Art in the Home of Gracia & Louise


Art in the home of Gracia + Louise

A: Art means… something indefinable. It is beyond any definition either of us is able to conjure here.

R: Reading books is a way to learn and forget the self; reading blogs, a pleasurable way to chat with friends and share those tiny daily joys; leafing through magazines, a delicious way to spend time as a coffee cools on nearby table and a pet snoozes on one’s lap.

T: Trends we see in art or graphic design are many in number.


A: Artists we admire are… both currently practicing and from long ago; are celebrated and relatively unknown; and are often those who make for their own enjoyment. The list, if complied, would be near to endless.

N: Never will we tire of time spent doing exactly as one pleases. Reading a book until mid morning, pottering in the garden with hands in the soil, tinkering on some project, strolling without clear purpose. At liberty to decide the path one will take is it in a nutshell.



D: Dreams for our own work are about… making something that will communicate something to another. 

P: Projects we are currently working on are… centered on paper, animals, curious juxtapositions, and the unfamiliar.


R: Relaxing we find essential to sanity. 

I: Interesting art-places online are… in the hundreds.  HYPERLINK "" Mark Lazenby, the Lille Métropole Musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, and those we visit from our  list of many links is a good start.


N: New in our home is… an elderly dog by the name of Percy.

T: Tomorrow we like to go to… the café where Percy is treated like a canine king, served a complimentary bowl of chicken freshly cooked.


S: Studio, our studio is… warm, busy, crowded, populated by pets, private. It is home.


Thank You Gracia Haby + Louise Jennison, who make artists' books, all sorts of things, and most usually they make things on paper… all from their home-based studio in Melbourne, Australia.


..Gracia + Louise website  ..Gracia + Louise store  ..High Up in the Trees  ..Gracia Haby blog

Maarten Baas

The Dutch design wunderkind on putting the human touch to design

Dutch designer Maarten Baas deals in the unexpected. “Beauty and ugliness is something that I find interesting,” Baas explains. “I have the feeling that our sense for beauty isn’t so pure anymore. I sometimes try to shake up the way we see things, to kind of ‘reset’ it.”

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His famous series “Hey, chair, be a bookshelf!” repurposes items from second-hand stores into seemingly precarious arrangements, reinforced by hand-coated polyester. Whimsically stacking old chairs and lamp stands, he fuses the disparate group of items that might’ve been called “rubbish” in another incarnation together into a unified structure, with piles of CDs and potted plants peeping out at playful angles.

Maartin-smoke1.jpg Maartin-smoke2.jpg

Even before graduating (he got his degree from Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2002), Baas’ unconventional sensibility was getting attention when his design “Knuckle”—a bone-white holder for various sizes of candles—was already being produced. It didn’t take long from there for renowned design company Moooi to pick up his “Smoke” series, which was shown at international exhibitions and museums like London’s Victoria & Albert, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and at NYC’s gallery and design shop Moss, effectively launching his career.


The particular poetry of these pieces essentially define Baas’ aesthetic core. Eschewing conventional notions of aesthetics and preservation, for each of the unique works in the Smoke series, Baas blowtorches the furniture and preserves them with an epoxy coating, giving them a velvety, matte-black finish that belies its charred, primal appeal. Soon after Groninger Museum in Amsterdam commissioned the young designer to transform an entire suite of antique furniture by fire, and NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel commissioned several one-off Smoke works, including a billiard table.

From there Baas began collaborating with Bas den Herder in 2005, and the two founded Studio Baas & den Herder shortly thereafter. The studio now produces Baas’ work on a slightly larger scale, though most of the pieces continue to be made by hand according to his own seasonal schedule. “I do industrial design rarely, only if I think the fact that it is industrially made has an added value,” he emphasizes. “I prefer not to make anything, rather than another boring, impersonal product. When we make things in our studio, it literally has fingerprints in the product. It’s human-scale.”


This hands-on approach translates into otherworldly design that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Tim Burton film. His 2006 “Clay Furniture” collection is modeled by hand without the use of molds. The dreamlike, vibrantly-colored pieces look as if they’ve been made by a giant child who pinched the delicate arms and legs thin with
awkward fingers. His newest collection, “Plain,” takes this concept and remodels it for
more everyday use, making it more “resistant to scratches and so on,” Baas acknowledges.

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Baas’ genius lies in recognizing that that there is more than one kind of beauty. An
attractive woman doesn’t need to resemble a Titian-haired Aphrodite, so why should a beautiful cabinet have to have perfectly straight lines and ornamental woodwork? “I
think the design world is lacking a kind of experimental, expressive part, compared to art, or music, or fashion,” said Baas. “But the mainstream of design is still a compilation of greatest hits, rather than a big room for experiments. So if people are experimenting I seriously don’t consider that as ugly, but as interesting.”

