About Michele

I am a certified user experience designer and I am passionate about the role of design in creating flexible structures in our connected environment. Contact me: michele.roohani@gmail.com

Strasbourg Christmas, an Augmented Reality

Strasbourgers in the Alsace region of France claim that they are the “Christmas Capital” of Europe so as a good muslim I went there to check.

 

strasbourg christmas ornaments michele roohani

Well, they keep saying it everywhere:

 

strasbourg capitale de noel michele roohani

It was a very cold day but thousands of poeple were swarming the streets of this beautiful Alsatian city:

 

strasbourg christmas street michele roohani

walking up and down narrow streets,

 

strasbourg streets christmas 2009 michele roohani

They have no pity for their babies fighting the cold,

 

strasbourg christmas cold baby michele roohani

maybe because they drink this mulled wine called “Vin Chaud” (hot wine) or “Gluehwein” (in german): a concoction usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. They sell it in every other stand on the big Christmas market in Strasbourg:

 

strasbourg christmas vin chaud gluewein michele roohani

I saw my first chocolate covered “strawberry  kababs”:

 

strawberry kabab chocolate michele roohani

Strasbourg is home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe:

 

strasbourg cathedral blue sky michele roohani

where Jesus’ birth will be celebrated this year with pomp and thousands of little ornaments made in Alsace (read China):

 

strasburg marche de noel ornaments micheleroohani

 

The market is not close to the big church but right at its feet with Santa Claus himself selling some of the stuff:

 

strasbourg christmas ornaments santa seller michele roohani

Here is Alsace in all its glory (albeit in miniature):

 

strasbourg christmas alsace miniature homes michele roohani

and colors,

 

strasbourg christmas candles michele roohani

with little chefs baking for the big birthday (Jesus’, remember?)

 

strasbourg christmas ornaments chefs michele roohani

and big chefs of course making macaroons:

 

strasbourg christmas macaroon baker michele roohani

but for people with a weakness for great pastry I have a better treat:

 

strasbourg christmas buche christian patisserie michele roohani

The above are Christmas Buches but Christian Patisserie—that I discovered a couple of years ago on my first trip to Alsace—is known for its chocolate:

 

strasbourg christmas chocolate cakes christian patisserie michele roohani

and anything related to it:

 

strasbourg christmas chocolate christian patisserie michele roohani

Chocolate not being on my repertoire much, I opted for the fabulous chestnut cream “Mont Blanc”:

 

michele roohani strasbourg mont blanc christian patisserie

I went to the cathedral where a thousand Santas were busy clicking away on their cameras,

 

michele roohani strasbourg cathedral santa taking picture

and a thousand candles promised to fulfill wishes…

 

strasbourg cathedral candles micheleroohani

By the end of the day, I was one of the few without a red hat,

 

santa hats michele roohani

Alsace’s emblem is a stork—you see them everywhere:

 

 

strasbourg storks michele roohani

I couldn’t resist buying my first real mistletoe:

 

mistletoe michele roohani

and looking at the holly,

 

christmas holly michele roohani

I went to see the Fine Arts Museum:

 

fine arts museum strasbourg waiting benches michele roohani

where I revisited “the beautiful woman from Strasbourg”:

 

belle strasbourgeoise largilliere fine arts museum michele roohani

and the fabulous dutch still life paintings and my favorite Kessel insects of course:

 

insects and spider kessel michele roohani fine arts museum

By the time I got out it was getting dark but the market was still hustling and bustling,

 

michele roohani strasbourg cathedral night christmas

This whole trip almost made me forget Copenhagen’s climate summit, the American Health Bill disaster and the Swiss minarets…

Have a golden Christmas everybody!

bernardo daddi saint agnes christmas 2009 card michele roohani

Richard Neutra, the mid century champion

A few years ago, Richard Neutra, the quintessential California modernist architect,  made my stay in downtown Los Angeles worthwhile.

richard neutra self portrait in blue green michele roohani

Los Angeles’ main library had an exhibition of Neutra’s sketches and drawings and I was able to take some pictures to share with you—these are my interpretations of his work:

neutra Lovell Health House michele roohani

I love these largely horizontal airy structures; they are so “modern”, you forget they were designed in 1920’s…

I admit that I had to leave California to miss it and nothing says more Los Angeles than this beautiful photo of the Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, another modernist architect:

Pierre Koenig stahl house michele roohani

the photographer, Julius Shulman, became famous by this one black and white shot from 1960 (above) and its color version (below):

julius shulman Pierre Koenig stahl house michele roohani

Born in Vienna, Neutra (1892 – 1970) was influenced by his fellow Austrians, Gustav Klimt and  Egon Schiele (both died in 1918 when Neutra was 26 years old); this little painting of his could have been created by Klimt himself:

neutra horse and snake painting michele roohani

Another great influence on the young Neutra was Frank Lloyd Wright who invited Neutra to work in his studio in Taliesen. They rank him second only to the great Lloyd Wright in American architecture. Other early influences were Louis Sullivan (he coined “form follows function”), Otto Wagner  and Erich Mendelsohn.

neutra heller house michele roohani

This sketch is the Van der Leeuw House solarium (complete with bathing beauties) that Neutra envisioned to build for himself:

