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A layman's view on interior design.

2004-08-31

August spawned an iMac in the shape of an iPod

I'm not a Mac freak, but I was eager to see whether Apple would be able to top the last iMac design today with the new iMac. Now that I've seen it, I'm confused - is it a clean design or just dull? Wouldn't it look better in brushed aluminium (damn, that metal surface urge again...)? Are the Apple people just trying to repeat the iPod design success just by applying it to a computer like iMac? The last iMac was a triumph in design in my opinion, but I decided to hold out for the next generation which was due today. I think I'll have to see it live to be able to make up my mind. The look and feel of it is very important to me as I planned to put it in my living room as a digital media center and an ugly PC just won't do.

So what's the verdict? You tell me!

The new iMac
The new iMac

The old iMac
The old iMac

2004-08-29

The mother of invention

I can't help but be impressed by people that creates something usable and inexpected from almost nothing. I stumbled across some images from an old exhibition of some truly inventive stuff. Cuba has certainly been through some rough times - still is - and the Cubans have to make do with whatever material they can find. For them it's just solving some day-to-day problem, but in my eyes it's true art. How about a TV antenna made of canteen trays or a fan made out of an old telephone?

Vinyl record replaces the original blade of a fan
Fan made of vinyl

2004-08-27

Survey update: Sex it up and don't freak out

We all know that the purpose of surveys is to produce something to hit people in the head with that they already know. So now hear this:

The Washington Post tried to find out if women are more interested in interior decorating than men. Guess what? They are. In spite of this, 88 percent of the men in the survey are involved in doing the actual work. Hmm, I see a power distribution pattern emerging here...

In a survey cited by The Belfast Telegraph, home buyers give you a hint what kind of DIY "improvment" should by avoided if you plan to sell your home some day in Ulster.


When it comes to the fixtures and fittings, the single biggest turn-off is a built-in bar
...
Other furnishing faux pas identified in the Yellow Pages survey included saloon-style swing doors (12%), shell-shaped bathroom suites (8%) and curtain pelmets (3%).

Damn, there goes my weekend home improvement project...

2004-08-25

The dictator of living rooms

What dictates where you sit and how you arrange the furniture in your living room? I would bet in most western homes, it's the TV set. This piece of furniture has held us hostage for decades when it comes to the living room layout. Go to your living room right now and look where all sitting areas are facing. I'm serious. Go! ... See? If you have a large living room, perhaps you have divided it in two of more parts, but I bet at least one part is dedicated to your TV. Some of you have hidden your TV in a closet with doors that opens up to reveal the screen. Nice try, but what happens to the room? A group of chairs and sofas facing a closet!

Ok, so how do we overthrow this dictator of living rooms? I think we are beginning to see a revolution now with the new TV sets that are so thin that you can hang them on the wall. At least the floor space can be liberated with a wall-hung TV. But what about the projector screen TV you say? I'm sorry, I think the projector has a even greater impact on the living room than an ordinary TV. The quality isn't even near a good TV set and many projectors are noisy. You also have to create a movie-theater-like environment with dimmed lights and nobody breaking the light beam.

However, the real revolution will come with the screen wall when you can assign any wall area to display a screen. I'm not talking about the usual one wall solution when you stack a bunch of TV sets on each other and combine the image into one, but the wall itself being a screen. You'll then decide where you want to sit and point your remote to where you want to look. You could use this for a lot of things, for example decorating the room with different images and colors or like a computer desktop running applications and work with them on the wall screen. Pretty neat, huh? The problem is that it only exists in my imagination and from what I see in the video wall business, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Not much room after you video walled your apartment with a bunch of these babies
Video wall part

2004-08-23

The IKEA labyrinth

The largest IKEA store in Stockholm is a perfect example of greed taking over and complicating things for us shoppers. Some time ago IKEA decided to rebuild the whole store, which is like a whole city block. The motto for the renovation seems to have been "The shopper must not be able to just go in, find what she wants and buy it". Some genious probably thought that we suddenly would develop some irresistable urge to buy whatever crap we see trying to find the exit, or perhaps just give up and scream "Ok I'll buy anything you want, just let me out of here!". After a couple of weeks the IKEA people surrendered somewhat to the customer complaints and painted large arrows on the floor to show people how to get out of the maze. Well, that suggests to me that something is terribly wrong with the interior design of the place. But wait, there's more! What if a customer just need one thing, let's say a toilet brush? She would then be able to just go to that level of the store and then go directly to the exit. The IKEA genious: "How about putting the same type of product on different levels? Then they still have to go through the whole store (evil laughter ensues) Mmmwuuuua-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaa". Another interesting "solution" was moving the main entrance from the second floor to the bottom floor and then make all customers take one single escalator up to the second floor anyway to be able to enter the store.

Well, I guess it proves again that it's never too late to fail. Even the largest player in a business with all the resources in the world can lose focus. For starters, this store lost one customer - me.

2004-08-22

MTV Cribs. Do they really live there?

