b & w house – julie snow architects              

Dec 17, 2007

the julie snow architects designed ‘b & w house’ in minneapolis for walker art center design curator andrew blauvelt and scott winter is, in our minds, an instant classic.  i’m sure you’ll be reading about it everywhere soon.
we’re lucky to be involved in a small way and we’re so excited about the house that we decided to write about it even though our work isn’t done yet.
when we were first made aware of the ‘b & w house’, one of the homeowners described it as a “little concrete box”, and on some humble and severely literal level, that’s true. 

what we saw though when we arrived on the scene was an elegant, minimal structure that already looked great, even surround by dirt and construction debris…

 rolu partner mike brady wandered around while i took pics.

the back of the house is top to bottom glass, and while we always ponder the implications of how our work reads from the inside looking out, it is rare that it’s as literally connected as it is here in the courtyard which is really, except for the glass, part of the living room.  we eventually proposed something along these lines…

but there’ll be a few revisions over the winter.

when you look up, you see the beautiful rich tones of the ipe wood siding…

and, though you can’t see it great in the above photo, the aluminum piping in the seam where the ipe meets in the corner is one of my favorite details.  so precise, exacting and yet somehow, gentle.

the first phase of work we did this fall was in the front of the house. 

we needed to create some privacy for some of the glass (otherwise, you might have weirdos taking self portrait pics of their reflection),  and we wanted to create an aesthetic middle ground between the site and the structure, the music for a pas de deux, if you will?  ah, no…maybe that’s a bit much.  more like a joining…

we used rusted steel to reference the ipe siding and bring some of the upper half of the house lower.  the steel is about a foot high at most points and remains level with the step at the front door creating a third, subtle, quiet plane.

even the smallest gesture when you’re dealing with such simple, flat surroundings is a lot, so we had to act in our favorite way… very carefully.

we think the work turned out great and even though winter is our time to regain some sanity in our lives, it’s projects like this one that make us hope it goes by fast.

for another view of this project, ‘building minnesota’ an architecture blog & podcast, put together this youtube piece that tracked the project from the start.  it has interviews with one of the homeowners and the architect. 


julie snow architects aren’t really known for their residential work but they sure hit all the marks here.  i’m pretty sure their only other residential project is the equally stunning koehlerhouse.  hopefully there’s more in store.


we’ll keep you posted on our progress.

posted by matt

field tripping              

Dec 10, 2007

Rapson Hall U of MN Arch School
In my last post i mentioned a great field trip i had to the univ of mn the other day.
Besides being an honor, it was fun to sit as a critic again. This time for some grad students’ final projects in an arch design studio.
it was like taking a class for me too since the fellow jury members were all so impressive.  i wondered if the students really appreciated their presence…
the jury?
bruno franck is a structural engineer who has worked with folks like david salmela and vincent james.  he framed things in fascinating ways that i’m not used to considering.
dale mulfinger is one of the founders of the great sala architects, is an author and a teacher.  he’s absolutely brilliant and a pleasure to listen to.
bob ganser is the instructor of the class.  he’s also one of the founders of citydeskstudio a great minneapolis firm.
gayla lindt is an architect and teacher who recently collaborated on a book about the great ralph rapson called “come closer, i have a story to tell”.
pretty good bunch huh?
and the students were great too…
all year they’ve been working on designs for a train/commuter rail station to be located at the new twins stadium in downtown minneapolis.
they’d all been up for days working on their models and renderings…
i think they were really glad to be done.
some of the work really stood out…
there was something cool about every single students project too…
in the below photo, dale mulfinger talks about the work in the above photo…
he’s talking about how, as upright walking creatures, we feel some tension when certain angles are present in structures that make them feel as though they may fall over. (if you look closely in the background, bruno franck has slipped on his sunglasses due to brightness.  this coupled with his accent and scarf made him seem almost impossibley cool to me.  if i was a student?  i’d have been so, so intimidated)
a few of the students work drew some pretty serious praise from the jury…
this students work was surprisingly original, inspired and inventive.  it’s fun to wonder where she’ll end up.i responded by rambling about weaving, math, music and the artist xylor jane’s work.
they all looked at me with what appeared to be a polite confusion.
some of the projects were so sophisticated too.
a couple students really reminded me of myself when i was young…
listening to criticism was very hard for me…
i was impressed with how well they all took it.
i stayed pretty quiet and let others do most of the talking. (rare for me)
so many creative ideas and young energy.
it was great to have watched them develop over the last few months as this was my third visit to the class.i wondered how you would go about actually assigning a letter grade to them…
me?  mostly i talked to them about ideas as stories, buildings as symphonies, material choices for them… as language is to the writer, cinematic, epic gestures…
i wanted them to believe in something even if it was wrong to the jury.
i tried to hint about developing the kind of mindset that might enable them to say, “I pick up my pen and a building appears” someday.
i worry that they’ll be met with reality before they’ve had enough time to disregard it.
so i left them, feeling inspired and thoughtful.
the building was deserted and i liked looking at the stairs.
stairs everywhere.
six flights more to my car…
as always after a field trip, everything looked a little cooler than usual…
and i left the school thinking again about letter grades.
and how could you not…guess which level i was parked on.

