2 – 4 : : DesignPlan : :

: : DesignPlan News : :

It’s too early to say whether this is good news or not….and too early to put any faith in a ‘trending’ …… but, positive indicators
in this economy are to be embraced. Heaven knows, this constant state of fragility, in our industry, is clearly,
‘nervous-making’……..and that’s the technical term.

In my experience, the horrors of the global economic meltdown started in October 2008. New business bookings at
Marriott International in Washington were uncharacteristically sluggish in September and heading into the fall.
That time of year, as I was told, was generally a watershed period – when all the hotels under the Marriott flag
started the initial design  services enquiries of our department. The Architecture & Design department of Marriott
was 400+ in size. It was broken down into various specialty groups such as Design/Planning, Project Management,
Engineering, Supply Chain, etc. And each flag group had its’ own staff for design, development. Generally we would have,
within the Marriott / JWMarriott group, a regular Friday morning coffee catch-up. Our VP, John, would meet with
the 40-50 of us in that group and review with us forthcoming projects, the general state of the health of hotel
operations, both for Marriott, and for our competition such as Sheraton, Westin, etc.

As October slid by and November became current, those meetings became a little more, edgy, I’ll say.
Many, many very scary indicators – such as GM stock bottoming out – were touched on in those meetings.
Client hotel ownerships were, at first, delaying the kick-off meetings for project starts – and then canceling them
outright. The spiral became a waterslide…..within 4 – 5 weeks, a sense of panic was pervading the overall
department.  Aside from ongoing project responsibilities, all else began to feel very tentative.

And then, as I recall, the last week in November, the world caved in. We were officially notified of the
‘corporate re-alignment’  that was to ensue – immediately. Many of us were ‘invited’  to attend a meeting
with HR……and we were informed, that our positions were being eliminated. The elimination of a salaried
position in such large corporations, was about as drastic a step that could be taken in efforts to reduce
overhead through staff reductions. The official policy was such that, in the elimination of a funded position,
the company would suffer no backlash, legally, from those of us that were a part of that group. And in the
official paperwork that each of us received,there was  a complete listing of all departmental staff, by function, by
years of service – by age group even. The reason for that was to demonstrate, should there be challenges, that
the corporation had treated the reductions in as fair and just a manner as possible. For, once a position
was eliminated, the company was barred from re-filling such a position unless it was to receive senior executive
approval for the re-creation of such a position.

So we all knew that Marriott was being as fair as possible……and, despite the shock, the pain which surrounded
that event, Marriott was as they have always been – caring, concerned – sensitive to the upheavals in our
individual lives, and also in how it was to affect the ongoing working structure of the company.  I had no complaints
as to the manner in which this was dealt with – Marriott has always been, and still is – a class act.
But, as we were approaching American Thanksgiving, the pain was palpable……we were invited to stay on
for a month and take advantage of all the HR resources that Marriott could provide. And those days and weeks
which wound down to the inevitable, were bittersweet, and difficult.

I think one of the more painful stories was in regards to one of my team members – an architect, who was
licensed in about 10 states – who was a walking encyclopedia of all things Marriott. He had been with the
department for 40 years! Yes – he was elderly….70 I recall .  But he was a superb professional and an
amazing resource for all of us. And, in his severance, he was rewarded with 6 months severance pay.
Legally, the corporation met the burden of requirements by law. He was shattered! He didn’t need the
money, per se – but he certainly didn’t need, either, the sense of disposability after 40 years of service.

My co-manager, Rafe, who had only weeks prior been lauded for a spectacular design turnaround
on a project – who had been a senior manager for the last 6 years – suffered a heart attack. And he was
in his mid-forties. It was brutal, but, it was – necessary.

And in the aftermath, as I re-settled in Ottawa, Canada at the beginning of 2009, I found it amazing
that all my new-found professional contacts there – architects, engineers, designers – all kindof
‘pooh-poohed’  my stories. ‘That’s not likely to happen here – in Canada. Especially in Ottawa – we’re
a government town. There won’t be much of an effect here…..we guarantee it.’  I, just smiled benignly
at them, whilst saying to myself, ‘How foolish! How naieve.’  And of course, they were proven, within
a few scant months, wrong. As I watched and heard about this design practise, or that architectural
firm that was suddenly imposing 3 day and 4 day work weeks on their staff.

There is a point to all this recent ‘history’…..as we have all been affected, have suffered over the past
couple of years, there has been little discernible horizon to cast our gaze towards……except for perhaps,

The AIA (American Institute of Architects), has maintained detailed database analyses of workloads,
project bookings throughout its membership. This week, AIA posted the following:

Architecture Billings Index Hold Steady After Two Months of Improving Conditions
February 25, 2011  |  Levent OZLER
After showing positive momentum during the fourth quarter of 2010, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI)
slipped almost four points in January. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity,
the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 50.0, down from a reading
of 53.9 the previous month. This score reflects stable demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates
an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.5, down sharply from a mark of 61.6 in December.

