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October 2, 2017 |

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‘We never dreamed we’d live in a Neutra house’

Richard Neutra spent the majority of his career in Southern California, where he created his most notable architecture and became one of the world’s iconic Modernists.

So, when Allen Fair and Nelson Tolentino discovered a Neutra house in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (a small town a little over 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia), their first reaction was disbelief.

But there was no mistake in the Zillow listing. In the late 1950s, when Neutra did a teaching stint at the University of Pennsylvania, he brought a small dose of his brand of architecture to the Quaker State by taking on roughly six commissions for private homes.


A red door (Sherwin-Williams Gypsy Red) is a bright spot in the lush green that surrounds this Neutra home.


A large bank of floor-to-ceiling windows forms one corner of the house. Glass doors open directly onto a patio.


The house takes advantage of its wooded site, with large windows opening up to nature.

For this midcentury modern-obsessed couple, it was such an amazing discovery, the New York City transplants still aren’t over it. “We had been collecting midcentury furniture for years, we talked a lot about the California indoor-outdoor design aesthetic, and we admired Neutra’s work,” says Fair.

“When we found a Neutra home in the area we wanted to live in, it was beyond anything we’d ever expected. We never even imagined gems like this existed around Philadelphia (but later found there are several in the area). It was way outside our initial budget, but knew this was worth going all in on it.”

Tolentino adds: “That it is in our zip code still boggles my mind—I call this the beyond-my-wildest-dream house!”

Back in 1959, Neutra designed the dwelling for David and Sarah Coveney and their children. Despite being in snow country, it has a flat roof and large walls of single-pane windows. Here, outdoor living isn’t a year-round pursuit, but the home features patios that connect the home to its wooded lot. (Fair and Tolentino admit they have to bundle up during the winter, but say it’s a small price to pay.)


Furnishing the home was no problem for the couple, as they’d been collecting midcentury-modern accessories for years.


The couple became interested in midcentury modernism in the 1990s and began learning all they could about it. They never dreamed they’d live in a Neutra home.

Several years after Neutra departed for California, Sarah Coveney commissioned Thaddeus Longstreth, a local architect that had been Neutra’s acolyte, to create a window-lined addition that served as her art studio. Fair and Tolentino are only the home’s second owners.

Since it had been constructed, the home was treated delicately, with only a few modifications. The new owners were eager to do the same. “We consider ourselves the stewards of the house, not the owners,” Fair says. “We didn’t want to ruin what makes it special. Considering changing it made us very nervous.”

That said, after nearly 60 years, some of the rooms, particularly the kitchen and bath, were worn.


The redesigned kitchen opens up to a living area and the dining room. The kitchen is by Porcelanosa. The cabinets are in Blanco Mate and Roble Tierra. The countertops are Krion solid surface, the backsplash is Ona Naturale, and the kitchen floor is Ramsey procelain tile. The light fixture is from CB2.

That’s when fate and technology stepped in. Through a local Facebook group dedicated to midcentury modern architecture buffs, they met Robert Jamieson, principal at Studio Robert Jamieson, who restored a Robert McElroy house for himself and his family.

As the relationship deepened, the couple developed the confidence to ask Jamieson to remodel their kitchen and bathroom. It was a prospect that delighted and rattled the architect. “It was an honor, but it was nerve-wracking as well,” says Jamieson. “I approached it with a gentle touch, and I was respectful of what Neutra had done.”


The owners cite the indoor-outdoor nature of the home as one of their favorite elements. The family room is furnished with vintage furniture, including a Selig Z chair and a Noguchi coffee table.

In fact, Jamieson looked at the project as both updating and turning back the clock for the house. “As time went by, the original owners altered the house slightly, likely just changing out things that were worn,” he says. “In the kitchen and bathroom, we were inspired by the original materials and sought to bring them back as much as possible.”

