Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Lucky me

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

There are days when I am hit with extraordinary gratitude at the life I am able to lead. Today is one of them. While battling the curse of the blinking cursor on a blank page, I realized, I have a wonderful life.

Purple sage. Captured while on a mini-hike on a Friday morning. by: Carren Jao
I'm currently working on stories that have taken me to Agoura Hills, where big cats roam and the air is soaked with the smell of salt from the sea, then eastward to El Sereno, on the border of Alhambra.

I was asked a few days ago by someone from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, "What's your favorite part of Los Angeles?" The true answer is that it changes every day. Pockets of this region surface like magic and I find myself falling in love all over again. Lucky, lucky me, to be able to live and work in this city and all its hidden gems.


King King's freewheeling dance floor

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I love to dance, but one of the first exposures I had to Los Angeles was the pretentiousness of the Hollywood dance floor. Women dressed in tight dresses you could hardly move in. Men on the move. Everyone's eyes looking afar, as if waiting for something exciting to happen. I hated it all.

But, I soon found that not all Hollywood dance floors are created alike. Every third monday of the month, just like this April 20th, King King in Hollywood becomes a haven for dance professionals and enthusiasts wanting to just let loose. Gone is the self-conscious atmosphere I abhor and instead it's replaced by a welcoming, experimental vibe.

As Rachel Levin writes for the Los Angeles Times: the Floor, a unique multi-genre dance night held every third Monday at Hollywood's King King, anything's possible (except, perhaps, the sprinkler). Because it attracts professional dancers and dance enthusiasts from all over the stylistic map, you're just as likely to glimpse a swing dance couple sweeping through the circle with flips and aerials as a pair of tango dancers gliding across in a sultry embrace, or a tap dancer banging out a jazzy freestyle duet with the band's saxophonist.
Everyone has a little something to share, from all genres of dance and it comes together in such a beautiful, organic way. Here's a glimpse:

These few clips fail to do justice to the night. They mostly show one or two dancers and their moves, but in reality, many circles form, each with dancers just looking to have some fun.

So, if you're in the mood to dance, but don't want to don skyscraper heels and tight skirts, here's where I suggest you go. The party starts pretty late, so don't enter too early!


Filipino street food inspired wares

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

My childhood in Manila is filled with happy memories of buying cheap food from the streets. After classes, I would look forward to buying a small cup of taho, a sweet tofu dish, from the street vendor. Fish balls on sticks or homemade cheese ice cream were just the ticket to fix my munchies.

This happy association would explain my elation when I came across artist Meggy de Guzman's ceramic edition of street food dishware. de Guzman uses bone china to create her quote-unquote dirty ice cream cups, styro cups and paper plates. Her choice of material elevates the dishware, yet its form continues to embody those youthful moments of happiness.

What a way to hold onto the past :)

The dirty ice cream set. All of it is made from bone china. According to de Guzman, it also " works for taho, coffee, juice, gin, vodka, whisky..."


Nothing is too small to inspire devotion

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

What can be more pedestrian as carpet, something you literally walk all over, every day. Designers may aspire to erect buildings or monuments, but the reality is that everything can aspire to something greater.

Just look at the case of the late, great Portland Airport carpet, which is currently being torn apart and replaced with a supposedly more modern counterpart.

The old PDX carpet via Jonathan Simmons
In a great history done by Adam Clarke Estes of Gizmodo, the carpet's origins are as humble as you can imagine. Its design was created by SRG Partnership in the 80s. The firm took inspiration from X-shaped runways that can be seen from the control tower. The city's boom in the 90s invited more feet on the carpet. Even when the bubble burst, the city became a cheaper option than Seattle or San Francisco, turning it to a mecca for visual artists and designers--all of whom began to see the carpet hallmark for home.

Portland's popularity finally made another airport upgrade necessary. Officials never knew locals prized the carpet as much as it did, but once the announcement was made public, an outpouring of sadness and nostalgia expressed through InstagramFacebook, and Twitter surfaced. PDX nails, tattoos, shoes, beer, and even poetry.

PDX merchandising via @ursiday
If something like a carpet can be so loved, why not something as customarily overlooked as the project you're working on now?

Though the PDX carpet will live on in other products and endless homages, I'm sure, its greatest lesson for me is that there are no inconsequential undertaking. One only needs a little love and time.

With that, it's the weekend! TGIF guys. Hope you find a little inspiration this weekend.



Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Well, I did it! My husband and I finished the 5.5 mile route from North Hollywood to Studio City in the first-ever Ciclavia in the Valley.

I had my doubts at first, but the cool, cloudy weather and the constant flow of people through a usually intimidating street was enough to keep me going.

Over and over, I kept hearing people say, "This is amazing." I think, just like me, they're seeing the street in a new light. No longer is it a blackhole for machines that separate us from one another, but it's become a gathering place for people to enjoy.

Here's to more Ciclavias everywhere. :)

Walking with fellow pedestrians, Los Angeles Walks

I hardly ever pass through this Noho gate. 

Bumping into some familiar faces. Dan Koeppel of Big Parade LA!

Ventura Boulevard transformed!


Ciclavia comes to the Valley!

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Walking is such a different way of experiencing the city and one event that consistently allows people to re-imagine their urban space is CicLAvia. Now on their 12th edition, the now amazingly popular car-free event is finally, finally coming to the Valley!

Their website promises a lot of fun activities: nature walks, performances, art for adults and kids, but really we're all out there to get a little sun with our neighbors. As usual, the folks at CicLAvia took some time to do a little neighborhood guide to help residents and newcomers alike get oriented, but some enterprising cyclists have also taken the time to write a guide of their own, touting their favorite spots around the 5.5-mile route. Check them out here and here.

I often find myself getting off the North Hollywood red line station, but never realized it was the third most popular Metro stop. I also noticed this plaque to Firefighter Thomas G. Taylor, but never knew the sad story behind it.

If you're like me, you're already wondering, how do I get there? There are a couple of options, which Joe Linton breaks down at Streetsblog LA. If you plan to take the bus, they've come up with a handy visual to see bus rerouting maps here.

My best tip, bring water and have fun! Take your time and step into every cute little shop you see. They're sure to have something cooking.

We don't yet have awesome photos like those below, but by Sunday I hope we will!

CicLAvia - Heart of LA
By Serena Grace/Flickr

By KW/ Flickr

CicLAvia - Heart of LA
By Serena Grace/ Flickr


Kikkomans to Bullet Trains

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

A few days ago, I heard an obituary radio announcement. Japanese designer Kenji Ekuan has died. The name didn't mean anything to me then, but the announcer went on to explain that he designed everything from Kikkoman's red-topped bottles to Japan's bullet train. That extra information was jarring.

Kenji Ekuan via US News

As a writer, I know that design is everywhere, but here was a person who was able to work at all levels, from the smallest condiment containers to the largest people transporters. It's humbling to realize how much a mind can accomplish, if he dedicates himself to it.

Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan and his designs: the Narita Express, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, Yamaha VMAX and the Komachi bullet train Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Further research yielded other gems. Ekuan was a monk with a philosophical bent, who said, "Everything has a soul." He came to work every day in a green wheelchair he designed. He never married, saying instead that he was married to design.

Here's a great description of his impact over at the Independent.

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