The Other California Beaches

There are some misconceptions about California beaches in pop culture. Tropical weather. Deeply tanned people in bikinis. Crystal clear ocean water you can bathe in. These are not necessary norms. The borderlands between land and sea are not supposed to be lounge material! In Northern California, when you enter the maw of the sea, you feel like you’re entering a different plane of the world, not a day spa.

Bodega rocks o

Bodega Bay

There are innumerable tourists that summer in the Bay Area. If you hop the ferry from Sausalito into San Francisco harbor in July, you are as likely to hear a torrid argument in French or a conversation in Japanese as you are to hear the native complaints about our Giants’ hitting woes. Not that this is unusual at any time of the year. We are an international metropolitan area, but in summer that identity is much more pronounced. The same questions are invariably asked of local  San Franciscans and Oaklandians and Berkeleyans and Santa Rosans, “Where are the warm, California beaches around here?” “When will the fog lift?” “Is this biting wind permanent?” The same answers are invariably returned,  “Those beaches are two hundred miles south.” “The fog lifts by  midmorning…or by the evening.”  “Yes, yes it is permanent.”

 

Water meets earth in spectacular ways in Northern California. At Mavericks, ocean waves plunge and bombard the shallow waters and daggered rocks, where only the most insane surfers dare to test their mettle against nature. At Ocean Beach, the undercurrent is sentient, constantly scheming to pull you with the seaweed a half mile from your entry point into the water. From Mount Tamalpais you can peer eastward to see the chilled winds whipping fog lines across Richardson Bay, or turn west, hike through the evergreen Madrones and see the Pacific churn at the shores of Stinson Beach. These primal extremes make their way into Northern California lore, and lend themselves to distinctive artistic framing – Laird Hamilton in Riding Giants, Louis CK and Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, George Oppen in Some San Francisco Poems.

 

blue jasmine 2

“This shirt is like the least optimal attire for this weather, huh?”

 

Tippi-Hedrens-costumes-The-Birds-1

“Not a bird in the sky, how strange”

For me, Bodega Bay encapsulates everything that makes the Northern California coast unique, but there’s really no one better to pen an ode to its natural beauty than Alfred  Hitchcock. Can you picture Tippi Hedren rowing across the eerie-cold waters to deliver her lovebirds? (I was expecting bird attacks, but I really didn’t see that seagull swooping from on high to maul her.) Or the ghastly Potter  Schoolhouse, 17110 Bodega Lane, where the children fled from flocks of marauding crows? What’s  more inviting for beach enthusiasts, will you tell me? Drive a few miles north of The Birds locale and  you will find Salmon Creek – the gnarliest beautiful place in the North Bay.

the-birds-schoolhouse

17110 Bodega Lane

Coastal prairie adorns the approach to the cliffs above Salmon Creek, beetles fluttering out of the grass as you approach the edge. The cliffs perch primordially, sediment beaten back by thousands of years of ocean tides receding and resurging. From the top of the wooden-staired path that descends to the beach, you can see the Pacific stretch until it meets the sky. Stone formations jut out of the sea here and there, lonely and monstrous.

DSC03714 Sea stacks north of Bodega Bay, California

Bodega Sea Stacks

This is an ancient place, with a history of wooly mammoths, Coastal Miwok, and 19th century Russian settlers, it has seen its share of the forms of the earth. The wind shrieks on a normal day, and on gusty days you chew sand as often as you exhale. The creek for which it is named winds some 18 miles through Sonoma county before reaching Bodega Head and spooling out into the ocean through sand dunes so clean they look untouched by human hands. Mule deer, tide pools, kelp, driftwood, green herons, sand dollars, and sea lions – all of the beach looks to have beaten back civilization. You stand and think you have come to the place where saltwater and stone meet freshwater and grass for the very first time.

Estero Trail

Estero Trail

bodega cliffs

Salmon Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So which do you prefer? Placid, static coasts where the ocean and the land have become a yawning, stuffy old couple, hardly a gust of wind or a diving bird of prey or the roar of the waves? Just set aside the ideas of bikinis, Mai Tais, steel drums and lounge chairs. Put your Best of the Beach Boys away (please don’t actually own that). Grab some jeans and throw on a hoodie.  Bring a beanie just in case. A six pack will work fine, as will ambient noise. Sit in the sand, or on a well worn rock that hasn’t yielded to the tide, and feel the salt on your face. It’s Northern California. It’s cold. It’s awesome.

