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Tag Archives: Interior Design

Using design to curb aggression

Michael J. BerensThursday, November 08, 2018

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Using design to curb aggression

Within the past five years, American society has become increasingly angry, belligerent and aggressive. It may be due to the intense stress of daily life, to fallout from the last recession, to income or racial inequality, to political and regional polarization, to the nature of much popular entertainment, to the fractured news media, to the no-holds barred invective popular on social media — or due to all of them.

Whatever the reasons, as a society we need to look for ways to alleviate and prevent aggression, especially in public spaces. Research shows design can help.

The impact of interior design on inciting or alleviating anger and aggression has not been widely researched. However, some seminal studies have identified key factors that designers should take into consideration when creating spaces for groups of occupants.

One of the earliest is MacIntyre and Homel’s 1997 study of the link between crowding and aggression in nightclubs, entitled “Danger on the Dancefloor.” Based on observations conducted at 36 nightclubs, they noted that aggression tended to increase in venues where crowding was exacerbated by inappropriate flow patterns, particularly around high-use or high-density areas, such as entry and exit doors, bars, restrooms, and dance floors.

They recommended that building standards be established to reduce the number of pedestrian cross-flows to minimize abrupt physical contact that could result in an angry or aggressive response.

In addition to crowding, a 2001 literature review of research on violence and crowding by Kumar and Ng found lack of privacy and personal control also could trigger aggressive behaviors. Examining the characteristics of the built environment that affect the mental health of occupants, Evans (2003) also cites studies showing the negative impact of noise, poor indoor air quality and inadequate lighting, as well as crowding.

Interestingly, despite the number of studies and articles on the effects of color on mood and cognitive performance, Evans finds no evidence of color having a negative impact on mental health.

Heerwagen and Hase (2001), in their paper on integrating principles of biophilia in the built environment, discuss how elements from nature associated with threats or vulnerability — what they term “biophobia” — can give rise to occupants’ sense of apprehension or anxiety. These include enclosed spaces, heights, and a sense of gloom caused by poor lighting, and ill-lit perimeters or corners.

Along similar lines, Parashar and Sikawar (2018), who were looking at ways to increase the amount of positive space in an interior environment, warn against creating negative space (such as space that is non-functional), avoiding colors that have a negative association for the occupants, and the use of sharp or pointy shapes. In their study on people’s reactions to objects encountered in the physical environment, Bar and Neta (2006) also conclude that people prefer curved visual objects, as sharp or pointy objects and sharp transitions in contour may convey a sense of threat.

These findings have practical applications for how spaces can be designed to curb emotions that can trigger aggressive behavior. An independent post-occupancy study of a redesign of the accident and emergency department in two British hospitals found that improved signage, wayfinding and spatial clarity contributed to cutting aggression against hospital staff by 50 percent and reduced the incidence of swearing and other offensive language by 25 percent.

A team led by Roger Ulrich recently published the results of a study they conducted in Sweden using a conceptual model developed to reduce aggressive behavior in a psychiatric ward through design of the physical environment. Drawing on previous research demonstrating the link between crowding, stress and aggression, they identified 10 “evidence-grounded” stress-reducing features and compared them against an environment that lacked most of these features.

Staff in the model environment reported a decrease in the use of injections and the use of restraints used to control aggressive behavior. Among the features included in the model are noise control; individual patient rooms with private bathrooms; more personal control in patient rooms and communal areas with movable furniture; nature views, gardens and nature art; and use of daylighting.

By eliminating or diminishing environmental factors that contribute to occupants’ sense of displacement, fear and anxiety, designers can help defuse the negative emotions that can trigger anger and aggressive behavior. At the same time, through positive design, these spaces express a recognition and respect for occupants, acknowledging their needs and preferences, and thereby connecting them to the humanity of others around them.

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Home sales weaken as buyers back off

Home sales weaken as buyers back off

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Michael J. BerensTuesday, November 13, 2018

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Home sales weaken as buyers back off

Increased inventory and declining prices were not enough to seal the deal for some prospective homebuyers in September. Sales of both new and existing homes were down from August’s rather lackluster performance. Although demand remains high, concerns about rising mortgage rates and a shortage of entry-level properties kept buyers at bay.

After a modest gain in August, sales of new single-family homes dropped 5.5 percent in September, the lowest month-over-month decline since December 2016, and were down 13.2 percent from the same period last year.

In a reverse from earlier in the year, the median sales price of a new home ($320,000) was down 3.5 percent year-to-year, and the supply of inventory rose from 6.5 to 7.1 months. Yet, at an average price of $377,200 and with mortgage rates approaching their highest level in eight years, many would-be buyers cannot afford to purchase a new home.

