When working with clients to select art that is unique to their homes, I frequently suggest groupings of family photos. The beauty of this approach is that it can be built upon over the years and can create a very personal timeline and story reflecting memorable moments, growth, and change. It's truly personalized art that can be edited and adapted as much or as little as clients like.
I often recommend that clients organize photos into public and private groupings. Public groupings include photos that one wishes to share with everyone (extended family, visitors, and guests), and might be hung in an entry way, kitchen, stairway, or family room, and often remind visitors of fun holiday get togethers and special occasions such as birthdays or graduation celebrations. Historic family photos are often included in these arrangements, making great conversation pieces as well as nice remembrances of days gone by.
Private photo groupings feature cherished photos that remind one of a very special and personal family moment, possibly as part of the decor of a master bedroom, upstairs hallway, or home office. These often include wedding photos, baby photos, and vacation photos.
When it comes to color vs. black and white, both can result in very nice arrangements. I generally keep the grouping consistent, by using all color photos or all black and white photos in a single grouping. Frames can be varied to avoid giving the impression that the photos were all framed at the same time or that the frames came from the same place. Antiqued frames can be successfully mixed with more contemporary frames to keep the look a bit eclectic. In fact, collecting antique or vintage frames can become a fun and inexpensive hobby.
Another fun way to create personalized art is to frame kids' school projects - from preschool on up through high school. It's amazing how great a framed art project or craft can look, and it's a great way to create a permanent keepsake. Framing recent "works of art" or going back through old school projects can be a fun way to compliment kids' creativity and originality, and to encourage new works as well!
For many interior design and architecture students and professionals, books by Francis D. Ching have proven to be extremely useful resources. His Design Drawing and Building Construction Illustrated are often required or recommended reading material for design students.
Ching's illustrations, descriptions and discussions on the topic of drawing basics in Design Drawing
reflect an ease and simplicity that certainly gave me confidence in my own sketches and drawings, and his coverage of building construction provides a common sense and practical overview of building technology, emphasizing that one must be familiar with construction practices before one can actually design something that would be feasible or buildable.
One of the first books required as part of my four-year interior design studies at Cornell was Ching's Building Construction Illustrated which emphasized the important relationships between construction, technology, and design.
Ching's books have been updated over the years to reflect changes and advances in sustainable practices, building technology, building code, and in CAD software applications. A number of Ching's books are available with a companion CD-ROM which adds three dimensional demonstrations and applications of the material covered in the books. The timelessness of his drawings and written content keep the material fresh and relevant.
Other Ching classics, Architecture: Form, Space and Order and A Visual Dictionary of Architecture present invaluable written and visual information regarding the vocabulary and elements of architecture and design. These books offer budding architecture and design students, as well as practicing professionals, a review of the fundamental principles of architecture, and describe the relationships between components of building, architecture, and design.
The books I've listed are but a few of his works.
Francis Ching is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington's Department of Architecture. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame in 1966, and began his teaching career in 1972 at Ohio University. Mr. Ching has taught at the University of Washington for the past 20 years, teaching design studio and drawing courses. Here's his profile
I came across the Genuine Stone website
recently, a very nicely done website indeed - one that's owned by the Natural Stone Council, a collaboration between various business and trade associations that wish to promote natural stone for commercial and residential design and construction.
On its website, the council bills natural stone as an earth-friendly alternative to competing materials. But as with most everything when it comes to environmental sustainability, there are pros and cons to using natural stone products.
Let me first say that I absolutely LOVE granite and other natural stone surfaces!
While I marvel at the wonderful variety of options offered by all of the different types of natural stone and am amazed and inspired by the beauty of travertines and limestone, river bed granites, fossilized stone, and other natural stone products, I'm also greatly concerned about the environmental and local impact of granite mining around the world.
Once stone is in place, it's durability and permanent beauty is very evident. Just think of all of the enduring monuments and buildings throughout the world that are made of stone. With regard to permanence, stone is very sustainable. However, while the mining industry has made improvements in recent years, the mining and transportation of stone is generally not very environmentally friendly at all.
Issues include heavy water consumption, what happens to the mining site once the natural resources have been extracted from it, radon and other gaseous byproducts, and the use of heavy equipment for mining, processing and transportation.
One way to minimize the impact upon the environment when using natural stone is to use locally mined products. Not only does doing so minimize the impacts associated with transportation of the materials, but it also helps the local economy.
Another is to purchase products that come from mines where environmentally friendly practices are used. For example, refer to this Green Building Matters blog page
for an interesting and thoughtful discussion regarding the Cold Spring Granite mine in Minnesota and some of things Cold Spring is doing to minimize the impact upon our planet.