 

Luxe Launches in Our Fair City

Any time I attend a party replete with champagne, transvestites and taut, gorgeous young men in underwear, I know I am in San Francisco.  The Luxe San Francisco Magazine launch party was an only-in-San Francisco classic.  I found myself wishing my dear friend from Cleveland was by my side just so I could see her jaw drop.

Luxe party 2

The venue was Coup D’état, a showroom full of mid century masterpieces, the crowd was coifed and teased to perfection, and the vibe was electric.  Picture 700 people jammed into a space designed to hold 200 and you’ll get a rough idea.

 

I attended the event with our new product development engineer, Mark Gaynor, and our first clue that this was going to be one hell of a bash were the nearly naked specimens of manhood reading Luxe SF while standing in piles of sand in the front window of the showroom.  Mark, a straight man (in San Francisco a highly coveted variety), was less amused than I.

 

Inside the joint was bumping to a rhythm fueled by    music, champagne and beautiful people. Shoehorned in  amidst the Danish Modern fur chairs and the 1950’s brass, not to be outdone by the front-window set, were    a gloriously over-the-top bunch of “women” done up in  feathers, leather and sequins.  Mark opined that they    seemed a little overdressed for the occasion, and upon  closer inspection we discovered chin stubble visible  beneath the pancake makeup.  Luxe seemed to have  hired the entire floor show from Finnochio’s – for those  of you too young to remember – a famous, now defunct tranny review from North Beach’s heyday. So San Francisco!

 

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As if transvestites and oiled up male models were not enough to hold our attention, Luxe “hit it out of the park” (to use a baseball expression in a baseball obsessed town), with the delicious food and drink.  Between the taco bar, gelato stand and various champagne and cocktail bar set-ups there wasn’t a line we weren’t happy to stand in.

 

Congratulations Lisa Lovely (Luxe SF’s new publisher)…you’ve done San Francisco proud!

NeoCon 2014: Boyd Lighting Preview

NeoCon 2014 - Merchandise Mart

From June 9th through the 11th, the largest interior design trade show in America will be held in Chicago. This year’s NeoCon is the 46th annual edition, and the influx of ideas will surely mark a turning point in the design year.

 

We see overarching trends in design becoming more and more relevant: eco-consciousness, technological integration, mobility, personalization, authenticity, etc. Much of this speaks to a fast moving market of ideas, where the purpose is to fuse elegance and beauty with efficient, streamlined solutions. The shift from Baby Boomers to Millennials as the dominant generational consumer demographic is a key factor in the growing trend toward incorporating technology, green design, and authenticity into commercial interiors.

 

Efficient lighting options and innovative design are touchstones at Boyd Lighting. With LED options for virtually every light fixture, and a portfolio of original, trendsetting designs, Boyd’s history of leading-edge lighting design speaks for itself.

 

Icicle Sconce

 

For NeoCon, Boyd Lighting will feature a number of new    fixtures  at the Donghia Showroom, Suite #631. Two  headliners from our Q2 launch will be on display: the Miami Sconce and Saddle Sconce. A contrast in styles, modern and rustic, both designs are applicable in hospitality, commercial, or residential settings and feature LED lamping options.

 

Along with freshly launched fixtures, will also preview a selection of fixtures slated for a Q3 release. The Tonic Sconce, designed by David Nosanchuk, is a study in singular design, crafted with a unique fizzy glass to lend an ethereal aesthetic to the fixture. The Icicle Sconce, designed by Tom Nahabedian, an organic, sleek, and wildly versatile series was a showstopper at the HD Expo, and looks to conquer NeoCon with the same flair.

 

The Tonic Sconce and the Icicle Series, two original Boyd concepts lamped with energy efficient LEDs, represent where lighting design is headed. NeoCon 2014 will provide the perfect opportunity for design aficionados to get a sneak preview of the future at Boyd Lighting.

