Photography, Social media and the sharing experiment
Months later I know but I’m back into blogging, twitter and all that shenanigans.
This entry is mostly related to photography and how addictive the sharing and over posting for the sake of just being in social media/internet and even though I usually give my opinion on architectural spaces and interior or graphic design; lately photography has been taking a more important and constant role in what I do every day, specially where point and shoot cameras are now outdated and a smartphone with amazing megapixel coverage it’s a must have.
I hate to break this to you, but that brunch photo of brioche French toast with bacon marmalade you just posted on Instagram? It’s not very good. It’s so terrible, in fact, that we can’t be friends anymore.
Just kidding. (a little) To be fair, I’m as guilty as anyone of posting underexposed, soulless photos of my meals online. The main reason I do it is when I like the logo, color or composition of something but to take that unimaginative Pub Burger or a boring pint of lukewarm beer from a random brewery. Or… well, you get the point, might not be worth it.
All these awful photos aren’t a bad thing, necessarily. Oversharing isn’t a disease exclusive to a generation raised with phones in their hands, no matter what the NY times says. Instagram, Facebook, email, and texting were all born out of a perfectly natural human desire to tell our friends what we’ve been up to.
This isn’t to say we’re not annoying from time to time. We are. I know I am, at least when I go on a Pinterest rampage.
According to The New York Times, a few noted chefs have grown fed up with overzealous foodies and are beginning to crack down where they have even instituted policies banning food photography altogether. Some people are arrogant about it and some people just don’t care.
Not all is lost. There is a way to share your gastronomic adventures with the world at large with etiquette, decency, and yes, maybe even an artful touch or two. Have your Instagram feed like a pro without annoying the other restaurant-goers around you. Don’t make a production out of it. Be as discreet as possible. Don’t stretch across the table. Try not to stand. And don’t, under any circumstances, use flash.
This applies not only to food but spaces, people or even pets. Limit yourself to stuff that is “funky looking or in some weird lighting, and obviously be selective.
The best part about Instagram is that it non-intrusively gives you a window into worlds outside your immediate social circle. Learn from folks who know what they’re doing. Try giving these cool photographers a follow: Noah Fecks @noahfecksphoto , John Johnson @johnjohnson and Linda Miller @saltyseattle
But what does this have to do with the sharing experience and an addiction to the digital world? I believe that intermittent reinforcement — in the form of texts, tweets, and various other social media — may be working on our brains the same way chocolate does. We have an interior reward for sharing it with the world.
"Media addiction is the same as any other addiction — excessive release of dopamine," Still, the new wave of young internet addicts ( my 3 year old nephew for example ) might be holding something sinister for future generations: We’ve all seen the ease at which a toddler can operate an iPhone or iPad. These days, maybe kids are just born addicted to the internet.
Either way in my opinion, we need to find a balance to actually go out and enjoy the moments of life happening every second and just a small sprinkle of sharing special things with the people you like.
That’s just me though…not hating on the people that overshare; but then again, don’t look at me funny when I ask how was your beach vacation and all of the sudden I’m the stalker in the story…#exactly
Let’s start with a quick quiz, shall we?
I get it.
If you looked at my little studio this very moment, you might not think that I get it. But underneath all that cardboard, and the tracing paper stuff, you would find a baseline level of organization; so yeah, I kinda sorta get it.
I have the ribbon caddy, a book system, and a jar for cotton balls/clips and things I find. My crafty materials and movies are in order, and at least I know where to find the scissors.
3 years ago, that was fine.
It’s 2012 and suddenly, fine doesn’t cut it anymore.
Organized is the new rich. Or tan. Or maybe the new skinny. However you look at it, we want to be organized, and we want it bad. We’re no longer satisfied with knowing where stuff is, we’re looking for a new level of in-your-face, extreme organization that will make us the envy of our friends. We want our clutter so creatively and lovingly contained it ceases to be junk, and become treasure. We want every last possession in a basket, a tub, a bin, a repurposed bucket, or a mason jar – which I found out this weekend It used to be ghetto until Martha Stewart made it a chic thing to have - and there should be no rest until it is done.
We are a people out of control.
I especially get caught up in this after reading any article with “five easy steps to decluttering your way to a carefree life.” If I really wanted to be clever, says the Associate Editor of Clutter Control, I’d store my pony tail holders on a toilet paper tube. Heaven forbid, I just set the rubber band on my dresser, where I can pick it up again when I need it. “It needs to be on a TUBE!”
