Rustic Modern: Earth, Wood & Steel High-Desert Home

modern desert natural home

There is something about the high-desert prairie lands that indeed seems to invite the long lines and simple naturalistic materials that date back to Frank Lloyd Wright and the so-called Prairie Style approach to designing and building homes. In this case, however, novel techniques and new materials make this modern desert residence a kind of bridge between the stylistic past and a more sustainable future.

modern prairie style home

The interplay of void and solid, spaces and planes, that define this structure (designed by Pique) are more then merely modernist affectations in section and plan – they are a means of blocking out excess solar energy while capturing natural light, leading it all the way to the basement of the building. These more contemporary, rational and linear moves are also balanced by rustic colors and rusted materials.

modern rustic home design

Weathering steel shows intentional rust to blend the house with the surrounding hues of the natural landscape, while rammed earth bricks add to the effect while also making use of local eco-friendly materials – the color of the clay naturally matching the surrounding dirt from which it came. Wood accents add another layer, cut in simple patterns so their variation speaks for itself. The interior design exhibits similarly variegated colors and textures but is likewise Modernist in shape and form.

Seaside Secret: Simple Shack + See-Through Beach House

see through beach house night

Almost more a portal between dry land and the waterfront, this home is designed with deference to the amazing seaside view defined by an interplay of solid structure and void space. A balance of turf and surf is visible even from a distance on approach to the dwelling – like a whole-wall landscape painting with a thin dividing horizon line.

see through beach house interior

The see-through living room area features full floor-to-ceiling openings on both the front and back of the home, affording a clear line of sight between the beach and the hills behind the building when the doors are open. When closed, the entire mass becomes a relatively unremarkable object on the seashore.

see through beach house day

The house itself is a simple one-story residence – a modern box with rustic natural materials that make it mistakable for a humble shack from the distance despite the refined rooms found inside. This modest vacation home is naturally heated by the sun in the winter and easily cooled with crosswinds in the summer.

NURBan Design: Extreme Curved-in-3D Home Construction

futuristic nurbs house

With the shape of a spaceship, scaled skin of some giant serpent and amazing futuristic forms that defy easy description, this home seems like some kind of science-fiction vision or creative artist rendering … but represents a reality architects have dreamed of for decades – a whole house of NURBS.

futuristic nurbs house above

“Non-uniform rational basis spline (NURBS) is a mathematical model commonly used in computer graphics for generating and representing curves and surfaces which offers great flexibility and precision for handling both analytic and freeform shapes.” In short: they are a way to create incredible irregular shapes that are often nearly impossible to construct in the real world … until now.

futuristic nurbs house construction

Increasingly complex computer programs and precise laser-cutting techniques have turned even the most irregular, unusual and unique shapes into potentially buildable structures like this amazing new home designed by architect Enric Ruiz-Geli.

futuristic nurbs house a

The so called ‘Villa Nurbs’ is a tribute to the amazing potential of these innovative technologies and even looks (at least at first glance or in the distance) like something too perfect, too smooth and too space-age to possibly be a real building.

futuristic nurbs house exterior

Architects have been creating models of this kind for a long time and many are still beyond the capacity of construction companies and building groups, but more and more high-profile designers are pushing the limits like this and some engineering and manufacturing firms are catching up quickly.

Futuristic Interactive Living Room Interior Design Idea

minamlist living room furniture idea

Trees have historic and symbolic significance as providers of shade, security and enclosure in the environment. Wood from trees is perhaps our oldest building material. So what about making a tree the center of an all-new futuristic furniture and interior design concept?

minimal all in one living room

Bucking the idea that ultramodern designs must be sleek, simple and angular, this tree was designed by Shanfan Huang & Huang Zhe to be the interactive electronic heart of this conceptual living space. It houses audio/visual equipment, computer, cell phone and other gadgets at the center of the room.

minimalist interior tree furniture

More than just a functional entertainment hub, however, the tree is also envisioned as place to interact with other family members by leaving messages that light up on the sides via LEDs. In essence, this is more than just a new all-in-one furniture idea – it is a different way of looking at how we live and interact in common spaces, a personal and personable alternative to traditional interior design strategies.