 

Tonic Sconce

 

 

Fun is so “Now”

A week has passed since we packed up the final boxes and left the showroom floor at HD and I am finally coming up for air.  I think BOYD had a good show.  We had quality attendees in our booth this year; folks who came in looking for solutions to projects they already had on their books, seemingly few tire kickers.  Lots of press stopped by to meet our new designers and to see their work, and our designers were charming and enthusiastic and fun to be around. 

From left to right: Tom Nahabedian, Alejandro Vargas, and David Nosanchuk

In the down minutes between press appointments, student visits and client tours of the Boyd offerings, we took some time to cruise the rest of the show. I learned my lesson last year and left the heels at home.  In flats, touring the floor was an enjoyable experience, so I will admit up front that happy feet may have colored my perception of the exhibitors. 

 

Icicle Pendant

 

If last year’s show was all about color…this year’s was all about fun. I guess I wasn’t really surprised: Boyd too had taken a page out of the “fun” book – the prime attraction in our booth was Tom Nahabedian’s Icicle Pendant gloriously hanging on red cables and dancing with light. All over the expo floor the most popular booths had something slightly over-the-top to draw in the crowds.

 

In the BOVER booth there was an enormous spider-like fixture that gave off the slightly sinister vibe of a black widow ready to pounce. My favorite exhibitor last year, POLaRT from Mexico, was there again with an oversized baroque wardrobe that could have been stuffy had it not been rendered in Easy-Bake-Oven-green plastic! So fun!

 

POLaRT

BOVER Fixture

 

 My favorite offering in the whole show –  outside anything in the Boyd booth – was  the remarkably comfortable blow-up  furniture from Blofield.  Classic tufted  leather shapes take on a whole new vibe  when built in marine grade rubber.  Think  Zodiac boat meets chesterfield and you’ll  have a rough picture.  I can envision so many uses for this “de-flatable” furniture.

Blofield Couch

My son lives in a 5th floor walk up in New York City, and he and his roommates blocked the entire egress to the building for 3 ½ hours while they moved their huge sectional up the stairwell.  They should have had a blow-up couch!

 

Roger Thomas’ new carpet collection for OW Hospitality could not have been more fashion forward.  Hound’s-tooth and plaid derivative of British men’s wear executed in brilliant hues of emerald, teal, fuchsia, tangerine, chocolate, lavender… so much design energy for the floor!  Roger, who is famous for his colorful eyeglasses, had a reception Thursday afternoon, at which every guest (200 people?) was wearing a pair of plastic eyeglasses in a vibrant hue – the hysterical and brilliant booth give-away.

 

Our neighbor and co-exhibitor in the Donghia booth, Charles of Paris, had over-the- top nailed.  Their spectacular “bouquet” of bronze flora – sunflowers, calla lilies, artichokes, ferns – plated in gold and polished to perfection was truly a showstopper.  I could not envision where I would use this glorious Volkswagen- sized object d’art in my own home…but I tried!

 

I left Las Vegas undaunted by the 8 hour packing-up process, and unfazed by the near-death experience of the forklift collision with our booth wall…because this year, after so many years of industry drought, HD telegraphed a positive energy in the design world.   Folks are ready to have fun again.  High time don’t you think?

Breathe Deep…Lose the Sweater…

A recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects revealed that outdoor living spaces—defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces—were ranked at the top of the list of growing trends among American homeowners.  As the economy begins to turn around, and as housing prices climb again, it is no surprise that home buyers are looking for added value    in extending their living space to the great outdoors.

 

 After a hellacious winter across most of the country –    California being the notable exception – we are finally  seeing the signs of a first real thaw.  We have been  cooped up too long and are rushing headlong to  embrace the season of outside time.  In sales terms,  while it may seem counterintuitive, this nasty winter  which has kept us inside for what seems like an eternity,  may prove to be the springboard (no pun intended) for  an amazing exterior fixtures year.

 

 Look beyond residential and the exterior fixture  potential seems limitless. The word is that the most popular restaurants, bars and hotels this summer will be the ones providing unique outdoor experiences.  The trend of creating outside “rooms” comes straight from the world of residential design, and current exterior projects in commercial and hospitality spaces tend to be bigger, more elaborate versions of our own backyards.  The ironic implication is that we are going out to feel at home.

