Latest Articles in Design

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A Zero-Energy Community: Part 8

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 8: How it ends... Because I’ve been talking so much about various aspects of construction on prior posts, I’m going to skip that story, and jump to the grand finale—our education and media rollout.
January 4, 2012
Modern Ruche sofa by Inga Sempe for Ligne Roset

Ruché Sofa

On a walk through Ligne Roset’s factory near Lyon, France, we track the multitude of steps, hands, and hours required to craft this very refined couch.
January 3, 2012
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The Youngest Guns Contest

Once again, we're jostling our way into the hallowed halls of academia to ask for images of student-created work.
December 20, 2011
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The Director's House: Cranbrook

After fifteen years of disuse, a Saarinen-designed house on the Cranbrook campus has been renovated and updated by the school's Director, Reed Kroloff, and interior designer Lynda Charfoos.
December 18, 2011
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Gentleman's Club

December 14, 2011
The show includes an assortment of Havdalah candles from Israel, priced at $35 eac (right).

R 20th Century Gifts

The New York City gallery R 20th Century recently mounted "The Objects Show," a collection of artist and designer-created objects on view (and available to purchase) through December 30th. The pieces include hand-sewn animals by Renate Muller, hand-painted blocks by Serena Mitnik-Miller, jewelry by the likes of Kara Hamilton and Kiki Smith, and hand-crafted Best Made products including their covetable nautical flags and painted axes. Also contributing to the show is ITEM, founded by Leah Singer and Julia Trotta, who source unique objects around a single theme. For the exhibition at R 20th Century, they've gathered a gaggle of sculptural handmade candles from around the world, from colorful Havdalah candles from Israel to a three-pronged Swedish branch candle. ITEM also keeps a blog related to their current obsession—worth checking out for all sorts of candle ephemera. Here are some of my favorite items in the show, all available at the gallery and online here.
December 13, 2011

Designed by Commune

I've had my eye on Commune's work for a while now, having first encountered their unique, quirky, modern aesthetic sensibility at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, California, which they designed in 2009. The Los Angeles-based design collective, founded in 2004 by Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pam Shamshiri, and Ramin Shamshiri, has branched well beyond interiors in recent years, designing commercial spaces, brand identities, and products—including the eight I've highlighted in the accompanying slideshow. If you're in L.A. you can scope them in person at Commune's West Hollywood concept shop, Community, open by appointment. Or you can order from their online shop here.
November 29, 2011
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Danish Design, Curated by Morrison

While in Copenhagen recently, I had the chance to visit the recently renamed Design Museum Denmark (formerly the Danish Museum of Art & Design), and to check out their current exhibition, the quirkily named "Danish Design–I Like It!" British designer Jasper Morrison combed through the museum's extensive archives to put together a personal tour of the country's design highlights from mid-century onwards. The exhibition, which is on view until December 30th, offers a colorful and fascinating look at a wide variety of Danish-designed objects and furnishings, from the iconic to the obscure. Here's a peek at the goods on view.
November 22, 2011
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A Zero-Energy Community: Part 5

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 5: How do ground source heat pumps and solar panels work?   Two of our most central technologies in achieving zero net energy are our ground source heat pump system (for heating and hot water), and our solar panels (which generate electricity). The two account for about 60% of getting to zero net energy, so obviously they play a key role.  Ground source heat pumps are a well-known technology, but are generally not mainstream, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. The system combines three highly efficient processes which together result in a system which over three times more efficient than a typical forced air furnace. The slides give a good narrative to how the system works, but if you’d like more details, check out the ground source system sign from the zHome education signage—it is the second sign in sign package one. Solar energy, surprisingly, works quite well in the Northwest—solar panels here put out about 70% of the solar energy of a panel in Sacramento. Solar energy quietly is becoming more and more cost effective, with prices coming down and efficiency going up. Currently solar panels convert about 15-20% of the solar energy hitting them to energy—quite efficient when you consider that photosynthesis is only a half a percent efficient! Also, solar panels are quite durable—many panels from the 1970’s are still functioning well.  There is little to go wrong in them. Given how little maintenance they require (simple occasional  cleaning) there is a huge amount going for them.  
November 16, 2011