So this is how it goes: I get inspired and put my design books in one side , and recipes books go over there. Sewing stuff goes in this box, and architect’s movies go in that one. I nod to myself, knowing it will only be a week until I return to being satisfied with just keeping Mack from eating rocks and dinner ready, until the next time I read an article and try to find a new system for storing paper clips in a beautiful way.
But then something happened to turn that happy cycle on its ear…Pinterest.
I asked someone at brunch this past weekend how she liked the booming site. “It’s a great way to collect everything you want to do or try or buy, or cook. But it’s depressing. I’ll never make that stuff.”
“Hmph, well I don’t want any of that,” I told her. The last thing I needed was to try to organize the Internet.
Two days later, I got an invite.
Part of any organized person’s strategy is the list keeping. Through the years I’ve kept track of to-dos, to-buys, and to-think-abouts. When I was a kid I had lists of toys I owned, people I knew, and capitals that I could remember without looking at a map. (Will never forget Mozambique,Maputo.)
Now, with Pinterest, the list making is visual and easy, and there’s the fun social aspect of sharing ideas with your friends and glue gun toting strangers. It’s also immediately and dangerously addictive. It will likely suck you in and spit you out, bleary eyed and overwhelmed by clothes you don’t have, projects you won’t do, recipes you won’t make, houses you will never live in and organization systems you will fail at. It’s also by far the most convenient way I’ve found to combine sloth AND envy.
“What is THAT?” asked David as he looked over my shoulder to find three photos of repurposed picnic blankets, two of cupcakes, three pretty necklaces, six pieces of furniture, a quiche, a DIY Summer Wreath, a DIY confetti lantern, a pair of boots, and a romantic black and white photo of New York City.
“Pinterest. It’s a way to organize projects, recipes, design ideas…”
“See, what you do is create your pin boards, then you categorize them, so you can organize your….”
“Wait, see, this one is just for garden. This one’s dedicated just to mid century modern design, this one’s for photography, this one’s for letterpress,”
“Gordita, I love you, but I can’t even pretend to be interested in this.”
We’ve been married for 2 years and known him for 12, so he can say that. I sure hope he can say that, because that’s what I say when he changes the channel to ESPN and I announce I’m starting a new book on my Nook.
Keep in mind, this is the same guy who, when I am in an organizing frenzy, comes up with this sage advice:
“How about we just have less stuff?” #fail
#FoodtruckFriday in Charlotte
The idea of food from a truck might make some people squeamish. Not me! Being Mexican, this is really common back in my country and who doesn’t love unique street food? This past Friday I had a black bean burger from the Herban Legend…I died and went to heaven.
Food trucks are definitely on the rise. It’s becoming evident as more and more people show up at weekly food truck rallies held around town like South end, NoDa or Ballantyne. Maki taco, Goody Woody’s, The Herban Legend, The Tin Kitchen, and Sticks and Cones Ice are some of them.
A few cities around the country may be starting to see a backlash by brick-and-mortar restaurants against the mobile kitchens that have proliferated in a brutal economy. Every dollar counts these days, and a party of six eating gourmet hot-dogs or curry goat from a come-and-go curbside truck cuts into the income an established restaurateur needs to pay for everything from linens to dishwashers to rent itself.
But many savvy entrepreneurs see the trend as a win-win situation. Anthony Bourdain wannabes can get a relatively low-budget start on the street and build a reputation for a future-bigger restaurant. And if imitation is the most trustworthy form of flattery, this is an even busier two-way street. More and more restaurateurs are starting to take their food on the road, validating the whole concept, while curbside cooks are increasingly opening restaurants without giving up on their first ventures like the Harvest Moon Grille.
Architecturally speaking, the whole movement isn’t just the fusion food menus (maki tacos, veggie-flautas, etc). It’s how crucial the context of the city’s design traditions — from billboards and murals to the common market shared space — has been in defining the sensibility of the food truck scene by informing the physical appearance of the trucks themselves. Brightly colored, strikingly patterned, aggressively logoed and sometimes gaudily accessorized by largely amateur designers, they’ve become icons of the cityscape, a fleet of optimistic small-business people, each attempting to make a micro branded go of it, the still-sluggish economy be damned.
The beauty of it all is activating these public spaces that are so under-utilized and so underappreciated and I definitely did not see people complaining about waiting in line. They are standing in line, talking to friends, in outdoor spaces giving us a moment to actually interact.
