Fashion & Architecture: For the Love of Design

Fold, dart, pleat, wrap, drape, envelope, skin. It’s all about form and function. Pushing the form as far as you can without sacrificing function. Beauty and balance elevating the basic necessities of clothing and shelter.

While doing some internet research on the subject I came across a post on my favorite eco-conscious blog, ecouterre. The image comparisons are great representatives of the connection between architecture and fashion.

Made to order from three-dimensionally printed nylon, Continuum Fashion’s “Strvct” features the same triangulated buttressing that gives bridges their strength. Unlike actual bridges, however, the pump is wearable. Lined with a patent-leather inner sole, the shoe includes a coating of synthetic rubber on the bottom for traction.

Made to order from three-dimensionally printed nylon, Continuum Fashion’s “Strvct” features the same triangulated buttressing that gives bridges their strength. Unlike actual bridges, however, the pump is wearable. Lined with a patent-leather inner sole, the shoe includes a coating of synthetic rubber on the bottom for traction.

Fashion relies on structure and shape and aspires to beauty in many of the same ways as architecture. Fashion is self-expression, while architecture conveys a cultural identity reflecting the needs of those who will live within its walls. Both create space and volume out of flat, two-dimensional materials.

When Yesterday's News commissioned Lara Miller to create a tea-dyed frock out of newspaper, the Chicago designer didn't have to look far for inspiration. Her muse? The Aqua, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified "post-architectural" skyscraper by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang.

When Yesterday’s News commissioned Lara Miller to create a tea-dyed frock out of newspaper, the Chicago designer didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Her muse? The Aqua, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified “post-architectural” skyscraper by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang.

Throughout history fashion and architecture have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, echoing one another in form and appearance. I can only surmise that the reason I’ve worked for architects and designers for over 15 years stems from a shared passion. How things go together, whether that be buildings or ball gowns.

Project Runway winner Gretchen Jones counts the geodesic structures of Buckminster Fuller among her myriad influences, particularly with her Fall/Winter 2011 debut collection. Jones had a hand in the jewelry that complements each look, several of which harken to Fuller’s self-bracing triangular forms.

Project Runway winner Gretchen Jones counts the geodesic structures of Buckminster Fuller among her myriad influences, particularly with her Fall/Winter 2011 debut collection. Jones had a hand in the jewelry that complements each look, several of which harken to Fuller’s self-bracing triangular forms.

One of the most significant differences, however, is the fact that fashion is, by its own definition, ephemeral or fleetingly “of the moment.” As Heidi Klum says on Project Runway, “one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” Architecture is made to last. The most successful projects have a monumental, permanent presence.

 

Love and Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave District

One of the many reasons working at Board and Vellum is awesome is the location of our office. While many people assume I grew up Children of The Corn Style when they learn I spent the first two thirds of my life in Ohio, or putting out pesky river fires when I clarify that I grew up just outside of Cleveland, the truth is I was raised in Lakewood, a suburb that was—and by all accounts remains– a densely populated, safe, urban neighborhood. I walked to school, and everywhere else I wanted to go for years, and some of my favorite memories are of the fun had traipsing around the town with friends at all stages of my childhood.

This is Lakewood, Ohio. She is awesome.

This is Lakewood, Ohio. She is awesome.

Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, something hugely appealing and welcoming to me. While downtown Seattle itself boasts a quite walkable core, there is something about the scale of each of the many neighborhoods that feels very much like home to me, and a huge reason I love this city. Walk-ability and an evolving tapestry of pedestrian friendly streetcapes was something I took for granted growing up, and has been such a welcome return to my daily life as I’ve settled in to work-life in Capitol Hill.

My introduction to the neighborhood took place in the spring of 2013, when I attended a continuing education class at Seattle Central College. I immediately took a shine to the Broadway area, spending my lunch breaks at Twice Sold Tales or hanging out at Cal Anderson Park. It was a welcome surprise to discover the 15th Ave district this summer, and I delight at the fact that my commute includes experiencing it twice a day.

