Thursday, May 29, 2008

Computer Graphics

In my Computer Graphics class, we learned more about the programs in the Adobe Suite: Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop.  Here are a couple examples of my projects from the semester:
My final poster for our class exhibition (made in Illustrator) which is also the home page to my digital portfolio (created in In Design).
A composition made in Photoshop that merges two images together (the tunnel is in Glasgow, Scotland, and I took the photo of the bike in Vienna, Austria).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This semester I took a design studio that did several small projects with an emphasis on furniture design.  
Our first project was to design a logo for our personal design company.
Then, we had to translate that 2-dimensional logo into a 3D form.
Our third project was to design jewelry for a client of our choice.  I designed these earrings which are based on the 'tree of life' symbol for Natalie Portman to relate to her Jewish heritage.
Our fourth design was to create a chair similar to those designed by Michael Thonet.  He used the technology of steam bending wood to create cheap, sturdy chairs that could be mass produced quickly.  
Our final project was to design a modern chair for a historical building in Prague.  We could choose from the Gothic Vladislav Hall in the Royal Palace of Prague Castle, the Romanesque church of St. George in Prague Castle, the Baroque church of St. Nicholas, or the Art Nouveau theater the Municipal House.  I chose the Municipal House and designed this chair using the principals of the Art Nouveau period: organic lines, plant-inspired motifs, and highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms.

This chair can be used as a single chair or joined with a second chair which is its mirror image to create one large chair.

Photography at Letna Park

Many people have been giving me a hard time about not actually going to school this semester, so I thought I'd include a few posts with the work I've been doing.  These photos are some of my work for my photography class and were taken at Letna Park, a huge, beautiful park overlooking the city of Prague.  The park itself is a fun place to visit and people watch, and the gorgeous views of the city make it even better.  

Sunday, May 25, 2008


After being back in Prague for about 48 hours, we headed to the airport to begin our next great adventure...Paris!  Upon arriving in Paris, we quickly learned that this is one of the biggest and craziest cities in the world (probably because we ended up at the central metro station on a Friday at rush hour...pure chaos).  Chaos aside, we were ready to see the city.After navigating the 14+ metro lines in the city, we got settled in to our hostel and decided to go to the Louvre for the evening.  We also were extremely lucky in Paris with free museums...the Louvre is free on Friday nights if you're under 26, and all of the museums in the city were free on Saturday night that weekend.  The Louvre was really big, but we were able to see the majority of it in a couple hours.  We definitely could have spent longer, but honestly, most of us were getting pretty tired of going to museums and churches.  
Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, but my favorite part of the museum was the sculpture garden.  They had so many interesting sculptures of people...all with different facial expressions and poses.  These two busts were pretty amusing--the one in the back with his shocked and disgusted face, and the one in the front with his tongue in his cheek.  
We began Saturday morning with a modern art museum, the Pompidou Center designed by Renzo Piano and Richard and Sue Rogers.  The most notable feature on the exterior is the escalator tube that runs along the length of the building.  The interior was also quite industrial, but it had really interesting suspended signage and some really awesome design.  
The sign outside of the museum said the entrance was free, but we missed the fine print that said that didn't take effect until 8:00 pm.  So, we didn't actually visit the entire museum, but we did spend quite some time in the modern design shop which was very similar to the types of products on display in the Danish Design Center.  There were so many innovative and classic product designs, furniture designs--I could have spent all day there.  Among my favorites was an amazing Moleskin sketchbook exhibit with famous architects', designers', artists', and photographers' sketchbooks from around the world.  I also loved the mini Vitra chairs (scale models of classic chair designs).  I've always wanted to collect them all, but with the cheapest one being over $100, I think I'll just have to keep dreaming for now.  I did, however, purchase this when I got back to Prague: a business card holder featuring some of the Eames' best chair designs.  Just a little inspiration and motivation so that maybe someday I can design something
 half as good as they did... 
After the Pompidou Center, we wandered around the rest of Paris and saw Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, Hotel de Ville, Les Halles, Place de la Concorde, the Champes Elysees, the Grand Palais, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, and the Sacre Coeur Basilica in between rainstorms and with a very mutilated umbrella.  All of the sights were cool, but the weather was less than desirable for sightseeing.  We ended our night back at the Eiffel Tower in hopes of going to the top, but they kept closing it due to the weather, so we decided to come back the next night. 
On Sunday we decided to begin our final day in Paris with some modern architecture, so we headed out to a major business district in Paris called La Defense.  Here, the main attraction is La Grande Arche, a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe, but instead of celebrating military victories, this arch is a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals.  We decided not to go to the exhibition center at the top (reachable by the elevator suspended in the center of the arch) but instead just wandered around the area listening to the creepy art-music (or just weird noises) being blasted from gigantic speakers at the base of the arch.  There were some cool features underneath the arch, such as the tension structure which made some fun light patterns on the ground as well as the glass panel maze behind the elevators (see the rest of my pictures). 
We spent the rest of the afternoon moving slowly through some parts of the city we had not yet seen (and stumbled upon a street band made up of French students) before having dinner and going back to the Eiffel Tower.  This time, we were able to go all the way to the top, which was a little intimidating in a glass elevator.  Despite the super cold wind, we got to see some amazing night views of the city.  After seeing the Eiffel Tower one last time, we were able to say farewell to Paris, and I headed back to Prague early the next morning.  