But what really matters is the food, and these food trucks deliver. Parmesan truffle french fries from the Herban Legend anybody? How about a fried taco from Woody’s truck? These are not the typical foods one would expect from a food truck, and they do not disappoint.
One last thing…it’s easier to find them in twitter! @cltfoodtrucks @herban_legend @goodywoods @southerncake @sticksandcones ,etc!
Bike in the street © Image Source/Corbis
Bicycles and MicroHoods In the Queen City:
Right now I’m not as immersed in the Bicycle Diaries by David Barnes as I would like to and the lack of time is the reason to blame, I know, I’m a little behind the curve, but the small parts I’ve read makes me want to visit all these cosmopolitan cities, not have kids ever, spend the money traveling and all of this with a two seat bike for the Hubby and a front basket for our hipster dog Mack. The book follows the author through his travels on two wheels and the observations he’s made about people, transportation and also the places we live along the way which is only part of the trifecta influencing my obsession.
I’m coming up on my second-year anniversary of moving to Charlotte (meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, my mom is crying). And I want to find bike-able spots so I can learn about the city in a different way.
I am dying to move closer to uptown even though prices are four times more expensive than non-uptown areas. I love the fact that the uptown neighborhoods all have their own unique personalities, and yet are so easy to move in between. Not quite as easy as jumping on the subway in NY and go to the East Village but I can definitely walk, take a ride on my bike and have a different experience each time.
Due to large space that the “concrete arteries” take ,(a.k.a. highways) that were created to connect places but have latently made them more alienated, it seems easy to look past or drive by the “hidden gems” neighborhoods that boast their own cultures throughout other cities in the country. To attract people to these unique ‘hoods, a lot of places and museums have launched series of events where the spot’s shops stay open late, offer drinks and discounts with the hope of gaining some loyal visitors. One great recent example could be the Bechtler Museum and their outdoors Jazz concerts or the Architecture + Film that happen once a month.
The most upcoming microhood I’ve seen is in the Queens Road area, once overlooked as the stretch between Providence Road and S Kings Drive; Middleton Dr. is quietly becoming a destination unto itself: at least on my book, old housing turned into bars, delicious but not pretentious Italian restaurants like Zio, impeccable midcentury houses, beautiful landscape along with locally-made vintage feel. Hopefully I’ll find many of those in the weekend to come.
For those who don’t know; *micro · hood - n. A piece of a neighborhood, perhaps only a block or two large, so glorious that it deserves its own name…or as I would say: amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!
Could urban design make us healthier?
Image from Corbis.com © Ed Snowshoe/Corbis
When I moved to the US almost 2 years ago, I was surprised of all the costly implications of having health insurance in comparison to Mexico. Healthcare is one thing; health is another. Talking about health means addressing the way we live, work, consume; it’s always about prevention rather than treatment and If we really wanted to minimize the cost of healthcare, prevention is the answer.
The routine when our parents used to take the walk of getting to work is over. The number of jobs requiring even moderate physical activity is declining, and this may be a significant contributor to rising obesity and diabetes rates. And it’s an issue for productivity at least in the corporate world: A healthy worker is significantly more productive than an unhealthy one and that’s probably the reason some places even offer incentives to lose weight…better health and less money they would need to spend on your healthcare!
But the workplace is just one component, a big one, of the many spaces in which we spend our lives and that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. As the trend toward urban living increases, particularly for the knowledge workers populating those sedentary desk jobs, the way we design and inhabit our cities will matter more. I believe cities can make us healthier. But there’s a big gap between can and will, and closing that gap will be an ongoing battle for many years to come.
Urban living can help us get out of our cars onto a variety of transportation modes that are both healthier and more sustainable. Increasing the number of people walking and biking may have serious public health benefits, and the density and variety of the urban landscape only makes these easier to achieve.
But there’s also a lot of work to do. In the U.S., many of the communities built in the past 50 years have regressed, specially tiny little “1 road towns” similar to what we saw in the movie Cars by Pixar. Cities designed and built around the car have taken the bikes and pedestrians out of many of our communities, creating places that add to our problems rather than subtract. A culture built around freedom and independence has internalized these car-centric places where the typical idea of the American Dream as I understand it involves some sort of single-family, 2 car garage home with a blue picket fence and a politician sign against amendment 8 out front. And as other countries pursue economic growth, and the follow-on urbanization, many have emulated the failed approach for suburbs living and extending the problem globally.
