Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Monday, 24 January 2011
The waiting room of Detroit's once-grand train depot, Michigan Central Station, long after the last train rolled out in 1988. A decision was made in 2009 to tear the building down.
The old white-haired man was awarded the medal for outstanding service during wartime and TIME magazine praised him enthusiastically: Albert Kahn's contribution to the defeat of enemy powers is greater that that of most others, a journalist wrote in 1942. But the 73-year-old man had never seen the front line during the World War II. He fought, so to speak, from his desk in an office in Detroit.
It was no accident that his office was located in Detroit, a metropolis that had grown into one of the most important industrial towns in the world by the beginning of the 20th century. It was a center of modern capitalism and the world capital of automobile production. This is where Henry Ford established his Highland Park factory and created the production line delivering that most-desired of consumer goods, the Model T Ford. It was here the mass-production pioneer found many copycats. Detroit became the army's biggest supplier during World War II; it became known as the "armory for democracy." The city's rise seemed unstoppable, and so did the rise of its chief builder, Albert Kahn.
The architect of modern Detroit began his career in 1907, when he was commissioned to design a new plant for luxury automobile producer Packard Motors. Instead of choosing traditional materials like wood and stone, Kahn opted for a concrete construction, which was not only fireproof but also allowed for large, light-filled practical space. Soon Henry Ford noticed these architectural qualities, and engaged Kahn for an innovative project.
Ford wanted to put everything under one roof, and Kahn pulled off something revolutionary in the village of Highland Park (now surrounded by, but separate from, Detroit): a four-story factory flooded with natural light which could accommodate up to 70,000 workers. Assembly-line production was a symbol of modern times, and Highland Park became the place where "the 20th century was born," as historian Bob Casey put it. When the factory became too small, Kahn designed new premises for Ford just south of Detroit -- the River Rouge Complex, which opened in 1927 and held 90,000 workers. It was the biggest industrial plant in the world at the time.
The Ford plants were the result of a perfect symbiosis: The auto manufacturer had found his perfect builder in Kahn. His talent for erecting factories faster than anyone else grew from a clever combination of engineering knowledge and tight business organization -- not so different from car manufacture. Kahn carried the principles of mass production into the art of architecture. His Detroit office became a factory-planning factory. As soon as he signed a new job, the team swung into motion, not just drawing up building plans but simultaneously sourcing contractors and gathering estimates for materials. Kahn built factories like they were coming off an assembly line.
The Car Shapes the City
"When I started out," Kahn said later, "architects only designed museums, cathedrals, monuments and stately houses. Factory buildings were jobs for the office helpers. Now I am still the office helper who designs factories, and honors have not affected that."
Building factories did not damage Kahn's reputation. Quite the contrary. The architect erected more than 1,000 buildings for Detroit automakers, including the General Motors building, the company's headquarters and the largest office building in the world at the time when it was finished -- the 30-story Fisher Building became the landmark of the city. Kahn and other star architects of the early 20th century, such as Whitney Warren, Charles Wetmore, Daniel Burnham and Elsie Sardine created a skyline using a range of different historic styles. They decorated their skyscrapers with marble columns, extravagant ornaments and gilded roofs.
Job seekers swarmed to Detroit. The economic boom had made the town one of the richest in the world, and its architecture reflected that wealth. Rows of elegant villas went up along the elm-lined avenues. Public transport -- and above all the arrival of the automobile -- shaped the modern town.
The Stalin Contract
Even the leader of the Soviet Union was impressed by Detroit's development. The dictatorial powermonger Josef Stalin saw in all this industrialization a way to release his agricultural nation from its backwardness -- and hired the architect. Kahn erected more than 500 factories for the Soviet leader in just two and a half years.
He began with the Stalingrad "Felix Dzerzhinsky" tractor factory in 1929-30, a factory that would play a special role years later in the war against the invading German army. The battles around the industrial complex were up to that point the hardest for the Nazis, with the heaviest losses. The tractor factory became the site of the decisive Battle of Stalingrad, which became a turning point in World War II.
Detroit's rise as an industrial metropolis continued after the war. Almost two million people were living in the city at the start of the 1950s. Thanks to the good wages to be earned in the automotive industry, the American dream of home ownership was within reach for many people. But "Motor City" had already passed its peak.
The first signs appeared, in fact, in the '50s. The US government was concerned that important industrial centers would be targets for nuclear attacks. It encouraged businesses to move their production bases outside of the largest towns. Highways banded the new sites into small towns and suburbs. Staff in the old factories was reduced as life organized itself around these new business centers.
