Lest you are sick of posts about what I'm buying for my Spartan, I present to you a post about what I *wish* I was buying for my Spartan.
While flipping through a magazine
I absolutely froze at the most amazing picture of a collection of vintage enamelware, most of it mid-century Scandinavian. Hours spent down the internet rabbit hole later, and I have to say I'm especially fond of Cathrineholm Lotus.
I think I'm a straggler to this party, but, I ask you: How delicious would a few of these bowls look in the Spartan?
...from these vintage red glass beehive tail lights I bought on Etsy! I had one original glass one identical to these, and one plastic, more square-ish one on the other side that had been replaced later. Now I will have a set and
a spare. Any vintage trailer person will tell you that having a spare part is true luxury.
These have been sitting on my bookshelf like little sculptures. They make me smile while I walk by. Their day is coming!
has a small, well-curated shop of vintage trailer lovelies. Worth a peek. I love to think of all the mysterious people in the background of my trailer project... cool people out there doing cool things, and we intersect, briefly. Thanks for rescuing these for me, Etsy guy!
If it is not clear by the giddy nature of my reports, the trailer is heaps of fun. The best thing bout the Spartan is the people. I could sit around, talk, drink, eat and listen to music with interesting people 24/7/365. I love it. Talk to me, baby. Let's HANG.
The challenge is that getting the trailer out and about is no small feat. Frankly, she is slow. And then there is that whole backing up thing...
While I don't ever see a time when I would permanently land-dock my trailer, she really needs a home base. Of course, it has to fit my vision. It's one of my favorite things to day-dream about these days. Land criteria is a) less than 2 hours from downtown Houston b) away from urban/ suburban sprawl c) a good place to camp, walk, see the night sky and possibly go swimmin'.
Architecturally, I'd like to build a roofed structure to park under that would allow shade. I want to build screened in porches or pavilions for outdoor sleeping. I want outdoor showers and a good bathhouse. I want a stone fire pit with comfortable seating- and a small "barn" for storing things like outdoor cushions in. I want an outdoor kitchen area, with water to wash up and tables nearby. I want some paths that twist and turn to small gardens or places to meditate.
When I think about my trailer "vision", I find myself leaning more to the modern than the vintage. Spartans are elegant. They have that whole stream-lined, art-deco, sleek sensibility to them. I want to translate that to a modern inside/ outside space for entertaining and relaxing.
I want: clean lines, function over cute or clutter, traditional local materials such as quarried stone and metal roofs, and amazing landscaping with native plants. I want solar panels, and good architectural design.
So, as I focus my blog, expect to see some posts on things I find inspirational architecturally as well as posts admiring my friend's cool vintage trailers and campers... and the usual musings on my trailer-related experiences and inevitable ineptness.
I love the way the architect of this wonderful home in the Houston mid-town area salvaged the remains of an old brick building- probably commercial- and made it into the good bones of a modern style house.
My favorite aspect is the impact of the industrial gate with rusty iron patina. I'm a fan of patina, you may recall. And while this is a little more urban that I suspect my eventual design will be, I admire the use of existing materials, and the use of space. This fascinating little corridor could have been a crappy ally with a/c units in it. All the more remarkable is that it is surrounded by, what are, for the most part, completely uninspired contemporary town homes hastily erected by builders who rushed in to capitalize on this neighborhoods sudden resurgence. In time I think this will retain it's design integrity while many of it's neighbors will be very dated.
Just look at the gate's enormous bolts- symmetry and punch- just enough detail to be interesting. And the grill with peep-through of the clean garden landscape and fountain takes the harsh industrial edge off. I like to think this is a post-modern take on the elegant iron grill gates in New Orleans and that offer a tantalizing peek at the secret gardens within.
Hey Ya'll, for my birthday my awesome friend Monica arranged this work of edible art (aka "cake") that put all my favorite things right on one fork: vintage Spartan trailer + chocolate+ Orla Kiely+ sass!
Here is another look, complete with added paper umbrella and festive candles. And, in case you are not just glued to my blog, I'll refresh your memory about those flowers. They are inspired by the Orla Kiely
fabric I just poshed up the interior of my trailer with. Sweet details!
Monica IS the birthday cake fairy. On my birthday I always
have my girlfriends over for cake. It's my tradition. And ever since I met Monica, she has put herself right in charge of that cake. The first year she called up Whole Foods and ordered me a beautiful cake, frosting roses and all. And they asked what the cake should say on top. And Monica replied, "Well, it's for a woman's birthday." So the day came and she picked up the cake...and.... and... I love this! the cake said: "Happy Woman's Birthday" in fancy script. I laughed so hard I'd liketa die. Hilarious! So, naturally, now every
cake has to say:
We had a great time, like always. The cake was perfect. She had printed out pictures of my trailer and gave them to the cake magician
. Do you love the little frosting "rivets"? I do! And I love the way it hangs right over the base cake, because, lordy, it IS bigger than life.
One more quick look as the cake drives off...