Here’s an example: When the house was built, it was created with wood cabinets, travertine tile floors, and the laminate countertops that were then all the rage. At some point, the kitchen was updated by painting the cabinets white, installing maple-wood floors, and a tile countertop.

When Fair and Tolentino decided to update the kitchen, they selected a mix of walnut and wood cabinets, a porcelain tile with a travertine pattern, and a Corian countertop—and thus what was old became new again.


The Malm fireplace and travertine-tile floor are original to the house.


A vintage Plexiglas chair hangs in the office.

The materials may be akin to the original, but the look is more contemporary than a faithful recreation of the past.

“We didn’t want to live in a time capsule,” says Tolentino. “I heard this great quote: ‘Empathy is the cornerstone of design.’ The kitchen and bath design is empathetic to how we live and our current values which includes being influenced by Modernism. Buying a Neutra, I was a bit concerned that our needs would become secondary to conservancy, and I didn’t want that. I prefer living in the present and maybe in my small way furthering the evolution of design.”

One of the bigger moves was to open up the wall separating the kitchen and the dining room. When this home was built, seeing the prep space from the entertaining area would have been unthinkable. Of course, now it’s a different story.

Jamieson paid homage to the past in the bathroom by designing a vanity based on a piece of furniture Neutra had created. For reasons lost to time (perhaps modesty or the need for shelter from the weather) a clerestory window that stretches across the backside of the home was covered over in the shower.

Jamieson reglazed the clerestory windows with insulated glass while preserving the original aluminum frames, letting light flood the new shower. The shower itself goes from the size of broom closet to the large proportions that people prefer today.


The master bedroom features an IKEA headboard and an original sconce.


The office was originally used as an art studio. Custom shelves that once held canvases and supplies are now used for books and files.

“We took some liberties, especially in the bathroom by creating a more open layout with the glass walk-in shower,” says Jamieson.

As the stewards of the house, Fair and Tolentino were comfortable with the idea. “When we researched the house with Robert, we realized two things: The architect left a lot of the kitchen and bathroom design to the original owner—and the owner adjusted and evolved the design a bit over time,” Fair says. “We felt OK about making updates of our own. We just used simple lines in keeping with the original design.”

For this couple, realizing their dream didn’t disappoint. “Neutra’s work was very intellectual, and it was all about creating environments where people can be happy,” Fair says. “It’s sad that people have forgotten some of the principles of midcentury design, and tend to build McMansions. Living here, and being connected to nature, is a wonderful feeling.”

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WV Design Team: Evolving with a client to create a Camelot dream home – Charleston Gazette

Susan and Dolan Wallace have been clients of mine for almost eight years. We met while I was working for a former employer and was involved in a kitchen and bathroom remodel in their previous home.

During those eight years, my career changed and evolved into what we all know now as Yeager Design Interiors. Susan and Dolan, in the meantime, purchased a new home in Huntington and decided to get back in touch with me for a bit of help to make it their own.

I was so excited to hear from Susan again, and we immediately started making plans for them to come into our showroom and for us to do a scheduled consultation in their new home.

Over the next few visits, we decided to focus on their formal living area and connected dining room. The couple had a few pieces they really loved, but they needed the bulk of their space finished with new furniture and accessories.

The Wallaces are not afraid of color. They had an existing red floral rug, a striped neutral loveseat, and a floral-patterned chair and ottoman that needed to be unified with colorful accessories.

By finding them the perfect piece of art that included all of their favorite colors, we were able to spring into the design, pulling in other hues of red, like a red leather ottoman, as well as blues in teal, turquoise and aqua. We also provided them with semi-custom window treatments that gave the room warmth and a three-dimensional effect with their neutral tone-on-tone stripe.

When it came to the adjacent dining room, Susan and Dolan were in need of a table that sat up to eight people, a new light fixture, a large storage buffet and finishing touches. They kept their china cabinet from their previous dining set, but they decided mixing and not matching the rest of the finishes would give the room more personality. Susan was absolutely in love with a dining table I featured in a previous article. She knew that particular table was the one she wanted and was ready for me to piece together a design around it.

