Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

A home at its best can really be a reflection of its owner. Fredda's home certainly was that. It wasn't overly large, but it was perfect, like a gem. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Anne Colby
Published: 29 Mar 2014, Los Angeles Times

Fredda Weiss' 1950s Mandeville Canyon home was warm and inviting -- but also a little dark and dated. So after three decades of living in the 2,283-square-foot cottage, Weiss, seen here, decided to give it an update with the help of architect Zoltan Pali. He transformed Weiss' traditional cottage into a contemporary, modernist mountain retreat. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times /November 19, 2013)

Fredda Weiss used to tell people visiting her Mandeville Canyon cottage for the first time to watch for the house "that looks like the seven dwarfs live there."

Weiss' 1950s home was warm and inviting — but also a little dark and dated. So after three decades of living in the 2,283-square-foot cottage, Weiss decided to give her storybook home a happy ending. And she had just the architect in mind: Zoltan Pali.

"If I was going to do this house, he was going to be my architect," Weiss says. [read more]


Hot Stuff: L.A.'s Cross-Cultural Condiments

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Spicy was never my thing, until I grew up. Now, I'm a certifiable fan. There's something about the pleasure/pain of spicy foods that really keeps people coming back for more. There are two tabletop staples (Sriracha and Tapatilo) that look to be foreign, but are actually LA-born and bred, just like many millions of LA residents.

Text and Photos by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Drew Tewksbury
Published: 19 Mar 2014, Artbound

Sketinguish 1-3 by SketOne. Photo by: Carren Jao.
There is no more intimate or more pleasurable way to uncover the complexities of a culture than by ingesting its food. We have only to follow the trail of countless mouthwatering Instagrams, rapturous Yelp reviews, and sold-out food tours by star chefs to prove it.

As repast turns into reflection, a lifetime of meals becomes inextricably intertwined with fleeting moments in time we thought lost in the whirl of everyday life. It only takes a whiff or a taste to transport us.

In Los Angeles, there are two of these potions in existence -- mainstays in many eateries: Sriracha and Tapatio, rivals for Heinz's ketchup and French's mustard. Though wrapped in an Asian or Latino packaging, both tell an undeniably American tale.

"A study of these two sauces is really telling. There's an otherness that's attached to them both, yet they're very much a product of Los Angeles," said Steven Y. Wong, interim Executive Director of the Chinese American Museum and curator of its latest exhibition, "L.A. Heat," in honor of these two spicy condiments. [read more]

I love work that blurs the boundaries between the private and public. Perhaps it's the idealist in me, but whenever spaces become ways to connect people, I instantly think that's a pro for the rest of humanity. 

Materials & Applications' yard displays have become Silver Lake landmarks. The work is showcased in a Long Beach museum exhibition.

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Anne Colby
Published: 17 Mar 2014, Los Angeles Times

Ball-Nogues' Maximillian's Schell was one of the early interventions at M&A. via We Make Money Not Art
A sliver of a yard can be a powerful thing. Materials & Applications has proved this time and again by collaborating with architects to put up fantastical creations on a 25-by-40-foot gravel yard fronting Silver Lake Boulevard.

Past double-take-worthy installations include a golden-leafed Mylar canopy in the shape of a black hole by Ball-Nogues Studio, a motorized vegetative cover that opens and refolds like origami by Eddie Sykes and a sinuous, fire-shaped gazebo made of pressure-laminated panels by Edmund Ming-Yip Kwong. The installations turned the M&A yard into a local landmark — a pocket park in a privately owned space. [read more]


Playing Sick

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Sometimes, being an actor doesn't mean being on-stage. These guys put on a patient's robe and playact for the benefit of would-be doctors that could one day save our lives. Read my latest for 100% subscriber-supported online publication, The Magazine.

Professional patients help doctors become better at diagnosis.
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Brittany Shoot and Glenn Fleishman
Published: 13 March 2014, THE magazine

Slender at 110 pounds, 72-year-old Lee Gale Gruen slumps listlessly in a wooden chair as if her aging spine were slowly conceding defeat to gravity. She meets the eyes of the young woman in front of her, waiting with some apprehension for word of her condition. The young woman takes a deep breath and says, “Unfortunately, I’ve got some bad news…” Her voice wavers and wobbles, and the woman breaks down in tears.

