Thursday, March 16, 2006

notice of movement

it’s gorgeous outside.

i am just obsessed with the beautiful skies.
we are having crazy weather in d.c.
first hot… then cold.
but lots of wind.
grub loves windy days.
i love the skies on windy days
they are so dramatic.

beth sent me a link to
the second annual smallest,
coolest apartment contest 2006
it’s sponsored by design within reach
which is the subject of
a rant for another day.
i only spent a few minutes
looking over the apartments entered
but it touched nerve with me-
about something that i constantly debate with grub.
modern design is often missing one key element…
for example…
grub wanted to design a house
with light switches with little doors on them
(so the light switch doors are flush with the wall
and you can’t see them there).
i said it was ridiculous.
there is a reason why switches stick out!
they may look very nice and minimal
flush with the wall
but they are simply not practical.
form before function?
how many of you
use your shoulder, arm, nose or whatever
to flip the switch when your hands are full?
not possible when they have little doors on them.
also, get real…
if you ever have kids,
they will never close
the damn light switch doors.
light switch doors are not practical.

these are my gripes with the
“small” apartments in the contest.
first of all,
it seems a large number of these people
don’t have stuff.
you know, “stuff,”
useless things that don’t quite have a place
and secondly, half of them are not small.

modern means not having “stuff.
now i am an owner of “stuff,”
a lot of it
to which my friends and family can attest.
the trips to the village
don’t help.
modern designs aren’t very good
about dealing with stuff.
if you are lucky they will design you a closet.
what i want to see in these contests is
what their closets look like!
what they really look like.
not what they look like for a photo shoot
where you piled all your stuff
on the bed to take a photo of the closet.
show me your closets.
if you have effectively decorated your apartment
to be both modern AND efficient,
show me your damn closets.
are they packed to the hilt?
packed was the exact adjective
i would use to describe the closets
in grub and my “500sq. ft” apartment.
which brings me to my first gripe…

small is apparently relative.
my olf apartment was “500 sq. feet.”
i put 500 sq. feet in quotes
because that is the footage our landlady told us.
relative to some of the photos of the apartments
in this contest of so-called small apartments-
ours was 300 sq. feet.
most of these apartments are not that small.

in my humble opinion
good design,
the kind of design for which DWR
should look,
is both modern and efficient.
architecture/design should not just decorate
but it should also find
effective and creative solutions
to the site or space..
that is the difference
between design and good design.
a coffee mug that looks beautiful
but burns you when you fill it with coffee
and try to hold it
has only solved one problem –
the asthetic one… the form.
a well-designed coffee mug
is beautiful to look at,
it is easy and comfortable to hold
and it doesn’t give you 3rd-degree burns.

effective use of space.
the awards should go to those entries that
have found clever solutions to difficult problems
like low-light or badly designed
or simply not enough storage.
something we can all relate to
and learn from for our own apartments.

i leave you with our old apartment.
unfortunately i never took a picture of the closets
but just imagine things falling down on you
when you open them.

here is the view of our living room
(note- not enough room for a couch,
we had the oh-so-comfortable and modern cubes):

view of our kitchen:

our kitchen was so small we had to
slide the table into the bookcase
to provide storage for glassware, cookbooks,, etc.
and have a table that could seat more than 2:

the ikea “trones”
meant for shoes,
but they housed all our
kitchen odds and ends
and they are white and modern.
see modern can be efficient!

no room for bulk items.
get cheap shelves from ikea
and then loads of vintage canisters:

and last but not least…
when you live in a small place
it is essential to let
people know when
you have moved something
else they may never find it again.
the “notice of movement”:

so this would be my entry
into the small apartment contest
(if the deadline wasn’t this past monday).
i would make sure to
include a picture of my closet.

by the way,
we have moved.


Eero said...

I love your rant! And I wholeheartedly agree: show me the damn closets...
Being in the arctic neck of the woods, I'd like to see a 'smallest cabin' contest, showing clever storage of firewood, water jugs and large dogs.

f. pea said...

thanks for the notice of movement. "grub and bugheart have been moved to a new apartment. reason: things falling on them from the closets." it was nice to see the pictures of your old apartment, even if you are happy to be out of there. in another picture that doesn't exist, there are young women in 1940's secretarial costumes sleeping on an air mattress next to the cubes.

Ma'ai said...

The lightswitch issue is easily solved, using a brilliant invention called, The Clapper. ;)~

Tracykins said...

Ah, it was good to see the old place. I forgot how brilliant it was that you found a place for all that stuff...even if it was sometimes smashed into a closet. :)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In defense of the light switch doors, they were inspired by the small gothic light switch doors we saw at the National Cathedral. I think all cathedral architects ask themselves "What would God do?", and on the 8th day...doors over light switchs. The famous German Moderist architect Mies Van Der Rohe is credited with saying, "God is in the Details". I would agree on both counts (God=Light switch doors). Perhaps the universe pre-big-bang was God's minimalism at heart, then reality set in and he/she had to let go. So perhaps the lesson is this: God couldn't have everything he/she "owned" wrapped up in a ball the size of a future-earth mellon, but eventually he/she got the switch doors. I think switch doors are a fine compromise for any minimalist-leaning-earth-being relative to a mellon-sized universe.

Ma'ai said...

God would use the Clapper.