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

Matters of the heart

Just watched Charlie Brown agonizing over the girl with red hair in a peanuts valentine specialSnoopy of course gets all the girls as usual.

valentine 2008 micheleroohani women

I would like to share the work of an artist that I admire greatly. Having been in the greeting card industry for years, I seldom get impressed by new art in this business. Gaelle Boissonnard is an artist living in the Loire Valley region of France. Her work is exquisite and I have been collecting it since that fateful day I fell in love with her images in a small shop in Mont St. Michel.

boissonnard1 micheleroohani

There is something otherworldly about her work – it’s fresh, whimsical, happy yet somehow profound (let’s not forget that these are commercial works being sold in small shops). They don’t scream at you, they share their beauty quietly.

boissonnard2 micheleroohani

I did get in touch with her and am still waiting for her distributors to start doing something in the U.S. It’s easy to find her in the card shops in France now but she’s difficult to catch in the internet.

boissonnard 6 micheleroohani

Just found out that she has a book out too.

boissonnard micheleroohani

I wished somebody would start putting words/poetry to these gorgeous paintings of hers – something like Prévert‘s Immense et Rouge:

“Immense et rouge
Au-dessus du Grand Palais
Le soleil d’hiver apparaît
Et disparaît
Comme lui mon coeur va disparaître
Et tout mon sang va s’en aller
S’en aller à ta recherche
Mon amour
Ma beauté
Et te trouver
Là où tu es.”

boissonnard micheleroohani home

or Tagore‘s great piece:

“I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.”

or better yet, Rumi who keeps bewitching people after 800 years…

rumi micheleroohani

I believe Rumi should not be translated (I’ve read soooo many bad/mediocre translations) – his work loses its magic – Happy Valentine’s Day people.

Africa exasperates me

It seems like I’ve been back to Los Angeles for ages but it’s been only a mere week. Paris faded fast in my memory thanks to a nasty stomach flu I caught after a great dinner of oysters and choucroute at Maison d’ Alsace with my friends; there is a gastro epidemic in Europe and for the second year in a row, I fell victim to it.

kenya ben curtis time magazine

There’s been so much to think/talk about – from the chaos in Kenya to the phenomenon of the Kenyan’s son and his new Kennedy friends but I’ve been sick and tired. To look at the African problems in a fresh way I suggest looking for Caroline Elkins’ view about the possible source of these African tribes’ sudden violent behavior towards each other. In general, a lack of vision and rampant corruption is the hallmark of African leadership. Needless to say that after the Super Bowl it’s the Super Tuesday that occupies the mind of America and not Kenya…


Giacometti – a post from Montparnasse

Ok people, brace yourselves – this is going to be an image heavy post! I will take you through a couple of days in Paris – the way I like it: hitting the streets early in the morning to catch the blue hour of this great city; Montparnasse is a very busy neighborhood at 8:30 am.

montparnasse early morning 1

This was my first time witnessing the changing of the ads:

montparnasse advertising

I walked to a favorite café that reminds me of my twenties, La Rotonde.

la rotonde

I don’t like them anymore (remember the whipped cream out of a can?) but nostalgia and Balzac take me to them every year.

balzac rodin rotonde

the cafés are changing in Paris – here is the old generation Select and the trendy Lotus.

select montparnasse

cafe lotus montparnasse

Of course anything that remotely reminds me of Los Angeles while I am in Europe is not welcome so this kind of restaurant/café just makes me wince but the worst offender is Starbucks and its paper cups.

starbucks in paris

I bought a pariscope from this news stand,

news stand montparnasse

and had a coffee while looking for the hottest exhibition in Paris.

pariscope montparnasse

I decided to see Giacometti in Centre Pompidou .It was never my intention to paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray!

giacometti man

What a great show it was – complete with the artist being filmed while painting and sculpting.

giacometti hands

His drawings (included some fabulous small notebooks), paintings and sculptures made a large window into the soul of this great creature…

giacometti square man

giacometti woman

Even though I am not a big fan of the Centre Pompidou, I have to admit that the view is breathtaking…

paris roof eiffel

I visited the Maillol museum a couple of days before this and liked its architecture as much as the collections:

maillol stairs

Maillol is very different in his style from Rodin – they were good friends.

maillol bronze

The picture bellow shows the plaster versions of the bronze sculptures above.

maillol plaster

On a more colorful note, living in Los Angeles, I am deprived of pretty store windows – abundant in New York, Paris and London.

fornasertti paris

I am ending this post with two images of my loyal laptop that’s getting very old but gets the job done.

mac cafe paris

tulips mac shokoufeh

Café crème or Petite Arvine, a good post I hope.

