Tuesday, January 26, 2010

e15 Furniture and Accessories

Here are a few select pieces from a favorite furniture design group e15. The collection of integrated bookshelf accessories shown above are beautiful, functional items I have never seen designed or offered before. Click here to read more.

My other favorite piece is a foldable table that can be used for office or dining. The greenish yellow color is just another reason to love it.

Photos from e15 website.

Around Memphis ~ Photo No.2

I needed a photo to update my twitter page background and wanted something that was a bit abstract. The photo above is from my blur {aka bokeh} period of a sign in Memphis. I had to photoshop the edges to make it tile seamlessly. Can you guess where and what it is? Hint: Cooper-Young.

Click here to create your own twitter background from Colourlovers. They offer patterns too.
Answer {backwards}: iled eva gnuoy

Friday, January 22, 2010

Designer to Watch: Danny Wills

“Today, we're losing the physical connection, and in my attempt to study and evaluate these processes, I then have the ability to alter them and invent new forms of media.”
~Danny about his approach to design through its process.

Welcome to the first posting in a series that features an up-and-coming designer that I personally am inspired by and who will soon inspire many, many others. The designer featured today is Danny Wills, who is actually just in his 3rd year of a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture program at Cooper Union in New York. Danny is the perfect introductory designer for two reasons. First, his photography helped inspire the idea for a graphic presence used in my recent Christmas photo series, and secondly, his ideas for design and creativity are applied to many different fields, the same fields I myself am passionate about. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and his written thoughts on his design is presented with little editing below.

Architectural Training is Design TrainingI've never been formally trained as a graphic designer, it's something that came naturally and parallel to my architectural education. I feel the education I've received and am receiving trains you to accurately, methodologically, and conceptually tackle any design problem--be it architecture or not.

Influence of Style Across all Fields
Graphic design has been always present in my architectural work. How you present a project fully matters, and you have to understand how to qualitatively display information to best get your concept across. Architecture has taught me how to develop and pursue a concept and it has taught me that when I think I've solidified an idea, it's not over, you must push and push until you get everything you can out of it and you're probably still not done--you're never done. It's always a continuous exploration. I must admit, though, my graphic design work has always been partially sacrificed due to time constraints, and the concepts I wish to pursue most often get pushed aside until the next project.

Design Process
I would like to think that all of my work relates in some way specifically to each other, and each project is a departure point for the next development. I'm still in school. This is a place to experiment and try to understand where I fit in to all of this. That's why I'm never satisfied with just architecture, or just graphic design, or just photography, I need to explore it all and somehow understand their relationships.

I've recently been working with the idea of trying to interconnect the fields in a more understandable way to the viewer; the Analog vs. Digital series is an example of this. I see these three projects as attempts to understand the conceptual process of taking a photograph. All these little Photoshop symbols have references to physical, actual processes that once were being done. Today, we're losing the physical connection, and in my attempt to study and evaluate these processes, I then have the ability to alter them and invent new forms of media. {See photo above and below respectively described as "Who really needs photoshop?" and "Manual polygonal lasso tool."}

That's the direction I feel I'm headed. In an attempt to study and understand the tools I use daily, I can then play and mess with them to achieve new effects. Everyone is using these powerful commands in 3D modeling programs today in architecture, yet I doubt many can actually tell you the manual process that goes into something like lofting between two shapes. If they understood that these commands have roots that date back to ancient ship building and even further, their work would benefit in amazing ways, and they could re-evaluate why they decide to loft, and how they could edit the loft to achieve new things.

House for a Photographer
The project looked at specific questions of site its specific geophysical properties. From a long series of iterations and developments I studied the tectonic relationship of the given site. A tool of measurement was created, which then brought about an interesting read into the specific qualities of the site. These qualities eventually evolved into formal logics and programmatic strategies. The intense slope of the hill measured perpendicularly to a calm horizontal terrain, which developed the idea to create a photographer's studio intertwined with a gallery to view the work. Two paths, artist and spectator, start on two separate axises and twist around one another, yet the physical spaces never combine. The visitors view the artist's work alongside the working artist. The artist lives within his work continuously without contact from the public. {Photo of project model is not current. More documentation of this project to come.}
Future Practice
I can't say where I'll be when I graduate. Architecture is a gratifying thing, but the results are less immediate than the other design fields. You often have to wait years and years to see the final outcome, but what I've been slowly realizing is that it's not about the final outcome, but about the process and development that you put into the project that is really satisfying.

