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analysis

Inspiring décor and style from 80s and 90s

It’s a lovely long weekend here in Canada and I took some time to watch old movies and search for some decorations and art ideas. I confess, I love decoration and fashion style from the 80s and 90s. It’s a bit over but it feels so cozy and cute. My top picks from this long weekend are:

You’ve Got Mail lovely decoration

It’s been 22 years and we are still in love with Kathleen Kelly house. Lots of botanical art, warm tones, floral pillows, greens and oranges. Walls molding and trims everywhere and a ton of detail. One day I have to do a deeper analysis of her style. Here is a quick peak.

I really love the have French door in the kitchen, the cute little ornaments in her curtains, the amazing china cabinet and the vitral window in her entrance hall. What a dreamy place!

Mrs. Doubtfire warm and cozy house

I actually don’t like this movie and was not able to watch it all again, but I really like the house and the decoration with warm tones of beiges, oranges and greens. It feels very cozy and warm. The movie is from 1993 (click on the images to see details)

I cant get over her cute kitchen with lots of ornaments, the great green sofa cover and curtains everywhere. Super cozy.

Heartburn amazing 80’s style

Last but not list, is not only the décor but the fashion style. Take a look on the amazing clothes Meryl Streep wears in this Nora Ephron movie. I want them all! (click on the images, it’s just so good)

My mom was pregnant from my sister in 1986 and she dressed exactly like that! I’m not sure if I like so much for the nostalgia of those times but seriously, I need that grey linen blazer. Her house was also charming but she never finish her decoration, what is a shame, it would have looked beautiful.

I hope you had fun in this back to the past style and decoration. I’m so inspired! I know my house and my style shouldn’t look exactly like that but I really want to use some of these ideas. Keep in touch and thanks for visiting!

Categories
analysis

Florence, a city with a soul

It’s been a while I feel our lifestyle is too fast, too focused on the mundane and too immediatist. I’ve been reading some amazing books about art history, myths and ancient legends and all this makes me think a lot.

I studied architecture at the university and I remember reading this huge and great book called The History of the City, from Leonardo Benevolo. One of the most interesting things he said was about the way we organize our cities. In the beginning of our history, we organize everything around the temple. For centuries the temple was in the center of our villages and cities. Much of our lives was focused on the divine. If you think about it, we had ziggurats, Greek and Roman temples, Gothic churches, Renascentist churches, Baroque churches… all the other styles that came after had amazing churches and they were in the center of the city, many times the largest and most important building of the community. But that all changed starting with the industrial revolution and modernism. Skyscrapers took over and business towers became the largest buildings in the cities. The sky line of a city was not focused on the divine anymore, a new power took over and changed the way we live forever.

Florence skyline

I was born in this lifestyle. I never lived in a city where the church is the largest building. Nature was not the center of my life either. All the cities I lived in were typical 20th century cities, life rotates around the commercial center, a conglomerate of towers with offices and stores. We live for work and immediate pleasures. There is no bigger mystery or wondering.

How different my life would have been if I had grown up in a city focused on the divine or focused on nature? A city that focus on the human soul and it’s mysteries? Can I slow down and change the way I think? Can I stop focusing on now and start focusing on larger and more permanent things? All these questions motivates me to read about ancient times and different ways of life.

I’ve been to Florence in 2018 and visiting the Cathedral was a magnificent experience. I wish I could go again and again, there is no feeling like entering that church. The contrast of the rich sculpture outside with the austere inside is the first surprise, then you slowly walk across the nave and visualize the unbelievable duomo from the inside, getting higher and higher, as if you can reach an infinite sky of angels.

The duomo from inside

This weekend I watched some documentaries about Florence and it’s Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The first one is a friendly touristic overview of the city, showing a bit of it’s attractions and history.

The second one is a technical and fascinating investigation on the methods of construction for the duomo.

Thinking about how long the great masters took to create their masterpieces and how life was at that time was very interesting for me. Things took years of dedication, study, perseverance. Art was made for eternity. I want to bring this spirit to my life and be more focused on the soul and less in the everyday things.