“This slowdown is indicative of what is likely to be a very gradual improvement in business conditions at
architecture firms for the better part of this year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.
“We’ve been taking a cautiously optimistic approach for the last several months and there is no reason
at this point to change that outlook. There are still too many firms that continue to see weak market conditions
to expect a dramatic increase in the demand for services in the design and construction industry.”

Perhaps, it might be the light at the end of the tunnel…..however, as one wag stated it some time ago,
it’s also just as likely that the light at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming train!

Keep the faith – that is all one can do.

: : DesignPlanColors : :

Promised this last week…..following immediately are the Pantone Spring 2011 colors. As most of you know,
color projections are made a long time in advance. They are intended to guide manufacturers (automotive,
fashion, home goods, etc) in the choices they make for their products – so that there might be a harmony
across various industries.

The methods used in these predictions are a closely guarded secret – rumour has it that it involves
celestial physics, transcendental communication, a big chunk of the black arts along with a
select variety of spider legs and toad parts…..we’re not at all sure which of these actually predominate……

Spring 2011:

The individual colors and the percentage, to date, of their usage in fashion, are listed as –


By cyril foiret 20 Sep 2010 @ 10:55 am | Categorized trends |

WWD predicted the top-10 Pantone colors for the upcoming spring 2011 collections,
so far after the New York fashion week and the present London fashion week,
their prediction has been very accurate… See more details below


Percentage of designers who used this color: 15.56 percent

“People are looking for something that gives them a lift. Everyone has been feeling a bit
lethargic from the economy, the mood or whatever this is.
Honeysuckle is a feel-good color,” Eiseman said. “It’s flirtatious and has more of a playful attitude.”


Percentage of designers who used this color: 14.81 percent

Blues have been gaining momentum with the fashion flock. As a cooling tone,
regatta has a calming appeal.
“And I mean, who doesn’t like blue?” Eiseman asked, as proven by its number-two
ranking for women and number one for men.


Percentage of designers who used this color: 14.07 percent

“This fits right into the whole idea of exotic colors because oranges have been around for several seasons.
Coral rose is very springlike,” Eiseman said. “It is a bright and eye-opening orange.”


Percentage of designers who used this color: 13.33 percent

Yellows have been gaining ground in recent seasons and the popularity of beeswax is an extension of that.
Eiseman said, “Beeswax makes you think of honey — it is not acidic,”
Eiseman said. It is also a reminder of far-off lands, she said.


Percentage of designers who used this color: 10.37 percent

Many people have learned that green works well as a neutral and are more inclined to wear it
on a more regular basis. “Green plays to two things — new beginnings and a sign of spring,” Eiseman said.


Percentage of designers who used this color: 8.15 percent

Carmen Marc Valvo and Nary Manivong are fans of this one. Blue Curacao’s strong showing taps
into the interest in turquoise, which was Pantone’s 2010 color of the year.
“It really is an interesting color. It is a next-door neighbor to turquoise,” Eiseman said.
“Blue Curacao is a color people respond well to.”


Percentage of designers who used this color: 7.41 percent

Russet, like silver peony, has a slightly peachy tone. Both shades represent a
wide range of nude tones.
Eiseman said, “Designers have to bear in mind how there are a lot of different skin
tones in this country. This is a wonderful opportunity to get two colors that really speak to that.”


Percentage of designers who used this color: 6.67 percent

Ethereal and peachy, silver peony appeals to many women.
“Silver peony really has a romantic attachment to it,” Eiseman said.


Percentage of designers who used this color: 5.19 percent

The purple family has come on strong in the past few years. “Purple is the most creative color,” Eiseman said.
“Lavender is very popular with people in fashion. It comes from a marriage of blue and red,
which are absolute opposites. Artistic and creative people get that.”


Percentage of designers who used this color: 4.44 percent

Ports 1961 and Ella Moss are a few that looked skyward. “Silver cloud is a quintessential
classic neutral that is practical, dependable and can always be used as a background color,”
she said. “Designers understand if consumers are going to buy a bigger-ticket item, all of these things help sell it.”

And the FALL 2011 Pantone color palette is:

I don’t know about most of you…..for me, I love to try to ‘join the dots’, as it were…..color to color, season to season.
Bamboo is obviously propelled by Beeswax – but Phlox (love that color) kinda comes outta left field. It might hook back to Lavender
but thats a stretch in my opinion. Point is, if you yourself had the Spring palette, how well do you think
you could accurately project the Fall palette. Would love to hear thoughts, comments, guesses.

