Friday, January 29, 2010
Saving the earth is a noble and necessary task. Marketing and media have taken the phrase “being green” to a whole new (rather sickening) level. Working in the design industry means I am subjected to these sometimes terrible marketing ploys as every manufacturer of paint, carpet, fabric, bricks, concrete, windows, sheet flooring, and ceiling tiles (etc) screams at me to see how sustainable they are!! How many LEED points their company can contribute (note: unless they are mechanical manufacturers, the odds of their company alone earning you LEED points is a fairy tale. Period.) This morning a paint manufacturer sent my firm a brochure that proudly displayed their newest color: EcoFriendly.
Can someone tell me what color EcoFriendly is? Green as in grass? Brown as in (poop) compost? Seriously. The best part was that their pretty, brightly colored brochure was not printed on recycled paper, non soy-based inks, and had a ridiculous amount of packaging. Sounds pretty EcoFriendly to me. Not.
Actually, since you’re dying to know… EcoFriendly is white. Yes. They take old base paint and mix it together to make a “new” paint… it technically contributes to using recycled materials, but because it’s an old paint, it lets off toxic fumes after you paint with it, which is detrimental to the whole “green” process – a big part of sustainable interiors is indoor air quality – because the average interior air is full of chemicals, vapors, and stale(air conditioned) air and can actually make you sick!
In some ways sustainable living is really not that difficult. It is not hard to rinse out milk jugs, to put things in the recycling bin, to walk and bike more, to use your own bags at the store, etc. The problem is that it is not convenient. It doesn’t take that much effort to walk two steps farther to the recycle bin, but it IS two steps. And for some people, that is enough to make them toss it in the trash. I do this occasionally as well.
But after a year of living with my good friends, I am the Green Nazi. I have planted a small herb garden (and harangue my roommates to water them when I am gone), and am the one in charge of rinsing out the smelly milk jugs that got tossed in, getting rid of the yogurt containers and removing the drink caps (non-recyclable plastic, sorry. Same goes with Styrofoam.) it never takes me more than 5 minutes, and I get a sort of self-righteous pleasure from it, it’s true.
I dunno, there’s just something enormously satisfying about fitting groceries for five hungry girls into 7 reusable/cloth bags as compared to 30 or so plastic ones. I grew up “green”. My family had a huge garden, as well as a berry patch, apple and apricot trees. We shopped at Aldi’s with reusable bags. We biked to the library and to the park. We composted. All these things that are such a big deal now were just a way of life, mostly because it was cheaper. So... it’s ingrained into my being.
The bottom line is that the US is finally going to be forced to adapt the way the rest of the world has, in terms of being careful with resources. We were big enough to ignore it for a long time, but now it’s just a change. Riding the bus (improving the public transportation.. don’t get me started!), ride sharing, growing and saving and conserving…
It’s not hard. Really. Everyone else has been doing it for hundreds of years. Hell, hundreds of years ago, AMERICA was doing it! Whether you embrace it or get dragged kicking and screaming, green is here to stay.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This quarter and next quarter my main focus in school will be on my senior capstone project. It's a culmination of everything I've learned, and is a design project that I've done all the legwork on, solo.
I am designing a children's library/reading room in Over the Rhine. There is a tremendous need for kids in this area of Cincinnati to have a safe and comfortable environment to retreat to and develop a love of reading. Studies have shown that kids who are read aloud to do better in nearly every stage of their development. Kids in Over the Rhine more than likely do not have the resources or the environment in their own home to have a happy reading haven. When standing at the intersection of E. McMicken and Vine, it is nearly a mile's walk to the main branch of the Public Library. Not only is there a community need, but having an environment built exclusively for children is something that all Cincinnatians can embrace and come visit.
My "client" *this is merely an educational project, and is not likely to happen!!* is the Cincinnati Public Library. I contacted their PR rep and got permission to modify their logo. This is my rebranded take on their logo for my project:
The building I've chosen to use is the former French Bauer Dairy building located at 1315 Clay Street. It's got a wider span than the majority of the Italianate style buildings that make up the building stock of OTR, and it has a fantastic story behind it. The Bauer Dairy used this building as their garage. The milk carriages were stored on the bottom floor, and the horses lived on the second and third floors! There is an existing ramp that the horses used to get from floor to floor that I will be repurposing in the new space. The bricks even have hoof prints from where they were kicked by the horses.
The idea of the horse ramps carrying children up through the space is one of the driving factors behind my design. Children interact with books in different ways as they develop, and this is manifested in each of the three floors. The first floor is primarily for young children - passive readers. They interact with books in a very social way through activities and story time. The second floor is for smaller groups with children who are learning to recognize words and still need to be interacted with - cuddle spaces for parent and child. This floor has picture book stacks. The third floor is a world for the solitary reader, with spaces for a kid to be alone with her nose in a book.
