Category Archives: art

Kenrick Kellogg’s High Desert House: The Most Important Architectural House You’ve Likely Never Seen

Organic Architecture As Otherworldly Art

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Located just outside Palm Springs, the 10-acre Doolittle estate is a rare study of organic architecture, offering a unique peek into the creative partnership between its artistic owners and the architect, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg. It’s now on the market for the first time priced at $3 million.

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The Doolittle home — made of concrete, steel, glass and copper overlays — sits on an irregular slope, nestled up against the hillside. Its foundation, jackhammered into the granite bedrock, is heavy anchored concrete slab. A shield to the harsh outdoors, form-molded concrete walls envelop the 4,643-square-foot home like a cocoon. Twenty-six columns prop up rooflines that fan out like wings. With the San Andreas Fault a short 15 miles away, the structure is reinforced 30 percent beyond California’s highest earthquake standards.

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With finishing details in metal, glass and native stone, the structure is a symphony of textures that, combined with the natural light admitted by irregular clerestories, creates the drama of a cathedral.

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“It looks like it’s growing out of its environment, like it grew out, mushroom-like,” Menrad said. “It doesn’t disturb the land at all. … It’s part of the landscape, and it’s its home.”

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Like the famed architect John Lautner, Kellogg had made a name for himself in organic architecture from the Yen House near San Diego to the Hoshino Wedding Chapel in Japan. Unlike the clean angles of midcentury homes, his designs are rounded, with the look of molded clay.

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Bev Doolittle had made a successful career selling paintings of Native American life and snow-flecked landscapes. Jay Doolittle worked as an art agent for his wife. The couple sought an artist architect and eventually tracked Kellogg down from the California Architects Board. They sent him a hand-written letter and photos of their property.

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“If you like their work, you let them do it,” said Bev Doolittle, 66. “I didn’t want to hire someone and look over their shoulder.”

“The real work of art is when you put the plans aside and it comes from your gut; that’s what you do on a good piece of art,” said Kellogg.

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The home’s otherworldly and museum-quality interior woodwork and metal fixtures were crafted by artist and metalworker John Voggeren, with much of it conceived and fabricated on-site. Sculpted and formed doors, latches, sinks and toilets became objets d’art in their own right. Says Kellogg. “Most people wouldn’t have gone in the way-out directions we went, but the owners almost never stopped us.”

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Design began in 1988, and construction began soon afterward. The main structure was finished in 1993. But interior work and tweaks to the doors and windows of the home took the next few years, while the Doolittles lived in a nearby 1,500-square-foot ordinary stucco home. They didn’t fully move in until the early 2000s.

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The Doolittles eventually decided to downsize, to live a simpler life. After living in the home for 11 years, they were getting too old for the stairways and rock floors. “It’s really hard to walk away from that. It’s very emotional,” Bev Doolittle said.

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I don’t know how long the link will last, but following is the sales video of this magnificent home:

Jony Ive’s iOS 7 Interface Design For Apple: Redux

So, from my previous post lambasting Jony Ive’s work product rendering iOS 7, I received a similar query from several friends who are graphic designers in which they sought a very good answer:

If, using my architectural references, Ive failed by utilizing the two most obnoxious aspects of modernism…

One, the reduction of detail to the extreme such that all that’s left is the rhetorical and boring white box…

Tsai Residence Modern Architecture


Two, the reduced modernist box raped by inauspicious elemental ornamentation (aka, “Mies van der Rohe design abused by Liberace decoration”)…

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Then, what is the example of good modernism to which Ive should have strived?

The answer is, THIS…

Detail_Texture_Clarity_Maturity_Sophistication_Good Simple Modern Design

Detail. Texture. Clarity. Maturity. Sophistication. Simple. Modern. Design.

