All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just eat it! Eat it! If it's gettin' cold, reheat it!

I've been really busy lately with new Retrograde projects (including a nursery for a rockin' baby boy!) as well as work-work (a family room redecoration with a six-figure budget--great experience for dreaming!) and on top of all that, I've been asked to step in and help with some design/decoration for a new restaurant.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up in a bar/restaurant in the Central Valley. Pre-anti-smoking laws, it was an interesting place for a kid to hang out. Darting around the drunk patrons and playing hide-and-seek in the walk-in refrigerator, I'd imagine which walls I'd like to knock down and which light fixtures I'd put in if I had a say. Even as a kid, I'd imagine how the place could look better so I guess that's kind of when this whole interior design bug got planted. (For the record, it had a vague tropical/Hawaiian theme. I actually scored a black velvet painting of a naked Hawaiian woman as a memento when my father sold the place years ago. It's one of my kick-a** treasures!)

When this new restaurant opportunity came around, I jumped at the chance to help. I'd noticed so many new restaurants in the city sporting the same "design" elements: Edison bulbs, dark colors, blank walls, charcoal I decided to channel my seven year-old self and ask him what he'd like to see in a restaurant.

Bold graphics. A wild color. Something fun that'd make me smile. The Pizza Machine!

See, The Pizza Machine was a pizza joint by my old childhood home. Way up high, along this 30-foot wide wall (at least that's how big it seemed when I was a kid) there used to be this gigantic perpetual motion machine, a kind of Rube Goldberg contraption that they'd put in motion every hour or so. It made having pizza with the family an experience. To this day, I still think of that wonderful Pizza Machine whenever I order a pie, whether I'm at Pizzeria Delfina, Starbelly, or Marcello's.

I wanted to try and recreate some of that magic while decorating a gourmet restaurant that's dedicated to improving the community. Who knows--these rough concepts might never get developed or see the light of day. But let me know what you think. Would you want to eat at any of these places?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Life in plastic, it's fantastic!

I have no idea why, but a few weeks ago I got this catalog in the mail for designer Barbie merchandise. By "designer" I mean there's a limited-edition Jonathan Adler mirror made of 1959 Barbie dolls, a pink Louis Ghost chair by Philippe Starck emblazoned with an illustration of Barbie, and a special Barbie doll dress made by Comme des Garçons.

What caught my eye was the very last page of the catalog...a vintage, still-in-its-original-packaging 1978 Barbie Dream House.

Any kid who was born in the '70s (like me) can tell you how iconic this dollhouse was. Not only did I secretly want one as a child (I had to casually pretend not to care whenever I saw one at friends' homes), but looking at it now as both an adult and a designer, I have to admit it's still frickin' HOT.

What's not to love? The A-frame, the open plan, the windows, the Juliet's the perfect house for a sun-loving couple living in Venice or Malibu. Even the vaguely McDonald's-like color scheme of red, white, and yellow have come around again and look crisp and fun.

I think that's the key word:  fun. As we think about our homes and the way we live, we need to keep some of that playfulness and childlike irreverence. For example, I busted out these white plastic lounge chairs after I sold the pair of 1967 "midcentury modest" chairs to one of my clients. Will these be a permanent addition to my living room? Who knows. Who cares? I think they're a riot.

Let your home be one big playhouse where you can dress up and play make-believe. Let your home be a place where anything is possible. Let it be your very own Dream House.