How about you? Do you feel life is always rushing? What makes you wonder? Let me know in the comments!

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analysis

Creating interesting stories: YouTube video analysis

2020 is going to be remembered not only like the COVID year, but also as the year when virtual connections became prevalent. On top of Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls, everybody started to record their lives, publish TikToks, post hundreds of stories on Instagram, and online connection happened like never before. Videos with personal stories are everywhere! Some of them are very good and I can watch them over and over again. In others, I feel something is missing.

Story is king. Everything else is a slave to the story.

Casey Neistat

When I started recording videos for my Instagram stories, I made it as easy as possible. I never followed a script, I simply would wake up at 4:50 am, grab a cup coffee and while still half sleeping, I would start recording the videos, around 5:00 am. After a few weeks of constantly recording my artist diary from Monday to Friday and not missing a single day, I started to see room for improvement. I started to think about how I could tell my stories in a more interesting way. I notice my stories lack structure, my motivations sometimes are not clear and some videos are not dynamic enough. I decided to analyse a documentary that tells a story in a fun and interesting way so I can identify techniques and start using them as well. My goal is to be able to tell better stories on my videos and blog, and also, bring some of these storytelling skills to my illustrations.

What makes a video story interesting?

Today we are going to analyse the documentary “***: Do you need to be one to be a successful leader?”, directed and produced by Max Joseph. Max comes from a background from MTV, his style is young, fresh, full of action and tons of references. He regularly works with YouTube sensation Casey Neistat and he is deeply connected with Hollywood. If you are OK with some bad language, don’t mind one tiny graphic image and a few bits of political bias, go ahead and watch this amazing documentary.

The documentary step by step

Max basically divides the documentary in 3 parts, introduction, development and conclusion. Lets start with the introduction

Introduction

Here Max explain how he discover something new, how he formulated his question, the methods he will use to answer his question and the answer he expects to find. Lets take a look on his timeline and some resources he used on each part:

  • Quote from famous person

    Max starts with with a quote related to the theme he is researching.

    Resources: Fun vintage animation, opening theme music

  • Title

    Loud, proud and shocking

    Resources: use of bad words to shock audience, mix of video and letters coming from behind an object (revealing possible truth), high point of the music, narration reinforces idea

  • Introduction

    Introduces the theme and explain the reality he sees at this moment, before learning. He sees 2 types of mindset:

    • Mindset 1: Friendly behavior
    • Mindset 2: Unfriendly behavior (seems best for a leader)

    Resources: pictures and videos paired with text, fun and dramatic frames, classic music with sound effects

  • Show own experience in the subject

    Establish he comes from Mindset 1. Faced with Mindset 2, start questioning self

    Resources: fast videos in quick cuts vs. slow cut for highlights, sound effects

  • Faces the problem

    Max don’t know enough about leadership and needs to study

    Resources: large text, change of music

  • Explain method to solve problem

    He will interview directors, writers and thinkers who have knowledge on the subject

    Resources: mix images/videos with text. Heroic music

  • Goal

    The question: “What do you need to become a great leader?” – needs an answer in the conclusion of the documentary

    Resources: huge typography, heroic music, sound effects, personal signature shows commitment

Summary of introduction: Start with a quote, shock with a strong title, introduce the subject, speak briefly about you own experience, present the main question (what am I trying to learn here?), show the tools for investigation and set goal of the story.

End of the introduction.

Development

In this part Max shows his learning process and challenges until he reaches the highest conflict and turning point that will lead him to the conclusion. HE uses 4 types of characters:

  • The Hero: Max, the person learning and telling the story
  • Approachable Person: people he interviews who are neutral. Max sees them in different lights as he learns and develops his character
  • The Best Friend/Mentor: a person who Max trust and helps him see the third way
  • God/Villain Mythical Character: someone mysterious, strong and not approachable. Max thinks he is a villain but he might be a God. Max go through internal and external struggles while trying to approach this unreachable but key character

Lets take a look on the timeline during the development:

  • Describe reality

    Max starts demonstrating he is on Mindset 1 and he thinks Mindset 2 might be more effective. He uses interviews with approachable people to investigate this reality.

