Ideas for Contemporary Living

Tag: Bathrooms

Tropical Modernism

Posted on December 20th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Knowledge. No Comments

I’m excited to experience a bit of tropical modernism in Southeast Asia. While I’m extremely excited for the food, culture, world heritage sites, beaches, and down time half a world away, I’m also very excited to see how modernist respond to the climate, materials and culture in a tropical zone.  Here’s a couple of things I’m hoping to see.

Inside Out. Adapting modernism to a tropical climate pushes the integration of indoor and outdoor (average LOW temperatures never fall below 75 degrees F in Singapore, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City).  Pilotis supporting columns free the perimeter of load bearing walls, allowing expanses of glass, moveable walls and shutters to open spaces, blurring boundaries. Pavilions, patios and expanse of water really do connect one to the elements.

Garden Spaces.Corbusier’s preference to rooftop gardens can be interpreted as gardens, everywhere.  Many local architects respond with vertical gardens, and multiple landings creating a vertical oasis.

Great circulation.  Did I mention the abundance of floating and spiral staircases in the work of Tropical Modernism that I’ve studied? These are great for allowing air to circulate.

Open Floor Plan.Open spaces to allow tropical breezes, blurring distinctions of room and usage.  Interior passages ways allow heat and air to rise, creating soft breezes.

Sun … Read More »

Moving Light

Posted on December 4th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

I’ve recently designed several stained glass windows and skylights for windows. While color abounds, this is not a requirement, and there is absolutely no reason to veer from a modern point of view. To begin these projects, I referenced a few of my favorites projects and designers for inspiration. Here’s a look at a few of these.

A new point of view. Architects, designers and artists having been rethinking the possibilities, the idea of a stained glass window.

Shifting light. The effect of light tracking across a room can provide animation, and reveal the metaphysical passage of time.

Private spaces. Bathrooms are a natural location for stained glass window, which can obscure while providing transcendent light.

Stairwells. These are a natural location for stained glass windows and skylights, providing much need light, and a does of design into a transitory space. Color here is great, as you don’t need to live with it all day long.

Introspection. Translucent glass, arranged in a geometric pattern, can provide light and style in spades, while setting the stage for serious concentration or relaxation.

Creativity. Artist continue to employee stainless in their work, introducing contemporary ideas into an old art form.


David Bjørngaard, December 2018

Check out what I’m up to at Bjørn … Read More »


Posted on January 6th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. 2 comments

2017 was blur…great projects and clients, a growing business, and some amazing travel. One of the highlights was the debut of my powder room at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase House. A small, windowless room, the smallest room in the house.  Low ceilings, and no architectural details to salvage, this was not much more than a closet when I started.

The challenge was to make this enclosed space feel larger.  Inspiration came from a simple Roman fountain, with execution and detailing influence from trips to Rome and Milan. The result is a self-contained, immersive space that is quiet, reflective, and exquisite…in a way the anti-jewel box powder room. Like many of my projects, the design focused on the confident handling of materials, the detailing of which are revealed in the soft light animating the space.

Here are some of the techniques that I employed to expand the space:

Trick the senses. The rounding of all inside corners not only highlights the thickness of the materials, but also results in a lack of shadows. Our peripheral vision, lacking the vertical shadow lines that define space, is tricked into perceiving the space as bigger.  I like this about the work of James Turrell, using light-spaces … Read More »


Posted on December 29th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Knowledge, The Moment. 2 comments

One of the materials which I have embraced this year is terrazzo. Part of the reason is that terrazzo reminds me of Italy, where it was invented in the 16th Century; terrazzo is widely used in Italy in homes, lobbies and restaurants. Part of my interests is due to terrazzo’s sustainability, being made from remnants of marble, quartz and glass. I also like the Art Deco and 1950’s vibe, as can be seen here San Francisco in many residential developments; just take a drive through the outer neighborhoods and look at the beautiful terrazzo entry stairs, still colorful and intact.

What is terrazzo? Terrazzo is a composite material originally made of cement and marble remnants from quarries. Today, resin is also used now as a binder, while quartz, glass and metal are being used in addition to marble. Terrazzo is either poured on-site, or can be purchased in tile or slab form for easier (and often less expensive) installation.

Why choose terrazzo? In addition to the charmed history and sustainability, terrazzo is extremely durable, and is available in nearly unlimited colors, in a range of materials. Terrazzo, which retains warmth, is also a great choice when using radiant heating.

Where can you use terrazzo? I’m … Read More »

Island Life

Posted on March 15th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

As you read this I will be lying in a hammock, swinging in the humid breeze of the Mayan Caribbean. A good book, a cool drink and a friend or two will make for a great trip.

