Saturday, August 29, 2009

Color, Pattern & 3D Space

It has been an exhausting, yet exhilerating 2 weeks at TCU. The week before school started was filled with faculty meetings, receptions, dinners, orientation sessions and the like. I came away with an amazing sense of awe and respect for TCU as an institution. TCU has a heart and they are striving in an inspiring way toward a better future. The first week of school was more challenging but still inspiring. Of course there were the problems of getting everyone in their proper places, the forms & paperwork, and general upheaval that takes place at the start of every semester. But, I am excited about my new students. The freshman class is wide-eyed and anxious to learn. The sophomores are a bit more grounded, but seem just as enthusiastic about learning. My seniors are thoughtful in considering their future - anxious to enter the world and ready to set it straight with their knowledge and skills. And I am watching them all. Not as a passive observer of their efforts, but in the humbling goal of helping each of them succeed in the way I think is best. That is not an easy burden either. I don't have foreknowledge of what the future holds for any of us. But, I am confident that each of them will be led along a fascinating and adventurous path.
I have featured the work of 2 students from last fall. Many more in their class deserve recognition as well. So take a peak at what they have done. Applaud the efforts of everyone who seeks to learn and improve themselves - even in small steps.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer Ends

My son Alec starts the eighth grade on Monday. Did you notice his beautiful big brown eyes? Here he is with my Dad at a Fort Worth Cats Game a couple of summers ago. Summer is just about over for all of us. I begin teaching at TCU on Monday also. I have been working all day today revising my syllabi for class - I imagine my students will enjoy reading them just about as much as I enjoyed creating them. The university requires that we put so much into them to cover any imaginable situation, and we still experience situations that no one can foresee.

I look forward to working with my new students and continuing with last year's group. Each student is such a unique realization of nature, each packaged with their own talents and dreams. I see myself in a few of them - so anxious to enter the world and set it on fire. I only now realize how hard that fire is to set ablaze. I hope they each become inspired by some aspect of the design field, and continue to find inspiration - just like my own dreams that I still nourish. I also like to ponder my son Alec's dreams for his future. At the moment he wants to be one of the first explorers of Mars. He attended TAG (talented and gifted) this summer at SMU and earned 3 hours of college credit. I am so proud of the B he made in mechanical engineering as an 8th grader - what possiblities are available to this generation that weren't available to me???

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Mother's Dishes

When I was growing up on the far west side of Fort Worth, my mother's dishes weren't something that I gave much thought. Now, somewhere along the way, I have become a collector of mid-century modern dishes. Several years ago I was in Dishes from the Past on Montgomery Street and spotted a group of dishes that I fell in love with designed by Ben Seibel for Stubenville in the 1950's; Contempora in the color charcoal. They are almost black in amorphic shapes with rows of wiggly lines across the bodies. I continue to look for them whenever I can and search for them fairly regularly on ebay.
The synchronicity is that my mother's everyday dishes that I grew up with, and thought of as tired and old fashioned in my teens, I discovered were also designed by Ben Seibel. Seibel is now a sought after commodity among those who collect modern dinnerware. My mother was ahead of her time and I hadn't given her due credit. Her pattern was Bridal White, solid white, by Iroquois China. My mom passed away in 2003, but she still had a few of those original dishes in her cabinets.
I look on those dishes today with combined amazement and nostalgia. How could I have ever have considered them so pedestrian? The dishes are the same, but I have come full circle. They are fresh and hip once again, and I will continue to seek them and add to the partial set in Dad's kitchen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What I am Reading

I'm reading two books right now - each at a different pace. One is for recreation and the other for personal growth. I just finished Gone For Good by Harlan Coben and State of Fear by Michael Crichton. State of Fear was better, but Gone for Good was a quick read, a page-turner with lots of twists; good for the beach if you have the chance.
The first book that I am reading now is The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. Depending upon how well I like this one, I might read his The Poe Shadow. I like Poe's writings. So far, The Dante Club has been pretty gross; that's a word I used a lot in middle school, but it seems to be the best, most fitting word in this instance. The plot is beginning to become intriguing, though, after wading through the "gross" part. It is now becoming more about Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes and I like pondering about their intellectual capabilities and their lofty, classical educations. It is fascinating to envision them in the middle of a murder plot.
The time I spend reading the second book depends on my daily fancy, and I am reading it slowly and thoughtfully. It is about removing my own self-imposed mental blocks that prevent me from living my own life in balance. This one definitely takes more effort and thought, so I read it in small parcels, giving it time to sink in and mellow. I have dreamed of creating a balanced life for years. Creating one that isn't so lopsided in terms of work; one that allows me more time for friends, for exploring my own artistic pursuits, and enjoying the fruits of my labor. I love my work too much to abandon it - I can't imagine ever really retiring - but I think that I will spend some time and serious effort to design my life with as much care as I take in the design of an interior space that is for another person. Maybe some time reading at the beach . . . or better yet, Taos.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

L U X E Magazine

Watch for our latest project publication to appear in the pages of LUXE Magazine in October. We are very excited that one of our more traditionally designed residences will be featured in their upcoming fall issue. Even one of my own photographs is slotted for the article!!

Studio Salubre

Mike Shannon has begun a new business.

Most of you know that my husband Mike began a new career in 2001 after 27 years in his family's funeral business, Shannon Funeral Chapels. Mike returned to school and earned his Master of Architecture degree from University of Texas at Arlington. Now, after several years of working for retail and residential architecture firms, Mike has launched Studio Salubre LLC. His new firm will focus on the design of smaller, yet thoughtfully and intelligently designed sustainable residences that don't sacrifice aesthetic appeal.

Both, Mike and I believe in the impact of good design; that the integration of beauty and function doesn't mean large and expensive. Small is often more human in scale and intimacy, and it allows for higher quality in the finishing touches. Design sophistication is just as important in a modestly scaled building.

Watch for more news about our new venture - and perhaps we will even offer sustainable luxury home products, too!!

Fallingwater 2009

Mike and I (Gayla) just returned from Frank Lloyd Wright's seminal house Fallingwater. We were in residence at a nearby summer house on the High Meadow adjacent to the Fallingwater grounds. We always come back inspired - and this time was no exception. I am full of ideas to use in my TCU courses.

I have been working hard all summer - along with our professional interior design projects - in preparation for the fall semester at TCU. I am very excited about starting my full time position as an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in interior design!!

Fallingwater is a very inspiring place. While Wright's personal life and character may be less than stellar, I admire and respond to his architecture in many ways. He was a master at influencing behavior and creating positive experiences within space.
We had the opportunity to act as teaching assistants for two sessions of the high school residency offered by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. We worked with two outstanding architects/educators; Aron Tempkin of Florida Atlantic University and Peter Goldstein of Skyline High School in Dallas.