Minarc’s Dropi chair also garnered a World Architecture & Design Award. Gratitude all around!
We also had a chance to speak with Tom Dioro about our work — have a listen here.
Billi Rakov is an artist and designer, based in West Los Angeles California. Growing up in an Amish town in Ohio where sewing was prevalent, the West L.A.-based artist was drawn to the craft from a young age, joining a 4/H sewing group and then stitching her own garments. “When I was in elementary, my next door neighbor frequently held quilting bees in her home,” says Rakov. “I would go over and play under the quilt frame as the neighborhood ladies quilted and socialized.”
Then college, career and kids happened, putting her passion on hiatus while she dedicated herself to raising a family and creating innovative package designs for companies such as Anthem Worldwide and Leon Richman Design.
When breathing room returned, so did Rakov’s passion for painting with fabric. “I put quilting off for a long time, and then started going to a sewing store in my neighborhood. I found a beautiful sense of community there,” says Rakov, who went on to join the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild and soon found herself stitching a new chapter in her creative life.
Rakov’s work has resulted in a series of stunning, handcrafted quilts that rely heavily on recycled materials: She uses everything from her children's outgrown clothes to second-generation sheepskin, “fish leather” from Iceland and even pieces of plastic. “A lot of times it’s a piece of recycled cloth that will start the inspiration for a new piece,” she says of her non-symmetrical creations.
Inspired by The Quilts of Gee’s Bend — the improvisational, recycled creations from a small community of women in Alabama dating back to the 19th century — Rakov’s pieces are a study in abstract, geometric simplicity. “These women didn’t have the resources to buy a whole bolt of fabric,” says Rakov. “They were piecing together old clothes or flour sacks and out of that came these pieces that are so unique. They were also incredibly pragmatic: They made these quilts to warm their homes.”
Each quilt takes Rakov up to 150 hours to make, working mostly from her home studio in Rancho Park. “When I’m working on a piece, I’m not following a specific pattern, but I do have a story in my mind. You set out to make a quilt and the pieces of fabric take a journey of their own.”
See more of Rakov’s work in Instagram: @billirakov
Ryan Hickman may only be 9 years old, but he’s a green giant of the environmental community, having saved 460,000 cans and bottles, totaling almost 90,000 pounds of glass, plastic and aluminum from the landfill. His passion for environmentalism started at 3, when Ryan accompanied his dad to their local recycling center. After cashing in a few bags of cans and bottles, the toddler decided then and there that recycling was his future.
Since that moment, Ryan’s commitment — and recognition — for recycling has only grown: He has received CNN’s Young Wonder Award, was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in Orange County by the OC Register, and has appeared on The Ellen Show, ABC World News and countless other programs.
While he’s traveled across the United States speaking about the importance of reusing materials instead of throwing them in the trash, Ryan remains committed to implementing his philosophy in his immediate environment. At home, he has set up 24 recycling bins. “We use really big green bags that go in the bins,” he says. “The bags are almost as big as I am.” At school, he has mobilized all of his teachers to save cans. “Every Tuesday I go around and collect them,” he says.
With the money he’s earned from recycling, Ryan has donated more than $8,000 to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. “The most common material we’re getting is plastic. If I could change just one thing, it would be for the world to stop making plastic.”
Interested in learning more about Ryan’s commitment to making the world a better place? You can see his website here.
In this issue, we focus on a deeper commitment to sustainability, whether it’s total dedication to ensuring your school’s cans and bottles don’t end up in landfill or adopting a more artistic approach to using second- and third-hand materials. We hope you enjoy our latest issue of Minarc Living.
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by editor Alex Abramian
The YIMBY moment has arrived. The name stands for “Yes In My Backyard” and is a grassroots movement to make housing affordable and accessible to far more people. Some of its biggest advocates in California include Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, while YIMBY-ism is rapidly spreading throughout the country in places like Boulder, Minneapolis and Austin.
The YIMBY movement aims to help end the housing shortage and ease the skyrocketing number of homeless people. In Los Angeles alone, the homeless population exploded from 32,000 to roughly 55,000 in just six years.
And even when people do find housing, skyrocketing real estate values mean they’re often pushed farther and farther from the centers of cities, forcing long commutes. Those hours on the road not only rob people of time, they also dramatically increase carbon emissions.
Minarc has designed Plús Hús to offer homeowners a way to become an agent of social change, starting in their own backyard. With recent Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation, homeowners can now legally help alleviate California’s housing shortage, and Plús Hús offers a low-maintenance, environmentally responsible way to do this.
The 320-square-foot home comes delivered completely flat-packed and is assembled on site, easing delivery and construction processes as well as overall cost.
