The Amazing Costumes of Downton Abbey Travel to the U.S.
Downton Abbey has rekindled the world’s ongoing fascination with the rituals and sartorial codes of aristocratic British country home life in the 20th century, as Gosford Park and Brideshead Revisited did before it. To capitalize on the popularity of the period drama, a new exhibit at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is offering an up-close look at 40 costumes from the show. Opening March 1 at the 175-room former estate of Henry Francis du Pont in Wilmington, Del., Costumes of Downton Abbey will also compare the fictional British world of Downton Abbey, which chronicles the Crawley family estate starting in 1912, with its real-life American counterpart at Winterthur in the first half of the 20th century.
“I’m a historian but sometimes history puts people to sleep, it doesn’t grab them,” Winterthur estate historian Maggie Lidz, one of the show’s curators, told me in a phone interview. “The show is more accessible, it’s gotten people really, really interested. There’s a British country house fascination, it’s an international symbol for people who understand the fantasy of it.”
She noted that fans of the show are fascinated by the minutia of everything from table settings to what butlers should wear, military uniforms, and the shocking harem pants that Lady Sybil sported in Season 1. While the focus is on the costumes, she said, there are anecdotes and comparisons to Winterthur sprinkled throughout to give visitors a sense of the differences in how great houses were run on either side of the pond.
Turn Your Photos Into Watercolor Works of Art, No Talent Required
Waterlogue turns photos into sketches that are filled in while you watch, giving you the option to adjust color and brush stroke size, choose a filter (natural, luminous, and rainy are some of the options), tweak brightness, and decide whether or not you want a border.
The Rise of the Hotel Bakery
One of the key trends in hotel design in recent years has been a sharp focus on creating a hotel lobby that is a destination, not just a pass-through. If successful, such lobbies keep paying guests happily hanging out and spending money on site while creating enough buzz to attract non-guests when occupancy is down.
Hotels like the SLS chain—designed by Philippe Starck—resemble mini-vacation communities with high concept bars, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment spaces designed around the beating heart of the lobby to fulfill a guest’s every whim.
But what’s a modest hotel to do? The best hotels offer both something you can’t get at home and a welcoming sense of hominess. And the design plan for the lobby of a new hotel scheduled to open April 1 in Barcelona is centered around the appealingly homey and ingeniously simple concept of a working bakery.
A Door So Ingenious It Will Blow Your Concept of a Door Off Its Hinges
The Anatomy of a Magazine Cover
The best design podcast around—and one of the best podcasts, period—is Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible. On it he covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post his new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.
This week's edition—in which 99% Invisible producer Avery Trufelman spoke with design legend George Lois, Esquire design director David Curcurito, and coverthink.com blogger and former Rolling Stone art director Andy Cowles—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.
Can This Abandoned Paris Métro Station Be Turned Into a Swimming Pool?
About a dozen of Paris Métro stations are inactive. Some of them were closed during World War II to save money and have been laying dormant ever since. Just two of the closed stations are used, for film shoots and to shelter the homeless.
But in the final stages of the race for the next mayor of Paris, candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has piqued the public imagination—and conquered a few hearts and minds—by offering a vision of some proposed future uses for the ghost stations, including a theater, an art gallery, a swimming pool, a nightclub, and a restaurant.
Arranging Your Books by Color Is Not a Moral Failure
I sometimes moonlight as an interior designer, which gives me insights into how easily people let style trends (and worries about which ones are hot or not), distract them from the essential task of figuring out how they want to live. Recently when I helped decorate a new Brooklyn loft for a young family, we found a spot to build shelves for their pared-down collection of books. After we built the shelves, the husband sheepishly mentioned that he sort of liked the idea of arranging them by color, and wondered if it was lame.
I told him that when I first saw a bookshelf organized by color several years ago, I thought it looked fresh, promptly rearranged my books accordingly, and was pleased with the result. Because not every green-covered or yellow-colored book is the same hue, it had a more subtle effect than I expected, and I had fun figuring out how to mix the color blocks, and to arrange my many predominantly black and/or white books (I settled for black on the bottom, white on top, colors grouped roughly by position on the color wheel in between). Guests did double-takes and smiled when they saw my bookshelves. I did too.
Then—since I am also someone who pays too much attention to interior decorating micro-trends—I started noticing color-coded bookshelves everywhere, and wondered, as people do, if I had fallen prey to an overdone fad, if color-coded bookshelves had become as clichéd as wall-mounted antlers or granite counter tops.
Extraordinarily Beautiful Architectural Drawings From the World's Greatest Architects
Modern architectural drawing is usually computer-generated. The resulting hyper-realistic digital renderings often trick the eye and make it difficult to discern the imagined from the real.
But throughout the 20th century, architects more often used pen and pencil sketches, drawings, paintings, collage and other media to create more poetic vision statements for proposed structures.
100 Years of Architectural Drawing—a recently published book by Neil Bingham, a design and architecture historian who is the consulting curator of architectural drawings at the Royal Academy of Arts, London—highlights 300 architectural drawings from the 20th century that illustrate the evolution of the form.
A Tale of Two Skyscrapers
By far the best design podcast around—and one of the best podcasts, period—is Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible. On it he covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post his new episodes so you can check them out and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.
This episode—about an epic battle to dominate the NYC skyline—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.
DIY Legs That Let You Transform Any Flat Surface Into a Table
The world is full of discarded building materials waiting to be reclaimed and reborn. But not everyone has the tools, know-how or confidence to turn that cool door, vintage floorboard, or old window into a console or desk.
Enter the Floyd Leg, a set of four clamp-on, steel legs made in Detroit that allow you to turn any flat surface into a table. Available in 29-inch table and 16-inch coffee table height, the Floyd Leg was invented by Detroit-based designers Kyle Hoff and Alex O’Dell, who are running an already-successful Kickstarter campaign that has earned $211,931, significantly more than its $18,000 goal, to produce an initial run of the legs.