Silk of the Future

What is stronger than Kevlar, more rare than a four leaf clover, and shines like an Olympic gold medal? A textile made entirely of spider silk. On display at the American Museum of Natural History, this incredible piece took four years and over one million spiders to create. Although the title of “largest textile made of spider silk” now belongs to an embroidered cape, this cloth measures 11’ by 4’, not something to laugh at!

Displaying Old Kevlar Vest.jpg

Testing of an old Kevlar vest
“Bullet-Proof Vest Testing.” Silodrome, 2014. Digital file.

Current Kevlar vest
Quick, J. L. “A Better Bulletproof Vest.” Bob Johnson’s Toughbook Stuff, 2012. Digital file.

Displaying Close Up Spider Silk.jpg

The edge of the spider silk textile found in the American Museum of Natural History
Leggett, Hadley. “1 Million Spiders Make Golden Silk for Rare Cloth.” Wired, 2009. Digital file.

The full textile
Leggett, Hadley. “1 Million Spiders Make Golden Silk for Rare Cloth.” Wired, 2009. Digital file.

Displaying Spider Silk Cape.jpg

Spider Silk Cape
“A Gold Silk Cape Made By Millions of Rare Spiders.” LuxuryLaunches, 2006. Digital file.

So, if this material is so strong, why don’t we use it for everything? Well, the reason the production took four years is because one spider can only produce a certain amount of silk at one time!

But…What if it could be created synthetically? It’s not out of the question; nylon was developed as a substitute for silk. All that needs to happen is for one person to have an idea.

That’s where Randy Lewis comes in. This professor transplanted a gene from the silk-producing spiders into several goats. A mutation of sorts is created, and the milk taken from the goats contains an extra protein. The protein is extracted from the milk through a several processes, one of which involves taking the fat out of the milk. Eventually, the protein is concentrated enough that it can be used to create spider silk. The liquid protein is then slowly injected into alcohol, causing the protein to solidify and form silk.

The big question now would be: “Is the process worth it?” Right now, one quart of milk creates a vial of the protein that can make a silk strand 2-3 meters long. Those aren’t fabulous stats, but Mr. Lewis hopes that as the goats keep reproducing, the protein content of the milk will jump from 2% to 10%. Who knows, perhaps in the future we will be able to afford textiles created from these special spider-goats.

For more on the spider silk, follow the link below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYlkJyG1Oik&feature=player_detailpage

Hot Design for Keeping Cool

Written by Guest Blogger Kayla Harvey

Its summer, its hot, and its not showing signs of stopping.  Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy some cool breezes rather than bake in the sun?  If you are trying to beat the heat here are some helpful tips to keep your outdoor spaces cool as the dog days drag on.
1. Green is Cool
Energy efficiency is always a good idea, but in this case literal greenery will help to keep you cool.  We all know that shade trees reduce heat, but did you know that grass and other plants can help to keep temperatures regulated in your yard as well?
Take a look at the driveway and patio shown in these images.  Concrete and pavement absorb heat and radiate it back long after the sun sets.  The use of grass and concrete pavers together helps to limit the amount of water needed as well as reduce heat retention.  This creates a more comfortable outdoor space, and happens to be a sharp looking design.
2. Catch the Breeze, Block the Rays
If your outdoor space receives frequent afternoon sun a shaded area is a must. A patio with an overhang provides an excellent opportunity to utilize outdoor curtains. Your best bet for keeping cool is to open up cross ventilation so that you can enjoy the breeze.  Be sure to hang the curtains with a bar or wire that allows you to move them as needed.  This way you can make the most of the wind while blocking any direct sunlight.
If outdoor curtains are not for you, try this novel planter wall.  The wall and plants provide shade, and the slats through the middle will allow air to circulate.
3.  Light Up the Night
When the sun goes down so do temperatures, so make the most of your yard with illumination.  There are a variety of ways to create outdoor rooms through the use of solar powered light fixtures, outdoor lighting, and even illuminated furniture.
If you are unsure you want to commit to new furniture or lighting try this simple trick to light up your yard.  Take oversized balloons filled with air, and just before you tie them off add a small neon glow stick to the inside.  These are great tossed into a pool for parties, or if anchored, to line a driveway.

