The Globally Conscious Architect

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As the world becomes more globally conscious and connected, so has industry. We are seeing the rise of conscious industry, of products and services with a globally aware purpose directed at the betterment of our society. The Architecture field has long been associated with a tailor made service for a certain clientele who are fortunate enough to pay for a design professional to design their home or office or commercial space. This is a very specified and small percentage of society. In this new age of awareness how can an Architect/Designer tap into the larger percentage of society and make positive changes in the world through their talents and knowledge?

There is a whole market that is still untapped that can be helped by our industry. Customization can become a conceptual idea that can benefit the masses with the development of products and design concepts that can serve the global community at a high level. The digital revolution has affected every aspect of industry, we are more aware of the happenings on a global scale because of the internet age.

As we become aware of humanity’s needs, we can also search for projects and develop connections that can utilize our designs and partner in affecting communities all over the world. Whether it be sustainable housing in Sub Saharan Africa or weather proofed elevated homes is water ravaged countries like Indonesia, there are avenues that Architects can take to have access to designing for a humanitarian purpose.

While focusing on conscious Architecture, at the same time, Architects can maintain their private clientele and their custom design work. The niche, market system is becoming something of the past. Diversification, globalization, and every aspect of design whether it is residential, commercial, hospitality, and public works or urban planning is possible with the Architect of the 21st Century. The principles of good design are universal.

Architecture is the study of building, construction, proportion, volume and how these elements can create a structure that is functional for society. The design concepts that endure in society are those containing these basic principles. With the need for stable and sustainable architecture all over the world, the Architect of today can search for projects in locations where they never thought a client could be. They can work with NGO’s, or governments to develop structures that can change lives. Their reach is so much wider and vast and their contributions to not only their field, but the global community will be produced and utilized by many people in this world for many years to come.

It’s a different way of thinking about how to deploy our services to a large number of people all over the world. It’s strategic, and it’s creative, and broadens the scope of our vision and legacy.

 

http://www.orastudionyc.com

 

 

Green Spaces that Work… Beyond Concept to Functionality

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There have been many trends in Architecture and lifestyle, but I think the “green” trend has inhabited every aspect of our lives. In its concept, “Green” living refers to… “a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of green living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.” As defined by Wikipedia. This concept has permeated the zeitgeist and made positive strides in health and well-being. Green living has affected how we live, shop, eat and exercise and in Architecture it has affected how residential and commercial construction is designed.

From reducing our carbon footprint, saving energy, consuming less, eating well and living in a less excessive style, everyone can benefit from a green lifestyle. In designing a  home, office or commercial space, what materials will we use and how will we heat, cool and light spaces? In a true green space, the ultimate goal is reducing energy consumption, reducing cost and maintaining and supporting the environment.

How does the designer take aspects of making a green home or office from the drafting table to reality? There are many aspects to include in this equation: geography, space, building codes, and how to make the space as green as it can be within certain guidelines. Lighting, heating and cooling, and energy sources come into play as well as plant based design to incorporate within areas of a home or office, to create energy and improve air quality and even create a food source.

Materials that aid in this concept are another major component of a green space. Using recycled materials, natural materials that are sustainable and durable are important. A truly green space considers every alternative to wasteful and high cost materials and strives to create a new and more affordable yet still high quality design.

Building codes and regulations also should be included within the design plan, in an urban environment especially. There are many regulations put in place long before sustainable homes or workspaces became popular, so the designer must adjust to these rules. How will the designer incorporate these new ideas into an old framework of codes and regulations? For example, the Client wants a “living” wall, of plants or an indoor vertical garden for a food source or air quality source, will their building allow this and how will it be maintained. These types of new features must be studied and researched and the designer must be sure that not only can it be installed but that it can also be maintained by the client.

I think that in the flurry of excitement around having a “green” space, sometimes the functionality factor can be neglected. When designing this type of home or office, it is more imperative that the research, development and execution of these new features be more examined and that the proper experts are involved in the installation of these green features. “Green” is not just a trend, when done successfully the Client’s daily life is improved and their home or office can truly be economically more sound and their well-being improved.

 

 

 

 

 

T.R.U.S.T.Talking/Rapport /Understanding/Service/Trust

Architect-Drawings

T.R.U.S.T is a  simple acronym I created to understand some important steps in selecting an Architect/Designer for a project. Whether it be commercial, retail or residential there are principles that can apply to all. This can be very helpful when Clients are new to the process of  working with a professional and choosing seems daunting.

The first letter is “T” for Talking: If a Client is considering a renovation or new construction for a home or commercial space, they can ask friends and colleagues if they have experience working with Architect/Designers and if that experience was successful. Talk about what the aim is and ask them if they have any connections that can help you in your search. Most Architect/Designer selections are made through a word of mouth referral. Talk to people who have gone through the experience and have a space to show for it.

