Archive for September, 2009

the highline revisited

Our project for the final undergraduate studio this year is titled ‘The Museum of Unnatural History’ and is sited on the High Line in New York.  More on the strange title will come later. Our studio is heading to New York tomorrow to see the High Line + other projects in New York. What  I love about traveling with professors is that they always have some in on tours and info. This time, it will be tours by members of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Field Operations, the two firms that co-designed the project.

The High Line during its period of disuse and neglect resulted in something beautiful and unurban. The juxtaposition is so strange that it looks like a photshopped image.

The High Line during its period of disuse and neglect resulted in something un-urban and quite beautiful.

This trip will be my fourth visit to the site, but this time through a more architectural and rigorous lens. Over the summer, I fell in love with the project and wrote about it as part of unpublished blog entry called ‘summer favorites’ (unpublished because it seems cheesy?).  Hopefully, I will come back from with a more balanced, critical view of the project, and its the success and inefficiencies.

One of the features that make Europe feel distinctly different from the U.S. is its omnipresent public space.  Barcelona felt like a endless series of plazas and Monselice’s square in a town of 12,000 in Italy, is buzzing with life on a weekend summer night.   After spending four weeks wandering, eating, sleeping in campos, campiellos, plazas, and ramblas, I was glad to have the High Line awaiting me when I returned to New York.

In fact, I had been waiting for the High Line since its MoMA exhibition years ago. The project was less than I expected but more stunning than I could have imagined. Architecturally, it is designed in every detail. DS+R invented a system that allows them to do everything they need for the project. My disappointments are only those differences between the subtle beauty of the renderings and the practicalities of real construction, and also that it is only a few blocks long at the moment.

The real beauty of the High Line is its spatial (sectional) relationship with New York. There exists no other place like it in the city. There are few things as surreal and beautiful as seeing people walking in the sky in Manhattan. From the street below, the pedestrians seem weightless as if they’ve defied the gravitational laws of New York. This feeling of surrealism derives from the fact that the city for many New Yorkers is a (under)ground level universe. The vertical real estate of Manhattan is an exclusive commodity usually reserved for those individuals who can pay to live there or work in places that can afford it. But even then New York is seen behind glass or from the stagnant view of a balcony, never traversing intersections in the open air like you do on the High Line. In the end, it  feels more ‘public’ than ground-level public parks  because it gives access to a previously exclusive and privately owned vertical dimension of  New York. What is also impressive is that the architecture is never a distraction. The design stays quiet without lacking complexity and power,  encouraging the public to experience the city in a way it never has before.

– August 2009

The High Line today with the tapering concrete strips and wild looking plants.

The High Line today with the tapering concrete strips and wild looking plants.

internet famous

I’m not quite there yet, but maybe this is a beginning. Tiffany interviewed me about living in Alvar Aalto’s Baker House as part of a ‘back to school/living in architecture” series for her Dwell blog. Thanks Tiffany!

“well, I would say I am just drifting”

I once thought animal prints were tacky, skanky, pretenious, a simple straight-out-of-the-book faux-pas. I have since fallen in love with everything animal print from the $249 cow skin rug at Ikea to the snakeskin clutches from Prada. (Let’s forget all the politics for now). In any case, animal prints are challenging. Even though I’ve changed my mind about it, it still walks a fine line between trash and elegance.  It seems to require firstly, high quality and secondly, a good choice of fabric – some sheer is better than none.

Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate is a master at the animal print. Somehow she wears them not only elegantly one at a time, but  in combination with each other.

Here she is seducing Benjamin Bradley. He clearly finds her animal print bra irresistible

Here she is seducing Benjamin Braddock. He clearly finds her animal print bra irresistible.

Leopard + Giraffe = ??

Leopard + Giraffe = ??

"You are the most attractive of all my parents friends". That's because she's stylish.

"You are the most attractive of all my parents friends". That's because she's stylish, Ben.

Overall, The Graduate is a stunningly stylish movie, not just because of Anne Bancroft. Dustin Hoffman’s outfits are actually wonderful. They don’t over stylize his jacket and khakis ensembles and thereby maintain an element of effortless preppy (effortlessness  is the key to true preppiness, not the over slicked look a la Rugby). At the same time, they give him skinny ties and good jackets that have personality. Moreover, I find the way Hoffman is styled more interesting and intricate than the kind of outfits seen in movies like Ocean’s 11 series. This is because what Hoffman wears is a real outfit where every banal detail can have a huge impact like the striped pattern of his tie or the specific shade of  pale yellow shift matched with the shade of navy jacket.  In constrast, a costume for Brad Pitt with white jacket and white pants renders the color of his tie and the colors of his shoes to be relatively insignificant details….

The Graduate is a good lesson in style. Watch it!

like a pro

Standing out in today’s shows were:

Oscar de la Renta — Solid. Stunning.  It is always appealing to accentuate the waist, but he manages to not make it look repetitive or like a flash back to some other decade. Also another thing that stands out is the variety of types of clothing which is different from some more conceptual designers. Rodarte had almost only dresses + a few other items. Oscar, on the other hand, has  covered with almost everything you need. This is both a commercial move and probably just what he wants to do. What’s impressive is even when he creates a range of clothing that matches daytime/nightime/whatever occasions, the collection still manages to read cohesively.
Prozena Schouler — Unlike some people who became popular around the same time, Prozena Schouler is always produces beautiful items. Whereas Zac Posen is a hit or miss and generally missing for the past few seasons.  PS just churns out cool dresses obviously targeted at young women who party. I like that they are always  playing with textures. Last season is was a lot of chiffon like fabrics.  This time its leather with cotton (or jersey),  leather with wild prints, and feathers. It looks kind of weird and crazy without being messy and because of that it stands out.

another fashion month

I usually await the beginning of fashion week(s) twice a year, but this time I barely noticed that it began. It is easy to be so far removed from the world of fashion. My google reader of mostly fashion blogs is at 210 unread entries right now, a record high.

In most ways, fashion shows are irrelevant to my life and the lives of most of the world. It’s a display of outfits that I cannot  afford, many of which I will never have the right occasion to wear to, and some of which are just so bizarrely strange that one wonders whether the human body is even relevant in fashion. Yet, I think despite its outrageousness, impracticality, I still manage to draw some kind of inspiration from it. I love the strange mixing of colors, the exploration of proportions even if they seem/are wrong,  and unexpected the pairing of fabrics.

I am determined to follow fashion week for the next 3.5 weeks (NY, London, Milan, Paris) even in the midst of a coming wave of studio/thesis prep work. Mainly because I am tired of my closet and feel like I am wearing yesterday’s clothes  and using yesterday’s inspiration.  Putting on clothes that feel like just another stock outfit no matter how simply stylish it may look is an uncomfortable and uncreative way to start off the day. What I want is not more shopping, I just want to rediscover everything in my closet  and to mix them around yet again to find something new and something inspired.

Some favorites from NY fashion week so far:
RodarteTheir aesthetic is largely crazy patterns and textures mixed together and strategically cut tight fabrics. Their clothes go from dreamy (with an edge) to tough season to season. The season it’s tough, hard, and kind of dirty looking, but still so incredibly femine.
Marc by Marc Jacobs –Marc Jacob’s fun commercial, and sometimes even affordable line. It’s nothing unique and the collection with appeal to an Urban Outfitters shopper who takes colorful risks in clothing. I like it because it’s a good reminder of all the strange ways you can mix things.


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