Sales of existing homes extended their slump for the sixth straight month, sliding 3.4 percent, to their lowest level since November 2015. Overall, sales are down 4.1 percent from a year ago.

Inventories increased slightly, but the median home price ($285,100) is up 4.2 percent from a year ago, which is keeping many first-time buyers out of the market. Single-family home sales fell 3.4 percent from August and are down 4.0 percent from last September. Even sales of more affordable condos and co-ops ($239,200) declined 3.4 percent and are 5 percent below last year’s figures.

Some of the softening in sales can be attributed to the impact of hurricane activity in the South and Southeast regions of the country. But affordability remains the biggest challenge for the industry.

Weakening sales in recent months have begun to curb, but not reverse, rising home prices. At the same time, rising mortgage rates are eating away at whatever savings prospective buyers may have hoped to gain from more favorable prices.

Even though consumers are optimistic about their prospects and the economy as a whole, they are losing confidence in their ability to purchase a home. According to real estate website Redfin, early stage homebuying activity increased 11.2 percent from August to September, but the number of those making offers was down 13.7 percent from a year ago.

Fannie Mae reports that after increasing 5 percent in September, the net share of respondents to its Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) stating “now is a good time to buy a home” dropped back 5 percent in October, the second largest decline in the survey’s history. The net share of respondents stating “now is a good time to sell a home” also fell by 3 percent. October’s overall score was the lowest in a year.

Weakening sales also are impacting builders. New home construction activity (in number of units) fell by 5.3 percent from August to September, with single-family home starts dropping by slightly less than 1 percent.

Completions also were down, by 4.1 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively. Requests for permits were off by about half a percentage point overall, but single-family permit requests rose 2.9 percent.

These current trends suggest that while homeownership remains a goal for many Americans, buyers are no longer willing to pursue that goal at any cost. And that will have consequences for both sellers and builders. Noted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz in announcing the results of the association’s October Home Market Index (HMI), “Unless housing affordability stabilizes, the market risks losing additional momentum as we head into 2019.”

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5 Challenges You May Face if You are in the Interior Design Space

Contemporary doesn’t really reflect a time period or era, it is the pop culture of design trends which basically blends a multitude of different time periods as an aesthetic.

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The newest, award-winning trends in luxury interior design

Irrawady House in Georgetown Malaysia

Give me a decent budget to renovate my house, and top of my list would be some new curtains, a walk-in pantry and loads more storage.

But the finalists in the Society of British Interior Design (SBID) awards, which took place last week in London and celebrated the best of the UK’s creative minds, showed rather more ambition. 

A home complete with a “sky city for cats” – an entry into one of the three residential design categories – is a contemporary home for a mother and daughter in Taiwan with soft lighting, modern wooden beams and a Scandinavian feel.

One room was created with a discerning feline client in mind: a scratching pole runs up the wall, connected to an obstacle course on the ceiling, with hanging wicker hammocks.

It was up against a beach house in Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex, which is half a home, and half a teen den with attitude. A sign in scrawling blue neon letters hangs above the glass-fronted fireplace reading, “Nobody is worth your tears and the one who is won’t make you cry”.

To top it all off, a stainless steel slide runs down from the games room on the first floor into the open-plan living area. 

The most luxurious of all the entries was the £10?million renovation of a 5,000 sq ft, four-bedroom duplex penthouse on the 22nd floor of the Neo Bankside complex on London’s South Bank. The clients – described as “a professional couple with global business interests” – wanted the interiors to reflect their love of red and tigers. 

The designers, Hill House Interiors, installed a baby grand piano in red lacquer, a 300-bottle wine cellar under the stairs, and a super-sized dining table that has been crafted out of recycled sugar wood.

It is accompanied by 12 red velvet dining chairs, and above it hangs a Sharon Marston coral and silver chandelier. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a life-size tiger pictured on the couture rug in the living room.

Glass houses: the red-themed interior of the Neo Bankside flat 

The most successful projects at this year’s awards – which also celebrate the best hotel, restaurant and bar transformations of 2018 – were more palatial than playful. Entrants came from all over the world.

The winner of the award for the best residential house under £1?million was the Irrawady House in Georgetown, Malaysia, by the design firm Nevermore. Lavish and contemporary, it boasts a floating black staircase, an Italian marble counter in the kitchen, and gold finishes throughout the house. It’s described as having old-school opulence and contemporary cosiness mixed under the same roof. 

