Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All White

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If you don't have a subscription to Metropolitan Home, don't walk but drive (fast, faster!) to your nearest magazine shop. If you love the chic calmness of all white, if you cannot get enough of minimalist modern, you will want to see every home in this January/February 2009 issue. This is Metro's best issue to date.

Go! Be the Queen of Pristine!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guess Who Came for Dinner

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Red-tailed Hawk
Now he's got me wanting a new lens for my camera, so that I can get a better photo of him.

Tall Husband spotted this dinner guest sitting in our pecan tree at My Ranchburger this evening. Watch out little squirrels! I think you're on the menu.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessions of an International Maison Stalker

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The photo is from Vivre Côté Paris Magazine Advertisement.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Some years ago, in the late 'eighties, I was watching television. ( Yes, I would occasionally watch T.V. until reality shows reared their ugly heads.) Elsa Klensch was interviewing Philippe Starck, the famous French designer-of-everything on her show, Style. (God, I miss that show and have not tuned to CNN since they canned Elsa.) Anyway Elsa was featuring a most unusual house that Philippe had designed. All I knew was that I had to see this house and that it was somewhere in or near Paris.

Through French design books and the Internet, which was rather feeble back then, I located the house, Maison Lemoult, on Ile Saint-Germain in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a short metro ride from our hotel in the center of Paris. So, one sunny November day, Tall Husband and I stood feasting our eyes on the Starck master piece. As the house sits between the Seine and a street, we saw it from the front and the back. I shall never forget the thrill of that day. The owners, Dr. and Madame Lemoult, were home and were nervously peeking out at us, which did not perturb us in the least. We did notice the new house next door and commented that it was a shame that such an ugly house was built next to the chic Maison Lemoult. We were later to learn that the ugly house was Philippe Starck's studio and home, which he had designed.

Now my fantasizing begins anew, as this wonderful house is on the market, according to an advertisement in Vivre Côté Paris magazine. You can see Maison Starck as long as this link is active:

French Internet lesson so that you may enjoy your house tour:
  • precedent=previous
  • suivant=next
  • retour=return or back
  • accueil=home
  • loupe=enlarge (photo)
Oh, did I mention the price? 2 490 000 euros. Ouch!

P.S. I am thrilled to see that there is the same Italian floor lamp, Gilda, in the living room as we have. We got ours from Design Within Reach.

Monday, December 8, 2008

French Enamel Signs

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These signs are on doors at My Ranchburger. I think they lend a touch of French wit. We purchased them several years ago from a tiny shop in Paris, Papeterie Moderne. The original owners, the charming Joseph and Jacqueline Bakerdjian, helped us choose our signs.

Papeterie Moderne first opened, it was in the middle of the largest centralized food market in Europe, Les Halles. They sold string, paper wrappings and stickers to merchants who were selling poultry, meat , eggs, cheese, butter and vegetables to all of Paris. When the central market moved to the suburbs of Paris, Joseph and Jacqueline morphed their business into a sign shop to serve the small shops that sprang up around them. Their enamel signs became popular with tourists like us and Papeterie Moderne became known around the world for its French Enamel Signs.

Joseph and Jacqueline later sold their shop to Josette Samuel who is a potter. Josette renamed the shop Plaques et Pot and sells her pottery along with the famous French enamel signs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Machine Lights: Sublime

Click on Photos to enlarge.
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Photographs of all Maschinen Leuchten (Machine Lights) are used with permission of Frank Buchwald, the Designer.

Frank Buchwald's Maschinen Leuchten, Machine Lights, are exquisitely handcrafted and utterly magic. This is machine cum art. This is art that lights up the imagination. Here are timeless constructions: are we thrown back in time or thrust into the next century? Think of these light objects as you will, there is no denying that they are uber chic.

To learn more about the manufacture and history of these light objects and about Frank Buchwald, the Berlin designer, go to Maschinen Leuchten.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Art Display

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Hollow Upbringings by Mindy Herrin; ceramic, vintage suede; silver, cheese cloth. The raven was found in Paris one Christmas season, displayed with its flock on a white tree.

This figure, more homunculus than baby, was originally displayed on a dark metal stand. We wanted something that did not require a table for display. A catalog came to the rescue again: Pottery Barn Kids arrived with a photo of this French highchair for a doll. We thought the chair would soften the edginess of this piece of art; however, Tall Husband's sister informed us that the contrast "disturbed" her "even more." Since I delight in disturbing her, I added the French corbeau (raven). It worked!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Displaying Unusual Art

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Persecution Remembered by Mindy Herrin; silver, fabric, parchment; wood; glass. The poem on a parchment scroll rolls up via a tiny crank on his side and the small silver door in his belly closes to hide the poetry behind a small pane of glass.

This small figure (approximately 8'' tall) came with an unanswered question: how does one display an edgy, serious work of art? The piece was kept in his box for quite some time while we explored methods of display.

