Category Archives: Design

I Am Not A Hipster–Has The Peak Of Hipster Arrived?

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Once reserved for the disaffected upper-middle-class millennial, the hipster trend has experienced widespread adoption in design, decorating, eating, dressing, marketing, and huge sales for associated products over the last decade. Fortunately, for some of us, “Brooklyn, where the hipster trend originated, has moved on from the term and the ethos,” and so, hopefully, will the rest of the country—Fortune Magazine is guessing soon in a recent article on investments that maintained valuations of hipster-modulated firms is peaking. Couldn’t happen quickly enough for me.

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Hipsters have characterized the intellectuals and the underemployed who embrace a seemingly (but not) low-cost, retro style—ruining the lifestyle of restaurants, pubs, and fashion that I enjoyed before the steampunk absurdities of hipsters. Hipsters have a pretension to an “authentic culture” even while it is a borrowed observation from their daddy’s or granddad’s era. But, unless you’re Actually Frank Sinatra—and you’re not—everyone else looks utterly ridiculous in a fedora. I roll my eyes at you. Without authenticity there is no message or reaction to the widespread society that had in the past stimulated a rebellion of creative energies.

The originators of subcultural authenticity were truly reacting and carrying forward a message and viewpoint. The beatniks and hippies were reacting to society-level characteristics (conformity, political and cultural conservatism), and the punk and grunge folks (Slackers? Generation X?) developed a cultural rebellion, reacting against a perceived stultifying corporate culture (especially through music, though not exclusively). Hipsters today, on the other hand, form around preferences more than broad ideologies.

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Hipsters are a more general taste culture, embodying a number of differing critiques of modern society in a more encompassing but less articulated way, perhaps because of the interwebs and Instagram. Rather than a subculture, they are more accurately a “consumer taste culture.” For, although hipster is a trend nominally based upon anti-consumerism, it is more accurately a movement driven by consumerism with a shellack of “anti-,” the exact opposite of authentic subcultures. Hipsters fit perfectly within the values of a large part of the mainstream, the so-called “Bobos” or Bourgeois Bohemians who believe they “self-curate.” Rebellion and societal change come not by activism and agitation but, for the hipster, through the style of things bought.

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Don’t misunderstand, my axe-to-grind is not with hipsters’ inauthentic anti-consumerist consumerism. We are all consumers operating under a set of consumerist assumptions validating a chosen lifestyle. So, I, too, am a consumer and a consumerist. I simply don’t like or appreciate the chosen style of the hipsters. And I don’t like it’s spillover effects that have destroyed my preferred lifestyle in most public settings. Hippies weren’t my thing either, though I had older friends that were hippies, but their “style” didn’t bleed over into good restaurants and mass merchandisers.

My preference is for a more future-oriented and more sophisticated and cosmopolitan taste and culture, a sense of luxury and upscale affinity (you don’t need to be rich to do this). I cringe at a hipsterism that tries to eschew modernity with: craft food and spirits, rustic plank flooring and thick wood tables, fedoras, thick-rimmed glasses, Paul Bunyan beards and mustaches, plaid shirts and skinny jeans with cuffs rolled up, converse sneakers, fashionably unkempt hair—everything that has no air of authenticity and implies a fake sensibility of rustic individualism with eyes fixated on past superficial styles to comfort a present that seems to offer no future.

And the restaurants! Can we get our restaurant groups back from this muck? How about some textiles, padding, sound-deadening and color—the Pantone color chart goes beyond browns. And, please, can we fire all the “Mixologists” and rehire those who admit they’re all bartenders? I love a great bartender, but I despise “Mixologists.” I have a lot of “-ists,” and they all went to school forever and busy themselves saving lives, and they charge me a fortune—well, so do the “Mixologists.”

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Ah, but one thing that both hipsters and I like is PBR, a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. My go-to beer had always been micro-brewed beers. Then that became so passée as every city in every state had every Millennial and GenXer and Late Bloomer who came to despise the corporate world in which they succeeded turn to the generically hip path of supposedly cool entrepreneurship. Micro-brew became “craft beer,” or rather generic-brew with pseudo-vintage stylings and absurd flavoring. So, for me, it came to be PBR on a hot summer day or, otherwise, a good traditional european pilsner.