Thanks and Good Luck Danny! See more of Danny’s impressive portfolio here.

Images courtesy of Danny Wills. / Found via of paper and things. / Banner graphics by Sophorn. Banner photo by Danny.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Discovering Music Through The 2010 Coachella Line-up

When I heard that Coachella, a music and arts festival, announced its line-up I scanned through the list and found so many of my favorite indie bands. Since there were great bands I knew performing, there had to be great bands I didn’t know as well. The tagged image above is just a start to discovering new music which has proven to be an international mix.

So I finally finished listening to all the ones I didn't know and found 39 that I really like. They will soon end up on my ear treasures playlist so stay tuned.

Coachella also has all the bands and performers listed with links to their myspace, facebook, twitter, and websites. Click here.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Logo Love

I love the simplicity of this logo using the architectural plan view drawing which also looks like a text bubble like an idea hovering overhead. It seems so obvious I wonder why I've never thought of it or seen it before.

Design by Transformers Studio / Found via Graphic Exchange / Photos from Transformers Behance Portfolio.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Inside the Design ~ Barn Raising Logo / Part 2 / Experimentation Continued

There were two things this second set was asked to be: less about the barn and more about "building" funds. Overall the graphics also needed to be minimized and simplified. There was also the switch to green to tie everything back in with the Habitat for Hope identity. That is when I started looking at how the existing HFH logo could morph into an object related to building. {I did try the hammer but it just wanted to look like the head of an animal without the straight handle.}

Below I started looking at other tools and building material - wood planks. The planks placed as siding just seemed better in this context since the latter options alludes more to a building supply company's logo.

The first two options above are large timber posts that are notched for interlocking joints, a symbol I liked in connecting Habitat for Hope and its fundraiser. Unfortunately, it's not an obvious recognition to most people. The last two options above are diagrams of stick framing in elevation which the position of each "2x4" directly influenced by the letterforms below it. Framing in one window strengthened this idea just enough. Still, this may be too much visually.

Lastly, I wanted to explore the shovel without the HFH logo since I noticed how it also looked like a simplified barn or any building really. The text as the handle would actually work well with letterhead or banner graphics. The A's in the text was a start in emphasizing the idea of both an up symbol {raising} and an A-framed roof {building}. The very last logo is where I think that idea is best represented. The A-framed roof shape in perspective adds that 3-d idea from the first round but is the most minimal of all the options.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Building Simply: Modern Done Right

Building Simply is a book that I discovered when researching beautiful and well executed construction details for a building that begged to be an overall simple form. Our design team knew that with this simple modern aesthetic most of the rigorous design had to lie in the selection of materials and actual detailing, especially where the materials joined. Otherwise it would be a pretty boring "one-dimensional" building. This book stresses that the construction process is also crucial in the success of the detail and also continues the creative process where builder and architect collaborate.

I also find that architects can spin their wheels designing a detail that has already been designed and proven successful, so for my new posting series I am collecting details – simple or complex, functional or expressive for myself and fellow designers to share, learn and continue to improve. If you have any projects with details you would like to share, contact me at
sophorn@hotmail.com. We want to know how you developed and executed the detail especially in collaboration with the builder, and if you use it again, what you would do differently. I’ll also be contacting some firms, local and international, to contribute as well. Hope you stay tuned.

{Excerpt from book shown above illustrates the construction detail of what is shown in the photograph. Over 25 projects are featured.}

To order or to see more excerpts from this book, click here.

Photos from detail magazine website.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Posed Portrait Notebook ~ Clare Samuel

Today's feature set of portraits that catch ordinary people, who aren't necessarily comfortable in front of the camera, in an intriguing shot comes from photographer Clare Samuel. She is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts degree at Concordia University in Montreal.

Set apart from all the work I’ve featured in this topic before, Clare’s work conveys her background in art and that thoughtful exploration of time and place and, particularly, how people are placed within that environment. My favorite series “It is Still” shown above struck me when looking for new portrait ideas. It seemed candid but certain at the same time. I have never seen a shot, which she describes as “taken at the wrong time,” look more intriguing.

See more of my favorite photos from her other series below.