Now that you know these tips, get on out there and enjoy your summer!

Era of Art Quiz

Written By Guest Blogger: Kayla Harvey

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Think you know the era of art best described by your style?  If art embodied people as an attitude, what would yours say?  You might be surprised by it!
If the world of art is an ocean for which to swim, then lets jump into the puddle of this quiz, just for fun, and see what we find.
1.  I am a(n) __________ kind of person.
a)  Emotional
b)  Pick-Yourself-Up-By-The-Bootstraps
c)  Humorous
d)  Go-With-The-Flow
2.  I think the best art ___________
a)  Evokes strong feelings from the viewer
b)  Is technically accurate and true to life in appearance
c)  Is instantly recognizable, and culturally relevant
d)  Captures the fleeting beauty around us
3.  I think the best way to succeed is to:
a)  Fully experience every emotion
b)  Work hard
c)  Be aware of what is happening in my own culture
d)  Take each moment as it comes
4.  Images should be _________ to have artistic meaning.
a)  Emotive
b)  Rational
c)  Iconic
d)  Representational
5.  If I were touring an art museum and listening to music I would listen to:
a)  Singer/Song Writer
b)  Classical Orchestral
c)  Rock and Roll
d)  Instrumental Jazz
6. The most important component of a painting is:
a)  Authentic aesthetic experience
b)  Balanced composition
c)  Anything you want
d)  Brevity of creation
7.  If I were to pick a meal to eat just for fun it would be:
a)  Frilly tea sandwiches and fancy cookies
b)  Slow cooked and savory pot roast
c)  Fast food cheeseburger and fries
d)  Quick and colorful salad bar
8.  I enjoy art that is:
a)  Flirtatious and expressive
b)  Serious and contemplative
c)  Light-hearted and satirical
d)  Melodic and flowing
9. Finish this sentence.  The chicken crossed the road:
a)  To have himself a good cry, and fall in love while walking through a beautiful pasture.
b)  To get to the other side.
c)  To become a rocket ship and sail to the moon with Marilyn Monroe.
d)  To enjoy the sunset while it lasts.
10.  The best artists:
a)  Create sensations for their viewers
b)  Are classically trained and adhere to traditions of beauty
c)  Find common objects beautiful
d)  Capture the momentary beauty of everyday life
Alright, now that you have answered all of the questions see which lettered answer comes up most frequently in your selection. Read below to see which artistic era you are paired.
A = Romanticism
If you love emotional expression Romanticism is made just for you.  The movement began near the end of the 18th century as a reaction against the Industrial Revolution with particular aversion toward some of the downsides that came with the Age of Enlightenment.  Although the forms within Romantic paintings are still classical in nature, the color palate is much more vivid and pastel than in previous artistic eras.
Romanticism centers around the idea of validating strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience.  This system of thought spawned various other forms of artistic expression that blossomed during the period.
If after reviewing the art of Romanticism you would like to see other similar genres be sure to check out Rococo and Chinoiserie.
B = Renaissance
Alright, so this artistic period is a little up tight, but can you blame them?  Genius artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael were producing precision art the likes of which have never since been paralleled.  The movement began in Italy and signaled the end of the Middle Ages.  Its name literally means “rebirth” as it is characterized by a renewal of the classical Greek and Roman traditions of balanced beauty.
The Renaissance was not a time limited to artistic innovation only.  The original Renaissance man Leonardo Da Vinci asserted, “Man is the measure of all things.”  And while Humanistic philosophy such as this may have begun with artists, it’s affects were wide spread, and may still be felt today in the belief of the advancement of humanity through its own efforts.
For continued exploration of similar artistic movements be sure to check out Mannerism and Neoclassicism.
C = Pop Art
Its fun, its comical, its sarcastic, and sometimes its just downright bizarre. Pop art began, as most art movements do, in reaction to the shortcomings of the previous movement.   In the late 1950s Abstract Expressionism was being shoved out of the way by irreverent Pop Artists fed up with the out of touch nature of their predecessors.  They felt that art should be tangible, iconic, easily understood by common people.  In a sense, art left the gallery and entered the street where everyday objects became exalted as figures of high art.
In addition to the use of found object, the movement is also characterized by the use of new and evolving technologies and materials.  One of the best examples of this is the work of Robert Rauschenberg who crafted found objects (sometimes trash) alongside neon Plexiglas and polymers.
For further research into Pop Art look into its possible origins in the movement known as Dada.
D = Impressionism
Impressionism marks a decided change in fine art.  In the late 1800s the movement began under much opposition.  The artists aim was an attempt to capture the momentary, transient effects of light.  It is bright and vivid and its paintings seem to have a swirling movement all their own.  It is an artistic style obsessed with immediacy, and the subjects contained within it are often ordinary everyday landscapes and people.
Impressionism was largely aided by the advancement in technology of paint tubes.  This allowed artists to paint en plein air, or outdoors in open air, and to capture more of the affects of light in the atmosphere.
Other artistic movements that were affected by Impressionism are Fauvism and Cubism.