Exodus from Detroit
By then the good times were over for this once-fêted metropolis of modernity. Within half a century Detroit lost almost a million people, or half of its population. Many inner city buildings, including the United Artists Theater and the majestic train station, were abandoned. When the last tenants moved out of some apartment blocks, the heating was simply turned off and the electricity disconnected. Water leaked into the empty buildings, frost cracked the walls and columns, and the window panes shattered. The result is an almost gothic vision of decline.
Thirty-five per cent of the inner city has become uninhabitable. French photographers Yves Marchand and Roman Meffre have documented its ruins at the start of the 21st Century, and their book of photos (now published in Germany) shows the end of an era. Detroit's architect, Albert Kahn, was not around to witness the damage -- or even end of the war. The 73-year-old died in December 1942, a few months after his award for military service landed on his drawing board.
Just place your finger on the synthetic surface to make words and drawings appear.
My source for this article: Thanks to Mr. Anthony Paganopoulos
Friday, 21 January 2011
Thursday, 20 January 2011
A mix of contemporary and old pieces gives a warm and welcoming feel to this open space. An old timber counter, found on eBay, has been modified to incorporate an oven. An Ikea sofa sits comfortably with a vintage velvet armchair and an Eames rocking chair.
The two wooden coffee tables are salvaged factory pallets, framed in metal. The chunky bookshelf acts as partition between the living room and the bedroom.
A striking turquoise kitchen cabinet, painted by Zoé (pictured), was a second-hand find, as were a birdcage (the other is a wall decal) and the blue chairs.
Article from real living
Chalkboard garden pots: What do you need to create your own designed pots? that is very simple... you will need pots -> yes it makes sense, plus buy a Krylon Chalkboard Paint, if you live in Switzerland you will find the following chalkboard paint and magnet paint in the shop "Coop Brico Loisirs".
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Monday, 10 January 2011
She creates glowing, jellied scale models of urban sites, transforming ordinary physical surroundings into something unexpected and ephemeral. Lit from below, the molded shapes of the city blur into a jewel-like mosaic of luminous color and volume. The gelatinous material also evokes uncanny parallels with the geological uncertainties of San Francisco’s landscape. While the translucent beauty of the compositions first seduces the viewer, their fragility quickly becomes a metaphor for the transitory nature of human artifacts.
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Sweat Shop Cafe in Paris: Rent a sewing machine by the hour, learn a new skill while sipping espresso or munching on herb-laden Finnish cake. Opened by a Swiss make up artist and an Austrian fashion designer. Imagine 10 work stations equipped with 10 Singer sewing machines and one central communal table. Next time that I go to Paris I'll go and visit this Cafe. This so clever, love the idea. Users can purchase access to a Singer sewing machine – six euros an hour – and come to classes in the evening if they want to improve, for example, their knitting or customising skills. The idea, say the owners, is to reconnect people with the joys of sartorial DIY.
If the project succeeds in Paris, where handicraft is largely absent from the education system and still suffers from connotations of hippiedom and dowdiness, perhaps it could catch on elsewhere. Manchester, and London, maybe?
"There's a crowd for it," Inside the room on the left, a counter of cakes stands alluringly in the Parisian sunshine, and the Singers sit on tables ready to whirr.
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Wish Your Wish installed in the lobby gallery as part of the exhibition "Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other". Visitors are invited to select ribbons printed with a wish to tie around their wrists. When the ribbon falls off, tradition has it that one's wish will be fulfilled. Visitors may write another wish and place it in the empty hole. This work of art is based on a similar practice that takes place at the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Our Lord of the Good End) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
Rivane Neuenschwander prepares ribbons printed with wishes for “I Wish Your Wish,” part of a show of her art opening Wednesday at the New Museum.
Step 1. Draw your shape on the back-side of the fabric with a permanent marker. If you're using grey fur, I suggest using a grey marker or disappearing ink fabric marker (if not, a pencil will do). Cut out the shape then shake out to remove excess fur/fibers - I suggest doing this outside or else you'll have fur everywhere, including in your mouth :) Stop after a couple of shakes, don't worry if you still see fur flying around. You really just want to shake out the fibers that were loosened-up from cutting.
Step 2 & 3. Generously apply Fray Check (I buy it at Michaels) at the base of the fur (where the fur is attached to the base fabric) all around the rug. Allow to dry wrong-side up or hanging before laying down on the floor.
Depending on what type of floors you have, you may need to add some sort of anti-slip pad or stickers to the bottom. Ikea sells really cheap anti-slip pads.