‘Lego’ Living Rooms: 15 Luxury Modular Furniture Layouts

modular living room furniture

So you want more clever cabinets, dynamic drawers, stylish shelves and an all-around more engaging entertainment center for your living room? One option is to split the (design) difference and pick out pieces to assemble into something unique and unorthodox. Who knows, the whole furniture set might becomes far more than the sum of its parts – like a game of Tetris or set of toy LEGOs in the right hands.

modular living room layout ideas

In many ways, using smaller furnishings to create a large effect gives you (or your designer) much more control over the finished project and aesthetic ‘fit’ to a home. Much sleeker than single-unit prefabs, these modular elements can arranged and stacked to create configurations that conform to larger design ideas about a given room, space or entire house.

modular living room pictures

While ordering these particular items from Alf Da Fre might not make your holiday shopping list, you do not have to purchase the specific products to buy into or be inspired by the idea. Instead of thinking of each piece of living room furniture as an object, try thinking outside of the (entertainment center) box and looking at the larger picture.

Elegant Convertible Wood Coffee & End Table Design

transforming wood table design

Love it or hate it, transforming furniture is a trend that is increasingly difficult to ignore. While many recent convertible designs are more fun than functional, this particular piece by Alex Suvajac looks dynamic and use-driven as both a side (or end) as well as a coffee table.

transforming coffee side tables

As an end table this piece has a flat top surface, recessed storage shelf and magazine nook. As a coffee table, it has a raised and lowered surface as well as a niche for tucking in remote controls and other table-top odds and ends.

transforming table a

In short: each the object is appealing but also designed so that each mode yields only elements that enhance usability and add style. Best of all, it is made out of fast-growing bamboo for maximum sustainability.

Space Saving Ideas: Extending Dining Room Table Tops


Wood and modern design are too rarely found together when it comes to interior and furniture design, the classic material judged to clash with clean modern lines. These all-wood modernist rectangular and round extending tables, however, transform and expand with technological ease but have the natural visual variety associated with powerfully grained hardwoods. They extend extra dining space with hi-tech grace but traditional beauty, expanding to accommodate additional visitors.


If anything, the marbled appearance of the wood grain (wrapping around all flat surfaces of the table tops and sides) supports and reinforces the rigid modernity of the rectilinear forms – doubtless an intentional move by Schulte. Only when transformed or transforming are the metal elements revealed that make smooth mechanical motions possible. The table shapes themselves are, at least broadly, simply circular and rectangular – though, in extension, the tables ultimately take on more complex and less traditional forms.



With stainless steel support elements and dramatic olive, cherry and other durable, exotic and high-contrast hardwoods, these dining room extension tables make bold statements as the solid centerpieces of a dining room interior design. Further, whether round or rectangle, they are a visually appealing marriage of traditional natural materials and modern technology and hardware responsible for extending and retracting the core form.

Eco-Friendly Urban Center: Sustainable City of the Future

futuristic sustainable city

MVDRV is an (post)modern architectural and urban design firm well-known for their surrealistic interpretations of city living and fantastic visions for the future of urban design, but few of their conceptual designs see the bright light of day – or the cool layered lights of night, shown above in their winning design for a new city center in Korea.

future green city

The mixed use set of mounded towers are at once clearly artificial but also layered with organic material, each level having its own green terrace to the outside world and exposure to the surrounding environment, natural hills that ring the new development.

futuristic living city walls

Live, work, shopping, entertainment and educational spaces are all built into the layers of this futuristic urban design. Exterior homes ring interior atrium spaces that are filled with institutional uses from stores and restaurants to museums and theater spaces.

futuristic eco city center

On the lower levels of the design, thin layers give way to thicker ones packed with commercial uses and common spaces for public interaction.

future green city design

The cultural life of this self-contained city is focused internally yet the structural forms of the rising buildings and the box-hedged terraces that ring them speak to and have views out on the surrounding natural landscapes, tying this new urban design to existing environmental formations.

