Monthly Archives: January 2011
Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, Author Azby Brown
(images courtesy of Just Enough’s website)
Portland Japanese Garden hosts a lecture on green living next Friday, January 28th with Tokyo-based author Azby Brown.
Friday, January 28, 2011
$10 members / $15 non-members
Reservations required, space is limited
Purchase on-line or call (503) 542-0280
(from Portland Japanese Garden’s website)
Inspired by his first visit to Katsura Imperial Villa in the 1980s, Tokyo-based author Azby Brown went on to pursue a career in architectural design, ultimately writing The Genius of Japanese Carpentry and a number of other successful books, including Small Spaces, The Japanese Dream House, and The Very Small Home. A graduate of Yale, Brown is a professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and founder and director of the Future Design Institute in Tokyo. His presentation will be on his latest book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, published in 2010.
Through words and sketches, Just Enough tells how people lived 200 years ago during the late Edo period in Japan, when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development, just before the opening of Japan to the West. Brown shows how people in the 18th-19th centuries dealt with some of the same issues we are facing today—energy, water, materials, food, and population—and forged from these challenges a society that was conservation-minded, waste-free, well-housed, well-fed, and economically robust, and that has bequeathed to us enduring standards of art and beauty.
The lecture will include reflections on Katsura Imperial Villa as the inspiration for Brown’s lifelong career in Japanese architecture and design, as well as his insights into the lessons to be learned from traditional Japan on ways of living green in a densely populated urban society.
A book-signing will follow the lecture. Buy the book here!
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Azby Brown is an artist and designer who has lived in Japan since 1985. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1995), Small Spaces (1996), The Japanese Dream House (2001) and The Very Small Home (2005). His most recent book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan was published in 2010. On the faculty of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology since 1995, he is the director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo.
Read More: Essay by Azby Brown on The Design Observer Group website.
A long time ago…a friend recommended that I read the book ‘John Pawson’s Works’ -
Ever since, I have been moved – even rendered breathless – by his minimalism and almost sanctuary architecture along with the details of his work. His own home has proven to be a laboratory for his ideals and I often wonder what it would be like to live so monastically.
“It was never just about painting everything white, I set out to create comfortable spaces – visually comfortable spaces. My mind always feels a little scrambled, so being in simple rooms helps me to think straight.” – John Pawson
calvin klein store – paris
monastery – czech republic
After six months of schematic design, design development, demolition, framing, rough-ins, drywall, cabinetry, painting, and finish work, our Alameda kitchen remodel & master bath addition is complete.
Keeping the kitchen update in line with the architectural and historical integrity of this 1928 home was paramount. To reconcile the owners’ desire for an open kitchen – a relatively contemporary concept – an arched opening was added, the radius of which matched the arch between the dining and living rooms.
The custom cabinetry and peninsula turned out beautifully – I love the elegance of the inset doors and exposed hinges. The sophisticated Eureka Calacatta marble counters add to a refined touch and the warm brown tones in the marble coordinate well with the reclaimed oak floors. Lastly, the period flushmount light fixture and pendant lights unify the kitchen to the house.
The color palette for the main floor consists of warm and inviting historical colors. Repainting the foyer, entry, hall, living room, dining room, and sunroom/office helped to marry the remodeled kitchen to the rest of the house. Likewise, refinishing the existing oak hardwoods when the new kitchen floor was laid, allowed for a seamless flow between rooms.
In contrast to the warm palette on the main floor, the colors chosen for the upper level are calming and cool. Walking into the master bedroom, one instantly feels a wave of serenity.
In order to accommodate the master bath addition, some space was taken away from the master bedroom and the existing closet and built-in dresser at the knee wall were taken out. A window and an etched glass pocket door allow for more natural light in the master suite. The large shower with white subway tile and a marble accent band is lovely. The custom vanity, medicine cabinets, and cabinets in the WC look so elegant with the marble counters.
This home has such a sophisticated, warm, welcoming feel after the graceful transformations of the kitchen remodel and master bath addition. The homeowners are thrilled with the results. And I am so grateful to have worked with such genuinely kind clients.
kitchen detail with arch to match existing elsewhere in home, reconfigured doorways
marble counters, fisher paykel dishwasher on left, under mount sink, new hardwood floors in kitchen
new kitchen opened up to dining room, cabinet faced refrigerator, gas stove, custom cabinetry
new living room color
new office/sunroom wall color
vanity in master bath with marble counter, under mount sink and new window
water closet with storage
walk in shower with bench, two shower heads, subway tile with marble detail
master bedroom with entrance to new bath, new wall color
detail of pocket door to master bath with frosted glass
new master bedroom drapes
detail of foyer color
details of stairwell and entry color
The year began with a trip to Paris, the most romantic and beautiful city in the world. I was especially moved by the Eiffel Tower. Looking at the intricately engineered structure, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by the stature of this iconic symbol. While walking through Père Lachaise cemetery, I was swept away by the breathtaking architecture of the churches and monuments. I was bowled over by the design of retail shops, flower stands and the food – which takes composition and form to a different level altogether.