Moreover, craft beer/craft drinks became a culture or hobby that anoints the drinker with the credibility of “a foodie,” or the food hipster. They’re part of a faux-agrarian utopia of semi-ethical nonsense, bought by people who enjoy feeling part of an elite community through the products they buy, like fried pig’s ear…locally sourced, of course. I’m so tired of paying high prices for proteins that were previously considered low-grade and fatty or tough. I’m fine with farm-to-table, but I’d like to get more than three baby carrots, twelve kernels of corn, and three halves of brussels sprouts on my plate…you can skip the faux-artistic smear of whatever sauce took three days to make and cost me six dollars (there’s so little, I can’t taste it anyway).

If it’s true it’s all on its way out, then smiles and better living (and eating out in the city) are to follow…I hope.

As for the investor class in hipster-centric stocks, Fortune has one bit of advise that gives hope to a more thriving future-oriented culture: “Get out while you can. And ditch the beard.”

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Reiner-Burchill Residence — SILVERTOP — Lautner’s Domestic Spaceship for Modern Terrestrials

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2138 Micheltorena St, Silver Lake 90039 – “The Reiner-Burchill Residence” (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, Construction: 1956-1976 – Built for Ken Reiner, Sold 1974 to The Burchills, For Sale 2014 at $7,500,000

Silvertop — the Reiner-Burchill Residence — was originally commissioned in 1956 by Kenneth Reiner, an entrepreneur who became wealthy with industrial designs for a spring-loaded ladies hair clip and a self-locking lightweight aircraft nut. “Silvertop” is named for its expansive concrete domed ceiling over the living area, which seems to rest on walls of glass, as it peers down upon the Silver Lake Reservoir.

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Focused on technology and engineering, Reiner and Lautner made excellent collaborators. The two set out to accomplish an advanced home design, featuring faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water, a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals, a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard (Reiner wanted to feel only the ambient temperatures rise or fall), controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs, lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.

Lautner built such novel innovations into the home specifically according to Reiner’s specifications; in the event that the equipment didn’t exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would design, engineer, and manufacturer the necessary parts in his own factory for Lautner.

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The two men brought in master structural engineer, Eugene Birnbaum to execute the challenging build with a cantilevered driveway up to the residence and a massive concrete domed ceiling over walls of glass that are slotted into concrete. The City of Los Angeles’ building codes couldn’t keep up with Lautner and Reiner, and the city denied permits for the cantilevered drive… until both men created irrefutable engineering plans and constructed a demonstration project.

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The home was originally budgeted at $75,000, but rose to $1,000,000 after many refinements of the design throughout its build. Unfortunately, Reiner never lived in his wondrous home. Due to a lawsuit with his business partner and a divorce, Reiner filed bankruptcy and lost the nearly finished house. The project then sat for several years, while Reiner moved to Long Beach. Associates said the pragmatic Reiner never looked back with regret.

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Dr. Philip and Jacklyn Burchill bought the home in 1974. The Burchill’s turned to Lautner to complete the home. The Reiner-Burchill Residence was finally realized in 1976, when the Burchill’s became live-in stewards of the architectural phenomenon until 2014. Mrs. Burchill has decided to sell the home she has maintained with stewardship toward authenticity for 40 years.

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The Reiner-Burchill Residence is located at 2138 Micheltorena St in the Moreno Highlands area of Silver Lake and is being offered for $7,500,000.

The 3 bedroom and 4 bathroom design of the main house is made up of a series of interlocking circles, half-circles and ellipsis, creating geometric pattern for which Lautner was known. The infinity pool, a first of its kind, mimics the shape of the roof line. With a massive, arched concrete roof over the living area, the spacious 4,721 of interior living space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, in proportion to the site on which it is built. “Silvertop” situates on 1.26 acres, comprised of six lots, on the crest of a hill. The home is approached by vehicle up one side of the hill and is exited down the other side of the hill via the cantilevered curved concrete driveway that wraps around a circular guest house, called the Round House, which contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a photography darkroom.