The best part about 15th Ave East is its size. I’m a sucker for a narrow thoroughfare, and 15th fits this bill with aplomb. At 40’-0” wide, two lanes of through traffic with parking lanes make it prime for pedestrian traffic. Narrow sidewalks add to its coziness and invite patrons in to the many shops, offices and restaurants that line the 3 block stretch that runs from East John to East Mercer. It is amazing how much good stuff is packed in to this small area. In my short time here, strong allegiances have been formed with both the Wandering Goose and Victrola Coffee. My bank account is already quivering at the idea of Christmas and the Red Balloon Company-Casita International-Ada Trifecta.

Clockwise from top left: Victrola: Hands down the best coffee in Seattle, Casita International: Sasquatch on a T-shirt? Yes please, The Wandering Goose: The fried chicken will make you weep, and Ada's Technical Books: B&V's pride and joy and a really awesome place to nerd out over books and beer.

Clockwise from top left: Victrola: Hands down the best coffee in Seattle, Casita International: Sasquatch on a T-shirt? Yes please, The Wandering Goose: The fried chicken will make you weep, and Ada’s Technical Books: B&V’s pride and joy and a really awesome place to nerd out over books and beer.

As an extra special bonus, because 15th functions as the eastern edge of Capitol Hill’s commercial area, it takes nothing to find oneself strolling along the tree lined streets of Millionaires Row or, my personal favorite, 16th Ave East, where 10,000 square foot mansions sit across the street from delightfully modest classic brick apartment buildings. This diversity and quirkiness makes the area of town among my favorite spots, though what makes Seattle really special is that it is really only one of a dozen or more neighborhoods that boast unique and vibrant enclaves that invite a sense of community and provide an opportunity to explore without leaving the city.

Clockwise from top left: The fall foliage on 16th is delightful, Can we talk about how adorable this little library is? It's one of  two I get to browse every day, And this brick apartment building on 16th & Republican is my favorite ever.

Clockwise from top left: The fall foliage on 16th is delightful, Can we talk about how adorable this little library is? It’s one of two I get to browse every day, And this brick apartment building on 16th & Republican is my favorite ever.

Lego the Logo – Part One

As part of the office remodel and expansion project, a Board & Vellum logo wall panel was designed to be installed behind the new reception desk.  While it’s not quite finished yet, we are excited to share with you some process and progress photos for this fun little side project in Part One of this two part story.

The basic design consists of two wall panels, one short and one long, coming together at an inside corner behind the reception desk.  The longer panel will have the Board & Vellum logo, an ampersand inside a square, located near the far end from the corner.  Continuing the tradition of Lego in our office, the wall panels will be clad in Lego base plates and the B&V logo will be recreated in Lego plates in the approximate location and size represented by the blue tape square in the photo below.

reception

The next step was to detail how the panels would be fabricated, assembled, and installed.  The basic parameters were the panels should be framed in steel angle, mitered and welded at the corners, and mounted to the wall in such a way that no fasteners would be visible.  To accomplish this, we opted to use a French cleat system which fastens to the back of the panels and also to the wall studs.  The French cleats allow us to hang the panels tightly to the walls without any significant gaps between the back of the panels and the face of the walls.  They also allow us to remove the panels from the wall with ease when necessary, rather than making the panels a permanent, built-in installation.  A couple of small, discretely located “stop” fasteners installed along the top edge will ensure the panels do not jump off the wall cleats during an earthquake.  Below is any early design development sketch that illustrates the fabrication and assembly concepts.

sketch

Next, we fabricated a quick mock-up of the panels at the corner intersection as a proof of concept.  This proved to be a very useful exercise, as we ultimately decided against making the two legs of the steel frame as one continuous piece.  The reasoning behind that decision was two-fold: 1) attempting to match the exact angle of the inside corner of the existing framed walls is not practical and would likely result in a gap at one of the leg ends, and 2) keeping the two panels separate allows the longer panel to be used by itself in any future installation – the shorter panel is open on one end where it butts into the longer panel’s frame, and therefore cannot be used by itself.  Below are a couple of photos of the mock-up illustrating the steel angle frame with a proposed reveal between the frame and plywood backer board.

photo 1

photo 2

Following the mock-up we revised the details and started the fabrication phase.  We’ll let these photos speak for themselves (mostly… there are brief captions) as they illustrate the fabrication process and progress to date.

