Category: Architecture

Fireplaces- Bringing Modern to the Great Outdoors

So, yes, it’s been a very long time since I made my last post to my design blog. Between my day job doing user experience design for a local education technology company (can’t name them or the social media police from there will bug me about it tomorrow), enjoying quiet time with my beautiful wife and kids – we got rid of cable TV once and for all, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to retain their sanity; and working on my full-size replica of R2D2 (see my progress, which needs to be majorly updated as well at my droid build blog), I haven’t had time for this.

But I do right now, because my wife showed me an ad in Better Homes and Gardens for some very cool outdoor fireplaces from Being that we’re both into mid-century modern and the whole aesthetic of it, and are working on turning our 1958 California Ranch into what’s called and Atomic Ranch but with updated materials and construction techniques, one of these would go very well in our outdoor patio:
Modfire outdoor orange fireplace.

Secret Volcano Lair for Sale

If you’ve been reading my blog for any time now, or just know me from having worked with me in the past, you know how much I love mid-century design, from graphics to architecture to cars and clothing styles. I tend to check out this site a lot – Modern San Diego to see what’s going on for those who appreciate that time period and all the cool stuff that came from it — from swap meets to home tours to houses for sale and everything in between.

While there, I noticed a link to this site: Curbed LA and the Volcano House built by Huell Howser. If I had an extra $750,000 lying around and wanted to “vacation” in the desert, then this would be on my list of homes I’d love to have. Nevertheless, it is a very cool example of classic mid-century design.

Where are the sharks with lasers mounted on their heads???

Interior Design — Mid-century Modern

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted anything. I’ve been pretty busy with setting up the sound studio at home (almost done), which included hanging doors between my existing office and the family room, moving the computer out of the room, and so on and so forth. Add to that being out of work, which has had an effect on my wanting to get anything done in the first place. I like working. I’m not the kind of person who is happy hanging out by the pool, relaxing, and doing and thinking about nothing- though that is nice for a vacation.

So, as I mentioned in this blog, and for people who know me, I really dig mid-century design, architecture, furniture, and so on. Luckily so do my wife and kids. We live in a 1950’s California Ranch with a big open living room and open beam ceilings, though we would someday like to live in a more mid-century modern home that’s more open, flatter roofs, big floor to ceiling windows, etc. Fortunately there’s a plethora of them in San Diego’s East County, where I happen to have been born, raised and still live in.

I’ve always appreciated mid-century architecture and design since I was a kid growing up in the 60’s (I was born in 1963), even before I knew what it really was. Coincidentally there happens to be some pretty cool shops in San Diego and a mid-century modern following among home-owners, designers, architects, and people in general. My favorite shop so far, located in the Little Italy area of downtown San Diego is Boomerang for Modern, located between Kalmia and Laurel on Kettner.

If you walk in or look from the outside, it looks pretty small.  But once you go in, be prepared to see some pretty cool stuff. The first floor is set up like a small living room/showroom. The second floor looks like a nice apartment living room and gives you an idea of what your place could look like, while the third floor is set up as a bedroom display. I highly suggest next time you’re downtown, check it out, sit and chat with David the owner, and maybe take something home.  Pics after the jump.

Speaking of home, we’re taking our house from shabby-chic (yecccch), to a more mid-century interior design. That will be in another post with before and after pics, and progress updates as well. Now if I could afford some of the cool furniture from Boomerang…

Architecture — Modern San Diego

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I’m a big fan of mid-century modern design, and fortunately there’s plenty of it to see around San Diego, CA, my hometown (born and raised). A great site I highly recommend is Though the site itself could stand for a more modern/user friendly design, it does provide some great information on almost all of the great modern architecture within San Diego county, as well as the architects who did such great work.

If you go to the current home page and scroll down about 3/4’s of the way, they even have a post about Jack In The Box restaurant buildings. The cool news is Jack In The Box is restoring one of their restaurants back to one of their mid-century designs, circa 1956. If you live in San Diego or come to visit, I recommend going to take a look, located in the Hillcrest neighborhood on Washington and Front streets.

A Film Any Designer Should See

I was just perusing the Apple movie trailers website and came across this: Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.  Anyone who knows modern architecture and the photography that captured it in history should know who Julius Shulman is. This looks like it will be a great film for designers, architects, photography buffs, and just people who like sleek, clean modern design. One of Mr. Shulman’s most famous photos is the Case Study House 22:

Shot on 8×10 with two flashes, then exposed an extra 4 minutes to expose the lights of LA. Great image.

Case House 22 Shulman

My try at shooting like Julius Shulman, 8×10 camera, black and white:

San Diego Tech Center

Architecture: Fast Food Chains and going retro

Like most Americans, I like an occasional burger from some fast food joint, whether it be McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr. or Wendy’s. Being this is a design blog, I won’t comment on the food. Everyone knows pretty much what to expect from these fine dining establishments.

What I want to focus on here is architecture, and more important, how these businesses can use it to generate customer visits. Over the past 10’s of years, buildings that were once unique and part of a fast food chain’s brand, eventually became 4 walls and a drive-thru, and designed to be inexpensive to build, and in some cases, forced to fit in with a shopping center that they were being placed in. This is pretty typical in San Diego.

So, first up is McDonald’s. They started with a very cool design back when it was owned by the McDonald brothers, and decided to bring that back in their new restaurants to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the chain. What I like is the cool retro, Jetson’s Space Age kind of look to them. It makes me want to go in and buy a burger, even though I really want a Sourdough Jack..


Anyone familiar with Jack in the Box that’s not over 30 (maybe 40?) years old knows their eateries to look kind of like this:


Jack in the Box needs to go old school I think in order to compete with McDonald’s. I really miss the actual sign that was a Jack in the Box…


That’s my .02 cents. What do you think? In the meantime, I’m going to go grab both a Big Mac and a Jumbo Jack.

Web Design Part 2 – Color

There seems to be a lot of people who like to design web sites, and or anything else, that don’t understand color theory. Let it be known that knowing color is very important in any design work, whether web, logos, print, even painting your house or office – if they let you have more than white walls or are stuck in a cube. I just came from an office that was an endless sea of gray cubes, with very cool spectrum lighting. Perfect for programmers and engineers, horrible for designers/creative types.

There are 6 separate color themes, all based on what’s called a color wheel. The color wheel is a pretty good representation of color theory. If you have any good paint program like Photoshop, Corel Painter (that has a very nice one), you know what the color wheel is. Even Mac’s come with one built in with tons of features. This is what one looks like:


Or go to your local art supply store and buy one. They’re fun and cool to have around, and look like this:colorwheel

Plus, your friends will ask what it is. Make sure you put it next to a really sharp xacto knife, a straight edge, and a hand waxer (used for paste-up, way before cut and paste on computers), and then you’ll have some great conversation pieces. Just make sure you keep your thumb or fingers out of the way when showing how it all works. Trust me.

I can type up a whole lesson on color theory, but I suggest you Google it, or check out this site which I like a lot: Color Wheel Pro: Color Theory Basics.