Category Archives: Architecture

Designer Inspiration: Our Trip To Charleston

This weekend, Katerina, Rob and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina where we attended the ASID Carolinas Chapter conference and award ceremony.  While there, we got a chance to explore the sparkling city and get inspired. Here’s what we saw:



Katerina’s friend and mentor, Jill Muti, gave us a tour of Ashley Hall, a historic all-girls school located in the heart of Charleston’s peninsula.  There, we discovered a preserved mansion from the antebellum era, currently in use as an administrative center.  But our favorite part of the school was a former aviary, a small outbuiling completely covered in local conch shells.  Delightful!

During the day, we explored Charleston’s extensive street markets and antique stores.  Among the treasures we discovered were ancient Italian artifacts and local artisan-made goods.


As the sun set, Charleston became even more majestic.  With gourment restaurants and world-class bars, there were endless opportunities for entertainment.  Among our favorite eateries were Husk and Magnolia’s, where we indulged in local fare.

But the main purpose of our trip was to recieve an award on behalf of Design Lines for our work on the Chancellor’s Residence at NC State University.  We were honored to be chosen as winners among our talented peers from the ASID Carolinas Chapter.

We look forward to visiting this gem of the South sometime soon!


Design Inspiration: Boston, Massachusetts

Every time I travel, I always take note of the architecture within a city. I recently traveled to Boston for the weekend and was fascinated with the historic architecture and the little details I discovered along the way.  These pictures do not even begin to scrape the surface of the rich culture and history of Boston. I guess that opens the door for another trip in the near future. Enjoy the inspiration though!

Until my next trip to Boston….

Also, if you have design discoveries or nuances about the city for my next trip, please do share!


images: DLL

A Closer Look: Julius Shulman

You may not have heard of Julius Shulman, but I bet you’ve seen his photos.  Schulman (1910-2009) was the foremost architectural photographer of the 20th century, and was responsible for spreading the popularity of California modernism all over the world. 

Shulman lived in Los Angeles, and got his start when the architect Richard Neutra saw a photograph that Shulman had taken.   In the early 20th century, new ideas about architecture were spread mainly through images and publications.  Much like today, most people experienced design through photographs rather than personal experience.  At the forefront of architectural photography, Shulman shaped the way the rest of the world saw the newest buildings.

His unique way of composing photographs was true to modern aesthetics, and architects from around the world continued to seek his expertise until his death in 2009.  He was known for employing single-point persepective in his pictures; he held the camera horizontally so that all lines converged toward a vanishing point in the center of the frame. 

It may sound simple, but this trick allowed him to emphasize the clean lines, sweeping views, and dramatic perspectives inherent in modern buildings.   Tom Ford, famous Gucci designer,  once remarked that Shulman actually made buildings appear more beautiful than in real life. 

I highly recommend the 2008 movie Visual Acoustics, which chronicles the life and work of the photographer.  The film is narrated by Dustin Hoffman and features interviews with Frank Gehry and Tom Ford.  It also features numerous photographs and footage of modern landmarks – the next best thing to seeing these great buildings in person.  Here’s the trailer:

There is also a gigantic three book set on Shulman available from Taschen –  it’s defintely worth a look, though its price is equal to its heft!

I hope you’ll take a closer look and find that Julius Shulman has already influenced how you see the world.


image 1: New York Times

image 2: blogspot

image 3: fascina

image 4&5: design kultur

Current Projects: NCSU Chancellor’s House Update

The Chancellor’s House at North Carolina State University is really starting to take shape!  We wanted to share some of the most recent photos with you.  The exterior is beginning to look awesome with the addition of concrete patios and planter boxes (below).  When all the landscaping is complete, it will be an inviting backyard retreat, and a great place to hold university functions.

Since we last posted, the interior has undergone major transformations with the addition of drywall, paint, and cabinetry.  Below, you can see one of the house’s 8 fireplaces, newly fitted with its stone surround and wood mantle.  This room will serve as the living quarters for the Chancellor’s distinguished guests.  A built-in desk will make it a comfortable place to work.

