Thursday, 6 October 2011
I've been thinking about how my trip through Eastern Europe impacted why I design. Sadly, I had some grim moments on my tour that caused me to really evaluate this. I've actually avoided blogging today because I didn't want to return to the feelings I have surrounding my experience. I'm also seriously concerned that my writing will trivialize what I'm trying to relate. I'll start with the positive.
Ah, Vienna! This picture is from the AMAZING winter home of the Hapsburgs. Luckily, my husband Jeff is a photographer and these images are from his portfolio, Jeffrey Sheppard Images. To me, this chandelier perfectly represents what Vienna is about, opulence! The music, the pastries, the architecture, and the fashion. The Royal House of Hapsburg may have had this kind of opulence but the average citizen of Vienna lived in very close quarters. Most citizens frequented the Viennese coffee houses and lingered for hours as a substitute for having a living or sitting room. What a large side-step away from our homes in Canada.
My clients want to recreate service establishments in their home. They seem to want to escape the outside world of chaos by creating a sanctuary in their home. The absolute opposite of Vienna. I'm designing restaurant style kitchens, bistro bars, home theatres, spa-like ensuite bathrooms and hotel chic master bedrooms. It was such an oxymoron to me.
From Vienna, we toured through many other European cities, ending the cruise portion of our tour in Budapest. Yet another architecturally beautiful city ravaged by war.
There were so many pictures from Budapest to choose from. I really loved our time there. I also love little spaces, thus the pic of me in the phone booth on the 'Buda' or hill side of Budapest.
Back to the why I design. After Budapest we flew to Krakow, Poland to visit the concentration camp Auschwitz. I experienced complete horror and all-consuming outrage at what I saw. I don't think I need to elaborate on why. There were many displays of personal items that prisoners had brought with them to the camp. There was a common thread through all of the items. To me, that thread was the comforts of home. That idea still jars me a year later and I think always will. The prisoners just wanted to be home, surrounded by the people and things that made them feel safe.
As I sit in my warm home on a rainy Thursday in October, I realize exactly why I design: to create safe havens for my clients. I truly get teary-eyed when I walk through a client's front door and see them with their loved ones, embracing their new living space. When my client's are comfortable, my mission is complete.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
I've been giving some thought to what I said in my last blog. I stated, that the combination of beauty and horror I experienced while traveling through Eastern Europe, had greatly impacted how and why I design.
The majority of design projects that I have worked on have been in brand spanking new Alberta, Canada. The oldest home that I have renovated was built during the 50s. I am currently working on a 100 year old home in Calgary and it's certainly been a challenge. Which aspects of the home are just dated and which aspects are character pieces? I can't even begin to imagine how challenging it would be to renovate a home that was built in the 1700s! I guess you keep the aspects that haven't fallen apart because it ALL has character. Here in Alberta, we bring the plumbing and electrical up to code, update the finishing of the home; flooring, cabinets, trim, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures and ta da, another renovated home. At what point do these less than 100 year old homes have character? Will these new neighbourhoods of the oil boom ever have character? This vacation brewed all of these questions.
I have many clients who joke and say that "Kim shows-up with a dumpster, nothing is safe." I am now finding that perplexing. My need to modernize everything has, perhaps, caused me to lose appreciation for history and sentiment. In my early days of design, I was very concerned about reusing and recycling purely out of necessity. The more elaborate my projects/homes got, the less I was concerned with it.
In summary, my travels through Eastern Europe has caused me to appreciate the history of design again. I've even pulled out my design school text book on architectural history. I'm considering the character of homes more instead of transforming them into their modern younger sister.
In my next blog, I'll be ready to discuss how my travels have impacted why I design. I've got some thinking to do.