This is my first set of drawings for my space:
Please let me know what you think!! I need as much help as I can get, and any and all critique is appreciated :)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Today's Iron Chef challenge: almost-soft pepper, half a shallot, end of the bag of baby spinach, 2 slices of pork roast, string cheese.
2) chop 2 slices of pork roast into small pieces. Mix in a bowl with balsamic vinegar and let marinate while the pepper and onion is cooking.
3) when the veggies start to brown on both sides and the oil is reduced, add the pork. Mix thoroughly and turn the stove down to medium-low heat. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced, it smells amazing, and the whole shebang looks all caramely and delicious.
4) take the veggies and pork out of the fry pan into a bowl. without draining or cleaning the pan place a tortilla shell into the pan. Spoon your veggies and pork evenly over the tortilla. Unwrap the cheese stick and shred over the pork mixture. Sprinkle with lime juice. Top with a small amount of baby spinach. Top all that with another tortilla, this one with a little honey drizzled on one side (so that it will stick to the rest of the yummyness)
5) brown the tortilla on both sides until the cheese is melted and you can no longer take the deliciousness. Remove from pan, quarter, and enjoy!
I suppose you could mix up the ingredients based on what you have in the fridge. I am excited to try this again... like maybe in an hour. It was that good.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Classes have officially started for winter quarter, and it's starting to get a little crazy up in here. One of my electives is a fashion design class called Trend Forecasting. My professor is the VP of Trends at LPK, a branding and design firm located in downtown Cincinnati. Over the last year my interest in branding and how it relates to design has really peaked, and I jumped at the chance to try something new. So far, it's a lot of fun. This past week my assignment has been to learn to pick up on cultural cues by stepping outside of my comfort zone. For an entire week, I've been consciously having experiences both big and small that are not what I would usually do.
Below is a recap of my crazy week. Enjoy!
I turned right instead of left out of the classroom upon leaving Trends class, and wandered up to my studio on the 8th floor past the Industrial Design Transportation Studio, which is pretty freakin' sweet and also used to be the Interior Design Library. Funny how things change when there's outside money involved.
During studio I experimented with some different music types. This is a hard exercise because random is sort of my MO. I usually try and mix up my routine, so for my iTunes selection I picked music that I would never listen to. There's a reason I never listen to it, and that's cuz it sucks. Mostly I'm talking about Death Metal, which hurt my ears and freaked me out upon googling some lyrics ("Corpses awakened, awakened by nukes, Atomic power that brings back the dead, Humans living with melted off skin, Features mutated and rotting off bone"... mmm... zombie screaming music...delicious.)
I mixed up my routine on the way to and from classes, taking my time and exploring parts of campus I generally avoid. I currently play on a broomball league downtown. I've never really excelled at sports, and broomball is especially different because there's ice, and it's slippery, and I'm clumsy. However, I screwed up my courage and decided to give it my all out on the ice. I ended up getting a two minute penalty for checking the shit out of some guy and throwing him over the boards interfering with a player. I slipped and slid all over the ice, and ended up with some bruises and even more memories.
I'm as fashionable as the next interior design student, but I have a hard time with wearing heels without necessity. I'll pull out my pointy toed pumps the morning of a big critique, but you better believe that my trusty, comfy flats are tucked away in my bag, waiting to be slipped on for the long walk home. Today, however, I pulled on my highest-heeled boots paired with a cute outfit. No slip-on emergency shoes for me - I was going to walk all over creation with my head held 3.5" higher than usual. I managed to make it through the day, but my feet were positively aching by the time I got home that evening. Not only did I walk to and from home to DAAP, but I also went on a trek across campus to find some food. Walking up and down stairs was definitely the worst. On a positive note, I got a few catcalls, compliments, and definitely felt cuter than usual, but I don't know if the perks were worth the discomfort and pain my shoes brought me throughout the day. Someday I'll have the cash to get a really nice pair that fit well, but until then I'll be switching up my footwear, for sure.
Friday was an epic night for trying new things that pushed me outside my comfort zone. I knew that my biggest challenge lay before me: 1) entering the establishment known as Cadillac Ranch and 2) riding the mechanical bull that lay within its godforsaken interior. I met up with some friends beforehand at Mynt Martini to kick things off and imbibe some liquid courage to get me through the evening. I ended up doing some never-done-before/out-of-the-ordinary things along the way whilst at Mynt. These include but are not limited to, drinking gin for the first time, requesting a song to the DJ, lying to said DJ and telling him it was my birthday, dancing up on the elevated VIP area, having 4 drinks in 1.5 hours (I'm a lush...) and getting a free shot from the bartender for it being my "birthday."
By the time I was ready to go to Cadillac Ranch I was quite belligerent but still able to stand on my own two feet. My date for the evening generally humoured my drunken state, but was getting tired of me citing both this class and my "birthday" (which had by this time become quite real to me) as reasons for my actions. Luckily a girl I had met back at Mynt happened to have free passes for entry into Cadillac Ranch as well as one for riding the bull. I stumbled up to the hostess and informed her that it was my birthday(!!!!) Without bothering to look at my ID, she stamped my hand, gave me a drink ticket and let me go on my merry way.
i'm a little long-legged for that dumb bull.