plywoodThe plywood backer boards, shim/spacer strips, and homemade French cleats are cut and temporarily stored out of the action area.

big frameThe large frame is cut and laid out prior to welding.

weldingWelding the steel angle frame with Oxy/Acetylene and steel filler rod.

grindingGrinding the weld beads flush.

big panelThe large frame with plywood backer board sitting inside… just checking the fit and all is good!

small panelThe small frame with plywood backer board.

reveal detailHere’s a detail shot of the reveal (architecture speak for designed gap) between the frame and panel board.

paintThe frames are painted!  Both frames were drilled and the holes were countersunk for flat-head wood screws that fasten the plywood to the frames from the back – see the second mock-up photo above.

That’s it for this post.  We expect to bring the finished frame and panels in this week and mount them on the walls soon.  In Part Two of this project, we will show you photos of the Lego base plate fastened to the plywood backer board and the application of the Lego plate pieces to create the Board & Vellum logo.  Stay tuned!

A Modern Farmhouse

Whenever I take a stroll along the Golden Gardens Beach near my neighborhood, the salty smell of the ocean wind sails me back into my childhood memories in the Aegean; the waters of Turquoise blue and white sandy beaches…

Every summer our parents took us to our family beach house in Izmir, Turkey. I don’t know how they made it work – with 4 families and 6 children under one roof, but it was a dream of a childhood for us. Swim all day long, climb fruit trees, go fishing, play hide-and-seek, Summer Olympics, long and loud family dinners, where even the kids snuck a sip of the birthday champagne… as we got older, we would set bonfires at night, and play guitar, roast potatoes… and who can forget a first kiss on the beach, under a starry night?

Alev and EmreHere is a picture and my buddy Emre, in Dikili, Izmir – Turkey

Summer or winter, beach or mountains, family vacations are so unique, almost magical, where time stops, and the family bonds are reinforced. Memories become engraved so deep in our minds that, years later, as adults we go back to those moments in life to find happiness, and realize what important milestones they were in our lives.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Late last year, a couple approached Board & Vellum with a desire to build a permanent home in the Tahoe region, where they spent the 90′s vacationing with their three sons. They wanted to build a place where they could relive some of these most precious memories, but this time with their adult sons, and maybe one day their grandchildren. The idea resonated so much with many of us in the office, and the project quickly became a dream home for us, too.

summer94 The boys -  Summer 1994 in Lake Tahoe

A sloped landscape blanketed with tall evergreens, and very close by to the famed lake itself! We were eager to get started after an inspiring site visit.

Site VisitSite Visit

We also investigated surrounding buildings that provided some regional context. We were especially intrigued by a barn built near the lake (lower right image in the collage above), and it became our inspiration, in the path of creating our version of a modern farmhouse: a structure with clean lines, yet with a warm, welcoming, maybe even rural feel to it.

Our one goal in designing this house was to respect the landscape and the regional vernacular of Tahoe, with a modern twist:

Rather than building one massive structure, our design accumulates three smaller volumes around central outdoor gathering spaces. The structure is cleverly stitched together with indoor “bridges”.

This plan layout also plays a crucial role in organizing the different functions of the house. The Master Wing is very private and dedicated to the couple’s personal needs and hobbies (i.e. the “Hot Rod” Car Shop as part of the garage below). The Great Room is the gathering place for large family dinners and celebrations; and the Guest Wing has 3 modestly sized bedrooms, with a Bar and Play Room. The Guest Wing can also be shut-off with a large barn door, when the couple is not entertaining any guests, to save energy. site DiagramSite Diagram

Again, drawing inspiration from the barn near the lake, the main roofs have a 12:12 pitch, enabling a single-story layout with a sleeping loft for the grandchildren, and lots of additional storage.

back elev

 Back Elevation

Switching to a shed roof at the Great Room helps bring down the scale of the structure, and presents a less dramatic relationship toward the neighborhood , while lifting up toward the backyard to maximize the views of the forest beyond.

The curving driveway tucks behind a group of existing trees and the 3-car garage becomes practically invisible from the approach.

Please click on THIS LINK to see 3D renderings of the house.