    Resources: Check interview structure for approachable people after the timeline

  • Find the first challenge

    Introduce God/Villain Mythical character. It seems like this person is a Mindset 2 person but they are not available for interview. This fact creates a challenge to get to the conclusion

    Resources: (Check God/Villain Interview structure after timeline).

  • Explain the theory

    Max talk to writers about famous leaders. Their vision might be good or bad. Seems like theory confirm Mindset 2 is the right for leaders. Use other famous books to collaborate to this hypothesis.

    Resources: stop motion animations with text, pictures or leaders with text , use humor, toys, pop culture refs, sound effects, funny narration.

  • Get glimpses of a resolution

    One person shows him there is a third way but he doesn’t really understand. He sticks with his current view of reality. He is able to schedule his meeting with the God/Villain and do other interviews that starts to open his mind.

    Resources: Check interview structure for approachable people after the timeline

  • First defeat

    As he examine himself, he discovers people who are Mindset 1 cannot change to Mindset 2. He thinks was raised this way and will never change. Try to accepts he will always be Mindset 1 but feels he is a loser

    Resources: funny music, videos from when he was a kid, humor, self degrading talk, use all neutral interviews to reinforce the point

  • Seek comfort – start recover

    He talks with a person who he trusts. He believes his friend is a successful Mindset 1 and feel comforted. However, he discover his friend is not Mindset 1 and get surprised and confused

    Resources: text, brilliant classic music, fable, illustration, fantastic narration, angel sounds, funny sound effects. Also check comfort interview structure after timeline.

  • Change paradigm – goal is visible

    He learn there is actually a Mindset 3 he never thought about it. He now can see this in all the other people he already interviewed.

    Resources: testimonials, sound effects, illustration and a shocking image

  • Major defeat = Knockout

    He prepares to meet the God/Villain character but faces major defeat. The meeting is disappointing and the God/Villain use a tool (book) that hit him in a deadly way. The Mindset 2 looks like the winner. Seems like everything is lost. This is the highest point of conflict

    Resources: dramatic music, race, dramatic pauses, scenes from movies, battle scenes from classic painting

  • Last resource

    Max create a plan to recover and achieve his goal: a Trojan horse.

    Resources: follow the book with the camera like it’s a “bomb” ready to explode, sound effects, suspense/fun music

  • Dramatic pause before conclusion

During the development, the interviews have 3 types of structure, lets look at them:

Approachable people interview
  • glimpse of personality on present moment (person open door, test sound)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she do (show pieces of their work)
  • opinions are edited according to Max understanding of the reality
God/Villain Mythical Person interview
  • no glimpse of personality on present moment (not authorized, this person is not available)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she do (show pieces of their work)
  • not available for interview. All interactions during development points he is Mindset 2 (unfriendly/villain). Create suspense

Comfort/mentor interview
  • no glimpse of personality on present moment (not necessary, this person is a friend)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she does (show pieces of their work)
  • interaction makes Max understand there is a mindset 3

Summary of hero trajectory during development: hero demonstrates there are 2 types of mindset, he is on Mindset 1 and differentiates himself from Mindset 2. He faces the first challenge and get defeated (can’t reach the person he thinks is Mindset 2). Use Theory to investigate, get glimpses of a 3rd mindset. When he discovers he can’t change, he is defeated for the second time. Seek comfort with a friend and discovers there is 3rd Mindset. That’s the happiest moment of the documentary. Just after that, a book make it seems like Mindset 2 is the winner, the hero suffers a major defeat in the most dramatic moment of the video and come up with a plan for recovery.

End of Development

Conclusion of the Documentary

This is the last part of the video and starts with the confront between the hero and the villain/god character. Lets take a look on the timeline:

  • Revelation

    After some anxiety, Max discovers the mythical person is actually a Mindset 3 and there are many ways to achieve that.