in the mailbox….happiness.              

Dec 5, 2007

                                                                           david horvitz – xiu xiu polaroid porject print

there is nothing better than arriving home to a full mailbox of cool, inspiring things.  

after a great field trip today to the university of mn to sit as a critic for students’ final projects in an architectural design studio, i returned to find a bunch of goodies waiting.

I spread them all out on the dining room table…

 the task newsletter                    sumi ink club prints                    xiu xiu polaroid print

the first issue of task newsletter arrived today and was great fun to pour over.  this is a project designed and edited by emmet byrne, alex dearmond and john sueda and it’s already received some pretty prestigious attention.  essays, designer interviews, beauty and something that was made with real care… 

i can’t for the life of me imagine why you wouldn’t buy one. (?) 

                                                                                      the task newsletter

check out the task site for more and have a look.  maybe i was their 1,000000th customer or something since my issue came with a bunch of fun things to look at too, namely a few postcards featuring work by the graphic designer daniel eatock.  

oh and, speaking of daniel eatock, watch this great talk he gave not long ago.  genius.

but quick, back to my mailbox before i get too far off track.  

                                                                                    sumi ink club

i also received a package today containing art by the sumi ink club and various other cool things that can be found via glaciers of nice.  (they have a blog too)

absolutely beautiful things.

i’m really excited about a bunch of wonderful projects that have the common factor of luke fischbeck, a los angeles musician/artist. 

actually, there is a lot of brilliant stuff coming from a group of people who are in los angles right now that seems alive and true.

                                                                                                           sumi ink club – showpaper

so if you order from both these entities, do it on the same day and you too may arrive home to a mailbox full of beauty for like $30.

you know, every day i read about creative projects that make me happy in some way.  but so often, it’s something like a chair made of toy panda bears that costs like $35,000.  it’s great to be reminded there are things every bit as carefully constructed and inspired that almost anyone can attain and enjoy (and should).

posted by matt


Dec 2, 2007

ben olson

if you’re lucky enough to find yourself at the super hyped art basel miami shindig this week, here are a few things you should consider.  
first off, you should consider being grateful to the universe that you’re there.  i sure wish i was going, especially after this weekends snowfall here. 
second, you should consider going to see the work of a few rolu dsgn friends who are showing there. 
the painter ben olson will show work with a bunch of great artists from the minneapolis galleryrogue buddha, at the claremont hotel.  his portraits are beautiful, raw, open and, at times, jarring and personal.  (ben and his wife emma berg are rolu clients and we’re working on what might be our coolest project yet for them. i’ll post about it later this winter)
also, there’s our friend gregory euclide, who i’ve written about before.

gregory euclide

he’ll be showing work at a few places in miami.  the red dot fair with blk/mrkt gallery from los angeles, aqua wynwood with bucheon gallery from san fransico and aqua art with hotcakesgallery from milwaukee.

and while we’re on the subject, gregory has a show opening at hotcakes gallery in milwaukee on december 16th, he’ll be in a show at mass moca in the spring… and, well, maybe rather than me listing off all the amazing stuff he’s up to, you can look for yourself on his site.

then there’s cheryl dunn who i just wrote about here a few weeks ago.  she’ll be doing a book signing with an installation at the raleigh hotel on december 6th.

