February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

It began with a book. Or rather, it began with a book design, recently released:

David Pearson’s cover design for Orwell’s 1984

Sweet black foiling!

Awesome, no? Perhaps it was nostalgia for an old favorite, or perhaps I needed something to temper the lightness of Room, but it was decided that 1984 should be revisited. Several pages in, it hit me: these are the same! (Okay, not the same, certainly, but they do share some similar sentiments regarding personal connection.)

To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.

Victorian etiquette!

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, […] to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.

The submergence of feeling? The hypocrisy of knowing, but deliberately not knowing? Why, it’s Lucy!

This may amount to nothing more than a curious rumination. Then again, it may influence the design of the pension… A Room With a View + 1984 + Penguin Deluxe Classics?

Salon 02: Sneak Preview

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Salon 02 - Structure

Experimental Axon



Salon 02 - Atmosphere

Random Musing

February 23, 2013 § 2 Comments

A friend recently shared an article from The Atlantic entitled “There’s no such thing as everlasting love (according to science).” Personally, I think it’s a matter of semantics. Nevertheless, I’m posting it here because one particular passage called to mind Mr. Emerson and his approach to people.

Barbara Fredrickson believes that love is

[…] “a micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store.

Compare that to George’s reflection on his father, who has unintentionally driven away the Reverend Mr. Eager’s Santa Croce tour group:

‘My father has that effect on nearly everyone,’ he informed her. ‘He will try to be kind.’

‘I hope we all try,’ said she, smiling nervously.

‘Because we think it improves our characters. But he is kind to people because he loves them; and they find him out, and are offended, or frightened.’

That is all.

Next post will be back to process.

A Room With Absolutely No View Whatsoever

February 22, 2013 § 3 Comments

Bubbles 022113

Bust or blessing?

As I was making the transition from trace to Revit, it occurred to me that guest room number 7 (highlighted above) has zero windows. Eek! Is that even allowed? It certainly isn’t normal….

But as it turns out, there is such a thing as a windowless hotel room! Check out this capsule hotel in Japan for one extreme example:

The concept is spreading to Russia and the UK as well. NiteNite in Birmingham shows off their slightly larger but still windowless “cabins” here.

Translational relevance

Is there a reason to have a windowless guest room in the Pension Bertolini? It would be possible to add additional skylights, but this windowless thing is intriguing. And when you’re dealing with symbolic rooms and views, what better to signify a flat refusal to know oneself than a room with absolutely no view whatsoever?

Specific inspiration might be derived from the character of Cecil, whom Lucy associates with a drawing-room, sans view (99). (Another name note: Cecil means “blind.”) He deceives himself first in his love for Lucy. After calling off the engagement, she watches his retreat:

She watched him steal upstairs, while the shadows from the banisters passed over his face like the beat of wings. On the landing he paused, strong in his renunciation, and gave her a look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the leaving of it. (162)

Cecil’s unbecoming love, exhibit A.

Prior to leaving,  Cecil thanks Lucy for showing him his true self (a person incapable of intimacy)—but the lesson seems lost on him. While Lucy later contemplates the reception of her elopement with George, she remarks:

‘I wish, though, that Cecil had not turned so cynical about women. He has, for the second time, quite altered. Why will men have theories about women? I haven’t any about men.’ (194)

Not that you can blame him, of course…. But critics make a persuasive argument that Cecil, with or without realizing it—but certainly not admitting it to anyone, least of all himself—is gay. Mr. Beebe, who was “from rather profound reasons, somewhat chilly in his attitude towards the other sex, and preferred to be interested rather than enthralled”(31), seems suspicious of this, as Lucy’s brother recounts:

‘You know Mr. Beebe’s funny way, when you never quite know what he means. He said: “Mr. Vyse is an ideal bachelor.” I was very cute. I asked him what he meant. He said: “Oh, he’s like me—better detached.” I couldn’t make him say any more, but it set me to thinking.’ (80)

Yet here is Cecil at the end of the book, hating women instead of loving men.

But what say you? “Windows be damned?” Or, “Dear God, who in their right mind would sleep in a room with no windows!”

A little extra quoting

Mrs. Honeychurch accuses Freddy of disliking Cecil out of jealousy, after which this gem follows:

The explanation seemed plausible, and Freddy tried to accept it. But at the back of his brain there lurked a dim mistrust. Cecil praised one too much for being athletic. Was that it? Cecil made one talk in his way, instead of letting one talk in one’s own way. This tired one. Was that it? And Cecil was the kind of fellow who would never wear another fellow’s cap. Unaware of his own profundity, Freddy checked himself. He must be jealous, or he would not dislike a man for such foolish reasons. (80)

What can I say? I like it dry.

Miss Charlotte Bartlett

February 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dame Maggie Smith as Miss Charlotte Bartlett (right)

Rooms with character

Speaking of spaces dedicated to characters, no character is as deserving of such a space as Charlotte Bartlett—Lucy’s older, financially disadvantaged cousin-cum-chaperone. Throughout the novel, Charlotte makes every attempt to keep her charge from entangling herself with the younger Mr. Emerson… or does she?