Moi? Je pense il est plus d’arachnides……beaucoup de spider parts – maybe some honey added in……

: : DesignTools : :

Happened to wander into the Brookstone store a couple of days ago. Front and center was a whole
display of accessories, cases, doodads for the iPad. Many noted as being designed by Brookstone.

There was this really neat iPad portfolio case, with a Bluetooth keyboard attached to one of the flaps.
I want one – don’t need one, probably – just want one. Actually, as I use it more and more
I can see the inherent value of having a separate dedicated keyboard.

In any event, here it is:

$99.95 in 3 different flavors!


Plus, right beside it there was this other really neat thing

It’s called a NoteSlate….and it’s also $99.00

Here are some other shots of it : :

And now for the details:

From the company website, the following –

We would like to introduce you probably the simplest tablet device today. NoteSlate. Monochrome paper alike tablet device,
where the simplicity and technology evolution meets pencil and paper again. This classic instrument in new consequences.
Natural look and feel through basic digital image, 1-bit image. All that networked with human touch.
This new context of the classic device, this evolution, brings this tablet out of borders of what we know as electronic computer.

In NoteSlate, the handwritten interactivity is trying to change the rules of what we called electronic paper.

The hand and human touch is presented in all ways. Emotions expressed, ideas exposed, shared…. and Network changed.

This basic human cultural device, pencil and paper, now in new post-information age.

NoteSlate device in most possible simplicity, compatibility and continuity as the basic key
point for further development and communications.

Copy, share and communicate as you wish.

From an objective reviewer:

With a basic price of 99 dollars, the first low cost and low tech tablet device will be launched next june.
Forget the clone wars, though: NoteSlate has no browser or wi-fi connection; basically, it’s a virtual notebook
with a 13-inch touchscreen that can be used to make notes and sketches (on black or white background)
with a stylus or listen to music. Simple electronic paper against technology overload.

: : DesignResources : :

This you’re gonna like, I think……

go to http://modenus.com/ [note; NO www in the url]
The site is featuring modwalls…… a superb tool to mix and display up to 10 different mosaic tiles
along with your choice of grout color…..
you can choose 2 colours, 7, 4 or 10……and you will instantly see the result….

Like this:

or this:

How about a new kind of chair….the engineering on this is quite intriguing.
The back appears to free-float from the frame……sortof. But it’s a pretty cool take
on the norm don’t you think?

And now – for something completely……

UNUSUAL……..this comes from a company,

marcantonioraimondimalerba – in Italy, naturally – http://marama.it/design

I promised you – different!

: : DesignTrek : :

Chicago – Chicago….my kind of town…..

Next time you’re planning a trip to the Windy City, you might want to check out this place : :
Longman & Eagle
Hotel & restaurant
Why? Well, first off, I think the restaurant looks pretty neat……

….and the chef gets his own page on their web-site….

The rooms are pretty unusual……all they’re missing is some Peter Max posters, or
LOVE by Robert Indiana…..

The bathrooms are certainly unorthodox – although I’ve seen bathrooms like this in Italy
and Israel, having the toilet in the shower is definitely uncommon here
in North America…..

: : DesignWorks : :

I had a client recently that owned a very interesting series of oil paintings. None of them were
of a grand scale, but they all dealt with the same topic. They were very expressive –
visually captured the message and mood we wanted to allow to permeate
throughout the environment. After kicking around a few ideas I came up
with the suggestion that we photograph each painting – with the appropriate lighting
and equipment – and then transfer the image onto ceramic tiles which could
then be installed throughout the premises, sortof like punctuation marks.
I knew the technology was available – just hadn’t done it myself.
We agreed it was worth investigating and I set out to do the research…..the following
is one of the step X step processes recommended in order to achieve our objective.
This one comes from http://www.eHow.com:

Determine the size and shape of the photograph you will be using for your project.

You can edit your image using photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop.

Print your image with an ink jet printer onto photo imaging decal paper, such as Lazertran Waterslide.

The image should be printed onto the eggshell side of the paper, which has a chalky appearance

Wait 30 minutes to ensure the image on the decal paper is completely dry

Cut the image to size with scissors if needed.Place the image into a large container of
water and allow it to soak until the decal starts to release from the paper and the edges curl up.

Cover the ceramic tile with turpentine using a paintbrush. The surface should be completely covered, yet not dripping wet.

Remove the image from the water and carefully peel off the paper backing

Position the image onto the ceramic tile.

Remove the air bubbles from the image by using a rolling pin on the surface.

Roll from the center of the image to the outer edges.

Place the image in a safe location so it can dry for at least eight hours or overnight.

Seal the tile by brushing two coats of varnish over the dried image. Allow the varnish to dry completely between coats.

Read more: How to Transfer Images to Ceramic Tile | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5645104_transfer-images-ceramic-tile.html#ixzz1F0AUtPpb

The reason I’m explaining all this is in order to show  the following image – which is a set of ceramic tiles
from an old nautical map which the owners of the house in question determined was the exact coastline
that fronted their beachfront property.

