Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Travel Inspiration from Turkey

Monday, November 19th, 2012

At the end of September I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to explore and become inspired.  The people, architecture, patterns and colors will forever leave a mark on my designs.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

The view looking towards Sultanahmet.

Beautifully detail roof at dusk.

Interior view of the Blue Mosque…stunning.

Inside the Aya Sofya.

Ceiling detail of the Aya Sofya

Brightly colored ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar.

Shopping for textiles.

The runner that came home with us!  It’s from Dhoku and made from recycled rugs that have been patched together.

A metal shop within the Bazaar.

Inspiration at the Met

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

After being closed for a 8 year renovation, Giang and I recently visited the new Islamic wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  I was so inspired by all the patterns, rugs and colors that I wanted to share with you.  I was amazed that the design could easily be incorporated in today’s environments.  They are truly timeless.  I’ve added notes where I took down the details but it was mostly a visual wonderland.  I highly recommend visiting if you make it to the museum because pictures, especially from an iphone, don’t do it justice.  Hope you enjoy!


There were many rugs and textiles.  Most all of the designs would work in today’s interiors and even fabrics of the fashion world.  The rug below incorporated the flame-stitch that is so popular these days.

Detail of the corner.

This was by far my favorite rug.  Called the “Simonetti” carpet and dated 1250-1517.  It’s one of the largest Mamluk rugs, having five medallions instead of the usual 1-3.  The colors were muted yet vibrant and woven in wool.  Thought about rolling it up and “hiding” it behind me to take as a souvenir.

The center medallion.

Detail of the end medallion.  What you can’t see and I just couldn’t get good pictures of, is the amazing carved wood ceiling above this rug.

Beautiful red tapestries and fabrics.  Such amazing designs!




This is a very old ikat pattern, dated 909-1171.  I absolutely love the colors in this linen and silk shawl remnant.

And now on to pottery and tiles.  These Raqqa ware pieces have a vibrant, glowing turquoise and black design.   Pretty stunning considering their age (12th century).  The artists used a technique of painting directly on the stonepaste with a stable chromium-black pigment.  The turquoise is often alkaline which prevented the underglaze from running.

Notice how the glaze doesn’t completely cover the bottom.  Whether it was on purpose or not, I find it unexpected and like seeing the clay body exposed.

A bowl with little fish on the bottom.

Now a little architectural detailing.  The Met hired and housed craftsmen form Fez to build and carve this small room.  The detailing that is achieved blows my mind.  Next to the room, they had a video showing how the carving is done.  Essentially the build up a thick layer of plaster, tap a stencil design onto the wet base and then start carving away with little knives.  I forget how long it took to do this room…

The picture below is courtesy of the Met Museum.

A detail shot of one of the arches.

Below is a door with very intricate carvings and inlays.  Old or new?  Look at the additional details…

This door is from Egypt, Cairo dated 1250-1517!  How incredible is that?  It is carved of rosewood, mulberry and other woods along with ebony and ivory.

If you want to read more about the wing there are several articles on the NYTimes and you can find additional pictures and info at The Metropolitan Museum of Art gallery section.


Greece – Color Inspiration

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

My fall vacation took my husband and I (along with 4 dear friends) to Greece for a little R&R.  We traveled to Mykonos, Santorini and Athens.  Below are some of my personal photographs from the islands showing the style and coloring.  I will do another post on Athens and the Acropolis at a later date. 

I have always wanted to go to Greece, mostly for the food and islands.  I fell in love with it because of the food, the friendly people and the scenery; the colors are subdued yet dramatic against the arid landscape.  The island architecture was reminiscent of Santa Fe’s adobe style although they paint everything white making the hills look like snow-capped mountains.  They often use vibrant colors like blues and the occasional red to accentuate the architectural features.


Windmill on Mykonos

   stair with grapes














Entry with grapes drying on the steps – Prygos, Santorini

pale colors

An example of the soft, pale colors – Fira, Santorini

zannos church

The church from our inn, Zannos Melathron – Pyrgos, Santorini

Oia fishing rest

The small restaurants below Oia that sell fresh fish – Oia, Santorini


If you’re a lover of sunsets, Greece is the place.  Up next, the Acropolis.

Inspired – Gaudy Gaudi

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

We’ve all heard of something over-the-top being referred to as gaudy.  Did you know the word was derived from the architect Antonio Gaudi and his designs?  Antonio Gaudi, born in Spain, was inspired by nature.  In many of his works reference nature and therefore you’ll rarely see a straight line.  I’ve included some personal photographs demonstrating the architects detail oriented spaces.  Even though the overall space is gaudy I found beauty in simple details. 

Below is a light fixture from the Casa Batllo (Barcelona).  Notice how the ceiling, painted like scales, provides a backdrop to the intricate fixture.    In addition the plaster of the ceiling swirls towards the fixture. 


The roof of Casa Batllo has multiple tiles surfaces.   Because of the undulating curves the tiles are broken then applied…in graduating color.  The green tile “ribs” are meant to look like the spine of an animal. 


Below is a picture from the famous Sagrada Familia (Barcelona).  This church has been in progress since 1884.  Gaudi was always updating and changing the plans of this building as he went.  When he was hit and killed by a tram, the drawings were not fully complete.  Since then architects have done their best to interpret his vision into reality.  The photo below is from within the church looking up at the ceiling.  This is a perfect example of Gaudi taking inspiration from nature; you feel like you are in a stone forest.  Notice on the columns that near the base there are more flutes (horizontal lines) than at the top, much like a tree trunk.  At the ceiling the gold mosaics resemble leaves.  When the light dances across them, they “move” in the light.  Brilliant.