes close to those prices. You can send him your own hat and he will alter it, which is cool because you can redo old and worn out hats. But like I mentioned before, people who put themselves at the top come up with something new and unique, and to find inspiration he didn't have to look that far. To be exact, he puts  his inspiration to sleep every night and gives his inspiration a kiss every morning. His baby boy has been the driving force for his new big movement for his brand Young Fame, which will make custom hats and other items (which I can't share with you guys, at least for now) for babies and small children, including matching sets for mom, dad or anybody else in the family. To see how passionate he is with this project and where has taken it is inspiring, because he is setting his own rules on becoming successful in his own right. For him is family comes first, and with them in mind he tells me failure is not an option, and to be honest he is going in the complete opposite direction of failing.

These are some of his adult collection and you can see there are endless amounts of materials and combinations available. Prices range depending on the style and materials, but what really is separating Neyson from the competition is his baby collection. No one makes customized baby hats and he is leading the way. With people fitting their babies and kids in Jordans, latest Nike's and other top brand shoes, Neyson came up with the idea that people would accessorize their kids in hats too. He mentioned to me that  the demand for a baby/kid collection has sky rocketed lately, and thus Young Fame was born.

This is his first sample for the baby hats and he is currently waiting for a large shipment within the next month, so I will post those once he gets them in! Below is his link to his Instagram, Facebook page and business website to Young Fame. His social media is still in the works and will be finalized and updated once his new shipment comes in. 

To see more of Neyson's adult collection below is the link to his personal Instagram account and along with his business email where you can get in contact with him for both adult and baby hat orders! There is also a cool interview I did with Neyson below! check it out!!

The past couple of weeks Neyson has been sending me pictures of sample materials he is using for his clothing line, and they are finally ready to be revealed. You guys were first introduced to Neyson back in October, and since then he has been on his grind to produce samples of his unique clothing line that complements his hat game. Below is his first official release with a few more on the way. Follow his instagram and his new website (listed below) to get directions on how to get your hands on one of these, including the opportunity to receive both a baby and adult first edition sweater package for free! Stay tuned for more samples and news on a photo shoot me and Neyson will be working on together! Also, if you haven't noticed, Neyson is wearing the sample below in the first image at top of this post.

NeysonCruz Interview

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Corona & Tequila

Everybody loves a cold Corona and a tequila shot (ok, maybe not the tequila), but everybody loves these drinks even more when they are on vacation; especially if the vacation is in Mexico. This past weekend I went on my first cruise ever to Ensenada, Mexico. It was just a weekend getaway but that is all I needed. I didn't know what to expect but essentially a cruise is a hotel on water with Restaurants, spas, pool deck, casino, and lounges available for the guests. With family and friends, we set off to Mexico out of Long Beach for the weekend. Due to a lot of reasons, I haven't been back to the motherland since I was 10 (I think, its been that long). I was excited to visit again because I truly believe traveling is the best way to expand your knowledge, increase your imagination and appreciate our own personal lives, and what the world has to offer. My dad is from Sombrerete, Zacatecas which is a small colonial city in the central part of Mexico, so I wasn't necessarily going back to my exact roots, but Ensenada was still a great trip. We docked Saturday morning and decided to take a tour of "La Bufadora" or for you non spanish speaking people out there, "The Blowhole." It is a marine geyser that shoots water up to 80 feet above sea level from a deep water canyon below the surface. Trapped air causes pressure to build up and force the water into the air. There are only 4 other "blowholes" in the world. The others are located in Australia, Tahiti and Japan, but the one in Japan is an artificial one. It was about a 40 minute bus ride from the cruise ship and even though Mexico has a lot of problems with a corrupt government, it doesn't take away from the architecture and beautiful landscape. The bus ride was along the coast and it was awesome seeing the ocean, vegetable fields, ranches, cows and horses eating and running on the open fields and even seeing a fishing farm off the coast. And as much as the ride was incredible, it did linger in my mind how disappointing how much bad publicity the country receives, because there are still beautiful gems throughout the country. When we finally got to "La Bufadora" it was like being a little kid at a candy store (literally). The site consists of a small street with both sides lined up of street vendors selling mexican candy, clothes, drinks, jewelry, food and other gifts to take back home. Vendors would come up to people walking by and give them free samples of churros and piƱa colada drinks. It brought back some good memories when I use to visit all the time. And because the site is next to the ocean the seafood was the best I have had since probably the last time I went to Mexico. We ordered oysters, fish tacos and shrimp cocktails along with margaritas and coronas and tequila shots. After the day off the cruise we returned to finish our trip. The cruise itself was a lot fun. We went to a few shows, live karaoke lounge, piano lounge, pool deck and the casino and even though it was a short trip, it was a fun and much needed trip. It is always nice to getaway from our daily routines once in a while because it's a nice way to recharge the batteries. Along with spending time with my family and friends, it was cool meeting other people and celebrating the weekend. People always complain about not being able to go on vacation, but I see them spend money on clothes and drinks on a weekly basis. I rather save my money and travel a few times a year and I definitely recommend giving up a couple weekends here and there to travel. And if you never have been on a cruise do it ASAP! Like Vegas, it is a convenient set-up where your ship has everything you need in one "building." You don't have to worry about drinking and driving, food is included and you are on a BOAT! And, you get to travel to other parts of the world and thats what is unique about cruises, because depending what cruise trip you choose, you are essentially paying for multiple vacations in one! Trust me, a hangover is a lot more enjoyable when you are out on sea on a cruise than your own bed, or for some people out there, better than waking up after passing out on the bathroom floor!