It doesn’t help that the positive examples magazines and well know architects and even regular people (including myself) often point to come from a standard list of Global Cities; New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco… that are far removed from the cultural reality of many of the places where this problem is most pressing.
Maybe our obsession with the car will fade as generations change. Seizing on this opportunity will require making all our communities healthier, not just the standard famous cities. It will require new approaches to public transportation, new development strategies that promote in-fill over suburb sprawl and cultural changes that idolize different forms of living and transportation.
Personally, I’m optimistic. My hubby got me an awesome bike for xmas and I think the trend away from car ownership is here to stay and that creative design and development solutions can help recreate more of our cities into just these places. No wonder we are still trying to move to Uptown Charlotte…
TO LOFT OR NOT TO LOFT
The other day we visited one of my husband’s friend while browsing near the Dilworth area here in Charlotte; we were having a drink at a new place called the World of beer and it seemed to be one of the areas we like from the city; close to uptown, parks, the lightrail and some shops / entertainment.
He recently moved to a new place and wanted to show us his new bachelor pad…surprisingly it turned out to be a loft in a building I would have never guessed.
Even though the place was in a great location and with a lot of open space, when we left, my husband asked me what I thought about it and all I could think was: so much darkness! Large windows where present but since it seems to be a 1950’s building with brick veneer exterior, (this used to be an industrial place and most likely a textile factory)…the windows had tinted glass… epic FAIL. All the lights had to be on and it was 3:30 in the afternoon!
To compare this event, I found a project by DHD Architecture, The Mercer Street Loft in Soho.
As always the problem was how to get light in because of the low ceilings. Their answer was glass. Large windows stretch the length of the living room, bedroom and office walls, all of which face a central living area, allowing natural light to illuminate the apartment. The most interesting part is a partial height feature wall serving a dual purpose: creating a subtle but distinct transition from public to private and bringing natural light and air into the private spaces.
I feel that a lot of times things end up being a bit too baroque in old buildings, a Prada vs. Versace situation, Prada always wins in my book; an international elegance and very subtle. The design marries classic historical elements with clean modern elements, retaining original details and celebrating imperfections. These include tin ceilings, stripped cast iron columns, original floors and window casings. Also certain elements give it a finishing touch of hipster and eclectic based on found objects from garage sales.
In my opinion, many people would consider the abundance of open space to be a luxury though others might not even know what to do with so much freedom.
It’s like a nest within the nest, a house within the house. I must say though, since this loft is in Soho, I wouldn’t mind living in just that magnificent bathroom!
Budget Vs. Design
The P13 project by Gut Gut Architects in Bratislava came to my attention yesterday after browsing smalls projects online and it immediately caught my eye since we (hubby and me) are currently looking for a new place to live.
The main difference I noticed with similar houses was that this is a renovation but not in the complete sense of the idea that we generate when we first hear that word and it’s implications : costly, time consuming and specialized.
Instead it gave me a feeling of cozy and open space. With exposed brick walls and undulating concrete vaults, the rough-unfinished charm is accomplished.
To my surprise, one of my favorite items in the whole house, turned out to be a hacked Ikea cabinet system( and I do LOVE Ikea). It sets the aesthetic tone between the kitchen and the bathroom becoming an spectacular partition for several uses, with the help of translucent glass it becomes a 3 in 1 furniture piece; separates the space in the dining room, letting light into the bathroom, and backing bookshelves/culinary storage made from plywood.
If I only knew where he found that FANTASTIC kitchen cabinetry in Aqua( fav color)…then my day would be done…until then I’ll keep on looking!
Lack of space and money to spend
That wasn’t the only problem with the 635-square-foot space the owner bought for about $400,000…a good deal for central Paris in a strong market, even though you could easily buy a mansion with pool included in Mexico.
The apartment was a cramped, grubby little rabbit warren with six rooms, six doors, and lots of pointy corners.
Due to noisy traffic, these properties have become more sought after than their grand street-facing buildings.
Vinciguerra (owner) moved in in June 2008, having spent $100,000 on the renovation.
Sometimes great spaces require more than just vision…Cash money is the answer!
Distinctive and evocative brewery packaging that is equal parts World War II bomber names, gasket seals, pinup art, kustom kulture, metallic inks and, oh yeah, beer. Like revenge, it is best served cold. I don’t like beer but my husband does and it’s my only way to pick beer for him: amazing package design.