Reference Page: November 2010

A Place to Rest Your Head (and Empty Your Wallet)
Thanks to Ikea, furniture has cute Swedish names like Malm (a dresser) and Vanvik (a bed). The Scandinavian-name craze has trickled down to the feet. Tretorn, a preppy shoemaker that got its start producing tires and tennis balls, now calls its sneakers Skymra and its rubber boots Längya. According to the blog Interbrand.com, the company has gone from croquet outfits to the ultimate in hipster cachet. Tretorn, once associated with the Swedish country-club set, has now become the semiofficial shoe of the Ace Hotel.

The Two-Block Problem
Renderings of the Park51 Community Center (aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”) were recently released. The Washington Post sees the latticework facade as a symbol that the center is “porous, open and bright … literally an enlightened building”. The antimosque activist Pamela Geller sees it a bit differently. She thinks the starlike motif, inspired by traditional Islamic architecture, is offensive because it looks like “tumbling Star of Davids.” Media Matters has tracked some of Geller’s wackier design criticism, including a blog post titled “Flying the Gangsta Colors,” in which she deconstructed the purple ties worn by members of the Obama administration.

Urban Intervention
Syracuse is the kind of city where you can buy a 6,400-square-foot 19th-century bank building for $200,000. Which is exactly what Mark Robbins, the dean of Syracuse University’s architecture school, did a few years ago, betting that the move would attract other faculty downtown. Robbins ran into a problem unique to cities with cheap real estate: he worried that his living room would be too big. “I thought, I am going to feel like an outtake of some Hollywood movie,” he told the New York Times. “It is going to be me with a bottle of brandy dropping on the floor at 3 a.m., because it felt so grand and so theatrical”.

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