The point is that, if this…

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…is to this…

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And, this…

Tsai Residence Modern Architecture

…is to this…


and this…


and this…

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Then, the good modernism of this…

Detail_Texture_Clarity_Maturity_Sophistication_Good Simple Modern Design

…would have produced better icons such as (sourced from various designers on the internet disparaging Ive’s childish and boring work)…












And “Notes” app would look like this…

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But, instead we have the memory of Steve Jobs doing this…

Job's Reaction to iOS 7

Because Jony Ive rendered this…

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Of the entire lot of icons on the home screen, Ive and team only improved two: “Photos” and “Games:”


Apple’s New iOS 7 Interface Design By Jony Ive — So Much Less And Yet Too Much

Product-Cum-UI-Designer Jony Ive Has Exceeded His Level Of Competency.


Dull. Boring. Flat. Elementary. Childish. Immature. Kitch.

All at once.



Welcome to the new iOS 7 design by Jony Ive

At Apple’s annual developer conference in San Francisco on June 11, the company unveiled a revised look for its iOS software, earning a standing ovation — and one “I love you” — from the several thousand developers in attendance. Amazing, because I felt a lump in my throat.

I saw a developer mock-up the day prior and thought, “No way they are doing that, those things are horrid.”

They are doing that.


The latest version of Apple’s iOS software, the user interface for its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, marks a move away from Apple’s trademark detailed and “skeumorphic” design, which relies on digital presentations of real-world objects, and toward a “flat” design aesthetic that’s recently become trendy among tech companies — think bell-bottoms, pet rocks, mood rings…you know, things of lasting value and impression.

OK, so I don’t like Ive’s iOS work. I’m sure it’ll be a huge hit with teenage girls…that’s the target market right? Because few adults and no businessperson is going to ever want to pull out their iPhone in public again. Maybe Apple/Jony Ive just breathed a chance of life into the new Blackberry X10.


Apple design chief Jonathan Ive offered an overview of Apple’s design aesthetic:

“We’ve always thought of design as being more than how something looks. It’s the whole thing. The way something works on so many different levels,” Ive said. “I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity.”

Yes, great design does tend toward simplicity (I’m thinking about my Bang & Olufsen stereo and speakers and my Audi). But pedantic abuse of simplicity in service to banal trendiness merely creates an homage to boring and non-stimulating factors soon to be considered trite and cliche. Great design of simplicity is simply “Classic” and timeless, always stimulating, always in good taste — now and fifty years from now.

My favorite architectural design is modernism. Taken to its extreme though, as its theme became trendiness, removing too much detail led to boring square white or glass boxes devoid of stimulation and not at all stimulating.

Tsai Residence Modern Architecture

The really bad architects/designers of the period toward modernism’s “death” in the mid-to-late 1970’s attempted cleverness through banal adornments to the vapid white box with trendy carbuncle elements and obnoxious color (ala, iOS 7) piquing our ire — think Mies van der Rohe design abused by Liberace decoration. For, it was the birth of Kitsch!

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Liberace Bedroom

And so it is: kitsch with Ive’s iOS 7 user interface for hundreds of millions of people.

Not Design; More Like Styling

So, yes, the hyped focus on Ive’s unveiling was the apparent simplicity of the apps and icons. But for all the supposed simplicity (flatness) and kitsch color, the biggest—and perhaps most elegant—element of the new system is its complex adaptability to external environmental conditions. For example, iOS 7 uses the accelerometer to adapt the screen in “parallax,” achieving “new types of depth,” in the words of Jony Ive. And using the phone’s light meter, it seems that the new icons and background adapt to the lighting to improve readability automatically.

The screen itself is presented as a dense layering of image effects. In an exploded axonometric view, we see a crisp clear background serve as a foundation for a middle layer—the apps—topped off with an elegant blurred panel that serves as a background for the control center. We can glean something about the future of iOS in the use of layers.

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Rather than treating the home screen and apps as separate, iOS 7 uses layering to provide context, instead. As one moves the phone, the layers change in relation to each other to provide the image of depth and movement. But, do we really use our phones that way? Do we really swivel our phones around when trying to pick and launch an app? Nah…not really. Nice trick though…still not design, more like styling.