Color coordinating the books in my home became an obsessive exercise in attention to detail, and was soothing to my sense of placement and color blocking.
In July, I moved from my 1956 home in West Linn where I had lived for 10 years. I raised my family there and spent much love and work, painstakingly restoring our home with an emphasis on preserving the historical and architectural integrity. It was difficult to move – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – hard to leave behind a home with many memories, and a personal design project that had literally just been completed. Regardless, the plan was always to move back to the city once the children were done with school and it became the goal as 2010 began.
I moved back into Portland, to a 1920s bungalow near my childhood home. I have undertaken a number of design projects at the new home – painting inside and out, re-configuring the chicken coops, gardening, with many more projects in the works. I love my neighborhood and enjoy being nearer to friends, work, and all of the culture that this city has to offer.
Tearing apart an old shed to turn into a chicken coop
New house color
Earlier this year, I did some interior design consulting for Phoenix Redevelopment, a company that rehabilitates distressed properties. They had approached me for advice on two of their mid century listings. I selected the interior and exterior colors, address numbers, kitchen cabinets & finishes, light fixtures, and flooring. When the remodels were complete and the homes were listed, I was asked to consult on the staging of furniture and accessories in one of the homes. This has led to SBaird Design’s latest offering: home staging.
SBaird Design branched out in December, launching home staging services. We stage vacant and occupied homes, provide in-home consultations, dispense staging advice a la distance, and offer remodeling consultations for homes on the real estate market.
SBaird Design had the pleasure to work with the sweet homeowners of this 1928 home in Alameda. We remodeled the kitchen, opening up the space while emphasizing the historical appropriateness of the renovation. Upstairs, we added an elegant master bath within the existing footprint. Photos of the finished project will be posted next week.
Master bath finish selections
Construction of archway at kitchen
I designed a walnut shelf with my friend and talented designer & craftsman Delaney Kelly. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product in a few weeks.
I took a class this fall at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts on outdoor structure building. Working for two weekends outside to construct a simple building for students to spend time out of doors was challenging and exhilarating. The finished deck/porch with benches and a roof was something that would be enjoyable to recreate again in our own backyard.
I recently consulted on the kitchen paint and finishes in a longtime client’s home. The large dining room gave the owners ample space to build out a half bath, a refrigerator nook, and a broom closet.
In December, SBaird Design secured contracts for two new design projects:
I’ll be involved in the exterior and interior design of the old film exchange building on NW 19th. Built in the 1930s, the Star Film Exchange complex housed six Hollywood film distributors – the interior still has film vaults and screening rooms. I’m thrilled to be part of the renaissance of this building.
I’ll also be consulting on an extensive remodel of a 1957 house in Happy Valley and an addition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the property. I’m thrilled to begin working on the project with this incredibly kind family.
I have enjoyed procuring mid century furniture, lighting, art, and accessories for the home staging business. I recently restored this 1960 set of Kristian Vedel chairs, with the help of an upholsterer and Delaney Kelly.
New involvement in the arts, along with music projects completed this year. My 25 years of experience and knowledge in design and project management were directly related to the following.
One of the founding members of YU Contemporary – A visionary art center empowering artistic imagination and cultural life, destined to become the most provocative supporter of the arts that the region has ever seen. http://www.yucontemporary.org/
Co – Executive producer – From the Land of Ice and Snow, a compilation CD, 6 years in the making. Led Zeppelin covered by eminent NW musicians. I co-produced the live show ( it sold out ) and the release of the album at Doug Fir Lounge. Press from National Public Radio and all of the local print media. Websites/blogs wrote stories on an international level. http://www.jealousbutcher.com/iceandsnow/preorder.html
some of the musicians and producers of the album/show – (photo by Mark Toal)
poster design by Rob Jones
Rob Jones and the CDs
Co-producer – of the final live concert to be held at the venerable Berbati’s Pan, venue opened in 1994, closing show on New Years Eve 2010. Hired publicity, managing band necessities, managed merchandise sales, venue and supporting staff’s expectations. http://www.riotactmedia.com/artists/bp5ff.php
I could not have completed the year, without hiring a patient and kind assistant, Molly Nearman, in July. She has been a wealth of fortitude and steely reserve even when we are pressed with the various tasks and occasionally over abundant workload that comprises real estate, design, music shows. Molly keeps my business and life flowing. She is an angel in human form.
As I look back on another year, I feel so blessed and grateful that I’m able to do what I love. Thank you to my clients, friends, and family for your support in 2010.