As I was sayin’, people do really cool things with trailers. Let’s take the work of Paul Villinski, who found inspiration in post-Katrina New Orleans and transformed a basic issue FEMA trailer into a “Emergency Response Studio”. Villinski says that he found himself in NOLA in 2006, wanted to immerse himself in the culture and create work, but he needed a studio. Voila. Trailer + taste = contemporary, relevant artwork.
Like the folks at Side Street Projects and some other people looking at the future of sustainable, affordable housing, Villinski went 100% off the grid. Solar, baby.
Of course he did. As my trailer project unfolds and I educate myself, it is now clear that not only does everyone bleeping already have a trailer, they ALL have an off-the-grid trailer. You are soo uncool if you are in the minority dredges, and I do mean dredges, left behind.
This is even more surprising given how maligned trailers are. I mean come on- let’s play a little work association game here, folks. First Up: “Trailer”. Take yer time.
How, did you say, “Vacation” or even “Camping”?
How ‘bout “Adventure”?
How ‘bout maybe “Green”? “Art”? “Vintage”? “Open Road”? “Route 66”? Or even “Emergency Response Studio???
No. No. No. And No.
No, Honey, say it with me: You said- “TA-RAAA-ASH”.
I know you did. (Unless you are, God Bless him, Paul Villinski.) And if we say sumpin’ like oh, I dunno, “Trailer Park”- well, you already got you a visual of a knocked-up teenager and some chain smoking’ alky-holics. Cussin’ at each other at 3 am, naturally.
Sooo sad. But so true.
I went and saw Villinski and his truly kick-ass trailer at a show featuring it at Rice University. Yes, that Rice University. Pretty fancy place. I mean, you gotta hand it to the guy- he took the nastiest of trailers- a- shudder- FEMA trailer and made it into something so stylish and light-filled you could open a damn café in it. The show was beautifully executed, interesting and hands-on. Plus, Villinski makes exquisite models and he had a sa-weet one of his trailer. I loved it. I coveted it. Didn’t have one in the gift shop, though, and alas it wouldn’t fit discreetly in my purse.
But, seriously: Rice can’t find a local, or at least a Southerner, with a trailer? We have to find a Noo Yawk Artiste to validate the trailer as worthy? Harrumph. Is the trailer as Art really so paradoxal? Sigh. One of those accepted ironies, I suppose.
Actually, though, Villinski was just charming- he seems like a sincere and down-to-earth guy with a way of looking at the world and making art that just radiates gentle cool. Can’t even make any snooty cracks about him because he is too bloody talented. His work is delicate and subtle. Plus, he did lots of the work on the ERS trailer with one of his best friends, who just happens to be an architect… I mean, totally Muddy Mary to my 1950 Spartan. Once again we see how trailers just invite collaboration. They are a social thing. And, contrary to common belief, beautiful. I just can't believe the light wood interior of the ERS was a coincidence. It looked, surprisingly, like some of the cleaner interpretations of vintage trailers. ART. It makes the world a better place.
Up next folks: I’m hitting the Vintage Trailer Rally in San Antonio next week-end. Of course, I can only go to the open-to- the public day because I’m not good enough to join the Official Airstream Club ‘cuz I only have a, ohh, I dunno, J. Paul Getty-approved Spartan. Neyeah.
The uses for old aluminum trailers are pretty much limited by the imagination. Take the very inspiring and cool folks over at Side Street Projects. A great article on them ran in the L.A. Times this week, illustrating their genius and the possibilities for Old Aluminum. Side Street Projects are artists who run a non-profit mobile art classroom for hundreds of kids in the LA/ Pasadena, CA area. Their “classrooms” are old school buses. After having to move their headquarters several times, with much annoying disruption and bureaucracy, they decided that mobile was the way to go all around. They have a ‘53 Spartan that serves as their office and a ‘49 for storage/ library. Further making them visionaries, they installed solar panels and are 100% off the grid.
No shit. I mean, how freakin’ cool is that?! There was a time when all school age kids wanted to run away with the circus. I have to say, if a mobile classroom pulled up to my school and told a 10-year old me that their offices were in silver bullet trailers, well, let's just say I know who I would run away with. I also know what I would want to do when I grew up, and no, it would not be a doctor.
Cementing my adoration of these folks, and in case you are too lazy to click on the link, here are the best quotes in the article:
“The vintage Spartan trailers were picked for their coolness factor, according to Lapointe.”
“They were manufactured by a company owned by J. Paul Getty, which earns them an extra nod from those in the arts community, he said.”
Basically, these people are serving up Spartan-style trailer snobbism. Love that! I’m all tight with the Airstream Community, but, come on, ya gotta cheer for the home team. Read the gem of an article, which ran in the L.A. Times on Feb 17th, before I plagiarize the whole thing in my earnest zeal to convince you these people transcend mortal cool status quo.
You can also check out Side Street's web site.
And you could also give them some money.
Jus’ saying. The ARE very cool.