Category Archives: 1970’s

Hey Arnold!

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My good friend Andrew Springer works for Good Morning America on ABC. He is the guru for all things television and is often spotted reading a hard cover, non-fiction book on the history of the medium. No really, this kid has a killer commute and refuses to switch over to e-books, he likes dog-earing the pages and feeling the paper! But, I digress, Springer is my go-to grand poobah on the history of network television and the rise of certain thematic media trends. He was actually my friend who suggested I do a post on The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s interior design and set design, HERE. I recently asked him for his next suggestions – I was thinking of recreating the look from the oh-so-eighties “Clarissa Explains it All” but he suggested another Nickelodeon classic, Hey Arnold!. He texted me, “Remember his TOTALLY AWESOME bedroom?”. I do remember his bedroom, and I think the space officially accounts for the first time I was ever jealous of a cartoon. I think the creators of the cartoon even knew how cool it was since they dedicated an entire episode to its powers.

The cartoon Hey Arnold! was created by Craig Bartlett (author of Rugrats) and premiered in 1996. It ran for five seasons, had exactly 100 episodes, and…. Bartlett originally set out  to become a painter “in the 19th-century sense”, but started pursuing a career in animated films because of inspiration he found during a trip to Italy. It also did not hurt that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is Craig Bartlett’s brother-in-law. This new career turn brought him to claymation and Pee-wee’s Playhouse (another cult classic), it turns out Arnold was actually a minor character spun-off from this series, and was originally greenlit as  “Arnold Saves the Neighborhood”.

Hey Arnold! takes place in the fictional American city of Hillwood. The nebulous city seems to be based on large, metropolitan  cities, including Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and New York City with sporadic references to Nashville, TN and Allentown, PA, as mentioned in the Sally’s Comet Episode. Basically, the city is an amalgam of urban Americana. The series chronicles the life of Arnold, a 4th-grader in a nameless city , who lives in a multi-racial boarding house with his grandparents and a motley assortment of neighbors and friends. He is a reluctant hero, problem solving, and always forced to “do the right thing”. I learned several things from Hey Arnold!; how to spell the word “qualm”, to never eat raspberries, to never try to make a pig listen, how to judge hitting baseballs in the wind, saw my first televised bar mitzvah, the plight of refugees of The Vietnam War and adoption in tore worn countries (Mr. Hyunh and his a daughter, Mai), and a million lessons on ‘not judging a book by its cover’.

“The boy with the cornflower hair. Me beloved, and my despair.” – Helga

Image found HERE.

SO HOW DO I RECREATE THIS BEDROOM SO THAT STOOP KID WILL BE AFRAID TO LEAVE THE STOOP (and stay in the house?) The skylight is key, with a modern meets industrial vibe.

Image found HERE.

A modern day rendering and replica of Hey Arnold’s Room, HERE.

Image by Lotta Agaton, via HERE.

Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Van Vorst Park — Jersey City, New Jersey, Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Arnold had a very 1960’s to 1970’s anthropomorphic and avocado/orange rug. His walls was a blue green with alien print and ufos on the. His bedspread and blanket were a solid seafoam color. He had a very funky starburst, Eames style clock on one wall. Some of the details were very nifty-fifities diner-esque. He had a dusty pink modular storage unit with space for books, knickknacks and orange drawers. In the middle of the room sat an old car Bench Seat (or diner booth?) in red upholstery. He had a radiator, a fish tank, a PC, flowers, a show rack, an oblong egg chair, and he had track lighting. Somehow both urban, inexpensive, and modern.

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What is your favorite TV bed room?

P.S. All screencaps found HERE.

Concrete Jungle

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Concrete is a composite construction material composed primarily of aggregate, cement and water. Technically speaking, concrete is a heterogenous mixture that has several variations – it’s recipe can include sand, ash, pumice, silica, quicklime, pozzolanic ash, crushed limestone, and crushed granite (to name a few). The chemical process in which concrete solidifies and dries is actually (and ironically) called hydration. The substance and invention actually date from the Roman Empire – indeed the word comes from the Latin word “concretus” (meaning compact or condensed).  Apparently though, after the fall of the Roman Empire this technology became extremely scarce and all but forgotten until the 18th century – that’s thousands of years people!  HOW does something like that happen? The romans used the substance to shape domes, aqueducts, and archways. Several concrete bathhouses still stand from the era. That seems pretty advanced for the time period – and yet POOF! The discovery just disappears.

Via Knight Frank

In the town of Zwickau, Germany, concrete architecture peppers the rivers. Image found HERE. 

 LicenseCopyright All rights reserved by Ty Cole.

