One of my urban sketches from Ibiza has made it's way to my shop on Society 6. Entitled Poolside, it's available as a print or as a accent pillow. It's a great way to keep the summer going despite the leaves starting to turn to give way for fall.
I'm a huge fan of great boutique hotels, hotels with a personality of their own. They always inspire the interior designer side of me and bring new ideas to mind. So whenever I get a chance, that's where I like to stay. During our trip to Barcelona we stayed at Ohla Hotel, a great boutique hotel located right in the middle of Barcelona. Like most buildings in Barcelona it has a very traditional look to it but it's been revamped to suit a modern lifestyle with a touch of whimsy for a little bit of fun.
Before entering the hotel, I noticed the facade of the building adorned with random floating balls on the front and on the side (purple wall) of the building : the first sign of whimsy. It's like an art installation. I don't think they had any other purpose but to add something fun to the building and clearly differenciate it from other building without being too obvious. It made it easy to identify from a distance while walking around.
Once inside, upon our arrival, there was this little statue in a jumpsuit above the stair right in front of the entrance. You couldn't help but noticing it with the candle vases on either sides of the stairs, guiding your eyes toward it. The reception desk on the side. It must be interesting to see the reaction of people as they enter the space for the first time.
The booking paperwork was done one floor above. I noticed the really nice large spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the 8th floor. I really like the contrast between the solid white railing and the black stairs as well as the way the light fixture line up the inside of the stair. I wish I would have taken more pictures. It was pretty piece of art in itself.
Hotels in Spain usually require to see your passport upon registration so it tends to takes a little longer to get your room key. The registration area was very comfortable and well appointed. We could sit comfortably, have a glass of water.
Since we arrived a little early (7 AM), we were invited to spend some time at the hotel bar where complementary drinks (water, juice, coffee, tea) were available while our room was getting ready. The bar has a great view of the main street, Via Laetana, where we got to see the morning hustling and bustling of Barcelonians and tourists in the morning. The bar was very comfortable with a lot of seating options and really neat design features like the "shower of lamps" above the counter and the random wood boxes on the wall giving it texture and volume. We went back a couple times during our stay for drinks.
We got a corner room with lots of window and great views of the city. Barcelona is a very sunny place and thankfully the curtain they used were amazing (very useful to catch up on sleep during the day). There was a sheer curtain that gave us privacy while being able to see outside and a second layer of very effective black out curtains. When they were drawn, we could not tell if it was day time or night time outside.
Having stayed in Barcelona for a couple days, I understand why you don't see a lot of large windows on buildings. You don't need them as much because the sun is so bright. I also noticed that a lot of buildings have outdoor curtains to block the sun, as shown on the picture on the top left with the green blinds. It also gives the building a uniform look. The ones I've seen were simple and had only one colour. It would be fun to play with them a little and either add different colours to create a pattern or designs something on it and use them almost as canvas section for a large piece. It's too bad I didn't have enough time to do some urban sketches of the views from our windows. They would have been really nice.
Our room was fantastic! It was always very clean, well appointed, comfortable and beautiful. One of the room key was used to activate the room. There was also a main switch (the large one on the right) to close all the light before leaving. It's a great way to save energy. The attention to detail is great. Even the phone display had our name on it with a welcoming message. My hubby even noticed that after the rooms were done, as supervisor would come to check the room with a ruler to check the bed! :)
The room was more like a loft. The only closed rooms were the toilet room and the shower stall. I love how the walls were mostly black in the back so that the tub stood out almost like a piece of art in a museum. There was quite a bit of storage as well and the wood accent ad warmth to the space.
The flooring in the entry and bathroom were giant grey tiles (approx 4 ft x 4ft), which I assumed are easy to clean. The shower walls also had giant tiles (4ft x 10ft). It's definitely something I would want to do in my own home (easy to clean and very sleek). I also like the ideas of the drain along the perimeter of the floor (again one giant tile) as long as the water don't sit under the tile.