One afternoon, I took my grandchildren to the local science museum. I noticed that small, ancient pieces of art were effectively displayed on small white wooden cubes within a case. That night, as I lay falling asleep, the trip to the museum and our little figure came together in my head.

The next day I found cubes in a West Elm catalog and showed them to Tall Husband and told him of the idea for our figure. He liked the solution and when the cubes arrived (they come in a trio), he fabricated a metal stand and attached it to the cube. Now our little guy can be easily removed for cleaning, then placed back on his cube, where he looks as important as he is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Philip Johnson: Chapel of St. Basil

This is an exterior shot of Philip Johnson's Chapel of St. Basil, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas. The Chapel, though small, is awe inspiring due in part to its soaring walls, utter simplicity and natural light that enters through various architectural openings.

Geometric placement of bells

Note the contrast of materials: the white stucco wall, gold dome with cross and charcoal stone of the bell tower.

Just as you enter or exit, if you look upwards, you will see the perfection of combined geometry and light.

The interior of St. Basil has the simultaneous feel of ancient and modern, possibly due to the use of ancient materials in a modern design.

As you leave the Chapel, take a moment to experience the volume and light in the vestibule.

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Philip Johnson (July 8 1906-January 25, 2005)
Recipient of the first Pritzker Architecture Prize, 1979

Tall Husband and I visited the Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas last weekend. It is one of my favorite Houston buildings by the Architect Philip Johnson. With its gold dome, it looks like a modern jewel dropped adjacent to the mid-century-modern campus mall that he designed earlier.

Johnson has always been a favorite architect of mine, so when I was invited to the dedication of his building at the University of Houston, back in the late eighties, I was excited to have the chance to finally meet him. Alas, Tall Husband and I came down with fever and flu on the day of the dedication, so we never met Johnson. Later, a French modernist designer who met him that night, gave us a colorful report of the event.

There are several of Philip Johnson's buildings in Houston. Here is a partial list:

  • The de Menil House, 1950
  • Pennzoil Place, 1973
  • Republic Bank Tower (now NCNB Center), with John Burgee, 1984
  • Transco Tower (now the Williams Tower), 1983
  • University of Houston, College of Architecture Building, 1985
  • Rothko Chapel, 1971
  • St. Basil's Chapel, 1995
  • University of St. Thomas Campus Mall, 1985

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Banana Bunkers

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Click on image to enlarge.

Banana Bunker®
Paul R. Stremple, 2000

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has these available from their on-line store. I love bananas and wouldn't want them bruised; though, I think these Bunkers® look like too much fun!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weekend Modern

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Click on image to enlarge.

If you're looking for a hip, modern venue this weekend, you might want to check out Peel Gallery's show with Dror Benshetrit, a New York based designer. The event is Saturday November 8, 2008, from 6-9 PM at 4411 Montrose, Houston, Texas 77006.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Yes room at My Ranchburger
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Say it with letters: when typography accomplishes more than mere decoration.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Knoll: NeoCon 2008

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Knoll's Chair at DWR, Houston.

View a great video with the design team from Knoll here. The video runs just under 15 minutes. You will get to see some of Joseph P. d'Urso's new designs for Knoll, as well as designs by Ross Lovegrove.

The first design I remember from Joe d'Urso was the apartment he did for Calvin Klein back in the mid seventies. That was when I fell in love with minimalism and gray; and I still can't get enough of black leather and the whole d'Urso industrial look. Who can forget that Ross Lovegrove, the British industrial designer, made our Sony Walkman look so chic? Wait till you see his new Knoll tables in this video.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Autumn Gift

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A gift of fresh flowers and fruit arranged by Felix Hernandez of Behind the Garden Gate is magical. Thank you Felix for the thoughtful gift. What a fantastic way to celebrate Autumn!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red Gun

Red Gun, a photogravure by Dan Mitchell Allison

Tall Husband and I have collected Dan Mitchell Allison's art all during our marriage. In fact, my wedding gift to Tall Husband was a piece of Allison's work.

In the above triptych, from the top down are: Bit Part, Red Gun and Face the Music.

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The hit of color that Dan Mitchell Allison's triptych gives the white, gray and black living room at My Ranchburger is invigorating. For this series, he used old movie stills of the film noir genre and added his own unique range of color. He placed the images on canvas and overlaid each with text, a mere story link that one must decipher in order to complete the story.

Click on each photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"Mr. Zappa Has Left the Building" is a silkscreen, raku fired ceramic piece by Hans Molzberger, German Sculptor/Artist.

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It seemed appropriate to place a ceramic piece of art above another ceramic work. There is irony in this scene also. The artist's father and grandfather worked in industrial ceramics, a future Molzberger attempted to escape through distance and alcohol. Did Hans Molzberger escape or merely put an artistic twist on his destiny?

Zappa, I think, would approve of his portrait placement. He was, after all, anti-censorship and enviably irreverent.

Click on each photo to enlarge.