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Daniel's Valentine Cutting Board

This year we had a more than the usual requests for special pieces that were special order Valentine surprises.  Our clients seemed very sentimental and creative about wanting to make this year an out-of-the-box event for there loved ones.  

Perhaps after all the tumult and vitriole in our country recently, the concept of snuggling with someone you trust and having gentle conversations while sipping wine or tea became even more important than ever before.  Unless of course, there are alternate facts that prove me wrong...

This year the award for sweetest custom valentine surprise went to our very own Daniel Kucan, move over Cupid

 

Daniel decided to make a custom cutting board for his special person using solid walnut and oak in a parquet design.

 He used the end grains of the wood which are strong and tight grained,  allowing the wood strikes to be absorbed against the board without causing knicks to the knife or gauging the board.  Antibacterial for the board and good for the knife blades!

 

I was the puppy wrangler for the secret photo shoot, and Cozy, the star of the cutting board,  was happy to be the center of attention...

Posted by maite garcia on 17 February, 2017 0 comments | Read more →

Red, a history

First of all let me just say, no, Daniel was not on any illegal hallucinatory substance as he was writing his enormously flowery and somewhat stream of consciousness blog "Red, an introduction".   He was, however,  downing Trader Joe’s dark chocolate espresso beans by the fistful. That said, here is my less flowery, more scientific post "Red, a history".
Until recent times, the color red in fabric was a sign of power and prestige worn only by  royalty or religious leaders through out most of the world as it was very expensive to produce. 
 Back in the 1500s the Spaniards brought back the intense dye the Maya and Aztecs had been using on their cotton for blankets and closing.  
The fab picture above comes from Xtreme Horticulture.
  The color came from the cochineal, a tiny parasite that attaches to cactus, and when crushed secretes an intense blood red color, carminic acid, that will stain cloth (or anything for that matter) in that classic, quintessential red impossible to reproduce earlier.  It  caused such a rage of red across Europe and Asia, that this lowly bug was  valued in the stock exchange!
In the 1600s the cochineal was used to dye the coats for guards at Buckingham Palace,  and the contract with the dye company lasted through the 20th century.
Before you wonder how many innocent cochineals were slaughtered for our sexy red velvet sofa, relax.  By the eighteen hundreds synthetic dyes were being used; cochineal is on somewhat of a come back tour being used in food in lieu of some of the red chemical coloring that seems to be toxic particularly to children.  
So next time you eat your favorite red velvet cake, you may be eating some of these guys as well.
Daniel's advice if you see cochineal scale starting on your cactus, act fast with some fungicide.  They can kill even mature plants.
Posted by maite garcia on 08 February, 2017 1 comment | Read more →

Red, an introduction. Not to be confused with Valentine's Day because you should learn some patience.

You've read the psychological profiles about the poor. Men wearing it  are consistently perceived by women as having pernicious mommy issues and probably some sort of fungal infection that is best not talked about; women wearing it are seen as being overly attracted to cheap wine from Trader Joe’s and a have a nasty tendency to leave Legos lying around where you’ll step on them in the dark. In your bare feet. Savage.

 R E D 

I don’t know man, I didn’t actually read the study, too many words. It was all like “aggression” and “sexual attractiveness” and “high social status” and whatever. Maite likes red, she thinks it’s passionate and spicy. Not gonna lie, red makes me a little nervous. Maybe it’s all the variations: ruby, wine, crimson, cherry, blush, garnet, spilled blood of my vanquished enemies, you know, that sort of thing.

 

But check out this bad boy:

 

 

No denying. That is a red that weaves opulence with a masculine derring-do. (Yeah, I said derring-do. Errol Flyn style, bitches. That's how we roll.) 

 Or what about this chair and rug:

 

 

 

Maite' says that the red here is like the cool sub-plot of a bad action movie. It's the romantic "will they or won't they" of the two side characters that is way more interesting than the big robots smashing up the city to fight the mutant teenagers. 

 

But you've seen all that before, let's be honest, no broken ground. But take a gander at this chandelier and try to sum it up in a word. You can't.