There's no show on TV that reveals more about the lives of movie, music and sports stars than MTV Cribs. Not for what you see when they show you their homes, but for how the stars struggle to give an appearance of something. There are cribs that go with the personality of the inhabitants, but sometimes I see episodes when people just look lost when they lead the camera crew through their houses: "...and this room here to the right is...mmm...the kitchen!" (camera pans over a completely empty hi-tech kitchen with a layer of dust on the stove). After watching a couple of episodes I could Identify at least three types of crib owners:
  • The crib owners that didn't lift a finger to change anything about their homes after becoming successful enough to get invaded by a MTV camera crew. These impressivly relaxed people are not to be confused with the wanksters that spend hours before the shoot to plant stuff that go with their rough image: "Oh these handcuffs casually entangled in a leather whip on a bed of string bikinis? I have no idea...".
  • The people that throw money on the problem to make it go away. Some cribs just reek of all-package-interior-design-consultants. They look like visitors in their own homes. Often it's a complete theme park: "Yeah I went all the way with this crazy Arabic style...or like Indian...anyway, I think it's so me. Look at my action figure collection over here...".
  • The DIY people that wanted something to show to the world and at the same time tap into their abysmal creative resources: "Hey I can play a pretty mean guitar! I can do this!". I've seen some tragic examples: "I just put a white bed in this huge white bedroom with a with a white sheet...look, it got a great red stain on it just like blood...pretty cool, huh?" Yeah, the shock effect last for a couple of minutes while showing it off, then what? Mix it up with a fake cut off horse head?
Snoop Dogg goes Martha Stewart on yo' ass
Snoop Dogg MTV Cribs

2004-08-21

Metal white ware from hell

I admit! I'm a sucker for things with an unpolished metal surface. When I first saw the DeLorean car as a kid I was fascinated with the concept that didn't need paint to make it look good.

Still kicking it, the DeLorean:
DeLorean car

I guess I share this fascination with a lot of people considering the amount of white ware manufacturers trying to to put a spell on you with kitchen ads looking like something from a Star Trek episode - all metal surface. I even wrestled the metal demon for a while when deciding for white ware for our new kitchen. However, when I saw all these freezers and fridges in real life I realized that they are impossible to keep clean from grease stains. Just imagine what happens when you have kids running around in the kitchen - yep, stains galore.

I succumbed to a tiny metal demon in the bathroom, though, and bought a small lockable metal cabinet. Just one look at it and it's unclean, but it's easy to clean and kids cannot reach it. I did like they used to say in the Old West: "Hang'em high" - the cabinet, that is.

"O Beelzebub, be gone! Thou hast no power over me!"
Poggenpohl kitchen

2004-08-20

Follow-up: Outrageous theft...

Yesterday the stolen tapestry seems to have been found in the trunk of a car in Stockholm. A local resident thought the car was badly parked and decided to investigate further. The loot was considered to be worth at least from millions of USD to priceless. The car wasn't even reported stolen at the time. [metro.se]

Lesson: if you are an asshat thief devoted to pointless thefts, at least learn how to park a car.

Update 12.45:
Well, it turns out it wasn't the bad parking that called the citizen's attention. It was the tapestry rolls sticking out of the car (see image). It took three individual reports to the police before they believed it. Then they claim the had the car under surveillance just in case the thieves were to come back (mmm-yeah-aha-right).
[dn.se]

I personally think the buyer read the news and found out that the goods he ordered was shredded by the asshat thieves and just cancelled the order. The thieves then probably just dumped the loot and went looking for other business oportunities.
The car "under tight surveillance":
Car with loot

2004-08-19

Outrageous theft of priceless interior in the Old Town

Last night some ruthless thieves entered the old National Bank house from the year 1680 in the Old Town of Stockholm and literally ripped the tapestry and paintings from the 1750's from the walls in the prestigious building. They didn't even take out the nails before brutally taking the tapestry down, probably leaving with a national treasure full of holes. The also used their not-so-well-honed crow bar skills taking down door frames and tiles from the walls. [svt.se]

Makes me wonder who's the rich sick bastard that would buy this stuff and put it up in some tacky part of his vulgar villa.


The old National Bank "Södra Bancohuset", Stockholm, Sweden:
Södra Bancohuset

2004-08-18

Interior design software

Not long ago my wife and I moved into a new apartment. Moving from a small to a large place, suddenly there was actually room for deciding where stuff would look nice, not just squeezing in the sofa where it fits. A the same time I wasn't looking forward to shuffling the furniture around until we were both content (or at each other's throats). Solution: interior design software. I scanned the web for 3D modeling software for interior design. Most of the software I couldn't even download and test without purchasing it (hello > goodbye!), other I couldn't install because of the poor software distribution infrastructure. How many times have I registered for software, downloaded it and then waited in vain for the license key to appear in my inbox? Answer: too many. Finally yesterday I found Artifice's DesignWorkshopLite, which is free and enough for my humble needs. I tried it out and it looks great so far. Try it yourself:
http://www.artifice.com/free/dw_lite.html

One funny detail: after downloading the software I received a welcome mail from Artifice in my own language (Swedish), though the encoding of the mail was in US-ASCII so it looked more like Hungarian. Translations can be tricky also. One phrase in the mail was something like: "There's a lot more to say [about the software], as generations of architecture students from my years as a professor can tell, but I'll just say hi." Well professor, you really got me intrigued there! And talk about old software - "generations"! Perhaps it sounded real nice in English in the beginning.