Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

I try to be good environmentally, but the one place where I have no control is in restaurants. Thankfully, there are those like Elizabeth, who make sure even our dining experience is as green as the business allows. With people like her, my conscience can rest a little more at ease on Friday night outs.

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How Elizabeth Meltz is using technology to turn Batali hotspots like Babbo into some of the restaurant biz's most eco-friendly eateries

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rob Brunner
Published: 26 June 2014, Fast Company

When you eat at Babbo, Del Posto, or any of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s other celebrated restaurants, you can be sure that every aspect of the pasta and wine have been carefully considered. What you might not realize is that your meal’s environmental impact has been just as closely thought through.

That’s thanks to Elizabeth Meltz, director of food safety and sustainability for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&BHG), who oversees green- and food-safety initiatives across more than two dozen restaurants in the United States. In the past five years, Meltz has guided all of B&BHG’s eateries through green restaurant certification. She’s also introduced a no-bottled-water policy, created full-scale recycling and composting programs, and started participating in Meatless Mondays with extra vegetable specials.

Meltz’s concerns can swing wildly from determining which Green Seal-certified chemical to use for cleaning grease-caked pots and pans to analyzing the feasibility of using new machines that rapidly decompose organic food waste into a liquid form. “Once you start peeling back the layers of the onion," she says, "you have no idea the details and the minutia that you get into.” [read more]



I've been following this story for awhile now. It's a great case study for the strange gray areas in governance that sometimes hampers public projects. It's also a great example of how people can simply come together for a good cause: more open space for their community. 

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Text and Photos by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Yosuke Kitazawa
Published: 25 June 2014, KCET


Last May, a flock of pedestrians embarking on the epic Big Parade L.A. descended on a small unassuming street in Lincoln Heights on their way to the Ed P. Reyes Greenway. As the group entered through a pedestrian gate, a decidedly sad, homespun sign declared "Park Is Open" in spray painted block letters. It was a far cry from the polished tarpaulin that usually marked public projects, prompting those to wonder, "Is it really open?"

"It's 100 percent open," confirms Deborah Deets, from the Bureau of Sanitation's (BOS) Watershed Protection Division of the Ed P. Reyes River Greenway, a sliver of green space in industrial Lincoln Heights, by the Gold Line station. [read more]

6/20/2014

Newsmaker: Gere Kavanaugh

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Like Deborah, Gere is one amazing designer and woman. When I spoke with her, I realized just how she was able to create an impressive body of work that spanned traditionally silo-ed industries; she simply had laser focus and determination. With Gere, there wasn't wasted energy on self-doubt. All her efforts were spent on moving forward. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Laura Raskin
Published: 16 June 2014, Architectural Record

Gere Kavanaugh. Photo by: Christine Kim.
In Los Angeles, June is the month for design. Coinciding with Dwell on Design (June 20-22) at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Los Angeles Design Festival (LADF) celebrates local and international talent with a series of events. Last year, LADF introduced the Julia Morgan Icon Award, intended to recognize a bold woman and her outstanding contributions to the design industry. This year’s recipient is Gere Kavanaugh, one of California’s pioneer female designers.

Kavanaugh earned her BFA from the Memphis Academy of Art and was one of the first women to receive an MFA from Michigan's Cranbrook Academy of Art. She began her career working at the architectural arm of General Motors in Detroit. Then she became head of interiors for shopping mall design pioneer Victor Gruen. When Kavanaugh began her studio in the 1960s, she shared office space with Frank Gehry, Don Chadwick, and last year’s Julia Morgan Icon Award recipient Deborah Sussman.

For more than 35 years, Kavanaugh has crafted a career that defies specialization. She’s done graphics and interiors for Joseph Magnin department stores and Hallmark greeting cards; graphic design for Max Factor and Pepsi-Cola; even a research room and typeface for the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. She was honored Friday night at LADF’s opening party. A special one-night installation of her work will be on view at Artecnica’s showroom on June 20. RECORD spoke to Kavanaugh, 85, about her approach and motivations, and thoughts on design in Los Angeles. [read more]

I've always loved looking at mosaics and I find something even more appealing when artists use stone. At the newly opened North Valleyheart walk, I found a beautiful work of art in progress. 
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Text and Photos by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Yosuke Kitazawa
Published: 17 June 2014, KCET


People crave green, open spaces -- and they will go to great lengths to find it. Residents on the north side of the Los Angeles River in Studio City have, for years, been traversing a concrete slope just to get to the dusty, riverside trail. Come June 21, that will no longer be the case.

This Saturday at 11 a.m., the gates will officially open for the North Valleyheart Riverwalk Project, a $3.5 million project funded by  Los Angeles County Flood Control District that rehabilitates the river trail from Studio City to Sherman Oaks. The trail covers half a mile, from Coldwater Canyon to the east to Fulton Avenue to the west. It forms a one-mile loop with the southern portion of the trail. [read more]

6/16/2014

Imprint Venture Lab looking to fund creatives

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

So much of funding goes toward tech businesses now that your good ol' well-designed business can sometimes fall by the wayside. I was glad to find people like Imprint who have found their niche helping young, creative businesses get their start. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Anne Colby
Published: 13 June 2014, Los Angeles Times

Imprint Lab team members at a 2013 event are John Hall, left, Jenifer Maxwel, Julia Huang, Tanya Raukko, Kevin Kim and Jeffrey Ng. (Ben Clark)
Imprint Venture Lab is looking for creative entrepreneurs with ideas for consumer goods, food, apparel and social-good businesses that have the potential to become iconic brands.

The Long Beach-based incubator has up to $3 million to invest in a handful of creative and design startups. "We're interested in talking to anyone with a great idea, even if it's just sketched out on a paper napkin," says Tanya Raukko, Imprint managing partner. [read more]

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Laura Raskin
Published: 02 June 2014, Architectural Record

Mobile Homestead was developed by Kelley with Artangel and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit as a community space, and is based on the artist's childhood home in the Detroit suburb of Westland.Photo © Aleks Kocev/BFAnyc.com
The notion of a house as our most private sanctuary is obliterated with Mobile Homestead, the work of the late contemporary artist Mike Kelley, which has made its way from its permanent home at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) to the lot in front of The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA). This is the mobile home’s first journey outside of Detroit, coinciding with a larger retrospective of the influential artist's work at MOCA. He committed suicide in his South Pasadena home in 2012. He was 57.

“We’re not in the real estate business,” says MOCA Los Angeles’s new director Philippe Vergne. “We’re here because Mike Kelley believed art could make a difference, could change someone’s life, one work of art at a time.” At first, the 45-foot-long rectangular volume on wheels appears to be the epitome of domestic perfection. Wrapped in white siding and dotted with blue-green shuttered, sliding windows, the structure is a full-scale replica of Kelley’s single-story, ranch-style childhood home in suburban Detroit. But rather than isolate itself from the world outside, the house has doors that are—literally—open to the seedy, the overlooked, and often unloved. [read more]

This was the biggest news on the Los Angeles River the day the story broke. Its implications still reverberate in the city today. I know many people who are excited to perhaps finally see jackhammers on the concretized river. 

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Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Yosuke Kitazawa
Published: 28 May 2014, KCET


The jury is in and the Los Angeles River's future seems to be bright. After more than six months of intense lobbying by the city, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) has announced that it will be recommending a more ambitious $1-billion plan to restore an 11-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River from downtown through Elysian Park. [read more]

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