The judging panel – which included Sir Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, and Helen Brocklebank, chief executive of luxury trade body Walpole – named a family home in Mississauga, Canada, as the winner of the award for the best residential design over £1?million.

This waterfront property took two and a half years to renovate, and has been designed to emulate a manor house with classical lines and a double-height hall. The serenity of the subtle colour scheme, of greys and blues with veined marble feature walls, reflects the sparkling waters of the lake.

An international design firm also scooped the third residential category, the award for the best residential apartment under £1?million. It went to Elliot James, an Asian consultancy, which created a party pad in Singapore that was elegant yet edgy, with graffiti-backed dining chairs sitting on polished marble flooring and specially commissioned artwork. 

The list of nominees for the awards was dominated by stylish British entries, most of whom created real, liveable spaces, rather than show-off designs. It included Peter Staunton’s Flint Hall – a 15,000 sq ft rural mansion in Warwickshire, which the designer describes as “classic country style with a modern twist”. 

Peter Staunton’s Flint Hall

“We chose natural materials that age well and add warmth and character, such as the sweeping staircase made from wrought-iron spindles,” says Staunton. “But rather than featuring a crystal chandelier above it, we hung glass pendants at different heights to add a talking point.” 

Staunton used lighting to differentiate each space, with Venetian-style chandeliers in the dining room and Flos pendants in the kitchen. 

He is scathing about the interiors in new developments in London where he believes the design palette is becoming “ubiquitous”.

He aims to be more eclectic, mixing style, character and colour. An example of this is his use of inventive, modern materials to highlight certain aspects of the rooms, such as a silk wall covering by Phillip Jeffries that looks like brushed brass from a distance, and accents a shallow chimney breast. 

Another nominee at the awards was Lucinda Sanford, who, with her one-stop renovation shop in Bermondsey, will tackle everything in a build, from the local planning authority to choosing soft furnishings. She shares his contempt for the default “greige” colour schemes of new homes.

Her entry, a Victorian terrace in Fulham, bucks this trend, with Cole & Son forest wallpaper running up the stairs and a black limestone parquet flooring throughout the hall. The utilitarian feel of the home’s Crittall-style windows is softened by her choice of greys, creams and floral prints.

A bathroom in a Hertfordshire home by Claire Gaskin

“People have got braver,” she says, citing the tie-up between heritage brand William Morris (famous for his prints) and high-street retailer H&M.

“Five years ago they would experiment with a feature wall, and now they’ll paint all four. Not enough is made of the link between fashion and the home; if you’re bold about what you wear, you’re more likely to be bold indoors, too.” 

Another look that was nominated for an award was designed by Clare Gaskin, who transformed a 10,000 sq ft outdated property into a sleek family home. Her brief was to create a country house set against a very British backdrop – bucolic Hertfordshire – but with a hint of Miami. 

The outside was as important as the inside in the design of the home, Gaskin explains. “Consideration of the exterior is often overlooked, but on this project, the star of the main living area is the floor-to-ceiling window with views of the garden beyond.” 

A beach house in Shoreham-by-Sea

She created a large entertaining space on the patio outside with voluptuous sofas, which give the place a pool-party vibe. Stretching out from the living room are landscaped flower beds set around mature trees, which step up to statues of stags standing proud on the horizon. 

Inside, practical meets pageantry: there’s a plush cinema and snooker room, and an illuminated wine vault built into the wall by the dining table. Storage was also a key part of the brief, with the provision of clever bespoke solutions to discreetly hold the family’s belongings. 

“The eaves in the master bedroom were built out behind the bed to store luggage and sports equipment. In the daughter’s bedroom, made challenging with low ceilings and shallow eaves, we installed joinery into the perimeter to make the space usable, with a daybed-style social area – perfect for sleepovers – and which has deep drawers,” says Gaskin. 

She used pops of colour throughout, such as hints of fuchsia pink, giving a slice of fun to the property, and echoing the style and attitude of her peers Sanford and Staunton – and their backlash against “greige”. 

Continue reading The newest, award-winning trends in luxury interior design

Nonresidential spending retains momentum in September, up 8.9% year over year

Total nonresidential spending stood at $767.1 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate in September.

 

NOVEMBER 02, 2018 |

 

National nonresidential construction spending fell 0.3% in September but remains historically elevated, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today. Total nonresidential spending stood at $767.1 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate in September, an increase of 8.9% on a year-ago basis.

Note that August’s estimate was revised almost a full percent higher from $762.7 billion to $769.1 billion, the highest level in the history of the series. Private nonresidential spending increased 0.1% in September while public nonresidential spending decreased 0.8% for the month.