 

In any case, these extensions of indoor space are made most beautiful where lighting is used to circumscribe the continuum of grass and stars. Breathe deep…lose the sweater…pull up a lawn chair…

A Light in Spring: BOYD Lighting Steps Boldly into the New Season

At BOYD Lighting, this season of fresh ideas brings with it award-winning designers and bold, new fixtures!  We are proud to announce three cutting-edge additions to our design roster: Alejandro Vargas, Tom Nahabedian, and David Nosanchuk, who hail from three singular American cities known for distinct design flavor and verve.

 

Alejandro Vargas

Alejandro Vargas, the founding president of Miami Lighting Design Associates, Inc. (MLDA), has lived and breathed lighting design for two decades in Miami, with projects featured in Florida Design Magazine and Florida/Caribbean AIA. Known for his compelling blend of simplicity and grace, Vargas is the creative juice behind the new Miami Sconce from Boyd Lighting, a piece that evokes the sleek, warm Floridian coastline. In brass and nickel finishes, the Miami adds zest to residential spaces and with a charisma wholly rooted in its namesake city, it is the perfect ADA answer for hospitality applications.

 

Tom Nahabedian

A founding principal at Bureau of Architecture and Design in Chicago, Tom Nahabedian has been recognized for excellence in residential and hospitality design, including awards from the Chicago AIA. His work has been featured in Michigan Avenue Magazine. Nahabedian’s new Icicle Series for Boyd Lighting melds classic aesthetics with touches of modernism.The Icicle Series, which will launch in Q3, includes sconces and ceiling pendants and comes in a variety of brass and nickel finishes. Evoking the thawing onset of early spring in the Midwest, the Icicle occupies the space between winter chill and summer warmth. The Icicle Series has a playfulness and energy perfect for residential drama and enough versatility for hospitality and commercial settings.

 

David Nosanchuk

Based in New York, David Nosanchuk takes a comprehensive approach to design. Nosanchuk has been celebrated for his prodigious output in furniture, textile and lighting, and his work has been showcased at the Museum of the City of New York and the Museum of Arts and Design. His collection of rugs and line of wallpaper have been featured in Interior Design, Vogue, and Elle Décor, among other publications. Channeling a singular metropolitan style, Nosanchuk’s Tonic Sconce for Boyd Lighting is emblematic of modern design virtuosity. With brilliant fizzy glass and multiple finishes in nickel and brass, the Tonic Sconce, which meets ADA requirements, transitions smoothly from commercial and hospitality applications to sophisticated residential décor. The Tonic, which will be available in late June, is a marriage of cast glass and light; a fixture that employs these elements to delight the senses and to bring a feeling of celebration to any space.

 

Boyd Lighting will be showcasing the work of these design visionaries – the Miami Sconce, the Icicle Series, and the Tonic Sconce – at the HD Expo in Las Vegas, from May 14-16. Visit us in booth #2748 and take in the unique styles of New York, Chicago, and Miami, through the best that lighting design has to offer!

 

Feeling Young

Recently, a new Cadillac commercial hit the local airwaves.  In it, an actor is standing near a crowded playground describing how kids can do things that would put an adult in an emergency room, yet all kids really want to do is grow up. Then he mentions that everyone he knows (adults) wishes they could go back and feel younger, shortly before he hops into a sleek new car and drives off.

 

How many of us wish we could feel younger?  I had that exact opportunity this past weekend in San Francisco, if only for a day.  What made me feel this way?  All it took was a ride on a Big Wheel.  You remember those — one of those plastic tricycles with a large front wheel that was so popular in the 1970’s.  I had one as a kid and I rode it every chance I could get, whether it was on the sidewalk, on a mountain road behind our home, or in the kitchen.  It was a big part of my childhood, and when I found out San Francisco was hosting “BYOBW” (Bring Your Own Big Wheel) on Easter Sunday, I knew it was a race I had to sign up for.

 

 

Well, it’s not a competitive race per se.  It is all about having fun.  That said, I was born with a need for speed, and it was a need I was going to satisfy.  The first thing I did was remove the pedals since gravity was going to do all the work for me…and besides, my legs were far too long to actually use them.  I installed a low-friction front axle and reinforced the rear.  I installed a speedometer, an HD camera mount so I could record the action, and of course streamers.  I’ll admit, maybe I did take it all a bit too seriously.  After all, it is just a toy.  But I’m an engineer and would anyone expect anything less?