 

It's like candy and dancing and a princess who doesn't wait for some daffy prince to rescue her, she does that shit herself. It's a late night hallucination after that last tequila mockingbird you probably shouldn't have drunk quite so fast (Not your fault, your buddy ordered it for you.). It's the swirling skirt of a salsa dancer with a giant boyfriend who just caught you looking, but he ain't mad. It's got a little Christmas ornament in it, and some heat, and enough glimmer to make a disco ball a little jealous. 

 

Or you could just say it's RED. Because red has all that inside of it and doesn't need these long-winded explanations, just like that study (that I still haven't read) didn't need all those words.

 

 

Posted by Daniel Kucan on 02 February, 2017 0 comments | Read more →

Hollywood Hills Tumbleweed Snowman

Daniel and I decided we wouldn't let the 75 degree L.A. winter deter us from doing some traditional winter activities.  We embraced the challenge of doing something quintessentially chilly amidst the sun and the heat and the parched terrain--building a snowman, albeit a tumbleweed snowman.  Of course we would have to make some major substitutions, but as designers who value breaking rules and doing things out of the box we were confident.

The hardest part was the dust and the sweat hiking up hills in Griffith Park searching for the perfect material. Tumbleweeds  aren't as easily found as we thought.  They seem to prefer rolling across highways and sticking to car grills instead of growing right off a trail in the Hollywood Hills. It took some bushwhacking to harvest the perfect specimens and  a few splinters for Daniel (I told him to wear gloves--men). In the end we were sweatier and a bit dustier than we expected, but triumphant!

Bizarre & Mysterious Statue at Ace Hotel Theatre

A few months ago I went to the Ace Theatre to see Trevor Noah at an interview discussing his new book.  I had never been inside this remarkable theatre and was jubilant to see a lot of the original details still intact.  

The building was the creation of the actors behind United Artists, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, and the architecture is a riot of styles which has been restored to it 1920's splendor by the folks at the Ace Hotel. Every area held a surprise.

 

According to the La Conservancy's website, the faces of some of th evil Hollywood producers are carved in the columns along side other gargoyles and grotesques.

I was lured through a red velvet curtain (of course) and  drawn  into this powder room glamorously frozen in time.

Did Mary Pickford ever sit here?

The tiles on the stairways are perfect for a home; theatrical and magnificent, yet whimsical and over the top (what are those animals?)

None of the architectural delights were as fantastical and wondrous as this mysterious shrine which greets you as you enter the lobby. Was this original to the theatre?  If not, why, who, what???

 

Yep, that's a corona of fingers with matching staff... 

with a herd of bizarre blue cats at her feet.  Fab shoes too...

A quintessential example of why I both love and hate this city is  that no one else seemed particularly intrigued, delighted, or disturbed by this centerpiece--it just accepted like most things in our city.  No staff I questioned knew anything about him.  I was shocked there was no mmention of this sculpture on either the Ace Hotels site or even the L.A. Conservancy site.  Only when I googles "weird finger statue Ace Theatre" did i get to the answer.

The statue is the work of artist Kevin Willis who created it during the remodeling of the hotel and theatre and  also did other installations at the hotel.

 

It is called Cathedral of Our Lady Fingers. He also refers to him  as the patron saint of feral cats.  No other explanation is necessary in L.A. 

White Fir Fantasy Furniture

Faux fur is back in style with a vengeance particularly the pure white (ten years ago the mottled browns were the rage)  I understand the allure--anything in white feels luxurious and elegant.  The fur adds a sexy yet comfy vibe.  When paired together I think we're psychologically drawn back to the comfort of our naked-baby-on-bear-skin-rug days and find the combination irresistible.

Our Elsa chair takes the lodge look out of the Appalachians and into Manhattan.

 

These Sylvan chairs stylishly  blend the minimal bentwood moderne vibe with the flashy/trashy bling vibe. Who would have thought??? and yet the pairing is so fresh.

 

Anybody remember the Hostess Snowballs in your lunch bag?