“Time out!” comes a call from behind her.

The instructor breaks into the scenario, reminding the young woman and a class of her fellow medical students that they are sitting in a lecture hall in Los Angeles; none of it is real. Yet. [read more, subscription req'd]

While the rest of us are stuck with the humdrum of everyday city living, CityVision is an organization that tries to shake things up in the traditional Roman world. What can our future cities look like? How will they take shape? How can we be part of it? These are questions they tackle and I ask them why they pursued this line of thinking. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Laura Raskin
Published: 10 Mar 2014, Architectural Record

Worlds of Cityvision will be on view at the WUHO Gallery in Los Angeles through March 23, 2014. The exhibition features urban proposals submitted to international ideas competitions launched by independent architecture lab Cityvision, as well as the lab's own projects. Cityvision team members, left to right: Sebastian Di Guardo, Vanessa Todaro, Joshua Mackley, Boris Prosperini, Ilja Burchard, and Francesco Lipari. Photo courtesy of Cityvision.
The timelessness of Rome—the Eternal City—can be problematic for young architects attempting to break free of its design conservatism. Cityvision, an independent architecture lab based in Rome, offers an outlet by sponsoring competitions, publishing a magazine, and hosting lectures and events that invite people to discuss the future of cities.

Founded in 2010 by Francesco Lipari and Vanessa Todaro—also the principals of OFL Architecture—Cityvision has made appearances at Maker Faire Rome, the MAXXI, and Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma, and garnered the support of Jürgen Mayer H., Joshua Prince-Ramus, and Bjarke Ingels. Four years since its inception, Cityvision celebrates another milestone with the opening of its first exhibition outside of Europe, Worlds of Cityvision, at Woodbury School of Architecture’s WUHO Gallery in Los Angeles, which runs through March 23, 2014. The exhibition features proposals submitted to Cityvision competitions, as well as the lab’s own projects. RECORD spoke to Lipari and Todaro about the challenges of breaking out of the mold and the future of the lab. [read more]

I love colorful people and when it comes to vibrancy few come close to Deborah Sussman. I had the honor of covering her talk and exhibition at WUHO last month (Thanks, Alissa!) and it was a pleasure. Her stories were nothing short of amazing and inspirational. This is a woman who knows how to enjoy life... and I hope my story captures even just a bit of it!

How Deborah Sussman’s colorful graphics transformed Los Angeles and paved a path for women designers

Text by: Carren Jao
Photos by: Laure Joliet
Edited by: Alissa Walker
Published: 15 January 2014, deLab

It doesn’t take much to surmise that 82-year-old designer Deborah Sussman is a woman who knows how to have fun. Just one look at her color-blocked button-down shirt, patchwork pants, blue boa and mismatched footwear, and you come to see a little of the joie de vivre she brings to her projects.

If that’s not enough, a walk through Woodbury University’s WUHO Gallery’s exhibit, “Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles,” which showcased the graphic designer’s work from 1953 to 1984, offers further, unflinching proof. [read more]


World's Coolest Underground Wonders

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I love all hidden things, so it was only natural for me to be curious about what's buried beneath our feet when we travel. Here's my first piece for Travel and Leisure, which was actually syndicated to other websites. You can find it on Yahoo, as well as CNN too!

Man-made or natural, incredible underground attractions exist right beneath your feet.

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Justin Ocean
Published: Feb 2014, Travel + Leisure

The Cave of Crystals in Mexico. Image via Wikipedia.
Jules Verne understood it best: you can fly around the world in 80 days and dive 20,000 leagues under the sea, but you can also find awesome otherworldly adventures right beneath your feet.

Just ask the Mexican miners who discovered a sweltering cavern filled with crystals as tall as apartment buildings, or the Brazilians who first gazed into Poço Encantado, a cave with a lake so clear you lose all sense of perspective looking into its depths. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when it comes to creating cool underground attractions. [read more]

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