It's been a nice change of pace being back in Prague and just getting to relax and really enjoy this city without feeling like I have to see it all in 3 days.  I've been doing a lot of exploring as well as finishing up my schoolwork, so there will be more to come on that later.

In the meantime, click here to see my pictures from Paris.  Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Santorini Island

After trekking all over Athens, we were ready to get to Santorini Island and relax.  The ferry we took there was great--it was gigantic--almost as big as a cruise ship.  We were a little surprised by the difference in weather, though.  Santorini was really cold, and we were supposed to be going to the beach everyday!  We were a little disappointed about the temperature, but we enjoyed the scenery of the island nonetheless.  On our first night on the island, we went to the city of Fira.  We climbed up to the top, passing shop after shop and restaurant after restaurant.  Surprisingly, even though this was supposed to be the beginning of the high season, there was hardly anyone on the island.  The restaurant and shop owners were practically begging us to come in just so they could have a customer for the night.  The views from the top of the city were absolutely gorgeous--just like you see in the movies.
The views from on the water were also stunning.  I loved seeing the different layers of rock and the formations of the island mixed with the little white and pastel-colored buildings lining the top.
The next day, we went on a guided tour of the island.  In the morning, we hopped on a boat that took us to our first destination: the active volcano right next to Santorini.  We hiked to the top of the volcano where there were yet more amazing views.  Here I am feeling the heat coming from the active part of the volcano.  They told us we were safe on the volcano because they could predict an eruption six months to a year before it would actually happen.  Near the hot spot, there were also a few other spots that were smoking--really the only visible evidence that this volcano could possibly erupt again someday.  Otherwise the little island looked pretty barren--just a bunch of lava rock.   After the volcano we visited some hot springs at a nearby island, and then moved on to another city on the main island for lunch.  Here, we rode some donkeys to the top of the city!  This was probably the most fun part of the day.  The ride was hilarious--they donkeys wanted to race each other to the top of the hill, but they stubbornly obeyed the trainer who was following us up the hill.  At the top of the city, we enjoyed kebabs for lunch at the only restaurant in the city.  They were delicious, but we had to hurry back to the boat for our final destination of the evening--they city of Oia.
The city of Oia (or Ia) is famous for its views of the sunset.  We arrived at the port and hiked the 274 steps up the (very steep) hill to find ourselves once again in a maze of shops and restaurants.  We explored the city for a while and finally found a place to view the sunset.  It was pretty, but I think it would have been even more spectacular on a less cloudy day.   At the end of the evening, we were happy to get back on the warm bus that would take us back to our hostel in Perissa.  
We spent our last morning in the city of Perissa on the beach.  It had finally warmed up just enough that it was comfortable to lie on the beach without having to wear layers of clothing.  The ocean, however, was still freezing.  It was just enough time to read a little and relax before having to catch the ferry back to Athens for our flight that night.  We got on our 4:20 am flight just in time to be back in Prague by 6:00 am, and we were exhausted, but our trip to Greece had made it worth it.

To see all my pictures from Santorini Island, click here.

Athens, Greece

Finally, a little about my past couple trips!  
We began our trip to Greece with an overnight flight into Athens.  The traveling on this trip was even more exhausting than usual.  We landed in Athens at 2:30 am Friday morning, and since the metro didn't open until 6:30 am, we had to sleep in the airport for a few hours.  After catching up on some sleep and meeting up with some friends who flew in from Italy, we were ready to explore the city by late Friday afternoon.  
We decided to begin our sightseeing with the new Olympic Stadium built for the 2004 Summer Olympics.  There were some cool structures and interesting features, such as the arched walkway at the entrance and the louvered sunshade.  Overall it was pretty impressive, but it seemed very odd since there were only about 10 other people in the whole complex besides us--definitely not what it must have felt like to be there when the Olympics were taking place.  It also looked surprisingly run-down for having only been used four years ago.  