Happy New Year 2008!

I wish there was a global new year’s resolution for a more peaceful, greener, bluer, less sanguinary year than 2007 – I like this image I made based on the work of Hunt Rettig – it’s quietly cheerful.

michele roohani 2008 card
This is my sister showing her affection in the first moments of the new year!

michele roohani sisters 2008

My Alma Mater, USC won the Rose Bowl today (again)

usc rose bowl Robert Gauthier LA Times

Now on a more sober note:

michele roohani happy new year 2008

Putin (the quasi-tsar) really scares me – China scares everybody.

Christmas in Beverly Hills – a light post for nonreaders

Christmas is here with all the usual joy and gore! I took some pictures last night from my neck of the woods. Welcome to the winter in the Lala Land.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas chandelier

We are trying so hard to look like New York or Boston in the winter holidays but Los Angeles stays Los Angeles, a comfortable 55 F on Christmas eve.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas beverly regents hotel

The Beverly Regent (AKA the pretty woman hotel) looks great in red.

michele roohani rodeo drive christmas via rodeo

michele roohani christmas via rodeo nutcracker

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet”

michele roohani christmas via rodeo poodles

Of course what is all this without music?

michele roohani christmas rodeo music

And these are some of my favorite store windows – the fabulous Rem Koolhaas‘ Prada flagship is amazing. I’ve always liked his Seattle public library as well.

michele roohani koolhaas prada flagship

Red has always been my favorite color.

michele roohani christmas via rodeo red dress

I have added Blue as another favorite some years ago.

michele roohani christmas  rodeo tiffany

I like them equally now.

michele roohani christmas  rodeo superman

By the way, I hate shopping/the crowd/malls – I wished people would stop accumulating extra-everythings (from candles to cars)…We all know people that are hopelessly deluded, bathed in trivia, mesmerized to the point of idiocy by almost any celebrity, amusing themselves to death, self-defeating and absurde at times. I made you read!

A few shiites, a few jews and some Carthusian monks

I just saw this wonderful film, Starting out in the evening, about an old writer who has outlasted the social order in which his life made sense. How can you go wrong with New York in the fall and tons of books? I can’t believe that the lead actor is the same guy who played in Superman returns.

starting out in the evening movie

I am a movie junkie but so much of what’s being produced now is blissfully forgettable; I know I like a film if I keep thinking about it the next day and when I start talking about it to others. These are a couple of them: The lives of others which got an oscar is about the constant question of how a good man acts in circumstances that seem to rule out the very possibility of decent behavior. The actor, Ulrich Muhe, was amazing – unfortunately he passed away in July.

lives of others ulrich muhe

The one movie I will always remember is Into great silence. The film is an eloquent achievement in capturing the slow and delicate rhythm of the Carthusian monks’s daily lives in silence – a great meditation if you are stressed out. “Silence. Repitition. Rhythm. The film is an austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.”

into great silence

I enjoyed Children of Men, a superbly directed political thriller – London has never looked this scary…

owen in cildrenofmen movie

My favorite of all action movies was The Bourne Ultimatum. An unusually smart work of industrial entertainment with the great Matt Damon – as good here as he was in the two previous Bourne films. The music is so interesting I had to shell out a buck for Moby’s “Extreme Ways”.

bourne ultimatum matt damon

All and all it’s been a good year for the low budget films and this makes me very happy. I am planning to see The diving bell and the butterfly, American gangster, and Persepolis.

satrapi persepolis

I also hope to be able to find Primo Levi’s journey. (I am insisting that he didn’t commit suicide!)

primo levi

I am trying to get a copy of the documentary, Out of place: Memories of Edward Said . He remains controversial even after his death.

edward said

and…maybe Beowulf for fun.

