LA Trance by Ben Radatz

I’m going to date myself with this post. Back in the early 1980’s, probably 80 or 81 I was at a shopping mall and happened to be in some store that sold home furnishings like plates, containers, small appliances, glassware and such.

The reason I remember this so well is because at the time I was blown away by row after row of teal, baby blue, and cinnamon-colored plastic items that looked like a mash-up of 1930’s art deco, and mid-century modern. It was as though the designer of this particular line of products had been channeling 1930’s Raymond Lowe and 1950’s George Nelson, and filtering them through 30 to 40 years of separation.

It was as though a faded memory of what these periods were like, or a memory that somehow blurred the line between the two periods and imposed a kitschy rendition of what it must have been like to have been there a few decades back.

This was common in the early 1980s. Look back at TV graphics from this period and you’ll see the same 1950s aesthetic applied with loads of pink, black, and teal all run through a New Wave blender creating a unique look that lasted a few years. Maybe I’m feeling more aware of this because of the album covers of bands I listened to back then.

Ah New Wave records from the early 1980s. 1980 to 1985 was such a good decade.

The reason I bring this up is that the video below brought all of this back to me this afternoon. The video itself is really well done, featuring some solid animation, great illustration qualities, and an electronic music soundtrack by Four Tet. The thing is though, it feels like a 2020 take on a 1980’s take of something from the 1950s. And there is nothing wrong with that. It just got me to thinking about all of the trends that get resurfaced, reworked, and filtered through decades of separation and made into something new.

The timing and transitions to the changes in the music are fantastic. The style of the illustration while reminiscent of something familiar to the late 1970s and early 1980s is original to Ben Radatz with an elegant look to them. The color pallet enhances the feeling of the 3 minute short and captures the city of Los Angeles. He even features Miss Donuts and Circus Liquor (an LA icon you should go if you are ever in the San Fernando Valley area)


Creating something with a minimalist style is harder than you think. It’s more than just stripping away superfluous decoration, pattern, and color. It requires that keen ability to create something visually balanced, visually appealing, stripped down to bare geometry and form. 

Earlier today I had an email from a friend pointing me to this stunning table from Jay-Design. The Chiuet table is a masterpiece of balance, line, and form, abstracted from the shape of a pond or perhaps a water lily floating in it. The table top becomes both the shape of the pond and the lily, while the thin steel legs become the roots. 

Executed in a high grade steel the table is at times almost invisible, especially in profile. The legs disappear beneath, creating a floating surface that appears to hover. Chiuet is realization of minimalist finesse, that is representative of his Asian aesthetic mixing nature and minimalism, in a deep black. No word on where to get this, or if it was ever produced. If I find out more, I’ll post an update.






Anabella Vivas 100 Percent Sand Vases.

Anabella Vivas has created a series of vases that investigate how the design process is benefitted by using natural materials during the creation of the object. Vivas, wants to create a balance between the materials used and the final outcome. To reach that goal on this project Vivas has mixed concrete and glass, both reliant on sand for their existence.  Each vase is a balance of 40 percent glass to 60 percent concrete in materials use.  Working with the most amount of sand possible in her concrete mix, Vivas was able to blow glass into the concrete vessel, because of the slightly cooler than normal temperature which helps to fuse the pieces together. Each piece is hand made and no two are truly identical. Each one has a unique textural qualities to it in both the concrete and glass components. I love the subtle tonal color ranges in the cast concrete combined with a minimal aesthetic. And the balance between the heaviness on the concrete and the lightness of the glass is simply sublime.











A Few Observations About My House

P9050080After a few months of living in the new home, I have come to a couple of conclusions where form over function was not the best choice in the architectural design. I still love the new house, and I still think that overall it is really well thought out and quite liveable. Like anything though, there is room for a bit of improvement. Where the new house needs help falls into one space, access to the outside. What I mean is this, aesthetics over ruled decisions about access to the home, and placement of doors. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, but since we have had a very rainy summer and fall here in the Midwest I am taking notice.

Lets start with the front door. When the house was designed, there was no consideration for any kind of overhang above the front door. Since the shape of the house is basically a box, this means if you are standing at the front door trying to get in and it’s raining, you are going to get soaked. I understand visually why the threshold to the door is void of any kind overhang. It keeps the lines of the home clean and allows the wood siding to flow to a complete stop as it meets the white aluminum break by the front door. I just keep thinking that the architects could have come up with a solution that gave some level of protection from the elements without sacrificing on aesthetics. The door could have been recessed, or an overhang that mirrored the wood siding could have been placed above it.

My other two problems with the home are the outside entrance to the basement, and the garage door being placed on the far side of the attached garage. In both cases we are talking about choices that were made for visual impact as opposed to every function  and use. The garage door is minor. In reality I never use the side door to enter or exit from the garage. I just open the main door and walk in the front. And I completely get why they put the door on the side that faces away from the house. If the door had been placed on the side between the house and the garage, it would have broken the visual flow between the two structures with a large white rectangle. The problem is that for many people, closer access to the garage from the front door is a must. In addition, the ramp that runs from the front door to the stabiligrid walkway, forces you to walk 20 feet out from the house before you can turn and move back to the garage.

As for the basement door, well it’s just a pain in the butt to have to go outside and walk all the way around the house to get to the basement. This is one of those things that I didn’t even think about until I had to do it three or four times in the rain. I’m also starting to wonder what this is going to be like once we have snow here in Kansas City. This goes for the garage as well. I’m not sure of what the exact thinking was when the door to the basement was placed outside the home. I heard at one point that the design decision was based on funding, that there simply wasn’t enough money to build an extra module that would have contained an interior entrance to the basement. The more I look at the house, and the original drawings and plans, the more I am convinced that this was once again an aesthetic choice, not a financial one.

I guess the point of all of this is that while I love the new house, there are a few things I would have done differently based on the climate where the house lives. Based on the need of the occupant versus the aesthetics of the architectural design. Function and Form need to come together to create the best solution for the occupant of the house.