We ended our evening in Syntagma Square, one of the central spots in the city.  There was some concert going on, and it took quite a while (and an English-speaking performer) before we knew what it was all about.  They were having some sort of earth and environmental action celebration...which turned out to be quite beneficial for us the next day because all of the sights in Athens were free!  
We definitely took advantage of the free sights and tried to visit each one, if only for a few minutes.  Our first stop Saturday morning was the Olympieion which had many ruins, including the Temple of Zeus, the Hadrian's Gate, some Roman baths, remains of houses, the Basilica of Olympieion, and the Temple of Apollo Delphinios, along with many others.  From here, we had a nice view of the Acropolis.  Before seeing the Acropolis, we stopped at the original (modern) Olympic Stadium, built in 1896.  Not quite as eventful as we had hoped, so we headed for the Acropolis.
The Acropolis was really cool, and we had absolutely perfect weather that day.  It was warm, but there was a nice breeze blowing so we were never hot.  That (and the free entrance!) made this a great day for sightseeing.  The sights were beginning to get crowded, but I think we just missed the major tourist season, so we never had to stand in line to see anything.  
All of the old structures and temples were really interesting, and I tried my best to remember everything about them from my history class three years ago.  Surprisingly, I didn't do too bad.  My favorite building on the Acropolis (as well as when I studied it in history) was the Erechtheum with its caryatids (women columns).  They're just so different from all of the other temples (which all start to look the same after a while).  The Parthenon was also amazing, but I was a little disappointed by all of the scaffolding.
After walking down the hill from the Acropolis, we decided to climb this really big rock at the foot of the hill for one last really great view.  From here, we also had an amazing view of the rest of the city, including the old town of Athens and the Athenian Agora.  After some shopping time in the old town (there were so many amazing little stores with all kinds of handmade goods--jewelry, dresses, sandals, etc!) we visited the Agora and called it a day.  Our feet were pretty sore from hiking up hills over the rocky ground, and we had an early ferry to catch to our next destination--Santorini Island!

To see all of my photos of Athens, click here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Traveling, Traveling

During all the craziness this past week, I didn't get a chance to post that I went to Greece for five days!  We went to Athens for a couple and then to Santorini Island for some beach time.  I've been back in Prague for two days catching up on homework (and checking out the movie set--there's the set by our dorms and another downtown outside a restaurant we ate at last night--where we got to see them film a scene!), but tomorrow I leave for Paris for the weekend!  I'll post all my pictures and write about both trips next week.  

In the meantime, check this and this out.  Apparently that's what I missed last week when I was in class.  I think the person who filmed those was in their dorm room (not the dorm I live in, but it's just around the corner from me).  Pretty cool!  

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Excitement on the CVUT campus!

We got back from Italy and realized a couple of streets on our campus were being transformed...into a movie set!  We found out that it's the set for the new GI Joe movie that will be released next summer!  It has quite a few big names in it, so I think it's going to be a fairly big movie.  I was in class all day today, but a few of my friends just happened to be walking by while they were filming some chase scenes--they even got to see cars crashing and exploding!  The signs on the street say they'll be filming until June 15th, so I'll have to stop by to watch.  Look out for the movie next summer....maybe I'll be in it!  Unlikely, but it's pretty exciting nonetheless.  