The sink was facing the living area, which was nice if you wanted to check the TV while getting ready. We didn't have much time for TV but I did sneak in a couple spanish TV shows. It's nice to see what people from other countries watch and fascinating to realize how alike we are. Notice how they hid the cable from the wall mounted TV and how neat the overhead lighting is. You can't see any fixture on the ceiling, everything is hidden for a sleek look but give you a good amount of lighting. Whoever designed this did a really good job.
The living area was very comfortable. We ordered room service once and ate there. (It was really good). The loveseat featured an ottoman that could either be close to the sofa to create a lounging area, or moved away to get more leg room.
The desk area had a large working surface and was very practical and beautiful in its simplicity. Notice the great uniform lighting on the entire surface. That's what I call attention to detail. No wires in sight. I'm not much of a minibar type of person, but the selection was ok. Since the hotel is located right across two convenience stores with a lot more selection, including a large selection of inexpensive Spanish wine (I think some were 4 Euros), it's probably not a top priority.
The amenities were nice and were always replenished when required. Thankfully they weren't worried about people stealing their hangers. (I have this pet peeve about hotels using these silly hangers that you can't take out of the closet) We also had robes and slippers. They thought about everything.
Another amazing feature of the hotel is the rooftop glass pool and bar. It's like an oasis in the middle of the city. A nice place to relax and cool off.
The views from up there were absolutely stunning.
At night the pool is closed and the area turn into and outdoor lounge. The hotel even has its own newletter "The Ohla Hotel Times" with the menu and latest related news.
The included breakfast at the hotel was excellent. Every morning we had a selection of freshly made juices, fruits, cereals, bread, cheeses, cold cuts, Cava (Spanish champagne), as well as cook to order eggs, crepes and waffles.
We also had tapas there on two occasions and didn't even have time to check out their restaurant on the second floor. The food was great. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was too busy eating after longs days of urban sketching or rushing to eat breakfast before heading out to my morning workshops. I only took pictures the last day we had breakfast there. Ah well, I guess we'll have to go back ;)
Of all the boutique hotels that I've been to thus far (I'll probably blog about them later on), Ohla takes the number one spot. I definitely recommend it.
I decided to make use of the pack of Strathmore watercolor papers I got from the symposium to practice watercolors and drew a couple iconic shoes by the late Alexander McQueen. I've always been fascinated by his creativity and ability to push the envelop when it comes to shoes. It's also interesting to see who wears them outside of the runway and what kind of outfit they wear with it. Lady Gaga is the one that brought this designer to light for me. I first saw his alien shoes (3rd shoe on the second row) on her in one of her videos.
In an attempt to practice drawing people in motion, I decided bring my sketchbook to the Toronto B-Girl Movement Celebration at the Dovercourt House. It was great to see all these people of various ages, dancing and having fun. The event was to celebrate the end of the session of a three-month program created to support girls interested in learning more about breakdancing. The celebration featured 2 on 2 battles (pairing a guy and a girl to compete against another girl-guy team), cyphers (dancers taking turns expressing themselves by showing off their moves within a circle of participants), and food. Whoever organized this, did an awesome job.
Bboys and Bgirls don't really stand still for long periods of times, especially when there's music going on, so I started by drawing people sitting down to chat, eat or take a break. During the first part of the event, most dancers were warming up, learning tricks from one another, catching up with friends. I really got a nice sense of community while I was there. People came to see my drawings, I chatted with a couple dancers and even lent my belt to a young girl who decided to participate last minute to the battle.
The MC presented the girls who took part in the program and who were going to participate in the battle. It was a great occasion for me to sketch the group of people who gathered to listen to her. Then battling teams were randomly selected and after a little strategy session between team members, the battle began.
I stood on a bench in order to get a better view as more people gathered around to see what the dancers could do. It's very impressive to see what some of them can do and the creativity in their movement and choreography. I've always been fascinated by the amount of control they have over their body. And the ability to carry their weight on one hand never get's old.
While the battle was going on one side of the room, there was also a cypher going on the other side of the room. I sketched one instance of it and I'm happy with the result, especially the movement of the dancer in the middle. I hope that with time I'll be a little faster and will be able to concentrate more on the movements and the beautiful shapes these dancers create with their body. To me they are like a dynamic, living, breathing, moving works of art : organic sculptures. I'm glad I was able to see this and would definitely do this again.