My eucalyptus tree attempted suicide

My eucalyptus tree attempted partial suicide (non-fatal self-destructive act, self-mutilation) a couple of days ago.

eucaliptus partial suicide 1

The California Eucalyptus are transplanted trees from Australia (ca 1850) – they were brought here in the hopes that they would provide a renewable source of timber for construction and furniture making.

eucaliptus partial suicide 2

I heard a big swooshing noise and a loud thump; what seemed to be my whole eucalyptus tree landed ten inches from my parked car at my doorsteps killing some poinsettias. I thought I’ve lost the tree but I found out later that “some species of Eucalyptus have a habit of dropping entire branches off as they grow. Eucalyptus forests are littered with dead branches. Many people have been killed as they camped underneath the trees. It is thought that the trees shed very large branches to conserve water during periods of drought.” Mine’s “accident” may have been caused by the wind or the heaviness of the branch.

eucalyptus partial suicide 3

The whole yard smelled wonderful though – by its very essence, eucalyptus has the scent of freshness and purification. I love trees especially the ones I grew up with – sycamores and poplars. “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” Bill Vaughan

eucalyptus partial suicide 4

One whole day of yard work reduced the giant branch to these. Maybe my wood sculptor friend would be interested.

I can’t translate this poem without stripping it of its original beauty:

Dans la forêt sans heures
On abat un grand arbre
Un vide vertical
Tremble en forme de fût
Près du tronc étendu.

Cherchez, cherchez, oiseaux,
La place de vos nids
Dans ce haut souvenir
Tant qu’il murmure encore.

Jules Supervielle

Here is my favorite T-shirt:

michel roohani be green t-shirt

I haven’t seen two poplars to be enemies
I haven’t seen a willow selling its shade to the ground
The elm tree freely bestows its branch to the crow
Wherever there is a leaf my passion blossoms
من نديدم دو صنوبر را با هم دشمن
من نديدم بيدي، سايه اش را بفروشد به زمين.
رايگان مي بخشد، نارون شاخه خود را به كلاغ.
هر كجا برگي هست ، شور من مي شكفد

Je n’ai jamais vu la haine de deux peupliers.
Je n’ai jamais vu un saule vendre son ombre à la terre.
Et gratuitement l’orme offre sa branche aux corbeaux.
Partout où frémit une feuille,
S’épanouit aussi le bourgeon de l’ardeur.

Sohrab Sepehri

My Hermès scarf and the missing snow

I am crazy about scarves. This is one of my few indulgences: silk scarves to wear around my neck. One of my favorites is this Hermès piece:

hermes scarf michele roohani snowflakes

It inspired me to make this card which is available for purchase :

holiday snowflakes michele roohani hermes

and this t-shirt, available in several colors :

michele roohani holiday t-shirt snowflakes

I have this resurfacing nostalgic feeling about snow every winter in southern california; being born here, my son doesn’t miss the snow much, but I, being born on a snowy December first, in Mashhad, Iran, miss it a lot…The quiet beautiful snow who always speaks softly…

There is this short novel I read a few years back called Neige (snow in french) and of course the great book of my friend Jean-Michel Maulpoix called Pas sur la neige. “Chaque flocon répète: nous n’irons plus au ciel.” (every snowflake repeats: we’re not going back to the sky)

tehran under snow

I don’t know the name of the photographer of the above picture but I figured I would throw it in for all of you homesick persians.

Hello?… that was just a joke!

Ok people I was just joking when I said I was going to have plastic surgery! I talked about the United States’ dire economic situation (true), having a kid in law school (true) and needing cosmetic surgery (maybe true but won’t do it) to make you guys buy my stuff.

These are my 2007/2008 holiday cards:

holioday 2007 2008 season’s greetings michele roohani

michele roohani happy holidays

I hope that you had a good thanksgiving – I always cook two turkeys no matter how many people are coming to my house (one in the oven and one in a pot) and this year wasn’t an exception – great persian stuffing camouflaged as the usual stove top

turkeys thanksgiving 2007

“Thanksgiving is when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.” To me, this is one holiday that is not tinted with religion or acute nationality.

thanksgiving 2007

The real turkey this week will be president Bush going to Annapolis when thousands are protesting in Jerusalem and Gaza against the talks.

Mike Luckovich annapolis

Mike Luckovich sums it up in the above cartoon; I like Bob Gorrell’s too:

bob gorrell annapolis