The Ups and Downs of Staircase Design

I get to work on a lot of remodels of older homes here at Board & Vellum and it is always interesting to see what common themes tend to emerge.  Aside from the obvious ones (desires for larger kitchens, Master Bathrooms, and indoor / outdoor living), the one that seems to be prevalent in easily half of our current projects is one that people often forget about.

Your older home may be adorable but chances are that your stairs pretty much stink.

Stairs can literally be the great uniter.  Unfortunately they’re also the great divider in so many older homes and an area ripe for improvement.  Basements are closed off behind doors with steep and narrow stairs plunging you down to who knows what.  You’ll often whack your head on the ceiling heading up to the second floor, and if you’re lucky enough to have a third floor or attic space with stairs, chances are that that staircase is laughable.  Why they were built like this will forever confound me but suffice it say, they stink.

Living in the city, Seattle in particular, however, most certainly doesn’t stink.  We have beautiful older homes here and get to live close to a lot of amazing amenities.  Consequently what we pay for square footage is expensive, and only getting more so.  Every square foot in our house is valuable and I feel adamant that accessing that square footage should be easy, comfortable, and feel integral to the rest of your house.  Don’t short change your investment by short changing how you go up and down between floors.

I find it funny that so many people assume that stairs are sacred ground.  They’ll happily want to finish off a basement or unfinished attic space but then be OK with accessing that area from some horrifying staircase.  Now, not everyone has my wicked fear of stairs (falling down a straight run of stairs is probably my biggest fear oddly enough), but they should still be afraid of what a miserable staircase does to their investment!  Every stop on a tour of your finished house should be amazing and filled with delightful things that make you happy.  And, almost as importantly, every passage on the tour of your house should be pleasant and not stand out as a spot where you could slip, fall, and hurt yourself.

So, what do you do?  You work with your Architect at Board & Vellum to rip the stair out and start from scratch.  It will take a little more footprint than your original stair but is almost always worth it.  Here are some of my guidelines for when you consider ripping out a stair and putting in a new one:

  • If you can, open up the stairs to a finished basement and stack them with the stairs to the second floor.  One three story open space will really tie the house together.
  • Go with wood treads and carpet runners if you can swing the cost.  This is the priciest solution but the best looking and the safest.  Spend the money here on good quality woodwork and make it a focal point of your home.  Purely carpeted stairs are a recipe for stains.
  • Wherever you can add built-in shelves or details, do it.  Make the stairs themselves a stop on the house tour.
In this new staircase to a finished basement, we used the wall adjacent to the stairs to hide a TV and the area below it for media equipment

In this new staircase to a finished basement, we used the wall adjacent to the stairs to hide a TV and the area below it for media equipment

  • Don’t assume that stairs to a new second story addition automatically belong stacked above the existing basement stairs.  Be open to ideas and you may be surprised.
In this second story addition, I realized that if we didn't stack the new stair above the basement staircase that it would allow for not only a better second floor layout but a generous foyer

In this second story addition, I realized that if we didn’t stack the new stair above the basement staircase that it would allow for not only a better second floor layout but a generous foyer

  • Code minimum rise and run dimensions for stairs are relatively comfortable but if you have the room go for a slightly shorter rise on the stairs.  Space is often at a premium so we don’t often get to do this but it can add a wonderful sense of comfort to your home.
  • Fix the headroom.  This is the one dimension that literally will make your head hurt.  In my own house, I had to get a code modification to allow for a narrower stair as there wasn’t room between the foundation wall and the outboard wall of the staircase above.  While narrow for a few stairs it doesn’t feel claustrophobic because the head height is more than sufficient.  It really goes to show you which dimensions matter and which are just nice to have.
We were able to tuck bar shelves in the wall next to the staircase and then squeeze a countertop and appliances below the staircase itself which maximizes square footage

We were able to tuck bar shelves in the wall next to the staircase and then squeeze a countertop and appliances below the staircase itself which maximizes square footage

  • If you can, put the staircase in a central location that doesn’t block access to the outside of the house.  So many bungalows have stairs to the basement directly on the wall from the Kitchen to the yard making access to the outside exceedingly difficult.  Move the stairs to the middle of the house allows for central access and better access to the yard at the cost of some greater reconfiguration of your floor plan.
In this project currently in design, we completely re-located the main staircase and created a new 'U' shaped stair which ties all four floors of the house together in a grand fashion.