Of course, one can buy ceramic tile printer also….

: : DesignWords : :

Following are some excerpts of his work:

: : DesignLens : :

The following work is by the husband of an old friend….Nina Keogh. Nina was a star of
CBC in Canada for many years – as much as for her work in front of the camera, but
possibly even more so for her unique and fabulous creations of puppets…..

She moved with John to Newfoundland – the the remote north coast – about two
years ago. They settled in Twillingate in a fabulous house on the rocky cliffs of the
Atlantic Ocean.

Nina, a fantastic artist in her own right, and John – have embraced Newfoundland
with the passion of converts…..and judging from what I’ve seen in her postings,
I also could be easily converted.

John has captured some amazing images of Newfoundland – check out his web-site
at http://www.johnsatterberg.com.

The two posters which follow are beautiful collages of the primitive architecture…..
the raw, raucous colors, the honest structures – of Newfoundland…..


: : DesignTreats : :

I came across a couple of wonderful – maybe even wacky, articles/products/novelties
in the last week…….check them out. These globes are a delight : :

You can find them, order them, at http://www.artonglobes.com/

And I know some of you – all of us – know someone – one person within
our circle of friends, acquaintances, etc – who truly qualifies as the
person who has everything ….. but they don’t, I bet – they don’t have
these. But, YOU, could buy them and then give them as a gift to that
one special person, who will truly then be able to claim….
they have everything!

Yes – gold-plated staples……..

: : DesignProjects : :

From the architectural offices of Zaha Hadid, this futuristic 3D model for a residence
which will overlook Moscow…….

The project is located on the north-face hillside in Russia, where natural vegetation such as pine and birch trees grow up to 20 m high.
Within this stunning location the programme of the villa is divided into two main components.
The first one is strategically placed to be merged with the sloped landscape, while a separate volume floats,
22 meters above the ground to benefit from the dynamic views of the forest over the trees.

The form for the villa comes from the natural topography. With its fluid geometries, the building emerges
from the landscape, remaining partially embedded in the hillside, in order to articulate the existing surroundings
with the artificial landscape. The program is organized vertically on four levels. The lower level or basement is
envisioned as leisure space; the programme in this level includes a living room, massage and fitness areas as well
as sauna and hamman baths. One level up, main living room, dining, kitchen, entertainment, indoor swimming
room and parking spaces are located on the ground floor. The main entrance lobby, study/library, guest room
and children’s room are distributed on the first floor while the master bedrooms and a lounge with exterior
terrace occupy the upper level.

The two main components of the house are articulated by three legs. These concrete columns establish a strong
dialogue between both levels while functioning as structural elements. Within the interior space of the legs are the
vertical shafts required to place all mechanical elements and services connecting to the upper level. Incorporated
within the space between the legs is the vertical circulation of the house where a transparent glass elevator and
staircase are situated, providing a direct connection between the lower and the upper levels.

The main entrance to the house is located on the first floor. Within this space, the three concrete columns intersect
the main roof, proposing skylights and a double-high space. The view from the living room, following the grand
staircase located in the entrance lobby, is framed by two-curved in-situ cast concrete structures. These concrete
structures serve both a structural purpose and the function purpose creating of the divisions between main living room,
dining room and indoor swimming pool. The major materials proposed for this project are pre-cast and in-situ
cast concrete, steel and glass. To give the interior spaces a sense of fluid continuity, these materials are repeated
throughout the whole villa. The general concept for the design of the villa responds to a strategy that extends the
exterior topography to the interior of the building, while its geometrical definition is derived from the surrounding
environment of flowing terrain levels that are stretched to generate the new landscape, proposing a continuous
integration between interior and exterior spaces.

Or…..if that is a bit too costly for you, you might consider doing what Joanne Ussary did.
She bought a used Boeing 727.  She paid $2,000.00 for the plane.  It cost $4,000.00 to move and $24,000.00 to renovate.
(She has a LOT of wood and specialty windows for $24,000!  I want her carpenter!)  But not bad for a $30,000.00 investment…
The stairs open with a garage door remote and one of the bathrooms is still intact.  There is a personal Jacuzzi in the cockpit.
The Boeing home is featured as part of a collection of creative conversions.  It  has a spectacular view!

It’s actually a B&B overlooking Parc Manuel Antonio on the west coast of Costa Rica…..at $400.00/night.

: : DesignPlan : :

That’s it for this week. I was fortunate to spend the last 6 days in Hollywood, Florida. Weather was great, a really good
dose of ‘downtime’……wrote this post whilst overlooking the frothy blue Atlantic from nine floors up…..

Remember:   comments@designplanonline.net or, in the post itself.


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