The “Parallax planes” idea looks cool. The redesign does not. It’s horrible.

The old third-party icons look like a professional designer created them. The new Apple icons look like a grade schooler created them.

A Reversed Calm Before The Storm: iOS7’s Dull After The Kitsch

And while I get that all the “hip people” hated the skeumorphic stuff (something about not the current “in-thing”), is a plain white background really such a great improvement over linen? The thing looks like a snowstorm, especially on the white iPhone models. I think the existing version of Messages, to pick just one example, looks much better than the redesign we saw here.



It’s this way throughout. Once past the kitsch home screen, it’s nothing but dullsville, man.

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Apple used to have UI designs that nobody could match. Now they’re not only the same as everybody else, they’re following instead of leading.

Introducing The Apple Android-Cum-WindowsPhone

ios7 flat uiJony Ive should have stuck with industrial product design, not ventured into graphic design for operating system user interfaces. IOS redesign has rendered an Apple version of WinDoze Phone or maybe even that alien Android.

As one commenter posted online, “If you put a holo3d launcher on an android 4.1 phone you basically had IOS7 (but with widgets).”

Another posted, “Looks way too much like Windows 8. Why would Apple want to get away from the rich, deep looking appearance that iOS currently enjoys, and go to such a flat, cheap look? That is one of the reasons I chose an Apple iPhone is because the UI is so rich looking. If wanted a UI that looks like kids drew it with a crayon, I would have gone with a Windows 8 phone.”



There are certainly visual similarities with Android, and the solutions are similar to WindowsPhone. Given the usage stats and customer loyalty that Tim Cook quoted in his introduction, the problems and solutions of iOS are supposed to be unique. Rather than overhaul the system, they’re attempting to introduce what amounts to a new kind of visual “slang” — if the original iOS was built for a 45-year-old newbie, iOS 7 looks like it was designed for a “tween.” It’s more grown-up in terms of functionality, but younger in terms of form — one, namely me, might say childish.


In fact, I posted my status to Facebook: “Update to Apple’s new iOS7? Make your iPhone and iPad look like 5 year old’s kid toys!”

I’m sure I don’t like the new iOS look but as with almost all Apple products the proof will be in holding the device and using it. That’s where they shine, and maybe that’s when I will be persuaded.

Oh, One More Thing

One more rant: AS FOR ITUNES RADIO… You have to listen to ads…unless you pay $25 per year for iTunes Match. That’s well and good, but when Apple precludes members like me with more than 25,000 songs from joining Match, then we music aficionados are relegated to a second class experience of ad-interrupted streaming music. Or not…because I will continue to support ad-free Pandora through my purchased subscription where I am not forced to suffer ads because I also happen to own a lot of personal music.

And yet, this is also part of the problem: there was no “One More Thing.”

Where’s my new watch and my new television?

And my new, “I didn’t even know I need that” thing?

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster — Performance Art On Wheels

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(Another) American Dream — MLK Edit

“American Dream” By Jakatta — DJ Avant Garde Remix, MLK Edit

“Crayons” Mural: A Sandy Hook School Shooting Mural

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“Crayons” — a 6′ × 24′ graffiti mural by Gamma Acosta, Longmont, Colorado — has attracted “viral” internet attention as an artist’s statement about the Sandy Hook school massacre.

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The murals that artist Gamma Acosta paints on his uncle’s vacant building are usually temporary. At some point, a fresh coat of paint turns the wall back into a blank canvas. This time, after the mural went up — one day following the Connecticut shooting — an anonymous art collector contacted Acosta about preserving the piece. In the five and a half years that Acosta has painted murals on his uncle’s building, this is the first time he’s cut out a piece, rather than painting over it.

Acosta & "Crayons"

“Crayons” is powerful… a kick in the gut… heart-wrenching… a single image capturing the horror of that day… an unforgettable expression about something we must never forget.

Reaction to the piece has been mixed. Internet discussions indicate that a great many people feel it’s shocking, vile, repulsive, inappropriate and too soon. Perhaps this is true, but that’s the point… to make sure we never forget.