He whispered: ‘Is it this? Is this possible? I’ll put a marvel to you. That your cousin has always hoped. That from the very first moment we met, she hoped, far down in her mind, that we should be like this—of course, very far down. That she fought us on the surface, and yet she hoped. I can’t explain her any other way. Can you? […] She is not frozen, Lucy, she is not withered up all through. She tore us apart twice, but in the rectory that evening she was given more than one chance to make us happy. We can never make friends with her or thank her. But I do believe that, far down in her heart, far below all speech and behaviour, she is glad.’

‘It is impossible,’ murmured Lucy, and then, remembering the experiences of her own heart, she said: ‘No—it is just possible.’ (195-196)

Despite her fusty appearance, it turns out Charlotte is something of a romantic herself. A guest room in her honor will feature fabulous fabrics from Gretchen Bellinger in varying shades of brown.

Before she could speak, almost before she could feel, a voice called, ‘Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!’ The silence of life had been broken by Miss Bartlett, who stood brown against the view. (63)

A color often associated with “plain-Jane” drabness, brown is made stunningly beautiful in gold-flecked velvets and sequined sheers.

Gretchen Bellinger Samples

Charlotte’s guest room bath will feature a magnificent soaking tub… there may only be room for one, but that’s no reason why she can’t treat herself!

Fab Soaking Tubs

A note about a name

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that, to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catchwords. […]

Lucy entered this army when she pretended to George that she did not love him, and pretended to Cecil that she loved no one. The night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years before. (162)

Dun dun dun!:

Charlotte Bartlett… “march to their destiny by catchwords”…Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations… you get the point.

Bubbles and Skylights

February 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Current bubble diagram

Bubble Diagram

The highlighted area is currently up for grabs, because of a…

Skylight Dilemma

The existing structure has several skylights, including one over a covered courtyard and another over what is currently the entry to the penthouse apartment. In an effort to be sustainable, it is my intent to leave the skylights in place. The question is, how can I best use these skylights for translational purposes?

Penthouse - Entry

Existing conditions

My thoughts first return to the following passage, in which George addresses Lucy:

‘My father’—he looked up at her (and was a little flushed)—‘says that there is only one perfect view—the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.’ (147)

So the immediate assumption is to somehow dedicate the space to the character of Mr. Emerson (George’s father). Perhaps a small library, thereby tying knowledge into the concept of the “perfect view”? (The Emersons’ literary tastes were philosophically and socially oriented.) However, I am currently of the opinion that the library should remain adjacent to the ping pong space. (Yes, the Penguin pension has ping pong… or “table tennis” if you want to be fancy.) In their current placement, the library and ping pong patio are separated from the rest of the pension by an egress stair. This distinction effectively represents the two parts of the novel—the first set in Italy, the second in England. Not to mention that the juxtaposition of sport and literature is an allusion to Cecil’s flat refusal to be the needed fourth player in a men’s set of tennis, which Merchant Ivory-Cecil attributes to his being “no good for anything but books.”

Or, in an effort to add some “edge” to the design (as suggested by one reviewer at Salon 01), suppose the skylights were located over the public restrooms…saving the purest view for the most personal of moments? There is some translational legitimacy in conveying the feeling of exposure—particularly the feeling of being exposed even while completely alone. (A skylight is quite a bit different than floor-to-ceiling windows on a busy street.) Lucy, after all, is most afraid of knowing herself. Nevertheless, such an architectural stunt may be too over-the-top for Forster, whose wit was sharp but seamless. Though critical of his times, Forster was also sympathetic. He teases rather than shocks. As Zadie Smith has noted, “He was an Edwardian among Modernists,” in spite of also being “a progressive among conservatives.”

She also writes:

“He made a faith of personal sincerity and a career of disingenuousness.”

I love it!

Bubble sketch dump

Salon 01: Aesthetics

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Film

The 1985 film took the Oscar for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, and it’s not hard to see why! Here are some views of the drawing room at the pension:

Drawing Room - Lucy plays Beethoven

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe listens

Drawing Room - Charlotte enters

Drawing Room - Bickering

Drawing Room - Mr. Beebe

The drawing room design likely took its cue from this description:

And even more curious was the drawing-room, which attempted to rival the solid comfort of a Bloomsbury boarding-house. Was this really Italy?

Miss Bartlett was already seated on a tightly stuffed armchair, which had the colour and the contours of a tomato. (7)


As beautiful as the film sets are, I’m not looking to recreate 1908. The play of light and shadow in the first two stills above would work well in a translational sense (the contrast between the two having a symbolic role in the novel), but the agoraphobic nature of Victorian interiors doesn’t speak to contemporary preferences. Playing off the novel’s structural contrast, as well as my own inclinations, I plan to blend traditional and contemporary aesthetics:

Aesthetics - Inspiration

Inspiration from existing interiors

Inspiration Collage

Initial inspiration collage from August

Where Am I?

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