I'm back from Italy!  Actually, I got back on Sunday, but I've been swamped with homework and classes since then, so I haven't had a chance to write about my trip yet.  Italy was AMAZING.  We went to so many different cities and really got to experience a little of nearly each piece of the country.  Each city and little town was so distinct, but they were all so cool!  
We started our trip in northern Italy where we stayed with some friends of a friend who are living in a smaller town called Aviano, about 45 minutes outside of Venice.  That afternoon we took a train to Venice and spent the rest of the day winding our way through the city.   
Venice was really pretty, but it was a lot smaller than I expected--especially the basilica in St. Mark's Square.  Too bad everything in Europe is being renovated, though....all the scaffolding just doesn't make things look the same.
The next day we headed to Florence, which I also loved.  They city was big, but just small enough that I never felt like I was going to get lost.  The Duomo was just as gorgeous as all of the pictures, and we even climbed the 414 steps in the campanile (the bell tower) to get a better look at it (as well as an amazing view of the entire city).  We went to the Academia museum and saw the David (he was so tall!), saw the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, the Duomo and Baptistry, and even got to stay in the beautiful Tuscan countryside.
We stayed in the "Hostel Heart of Tuscany" which was about an hour outside of Florence, but they picked us up right from the train station and took us back into town each day, so it was really quite convenient.  To make things even better, we had originally booked rooms in the hostel, but our friends decided to join us, and the hostel was too full for all of us, so they gave us our own private house (which used to be the old winery) in the villa!  The villa was complete with an infinity pool and the whole area was just absolutely gorgeous.  We almost ended up staying longer but decided we should just spend the next day in Florence and head out to visit friends in Orvieto.
On the second day in Florence I made a trip to the Palazzo Pitti art gallery.  I went there to see a painting (the Madonna and Child by Murillo) which my great great grandmother had copied during her days as a copy artist.  The painting has been hanging in my Grammy's living room ever since I was born, and I have always loved seeing it each time I visit her.  Seeing this painting proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, however.  First of all, the museum was HUGE!  We only had a couple of hours left in Florence before our train left, so I thought that was more than enough time, but we almost missed it!  Once we got in line to get into the museum, we realized we actually had to buy tickets on the other side of the building before getting into line.  After looking at the line we were already in and the ticket line, we knew we wouldn't have enough time to buy tickets and still make it into the museum in time.  So, we made it through security and into the museum courtyard, and we thought we were in.  However, it turns out you need a different ticket to get into each of the areas of the museum.  Luckily, we talked one younger ticket taker into letting us into the museum gardens.  They were so pretty, and we had a great view of the city from there.  On the downside, you still needed another ticket to get into the museum galleries to see the paintings.  We were about to give up when a couple in the gardens asked us to take their picture.  In return, we asked if we could buy their gallery tickets, but they ended up just giving them to us as a gift for the photos!  We finally made it into the galleries and were nearly running through the museum to look for the painting.  Like I said, the museum was gigantic, and we were about out of time.  After searching an entire floor, we realized it was on a completely different floor, so we headed down there.  When we finally found the painting, it was in about the third to last room of those galleries.  I had almost given up--swearing I had either overlooked it or that it was in one of the roped off areas.  I would have been so sad if I had been that close and missed it!  When I finally saw it, I recognized it immediately.  Conveniently, there was a bench right in front of it, and I was able to sit and just admire the painting for a while.  I must have had a pretty awe-stricken look on my face (due to the fact that I had finally found it--just in time, and because I was seeing a little part of my family history in person) because all of the other museum-goers noticed my intent stare and also stopped and looked for quite a while.  After seeing the painting, I felt like my trip to Florence was complete.  I had just enough time to grab a couple postcards, eat more gelato, and hop on a train.
That afternoon we took a train to Orvieto where a lot of the K-State architecture students are studying.  There are two different programs in Italy, and several of the students from the other program in Santa Chiara visited us in Prague during their spring break.  I've really enjoyed visiting our friends over here, seeing where they go to school, how they live, and what types of projects they're working on.  Orvieto was a cute little town, but it was a lot bigger than I imagined.  Above is a photo of the duomo of Orvieto, which I heard has the most ornamented facade of any church in Italy.  We went out to dinner at one of their favorite pizza places and just hung out and caught up with all of the people studying there. 
The next morning we took another train to Rome.  WOW.  There was so much to see in Rome--it was incredible.  The city was so big, and there was entirely too much to see, but it was wonderful.  I think we hit all of the highlights, but there were many more sights our friends recommended that we missed out on because it just wasn't possible to see it all.  Each place we visited was so cool, and it was amazing to be seeing all of the things we had spent so much time learning about in our three semesters of architectural history.  St. Peter's was gigantic, and I think that's one of the reasons it was so impressive.  We've been in a lot of cathedrals, and after a while they can start to get a little boring, but St. Peter's was definitely not boring!  
The Colosseum was also so incredible and big!  It's so cool to imagine actually being there and thinking about how the Romans actually used each of these buildings and monuments--and the sheer fact that they could actually build these things always astonishes me.
The Pantheon was also amazing.  Everything looks exactly like the pictures, but there is no comparison to actually visiting and seeing everything for yourself.  
The Trevi Fountain was way bigger than I thought, and it was probably one of the coolest things in Rome.  It was so pretty and such a nice place to just sit and enjoy the city (despite all of the crowds and guys trying to sell you things every five feet).  There is just so much to say about all of the places and sights in Rome, but I think my pictures probably show it the best.  This city is definitely one of the best places I have visited so far!  However, after a ton of walking and some very sore feet, we were happy to move on to southern Italy for some beach time.
We ended our trip in Sorrento, which is about an hour from Naples.  We were planning on going to Naples as well (especially for the pizza!), but decided against it when we heard it was dangerous, and honestly, we were tired of seeing sights all the time.  We wanted to relax in the sun, and Sorrento was the perfect place.  From the huge rock cliffs to the little houses tucked into the hillsides, the whole coast was so picturesque and beautiful.  We stayed in a camping village in a little green cabin, and the grounds had a restaurant, mini market, swimming pool (which wasn't open yet), and a private beach!  The beaches in Sorrento are actually just giant rocks, but we were glad to be in a warm city where we could just lay outside by the water and read a good book.  The city of Sorrento was also very cute--a very touristy city, but really nice nonetheless.  It was the perfect end to an amazing trip!

I have a TON of pictures of my trip to Italy, so be sure to look at them!  Here are links to my albums for Venice, Florence, Orvieto, Rome, and Sorreto.