By incorporating slip-covered, upholstered captain chairs, similar-toned side chairs and a machine-made colorful rug, we were able to tie in the living room accent colors and add even darker hues of blue for the wall art.

Our new chandelier was a unique gold and silver mercury glass pendant that created a warm glow over the new dining design. The final finishing touch for the table was a custom arrangement I put together that would surely be a conversation starter when entertaining.

After revealing the finished design to the couple, I got to sit down with Susan and ask her a few questions about our process together. I’m always eager to know the driving force behind a client’s decision to work with a designer, rather than just buying the furniture from our showroom.

“I always know what I like. I just lack vision of putting it all together,” Susan said. “Plus, I am always short on time, so it was amazing to be able to walk out of the room and a few hours later come back in and have the entire design not only done, but done right.”

The big reveal is my favorite moment of any design project.

When I think about my design relationship with the Wallaces, it makes me smile. The growth in their style from eight years ago to now is tremendous. They have departed from their former ways of matching each wood and fabric that came into their house and have evolved into an eclectic, transitional couple with a beautiful home ready to entertain. To follow the rest of the Wallaces’ home design journey, stay tuned for more articles on their Camelot series and see how they are making their new home their own.

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Dining with dignity

Most people can enjoy a hot cup of coffee without thinking about pain or spills. But arthritic knuckles, Parkinson’s shakes and the impaired vision associated with dementia can cause frustration and danger when using traditional dining cups. In many nursing homes, the easy solution is a straw or a cup with a drinking spout on top—the adult equivalent of a child’s “sippy cup.”

Allen Arseneau, a biochemical engineer armed with a Stanford MBA, watched his grandfather struggle with the thin handles and narrow grips of traditional cups—the age-unfriendly design that took away his independence and dignity. He and his wife, Diana, a Harvard chemistry grad, spent the next two and a half years designing a new type of mug, with help from Karen Jacobs, a nationally renown occupational therapist. This combination of minds led to a whole new view on diningware design based on science.

The team’s coffee cups are designed with unique handles that have wider grips, special indents and a very specific shape.  This shape puts the hand into an anatomically neutral position, reducing pressure and pain on sore hands. Since many spills occur when a cup is being placed back on the table, they added a stabilizer nub to the base of the handle and rebalanced the weight distribution of the cup for ease of lifting. The drinking edge of the cup is tapered to match the curve of a person’s lips and aligned to force stray drops back into the cup.

“The problem with cups is that they were designed 8,000 years ago,” Allen says. “Why does the simple act of drinking have to be so hard?”

Next on the redesign table were plates. The couple created plates that look like regular restaurant ware, except the plate’s design keeps food—even rice—from spilling off the plate.  The new design included a wide base, deeply angled sides and a ridged rim. 

The popularity of the diningware turned into a startup company called Jamber, based in Hull, Massachusetts. The Jamber cup comes in 8 oz., 12 oz. and 16 oz. sizes, allowing for the jump from beverages to soups, oatmeal and frozen desserts. The company’s products are in use at senior living sites in 37 states, and the company wants to be in all 50 states by the end of 2017, Allen says.

A successful age-friendly design is one that is not embarrassing, and allows people to self-dine as long as possible, Allen says. “It’s not just about the utility of eating and drinking. Our vision is to create cutting-edge diningware that allows everyone, regardless of age or ability, to enjoy life more and experience dining in a dignified way.”

The diningware comes in bright white, yellow and red, the latter two colors known to stimulate appetite in those with dementia. The company’s next products will include utensils and cookware, including a redesign of pots and pans, which are “notoriously hard to pick up safely,” Allen says.