In this project currently in design, we completely re-located the main staircase and created a new ‘U’ shaped stair which ties all four floors of the house together in a grand fashion.

  • Finally, I love a ‘U’ shaped stair as much as possible with a generous landing halfway up.  The landing can have a window seat or library shelves but really helps break up the trip.  If you are forced to do a longer straight run consider a landing 2 or 3 steps from the top and bottom for a longer ‘U’.  Basically, I’m horrified of falling down your stairs so don’t make me design a straight run of stairs as seeing your Architect scoot down on his butt isn’t the most professional image.  But I’ll do it!

All in all, the projects where we are able to put in new stairs that tie the house together flow so well that people feel that they remodel far more than they actually do.  Don’t forget to include new stairs in your wish list!

Board & Vellum is hiring again (again)

Seattle is the fastest growing city in the country and it feels like Board & Vellum is the fastest growing small firm in Seattle! We’re currently hiring for 3 positions so we need 3 more awesome people!  Know anyone who values working with great people, getting to have a say in how a firm is run, and having a blast while working with amazing clients?  Send them our way!  This should be the last growth spurt as we’ll be out of room (even with our recent office expansion) and we’ll be at a sweet spot in terms of size.

Want to join this awesome team or know someone who would be a great fit?

BoardandVellum2014

We are looking for two Project Architects (one focusing on championing our commercial work and another to lead a lot of custom residential projects) and an awesome full-time (and paid obviously) intern position.  Send your resumes and cover letters to Tina Witherspoon (tina@boardandvellum.com).  Please no phone calls, they take us by surprise and we end up stammering on the phone.  Email is much better.

Here are the job descriptions:

Project Architect and Manager (Commercial)

Board & Vellum is looking for an awesome person to work with us as a Project Architect & Manager to champion our commercial and retail projects. We value flexible working hours, treating each other with respect, having fun, maintaining a work/life balance, bad jokes, and speaking in language our clients can actually understand.   We’re a growing firm of 11 people, and it is vital that we all click with each other.  Your personality and attitude will be more important than your skill set, however, design and documentation experience in commercial and retail projects in Seattle is a must.  You’ll be working on all aspects of our commercial work including marketing, project acquisition, design, project documentation, and project management.  We see this position as filled with a lot of opportunity for someone to carve out a strong role here. Your skills are obviously how we do our jobs so please aim to be have the following qualifications:

  • You’re a licensed Architect
  • Minimum 8 years of experience
  • Ability to fully run multiple small to medium size projects and mentor and work with team members
  • Strong design skills and ability to translate that into actual documentation.
  • Familiarity with Seattle codes and permitting is key
  • Experience with single family residential work is a bonus as we think it is important to work on all of the project types in our office
  • Experience in multi-family is also a great bonus
  • Excellent grasp of assembling contract documents
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to be involved in every phase of office projects
  • Proficiency in AutoCAD, Sketchup, and Adobe Creative Suite
  • If you know REVIT that gets you triple points as we’re moving that way
  • Be self-proficient and able to handle multiple projects and tasks

We offer competitive salary and benefits, excellent schedule flexibility, and an office of pretty damn great people to work with.  Our office is on Capitol Hill in walking distance to all the fun stuff you want to do.  Compensation commensurate with professional work experience.

Project Architect and Manager (residential)

Board & Vellum is looking for an awesome person to work with us as a Project Architect and Manager for custom residential projects.  We value flexible working hours, treating each other with respect, having fun, maintaining a work/life balance, bad jokes, and speaking in a language our clients can actually understand.   We’re a growing firm of 11 people and we all need to get along.  Your personality and attitude will be more important than your skill set, however, experience in single family residential in Seattle is a must.  Still, skills are obviously how we do our jobs so please aim to be have the following qualifications:

