Monday, June 30, 2008

More Invention

I have been obsessed with the potential of Tyvek for years. Tord Boontje first sucessfully made curtain panels by dye cutting the pattern into folded constructs. We got the endless panels laser cut for the Celebrate Brooklyn installation. But check out this additive approach to the material. Designer Nathalie Trudelle felt that making costumes out of fabric was "kind of old-fashion" so she found a material that could fit in her sewing machine and when melted is just plain cool. I love it when you see a material being used within one mind set and then you see someone working in the opposite manner....real invention. Nathalie's web site is

Sunday, June 29, 2008

305 GS-Living Room some more

Caleb let me borrow his camera and I took it for a spin around the living room. The sofa came back from the upholsterer with its new Peter Fasano Linen, Jean Glenn's painting looks wonderful with some of my orange stuff and the pedestals we made out of old doors. I am enjoying my Autoban chandelier and my Papaver Vert felt pillows. The living room rug is a Christopher Paul Canvas Matt in a killer color. And Oplin our robot sculpture is happy on another door pedestal. Nice to be in a real room.

Invent your Furniture, Invent your Life.

One of the things I tell my students on the first day of class is that -to date you are the most a avant-garde designer in the country. So its time to invent as well as design. This gentleman is exactly what I want to put forth for new furniture; a complete re-invention of the ordinary object. His name is Bertjan Pot and I came across him in my new favorite design book How They Work, by Inga Powilleit and Tatajana Quax, published by OIO Publishers Its a wonderful book that I heard about on Bloesem. His very simple fresh web site illustrates lots of energy, clarity of thought and a feeling that even if he is "way out there" he is examining real lives and designing for them. Thank you Mr Pot!

Marie Antoinette' Writing Desk

When I am not reading about the struggles of the American south, the dogma of Modernism and looking over the shoulder of Madeline's Judy Blume books I have been reading about Marie Antoinette. I am not sure why but I think it has to do with the idea of design as biography. I am not quite finished with it but Caroline Weber's book Queen of Fashion; What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution but it is an amazing narrative of the power of the design. Primarily, it discusses the Queen's costume as her power but it has this description of her relationship to Petit Trianon that illustrates an interesting lesson on architecture and its influence on values or lifestyle. " Struck by the Petit Trianon's freshness and simplicity, the Queen promptly and enthusiastically set about transforming the place into a laboratory for a program of broad-based aesthetic and cultural experimentation." Thus began the trend in 18th century toward the "Simply Life", based on Jean Jacques Rousseau's writings. There is also a number of furnitures pieces from Petit Trianon as well as Versailles that were designed for the young queen that are modern marvels, the mechanical table by the royal cabinet maker Jean Henri Riesener seems to be designed to thrill a Queen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Coggan + Crawford receive Mississippi AIA Award

We were honored last night with an award from the Mississippi AIA for our 21st Street project in Brooklyn. Since we are new in town we feel really flattered to be recognized by our peers for this important accolade. I missed her lecture but was fortunate to sit next to Gail Vittori of the Center for Maximum Potential Buildings Systems and hear her really insightful way of talking about the LEED system for buildings and that it should be thought of as a set of shared values for a project. Its something that we are working on with Little Building as well as our previous work in Brooklyn. Not all the choices we have made are as pure as we would have liked but we have weighted the consequences throughout. These are images of the 21st Street project shot by Paul Finkle.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Town before the Building

These "drawings" are just back from the Brooklyn, NY show. They are a little bit an example of my need for adventure and part figuring out a way to "draw" while watching T.V., calling my Mom and readings stories with Madeline. Caleb has tremendous discipline and will sit down after dinner and MAKE a drawing. I really like to be social in the evening so I found this great medium to work out actually very hard to "draw" ideas.
In two books I have read this year, Mississippi, The WPA Guide to the Magnolia State and The Promise of the New South, Life after Reconstruction, By Edward L. Ayers; they establish the premise that the history of Mississippi is the history of transportation. This idea caught me and I tried to "draw" the towns where the juncture of the rivers and the railroads made the town. This idea could take me years to complete..... Oh yes and thats Brooklyn, MS.