‘Formed’ Wood Furniture: Dining Table & Curved-Chair Set

crafted dining furniture set

This curious furniture collection is more than just a formal aesthetic exercise – chairs and tables become the creative foil for exploring natural processes over time, at least in an abstract way, such as formation and erosion.

crafted wood furniture set

These ‘Formations’ by Joseph Walsh are intentionally framed in black and taken out of context, an attempt (perhaps) to make them seem more like timeless works of natural art than everyday pieces of dining room furniture.

crafted furniture

The dining table twists, turns and unravels under the influence of invisible forces, like wind or a winding river. The chairs are symmetrical but still convey the sense of being worn smooth over time like sun-bleached animal bones.

crafted wood furniture sculpture

Set apart and framed in white, almost as a secondary project of afterthought, the low side table is perhaps the most engaging piece of them all – it shows the impact of (conceptual) erosion, an effect enhanced by the curving grain of the wood used it its construction.

Green in 3D: 16 Vertical Farm & Skyscraper Park Designs


In increasingly dense urban areas, sometimes the only way to build is up. And with a movement to grow more food locally and to add more green to our urban environments so too has grown the impulse to build skyscraper farms, solar tower parks and other unique and uncanny forms of vertical vegetecture such as the sixteen shown here.


Green roofs have recently become almost the industry standard for urban architectural designs, found on many major civic projects but also in residential complexes and office parks. In turn, these have given way to vertically vegetated surfaces and structures – skyscraper farms were the almost inevitable next step.


Many initial vertical urban farm ideas were theoretical, at least to begin with. They involved layering buildings with levels of greenery or applying a green layer to their facades – in short, they were attempts to integrate green alongside traditional architectural forms and functions.


Subsequent ideas for building up and green have further integrated greenery into the very function of buildings, from pragmatic passive cooling and filtering systems to organic forms that reflect the function of these hybrid structures.


As the idea of an urban green space within a city has evolved so too have the functional complexities of the proposals, from solar-power-generating modular park towers to mixed-use office, residential and agricultural structures.


Many current urban farm and skyscraper park proposals are also incredibly thought-out to the tiniest details, including the species of plant that will work best in various positions throughout the structure.


If this all still sounds far-fetched and futuristic to you, consider this design competition for downtown Dallas which involves structures with all of the above: green roofs, vertical vegetation and layered park-and-farm levels throughout.


Still, while some remarkable green buildings are being built tall in the here and now and near future, many of the most remarkable ideas will not be constructed for decades. This Dragonfly design for downtown New York has sustainable solar, wind and waste management systems – a self-sufficient ecotopia – but is beyond anything likely to be built for many years to come.

Pick a Corner: Cool & Creative Prefab Home ‘Office Pod’

prefab home office pod

Corner-office envy has become a staple stereotype for corporate climbers – so why not skip a few rungs in the company ladder and select your very own corner to work in? This prefab office design is a fully-outfitted cube that comes complete with a chair, desk, cabinets and more, all contained within a modest-but-classy modern metal, wood and glass shell.

prefab modular home office design

Living and working in the same place sounds great in theory, but in practice many of us wish we could create more substantial barriers between work and home life. Designed to be placed on your back patio or sit in any spot within your yard, this pod office provides a cozy-but-contemporary zone apart from the rest of your interior spaces.

prefab flexible office plan

The decor is also compelling: simple white and black walls and accents, textured wood cabinet and door surfaces as well as clean glass-to-metal joinery make it feel both comfortable and functional. Sure, it is somewhat small, but at least this way you can plan and set up your own personal executive OfficePOD wherever you want. Who knows, maybe employers will eventually catch on and start subsidizing them as well.

Beyond Drawing: Creative Colored Pencil Art & Sculpture


From a very first look at these wonderfully detailed colored pencil sculptures by Jennifer Maestre, it should come as no surprise that her artwork was initially inspired by spiny sea urchins – beautiful be dangerous to the touch.


For each sculpture, Jennifer hacks apart hundreds of colored pencils, cores them perpendicular to their length and turns them into beads, essentially, which she then meticulously stitches back together and slowly shapes into solid sculptures.


Though her beginnings were with creatures of the water, Jennifer quickly expanded her subject matter to cover other organic objects – from plants and flowers to house pets and more abstract animals.


While some of her work has a planned form from the very beginning, other pieces morph and shift as they take shape into something completely unplanned but nonetheless compelling.


While her work continues to evolve, this incredible artist has had dozens of exhibitions over the past decade and has also won numerous awards, pushing herself in new directions while exploring the limits of her unique approach.

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