“Virtually no weight should be placed upon the monthly decline in nonresidential construction spending that occurred in September,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Rather, we should focus on the massive upward revision to August’s spending data. That revision finally aligns construction spending data with statistics on backlogemployment and other indicators of robust nonresidential construction spending. On a year-over-year basis, nonresidential construction is up nearly 9%, an impressive performance by any standard.

“Unlike previous instances of rapid construction growth, this one is led by a neatly balanced combination of private and public spending growth,” said Basu. “Among the leading sources of spending growth over the past year are water supply, transportation, lodging and office construction. This is not only consistent with an economy that continues to perform splendidly along multiple dimensions, but also with significantly improved state and local government finances, which has helped to support greater levels of infrastructure spending.

“Given healthy backlog and indications that the economy will continue to manifest momentum into 2019, contractors can expect to remain busy,” said Basu. “The most substantial challenges will continue to be rising workforce and input costs. That said, there are indications of softening business investment, which could serve to weaken U.S. economic growth after what is setting up to be a strong first half of 2019.”  

 

 

Continue reading Nonresidential spending retains momentum in September, up 8.9% year over year

Design, Bitches Transforms Two Warehouses Into a Versatile STEM Tutoring Facility and Community Center

The center—commissioned by 9 Dots, which operates a range of after-school and summer programs—has hosted teacher-training seminars, community workshops, and local non-profits.

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles


 

Despite the name, Design, Bitches is capable of subtlety. The multidisciplinary architecture practice, co-founded in 2010 by SCI-Arc grads Rebecca Rudolph and Catherine Johnson, has worked to transform a number of industrial buildings in Los Angeles, though these have been mainly interior interventions; their shocks of color and playful geometric patterns rarely carry over to the exterior. At the Millwick Event Space in downtown L.A.’s arts district, the duo revamped a former cold-storage industrial depository into the city’s chicest wedding venue. Through the use of suspended lighting, green paint, and glass, the pair turned another mundane warehouse along Venice’s unsightly Lincoln Blvd into Superba Food + Bread, the hottest brunch joint on the Westside.

Their latest project, a community center and STEM tutoring facility on Hollywood’s Highland Avenue, adopts this same template. For their first foray into education design, Rudolph and Johnson converted two warehouses using just plywood and coats of paint. Yet, these spare materials are creatively deployed as partitions that carve up the hangar-like spaces into zones according to age. “We were working with 9 Dots’ co-founder on a project at his house,” recalls Rudolph. The co-founder “tapped us knowing we could create a multifunctional space that was warm and inviting, and worked for kids and adults.”

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles

Catering to the area’s underprivileged children, 9 Dots serves as a critical learning supplement for both students and teachers. (The organization’s name alludes to a classic critical thinking math puzzle.) Since opening, the space has hosted after-school programs, teacher-training seminars, a summer school, and community workshops, all while functioning as a meeting space for L.A. nonprofits. The versatile venue has served its multiple functions seamlessly.

The complex’s 11,000-square-foot bowstring truss–supported main structure houses classrooms, a makerspace, library, kitchen, and teachers’ offices, while a 7,000-square-foot vaulted auxiliary building contains a student lounge, flexible workspaces, and more offices. Freestanding plywood partitions and Douglas fir built-ins (which echo the timber ceiling structure) sit atop polished concrete floors. The effect is stunning. Daylight filters through the light monitors embedded among the wooden rafters. The exposed ducts, beams, and masonry walls keep the look industrial.

Design, Bitches’ work is heavy on playfulness but not at the expense of functionality. At 9 Dots, for example, the student lounge is outfitted with custom furniture that cleverly incorporates reading nooks and supply storage. Large circular apertures frame bookshelves. The flex-space’s multicolored furniture is highly reconfigurable; wheeled tables and chairs allow kids to easily push the pieces together, pull them apart, or move them across the room, depending on the needs of the different activities.

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles

And brightly painted yellow and green cylinders atop the private offices serve as light-wells and funky design elements. “There are essentially smaller buildings within the larger space,” explains Rudolph. “It was really important to us to maintain that feeling of openness. We worked a lot with physical models to proportion the volumes.”

It’s a space designed for children where adults feel just as comfortable—whimsical without being cloying. “The colors on the adult side are a little bit darker and richer than the colors on the kid’s side,” says Rudolph.