The second letter is “R” for Rapport: In any endeavor between a client and a professional, a good working rapport is crucial. After doing research either through referrals or online searches and professional sites, make an appointment to speak with the potential Architect/Designer of your dream space. This first impression will give some important information and help to understand if there is potential for a good Client/Designer rapport. Without good rapport, questions can be unheard and ideas and challenges unsolved.

The third letter is “U” for Understanding: The ability for an Architect/Designer to understand the needs of their Client is everything. It is with the Client’s wish list and questions that the Architect/Designer can envision your space and have it reflect the personality and lifestyle of the Client. Understanding each other is elementary in the design process. How communication is received and given can determine your project’s success.

The fourth letter is “S” for Service: What can the designer provide as far as design services and client services? Are they the right fit for the Client’s needs? The level of service that an Architect/Designer gives to their clients can be seen in the way they ask questions and how they react to challenges and strengths in the space. Former Client testimonials  can also help with this decision if they are right for the Client’s specific wishes.

The fifth letter is the most important and is the acronym itself, “T” for Trust: A Client must trust in the Architect/Designer that they hire, that comes from  feeling that the goals of the project are being met and that  any questions are given the time to be answered and also have solutions and ideas offered. With this trust, the Client can have that sense of peace and comfort that they may seek,  as with any endeavor working with a professional, trust is integral to success. Knowing that the Architect/Designer can take the project through to fruition, deliver quality results, provide updates and work within a designated budget is everything.

I hope this simple tool, Talking.Rapport.Understanding.Service.Trust can help to keep in mind how to select the right Architect/Designer for your project and illustrate some beneficial aspects which will serve a Client in the long run.

Remember a key to a successful project in addition to hiring a talented professional Architect/Designer, is that the Client also does their homework, before hiring the Architect/Designer, to give the most information possible and during the process of the work to respond in a timely manner and contribute to the smooth sailing of the project.

 

http://www.orastudionyc.com

Summer Escapism…. Creating a Nook at Home…

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In this age of technology and a sometimes unnatural attachment to smart phones, computers, and social media, there are times when we need a break…Summer is the season to “escape” whether it be to go on holiday, a weekend trip, or basking in some at home escaping… what is now called a “staycation”. A peaceful nook devoid of electronic devices can be a perfect escape from the reality of this techno-centric society. Homes with nooks and places to reflect will become more popular in the coming years, this tech free zone will be on client’s wish lists. We will seek to create havens of calm and tranquility, whether it’s a bedroom or a retreat we can escape to, for reading, thinking, napping or quiet conversation.  

In the image presented is a small but bright room in our Lexington Avenue Project. While there is a workspace, there is a calming environment, a comfortable sofa, whimsical carpet and a fantastic city view. The client wanted to create a guest space but also a  fully functional quiet corner for anyone who needed some serenity. With a simple and clean design, there is no sensory overload, just a relaxing atmosphere for contemplation. City living is energetic, dynamic, bustling and fast paced. Urban dwellers especially in NYC, are fully aware that the pace is fast and that sometimes solitude and peace are the best therapy.  

Summer is all about taking a breath, and this is reflected in design, creating those simple, minimal spaces that are transporting, that can alter our emotional moods and create well-being. A summer bloom on the custom desk brings that element of nature inside and a living element to the space. The carpet is soft and warms the room and the pattern is fun and graphic without it being overwhelming.

If you feel like changing your home décor and adding freshness for the summer season, creating this type of room in the home will add that peaceful oasis Maybe by having this tech free zone, you will be inspired to read that book you have had for months sitting unread, write a note to a dear friend, or create some art, or sleep, something which is so good for the body. A cozy nook  in the home is essential. Our home is our sanctuary, our respite from the outside world, and creating that zen feeling within can only be beneficial to our minds and body.

http://www.orastudionyc.com

 

 

 

 

Losing our History…The Erasing of our Architectural Footprints

St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church NYC

St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church NYC

May’s Blog is dedicated to the memory of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava in the Flatiron District NYC, which was ravaged by a large and quick consuming fire Sunday May 1, 2016.

The church building was constructed in 1850-55 and was designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn in the English Gothic Revival Style. In 1968 the city of New York declared this church a landmark.

As one of the oldest churches in New York, Saint Sava served as not only a spiritual anchor for the community, but also an architectural anchor. In a neighborhood which one could say is plagued by developers who are eager to construct new residential and commercial spaces for their financial gain, Saint Sava served as an historic Architectural marker, a memory. In a fast changing cityscape this church was a reminder that our buildings are our memories, our reference to eras gone by and are preserved to remind future generations of how people constructed and ultimately how they lived in the past.