Natchez Green, Natchez White

Life here in Starkville has moved on from our wonderful adventure to Natchez. Crisis here and there at Little Building, new books to read, furniture projects blooming, tomatos and green beans blooming for that matter? I could not quite figure out what prompted me to photograph the half chairs in the grass. But as I was looking at the rest of my Natchez images I realize that my eyes must have become adjusted to the bright white and the deep summer green that is Natchez at this time of year. I hope to go back..... To bring some other colors back with me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Longwood was the reason for Madeline and I traveling to Natchez. In the book Tennyson, the "plight" of the family was based on the plight of the Haller family as they struggled with the house through many generations.
In 1859 Haller Nutt retained Philiadelphia architect Samuel Sloan to begin a building on his property that was fashioned after his proposal for a "Oriental Villa" in his book Homestead Architecture. The construction began and within 18 months the base shell and majority of the exterior was complete and the Civil War had started. It seemed that the bulk of the craftsman on site at that time were northerns, heard that war had been declared and walked off the property leaving hammer and nails as they stand today. The family finished the nine room basement and lived there until 1968. Its a sad story of reversal of fortunes and writer Hugh Howard states, "Longwood is a architectural metaphor for cultural excess." Well yes, but it is an unbridled flight of imagination, which is very important as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

InProcess Chairs

These are some of the new chairs in process.

Modern Mississippi

Imagine our surprise in Natchez when Madeline and I were walking down Main Street and saw a very chic store front that said 20th century jewelry and ceramics! My weakness is modernist ceramics and if I could have had another career I would give it all up and open a shop just like this. Marbeth Schon has the most wonderful sensibility. The shop has a great architect's file cabinet as its center piece and the walls are currently hung with Margaret Bourke-White Prints. Her web site is, she has recently published this great book Form and Function American Modernist Jewelry, 1940-1970, published by Schiffer. This Ed Winter plate came home with me to be with two other very modernist vases. Imagine finding such a neat place when you are expecting "19th century decor all day everyday".

Little Building Lighting

Lighting is a difficult decision in any project because of the costs. There are millions of choices but do you have millions of dollars? I like to do "uptown/downtown" lighting. This is where you find a very inexpensive base fixture put it in all the hallways, and more utilitarian rooms and then save your money for the "feature" lights say above the dining table. In Little Building Cafe I was looking for a basic barn light for the wall fixtures and than over the counter I spent a little more money on the Caravaggio pendants-in reality they were in the 200.00 range, which is middle ground for a good lighting product. The two sites that I work from were and Below are the lights I did not choose but you can see what I was looking for.

Stanton Hall and the Antebellum Interior

I was having a hard time figuring out how to organize the Natchez info. And Design Sponge had a cute entry on a historic house, so I though I would ride the wave. Although my taste and dogma tend to the modernist side; I haunt historic houses for decorating ideas. Now these images will probably never get integrated into my work but they are amazing. You can not take pictures in many of the houses in Natchez but I found this old- fashion set of photographs. Some things to remember when decorating a mansion-each room has a color theme, each rooms has a chandelier that has a narrative theme that suits the room. And always use a bigger grander carpet pattern when in doubt..... The buildings were all built around the same time as the Brooklyn Brownstone and oddly enough probably by the same crowd. An average Natchez millionaire could be from New York or New Jersey, young men looking for BIG money. This house is Stanton Hall which sits right in the middle of town up on a heroic hill. Small things caught my eye that looked familiar, the medallions for the lighting was the same pattern as the average brownstone-they are made of plaster and horsehair! The arch in the 16 foot hallway of Stanton Hall is weirdly close to ours in 76 SEP. There is a new book out about Natchez that really describes the tone of the town, what it went through after the boom and its impact now, Natchez by Hugh Harwood, photographyby Roger Strauss. Rizzoli.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Natchez, Big Buildings

Madeline and I got back from our big adventure to Natchez, MS. yesterday. We had a wonderful weekend trip where we got some very good food, enjoyed the very urban and civilized Downtown Natchez and saw some epic feats of Architecture. We stayed at The Burn , a bed and breakfast that was very well appointed. I will download my camera and finished sketches. Also report on some hidden modernist treasures, certain things that remind me of Brooklyn in this other river town and how fun it is to share all this with your daughter. Later!