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Amazon’s Latest Alexa Devices Ready To Extend Company’s Reach Into Your Home

‘Kids today will grow up never knowing a day when they couldn’t talk to their houses,’ says executive in charge of Echo devices at launch

This article titled “Amazon’s latest Alexa devices ready to extend company’s reach into your home” was written by Mark Harris, for The Guardian on Wednesday 27th September 2017 20.34 UTC

Amazon, hoping to replicate the success of its Echo device, is poised to extend its eyes and ears into every part of your life with the launch of new voice-controlled and camera-equipped Alexa devices designed for bedrooms, living rooms and even your car.

“Voice control in the home will be ubiquitous,” predicted David Limp, an Amazon senior vice-president who is in charge of the Echo devices, at an event in Seattle on Wednesday. “Kids today will grow up never knowing a day they couldn’t talk to their houses.”

The Echo has been Amazon’s surprise hit in the three years since it launched, finding its way into tens of millions of kitchens around the world, offering internet radio, timers, weather and news reports and voice calls. Now Amazon will start selling a smaller, cheaper version of the original Echo, with fabric and wood veneers, as well a new flagship device called the Echo Plus that promises to work instantly with dozens of smart home devices, such as locks, lights and electric sockets.

“Setting up your smart home is still just too hard,” Limp said. “It can take up to 15 steps to do something as simple as set up a lightbulb.”

Amazon’s vision is of homes with Echo devices in every room, listening to every word you say. A new Fire TV media device adds voice control over streaming TV and movie services like Amazon’s own Prime video, Netflix and others.

Amazon’s vision is of homes with Echo devices in every room, listening to every word you say. Photograph: Amazon

One of the cutest new products was the Echo Spot, a spherical bedside device that can act as a smart alarm clock and videophone. It can also trigger a sequence of smart home actions, such as reading the morning’s traffic report, opening curtains and turning a kettle on.

“For Amazon, hardware is a means to drive more consumption, be it media or washing powder. Software, developer and hardware announcements are all designed to deepen Amazon’s role in our daily lives,” said Geoff Blaber of CCS Insight, a market intelligence company.

Amazon devices in the US can now also place free voice calls to landlines and mobile phones nationwide – a step showing that Amazon is trying to muscle in on communications, an area in which it failed spectacularly with the flop of a Fire smartphone, complete with a 3D screen, in 2014.

Perhaps the tech giant will have more luck in the increasingly connected automotive world. Limp also announced that Alexa would come built in to some BMW and Mini cars beginning next summer, allowing drivers to control music, get weather or news updates, and even order a pizza from behind the wheel.

There will undoubtedly be backlash against pushing Amazon’s voice technologies into every part of consumers’ lives. After publication of this article, the company said in a statement: “Our goal is to make Alexa available in as many places as possible so that customers have the choice.”

Its Echo Show device, which has a 7in screen built in and goes on sale in the UK on Wednesday, can connect to multiple cameras, linked to doorbells and locks or baby monitors. Amazon also launched standalone accessories called Buttons that can be used for family games.

The company has opened up its Alexa technology to other manufacturers, and expects to see a wave of new voice-controlled kitchen appliances, entertainment gear and toys coming soon.

“We don’t think of Echo as a consumer electronics device,” said Limp. “It’s a service that we’re constantly trying to improve. We learn what our customers like, and would like to do better.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.


David Limp displays a new Echo, left, and an Echo Plus. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

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What Black Friday John Lewis deals you should look out for and how to make your choice

What deals will there be?

It’s too early to tell exactly which items will be discounted and by how much, but it’s likely that the retailer will slash prices on items similar to those which proved popular last year: homeware, electricals and fashion.

In terms of how much items will be discounted, we can take a look at some of the deals that were available last year to get a sense. A Sophie Conran 12-piece table set, for example, was available for 40 per cent less than the original price. A Sonos PLAY:1 smart speaker in black was down to £139 from £169, and a must-have KitchenAid 150 stand mixer was down to £299.95 from £449.95 (a save of £150).