The mural is a reaction to Sandy Hook, not a memorial to the victims. Inciting one to thought is its purpose, and on this it succeeds magnificently.

“The intent was to get people to think about it, and not from a political standpoint, gun control or anything like that… We can’t become complacent about this stuff or it’s not gonna stop,” the artist offered.

Crayons - Sandy Hook Mural

Bořek Šípek: Bohemian Post-Modern Baroque Design

Bořek Šípek is a world-renown architect, designer, and visionary who defies easy, simplistic categorization. His creativity is rooted in Czech-Bohemian, historic Baroque, and Post-Modernist design. His work is equally at home in the most contemporary building and the medieval Prague Castle.

Bořek Šípek (b. 1949 in Prague), is renowned for his singular, unique, vibrant and opulent style. He approaches design with unexpected and often lavish shapes, and is referred to as the progenitor of “neo-baroque” style. He maintains offices in Amsterdam, Prague, and Shanghai, was the architect of Prague Castle under the presidency of Václav Havel, and is a knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

The life of Bořek Šípek is a Cinderella story about a boy subjected to the harsh realities of life who grows into a determined and successful adult. At the age of fifteen, he was orphaned (both mother and father died of cancer). At nineteen, Šípek graduated from an applied arts secondary school in Prague after studying furniture construction. Having nothing, he emigrated to Germany, where he made use of his studies working as a cabinetmaker. Šípek entered university in Germany and graduated from architecture school in Hamburg and a school of philosophy in Stuttgart. After teaching design at universities in Hannover, Essen and Prague for many years, in 2005 he earned the position of Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University in Liberec, Czech Republic.

Šípek’s first significant success was a glass house he built for his sister, for which he was awarded the German Architecture Prize in 1984. Opportunities thereafter opened for Šípek, and he moved to Amsterdam for the liberal atmosphere of this city. Mid-1980’s, he was contacted by the noted Italian design company, Driade. Cooperation with Driade was the beginning of a skyrocketing career of “the most distinguished contemporary designer” who “evokes the longing for magic in this horrid realistic world.”

Driade published a new catalogue featuring only Šípek’s work and proved his importance to the company. At that time, only four people had their own catalogue – French Philippe Starck, Spanish Oscar Tusquets, Italian Antonia Astori, and Czech Bořek Šípek. He especially liked to design chairs, furniture, cutlery, glass, china, vases, lamps and home accessories.

Bořek Šípek has worked with the most prestigious design companies: Alessi, Cleto Munari, Driade, Maletti, Sawaya & Moroni in Italy; Vitra and Milus in Switzerland; Sévres and Daum in France; Rosenthal, Anthologie Quartett and Süssmuth in Germany; Leitner and Wittmann in Austria…

Bořek Šípek had more than 70 single exhibitions and his work is included in the collections of the most reputable world museums: Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, Design Museum London, The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Kunstmuseum in Düsseldorf, National Museum in Prague, Denver Art Museum…

More than thirty books and catalogues presenting Šípek’s work and life have been published, so far…

How is it that Šípek resolves the seeming conflict of Bohemian Post-Modern Baroque design? I think he answered the question well when he said, “I try to interpret new contexts in a new way. It is much closer to me to newly explain something that has roots than to experiment. Tradition has always been a greater inspiration for me than experimentation.”

Architecture & Architectural Elements

Arzenal, Šípek’s personal design shop in Prague

Ajeto, the Czech glassworks established by Šípek

Prague Castle, where Šípek served as Architect of Record during the Vaclav Havel presidency.

President Vaclav Havel’s Official State Office

President Vaclav Havel’s personal office at Prague Castle

Townhouses in Netherlands

Glashause Šípek designed for his sister in Netherlands

Apartments in Prague

Šípek’s kitchen in his own home


Believe it or not, this is a coat tree!

A beautiful wool rug for Driade

Blown Glassware



Metal Accessories