The home consists of three general areas including the living area, sleeping quarters and guest house. From the entry, one passes through an atrium filled with plants and before entering into the expansive light-filled open living space. The sleeping quarters are located somewhat perpendicular to the living area as it bows away from the central living area.

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Strange Yet Familiar — House VDV

At once familiar and strange, this single family home — House VDV by Graux & Baeyens Architects — is located just outside the town of Ghent, in Destelbergen, Belgium. The land is part of a site where once stood a castle destroyed in WWII. Part of the surrounding wall remains standing and is a silent reminder of this history.

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Sculptor’s Outstanding Mid-Century-Modern Exemplar Awaits in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Mid-Century architectural exemplar in Beverly Hills recently came on the market and was designed by sculptor Morris Levine as his personal residence in 1964. According to a 2006 LA Times article, Levine received no formal architectural training, yet designed “at least half a dozen apartment buildings in Southern California,” as well as two churches on an island in the South Pacific where he was stationed during World War II.

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The artist lived for forty years in his custom-built Beverly Hills home and passed away in 2004 at age 90. Set on a large, private lot, this hidden 3,480-square-foot retreat lists many original details including terrazzo floors, milled cedar ceilings and walls, custom storage, an open family room, 4 Bedrooms, 4 baths, plus a home office (or 5th bedroom) with a separate entrance, with a large, solar-heated swimmer’s pool, and a landscaped back yard. Great location convenient to downtown Beverly Hills and the Valley. It’s a museum-quality home for the architectural enthusiast.

Want it? $3.25 million.

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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:


Contemporary Residence In Chile

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This house is located on the coast, in the coastal way between Zapallar and Papudo, one of the more exclusive and elegant places of summer vacation on the central Chilean littoral.

The entrance to the property is through a garden area above the bedrooms which leads to a glass-enclosed entry hall through which you reach a platform to view the house environ and its relationship to the environment. With the exception of this space, the rest of the house is on the ground level arranged with the intention of facilitating social gatherings and family life.

The house consists of two clearly distinct areas that flow outward to an external central courtyard, which has the distinction of visually linking the internal enclosures with sun throughout the interior of the house. The sea is visible from nearly every part of the house, including all the bedrooms and living and dining rooms.

A curved roof of exposed concrete covers the entry hall, living and dining rooms, and terrace — creating it a unique embiance and creating, in balance with the maritime environment, an atmosphere of tranquility and belonging.

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The Dan Stevens Malibu Residence — A John Lautner Oceanside Modernist Miracle

Inspired by the ocean it faces, maverick modernist architect architect John Lautner created the Dan Stevens’ house with its curved shell to resemble a wave, while the interior structure evokes a nautical, boat-like ambience in each room.

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Stevens House, Colony Drive
Architect: John Lautner – 1968
Location: Malibu, CA

Lautner’s 1968 Stevens Residence in Malibu California is built upon concrete and situated surrounded by sand with views of the ocean and Santa Monica Mountains. The Stevens house was the first house that Lautner built in Malibu and defined the types of houses to be built thereafter.

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Dan Stevens interviewed a number of famous architects to design a 5 bedroom 5 bathroom house with a pool on a 90′ X 37′ lot. Each of them said it was impossible. So, He called John Lautner.

Lautner accomplished all of Stevens’ requirements by designing a structure utilizing 14 I-steel beams that in turn support two half catenary curves in reverse positions to become concrete wall, roof, and ceiling… in one. The house unifies sculpture with architecture and resembles two waves on the exterior. The interior of the house is composed of concrete with cedar planking throughout. The house also utilizes giant custom glass and douglas fir sliding doors that open completely to bring the ocean air directly into the house.

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Reverence for Lautner and the Stevens House resulted in a restoration bridging the past to the present. The restoration included carefully selecting and replacing all cedar planking, restoring concrete that had been painted, bringing back the originally designed but never fully implemented lofts for each of the kids rooms, recreating the original tile, as well as enhancing the house’s sustainability by utilizing cork flooring and converting the house to solar energy. Lautner’s intent was to create a low maintenance and well-built house. In an effort to maintain the Stevens House’s integrity, California Historic Cultural Landmark status was granted in 2010.

If it’s your taste — as it is mine — the home went on market for $22 million in 2013. Now where did I stick that 22 mill?…

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