Christmasn in Las Vegas - ラスベガスのクリスマス

Christmas has come and gone quickly. I have been staying in Las Vegas since the 24th. My purpose to come here is always to relax, but my curiosity lead me to Las Vegas blvd. at the night of the 25th, expecting some unique Christmas illuminations.

Well, despite my expectation, there was nothing unusual.

12月の半ばにオープンしたCity Center。今日か明日、中を覗いてくる予定だが、人から聞いた評判は良くない。安っぽいとか、ホテルじゃなくてオフィスみたいだとか。
A new city development on strip, City Center. I am planning to visit inside and take a look either tonight or tomorrow, but the reputations I have heard from the people are not so good so far.
They said it is missing luxurious feeling, and also it looks like office complex.
I will write my opinion after I see the inside.

This block is still far from the completion.

City Centerはプライベートファンドとしては、アメリカ国内で一番大きな物。MGM Mirage と Dubai Worldが出資したが、プロジェクト途中でDubai WorldがMGM Mirageを過大出費で訴えたり、工事の安全性に問題があり、作業員6人の命が奪われ、作業員がボイコットをしたりと問題が多い。全体のデザインが固まる前に突貫工事に入り、インフラストラクチャーのコーディネーションに問題を抱えたり、デザインの相次ぐ変更で、当初4ビリオン・ドル(約3647億円)だった総建設予想費は、最終的に倍にまで膨らんだと読んだ。
It is the largest construction in the United States as a privately funded project, and it sounds incredible; however, there were many issues attached to this development.
MGM Mirage and Dubai World invested together, but Dubai World sued MGM Mirage for breach of contract during the project. Also, the construction safety was not controlled properly, and unfortunately, total of 6 lives have been lost in this project. Because of this issue, construction workers stopped their work during the project. It seemed that the construction was started before all the designs were well coordinated, and this resulted in miss-coordination of infrastructures and change of designs, and the construction cost doubled from 4 billion dollars to 8 billion, I heard.

Gensler (ギャンズラー)がExecutive Architectとして入っていたそうだが、ここは元々インテリアデザインで有名だった会社。ここ数年建築に力を入れているのか、大きな建造物を数多く手がけ出してているが、個人的には彼らのインテリアは好きだが、建築物は大雑把でディテールを欠いた物が多く好きではない。ギャンズラーのデザインで現在LAのダウンタウンに高層ビルのリッツカールトン・ホテルがほぼ完成しているが、その壁面に付けられた模様の色使いの品の無さは見るたびに落胆させられる。その他、HKS, Leo A. Daly, RV Architects, Adamson Associates Archtiects に加え、世界的に有名な Foster and Partners, Murphy Jahn Architects, KPF, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Rockwell Groupなどがデザインで参加している。これだけ多くの著名な建築家を集めてしまうところが、ラスベガスらしい。
Large design firm, Gensler, played a role of executive architect, but this company was known for its superior interior design capabilities, not architectural designs. Recently, they have been designing large buildings, but in my opinion, their architectural designs are missing details and not impressive at all. Ritz Carlton hotel they designed in LA downtown has been almost completed, but it lacks of elegance in colors and patterns on the facade, and it depresses me every time I see it.
In addition to Gensler, HKS, Leo A. Daly, RV Architects and Adamson Associates Architects collaborated with world famous architects:Foster and Partners, Murphy Jahn Architects, KPF, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Studio Daniel Libeskind and Rockwell Group. It is very Las Vegas that so many well known architects were called to join in one project.

Well, enough for architecture today. For me, it is the best to stay away from the strip and relax at home.

Breakfast in a clubhouse.



2009 Christmas Card - 2009 クリスマスカード

It is the time of sending Christmas Card again, so we discussed what we should do this year.

These are the ones we made for the last 2 years.

”去年もらったカード、まだオフィスに飾っていますよ。” とこの前クライアントの方に言って頂いたのが嬉しかった。今年はプロジェクトが忙しく時間が限られているので、
We were pleased when we heard one of our clients say, "We still display your last year's card in our office." Since our projects have been making us pretty busy these days, the time is limited.
So we decided to create

something that we can mass-produce.
something that costs equal to the cost of a typical card.
something that people feel like displaying for a long time.
something that is not just flat, and that is small enough to fit on a palm pleasantly.

And, this is what we made this year.

First, we designed the graphic.

Then, cut out to the shape.

Kazuma poured mixed liquid resin into cookie makers.

Place the cut out graphics gently.

These are prototypes.

So that a receiver can display with a box, we ordered cute boxes and Erika attach our company logo on each one of them.

Place the object on a soft cotton in the display box, and insert it into a white shipping box.

It took us over a week to complete includes the time for prototype and dry out, but we think the achievement is satisfactory. (Even though we couldn't make for everyone we sent our card last year due to our time restriction.)

We believe that we need to be inspired by many things in order to design an architecture and interior spaces; food, nature, car, society, people and so on. Architects and designers design far beyond architecture and interior design. There are architects who design rings, and interior designers who design perfume bottles. I like to have one area of specialty, but making borders with other things simply narrows my sights.

