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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Honey Honey, how you thrill me (uh-huh, uh-huh)

Okay, I was out of commission last week 'cause, well, I just didn't have anything to write about. But over the course of the week, I found new inspiration:

I've been walking by these exquisite leather sling dining chairs (and their matching lounge chair counterparts) at Farnsworth for weeks now, every day to and from the gym. They're reminiscent of the iconic butterfly chair of the '60s, but with more panache and style, and I always stop for a moment to admire them and wonder if there's anything else like them.

Then about a week ago I looked through the new CB2 catalog and saw these:

It's an all-leather version of the butterfly chair in my favorite shade of leather--honey or caramel. At $399, it's a steal and I plan on using it for a Retrograde project soon. Over time the leather will wear nicely and develop a rich patina and loads of character. Heck, I'd use it in my own home if I weren't turning my living room into a study/library (more on that personal project soon!)

The reason why I love this particular color for leather is that it feels like the furniture equivalent of camel hair. In fashion, I'm always drawn to camel-colored sweaters and camel hair coats (especially as we move into fall and winter.) It just completes one's wardrobe and suits so many different people. Both my camel hair coat and my tan/honey/caramel leather jacket look great with any combo of shirts/sweaters/pants or with t-shirts and jeans. In your home, these tan/honey/caramel leather accents often have a rustic charm and can work with so many other styles and furniture pieces to provide a warm, rich neutral hue to any interior.

Here's another great leather chair from Restoration Hardware. Meant to be a dining chair, I think a grouping of them would look just great in any living room or den, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm a soul man...

So we got back from Chicago last week and had a couple of days to recover from our vacation and catch up on San Francisco home life. What was one of the first things we did (besides to through all our mail)?

We got a new car.

Check out what we've lovingly dubbed The Green Machine:

Now you have to understand--I haven't driven a brand-new car (with the exception of rentals here and there) since I was 17. So...that makes 18 years. We were going to originally buy a used car, but we did that last time and ended up sinking in so much money into regular maintenance and repairs. What's so special about this funny little Kia Soul? Well, for one thing, we're leasing it.

Since a car's value drops the minute you drive it off the lot, we figured leasing might be a way to go. Or at least try. The commitment only lasts three years, and then we can move onto something else. In some ways it suits our lifestyle as renters here in San Francisco, seeing as how we'll never be able to buy a home here. Why not treat our car the same way?

Anyhow, it wasn't funny hamsters on TV or anything like that which made us choose this car. I saw one on the street a little while ago and thought, "That thing is kind of boxy and weird...why am I strangely drawn to it!?" Yes, it is boxy, but it's quirky, which suits us. And it can haul a LOT of stuff, which comes in handy for Ye Olde Dayjobbe as well as Retrograde. My partner is just happy it can make it up our surrounding hills with ease.

So much has changed since our last car: satellite radio, power windows, rear back-up's like a whole new world. And it's definitely less embarassing now when I drive to different places for Ye Olde Dayjobbe. (It used to really be comical, rolling up to a palatial home or job site in our scratched-up '98 Saturn with the glued-back-on side mirror.) But I'm more careful now, too--I used to face down crazy drivers in our old hoopty knowing I had nothing to lose; I used to park in the tightest spots since I didn't worry about the car getting any more scratched than it already was. All that reckless behavior has changed now...

Like some Retrograde people I meet, I held onto something old for waaaaay too long. Getting a new car helps me understand what it's like for clients who take that big step toward a new sofa or bed. And guess what? After taking that big step to improve your surroundings, you wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

So if you see us tooling around in The Green Machine, wave and say "hey!" And if anyone at Ye Olde Dayjobbe tries to give me hell for driving a weird little green box, all I have to say is I don't get paid enough to drive a luxury car ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And all that jazz...

We just got back from a great trip to Chicago--my first time ever! (My partner used to live there back in the mid-90s.) So that kind of explains this week's late post...

I loved this trip. It was such a great city, and seeing how residential towers and skyscrapers had been integrated into the downtown area was really inspiring. It made downtown feel like a real place, not just a space for tourists and businesspeople. We had some good friends (and former San Franciscans) show us around.

Here are some photos I snapped:

One of my friends also turned me on to this amazing outsider artist from Chicago, Vivian Maier. Her story (and work) is just...amazing. Here's one of her photos:

We will definitely be back. Hell, we might just move there--it's a lot more affordable than San Francisco, that's for sure. I'm officially a fan. I heart Chicago!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A pink flamingo double-wide; one-bedroom in a high-rise; a mansion on a hill...

I just read an article in Men's Health last night titled, "Are You Burned Out?" and I was not too shocked to see how many items on the checklist applied to me. The last few months have been really tough at Ye Olde Dayjobbe (YOD), and the past year and a half has been a rollercoaster ride. I've been offered champagne, been yelled at, been graciously thanked, faced multiple obstacles (and installations) at name it, I've seen it. It's been like a fast-track boot camp for interior design.

But I'm going on vacation this week--and even though I know five days won't solve everything, being in Chicago (a place I've never been!) and seeing old friends and family will surely help.

You know what else will help? Retrograde.

At YOD, I'm seen as an associate designer who finds resources, edits them down, orders them, installs them, and coordinates every little detail surrounding said resources. My past life (and career) as a senior graphic designer and production coordinator doesn't matter to most people at YOD, but my 10+ years of organizational skills and project management benefit them, even if they don't realize or appreciate it.

At Retrograde, I feel more like a collaborator, working with you to help you figure out your needs. I feel like some kind of animated Johnny Cash spirit guide (that's a Simpsons reference), here to empower you so you can make choices on your own. It's kind of like eliminating work for myself--which is something I've often done in the past--but it's what I believe in: teaching you (the readers) design skills and tools, and inspiring you to take risks to personalize your spaces. Even though YOD required me to cool things down at Retrograde, I still relish the two side projects I have remaining because I love designing for with everyday people.

Here are three Living Room concepts I developed for a young family this past week. Of course this is the first round, so there will be tweaking and refinement to come. But I'm really looking forward to developing one of these, and helping the client get it all installed in the next few weeks.

Recently I was the Design Center and was chatting with one of the showroom managers. She asked me what I was doing this weekend and I said I was going to help a friend with some home accessories shopping. That's what Retrograde clients (and readers) are to me--friends who need a little help with their homes. Just when I think I'm going crazy and feeling burned out, I remember why I'm doing all this--for you.

When I woke up this morning, it was cloudy and gray and I felt depressed. But now as I finish this post, the sun's come out, I'm fully caffeinated, and feeling so much better about things.

You guys keep me sane.