Posted by maite garcia on 12 January, 2017 0 comments | Read more →

Indigenous Christmas Chandelier

Every year we Americans spend monster amounts of money decorating our homes for Christmas ranging from magnificent old trees magically transformed into lighted silhouettes of white twinkle lights outside to the ubiquitous sparkling Christmas trees, poinsettias, garlands, and stockings hung on fireplaces.  Often however much of this decor is centered in the living room which isn't a daily throughway and the decor ends up being visited instead of encountered on a daily basis.

Years ago I began decorating chandeliers in clients' dining rooms and kitchens for the holidays and found them to be a unique, refreshing and yet utterly practical way to transform a dining room or kitchen.  The height and placement of a chandelier is already in a perfect visual plane and when it is festooned with ornaments,  garlands, and greenery alongs its lights, it literally commands center stage of the room.

This year, instead of snowflakes, pine cones or fir evergreens which manynative Angeleno have never even seen, I was determined  to use locally sourced, indigenous material that we, the drought stricken, sun drenched Angelenos, can relate to.

All I had to do was don sunglasses, sunscreen and clippers and walk the neighborhood.

First, of course, Bougainvillea, the queen of California color.  Originally from So. America, these tough thorny vines are at the heart of the taunt  "our colors are better than your colors", that west coast gardeners hurl at their east coast counterparts right around this time of year.

 

 

 Next Toyon,  which is a California native which birds love to feast on and provide us some traditional red color for the holidays.  I removed some leaves to give the branches a more ethereal  feel.

 

I also cut some Satsuma Mandarins for their fruity ornaments and leaves to provide some classic greenery and texture as well as succulents and orange hyacinth.

 

 

I knew the ornaments would reflect at night with the lights on, but was even more pleasantly surprised how the llglass ornaments glowed and the sparkles caught the natural light during the day.

 

 

Battery powered dew drop lights are the greatest Christmas innovation since  snow!  and made the chandelier look celestial when the bulbs weren't on.

I love the way this chandelier design came out and can't wait for February to start  my Valentines Chandelier. 

 

 

Posted by maite garcia on 05 January, 2017 0 comments | Read more →

Christmas L.A. Style

Traditional Christmas cheer is hard to come by in L.A., not because we are too pre-occupied with our wealth, fame and tans, but because we are backwards from the rest of the country temperature wise.  Not surprisingly, life in the city of the angels can be a paradox.  While the rest of the country is in winter wonderland Christmas mode, here we are barely scratching fall weather.  Is it any wonder we can appear noncommittal or anti establishment to the rest of the US?  When everywhere other Americans are sliding into each other on icy, frozen roads while here are  hanging ornaments on fully fruiting orange trees in tee shirts and sunglasses.

We Angelenos try to embrace the season and our beloved outdoor malls like the Americana are decorated to the hilt, but notice the tee shirt and shorts as the gigantic Christmas tree is loaded in.

 We dutifully buy the wooly, cuddly scarves we see in the Gap windows, but by midday we've yanked off the knitted cap and are down to tee shirts, needing to drink our peppermint lattes iced as temperatures crest 70 degrees.
I'm not gloating.  I would welcome some crisper weather to make the season more holiday.  We try to get in the holiday spirit, but it's hard, even a bit ridiculous perhaps.   The yards are covered not in snow, but orange and red leaves.  Leaves we'll have to clear off our outdoor dining tables and fire pits for the weekend brunch (really, I'm not gloating).
 Even at Disneyland, the overtly sunny, contrarian So. Californian winter gets a representation outside the Jungle Cruise.
 
In mid December instead of Tudors and Victorian houses festooned to the hilt with fir swags, and twinkling lights on naked birch trees, we tour open houses of historic Adobes decorated with luminarias  and  children pelting the Santa piñata.
The deer come down from the foothills to eat our California natives hungry from the drought, 
but at least they don't eat the succulents which provide our Christmas  colors in lieu of poinsettias.
 
And finally, pathetically,  we have to truck in snow to municipal parks to educate the children that there is good white powder in the world.   Yes, the banner is strung between two palm trees.  
 
Still, I remain ever hopeful with the optimism that New Year's brings. Maybe it will even be cold enough to light the outdoor fireplace...
Posted by maite garcia on 28 December, 2016 0 comments | Read more →

Gotta Build a Gate... So it got me thinking.