    Resources: Suspense music, awkward camera angles, animated illustration, hopeful music after discover, testimonial from other characters to reinforce revelation. Max records the God/Villain from far away every time it seems he is Mindset 2. He approaches the camera when seems he is Mindset 3. Also check Interview structure for God/Villain

  • Answer to the Question opened at Intro

    To be a better leader, a person needs to have a vision and can be true to oneself. All other characters reinforce the answer and make analogies

    Resources: hopeful song, repeat interview with approachable people and videos that reinforce what’s being said

  • Closing

    Refers to the Intro. Mindset 2 is not the way, although some behaviors from mindset 3 looks like that

    Resources: use text for bullet points, new music related to theme, repeat images already used to explain each concept

Summary of the conclusion: Moment of revelation, answer to the question opened at the intro and a bullet point list with the main actions to reach the goal.

End of the documentary.

My own conclusion

I had a great time learning about leadership with Max Joseph and an even better time studying how he tells his story. I love the use of classical music and typography highlights. Following a structure, making your motivations clear and using all resources possible to illustrate your points makes communication easier and more interesting.

What made Max Joseph story interesting was the fact that he followed his own leadership guidelines while creating his video:

  1. Max was authentic in the whole video
  2. His motivations were clear all the time
  3. He used all his resources, including structure, illustrations, videos, music, sound effects, typography, visual effects
  4. He accepted change and he grew throughout the video

I see clearly what I need to change in my videos and illustrations and how much work, planning and edition is done to create a good story. I’m currently reading a few books on this same subject and I’m planning to analyse other documentaries, like the Netflix Abstract Series. Thanks for learning with me and stay in touch!

Categories
analysis

Gosford Park: Lady Trentham Room

Gosford Park is one of my favourite movies and I was so glad to watch it again now that it’s available on Netflix. The movie features amazing set designs and costumes, and a great and original story that includes one of my favourite actress, Kristin Scott Thomas.

The upstairs cast

We follow a group of rich and snob people who gather for hunting at Gosford Park, an English country house. We see the whole action through the eyes of the servants, specially Mary Maceachram, a new maid working for Lady Constance Trentham. The house is magnificent and full of contrasts. The upstairs are opulent and highly decorated. The downstairs, in the servant quarters, are functional and austere.

The downstairs cast

The house rooms are all different from each other, some are very full of heavy details and others more delicate. There are different wall colours, linens, furniture…. Some masculine and feminine designs.

I understand Lady Trentham is an honoured guest and she stayed in one of the most beautiful bedrooms in the history of the movies. That’s what I want to show you today.

Mary stands in the middle of bedroom

The bedroom features a peacock and flowers wallpaper with a soft light blue background. I love the blush curtains, the tall windows and brass details in the furniture. The fringe lamps on the nightstands and dresser are so charming and well placed. The canopy frames the bed beautifully and I cannot forget to observe how the pastel rug connects everything harmonically.

Mary brings some breakfast

We enter this bedroom through a door beside the large wardrobe. Above we can see Mary bringing a wood tray with the breakfast for the lady (I love the silver pieces on it). I won’t show the pictures in the chronological order. Instead I’m showing the bedroom during the day and in the evening. I’ll start with the morning sun.

Sylvia and Constance talk while Mary is packing the luggage

Beside the large wardrobe there is a tall mirror and then the bed set with two nightstands. Although the wallpaper pattern is very fluid and organic, the furniture placement keeps the structure and symmetry, reinforced by the table lamps and round picture frames.

Lavínia waits while Sylvia sits at the dressing table

I found interesting how the dressing table is placed right in front of the window. The same happens with the desk, in front of the other window. The triptych mirror certainly make it special, what a beautiful piece! Notice how the wallpaper behind Lavinia shows much more flowers, it’s a very interesting pattern alternating flowers and birds.