Even in my tipsiness, I was still a little nervous about riding the mechanical bull. I've never fully trusted carnival-type rides, and the thought of skeezy old men recording my ride from afar definitely creeped me out. I was in luck, for at 11pm on a Friday night, Caddy Ranch was only about 40% full. A couple girls and my date were the only witnesses to my bovine-riding experience. As for the ride itself, I actually managed to stay on almost an entire minute! I hung on with all my might, and only got flung off when things started getting really wild. It was a novel experience, but I would definitely not do it again. When all was said and done, both my date and I gained entry, I rode the bull and did yet another shot... all for one dollar. Not bad for my least favorite establishment in Cincinnati.
I slept in until 1pm and then laid around watching trash TV until approximately 4 pm. I watched my first episode of Jersey Shore, and managed to make it through the entire show without breaking down into tears or switching channels. All of the aforementioned activities are extremely unusual for me, as I am a 'get up around 8 am and get shit done' kind of girl. Deliberately taking both a brain and body break was a fun diversion from my usual schedule, but I felt guilty about it at the same time.
The goal was to get up at 5.30 am and go for a run. I got one of these things accomplished. Kind of. Okay, I went for a run around 8am this morning. I am not a running kind of girl. I'm a yoga/pilates/group class kind of girl. Doing physical activity on my own and out in the elements is really not my bag, and I haven't gone running in God knows how long. Even though I slept through my alarm, when I did finally awake, I rushed around and put on my running outfit: a pair of shorts, running shoes, a faded yellow T-shirt from highschool reading "Have a Nice Day." This would have been a fine outfit for jogging outside if it was, say, July. Or I was in Florida. However, it is neither of those things, and the shock of cold that hit my body as I stepped outside should have been a warning sign. Stubborn fool that I am, I breezily brushed off my initial feelings, believing that surely the cold would wear off as I started running.
I am ashamed to say that I barely made it a mile. I would have gone for longer (honest!) but it was too damn cold. As I turned down Calhoun Street the icy wind whipped around my legs, and my hands began to ache from the chill of not wearing gloves. I passed two other runners who did not acknowledge my presence. However, they were both dressed in underarmour tights, wearing hats, and other such cold-weather gear. Maybe I'll try running again in the spring.
I woke up and got up at 6am today. Initially, it was really great! By the time I got ready, ate breakfast, putzed around a little, it was only 7.30/8.00, and I could easily transition into working on schoolwork. However, I went to bed around 12.30, and as it nears 10.00 am, I am already starting to feel tired. I have a feeling getting through my 3 hour class later this afternoon is going to be a challenge this afternoon. Maybe I can get my work done early and take a nap...
The other unusual thing I am doing today is taking a 24 hour respite from Twitter. Twitter is a constant part of my life, and a resource I use to keep up to date on what's going on both in Cincinnati and nationally. It's a sizable part of my social life, and whipping out my Blackberry or having a client application run in the background of my laptop is a part of my normal routine. So today I'm not checking it at all. This is hard. What if a famous celebrity dies? I won't know about it until 3 hours after it happens, instead of 30 seconds. How will I know what the funniest/most interesting links are on teh Internets, and how else will I get into intellectual debate about Cincinnati politics if not for Twitter? Hopefully all the A-listers will keep breathing until tomorrow, and I will have to keep calm and carry on until then.
**Update** I made it from 11pm last night to 7 pm tonight Twitter-free. I managed to not check it on my phone OR the Internet. Instead I kept a running tally of things I wished I could've tweeted in my head. Then I texted my sister, just to have something to do. But... I did it!! Now, back to my 140-character limit!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
my dear friend Stephen Bush made this little doodle just for me!
Monday, January 4, 2010
I am simultaneously super excited and more than a little nervous. I've never been so ready to do the best work I can do. My senior design project is the culmination of the last 5 years of my education, and will show my development and skills that I've picked up.
My problem is that I want to do the best work I can do and go the extra mile, but I am also aware that it's six months before I graduate and it's supposedly the best time of my life. How do I balance creating kick-ass work and having a fan-FREAKING-tastic experience?
My third green goal for 2010 is this: Go for it.
I want to experience new things. I want to completely conquer my capstone project. I want to excel in my classes. I want to create new memories and jump outside my comfort zone with my friends. Yet simultaneously, I want to get sleep each night and not completely freak out over the amount of school work that will be in my life this quarter.
It is not sustainable to be a DAAP student, sometimes. I've done the whole "not sleep, eat or shower for three days in a row" thing... and it's not fun. It makes me grumpy and I don't even know if it's worth it in the long run.
I've gotta focus and TCB, that is, Take Care of Business. Get the school work done, and don't look back. I want to remember my last six months of school as some of the best times of my life!