A global guide to LIVING CREATIVELY

Friday, September 30, 2011

Courtyard Kwan Yin

Our neighbor, when viewing our garden, suggested we now needed a female deity, such as Kwan Yin, to balance out our 2 Buddhas. Taking this as a challenge, we searched far and wide, until we came upon the correct Ms. Yin. Of course, it was decided that she needed her own space; one without any males present. (A powerful woman has no need for men.) So, we chose our courtyard as home for such an important deity.
Kwan Yin was not any ordinary deity. In fact, originally, she was not a "she" at all.  It is a historical fact that Ms. Yin is the Chinese version of the male god, Avalokiteshvara. Say that 3 times!
In both Tibet and India, this deity was initially recognized as a male. Interesting that this lovely creature evolved from male to female - or perhaps, may actually be a combination of the two genders. Who would have thunk it?
Kwan Yin is a compassionate goddess. However, the word, Karuna, (similiar to compassion)  has within it, "ru" from Sanskrit, meaning to weep. Karuna actually is more akin to the word, empathy, meaning that one internalizes the suffering and the pleasure of others. Or in the case of this avatar - it is a form of transmutation through the light of spirit, affected by her material form. This is why Kwan Yin was and is so beloved. She, in effect, is the iconic female - the World Mother, much like the Virgin Mary. She cares for all her children.
One last thing, which I found most interesting when researching Kwan Yin was that, often she was depicted with a moustache - perhaps, further proof that Ms. Yin may have been a Mr. However, her masculine side is negated by the softness of her appearance.
So, welcome home Kwan Yin. Believe me, this is the perfect place for you.
Statue from Design Toscano

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


From Wikipedia: Wabi-Sabi is described as an aesthetic which includes asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenious integrity of natural objects and processes. Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, remote from society; Sabi meant "chill", "lean" or "withered". Wabi in present times, connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.
In the lovely town of Ojai, CA, a new shop is evolving. ModernFolk Living (Curated Goods) is the brainchild of Wanda Weller Sakai a seasoned design professional, incorporating the simplicity of wabi-sabi into each "curated" object.
Mrs. Sakai, former Design Director for Patagonia and currently, a lecturer of fashion design at Otis College of Art and Design, imagines her boutique as a "destination for inspired products, hand selected with you (and the environment) in mind"...offering beautifully designed, artisanal goods that blend natural materials with modern designs and functionality. 
She also offers her space for gatherings. In Spain, such places are referred to as "tertulias"; gathering places for conversation, discussions, poetry and other types of community meetings. And in this case for classes and just "hanging out" in the Living Room.
Upon encountering Wanda, you might describe her with such adjectives as, earthy, unpretentious, authentic and natural - much like the clothing and objects she selects.
Within the elegant shop, you will find lovely glass vases and glassware, Heath Ceramics, hand-made greeting cards, silken handwoven cashmere and cotton clothing, books and magazines  with design as subject, and many more enticingly beautiful selections.

While the meaning of wabi-sabi is elusive, each word has roots in the spiritual world. Sabi could be defined as impersonal form, while wabi seems to be the space surrounding form. If this is so, then we might describe Modern Folk Living as a space where customers travel through time, meander from one item to the next - discovering the essence of Mrs. Sakai’s philosophical choices.
Wanda Sakai with architect, Ron Frink

For more information, please visit  ModernFolk Living on Facebook.
306 East Matilija Street
Ojai, CA 93023

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cosmic Dance - Diana Vishneva

Words unnecessary.
For more information - YouTube link on screen.
Music by Deva Premal - Gayatri Mantra
Dance: Diana Vishneva

Garden of Flowing Fragrance - Huntington Gardens

There is a new garden taking shape at the Huntington in San Marino, CA. I could write volumes about how Chinese gardens are designed and it would not come close to arriving at the experience of "garden". So, you must visit the Huntington - and, perhaps, consider becoming a member. Here are recent photographs of this lovely, powerful, simple garden.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Naja Utzon Popov - Artist

NAJA UTZON POPOV - Artist and Designer
Carpets designed with inspiration are well worth the investment. Whether kilim, soumak, jajim, palas or modern, they hold their value and allow you an eternity of use. Families usually pass their precious carpets down through generations, leaving their heirs a legacy of beauty.
Some have written that Naja Utzon Popov draws her inspiration from the Danish countryside or the ice fields of Greenland, or the near symmetrical snowflake. However, one can also imagine the charged power of her hand-crafted carpets originating out of ancient themes – reminiscent of the lotus flower as depicted in early Egyptian tombs, or Zen totems of jagged rock (see her website to view her powerful sculptural work), or the Vajra (diamond thunderbolt), object of desire.

Mostly, there is a jagged energy that beckons us into our imaginations. As we travel inward, her language reveals itself.

Ms. Popov was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1973.To find out more about this artist, please visit her website:
Nadja Utzon Popov website

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cow-eyed Jazz Lovers

Throughout history, people have wondered at how music can either calm, activate or direct one into a happy, jovial state.
People aren't the only ones who appreciate music. They are joined, now, by the lovable and sweet farmyard animal, the cow.
In this video, musicians play, "When the Saints Come Marching In", as appreciated by milk-giving, sloe-eyed, spotted - and sweet natured - cows. Careful, you may laugh your udders off!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Silverlake Garden

While we do not think of ourselves as landscape architects, we are the designers of our own Silverlake garden. It is simple and modest, much like our neighborhood. We are concerned more with the spirit of a garden and not the pretension of "design". What does this mean? It means that we are not at all concerned with how others see this garden or how they interpret it in their minds - how they process it through their knowledge bank.
What is most important to us is nurture. NURTURE. We are concerned with how our various plants are cared for and how we are, in turn, nurtured by them. I know I'm using the word, repeatedly, but I think it important to make the distinction between nurture and "design". When a garden is designed, there is an implication that it fits into someone's idea, which is based upon, yet again, the ideas of someone else, ad-infinitum.
Ms. Penelope Hobhouse, an exceptional garden designer, seems to peer deeply into nature. She, when designing gardens for clients, walks the land and finds, or rather, discovers what that particular land needs in terms of form, color, shape, texture - much like any other artist.
When walking through a garden designed by Ms. Hobhouse, one finds that elements such as rock formations, follies, pathways, walls, etc., are the structure holding together the most important part of the garden: plants. Her knowledge of design is second nature. However, when walking through a garden, she must step into that place of stillness, where one is creatively nourished and informed.
So, while our garden is modest and simple, it is also richly elegant. We have listened to it over the years and as we walk through it, it whispers, quietly, and nurtures us.

Ms. Hobhouse designed the garden for Vermont House, Ronald Frink Architects
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