Photographs copyright © Clare Samuel. Images used by written permission from Clare Samuel. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fashionable at 3

It’s true. Shopping for girls is much more fun than for boys. With such a baby boom of girls around me and a friend’s 3-year old daughter celebrating her birthday this week, I came across these delightful pieces from Anthropologie. I gave my nieces one of these aprons one year after the prices talked me out of thinking I could make them myself.

photos from anthropologie website.

O-wow ~ Sculptural Drawings

Today's inspiration is from artist Ran Hwang and all I can say is "Owow!"
1} an installation created by a tedious placement of pins and needles.
2} another created by needles and thread.
Found/photos via Aaron Greufe. Graphic label by sophorn.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Scarves for a Fashionable Winter

My favorite way to accessorize in cold weather is with a scarf that, for me, in place of jewelry also needs to add a punch of color and texture. {I have 8. so far, thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law Rosalyn.} Here are some more unique designs I found that except for one are currently available.

1} Ruffle Scarf / Sarah Seven / Currently sold out / Cashmere
2} NECK LUSH Ultra Inkdrop/ NECK LUSH / $74 / Cotton
3} Deena & Ozzy Abstract Eternity Scarf / Urban Outfitters / $34

1} Collar Scarf / Denovo Style / $35.70 Sale / Cashmere blend vanilla herringbone
2} Chunky Ribbed Hoodie Scarf / Urban Outfitters / $38
3} Nocturnal Knit Snood / Anthropologie / $48

Photos from related sites.

Information Graphics - Jacob Heftman

Since Christopher is on the job hunt and creating cover letters and resumes to stand out, I thought I would post this for him. I love how designer Jacob Heftman showcases his talent through these information graphics that make light of this tedious and stressful process. See more of his work here.

Christopher has an interview today so congratulations and good luck Christopher!

Found via
designworklife. Photos from JHeftman Flickr page.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Viet Hoa Asian Market ~ A Recommended Shopping List

I have relatives that drive 2 hours up from Corinth just to shop for Asian grocery items here, so I feel privileged to have an Asian market less then 5 minutes away. At Viet Hoa, I can grab items here and there when craving a coconut drink or salty plum candy, but I do try to keep that to a minimum and stock up on basic items. The following shopping list starts with items I try to keep in stock {keep in mind, the brand shown is my preferred brand} but it also shows some of their unique offerings that may interest you.

1} Limes - The best price in Memphis by far.
2} Produce section - newly expanded into restaurant space, previously Lobster King.
3} Cilantro and basil - Basil is a must-have ingredient in fresh spring rolls.

1} Kam Yen Jan Chinese sausage - Great addition to fried rice. We just slice, pan-fry, and serve with steamed rice.
2} Three Ladies jasmine rice.
3} The rice selection just at the store entrance.

1} Instant noodles favorite brand no.1 in orange packaging - Served best with egg stirred in boiling noodle broth.
2} Instant noodles favorite brand no.2 - The noodles already have a great flavoring so it is best right out of the package as a snack.
3} Spring roll rice paper wrapper - You shouldn’t go wrong with picking any brand of this product.

1} Squid brand fish sauce - key to Cambodian or Vietnamese dipping sauces.
2} Aroy-D coconut milk – key to dishes such as curry or many desserts. Can label will say whether it’s for cooking or for desserts.
3} Golden Mountain soy sauce – way better than the others in regular grocery stores.

1} Preserved plum with red coating – this photo is just to show the color to compare. I look for the gray coating in photo 2 for a better balance of sweet and salty.
2} Preserved plum with gray coating – I only crave just a salty candy for after dinner rather than something sweet. My family calls it ‘cambuoy’.
3} Chinese barbeque seasoning – this is a sweet seasoning that we use on chicken, beef or pork.

Viet Hoa is also my source for fresh seafood when we want to splurge or have a special dinner. They have 1}dungeness crab, 2-3} blue crab, 4} fish, fish, fish, clams, and sometimes oysters. Below are items from the kitchen and cookware section, some key to Asian cooking. I will try to share some Cambodian family recipes in the future. Happy shopping and eating!

Viet Hoa Food Market
40 N. Cleveland
Memphis, TN 38104
Ph +1.901.726.9388

Photos by Sophorn.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Remembering 2009 ~ A List of Firsts

As we say hello to a new year, we wanted to begin 2010 by remembering 2009 through our list of firsts, whether they are only small things that we can say we've done once or significant milestones in our lives that have made our family better. Some things we have already shared through the blog {which also started last year} but some are just appearing for the first time.