and while i’m at it, if you’re on the other end of the east coast in nyc, our friend tema stauffer has work in a couple shows.  check her blog palmaire for more details

those are the things you should consider.

what should i consider? 

how lucky i am to know so many amazing, inspiring people.

oh, and someone i don’t know that you should go see? 

the band soiled mattress & the springs.  they’re playing at the nada art fair on the 7th and 8th.  mike and i have been listening to their s/t album on teenage teardrops while we work.  very cool.

so, go check them all out.  whether you’re in miami or just at your computer.  alright?

posted by matt


Nov 28, 2007

i love a manifesto.  here’s a cool one from the mike mills humans line.  so much of the mike mills stuff is cool.
here’s a whole bunch of manifestos.  all the greats.  the dada manifestos, the black panthers… why not take a few hours this week and dig in.
it might be time for me to take a crack at one.  
it’s a slippery slope though i think…  
one day you’re writing your first manifesto, next thing you know
posted by matt

holyoke cabin – in depth              

Nov 17, 2007

a while back, i wrote about a visit my wife and i and some of our freinds made to the not quite finished shipping container cabin that paul stankey and sarah nordby are building in northern minnesota.  it was a great day.
paul wrote about their adventure so far over on the hive blog and there’s a bunch of great pics so…  chk it.

posted by matt

discovery, discernment and room              

Nov 16, 2007

this project called indeman, by the firm maurer united architects [mua] will be a observation tower and, obviously, a landmark when it’s done.  aesthetically, it’s the type of thing that creates a complicated, somewhat uncertain reaction in me and, that doesn’t happen that much.   what is it about this structure?
i look at it and say, “yes” loudly…then back away a bit… “is it too…?  will it age well?  is it too…. hipster?”.  no.  i like it.
it looks like it could’ve been one of the pavillions at expo 70 or something. (speaking of that, here’s an unbelievably cool run of expo 70 pics in flickr, and furthermore, i always wanted a reason to post this video so…)


and yeah, it turns out i love it, or i probably will since i love the expo 70 vibe.   with fashion, music, art and now architecture/design stuff, i’ve learned to respect anything that causes this kind of complicated reaction in me and  i’m a guy who’s prone to quick, intuitive, loud, sweeping proclamations too, so i had to learn the hard way.
i can remember way, way back, when it was still open for discussion, arguing with my friend bruce about the band sonic youth.  my claim was that no one really liked them.  of course, it embarrasses me now and as you can imagine, after a few of those you learn to…
it’s actually one of my favorite things, the act of dis________.
so projects like indeman and work by firms like fat architecture are great fun for me.  they’re playful and yet challenging.  they have attitude.  a little humor… they feel young and inspired.  i encourage you to dig around a bit on their sites.  it brings to mind this post i wrote a while back about the show clip/stamp/fold that is currently up in london.
it reminds me of a dream i had about five years ago too.  i was in the midst of putting together an art show with a couple of brilliant, but intense people who were also friends.  i got into an argument with one of them and things got pretty tense for a while.
in the dream, i was standing on top of a steep hill… i couldn’t see the bottom, and off in the distance was a city skyline.  my dad came running up the hill at me with a concerned look on his face.  when he got to me, he grabbed my arm just hard enough to let me know he was about to say something very serious.he said, “i’ve been thinking about you.  you need to give your friend more room.  you need a lot of room,” then pointing at the city, “they need a lot of room.  it’s takes a lot of room to become who we’re becoming.” he looked me in the eye and said, “alright?” i said i agreed and… the dream was over.

it really helped me get through the fight with my friend.

that’s really it too, giving things room.dig in and wonder about it.  decide you’re going to like something you don’t and try not to talk your self out of it.  i feel like i’m getting good at giving things the room to become what they’re becoming.

not only is it fun to force a context on things, it can help to keep you in a state of dis______, which is kinda the goal right?  it is for me anyway.

