Category Archives: architecture

People who live in glass houses…

should have roofs? Sort of neat in concept, beautiful in execution, but in practice…? Kinda funny.


Forcing myself to get over it (or– Random cool stuff in NYC).

I didn’t actually spend my whole weekend in New York crying, I did manage to get out and see a few cool things. Okay sometimes I did both, so sue me.


#1. Julian Schnabel’s pink townhouse. There are few words that accurately describe the fantastic, fairytale grotesquerie that is Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi. The above photo doesn’t come close to doing it justice, and not just because my camera’s a piece of crap. I was expecting to be shocked by the color, which I wasn’t (it’s not Pepto-Bismol or Bubblegum pink as the mags and blogs described it, it’s more of a washed cherry), but I was BLOWN AWAY by the architectural heinousness of it. Imagine if Donatella Versace and Paris Hilton collaborated on an extravagantly gaudy, 11-story Italian villa and then decided to paint it pink and plop it down on top of a 3-story historic West Village stable building overlooking the Hudson river. I wasn’t expecting to hate it– I’m pretty open-minded about these things– but good lord, it is god-awful.

#2 Lower East Side coolness. No, the Lower East Side isn’t what it used to be, but there are still good times to be had.


My insatiable sweet tooth loves this place.


PawnShop– gallery posing as an old school pawn shop. Tiny but oh so cool.

TG-170, one of my 3 favorite clothing boutiques in NYC. 9 out of 10 visits I’m there browsing their wares just for creative inspiration.

Also– Cake Shop for a coffee and a muffin. Every girl about town’s gotta take a break sometimes.


#3. Dinner at The E.U. (photo courtesy of NY Magazine). I have a slight (okay, maybe greater than slight) obsession with the design shop AvroKO and begged my friends to pretty please come with me to check out their new restaurant in the East Village when I came to town. Good friends that they are they obliged, and we had a lovely, classic New York-in-February meal under big windows that began at 9:30 and ended somewhere around 4 hours later. Service could have been better (“abysmal” per Jonah… I didn’t really notice), but the food was excellent, wine reasonably priced and atmosphere everything I was hoping. I couldn’t take my eyes off their gorgeous light fixtures.


#4. The Morgan Library. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never been to the Morgan, despite working 3 blocks away in the Empire State Building and having a best friend with an apartment around the corner. Maybe since I associated the neighborhood with work, I was always trying to evacuate the area as quickly as possible once the work whistle sounded, and wanted to stay far, far away on the weekends. Said friend with apartment around the corner had embarrassingly never been either so we decided to grab the shame by the horns and go on Sunday– and we were STUNNED by the beauty of the space. Forget the exhibits (though the current Irving Penn portraits are spectacular), the tall, airy atrium, original library and basement auditorium are what you go for. Even the glass elevators are cool! Well worth the $12 entrance fee and overpriced café lunch.

#5. Sol Moscot optometrist on 14th and 6th. True, Sol’s seriously lacking cool factor, but I have to give them a shout out for their always-incredible customer service. I love that they quickly pulled up my original file, gave me a new hard case for free and are replacing the lenses in my pricey sunglasses for $50. These are the guys who gave me my Chanel eyeglasses for the cost of the other no-name pair I was considering because they saw how much my heart (but not my wallet) was set on them. It’s one of those old school New York institutions that just make me happy.

Minimalist masterpiece or 3 slabs of wood?

What’s the difference between minimalist furniture as “art” and that nondescript Ikea chair you bought for $49.99? Is it quality? The social or historical context in which it was made? The person who made it? Is there a difference at all?

See if you can tell the difference between a cheap piece of furniture and a piece by minimalist master Donald Judd in this quick quiz by Reverent Entertainment. I got 10 out of 12 right! I still don’t know how I feel about that though.

Favorite Things Friday.

Churro & Chocolate
Originally uploaded by Steve Kay

Things I love right now…

1. “Idiot Boyfriend” by Jimmy Fallon. Recently rediscovered and every bit as hilarious.

2. This Utah viewing platform designed to curb (quite literally) speeding and drivers falling asleep at the wheel on a particularly dangerous straight stretch of I-80. (Thanks, Metropolis.) viewing-platform.jpg

3. Paste magazine. Who doesn’t love free music every month?

4. Spaghetti with red sauce, cinnamon and cheddar cheese. I guess it’s a midwestern thing. It’s my new comfort food.

5. Esthetician extraordinaire Nicole Burke. She’s the cool, hot, NorCal earth mama you pray your boyfriend never meets.

6. Losing 2 hours of my life to CostCo makes me want to guzzle a family-sized jug of Clorox but god DAMN, those dollar churros are good.

7. Double-features at the Parkway Theater in Oakland.

8. 11am weekend Vinyasa classes at the Valencia St. Yoga Flow with yogi/drag queen Jehfree Spirit. Pretty much anyone named Jehfree Spirit is alright in my book.

9. My fantasy (as in: something I coveted but would never in a million years own) watch the men’s Hermes Cape Cod, given to me for my birthday by my partner-in-crime. I still can’t believe I own something so beautiful.

10. The barrage of emails I’ve received in the last week about my 10-year high school reunion…. JUST KIDDING! What is the deal!? Make it stop!

Is this the most beautiful bookstore in the world?


The Guardian published a top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful independent bookstores including this one in the Netherlands, installed in a centuries-old church. The only American shop to make the list is Secret Headquarters in Silver Lake, LA, a comic book store with a surprisingly elegant and mature look and more fitting geek-chic website.


This is friggin cool.


Olafur Eliasson (currently showing at SF MoMA – see yesterday’s post) created this lazer-cut model of his house out of 454 pieces of paper and bound them together in a book. See more pictures and English story here.

All images copyright

40 Bond.

Building Boom on Bond St
Originally uploaded by Mirka23

I recently read an article on Ian Schrager’s new building at 40 Bond titled or subtitled “It Has to be Said…” and thought, “Yes! Yes! Finally! Someone is speaking out in a reputable publication about how hideous that building is! Vindication.” I had celebrated too soon: yet another glowing review followed the ellipsis.

I’m really not a Schrager-hater. I love what he did with the Gramercy Park Hotel and its lush-toned over-the-topness, and it’s hard to find fault with a guy who hangs a Twombly in the lobby. I’d kill for one of his big box windowed apartments next door that sit in lotus position in sublime contrast to GPH’s extravagance. But 40 Bond… I just don’t get it. I stood in shocked horror the first time I saw the minty-green glass tubes partially concealed by scaffolding. What the–?! Who would do such a thing to Bond Street?!? I found it tragic.

Admittedly, I used to live around the corner and had become a bit of an East Village conservation snob, reserving a particular fondness for the cobblestones and luxe grit of Bond and Great Jones Streets. Intellectually, I can appreciate what Schrager, Herzog & Co. were trying to do, the references to the structure and materials of old cast iron loft buildings. I get it. It’s inventive and fresh, for sure. But aesthetically I find it repellent. Apartments that start at $3 million are enclosed by a “‘gaudiesque’ sculptural gate… inspired by New York City graffiti” that’s meant to “integrate with the New York street.” Am I the only one who thinks this is hilarious? Adding insult to injury is that said gate was designed by a computer program in Switzerland. Blending into the New York street is the last thing it does. It looks like a bonepile, a big gimmicky bonepile. And no one’s talking about Schrager’s obscene penthouse that’s a third the size of the entire building. It’s not an unusually proportioned residence for New York, but it feels like a big ‘screw you’ to the spirit of the East Village.

But who knows, maybe it’ll grow on me.