One of the biggest transformations happened when the staircase was painted.  The sensous curves of the stair are newly accented by black picketts lining both sides.  It looks really smart!

Upstairs, work is nearly complete on the Chancellor’s family room, a lofty space with tons of natural light.   Below, you can see a few of the home’s finished doors.  All the doors will be painted black and accented with polished chrome hardware.

The floor stain was finalized last week (below).  Applied over a beautiful oak floor, the timeless color we chose will complement the mahogany woodwork throughout the first floor.

When we visited, the kitchen cabinets were still being installed.  They are looking great! (above)

The master bathroom is starting to come together – marble tile of different sizes is being applied throughout.  Glass panels for the shower will be one of the finishing touches.

There are so many new things to see everytime we visit the house.  It’s exciting to see how quickly things are coming together – but there is still a lot  to be done!  Above, you can see the fireplace in the Dining Room waiting for its wood mantle (above left).  One of the most impressive features of the house (yet to be installed) will be the front door and flanking windows.  Currently, a temporary plywood partition protects the opening (above right).  I can’t wait to see how beautiful the entrance hall looks when it’s finished!

For more on the Chancellor’s house, check out our previous posts:

March 23, 2011

July 19, 2010  


images: by DLL

A Closer Look: Francis Cape

Can woodwork be fine art?  After seeing the work of Francis Cape, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

This artist, originally trained as a woodworker in England, has brought the mastery of his craft to galleries and museums in the US, and he’s getting a lot of attention.

But his work isn’t quite what it seems.  Taking paneling techniques from the Shakers and other traditional sources, Cape takes woodworking to a new level.  Unlike its traditional inspirations, the only function of these cabinets is visual.  The doors, even with their carefully-installed hinges, don’t open.

Cape’s removal of function casts cabinetry in a new light,  opening new possibilities for the medium.  Many of his installations reference history and memory, serving as mediator between the physical present and a romanticized past.  His works force us to consider the spaces we inhabit, while reference meaningful architectural spaces outside of the gallery – from church confessionals to historical monuments.

Most of Cape’s work is painted, but his choice of color is anything but expected.  Not-quite-garish colors that are clearly out of fashion set many pieces apart from their contemporary background.  Perhaps these are a historical reference, or a way of bringing an overlooked art more clearly into the open.  Either way, Cape certainly has me thinking differently about cabinetry these days.

For me, Cape’s work hits close to home.  We spend a lot of time as Design Lines creating cabinetry for our clients.  Of course, it almost always serves some purpose. It was an eye-opening experience to see how Cape turns this functionality on its head, transforming simple wood panels into something loaded with meaning.


all images: &


A Closer Look: NYC Favorites Part 1

As I was reminded during a recent trip, New York is always abuzz with things to do and see.  If you’re planning to visit sometime this summer, here are some of the best things going on right now:

1. Alexander McQueen’s posthumus Exhibition “Savage Beauty” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This is a must-see for anyone who loves design or fashion.  Make sure you get there before 10am to avoid the crowds, because it’s no secret that this is the best show in New York right now.

2. The Morgan Library:  Located in Mid-town Manhattan, this old favorite is a complex of buildings that orginated as the private collection of entrepreneur Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) and has expanded to include the architecture of Renzo Piano.  Highlights on display now include an original score by Mozart and an enviable collection of famous journals – from the likes of Bob Dylan, John Steinbeck, and Tennessee Williams.

3. Eataly.  There are tons of places to eat in New York, but few are as unique and fun as Eatly, a 50,000 square foot complex owned by famous chefs Mario Bertoli and Lidia Matticchio.  You can grab a bite to eat, drink a glass of wine, or browse the market for fresh produce, meats, and imported italian products.  It’s like a visit to an Italian village, and the food is just as spectacular.