Newton has a new facebook page
Hope you "like" it.
I attended the Creative Morning presentation by Jennifer Keesmaat and took this opportunity to do a little sketch noting during the presentation. It was a great presentation on urbanism in Toronto and what it takes to help make the city a better place.
Check out my post on Modern Metropolis for more info.
Check out my post on Modern Metropolis for more info.
I finally got the opportunity to attend a creative mornings in Toronto yesterday and I'm glad I went. Creative Mornings are international monthly lectures on various interesting topics. This event was founded by Tina Roth Eisenberg of Swiss Miss who wanted to create an accessible, inspiring morning even for people to meet: a TED for the rest of us. The topic this month is urbanism.
The event for the Toronto chapter was held at 401 Richmond, a really neat refurbished industrial building that used to produce tin ceilings, and now home almost 150 artists, cultural producers, micro-enterprises, galleries, festivals and shops. A really nice breakfast was also waiting for us upon arrival.
The presenter was Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief planner for the city of Toronto who's committed to keep improving the city of Toronto. Her main topic was the importance of "owning your city" in order to help it flourish. It's refreshing to see a civil servant who wants to make things better for the city and encouraging people to participate. I found a lot of similarities about what she was saying with what I was blogging about on MoOt while I was in Ottawa. Her three main factors to ensure the growth of the city in the right direction are 1) Belief in the vision for the future 2) Fully understanding the proposed changes and 3) Actively participating and engaging in the process to create positive changes. Makes me want to get involved and I just moved in. :)
After her talk, attendees we invited to ask questions and then to pitch various ideas or projects. What a great concept! It's a great way to see what's happening in the city. One of the participants raised concern about the number of condo buildings being built with little attention given to the view at street level for pedestrians. The problem with this is that certain central areas are becoming less inviting and it defeats the purpose of becoming more pedestrian friendly. After all, "the city needs beauty", as Keesmaat pointed out in her presentation, and plain walls just won't do. There were no definite solutions to that problem from what I understood, but I wonder if it would be possible for the city to require these large condo developers to always include a creative vignette at street level to correct this problem. The city may not be able to force them to make their first floor accessible to the public or tell them who should occupy the main floor, but requiring street level art in might work. Something as simple as drawing on concrete with a bit of creative landscaping might work.
There was also an interesting concept from the city of Toronto where they encourage citizens to send picture of things they like about the city and things they don't like about the city. It's a simple and effective idea. It would be neat if there was a place where we could see the submission. Maybe a facebook page or something similar.
This building project in Toronto has a series of townhouses in three rows between two streets and a little alley between the rows of townhouses where lots of plants have been installed to give a sense of privacy. It's interesting to see how townhouses are built in a city and how people make it their own. Most of them are relatively empty, but this one couple was having breakfast under their garden sunshade this morning. Looks like a nice way to start to day if you don't mind all theses windows looking in.
The TRAM is another thing that I admired in Barcelona : it was running on grass. It's so much nicer than asphalt and most likely better for the environment. The green added a serene lush feel to the area. I also like how the space is organize : there's a space for cars and scooters, a place for the tram and a space for cyclists and pedestrians. It's quite a large street. Whoever planned this did a great job in my eyes and this should be emulated in more cities for better living.
This TGIM is more about encouragement. Whatever you're doing to get to where you want to go, no matter how hard it is, don't give up. Take it one day at a time. Everyone is always capable of a lot more than they think. This is a test of your will and commitment, a call to your higher self, an opportunity to grow. When you look a little deeper you realize that everyone that made it to the top had to face their own struggle. It's not something that people talk about a lot, but when I pay attention, I always find little clues that shows that all you have to do is believe in yourself, keep at it, keep improving and hang in there. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
So I was all exited to take Newton's photo with a sculpture of a greyhound in front of a store... he wasn't very impressed. Can you tell by the expression on his face?
Newton has a new facebook page
Hope you "like" it.