What makes a good gate? Sure, form and function, right? But the first thing you have to decide is the gate's purpose. Is it gonna keep the dogs in and bad guys out?

 

Is it supposed to welcome someone to your garden? Is it merely a giant testament to your wealth and privilege (and lack of taste)?

 

 

My head hurts. So here's some that I found in the hood that got me thinking. 

 

This big ole guy is kinda foreboding. I like the shape and the material, but it's so solid that it doesn't feel very welcoming, which is probably the point. I do like the little Judas trap though, and the hammered wood is cool. No doubt these guys are a week away from having their copper mailbox stolen and sold for scrap, copper is a bundle these days...

This gate is so ugly that it makes me want to punch a kitten. 

In the face.

Is it the brass doorknob on the faux wrought iron? Is it the because of the beige paint that looks like Satan's sallow complexion after a weekend bender? Or maybe it's the wagon wheel ovals under that cheap arch. Hard to say. But taken altogether this is a truly good example of terrible design. It's also on a big house in Glendale that's gotta be 3 million dollars. So, you know, at least it was expensive.

Good thing they dressed it up with a very attractive garden hose...

 

 

This gate is good looking. It's relatively understated, on a Spanish revival house that they have modernized a little bit to really good effect. It's a metal frame with tongue in groove slats. The cutouts on top are in steel as part of the substructure.

Here's a big antique (probably Indian) door on a Spanish revival house. These repurposed doors were huge a few years ago. This one is proportioned just right for the house but is maybe a little busy. I'm buying it though, I think the global vibe of the two ethnic styles is working.

 

I have to build three garden gates. They aren't super secure, although they will lock, and should be more cottagey than anything else. I want them to have arches and be of similar design but not exactly the same because they are all different sizes. Maite' and I will draw up some ideas and I'll post em as I get closer to building.

Posted by Daniel Kucan on 30 November, 2016 0 comments | Read more →

Get Your Tofurkey Ready, it's Time for the Holiday Season

Reposting this from a year ago...

Dining.
Seriously. Dining.
Parties? Whatever. 
Presents? Keep em.
I'm all about the sit down dinner, kid. I want to rub elbows with obscure relatives and hear stories about cousins I didn't know I had that involve embarrassing family secrets. And I want to do it here:
custom-reclaimed-wood-dining-table-daniel-kucan
Look at this traditional table. Look at those big, comfy chairs and wood legs and dark finish. I want to watch Aunt Gerty get drunk at this table and say things that make us all a little uncomfortable. 
I want to wake up, rub my eyes, and eat leftovers for breakfast right here:
custom-oak-banquet-dining-table-daniel-kucan
I want to pack the whole, hungover family at this custom oak banquette and watch my good-for-nothing brother poke at his pumpkin waffles and mumble incoherently. I want to talk about going shopping, but then think better of it and instead have another mimosa.
I want to have dinner at this guy's house:
custom-dining-table-modern-sexy-daniel-kucan
He serves really good scotch and his hot wife dresses totally inappropriately and always takes her shoes off after dinner and leaves them on the coffee table. He got these zebra patterned chairs because he wanted to stay "rock-n-roll" even though he's a corporate attorney and wouldn't know Dr. Dre from Dr. Phil but who cares, man, did you see his wife?? I love the leg on this table: the Queen Anne meets Elvira meets Elvis vibe of it. New Years at this guys house is off the rails, kid, trust me on this.
Big, traditional trestle leg monsters:
Post industrial, splatter punk artworks:
Kelley-table-post-modern-industrial-dining-table-daniel-kucan
Modern re-examinations of urban green hipsters:
bamboo-top-custom-dining-modern-table-daniel-kucan
Dining tables are where it's at. You know how they say that the party always ends up in the kitchen? Well, yeah, but it always STARTS at the dining table.
--Daniel
Posted by Daniel Kucan on 23 November, 2016 0 comments | Read more →
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Latest posts

  • Daniel's Valentine Cutting Board

    This year we had a more than the usual requests for special pieces that were special order Valentine surprises.  Our clients seemed very sentimental and creative about wanting to make this year an out-of-the-box event for there loved ones.   Perhaps... Read more →