A New Online Home for Design Faith Blog

I have moved the Design Faith blog to my relaunched website kennethcaldwell.com You'll be redirected there in 10 seconds.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Best of 2012

I was going to try and write the Best of 2012 blog in chronological order, because then the images on my Facebook diary could guide me. But that didn’t work, because I had to start with the best thing that happened in 2012!

Favorite Election
The best thing about 2012 was the reelection of Barack Obama. I don’t idolize him, but this was a choice between existence and extinction. I think that deep down, he wants to do what’s right. He understands the needs of the 99% better than any president since FDR. We look forward to the closing of Guantanamo and to gun control! Not to mention general human rights.

Favorite Action in the World
Moving from the global to the personal, I often ask myself, what can be done in the world? The answer is often local and sometimes very personal. Our friends David and Jay began adopting two wonderful kids. We love being around them and got to share in their first Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s together. What they are doing moves me very deeply.

Favorite Blog
David has been writing about their experience, which leads us to my favorite blog of this year. Reading www.seekingfatherhood.com will make you laugh and cry and renew your faith in human nature.

Favorite Restaurant
This year, we didn’t try many new restaurants. However, I did enjoy St. Vincent in the Mission. No pyrotechnics, but quite good. Big focus on wine.

Favorite Breakfast Spot in New York
I have eaten at Maialino in Gramercy Park several times for lunch and dinner, but didn’t even know they served breakfast. It’s very close to the apartment where I often stay in New York.

Courtesy maialinonyc.com

Favorite New Hotel (outside US)
Kylesku Hotel in the Scottish Highlands is one of those modest hotels run by people who care. It isn’t luxurious, but the ladies who own it have a simple design sensibility and have hired enthusiastic young folk in the kitchen and dining room. And the view over the lochs is delightfully eerie. We loved it.

Favorite New Museum
Piers Art Centre
We also discovered this place on our trip to Scotland. This small museum in Orkney consists of two historic buildings and one new one—all beautifully knit together. We loved the art collection, but also the place.

The institution was created with Margaret Gardiner’s collection. She lived in St. Ives and befriended artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, and Patrick Heron. Eventually she bought a place on one of the Orkney Islands. Her son suggested that she donate her collection to the people of Orkney, and this exquisite museum was born. It is located in Stromness right on the water. A must-see on your visit to Orkney when you attend the St. Magnus Festival!

Favorite Cathedral and Favorite Music Festival
Speaking of Orkney, we loved the St. Magnus Cathedral, site of Paul’s new work commissioned by the St. Magnus Festival. The cathedral was built in 1137 and belongs to the people of Orkney, not the church. An excellent venue for music and meditation.

Favorite New Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
One of the surprises of our trip to the UK this year. A simple entry building with vast interior sculpture galleries and then hundreds of acres of the Yorkshire countryside filled with modern sculpture. We especially liked the James Turrell piece, of course.

Favorite Writers Retreat
In a world of ambition, it is useful to write for self-exploration. Chris DeLorenzo leads workshops that nurture. On a whim, I went to his retreat in Puerto Vallarta in January, and, to borrow a phrase from the human potential movement, it was transformational. Not only did I find out things about myself, but I also learned to let go of judgment—well, a little. He also holds one-day retreats throughout the year.

Favorite Masseur
My pals David and Yosh suggested Mark Haviland, who comes to David’s office for chair massages and also has a private clientele. He has been fantastic. He is guided by something different than most of us. He is now off to India and Africa to share his gifts with those who might not otherwise enjoy them. He will be back in March!

Favorite New Memorial
Louis Kahn’s design survived intact for 40 years. It is sublime. There will be a full post in the near future. In the meantime:

Favorite New Beach
I finally got to Fire Island Pines at 54. I wasn’t the oldest guy on the beach, but.… The restaurants aren’t good, but the long walks along boardwalks and the endless sand and warm ocean make it a perfect place to forget the world. Although the Pines suffered some damage in Hurricane Sandy, no houses were lost. Fire Island isn’t an island at all, but just a sand bar that will disappear one day.

Favorite Art Exhibit
The Matisse show at the Metropolitan reminds me how radical he was. It’s there through the middle of March.

Courtesy metmuseum.org

Favorite New Retail
Speaking of David and Yosh, the best new retail isn’t quite retail. It’s more like an experiment. David and Yosh have opened something called Storefront Lab. They are changing the world one retail idea at a time.

Favorite Fashion Show
Last year it was Alexander McQueen in New York. While not as radical or lavish, Jean Paul Gaultier’s show at the de Young Museum was like a long wonderful dream.

Favorite Diary
Last year it was The Sixties: Diaries 1960–1969 by Christopher Isherwood. This year it is the next volume, covering 1970 to 1983. The title is Liberation. A good theme for 2013.

Courtesy randomhouse.com

Favorite Evolving Design-Related Online Magazine
Architizer has a new editor, Jenna McKnight, and is adding more content every week. Check it out.

Favorite Old Retail Emporium
Placewares in Gualala captures all that was great about design retailing in the 1960s—Design Research! No surprise, given that the owners, Maynard and Lu Lyndon, were at D/R before founding their own company back in Boston. Next to Sea Ranch, they sell all the right stuff for your Sea Ranch house, including loads of Marimekko! It’s no wonder they get the Sea Ranch aesthetic—Maynard’s brother Donlyn was one of the original architects and also designed Maynard and Lu’s cool house.

Favorite House at Sea Ranch
Speaking of Sea Ranch, I am writing this from Barry Elbasani’s recently completed house at Sea Ranch. He bought the lot back in the 1960s and talked about designing this house ever since I met him in 1990. He never saw it finished, but I think he would be thrilled.

Happy New Year! Hoping for more good change in 2013.