Illusions, No. 2

The impulse to challenge users and viewers has long been at the heart of trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) projects. When the eye sees something, the body believes it.

Two-dimensional patterns (made with tiles, carpet, paint, or…..) can create the optical illusion of three dimensionality.

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In the pattern above, do you see stacked cubes with white tops? Or white bottoms?  Does the image change back and forth for you?

pattern 7

Here, the colors are rearranged. Is the white surface the top, right, left, or bottom of the cube?

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Does this pattern look flat or 3-D? Do you see square holes or pyramids?

Pattern 2

Is this arrangement actually possible in three dimensions?

L Accademia

This sketch of the floor pattern at the Accademia Museum in Venice shows square “recesses” in the medallion on the right, anchored in a flat peach-colored field.  The 3-D illusion is contained, and I don’t fear falling through this floor.

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Would this give you vertigo?

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Would this stair landing make you pause before walking on it?

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Can you feel the surface ripple?

3D-Optical-Illusion-Carpet

Does this (actually flat) carpeting make you want to stagger? Or worse?

warped

A computer-generated tile design clads these perfectly flat and plumb surfaces. Architect Thom Faulders‘ client said, “I wanted someone to barf when they look at it.” This illusion, versus the reality of its flatness, comes close!

The first five drawings were made by me. The first and second photos’ attributions are TBD; the third photo is courtesy of George Winteringham, via Patternity; the fifth photo is courtesy of Vurdlak; the sixth photo is courtesy of Thom Faulders.

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I invite your comments.

Illusions, No. 1

This California garden looks like the sea floor.  The plants look like sea-dwelling creatures and plants. The imagination swims!

Beachside succulent garden; Sep'12; "underwater" plants

Beachside succulent garden; Sep'12; Tide pool beach garden n Corona Del MarSucculents expert and horticulturist Joe Stead says, “As a kid, I explored tide pools …I marveled at the starfish and sea anemones. I wanted to bring that sense of wonder to this garden.”

With great knowledge and skill, he has selected and arranged boldly colored, drought-tolerant plants to create charming and compelling illusions.

Beachside succulent garden; Sep'12; Tide Pool Beach Garden n Corona Del Mar, CA    The “sea anemones” are agaves, nestled among red mangaves.

Beachside succulent garden; Sep'12; Tide pool beach garden n Corona Del Mar  The “starfish” is Echeveria subrigida.

Beachside succulent garden; Sep'12; "underwater" plantsThe “kelp” is Senecio vitalis.

All photos courtesy of Bret Gum; written content is derived from the article “How to create a sea-creature succulent garden,” written by Debra Lee Baldwin, in Sunset Magazine.

Feel free to share the content of this blog, but please provide a link back to 2H Pencil.

I invite your comments.

Touch Points

There are a few places in a house where your hand frequently touches the architecture, and they deserve special attention. These custom-made cabinet handles by Seattle woodworker David M. Fen enhance the experience of use through carefully detailed visual and tactile qualities. I think of them as house jewelry.

Sometimes, a handle incorporates multiple wood species.  Some are  wrapped, and/or carved. The knob, at bottom of posting, includes a carved black onyx disk.

Fen says, “My work is inspired by the common-sense practicality of the West, the haiku simplicity of the East and the bold vigor of indigenous craft.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper left image belongs to Laura Kraft-Architect. All others courtesy of David Fen Fine Woodworking.  Feel free to share any of these images, but please provide a link back to 2H Pencil. Thanks.

Clean and Simple

Design is a response to needs/wants. This backsplash design was generated in response to 5 things my client wanted:

  • a display shelf above the kitchen counter
  • a way to prevent various forms of kitchen crud from settling into seams
  • a cleanable surface behind all cooking activities
  • continuous, concealed power access under the upper cabinets, with no penetrations into the wall
  • concealed task lighting

Custom fabricated stainless-steel back splash with integrated shelf.

Continuous plug strip at wall, task lights forward. (One off and one on in this photo.)

Flush termination of steel at end of wall. Radiused transition between shelf and wall eliminates a seam.

Section Detail

All images belong to Laura Kraft-Architect. Feel free to share any of these images, but please provide a link back to 2H Pencil. Thanks.

Let Color Happen

My clients, Ed and Laurel were adamant: they wanted their house to have lot of color and as much handcraft as they could afford. They are great fans of the work of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. They love the ad hoc nature of his tile installations where the workers, collaborating with Gaudi, made the mosaics come to life.

mosaic walls at Barcelona’s Parc Güell

Clearly, and excitingly, some elements of this work could not have been planned. They grew out of the process.

The social and economic conditions that made Gaudi’s work possible don’t exist here and now. And yet, within constraints of a modest budget and a remote rural location, my design directive from Ed and Laurel was, “Capture something of the spirit of Gaudi. Let color happen.”

This is the flooring in one room of Ed and Laurel’s house. Each room has its own color “personality.” For each room and the front foyer, four colors of standard vinyl tile were selected, and then cut (in the shop) on a diagonal. They were then installed in pattern that is random, except that no color may abut itself, so it’s “almost random.”

A conceptual floor plan sketch shows an early version of the color layout. The foyer has soothing water colors of blue, purple and green.

transition from Foyer to Multi-Purpose Room

Transition from Foyer to Kitchen

Ed and Laurel are happy with their house.

contented basking lizard at Parc Güell

First image courtesy of Bing Images, second image courtesy of traveladventures.org, last image courtesy of entertainmentdesigner.com.

All other images belong to Laura Kraft-Architect. Feel free to share any of these images, but please provide a link back to 2H Pencil. Thanks.