  • Minimum 6 years of experience
  • Experience with Built Green or Passive House gets bonus points
  • Ability to fully run multiple custom residential projects and mentor and work with team members
  • Professional license or near completion of licensing process
  • We work with a variety of smaller to medium sized projects so be comfortable with projects of that size.
  • Familiarity with Seattle codes and permitting is key
  • Desire to work on retail, commercial, and multi-family projects on occasion
  • Excellent grasp of assembling contract documents
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to be involved in every phase of office projects
  • Proficiency in AutoCAD, Sketchup, and Adobe Creative Suite
  • If you know REVIT that gets you triple points as we’re moving that way
  • Be self-proficient and able to handle multiple projects and tasks

We offer competitive salary and benefits, excellent schedule flexibility, and an office of pretty damn great people to work with.  Our office is on Capitol Hill in walking distance to all the fun stuff you want to do.  Compensation commensurate with professional work experience.

Architectural Intern

Board & Vellum is looking for an awesome person to work with us as an Architectural Intern on a variety of residential, retail, commercial, and multi-family projects.  We value flexible working hours, treating each other with respect, having fun, maintaining a work/life balance, bad jokes, and speaking in language our clients can actually understand.   We’re a growing firm of 11 people and we all need to get along.  Your personality and attitude will be more important than your skill set.  Still, skills are obviously how we do our jobs so please aim to be have the following qualifications:

  • Have a B.Arch or M.Arch degree
  • Currently working on your IDP hours
  • We work with a variety of smaller to medium sized projects so be comfortable with projects of that size.
  • Desire to work on custom residential, retail, commercial, and multi-family projects
  • Ability to understand redlines and draft them
  • Good grasp of assembling contract documents
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to be involved in every phase of office projects
  • Proficiency in REVIT, AutoCAD, Sketchup, and Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Ability to render by hand and with VRay
  • Be self-proficient and able to handle multiple projects and tasks

We offer competitive salary and benefits, excellent schedule flexibility, and an office of pretty damn great people to work with.  Our office is on Capitol Hill in walking distance to all the fun stuff you want to do.  Compensation commensurate with professional work experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Expansion Exhibition

As you may have noticed, we’ve been hiring a few new people. As Jeff described earlier, we’ve been going through a slightly painful process of expanding our office to make room for all our new co-workers. We thought were playing it safe by leasing enough square footage for the considerable future, every B&V’er would have an equitable amount of desk space. But, we are already near capacity! Jeff has moved into his new cave office, formerly known as the small conference room, to carve out another spot for a future member of our team.

Jeff's-New-Office-(Cave)

Jeff’s New Office/Former Small Conference Room. Photoshop was used to remove darkness.

We may have been a little trigger happy in the beginning hiring a few extra people before construction was complete. There was a few weeks where everyone crammed into the confines of our former office. The peak of discomfort involved a couple of days where everyone and everything had to fit into this tight space. The best part was the huge copier that quickly became the elephant in the room. It was a rough period for us, but fortunately Jeff is great at bringing a team together that can work in even the most trying of circumstances.

Everyone-Crammed-into-the-West-Side

The Darkest Day of the Office Expansion

Luckily we’ve reached the point of substantial completion and settled into our newly expanded space. So without further ado, let’s take a quick tour!

Below is a floor plan. We arrived at this design after many revisions and a decision to use the existing space as much as we could without much modification.

floorplan

Office Expansion Floor Plan

This plan separated the desk areas into two separate sides, creating a bit of competition between the two. The most popular topic has been identity. The west side naturally finds The West Wing to suffice, but the east side has had an identity crisis since day one. Having rejected The East Side by default, they established a series of alternatives, based mostly on acronyms of their names (Alev, Ben, Robert, & Ryan). As a west winger, I’ve had a hard time keeping track of the names. It seems to change daily. At one point they had SLAM studio, but in confusion and a bit of ridicule, the west side came up with BLARMY studio which I’ve noticed has had some minor adoption.

Another element of the rivalry has been the establishment of flags. They put a skull and bones flag in their area and threatened us to find a better flag. I happy responded with the American flag. Nice try, blarmy! I would post photo’s but Jeff told us to take them down. 

(Editor’s Note: for the record, we in BLARMY Studio have adopted the name only to defuse Matt’s attempted mockery. We actually prefer the name BARR Studio (after our names), or Pirate Studio (where the “B” is silent). Lately, we’ve just been going with Atelier Awesome.)

