Tag Archives: IPHONE

A SUMMER IN BLACK AND WHITE

May 25, 2018

Known as Muscle Beach: his steroid-induced presence is both impressive and so what. (photo by Anthony Poon)

Over two decades ago, I arrived into a Los Angeles summer. Between my job at a Melrose studio working on a building in Zurich, and designing one of my first independent projects, a café in West Los Angeles, I grasped tightly my 35 mm Nikon FE2, never putting it down. This summer was an authentic and faithful period of history that preceded iPhones  and the obsessive posting of self-indulgent photos.

Like many amateur photographers, I shot with a single lens reflex camera loaded with black and white Kodak Plus-X 125 film. Each outing was strictly limited to 32 photos. Sorry, no overshooting and over curation, and no dishonest post-production filters and tools of laziness. None of this.

Rather, simply see something with your eyes, react quickly and shoot once, maybe twice. And move on with your existence.

I apprehended my blistering Southern California summer in dozens of shots—nothing fancy, just honing in on life as it passed in front of me. Below, I introduce you to three chapters: Venice Beach, Downtown and Melrose Avenue. (All photographs by Anthony Poon. Past gallery exhibitions at TwoPart, Los Angeles, California, and Gund Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.)

 

VENICE BEACH

above left: The exhuberance of a street performer barely noticed by a relaxing crowd, his reluctant audience. The ocean wind blasts the background palms as the skater stays deftly afloat.

above center: The formality and discomfort of a policeman’s black wool outfit of decorum is shunned by a beach goer’s short shorts and athletic socks pulled up too high.

above right: The perplexed listener scratches her head as the accommodating fortune teller predicts, “Someone special will be entering your life very soon.” The standard-issue, muscle-bound bloke has no concerns in the world.

The card shark deceives his unknowing victim taking all his hard earned cash. The worldly young girl, years beyond her age, has figured out the scam.

 

DOWNTOWN

The predictable striped ties against the background of striped architecture.

above left: The city is about motion, going places, leaving places, never sitting still. The car, the vessel of choice. The freeway, the path of choice.

above right: Coming and going, with no place in particular to depart or to land.

White shirts, dark ties, hands on waist—the professionals anxiously watch their lunch time getaway sadly tick away. Their windowless, beige cubicles await.

World-famous burgers consumed with no guilt at the Original Tommy’s.

 

MELROSE

An aggressive bike and two club chicks ready to be acknowledged for their non-conformance.

above left: The folksy guitarist warms up for his impromptu show and he calls to himself, “Break a leg!”

above center: A California cowboy in dark black cowboy garb noticed by a porcelain Asian in a summer dress and roman sandals.

above right: It’s okay. Don’t lose your head.

Kerouac-inspired nomad On the Road muses: Will I ever be as free as my bold bird friend?

THE COMPLEXITY OF SIMPLICITY

January 20, 2017

Garden Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design and Andrew Adler (photo by Anthony Poon)

Many have heard the instructional 1960’s acronym from the U.S. Navy: K-I-S-S.

It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. These days, this pithy recommendation is delivered from anyone in the role of doling out advice, from architecture professors to life coaches, from advertisers to attorneys, from editors to campaign managers.

Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette, 2006
Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette, 2006

But life gets complicated, and keeping things simple is not so easy. So what do we do?

A traditional wedding gown possesses an abundance of trim, lace, shoulder pads, embroidery, tones and textures. Not just a statement of the period fashion, all this creative noise and fuss was required, because it is actually difficult to keep the dress simple. What I call the gown’s ‘wedding cake décor’ was sometimes intentionally applied to camouflage the limits of craft. A clever game of misdirection enshrouded careless seams, poor stitching, low quality fabric, and even laziness.

Consider the modern day minimal bridal gowns by Vera Wang and Jil Sander. Without all the fussiness to detract, the simple designs must make an explicit statement of quality. Each stitch of tread, cut and drape, profile movement, and shimmer of silk must astound. It is no easy task to keep the dresses minimal and fashionable, as well as express the exquisite notion of bespoke craft. It is easier to simply camouflage shortcomings with crap.

Bridal gown by Vera Wang, fall 2015
Bridal gown by Vera Wang, fall 2015

In architecture, the application of trim crosses over from the wedding gown. The use of architectural crown moldings, door casings, base board, wainscot, window trim, and so on, offer visual interest, detail and scale—and even a phenomenological connection to the human body.

But such design trim and wedding cake decor were also used to hide the flaws of construction. Where a smooth white plaster wall could not perfectly meet a polished stone floor, perhaps due to lack of skill or the limitations of the tools back then, a floor base was installed as a transition—to basically hide gaps.

Moldings (photo from architectualmouldings.wordpress.com)
Moldings (photo from architectualmouldings.wordpress.com)

We all want to keep things simple, but to achieve this higher level of mindfulness, one has to work hard at making it look easy. At Poon Design, we call upon the analogy of a duck, where though it glides so gracefully across the lake, it is beneath the water’s surface that little feet paddle furiously.

Don’t underestimate the rigors required to achieve simplicity, whether a wedding gown, a work of architecture or the appearance of a duck leisurely floating in a figure eight.

Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois, by Mies van der Rohe (photo from wallpaper.com)
Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois, by Mies van der Rohe (photo from wallpaper.com)

Minimalist architect, Mies Van Der Rohe, gave us one of the most impactful phrases in design and in life: “Less is more.” Alongside this three-word philosophy, he paved the way for what is commonly called “clean lines.” Whether in a modern house, a Tesla or an Ikea dining table, we often comment on how “clean” the lines are.

For my own work, Mies’s iconic Farnsworth House and other such projects of sculptural clarity inspired Poon Design’s and developer Andrew Adler’s 14 boldly austere yet luxurious estates in Palm Springs. Our compositions posit lucidity and precision. Autonomy and self-referentiality comprise the unapologetic purging of the conventional beliefs for adornment.

Residence G at Linea, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design and Andrew Adler (photo by Anthony Poon)
Residence G at Linea, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design, Andrew Adler and Prest-Vuksic (photo by Anthony Poon)

Steve Job’s exploration into a philosophy of ascetic beauty is legendary, to the degree of severity. As researched today at Apple, the minimalist one button on the iPhone is being studied to be deleted, so as to achieve an even higher level of simplicity and artistry. Stupid.

iPhone 7 home button (photo from wccftech.com)
iPhone 7 home button (photo from wccftech.com)
© Poon Design Inc.