Brutalism was an architectural style that flourished in Critics of the style find in the 1950’s to the mid 1970’s. Many viewers found it unappealing due to its “cold” appearance, projecting an atmosphere of totalitarianism (this was the Cold War, folks). Others were upset that the material of concrete was used in residential areas as it lent itself easily to urban decay and graffiti.  Alison and Peter Smithson (British architects) coined the term in 1953, from the French béton brut, or “raw concrete”, a phrase used by Le Corbusier to describe the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post-World War II buildings. To learn more about the styles origins, go HERE. 

Concrete is extremely susceptible to environmental damage. The mixes tensile strength can be damaged by wetness, sea water, freezing, and erosion. Today we have a bevy of materials that can hinder this process – however in the ancient days of yore – the Egyptians, and subsequently the Romans, learned to add horse-hair to the mixture in order to stop cracking.

A concrete wall becomes the new neutral. 

Reflective, glossy, air, and bright. Concrete becomes a minimal lover’s landscape. LicenseCopyright All rights reserved by Stebbi.

Concrete floors found in the Dutch Mountains, image via Design Milk HERE.

Brutal concrete stairs via Sisters Agency, HERE.

Sideboards by Eric Degenhardt for Böwer, image found HERE.

As far as being a decorative material, concrete actually can come in colors other than a drab grey! It all depends on the initial mix. Concrete even takes to staining, just like wood! The rock is also extremely energy efficient because it does not allow air seepage (like wooden house frames) – it can help to insulate and keep a building’s temperature constant.

A modern and white space complete with burnished and sleek concrete floors. The material takes on a natural and calming quality. Image found via House to Home, HERE.

This Spanish abode is 1/3 rustic cottage, 1/3 bohemian, 1/3 brutalist minimalism. Image found HERE.

Concrete loft in the West Village, NYC. Bricks, Concrete, Plastic, and Wood mingle in this airy space. Embrace materials. Found HERE. 

For the record, there is an abstractionist art movement called “concrete art”. It was first introduced by Theo van Doesburg in his “Manifesto of Concrete Art” (1930) – it has NOTHING to do with the rock mixture and EVERYTHING to do with casting off the strictures of interpretation. The art form aims to be devoid of symbolic influences or implications, in this way it is a concrete thought, not able to be read. Also affected by the varied uses of the word, “concretism”, is a practice of poetry wherein the visual arrangement of words form a pattern on the page are more importance than phonetic aesthetic. Oh the joys of the English language, etymology, and homonyms!

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Record Time

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Step 1: Find a friend! I found Kimberley, she’s my go-to crafting buddy. If you have a friend named Kimberley, use her too. Go to your local thrift shop and find cake molds, bowls, or anything circular that is oven safe over 300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Our bowls were only $1.99. This object will be used to mold your record bowl.

Step 2: Continue shopping at your local Goodwill, or thrift shop to find inexpensive records. Ours were $0.99 each, however many places sell classical albums for $0.25 a pop. Be warned! Sometimes the most AWESOME covers actually have the least attractive records inside. Don’t judge a book (or record) by it’s cover. The inside is what counts (in life, and in record shopping), so open the package and the sleeve and see what the record inside has to offer. This is what will be on display in the end product.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to 250-300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe down your record so it does not have extraneous dust – this will melt into the bowl. Make sure the record is dry. Place your record centered on an oven proof bowl. Place in the oven for no more than five minutes (it starts to let off toxic gas if left in too long) at a time. Open a window and ventilate. At five minutes (but sometimes sooner, use oven light to check if corners are dropping, melting, and bending) take out of the oven using oven mitts! Safety first! Remain calm! Don’t fret!

Step 4: As soon as you take the record out of the oven (it will be hot) work quickly (less than 20-30 seconds) to shape the object. You can use the bowl as a mold, and press the record inside. You can also roll the record as you would when making a megaphone out of paper (lower left hand corner). If you are sculpturally inspired, you can even freehand mold the record into different shapes, or stamp the melted vinyl with pattern. If an object is not folding or forming to your liking, place it in the oven to soften it again for another minute or so. The vinyl cools and dries EXTREMELY quickly – usually in under a minute.

Step 5: Place and show off your object. Here I am planning on using the bowl to hold candy near my bar! Kimberley is using her rolled record (in the previous image) as a sconce or a plant holder mounted to the wall. These bowls can be used as planters because of the hole in the middle makes automatic drainage! Since the item is so inexpensive to make, and takes such a short amount of time to form (some would say RECORD TIME, har har), I would recommend making a ton of them and giving them away to people you love as “just because” presents! What a unique and retro way to decorate.

P.S. All photographs by me.

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