You may have noted that our office formerly was painted green with a gray ceiling. I know what you’re thinking… and Jeff agrees. Green was a bad idea. At the time Jeff had only Ryan to filter his decisions through, and he can be blamed. Today a majority of the office thinks white is a better choice. White allows us to treat the walls as a blank canvas that we apply and can control color. I think it’s worth noting that I’ve been pushing for white since day one and almost lost the battle after I was away on a long trip this summer. I’m happy to have saved that fumble just in time (barely – note the color samples they were considering on the crammed photo above).

Besides the build out of the new space, we elected to renovate the west wing portion of our office. This mostly took place on one weekend where everyone pitched in to repaint and, worst of all, remove the existing glued down carpet and install the new carpet tiles. The images below demonstrates the effort that took place.

Weekend Progress

Weekend Progress

And here are some of the highlights of the new office (Note: we are still wrapping up the final touches and it’s not really tidy.)

Fotor0930130613

Top West Wing, Bottom "Other Side". Note which side is a little more picked up...

Top West Wing, Bottom “Other Side”. Note which side is a little more picked up…

Hopefully you’ll see the offices soon. We are proud of how it turned out, and delighted by our expanded space.

Special thanks to Herman Summers for building out the new space; Jon & Jeff, of Manos Construction, for building our desks in record time.

Tournament of Ornament

San Fran 171

There’s a saying in urban design – buildings in a city fall into one of two categories: they are either monuments (buildings that stand out), or fabric (buildings that blend in.) Many American cities are a woven tapestry of fabric. Take Seattle, for instance. We have our Space Needle and EMP and Seattle Central Library. But, we also have multitudes of mid-rise brick apartment buildings, hoards of craftsman stock homes, and now the ubiquitous Pacific NW style slathered on just about every new building.

Monument Fabric

One of the things that was rather striking about my recent trip to San Francisco was discovering that the urban fabric there is made up entirely of monuments. Every house in a row of houses covering a hillside competes with the next in a tournament of ornament. There is so much vivid color everywhere, massive cornices adorn adjacent Victorians, and whimsy amasses as far as the eye can see. San Francisco is a venerable architectural candy store.

It wasn’t my first trip to San Francisco, so I was interested in discovering new parts of the city. A day long bike ride which took my boyfriend and me along the waterfront esplanade, up Telegraph Hill, through North Beach and Chinatown, and toward Golden Gate Park culminated in a visit to an unexpected architectural treasure at the end of a secluded cul-de-sac in the Richmond neighborhood – The Neptune Columbarium. I had never heard of it, but grateful for the hot tip.

Journey

Originally part of the Odd Fellows Cemetery, it’s the lone remnant from a time when below ground burials were common in San Francisco. In the early 1900’s, city officials blamed the dead on a plague outbreak, and pressure mounted from developers who recognized what valuable real estate the city’s deceased inhabited. It was mandated that all cemeteries be relocated outside the city, with a few notable exceptions such as the historic cemetery at Mission Dolores and the National Cemetery at the Presidio. Today, the Columbarium remains the one of the only place you can be interred within city limits.

Sure, it’s a beautiful Neo-classical building with mosaic floors and patterned marble in a multi-level, domed rotunda. Light pours in through dozens of stained glass windows. But, the really fascinating bits are in the 8,000 or so inurnment spaces. The older ones are what you would expect: urns of ashes and names of long gone loved ones. But this edifice is a window into San Francisco’s frenetic history which is literally glittered in the great coming out story of gay culture both tragic and divine. The AIDS epidemic led to an influx of new – dare I say, more colorful residents. Spaces from this era are decorated with the most important pieces of each person’s life – photos, mementos, trinkets, collages, rainbows. These dioramas are remarkable. The tournament of ornament persists, never have I experienced the passing of complete strangers to be so weirdly splendid.

IMG_6074

Unlike the rest of the city, there is plenty of vacant real estate in the newly constructed addition – what a cool way to be remembered. In a city full of monuments, this is a new favorite.

When Baby Makes Three….

So, since we just welcomed our baby boy in July, I’m going to be one of those annoying people who can only talk about  things related to their baby.