The VDL house neutra solarium michele roohani bathing beauties

Chairs (this one from 1919) weren’t the only things besides buildings that Neutra designed,

palais couvoisier neuchatel neutra michele roohani

he even designed aluminum buses!

alcoa aluminum buses neutra michele roohani

Richard Neutra, the romantic engineer,  was passionate about art, technology and architecture—I love this drawing of a cellist playing Bach:

neutra bach cellist michele roohani

Leaving the cold winters and the world wars of Europe, Neutra took refuge in the sunny climate and rich landscape of Southern California; with his cool and sleek modern style he coined the term biorealism: “the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature.”

richard neutra kaufmann desert house michele roohani

You eat your values

“You eat your values – don’t let them be fast, cheap and easy” says Alice Waters, the revolutionary chef and cookbook author. Maybe it’s my age but I’ve started to think seriously about what I eat; junk food has never been a sin of mine but Waters has pushed me to eat better.

green tomatoes micheleroohani

I’ve been too lazy to go to Farmer’s markets up to a few months ago but I am hoping that my health is worth a little more money and a little inconvenience. Cooking becomes a pleasure again when you use fresh ingredients like in this simple Thai chicken and mint dish.

cicken a la menthe

Alice Waters has started the “Slow Food” program that teaches children to make the right decision about how and what they eat.

eat your vegetables micheleroohani

This doesn’t mean of course that great food shouldn’t be appreciated just because it’s not green enough. I was at a friend of mine‘s today for a fabulous sunday brunch that ended with these great cakes made by her talented sister, Mona; The chocolate mousse and the baby kiwi cakes were divine.

chocolate orange cake micheleroohani

baby kiwi cake micheleroohani

I took a tour of the kitchen and w o w…

spices micheleroohani

Just look at these pastry molds:

pastry molds micheleroohani

it’s true that a beautiful kitchen like this one makes you want to cook but I have had very delicious food coming out of small/dark/chaotic kitchens in my life (just dare to go to almost any parisian café’s kitchen)…

Today’ s food crisis makes us forget that good food like flowers should be affordable to everyone. As Jeffrey Sacks says “you can’t tell people who are dying of hunger in Africa to tighten their belts, as if they had belts”!

Ranunculus or Persian buttercup micheleroohani

I would like to finish the post with these pictures instead of some starving kids in Africa which is approaching a meltdown with the crazy Mugabe and the criminal Janjawids.

ziba shirazi painting micheleroohani

How did she go from chocolate mousse to Darfur? I bet that you didn’t see it coming…

Happy Persian New Year 1394

Norouz, Nowruz 1394

It’s spring again so happy Norouz to everybody who celebrates it!

TODAY by Billy Collins:
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

 

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

 

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

 

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

 

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

 

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

 

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

 

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

 

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Star Trek’s elegant Okudagrams

Michael Okuda is a graphic designer responsible for the gorgeous interfaces you see in Star Trek films.

michele roohani Okudagrams20

 

Being a Trekkie since I was watching the series in Iran as a child and later an avid fan of the Next Generation, my design sensibilities have been shaped subconsciously by Okuda:

michele roohani Okudagrams29

 

I am a User Experience designer and create interfaces every day but Michael Okuda keeps creeping back to the simplest flow chart I make!

michele roohani Okudagrams09

 

The whole beauty of Star Trek bridge was thanks to these otherworldly interfaces we have been exposed to; Jean-Luc Picard added the spice. 😉

michele-roohani-Okudagrams26

 

You would see commander Ryker interact with LCARS (Library Computer Access/Retrieval System) more often than Picard:

Riker star trek okudagram michele roohani

 

Here is the holodeck interface where you can choose between scuba diving or a conversation with Einstein:

holodeck michele roohani

 

Okudagrams  came in different colors and shapes but always intriguing and in the time when you couldn’t stop the film to absorbe the image, I was always pissed at not getting enough of these ephemeral beauties!

michele roohani Okudagrams15

 

Here is another one:

michele roohani Okudagrams14

 

and the good doctor in front of the DNA comparison scan:

michele roohani Okudagrams17

 

Long before Tom Cruise bedazzled us in Minority Report and the impractical but exquisite 3D interfaces he reacted with, Star Trek introduced us to what could be done and now is being done and used by millions:

They even had an LCARS mobile!

michele roohani Okudagrams02

 

All of these images are not from Okuda of course; many have been created as an homage to ST and Okuda by fans.

michele roohani Okudagrams21

 

U.S.S. Enterprise in all its glory:

michele roohani Okudagrams24

 

Okuda designed logos for a number of NASA missions and programs including the STS-125 mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA has always been  more of a fan of Star Trek than Star Wars!

michele roohani Okudagrams16

 

So Okuda received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal.

michele roohani Okudagrams13

Again different variations  of Tricorder or the  multifunction hand-held device used for sensor scanning, data anlysis and recording data. A smartphone!

michele-roohani-Okudagrams30

 

Even the old generation of Star Trek had its own Okudagrams:

michele roohani Okudagrams34

 

I like this one about the shuttles:

michele roohani Okudagrams07

The next one even has a Facebook and Twitter button! 😉

michele roohani Okudagrams03

 

Can’t get enough of these:

michele roohani Okudagrams31

michele roohani Okudagrams01

I am looking forward to reading “Make it so, Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction”. I learned about the book listening to UXpod with Chris Noessel.