Design 101 – The Golden Ratio

Written By Guest Blogger: Kayla Harvey

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Prime the Flux Capacitor, and secure your time-travel helmets for this installment of Design 101.  We will be reaching back, way back, to discover the origins of modern design through the birth of geometry and the Arabic numerical system.  If all that does not sound like enough fun for you, there are even algebraic formulas you can try out for yourself!  So, hold on tight, here we go!

Cartoon_Euclid

Our first stop on this trip is ancient Alexandria around 300 BCE.  There the “Father of Geometry”, Euclid, is writing what will become one of the most influential works of mathematics the world has ever seen.  Amongst the many significant geometric observations Euclid records the Golden Ratio.   Simply put this means, a+b is to a as a is to b.

 

Da Vinci Vitruvian Man

Fast forward several hundred years to the middle ages and a man who became known as Fibonacci is exploring the Arabic Numeral system and its advantages compared to the then standard Roman Numeral system.  Fibonacci is credited with a series of numbers, and a subsequent formula, for determining a golden ratio.  Numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence work on a recurrence relation.  This means that it can be infinitely scaled larger or smaller.

 

The Golden Ratio via HongKiat

Fheeew!  That was getting heavy!  What do all these formulas and complicated mathematical lingo have to do with modern design?  If it feels abstract and irrelevant, know for sure it isn’t.  These are simply attempts to explain why we find certain things to be beautiful.  Why across cultures and centuries humans have gravitated toward specific proportions in design.  It might be because these ratios are an expression of our own, as seen in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, or possibly because the Golden Ratio is everywhere in nature.

 

Golden Ratio In Nature

Regardless of its origins, the Golden Ratio is one element of design that is here to stay.  Interior Designers constantly find this principal at work.  The Golden Ratio is the reason why rectangular rooms feel the most comfortable, and typically have the best furniture placement options.  It is not just a number or a mathematical concept, it is just as much an intuitive feeling that you get when entering a space.   If things feel pinched, or out of balance, the Golden Ratio might be the answer.  So next time you see an ultra modern house, or a blooming flower, remember the Golden Ratio and see if you cant find this design concept at work.

 

Golden Ratio In Modern Design

Golden_Ratio_FP_Perspective

Chasing The Rabbit

Written by Guest Blogger Kayla Harvey
Maison-Objet-Paris
Watch the Video here: maison & objet
Entering an industry exhibit for Interior Design is nothing short of an “Alice in Wonderland” experience.  Never before seen innovations, striking new trends, and designers that have taken at least a few cues from the Mad-Hatter himself!  Go ahead, fall through the rabbit hole and experience the wondrous marvels that we have fallen in love with at the French exhibit Maison & Objet.