That is the reason why we try variety of things here.



Restaurant Projects - レストラン・プロジェクト

I headed for Hollywood to participate a new restaurant project meeting on last Saturday. In terms of restaurant projects, we are working on 2 others at the same time; one in LA downtown and the other one in San Diego. We believe all of them will be successful in their businesses.

I hear many people come from Japan and open their restaurants here in LA. It is not an easy task to succeed in restaurant business here because of the car culture and dispersed attractive points and their own styles. I think it is reckless to try to adapt the way of thinking, tastes of food and design directly brought from Japan.

Some of my opinions for opening a restaurant are:

In this car society, even if there were a hot trendy spot close by, you can not expect people walking to your store unless a row of endless attractive stores lead them to you.

If moderate price setting, people prefer a place with a visible sign, easy to find while driving and large windows with sunlight to a hidden place.

Parking entrance should be able to be found without a hustle. If not, it is hard to catch new customers driving by.

Rather casual and friendly design than cold and too modern design.

Knowledge for races and people living in the area.

At least 6 months is required to complete design, permit process and construction even for a small restaurant.

Knowledge for ADA requirements. In the case of one each washroom for men and women is required, about 115SF of space is taken (one water closet and one sink. no alcohol serving case). If you are not following all the rules, you are simply increasing the chances to be sued.

Other than the things above, there are so many rules and regulations from city and health department. Also procedure to apply for alcohol license and Conditional Use Permit could be headache sometimes. In addition, the accepted designs depend on an area in the city, so there are numerous things to handle to open an restaurant.

Architects and interior designers, as client representatives, always work with real estate agents and contractors, so we can share our knowledge to our clients. Also, in order to grasp ideas for design and rules, we recommend contact architects and designers first.



Office Design - オフィスデザイン

It's been a while since I updated this blog last time. We have been pretty busy these days and didn't have time to write.
I visited a showroom of a furniture maker, Haworth, for our client's new office in Long Beach.

I know this is a showroom, but if there is an open kitchen like this in a office, that will encourage people to exchange their information openly and may end up with creating smooth
communications among workers and between boss and subordinates.

If you like playing golf, how about this? Who said work area can not be fun?

We are considering using this open work station system for our client.
In order to meet their request that they want to keep the top of the desk always clean, one pedestal and two lateral files will be furnished for each person.

"OFFICE" is not just a place to work. If your work is mainly a desk work, you will be spending 1/3 of a day there. As a major part of corporate social responsibilities, company is supposed to arrange and provide a decent working environment to its workers before focusing on only sales numbers, spending time for brainwashing called education and calling "lazy" for slow workers.

In my past, I have worked on Charles Schwab, Deutsche Financial Services, AON Corporation and so on. Major American corporations are aware of the importance of the work environments in order to maintain superior work forces and create smooth work flows among people in their offices.

I have visited some corporation the other day. The office floor was filled with old workstations surrounded by dark colored partitions. There were no casual meeting spaces. The color of the partitions and carpet were not even close to their corporate image.
Managers were suffering from workers' cheap chatting and lack of concentration to their works.

As soon as I stepped in their office, I could tell the reason.


We tend to seek things we can't reach. If we were not allowed to communicate with others and packed in dark small areas for all day long, most of us would feel like going out and chat with our colleagues. Especially during the winter time, the outside gets dark early. Here in southern California, people seem to prefer bright broad places. If both outside and inside of the office are dark, everyone's motivation toward work can be lowered very easily.
It depends on the field of profession, but we recommend create a well balanced office space: bright-dim, wide-narrow, calm-cheerful.



Product Design Video

今回は、主にインテリアデザインのプロジェクト用に手作りした照明をビデオで紹介 >>>
This time, we made a video that introduces our light fixtures we made mostly for our interior design projects. >>>>


Company Intro. Movie - 会社紹介ムービー

We have started making videos to introduce our works
and business.
The first one is to show the atmosphere of our office.
Please click on the video to view in a large window in
YouTube site.


Reasonable French Restaurant - お得なフレンチレストラン

I had dinner at a French restaurant in Laguna Beach. The place is called French75, and receiving pretty good evaluations in restaurant reviews.

Inside of the restaurant is dim and generating an atmosphere for matures. It is a place where you can indulge a relaxed dinner time, but not a place you need to be too formal.

A cocktail made with champagne and cognac.

It was too dark to take a vivid photo, but the one on the left is baked pineapple, and foie gras on the right. Foie gras mixed with sweet food or sweet liquor creates a fantastic flavor in the mouth.

I ordered lamb for the main. It was very tender and the smell was well controlled.
I was not crazy about the cheese on the side.

ラムは$36 (91円計算で約3300円)。
Well, it always costs some when we eat this kind of food in this type of restaurant.
The lamb was $36.

The total of an appetizer, main, desert and a glass of alcohol is usually about $80.
It is not extremely expensive, but not cheap especially under this economical crisis.