If you have been on a cruise, shoot me some recommendations my way because I am already looking forward to seeing other parts of the world. Get a group of friends together and make it happen people!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Arch+Details: Tadao Ando

For my 6th installment of my Arch+Details Series I want to focus on my favorite architect: Tadao Ando. Throughout my studies I have come across styles and theories that I have fell in love with, but for me Ando is the complete package. As a little preface before I go into Ando's background, at Columbia if you are an architecture major there is something called a cluster which you need in order to graduate. A cluster consists of 3 classes that fall under the same department/theme/area of study etc, which is pretty cool because it allowed me and my classmates to go into other areas that have nothing to do with architecture, or if we wanted to, go more in depth in a specific area of the field. Sophomore year I took Modern Japanese Architecture which is where I was first introduced to Ando and where my interest in the Japanese culture increased, so I based my cluster surrounding the Japanese culture. The class was fascinating because it also gave a historical context as background information to exemplify why and how Japanese Architecture changed. Along with this course I also took "Arts of Japan", "Early Cinema of the 1970's" which focused on Japanese cinema, and aside of my cluster I also took "Buddhism: East Asia". So I had a wide range of knowledge in different mediums and topics focusing on Japan. And I found this important because I was able to understand Ando's practice and approach to architecture a lot more if I didn't take such courses. Even my final Design 2 project reflects the work of Ando, and if you haven't seen it you can refer back to my "Portfolio Samples" and Design 2" blog posts to look at my project. Now, as far as Ando, he was born September 13. 1941 in Japan and he actually had an unusual path in becoming an architect. He use to be a truck driver and even was a boxer before finally deciding on architecture. And if that isn't different enough, he never received a formal education in architecture. His knowledge of architecture came from traveling and studying works from big names such as Louis Kahn, Meis Van de Rohe and Corbusier. His work can described as "emphasizing the nothingness to represent the beauty of simplicity." Ando was really conscious in keeping his culture in mind as he created and one of the biggest driving forces apparent in his work is the thought are the religious beliefs of Japan. For him, the sensation and physical experience of walking through spaces was the most important thing. I guess you can say his work followed the line of "form before function," or is it the other way around? I will let you decide for yourself from the photos below of his work. It is safe to say that Ando is in love with concrete, I mean it is a popular and useful material, but for him that is all he really needed. And I think his work is remarkable because it really forced him to be creative in laying out his plans and design without the concrete being boring and excessive. His work also took into account natural light and nature. His projects never reformed the landscape, but rather the landscape reformed his projects which was influenced by his culture and Zen practice. Overall I enjoy how Ando takes a material that is described as heavy and bulky and make it simple, clean and intimate on the various scaled projects he has completed over his career!



Above: The Koshino House was completed in 1984 is one of Ando's most famous designs. It is partially built in the ground which ties back to his practice of not disrupting the land. It is made with concrete and the design is essentially a "maze of light and shadows." In the images above you can see that light replaces the usage of ornamentation. I think it is brilliant how Ando situated many slits in the concrete to allow light to enter the house and create beautiful patterns and shadows that act as home decor. There are also large windows which helps bring in the natural elements into the house like a light breeze and views of the hills. 




Above: the Row House, also referred to as the Azuma House, was completed in 1976. What makes this building unique is the placement of the structure and its simple yet sophisticated layout. In the image above you can it is squeezed between 2 other structures and appears as a concrete rectangle. But within the facade there are 2 floors with a walking bridge, interior "garden", 2 rooms, kitchen and living room.  Again, we can see the traditional Ando characteristics: concrete, large windows, play of light and shadow and bringing in natural elements (literately). The middle third of the structure is open to the heavens which allows in not just light but rain. It has a very comfortable setting which is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city it is in.

Check out below images of other projects completed by Ando!!