During the 14th annual HD Awards ceremony in New York at Cipriani 25, Hospitality Design (HD) magazine announced its project and product winners. Nearly 1,000 submissions from across the globe were considered in 23 categories, including Luxury and Upscale Hotels and new categories like Restoration, Wellness and Nightlife. Minarc won top prize in the Upscale Guest Rooms/Suites category for the new Ion City Hotel!
Iceland is one of the world’s prime spots to see the aurora borealis. Here’s a quick guide to one of the world’s most dazzling natural performances.
1. The Northern Lights often appear to shoot out of mountains like lava from a volcano, but that it’s merely an optical illusion. The closest that the Northern Lights ever come to Earth is 80 kilometers above the Earth's surface. In comparison, a plane flies about 10 kilometers above the surface.
2. Auroras are relatively dim, and the redder lights often marks the limit of what the human retina can detect. Cameras, however, are often more sensitive, and with a long-exposure setting and a clear dark sky, viewers can get some spectacular shots.
3. The Vikings believed the fiery ring was a bridge to the afterlife.
4. You have to look north to see the Northern lights. (Doh!) Make sure you know which direction is north. The Aurora is quite unpredictable and can be fleeting. When the sky is dim, it can look like a wispy gray or white cloud so be careful not to miss it.
5. The floor-to-ceiling windows at Minarc’s Ion Adventure Hotel are designed for optimal aurora borealis viewing.
Knitting in Iceland is serious stuff. The country’s famed wool — sourced from sheep originally brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago — is known for its combination of inner and outer fibers and distinctive natural colors.
Minarc has taken that passion for the traditional craftsmanship and reimagined it through a contemporary design at Ion City Hotel. There, knitting stitches are magnified to create a graphic pattern used on blankets throughout the hotel.
Minarc has taken the concept even further by fixing the pattern onto the ceiling, which, in turn, casts an even larger pattern of the stitching onto the floor.
Ion City Hotel was recently featured in The Australian, which notes, “Scandi-chic guestrooms offer moody views and ready access to the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants.”
Architectural Digest recently described Ion Adventure as an “architecturally striking, rural retreat [where] gray-and-green-tone interiors reflect the Nordic landscape.”
The Icelandic idiom means Ten Drops, referring mostly to coffee but sometimes wine.
And it’s an essential philosophy of Minarc, the award-winning design firm best known for blurring boundaries between inside and out. In this issue, you will also find an intersection of cultures, Iceland and Southern California, where principals Erla and Tryggvi first arrived nearly two decades ago.
In Iceland, natives share a formidable bond to the natural environment, but also to neighborliness, becoming essential to one’s livelihood during long, harsh winters. Across continents, Minarc creates spaces with this inclusive community vision — to be lived in, shared — from a stargazing hotel lobby on a UNESCO Heritage Site to a sunlit multi-gen home in LA.
Also in this issue, functional minimalism gives way to new ideas like Plús Hús, a sustainable Accessory Dwelling Unit created as a solution to California’s housing crisis. The structure is not merely a teeny homage to cool Nordic design, but a resourceful blueprint for new California urbanism where dreams begin in the backyard.
Winged Victory: As of June, Icelandair has brought back its international service from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Reykjavik.
Our first Plus Hus has broken ground in Santa Monica, the beach city where Minarc is based.
In other tiny-but-mighty news: Cities across the US are banning single-use straws.
Zero-waste confirms its place in the lexicon as an eponymous bistro pops up in NYC.
The heat is on at The Nordic Museum in Seattle, which recently opened with a century-old pop-up sauna as part of its exterior.
We create sustainably built, high-functioning homes designed for people to connect — with others, with the outdoors, or just with themselves.
At our latest project in Mar Vista, we've designed a home that will go up two stories and down one. The 8,000-square-foot house will include seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a basement level that features a screening room, gym, au pair living quarters and a wine cellar. Like all of our homes, the outside is just as important as what goes on within: Here, glass walls disappear to invite gardens, the pool area and courtyards as completely livable environments.
The thermostat is perennially set to 70° in Southern California, so only warm, open spaces will do. This is the philosophy of principals Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson, who decamped from Iceland to Los Angeles some 20 years ago, creating a portfolio of projects that distinctively soften modern edges and encourage togetherness. Their designs honor a respect for nature and a bond toward community, which are ingrained in Nordic sensibilities, shaped by long, dark winters. Today, it’s the award-winning Southern California blueprint for Minarc’s new wave of sustainable, connected living.
We are makers, builders, designers and dreamers with a passion for collaboration in creating sustainable, human-centered spaces. Together, we bring a diversity of experience and knowledge to every phase of each project.