Stay tuned for the rest of the list next week!



A Closer Look: A Walking Tour of Philadelphia

While in Philadelphia for Light Fair International, Judy and I took a quick walking tour of Center City.  It’s amazing how many beautiful examples of architecture can be found just steps from the Convention Center located at 13th and Market.  You can do the whole circuit in about a half hour.

We began by walking west from the convention center to Broad Street, where we caught a glimpse of two of Philly’s most handsome buildings – the Masonic Temple (left) and City Hall (right).  Completed in 1901, City Hall is an excellent example of the Second Empire style.  It was Philadelphia’s tallest building until 1987, and it is still the tallest and largest all-masonry building in the world.

We also walked by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art building, designed by Frank Furness.  Built in the Vicotrian Gothic style, this building is a masteripiece of architectural ornament.

We also saw saw great examples of public artwork very close to City Hall, including impressive sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Jacques Lipchitz.  The nearby Fabric Workshop and Museum houses cutting-edge contemporary art shows and is also worth a visit.

Our final stop was the PSFS building (now the Loews Hotel), built in 1932.  It is said to be the world’s first skycraper built in the International Style of Modernism.  Filled with fine examples of marble from around the world, Judy and I marveled at it’s beautiful interiors.  But one of the building’s custom Cartier clocks told us it was lunch time, so we descended to the first floor and ate lunch at the hotel’s restaurant – Sole Food.

Finally, we headed back to the Convention Center, which itself is an architectural landmark.  Originally the Reading Terminal Train Station, the building also houses many restaurants and food markets on the first floor.  It’s a great place to grab a quick lunch.


A Closer Look: The Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Design Lines Ltd. Robie House Frank Lloyd Wright Hyde Park Chicago

I used to live in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.  One of the things I miss the most is passing by the Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright.  While not as famous as Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, I love it just as much.  The elongated eaves seem to stretch out to the horizon, bringing to mind the expansiveness of the Midwest prairie.

Design Lines Ltd. Robie House Stained Glass Windows Frank Lloyd Wright

Like many of Wright’s masterpieces, the Robie house is full of  beautifully-executed details.  Even in black and white, this vintage photograph shows the stunning stained-glass windows located at the the home’s “prow.”

Design Lines Ltd. Robie House Gate Chicago Frank Lloyd Wright

Even the gate was designed to be completely integrated with the house.  In fact, it was Wright’s goal to completely design every aspect of his projects, and in that spirit he created everything from rugs to light fixtures. 

The Robie house is owned by the University of Chicago and is open to the public.  If you’re in the area, you should definitely stop by!


image 1 & 3: Chicago Concierge, image 2: Decor Hotline

Kiawah Island: Architectural Treasures

My small piece of paradise sits on Kiawah Island South Carolina. We have had a second home there well since Hilaire was 7 years old…let’s see that is 16 years. I never get tired of my visits to the island and the architectural treasures I find each time go. I always spend a day on my bike touring the island and taking pictures. Below are some of the places I visited when I was there last month.


The architecture of this home is inspired by the Voysey english country arts and crafts style. Built by Simonini Builders of Charlotte it looks perfectly at home in the low country setting.


I always marvel at the quality of the brick work and tabby stucco of the low country trades.


It takes a special artisan to construct groin arches in brick! They were really magnificent in person…


Even I was blown away by this entry feature of stone and slate. The slate “cap” is beautifully executed in staggered lengths turned on its side.


These stones that seperate the street from the drive look as if they have been there for hundreds of years.


More Voysey inspired rooflines….


Even the boat dock to the Kiawah River has architectual appeal!


Architecture is art…all subjective. I can identify 4 different historic styles in this single family residence on the ocean. Interesting to say the least…I am just not sure it knows what it wants to be when it grows up.


Even mother nature creates beautifully orchestrated structures on the island.


A beautiful example of unpretentious low country architecture.
Tell me about your favorite places to visit for inspriation?