9 Dots’ design passively manages the chaos of youth education, Rudolph explains. “The biggest challenges were maintaining the sense of openness and achieving a balance of having enough sound attenuation for all the things going on while fitting everything in.” 9 Dots is an extraordinary balancing act that proves that Design, Bitches’ work isn’t just the vanguard of their field, but is also bettering L.A.

Design, Bitches Transforms Two Warehouses Into a Versatile STEM Tutoring Facility and Community Center

The center—commissioned by 9 Dots, which operates a range of after-school and summer programs—has hosted teacher-training seminars, community workshops, and local non-profits.

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles


Despite the name, Design, Bitches is capable of subtlety. The multidisciplinary architecture practice, co-founded in 2010 by SCI-Arc grads Rebecca Rudolph and Catherine Johnson, has worked to transform a number of industrial buildings in Los Angeles, though these have been mainly interior interventions; their shocks of color and playful geometric patterns rarely carry over to the exterior. At the Millwick Event Space in downtown L.A.’s arts district, the duo revamped a former cold-storage industrial depository into the city’s chicest wedding venue. Through the use of suspended lighting, green paint, and glass, the pair turned another mundane warehouse along Venice’s unsightly Lincoln Blvd into Superba Food + Bread, the hottest brunch joint on the Westside.

Their latest project, a community center and STEM tutoring facility on Hollywood’s Highland Avenue, adopts this same template. For their first foray into education design, Rudolph and Johnson converted two warehouses using just plywood and coats of paint. Yet, these spare materials are creatively deployed as partitions that carve up the hangar-like spaces into zones according to age. “We were working with 9 Dots’ co-founder on a project at his house,” recalls Rudolph. The co-founder “tapped us knowing we could create a multifunctional space that was warm and inviting, and worked for kids and adults.”

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles

Catering to the area’s underprivileged children, 9 Dots serves as a critical learning supplement for both students and teachers. (The organization’s name alludes to a classic critical thinking math puzzle.) Since opening, the space has hosted after-school programs, teacher-training seminars, a summer school, and community workshops, all while functioning as a meeting space for L.A. nonprofits. The versatile venue has served its multiple functions seamlessly.

The complex’s 11,000-square-foot bowstring truss–supported main structure houses classrooms, a makerspace, library, kitchen, and teachers’ offices, while a 7,000-square-foot vaulted auxiliary building contains a student lounge, flexible workspaces, and more offices. Freestanding plywood partitions and Douglas fir built-ins (which echo the timber ceiling structure) sit atop polished concrete floors. The effect is stunning. Daylight filters through the light monitors embedded among the wooden rafters. The exposed ducts, beams, and masonry walls keep the look industrial.

Design, Bitches’ work is heavy on playfulness but not at the expense of functionality. At 9 Dots, for example, the student lounge is outfitted with custom furniture that cleverly incorporates reading nooks and supply storage. Large circular apertures frame bookshelves. The flex-space’s multicolored furniture is highly reconfigurable; wheeled tables and chairs allow kids to easily push the pieces together, pull them apart, or move them across the room, depending on the needs of the different activities.

design bitches 9 dots school los angeles

And brightly painted yellow and green cylinders atop the private offices serve as light-wells and funky design elements. “There are essentially smaller buildings within the larger space,” explains Rudolph. “It was really important to us to maintain that feeling of openness. We worked a lot with physical models to proportion the volumes.”

It’s a space designed for children where adults feel just as comfortable—whimsical without being cloying. “The colors on the adult side are a little bit darker and richer than the colors on the kid’s side,” says Rudolph.

9 Dots’ design passively manages the chaos of youth education, Rudolph explains. “The biggest challenges were maintaining the sense of openness and achieving a balance of having enough sound attenuation for all the things going on while fitting everything in.” 9 Dots is an extraordinary balancing act that proves that Design, Bitches’ work isn’t just the vanguard of their field, but is also bettering L.A.

Continue reading Design, Bitches Transforms Two Warehouses Into a Versatile STEM Tutoring Facility and Community Center

BIG and WeWork collaborate on the first WeGrow school in NYC

WeWork is designed to help children learn through introspection, exploration, and discovery.

EDUCATION FACILITY |

OCTOBER 31, 2018 |

DAVID MALONE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Image by Dave Burk

The first WeGrow school in New York City, created from a collaboration between BIG and WeWork, is a 10,000-sf space for children between the ages of three and nine located in WeWork’s HQ in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Continue reading BIG and WeWork collaborate on the first WeGrow school in NYC

The Office Redefined: Wix Brings Swings, Cabanas And Mario Bros. Into The Office

Continue reading The Office Redefined: Wix Brings Swings, Cabanas And Mario Bros. Into The Office

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