Images by Maarten van Houten

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Entorno del Templo de Diana by José María Sánchez García

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Spanish architect José María Sánchez García has created a public square with a raised viewing platform, surrounding a Roman temple in Mérida, Spain.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The two-storey concrete platform is roughly the same height as the adjacent Temple of Diana and has an exterior balcony that allows visitors to walk around three quarters of it’s perimeter.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The square has an earth surface, as it would have done when it was used as a Roman forum.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Photography is by Roland Halbe.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

More architecture photographed by Roland Halbe on Dezeen »

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

More stories about projects in Spain on Dezeen »

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The following details are from the architects:

Roman Temple of Diana Surroundings and Perimetral Building

The project retrieves the environment of the Temple of Diana in Merida, which was the forum or the city center in Roman times.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The challenge of acting in a place with such historical and archaeological relevance has meant to work with the existing trace since the beginning, so that the finished work would recover this space from Roman times through modern language.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

This situation has led to conceive the architectural design not as something closed or completely defined before starting to run.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

On the contrary, we worked in a more flexible way, defining the rules and guidelines on how to act in this place, that is to say, the syntax of the project itself, in order to absorb all the irregularities and changes due to the archaeological findings, without losing the initial concept of the proposal.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

All this has been developed during five years that, with the archaeological works, the project definition and execution of the construction overlapping in time.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The project is solved with a perimeter piece L-shaped, with its own syntax, sewing its edge with the city and creating a large square around the temple.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

This “L” is the union of the platform or high walk (which at the same level of the podium liberates the archaeological level at ground floor, allowing visitors to have a new relationship with the temple) and the structural wall (which puts in Temple value by framing and abstracting it from adjacent buildings).

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Between the perimeter L piece and the city, a volume in the form of hanging boxes occupy interstitial spaces accommodating commercial and cultural uses.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Thus, the project, rather than a building is a raised platform, a floating structure capable of generating a new layer of city full of program.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

To recover the Roman trace on ground floor, the perimeter structure is placed on the edge of the site, away from the temple, thus giving the largest possible surface to the public square.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The original sacred area is recovered, respecting the Roman archaeological features that are part of the sacred space: the temple, two side ponds, the crypto-portico and the Roman wall, which are now incorporated into the plaza.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The platform stands at about the same height of the podium of the temple to allow visitors to watch it as they were inside, while projecting a shadow over the square.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

This way the temple environment gets geometrised, making the understanding of the space clear and not interrupted by the particularities of the back part of the existing buildings.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

At the rear part, a volume system, flexible to changes in the perimeter, will occupy the interstitial spaces, shaping light patios that rhythmically fragment the platform’s shadow. It defines a new order of light and shade in the square by the patios between the boxes.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The materialisation of the elements that build the new spaces has been studied by a contemporary interpretation of the materials that were part of the Roman space. The whole square will have an earth finishing, as it was originally.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

The piece in L is defined as an artificial stone, made of lime and aggregates characteristic of the place with the granite-like color of the podium of the Temple. We don’t talk about concrete as such, but a warmer artificial stone made using materials found in the surroundings.

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Credits and Data

Project title: Perimetral building and Temple of Diana environments. Mérida, Spain
Location: Romero Leal and Santa Catalina street, Mérida, Spain
Construction: November 2009 – February 2011
Total floor area: 2158,19m2
Budget: 5.000.847,90 €

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Architect: José María Sánchez García
Team: Enrique García-Margallo Solo de Zaldivar, Rafael Fernández Caparros, Maribel Torres Gómez, Laura Rojo Valdivielso, Francisco Sánchez García, José García-Margallo, Marta Cabezón López, Mafalda Ambrósio, Carmen Leticia Huerta, Marilo Sánchez García, Julia Ternström
Structural engineer: CDE Ingenieros, Gogaite S.L
Services engineer: ARO consultores
Technical architect: Ángel García Blázquez, Fernando Benito Fernández Cabello
Client: Consorcio Ciudad Monumental Histórico-Artístico y Arqueológica de Mérida, Consejería de Cultura – Junta de Extremadura
Building firm: UTE Templo de Diana (Procondal – Copcisa)

Entorno del Templo de Diana by Jose Maria Sanchez Garcia

Click above for larger image

See also:


Las Arenas by Rogers
Stirk Harbour + Partners
El Claustro Cultural Center
by Eneseis Arquitectura
City Walls of Logroño by
Pesquera Ulargui Arquitectos

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