Fashion was popular too, with best sellers including Ted Baker and Michael Kors in women’s accessories, Barbour in menswear and womenswear, and Calvin Klein pyjamas and lingerie.

There were even better deals to be had on televisions, including a £250 save on a Samsung UE4)kU6020 HDR 4K Ultra HD smart TV, 40″ with freeview HD, Playstation Now and PurColour.

Get ready for the big day

The key to bagging the best bargain when Black Friday arrives is to have a clear wish list and budget. Decide on which items you want, how much you are prepared to pay for them, and why they are right for you.

If you fancy sprucing up your wardrobe at John Lewis, check out their size guides for menswear and womenswear, which account for both casual and formal dress, as well as specifics such as men’s jeans and lingerie so you don’t have to spend time faffing around with sizing on the day.

How to choose a TV

When choosing a new TV, it’s important to consider the screen size. John Lewis stock TVs from 22″ to 75″, and recommend an ideal ‘viewing distance’ of 1.5 times the size of the screen.

Consider the size of your living room and don’t be afraid of getting the tape measure out to measure how far you are likely to be sitting in relation to the screen.

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‘Battle Chef Brigade’ Seems a Delicious Gumbo of Game Genres

Battle Chef Brigade is a uniquely appetizing gaming creation; an amalgam of genres and inspiration that combine to become an experience better than its parts.

In shaping the cooking, puzzle, hunting, foraging role-playing, combat, platforming game, its developers looked to shows like Chopped and Iron Chef and games like Monster Hunter and Bejeweled for inspiration.

But that was just the beginning, what started the three-person studio down the path of Battle Chef Brigade in 2013.

“We spent about a year and a half prototyping making cooking fun,” said Tom Eastman, president of Trinket Studios. “Then we ran out of money.”

So the team turned to Kickstarter in 2014, ultimately raising $100,000 to help wrap up the game.

Dish
The trio knew they wanted to make a cooking game combined with the need to gather your own ingredients by hunting in platformer-fueled combat sections of the title. They knew they wanted players to have to create dishes for judges using those ingredients to win contests. But the initial hang-up was how to turn the creation process, the cooking, into a game.

During those early prototyping days, whenever the team would run into a brickwall, they’d go to a restaurant and just stare at their food, trying to figure out how a person would categorize what they were eating.

“We had a lot of design debates about the difference between a quiche and a pie and a pizza,” Eastman said. “We even did some team cooking events.”

Eventually, they realized they needed to get away from the categorization problem because it was, Eastman says, “horrible” and led directly into unanswerable debats over things like whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

Next they tried leaning into a game that had a sort of chemistry focus. Ultimately, though, they decided that was too complex for what they were trying to do, Eastman says, adding that there’s still a good game in there somewhere.

Instead, the team ended up with something that abstracts cooking down to a process that is understandable to the players and the in-game judges. It doesn’t deliver the reality of cooking, but instead focuses on the feel of cooking.

“You experience the rush of making a dish and serving it,” Eastman says. “You’re using multiple types of cookware, determining pots and pans, then choosing your ingredients to see what fits together.”

As the game progresses, things get increasingly complex.

“You get bones and sauces and poisons and chopping,” he says.

Amuse Bouche
During a short demo of the game at the Rolling Stone offices, I had a chance to try out the easiest challenges in the game. There is a story ingrained into the game, but it’s all held together by two core sorts of gameplay: the action combat of hunting for ingredients and the puzzle solving of cooking.

After learning the basic moves and concepts between both sorts of play, I visited a nearby town to challenge a chef to a cook-off.

In this early challenge, a single judge told us what main ingredient we needed in our dish and what sort of flavors he personally enjoys.

Next, I left the kitchen to go on the hunt for ingredients. I was looking for a massive over-sized boar for my main ingredient and then had to figure out what sorts of other things I might want to include in my dish. There is no recipe, but animals and vegetables show me what sorts of things they drop, clueing me into what would best go together and best match the tastes of the judge. In this case, the judge likes fiery food.