make any sense?  i think i’m rambling so…
let’s see what the Magic 8-Ball Jukebox has to say about it.
type in the word room and here’s the mix:
  1. in my room – beach boys
  2. white room – cream
  3. waiting room – fugazi
  4. candys room – lifter puller
  5. two people in a room – wire
  6. gatekeeper (one hour one room mix) – feist
  7. small rooms – papas fritas
  8. the colony room – the sea and cake
  9. this room – the notwist
  10. the room got heavey – yo la tengo
  11. guest room – the national
  12. in my room – the blow
  13. in gary’s room – lucky dragons
i removed the following albums with the word room in the title for balance in the mix: 
  1. songs from a room – leanord cohen
  2. he has left us alone but shafts of light sometimes grace the corner of our rooms – a silver mt zion
  3. from our living room to yours – american analog set.
i think it’s going to be a pretty good weekend.
posted by matt

cheryl dunn | confluence> reconnect> start over              

Nov 7, 2007

cheryl dunn
even though it happens to me every couple of months lately, it still feels fluke-ish and kinda cool when it does.  someone i know or knew, or was connected with, close or far away, will just start showing up on my radar… a lot.  someone who i haven’t thought of for a while.  and then, they just start showing up everywhere i look.  then i email them or call, we reconnect, say hi, catch up a bit and… i don’t know….maybe it all starts over again.  and maybe this has always been happening to me and it just feels different when it’s all out on the interwebs.
this recent one was fun, the photographer and filmmaker cheryl dunn.

cheryl dunn
way back in 1994 i was in a band (yep that’s me in front) that needed press photos. so, after looking through tons of photographers’ portfolios, we chose her.  our label hired her, flew her here, and we all walked around for a couple days taking photos.  i can’t even remember anymore why out of all the rolls of film she shot, the one in the link was chosen, but…  she was super cool and it was a blast.  then, like most things, it slowly kind of slid off into the memories, replaced by new ones.
i was always somewhat aware that she was doing cool work and i’d see her name in thingslike paper magazine and stuff, but for the most part, she’s been kind of off my radar since the mid 90s.  i wish i’d been paying better attention; i’m super inspired by all the great work she’s done.  stunning.

cheryl dunn

she’s been taking amazing photographs with, for, and of the underground art scene for a long time and that’s the stuff i keep bumping into lately.  her work is an urban documentary…very much alive.  it can be unsettling, haunted, and ultimately on some level, it’s all very beautiful and true. 

she has a new book out called “some kinda vocation” and  you should buy it, obviously, right away.  it also comes with a short film that’s worth the price alone.

here’s a cool review of it in paper magazine.

i mean if the artist chris johanson reads it…
                                                                         cheryl dunn / anp

and yeah… so she just started turning up everywhere i looked.  like the above photo from a film/photography project she’s working on that she wrote about(pdf) in a recent issue of anp quarterly, an art magazine put out by a few  of the  people she’s been shooting and creatively involved with over the years.  
and so many other places… too many to list.  i’d say i was seeing her name about twice a week and then finally, this email from artkrush came, a plug for this show at fuse gallery that just closed … and there she was again.

cheryl dunn
and when this kind of thing happens, my belief is, the universe is pushing me towards something…and i feel it’s my duty to push back.  so i did what you do; i dropped her a line, we traded some email and we agreed to keep each other updated on what’s up.
and so i wanted to push my cheryl dunn story out into the world.
  the increasingly infamous dash snow on the right                                                   cheryl dunn

cheryl dunn

i love to think that all these things we do, all these people we connect with, are out there, inspiring, looking, wandering, pushing towards something and that eventually, we all may collide again.  
we should all just push a little.  
someone cheryl has worked with a lot said it it well.
“your ship will never come in, unless you send it out” – ed templeton
at least i think he said that.
posted by matt

sato | vato              

Nov 5, 2007

it is described as “the most exquisite color-coded navigation system ever” today on design observer, and that sounds about right.  a lot of the work there is great too.
kashiwa sato is an art director based in tokyo and his firm’s called samurai.  their portfolio is a lot of fun to dig around in.
there’s some very cool stuff.  the work for issey miyake is great. 

(and speaking of issey miyake, how cool is this?  soundtrack by boredoms member seiichi yamamoto?  wow.)

i also like the work he did for the japanese pop band my little lover

musically speaking though, when it comes to bands called “my little ____________” , hong kong based my little airport is easily the way to go.  follow the link and check out the song “edward, had you ever thought that the end of the world would come on 20.9.01?“and see for yourself.

have fun.

posted by matt