Sylvia is ready to go

How about the tassels everywhere? Tassels on the curtain holder, tassels on the table lamp, tassels on the perfume bottle. There are fringes and tassels everywhere, I love it!

Did you notice the objects on the silver tray? I think those are beauty products. Don’t you want to exchange all modern plastic packages for those? I do.

Mary lit the fire, it’s freezing
On the mirror you can see the lady holding a bag of warm water

Here we go, composition, contrast and symmetry again. The wallpaper pattern is asymmetric and dances around without following any grid. But the structure is there, notice the repetition of another triptych mirror, symmetrical amphora vases and twin sconces. Everything is ornamented, from the picture frames to the fireplace golden details. I also love the tall white baseboard, make such a neat edge.

Sylvia between the black cabinet and the fireplace

Beside the fireplace there is a door that I’m not sure where it goes. There is also this black and gold cabinet that is shown very little during the movie but it’s very unique and got my eye, it looks like a Chinese cabinet. I find intriguing how the black doesn’t look heavy, but it’s well balanced with the large wardrobe and all patterns of the bedroom. The wardrobe is not shown on this picture but I like how it makes a pair with this black cabinet and it’s opposite to the pair of the windows on the other side of the bedroom. Also note the vase of flowers on a stand, it’s also placed opposite to the large vase of flowers that sits between the bed and the dressing table (check the first picture).

Mary helps Constance while Lavinia and Sylvia talk. Louisa reads a magazine on the bed.

The bedroom is a social space and the ladies enjoy talking and gossiping while the men go hunt. Here we can see how the wallpaper pattern is heavier on the bottom and lighter on the top. Also we can see the sofas and chairs around the fireplace (in front of the bed). I really like how the structure of all seating is apparent and slightly golden. The only thing that we feel it doesn’t belong the the bedroom is Mary, dressed in all black with no ornaments. I’m sure that was the director’s intention, to show how the servants were there almost like a shadow, with no life of their own.

The symmetry of the round frames and bed lamps around the bed contrast with the wallpaper

Here is a nice shot of the bed and its canopy. Notice how all shapes reinforce the heavyweight on the bottom and lightweight on the top. Mirror, lamps and canopy are all wider in the bottom and narrow on top creating a illusion of a heavy base that communicates perfectly with the wallpaper pattern.

And again we see fringes and tassels everywhere, on the canopy, on the table lamp and even in the reflection of the curtains on the tall mirror. The wallpaper behind the bed is the richest and most original, peacocks with yellow orange tails and some very asymmetrical branches, probables inspired by old Japanese prints. It’s the contrast of the wallpaper with the furniture that makes this bedroom special. Can you imagine the same furniture with a regular pattern wallpaper? Or with no pattern on the walls? How traditional and boring!

Lady Trentham prepares for the first evening

In the evening light I cannot tell if the wallpaper is green or blue, it looks greenish for me in those scenes. Here is a good view of the beauty containers and the gorgeous table lamp. Maggie Smith portraits such a detestable and self absorbed lady, it’s hard to forget her character and poisonous remarks. It’s so natural how she distills her disdain, she is a master in the art of contempt.

Sylvia and Constance get ready for the evening, Mary is on the floor fixing the lady dress

Here’s a last look on the bedroom with a good view of the wardrobe and the bed. I absolutely love the bed head and foot, specially the curve that holds the mattress and the golden ornaments. The mirror and wardrobe are very beautiful, unfortunately I don’t know a lot about types of wood but you can’t help but notice how the wood veins on the wardrobe door and nightstand drawers are strong and rich. And although I’m focusing on the decor, how not to notice the gorgeous dresses of the ladies? The antique pink of Constance dress even matches the pink pleats of the canopy over the bed, such an achievement from the visual department in this movie.

So that was it for today. Lady Constance Trentham is an old snake and Sylvia follow her steps closely, but behaviour and class struggles aside, I can’t help but to love this bedroom and find it a masterpiece in decoration and visual composition.

Did you like it? Leave a comment! I’ll post about the kitchen and the rest of the house another day, keep in touch!