Gathering has me making my way across a platform-like level, looking for animals and attacking them with physical and magical attacks. The creatures can attack back, they can even kill me. Once I kill the creatures, or break loose vegetables, I can pick up the items, they drop for use in my culinary creations. In the case of my young chef, I needed to go back to the kitchen a couple of times, dropping off ingredients, and then return to the hunt to gather more items.

The cooking involves choosing ingredients and dropping them into your pot. When dropped into the pot, ingredients are converted into a mix of colored bubbles and the game essentially becomes a sort of match-three game. Stirring the pot allows you to rotate the bubbles in an attempt to line up three of a kind. Once you find a match, the three combine to become one bubble of a stronger version of that color. This allows you to drop more ingredients in your pot and increase the score, or taste, of your dish.

The game is already made slightly complex by the need to both introduce that key ingredient and sort of flavor, but things get much more complex as the game progresses.

Soon, you’re having to please three chef judges with varying tastes, making multiple dishes, using cutting boards to change the type of bubbles you have, sauces to change their colors and ovens to pre-cook ingredients to make them more powerful.

And, sticking to the driving force behind all cooking shows, there’s a timer. Even on the easiest level, trying to appease, get a high taste score and do it all under a time limit, can be a challenge. But it’s fun and, as the developers aimed for, rewarding when you succeed.

Going Vegan
If a player wants to make things more challenging for themselves, they can try to approach the cook-offs in different ways. For instance, a player could in theory stick to vegan dishes and still win, Eastman says.

“You can even win without including the theme ingredient if you get high enough points,” he says. “But you would need to really change your load-out, make your cooking set-up a lot of better. Buy a lot of sauces to change gem colors.”

Each area of the game’s biomes has three vegetables or fruit as well as about five different monsters, each of which drops multiple items. Those items can be combined in a variety of ways to create any of the hundreds of slightly fantasized real-world dishes in the game.

To put all of those creations into the game, the trio hired a team of contracts to hunt down and create the recipes and create art for them.

One member of the studio would come up with a cuisine and some examples and then that would be sent to a contractor who would find reference images and then pass it along to a second contractor who would create the art and name for the dish.

In play, a final dish’s image is based on the first ingredient you drop in your pot. Then it can get a particle effect and dominate flavor based on other ingredients. Finally, you can modify your creation in a number of ways.

That attention to detail helps drive the immersion of the game and has even led to some people recreating the fantasy dishes in real life.

Pixelated Provisions, for instance, has recreated a number of the in-game dishes in the real world, providing not just images of the dish in the real world, but a receipe for creating it.

The game is set for a release on Windows PC and Nintendo Switch later this year and the team is already talking about ways they may extend the game through extra, downloadable content.

“We’ve joked about our first piece of DLC being called Just Deserts,” Eastman says.

They’ve also talked about introducing new food through food-themed events in the game, like a Fourth of July celebration in a town that adds hot dogs.

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Fiesta to Retire Tangerine, Claret

It’s out with the old in with the new.  Fiesta Dinnerware will retire two colors: Tangerine and Claret, to make room for its new color that will be revealed on Jan. 9, the first day of Atlanta International Gift Home Furnishings Market.

Fiesta Dinnerware, the colorful and iconic Made in USA tableware brand, will be exhibiting in Keystone Marketing’s expanded showroom Building 2 #901A on the 9th floor.

Retired pieces include:  Medium Mixing Bowl,  Beverage Server,  Square Handled Tray , 3 Tier Server , Neutral Color Set of 5pc Entertaining Set , Cake Plate Server , Solid Color Pack of Baking/Prep Bowl Set, 2pc; and Solid Color Pack of Baking Bowl Set, 3pc.

Retailers can order Tangerine and Claret until Dec. 31, for delivery by March 1. On March 31, Fiesta will add Tangerine and Claret to the “inactive availability” list of colors.

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