Months before we were even expecting our bundle of joy, I looked at having a baby as not only a huge research project (all those books to read!) but also a fascinating design challenge. Until I started at Board & Vellum in January, I had worked from home for four years, and was trying to come up with some creative ways to fit our new baby in our 866 square foot, two bedroom condo while still allowing for a home office and guest room.

There are many ways to go about this. Some of the schemes included a fully customized built in system with a Murphy Bed and fold-down desk. Some included paring down to the bare essentials. We landed somewhere in between.

To move or not to move? The tips below are mainly for folks who want to stay in their one- or two-bedroom city apartments or condos. Our neighbors lived in their 650 square foot one bedroom until their daughter was almost three (with a dog and a cat). Even though much of the world lives in this amount of space, they were a fascination among people with houses (“Mary, come meet this woman. She lives in a one bedroom WITH A TODDLER!”). As a person who desires sanity, I understand their fascination. As a design professional, I believe that most problems can be solved with good design.

I think it’s worth it to stick it out for a few years in a smaller abode before making the leap to a [larger] house. You’ll learn how you use space as a family with kids and what is important to you.

Who doesn't love a loft? Creative kids space in the Bungalow West project.

Who doesn’t love a loft? Creative kids space in the Bungalow West project.

Here are some tips on planning on space for baby, when space is at a premium:

  • Aim to not take on too much stuff. Realize that you most likely will take on too much stuff. You will never again be the recipient of so much free stuff, which is awesome. And everyone will have recommendations. We have floor space for 2-3 moving/bouncy things. We will keep just what works at any point in time, and keep the gravy train moving by giving away what doesn’t work for us. It is overwhelming to step into a baby store. Keep in mind, at some point in time someone found that thing X (that babies didn’t need in previous generations) gave someone 10 minutes of peace, which could be worth its weight in gold.
  • Before the baby comes: simplify, purge, pare down, repeat. I realized there was nothing that I could really do to truly get ready, with the exception of simplifying our life and our space as much as possible beforehand.
  • Assess your need for a guest space. You want Grandma there, you want her to be comfortable, and you want everyone to stay as sane as possible. Provide a comfortable space for your guests. If you’re like me, you have only one extra room, so baby may need to sleep with you while a guest is there. Guest can always sleep on an air mattress, a fold out couch, or in a hotel, but personally, I love having guests, so having a place for them to stay is a priority in our small space.
  • In a small space, every cubic foot counts. Have furniture do double duty. Changing table with dresser and cabinet, bed with storage under, ottoman that coverts to a bed, crib with a drawer under.  Look for creative spaces for built-ins, like shelves high on walls (just not above where baby is sleeping).
Utilizing every square inch: Built-ins under the eaves in Bungalow West

Utilizing every square inch: Built-ins under the eaves in Bungalow West

  •  If you have only one bedroom: At first, you can share. Longer term, give it to the kiddo. You can still use their closet. They don’t need a ton of space, so their room can host wardrobes or large storage cabinets. Paint them a fun color or put them behind soft curtains–just be sure they are bolted to the wall! Longer term, a “pod” for living can contain all of their needs (bed, storage and desk) in one piece of furniture that takes up just half the room.
  • With the kid in the one bedroom, you can shut the door and the rest of your small space is yours. This will mean getting creative with your bed. Check out the always fun Buzzfeed for Totally Feasible Loft Beds for Normal Height Ceilings.
  • It’s the simple things: paint, a cute light fixture, and neat storage bins are all you need to create a peaceful, fun, and fresh space.

 

Jeff Pelletier’s 40 under 40 article

As mentioned previously, I was recently honored as one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2014 40 under 40 honorees.  It still feels more than a bit surreal but seeing it in print makes it even crazier.  I recently went down for a photo shoot and the full article has gone live.  Aside from a big editorial error (I was in New York City over 13 years ago), it is a pretty fun snapshot of some of my thoughts on working hard and working with great people.

There’s also 3 fun photos of me playing with toys and wearing trace paper as some sort of cape.  Let’s just say that the photo shoot was pretty strange.

Check out the article HERE

40 under 40 Jeff

40 under 40 Jeff with LEGO 40 under 40 Jeff with trace