 

I arrived with several hundred of my closest friends, all with the same intent of zooming down Vermont Street, San Francisco’s other “Crookedest Street in the World”.  The races were great!  For those who have never ridden a Big Wheel, the “tires” are hard plastic and they don’t handle the road as well as rubber tires do.  Needless to say, it turned into a big crash fest whenever a sharp turn came up, which is quite often when you’re racing down a winding street like Vermont.  There were lots of people tumbling, lots of road rash, lots of bruises, but best of all, it was lots of fun.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen ear-to-ear grins on so many people.  I only had a chance to make three runs down the hill, but according to my speedometer, I was able to reach nearly 23 mph, which made me quite happy. 

 

Like the man in the commercial said, kids make moves that would put adults in the emergency room.  As adults acting like kids, I’m sure quite a few of us are waking up and feeling the aches and pains from that day in the sun, but from my perspective, it was all worth it.

 

  Thrills

 

 …and Spills

 
 

Are LED Light Bulbs Worth the Investment?

LED light bulbs are pricey, but we think they’re an excellent alternative to the standard incandescent.  Ranging anywhere from $10 – $50 a bulb, the LED is considerably more expensive than an incandescent… but they will eventually pay for themselves and then some.  Here are some pros and cons of the LED light bulb…

 

PROS:

LEDs Are Energy Efficient.  LEDs use about 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb.  You’ll see the advantages of an energy efficient LED every month on your electricity bill.

 

LEDs Have a Long Life.  LEDs last A LOT longer than an incandescent.  Lasting approximately 25,000 hours – the LED could potentially last up to 25 years versus the typical 6 months of an incandescent bulb.  You’ll not only save money – you’ll save yourself the time and hassle of changing out light bulbs.

 

 

 

CONS:

The only real negative with the LED bulb is that, right now, they’re not very attractive.  They sort of look like an alien version of an incandescent.  You’re probably not going to want to use these in a fixture where the light bulb is part of the look.  But any fixture that hides the bulb would be a great candidate for an LED light bulb (FYI – Boyd has started marking all of our fixture info with “LED Screw In” where appropriate – so you don’t have to guess when it comes to this).

 

The good news here is that lamping manufacturers are working on this aesthetic problem… which means there should be some viable options for “pretty” LED bulbs (LED bulbs that look like incandescent) sometime in the near future.

 

So… do you think you’re ready to make the switch to LED light bulbs?  Let us know in the comments section!

Create Your Own LED Light Art

LED light art has become a thing… just take the Bay Bridge for example.  The Bay Bridge has been outfitted with 25,000 LED lights that will display a variety of undulating designs nightly for the next two years – and it’s a must-see if you’re in SF.  But – if you think this kind of thing is only attainable for those with a cool $8 million to spare… you’re wrong.  Check out the below video & see how you can create your own LED light art on an Average-Joe budget.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Boyd Cares: Food Bank Fundraiser

Canned Food Sculpture

For the past several years, Boyd Lighting has held a holiday season food drive for the San Francisco & Marin Food Banks… a cause near and dear to our hearts. Helping this wonderful organization collect donations is our small effort to give back to the community that has supported our business for over 90 years.

 

Once again, we have organized an online Virtual Food Drive where donations can turn your $1 bill into $6!  Through generous corporate partnerships, local farmers, and food donors, the San Francisco & Marin Food Bank is able to take your $1 bill and secure $6 worth of nutritious foods – enough for three full meals – which can then be distributed throughout the community.

 

Think about that for a moment…  A  $10 donation can turn into 30 meals.  A $25 donation will provide 75 meals for seniors, children, the disabled, and those down on their luck.  Each and every day, the SFMFB distributes the equivalent of 100,000 meals, so the need is there, and unfortunately, it only seems to get greater.  Without your monetary donations this effort would certainly not be possible.  Even the smallest of donations make a difference.

 

We have set a modest goal of trying to raise funds for 6000 meals.  We did it last year and we will try our best to surpass that goal again…with your help!

 

Please give what you are able in order to help out this wonderful cause. Donate here for the San Francisco & Marin Food Bank.  For more information on food banks near you, or for information how you can donate with a check, please contact me.

 

Happy Holidays!

-Mark