Living in a tropical location, or setting up any vacation home for that matter, revolves around several basic tenants: keep it simple, make it user friendly, and encourage large gathering of friends. You don’t go on vacation to work, you go to have fun. So put a little thought into design to further your fun. Here are some tips.

Make the kitchen big and open, because that is where you’ll be spending a lot of time in the evenings. Provide lots of countertop space and durable surfaces, so you have room to work and don’t have to worry about cleaning up right away.  Closed storage allows you to store staples out of sight until needed.

Focus on the pool, this is where everyone wants to be during the day, but celebrate both the shade and sun…some of us want to be in the shade! The shade will give everyone a place to retreat from the mid-day heat, or take a nap after that afternoon Pina Colada. Treat the … Read More »

Paris Match

Posted on December 18th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

The City of Lights has been in our thoughts lately. The city that brought us the Eiffel Tower illuminated in lights, the moving picture, and the Age of Enlightenment…Paris has for over 400 years been at the center of what is modern, forward thinking, and chic. Values of liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, and fraternity were championed, and spread, from Paris. Taste was also spread from the court of Louis XVI and the Petit Trianon to the modernism of Jean-Michel Frank and Le Corbusier, to the minimalism of Jean Nouvel and Andre Putnam. As citizens, friends and aesthetes, we owe so much to the Parisians.

I try to write posts that I hope may be of some interest, service and even inspiration. Lately my thoughts keep returning to Paris. For while Milan has an edge on the contemporary spirit, and California leads with a laid-back attitude, Paris shines with good taste learned from looking, mixing, editing and living with beautiful objects. Even our California cool owes much to the way of observation and presentation that only Parisians carry off with such ease. We can learn a lot from this spirit.

Here is one Parisian home that combines style with smart … Read More »


Posted on July 9th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Inhabit, The Moment. No Comments

This apartment in the Trocadero by Rodolphe Parente is seductive. Interesting use of volumes and color, combined with a mix of herringbone parquet floors, bronze and Calacatta marble create a space that is stylish and really Parisian. It’s also huge by Parisian standards (check out the size of the kitchen). Yet, there are some valuable lessons we can take away, so that you can mix and match to improve your own space.

Use color as a ground, connecting rug and sofa (or chairs). This is an effective way to concentrate color, leaving the rest of a room monochromatic. This is an effective strategy if you have a lot of artwork, or own one colorful piece.

Embrace a view by creating window seating. A banquette at a window encourages hanging out, reading a book, doing work and eating, while providing the best views at day and night. An adjustable light also makes the transition from day-to-night possible, setting the right mood.

Maximize the sense of space by creating custom sized furniture. This maximizes function, and the lack of “gaps” makes the space feel larger. Many vendors allow you to specify the size of furniture…choose a size that fits.

Not all built-in need to be entirely built-in, … Read More »

New York

Posted on May 28th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

Part of the appeal of this New York apartment is the expansive volume, rare in New York (and San Francisco). I also like that this was done on a budget, with a mix of smart design, inexpensive materials, pops of color and vintage Scandinavian antiques.

Color is a defining feature of this home. It is used sparingly to animate and define space. This is especially evident in the Mondrian-style bookcase done in some of Corbusier favorite colors. This serves as a focal point from dining to living room, drawing your eye through the space. Imagine how dull this space would be without this color!

The first thing the architect did was remove the drywall to expose the black steel beams. Removing drywall from the ceiling, and painting this white, maximizes the 13′ ceiling and creates a sense that they are drifting away. A new plain sawn-oak floor provides nice contrast with the black, and creates even more volume. I’m a fan of flooring with grain and pattern in loft spaces…more casual, more authentic.

Probably my favorite part of the apartment is the entry. A smart addition provides a space to take off shoes, hang your keys, and stash a coat. The full height cabinet also provides … Read More »


Posted on May 14th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

There are important lessons in rhythm and thematic repetition which one can learn from this Parisian apartment: lessons of color, material and detailing. Or one can just fall in love with this modernist update on an apartment, blessed with boiserie wall paneling and parquetry floors and furnished with a mix of 1950’s vintage and modern design.

I appreciate the use of color throughout the house, with a French Grey being the constant.  The mood ranges from a quiet intimacy in the grey & camel living room, to moody in the grey & red dining room, to vibrant in the Cerulean blue kitchen, and calming in the blue-grey bedroom. Color is used to reflect the way we inhabit each space: relaxing, entertaining, cooking and resting. Color is used to stimulate each activity, and engage the mind.

Working for years at Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, people assume that I don’t like color. White lab coats; white office; white homes. But the truth is that Orlando likes color, and I like color. I like almost all colors, in different amounts and applications.  My seven years at ODADA further developed my understanding of the nuances of color and its’ appropriate application. I like to experiment, and I like being bold with color. And through my … Read More »