February 2017 Posts

Norma Sklarek: Pioneer in Architecture

By: Melody Richardson

This week we wanted to honor the work of the late, great Norma Sklarek. Hailed as the Rosa Parks of architecture, her vision and passion are an inspiration to us all. Not only was she an incredible influence on the world of architecture, she has been a pioneer for women and people of color in the design industry. Despite going unrecognized for many her works, Sklarek still persevered.

United States Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

United States Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

Sklarek gained her education from Columbia University and was still turned down 19 times before getting a job. She overcame many obstacles while working due to her gender and ethnicity, and still was known as one of the nicest and most hardworking people in the business. Her career spanned through 5 companies and 38 years. Most notably were her contributions to Gruen Associates in Los Angeles, where she collaborated with César Pelli. Together they built the United States Embassy in Tokyo, the Pacific Design Center, San Bernardino City Hall, Terminal 1 at LAX, and Fox Plaza in San Fransisco. Of those notable works, only the United States Embassy in Tokyo recognizes her for her contributions.

Terminal 1, Los Angeles International Airport

Terminal 1, Los Angeles International Airport

Norma Sklarek is truly an inspiration because despite the push back she received throughout her career on countless occasions she never allowed it to break her spirit. She always mentored young people in similar positions, and gave them ways to cope with the discrimination they would face. She was the first black woman to become a licensed architect and the first black woman to be elected into the Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), and in 1985 she started an all female architecture firm with Margot Siegel and Katherine Diamond.

San Bernardino City Hall

San Bernardino City Hall

Sklarek is a personal inspiration because, as a woman of color, I myself have faced discrimination in my life in one form or another. To be able to witness the accomplishments and admire someone who overcame so much, I know I can achieve my goals in the design world. She strived to make things better, whether it was through her designs or in her relationships with others in her industry. She didn’t mind paving the way and being a role model for others, even though she had none of her own.

Pacific Design Center

Pacific Design Center

Norma Merrick Sklarek was not only a great architect but she truly opened the doors for all women and people of color in the design industry.

Norma Sklarek, 1926-2012

Norma Sklarek, 1926-2012

5 Ways to Create Positive Energy in Your Home.

By: The Balance Design Team

We believe your home should be a haven, a place of peace and revitalizing energy, an escape from the stress of the day. While this involves very personal and varied priorities, there are a few tried and true ways to surround yourself with positivity in your home.

Stephanie’s Tip: Art Wall

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Photo courtesy of Honestlywtf.com.

Nothing speaks to me quite like seeing my personal items displayed in a collection on the wall. Photos of places I have traveled to with loved ones, carvings, personal and family art, and ceramics can look amazing when arranged in a balanced and interesting manner. A collection like this is uplifting to look at and fun to tell friends and family the reasons why the specific items made the wall.

Elisabeth’s Tip: Bringing the Outdoors In

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Photo courtesy of Bloglovin.

There is something about bringing home a new plant that heightens our senses and improves our mood. By reducing pollutants, carbon dioxide, and dust in the home, indoor plants are healthy as well as beautiful. There are other ways to let the outdoors in, however. Embrace artwork and photography with botanical designs, or the earth, sky, and everything in between. Open up your windows and doors, let a little dirt inside!

Shelby’s Tip: Organization/Minimalism

Shelbypos

Photo courtesy of MyDomaine.com.

Nothing makes me happier than quiet coffee time on a Saturday morning in a clean house. It’s my nirvana. Living in town in a small space really makes you embrace the “less is more” philosophy. I have learned to pare down my belongings to a minimal, organized approach. Everything in my house is a piece that is used often; I don’t collect items that I do not need or use (a la Marie Kondo), and everything has a place. Most importantly, organization and minimalism means that the items I surround myself with are only the items that I love.

Danielle’s Tip: Meaningful Pieces

As easy as it is to get swept up in what’s new and different, there’s something to be said for keeping a little history around. Maybe it’s a rug that’s been in your family for generations, or a piece of furniture lovingly handcrafted by a talented friend. To me, what really makes a home happy is when it has a soul — when it’s not just an assortment of the best looking items of the season, but a collection of important and meaningful pieces that carry with them memories and personality.

Melody’s Tip: Paint

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Photo courtesy of Houzz.com.

Paint can uplift the feel of any space. A clean white interior, for example, can create a feeling of unparalleled tranquility and comfort, an area to clear your mind and help you gain positivity and motivation. Equally uplifting can be a room packed with color! The contrast of cool and warm tones create an inviting place to share with others, and there is no better positivity gained than sharing a good space with great friends.

More important than a home that looks good is a home that feels good. What are some ways you cultivate positive energy in your home?

Need We Say More? Tamera Maynes Chair

Blog Chair 2:10

We love the organic simplistic shape of this piece by Tamera Maynes, in her book The Maker. Who makes wood bend like that?! We could certainly imagine ourselves sitting back and enjoying a nice cup of tea in this gorgeous chair.

Kidspiration! For the Young and Young At Heart.

By: Melody Richardson

Room Envy

Having one of our kids’ room designs featured in Atlanta Magazine this month really inspired us to take another look at these rooms. One of our favorite projects of this kind was for two young ladies in Midtown. They surprised us with the sophisticated taste they showed on their Pinterest boards, and we were able to bring their vision to life. 

Bedroom2crop Blog

Photo courtesy of Danielle Clockel for Balance Design.

Light, airy, textural pieces give this teenage room stylistic maturity without sacrificing fun. The whole family has great taste in rugs, and for this older sister we layered a Moroccan with a sheepskin for ultimate plush comfort. She loves to read, and what better spot than in her whimsical hanging chair, layered with colorful pillows? The vanity is a great spot for dressing, playing with makeup, and feeling beautiful. The window panels add a little edge with aged brass studs, and pops of her favorite color teal are brought in through pillows and artwork. (Not shown here, her entire closet is painted the same color!) 

pinkroom2 Blog

Photo courtesy of Danielle Clockel for Balance Design.

The younger sister knew exactly which shade of coral she wanted in her room: Benjamin Moore’s Summer Sun Pink channelled a fun, youthful vibe that carries over into the furnishings. Inspired by her dad’s love of kilim rugs, we chose one with a fun, feminine feel. The pops of turquoise on the turned nightstands modernize these more traditional pieces, and tie in the lovely accents on the window panels and bedding trim. The gallery wall displays her personal artwork, creating a light and playful overall effect. 

Let us know what channels your inner child, and gives you serious kidspiration!