There was a surprise on the menu!

It is kind of hard to see, but if you order between 5:00P.M. and 6:30P.M., the main course is half price. Also, selected bottles of wine are half off on Wednesday. They also come with a complimentary cheese plate.

It must be a promotion started in this slow economy. The restaurant was pretty much filled with people despite the fact that it was still Wednesday.

As far as I know, French 75 has 3 locations; Laguna Beach (map), Irvine Market Place (map) and Fashion Island in Newport Beach (map).
The one in Laguna Beach is surrounded by small galleries and I think it is situated in the best atmosphere (not sure if this half price promotion is applied at all locations).

It can be used for some occasions.



Mr. X

There is a little guy on our business card. The number and location depend on the individual.

There is a typical conversation when I hand my business card to someone new.

"Did you design this business card?"


"Oh, I see a little person on your card. Who is this?"

"Well....we have been trying to figure out who that is."

ウェブサイト(www.hirokiuchidadesignlab.com) を先に見た事のある人は、
Those people who visited our website (www.hirokiuchidadesignlab.com) first say,

"This must be the guy walking in your website!"

It is our secret who this is.

To be honest, I don't even know who this is despite the fact that I drew him. But, by placing him on the card, the card itself and the letters look larger. He creates a scene on the small piece of paper.

Mr.X plays a big role with his small body.



Auto Show - オートショー

I went to check out OC Auto Show yesterday. Mercedes, Porsche and even Nissan were not participating, and the space was reduced to only one floor instead of two floors that were filled with cars 2 years ago.

In terms of the design, the most progressive company I found was Ford Lincoln.
The car, of course, was designed a few years ago, but was different from typical American car and the interior had richness in materials and cares to details.

Unfortunately, the control panel area was still a typical American design that was not coordinated with surrounding parts. I feel it was lacking details, ideas and beauty.

のどれを取っても ”コンセプトカー” として感心させられた。
I have seen their concept car in a magazine before. I was impressed by the line, idea and colors of this car since they were very appropriate and exciting as a "concept car".

When I turned around, I found a Mercedes!
I thought they were out this year, and I walked to the side.

What? Was it Lexus?

And I walked to the rear. "Oh! this was a new BMW 7 series!"

Oh well...it is even impressive to see the good mixture of those 3 cars.

ジェネシス。 英語で発音する時は、 ”ハンダイ” と言い、最後の”イ”が聞こえない時も多いので
As sometimes seen on the street in the U.S., this is Genesis by a Korean car maker Hyundai.
I often hear the pronunciation "Honda" ...

I found another Lexus...with...a Rolls Royce nose decoration....?
This is also from Hyundai.

Changing the subject, this is a merry-go-round I found in a zoo today.
I thought it was supposed to provide a gentle and fantastic dream instead of a nightmare...

After seeing too many interesting (?) things, let's calm down by watching a photo of a beautiful scenery of my neighbor lake, and have a good night.



Manhattan Beach - マンハッタンビーチ

水曜日も雨だった。 朝8時にマンハッタンビーチの市庁に行き建設許認可の用事を済ませた後、コーヒーを右手に、そして傘を左手に、ビーチへ行ってみた。
It was raining again on Wednesday. As scheduled, I visited the city hall of Manhattan Beach at 8:00 A.M. for permit related errands. After that, I decided to walk to the beach with a cup of coffee in my right hand, and an umbrella in my left.

When it is sunny, it looks like this (photos taken a few weeks ago).

A rainy day,
The sound of rain hitting my umbrella above my head,
The sound of splash spread by my shoes below me,
and The sound of waves surrounding all over.
A beach and rain were creating more interesting coordination than beach and sun.

A shark jumped on to the pier...

This shark was set on unlocked wheels, and strong gust was pushing
it around. The shark looked much more scary than usual...



Rainy Day - 雨の日

It's a rainy day. The sky is covered with the heavy dark clouds. Things has lost their colors and now they look black and white; quiet and solemn.

Clear objects by the window

A light fixture we hand made for a salon project. In order not to generate heat inside the cone, we used LED light bulbs, so the beams look whitish.

Shadow of our handmade suspended light fixture.

I have to go to a city hall of Manhattan Beach early tomorrow morning.

The ocean in the rain should be attractive.


Olympic Memorial - オリンピックメモリアル

I visited Exposition Park last weekend. It is located about 15 minutes south of downtown, and you find a Memorial Coliseum used in 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and other newer facilities there.


すぐ横にあるCalifornia Science Center.
California Science Center next to it.

Walking though a rose garden,

フランク・ゲリー デザインのCalifornia Aerospace Museum (1981)へ。
visited California Aerospace Museum designed by Frank Gehry.

It seems that the interior space is formed by many complicated passes, but it is well designed to guide the visitors to all the exhibitions simply by walking straight.

Then, we headed for Korean Town for dinner.

We ordered a seafood and vegetable casserole. It was hot enough to keep me coughing.
I wonder how Korean people eat this sort of hot dishes so often...



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