japslick.skp[‘The Pad’ is a condo in downtown Boston that I am currently re-designing for my friends Eric and Holly. This series of blogposts chronicles its progress.]

After our previous meeting, I revised the design to address Eric and Holly’s comments: specifically I included more color, as E+H worry about a space seeming sterile if it’s too white. I entitled my next concept ‘Japanese / Medieval Modern’: stacked stone and tile mosaic and shoji screens, combining minimalism with more florid decoration. E+H liked the feeling of enclosure in the garden but wanted to move the fireplace there, so I included an open firepit (bio-ethanol, so as not to need venting) .  While there will still be a fair amount of real planted material in the garden area, I switched gears a bit on the vegetated walls – both from a design point of view and from the knowledge that neither owner has a particularly green thumb. Read More


DancersS. and I have taken up Scottish Country Dancing. We’re unbearably smug about the fact that we are fleeter of foot and comprehension than the rest of the council-run class; eventually there must be some karmic reaction to my calling one of the other couples ‘rhinoceros and elephant’, but I don’t think you’re supposed to look like you’re sumo-wrestling each other when you go for a spin. The teachers are amusing enough themselves: Kenny is chipper and sprightly, while Glenda never cracks a smile — and you never know when she’s going to appear at your elbow to lecture about Keeping Up the W (which S. and I understand, but I’m fairly certain noone else in the class knows what she’s talking about). Read More

Anime Sophistique.skp[‘The Pad’ is a condo in downtown Boston that I am currently re-designing for my friends Eric and Holly. This series of blogposts chronicles its progress.]

Once we had come to an agreement about the general arrangement of the floorplans, it was time to start thinking about what the place might actually look like. I came up with two themes based on my knowledge of their interests: one based on their enjoyment of the outdoors, which I called ‘Adirondack Modern’, and another based on their liking for Japanese cartoons, which I termed ‘Anime Sophistique’.

‘Adirondack Modern’ begged for natural materials: blue slate floors, extensive wood paneling, rugged stone walls, and rustic furniture. The garden space is shown enclosed with stone planters, creating real separation between it and the living room and bar area. The ‘Anime Sophistique’ scheme is unapologetically contrived-looking: Read More

previewI’m not going to post plans showing the existing walls, as all except the wet walls are irrelevant. What’s not irrelevant are the sprinkler heads, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and HVAC ducting, all of which seem to have been placed in the most inconvenient areas the developer could have imagined. Gripe. We will deal with all that eventually.What I was first concerned with was imagining a program (i.e. set of spaces and their relationships) that would work for Eric and Holly.

So I came  up with a few options for how I thought the space could work. This point in the process is often one of  the most interesting: for example, in my own home I would NEVER design computer workstations to be so central – but I can tell you from having stayed with them, the first thing Eric and Holly do when they get up in the morning is go to their computers, and they are found there whenever they have a spare moment. Read More

WindowSo I’ve been working for two months now on a project in Boston, even though I’m back in Edinburgh. As I’ve briefly mentioned before, it’s a loft condo in Downtown Crossing owned by my friends Eric and Holly. It’s their first home, but they went big: 3,000 square feet, all of which need to be gutted, as the space had been used for years as an office.

While the apartment is fairly industrial  and riddled with little rooms and bad fluorescent lighting, its bones are beautiful. The brick building was built in 1917 for use as a battery backup for city power, and its units boast high ceilings, enormous windows, and exposed brick walls. Eric and Holly’s unit has a 20-foot ceiling at its highest, though a mezzanine cuts through half the space. Unlike the other floors, theirs has only one large window at floor level and a number of smaller clerestories 18 feet up. (see ‘before’ photos in this post.) Read More

I’m a model, you know what I mean… I’m disappointed that we didn’t blare techno or have a big catering setup to coquettishly ignore at our photoshoot Thursday, but it was still a quietly amusing proposition: me vamping around in shoes I can barely walk in with far too much makeup on playing stick with a hyper dog in a cool outfit. I never had quite enough treats in my pocket; in trying to make them last I had my fingers bitten a number of times. At the end of the shoot I had the idea to wade in the icy pools at the Parliament, but had a hard time convincing Dylan to join me. I’m not used to being thought crazy by a dog. And she rudely turned her head when I instructed her to make love to the camera.

But Dylan seemed completely comfortable in her coat, and we had a number of appreciative comments from passers-by, so that’s something (though one of them was a vacant-looking fourteen year old boy who couldn’t take his hands out his track pants – a sort of Scottish Deliverance..) And the photos are great, though the ones in the pools weren’t worth losing a few toes to frostbite. Read More

I’m all for globalization on a number of fronts, but there’s one effect that’s got me up in arms these days: you can’t pick out French tourists any more.

It used to be that the French had a monopoly on glamour. The Italians looked pretty good but lost on their unfortunate tendency to sport multi-colored backpacks; the Japanese tried hard but were betrayed by their reliance on head-to-toe all one designer; German comfortable shoes placed them firmly out of the running. But the French! The insouciantly-flung sweaters around the neck, the nude nylons and oxford shoes under short pencil skirts, that flawless skin and hair… all gone, as far as I can see. Somebody has convinced the French that it is acceptable to dress like Americans.

While traveling this year I constantly recoiled in horror at apparitions who I had from afar assumed to be British package tourists, but who on closer inspection were heard to speak pure Parisian. How does the French Ministry of Culture allow these people out of the country? Is this Sarko’s fault? Can something not be done?