Title banner photos from left: Redbirds baseball view of YMCA on Madison, favorite photo of Atticus observing artwork during Trolley tour night, signage at Memphis Central train station, and ferris wheel at Chicago Navy Pier.


Clanjamfry ~ A Scottish Festival
Ever since we moved to Memphis six years ago, Christopher had always wanted to go to Clanjamfry, especially since he is proudly of Scottish descent. As the photos show, we were surrounded by men in kilts. We also attended the Sunday service with his dad and brother to see the Kirkin of the Tartans.


Gonerfest 6 ~ A Music Festival presented by Goner Records, Memphis
I love music and am punk by heart. Ever since I heard about it three years ago, I had been dying to go. It was high energy, and I saw several cool ideas for tattoos like the one below. In a related first, we also attended Rock for Love, a benefit concert for the Church Health Center where all the local talents performed.


Memphest ~ Memphis' Own Fair with the relocation of the Midsouth Fair
We thought the first Memphis fair might have been a bit secluded but we still enjoyed ourselves to make up for everyone else's seeming lack of excitement. Atticus had his first candy apple here.


Zombie Walk ~ Annual and International Event
This is where Atticus' fascination with zombies and all things scary began. I think we'll participate this year. We've been practicing our zombie walks.


Broad Avenue Art Walk ~ Annual Event in the Broad Ave Arts District
We knew that the district was thriving as an art community but we didn't realize the amount and variety of talent. The gallery with muppets and comic book character paintings really caught our attention.


Rural Studio ~ Auburn University's Design-Build Studio
Atticus visits the place where his mom and dad grew close. It was an incredible place for me to learn about noble architecture so visiting again brought it all back. Below on left Atticus is also sharing his zombie impression.


Chicago ~ Visiting for the First Time Brings Many Firsts

Atticus and I rode the train for the first time. Here he is waking up just as we enter the edge of Chicago. The fourth day we were in Chicago, I attended Neocon for the first time to see the latest in furniture and interiors. We couldn't miss out on the Chicago style hot dog and Chicago deep dish pizza either.

We saw incredible works of architecture including our first Frank Lloyd Wright building, the Robie House, although it was closed and rainy the day we visited. We had a great time overall but we doubt we'll visit again as it's scratched off our long list of cities to visit.


Independent Bank Germantown ~ First LEED certified building in Shelby County
I was very fortunate to have worked on this project before leaving LRK Architects. It was my first LEED project which I was able to dig into much of the documentation effort which then helped me pass the LEED exam. It received the LEED silver rating although it was planned to reach the minimum level of certification. See it next time you pass the busy corner of Poplar and Germantown Road.

In a related first, I finally started taking my ARE {Architecture Registration Exam} and passed! I plan on knocking the other 6 by the end of this year.

Special thanks to Jason. Photo by Jason Weeks.


LOOK Photography Exhibit ~ My First Solo Photography Exhibit
I was so thrilled to finally share some of my photographs from Cambodia, my home country. It just made me happy. Look for it at the Majestic Grille downtown Memphis before it leaves January 6. I'm still working on getting prints setup for online orders.


Hound Dogs Refreshment Cart ~ Christopher's New Business Venture
One of the biggest firsts for Christopher was taking a chance at starting his own business, making his own hours, and getting out of the cubicle! He's a friendly face in downtown Memphis serving locals and tourists just the same. Hound Dogs is gone for the season but who knows what the warmer months of 2010 may bring.


Missions Cambodia ~ Helping the People of my Home Country
The most significant set of events this year began with my turning 30, remembering where I came from and what Cambodia had suffered just before I was born. It became my mission to understand more about my culture and my family's story, which I posted throughout the month of April.

Soon after I took this on, my dad told me he was trying to go on a mission trip for the first time and in his heart he knew Cambodia was where he would serve. He didn't have the funds to go so I decided to take on my attempt at a benefit concert and auction. It was probably the hardest thing I've done this year but I can't believe how much closer I am to my friends and family. Thank you all again who helped with the effort. I appreciate everything so much more, and when it comes to challenges, bring it on. I can never come up with an excuse good enough to not attempt something.

May your New Year be filled with many firsts, big or small. You'll always learn something.
Have a blessed 2010!

{2 Photos above right by Long Kuoy. Photo on far left is a polaroid of my family when we arrived in the Thai border refugee camp after fleeing Cambodia.} Photos by Sophorn unless noted otherwise.
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