It has been a longstanding practice of war and territorial domination that the first destruction begins with a city’s buildings and landmarks. The oppressor seeks to erase the memory and footprint of the former ruling body, therefore erasing history so their domination can be seen as new. With Architectural treasures destroyed, a new regime, government, ruling body can form history in their own manner for future generations. If there is no Architectural footprint left, history is lost.

Our Architecture contains not only history but emotion; these structures have been created to evoke a feeling, to elicit an emotion for those who enter. As an Architect and Designer, buildings are the keepers of our history and evolution, and the destruction of this church is a tragedy, not only for the church family but for the community at large who received such joy when they passed, when they took a photo or entered to find some peace amid the art, painstaking details and beauty of the structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Blooms…Bringing Nature Inside

Lexington Avenue NYC

Lexington Avenue NYC

Spring is a season of renewal, the weather becomes increasingly warmer, and we are all coming out of winter’s hibernation. One of the most notable arrivals is the blooming flowers and buds that this spring season brings. The essence of nature can be easily brought into a space. Flowers and plants are a decorating tool that can enhance, calm, brighten and some can fill the air with fragrance. Plants and  architectural floral compositions can highlight a design element or make an otherwise neutral space come alive with color.

The placement and object that will hold the blooms also becomes part of the design decision. Plants are considered good feng shui (a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy), an element important in creating the balance, flow and harmony in a home. They are alive and therefore add living energy to a space. Plants are a long term commitment and need to be cared for and maintained. You can invest in a long lasting plant that will live many years if you want to make that commitment. Flowers are more temporary and can be switched and placed with more creativity and variety.

Flower arrangements work very well in an entry way, as a greeting to your guests, as a centerpiece of a dining table or kitchen table or as a calming element in a master bedroom suite or master bathroom. In a living area a beautiful and tailor made arrangement can highlight a statement piece of furniture or a mantel of a fireplace.

As an Interior Designer, I like to stage all my projects for professional photography, and I love the way that flowers create an instant personalized feeling to a room. They add color and texture and when arranged in a beautiful object adds visual impact to an otherwise minimal space. They can really make a room pop and come alive.

Spring is the optimal season for integrating Nature indoors; most flowers and plants are accessible and affordable in the Spring. Adding this item may seem a small design tweak, but a room with flowers cultivates a homey atmosphere and will bring that spirit of renewal inside your space. It is a design aspect that can easily transform a room and change the ambiance.

Spring is the time for new beginnings, for fresh creations, and starting over. We have come out of our cocoon and it is the time to begin anew. Home is a sanctuary and by bringing nature inside your home can be a welcome refresher to your décor.

 

The Importance of Color Balance

Lexington Avenue NYCBalance is a key word that illustrates what my design philosophy is. It is by definition: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. In design, this is the equal distribution of visual content or weight. Our sense of balance is innate, so when elements of design are not balanced, we are instinctively made uncomfortable and feel this sense of instability. Balance can come from layout, furnishing, volume, structure, and lighting

In this month’s blog I want to focus on color balance, and how to identify what tones and hues work well together to create design harmony.

Determining the right color scheme for your space starts with how the space is lit, if there is a lot of natural light in, or not. Is there is enough artificial light or does the lighting need to be redesigned. Without light there is no color, there is a void. Choosing a color scheme is not only related to the color of the material per se but how the color is read in that specific space with its own specific light.

The feeling of being in the space is dependent on the placement of color throughout. When thinking about how to use color in a home or commercial space I think about how those colors will be seen as a whole. I first choose an atmosphere that I want to create, how they will complement each other creating calm, productive energy, or comfort.

Color can be bold and create a strong juxtaposition or soft and monochromatic to create calm and fluidity. It can also be a strong pop of color that draws the eye to a certain structural detail, piece of furniture, artwork or object. It is all about the space as whole, with the elements working well together to create that desired feeling. Color can determine mood, it can alter thinking and establish inner centeredness and peace.

Determining what colors work well together comes from the designer’s expertise and vision. It is our job to understand the big picture to see beyond the singular notion of design elements and realize their potential to work together to create this harmony. It is also our job to work with the Client who may have a color preference that has a visual appeal for them or is a trend of the moment, but that might not work well in their specific space. There is a lot of psychology of color to take into consideration when choosing a palette and making the Client aware and to have them understand this psychology (See our Blog Archive: https://orastudio.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-science-of-color-part-1/ )

Creating a successful color palette is a science, it is an important element in the design process and whether it is multi-color patterns carefully matched and placed together, a neutral color palette, monochromatic scheme or strong accents of color, this requires an eye for symmetry and visual appeal. The mark of a good designer is their perception of this balance and cohesion.