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

Easter run over by chocolate rabbits

Maundy Thursday followed by Good Friday (Black Friday) and Easter Sunday are,  according to Christian scripture,  the days during which Jesus was resurrected from the dead after his crucifixion.

What does all this have to do with chocolate bunnies?

I guess these cute rabbits are happy about Jesus’ resurrection!

I wonder if they sell chocolate in Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem? These rabbits don’t look like they are going anywhere close to the Way of Grief...

“The Easter Bunny is very similar in trait to its Christmas holiday counterpart, Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday.”

Sprungli, one of Switzerland’s most important confectionery producers, drive kids crazy with their chocolate eggs and rabbits.

An army of rabbits…

Eggs, like rabbits are fertility symbols. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox (Nowruz).

Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time. I took these pictures from my favorite florist, Marsano.

This big rabbit sets you back $190!

Happy Spring everybody.

Nowruz 1389: It’s a Green Green world

First day of  Spring  2010 is the beginning of the Persian New Year of 1389—Happy Nowruz everybody!

sabzeh wheat sprouts michele roohani nowruz norooz

In previous years, I have talked a lot about Haft Seen (seven S’s on the new year’s spread) and the calendar; for this year, I decided to tell you which of the seven really symbolize Nowruz for me. One is Sabzeh or wheat sprouts (above) and the other is Sonbol, the hyacinth (below):

spring norooz michele roohani jacinthe hyacinth nowruz

I am still in Los Angeles and the Wilshire Corridor is awash in Nowruz banners like this one:

nowruz wilshire corridor farhang banner michele roohani

My little sabzeh looks lonely among downtown high-rises:

downtown los angeles sabzeh nowruz michele roohani

Being close to the L.A.’s flower market, I left to take pictures early morning and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the fragrance of these gorgeous stocks,

giroflée stock flower michele roohani los angeles flower market

and the beautiful tulips that scream “spring is here” in so many colors:

tulips happy nowruz michele roohani spring norouz

I bought as much as I could carry and rushed home to take pictures.

sabzeh hyacinth norouz michele roohani marina del rey

As a child, I remember listening to the Iranian singer, Pouran Shapouri, sing Eyd oumad bahaar oumad…

pouran shahpouri iranian singer jadidonline michele roohani

in our new Eyd dresses (new year’s dress) that my mom had made for my sister and I.

new year nowruz dresses michele roohani iris and ivy

Vigen’s song, Shokoufeh (blossom), was another of my favorites as the harbinger of Nowruz.

cherry blossoms shokoufeh michele roohani spring

 يكي دو روز ديگر از پگاه
چو چشم باز مي‌كني
زمانه زير و رو
زمينه پرنگار مي شود


زمين شكاف مي‌خورد
به دشت سبزه مي‌زند
هر آن چه مانده بود زير خاك
هر آنچه خفته بود زير برف

جوان و شسته رفته آشكار مي‌شود

نگار من
اميد نوبهار من
لبي به خنده باز كن
ببين چگونه از گلي
خزان باغ ما بهار مي‌شود

 سیاوش کسرایی

 Sabzeh shows up in the new year celebrations in many countries:

michele roohani sabzeh nowruz Kyrgyzstan tajikistan

Let’s not forget my favorite, the goldfish:

nowruz goldfish michele roohani haft seen

Goldfish in a bowl represents life and the end of the month of Esfand (pisces).

nowruz 1389 michele roohani hyacinths norouz norooz

for more on the traditions of Nowrouz: NoRuz, Norouz, haft-seen, haft-sheen, etc…

Norouz 1388, the blooming of a new year
Pouran singing about Eyd

a great slide show of  Nowruz gold fish farms

Adieu Jean Ferrat

I am utterly saddened by Jean Ferrat’s death; I’ve been wanting to write to him, find him, thank him for years of happiness he’s brought to my life and now it’s just too late…Après toi, qui chantera Aragon?

jean ferrat michele roohani

Ferrat immortalized Aragon’s love poems:

“Que serais-je sans toi qui vins à ma rencontre
Que serais-je sans toi qu’un coeur au bois dormant
Que cette heure arrêtée au cadran de la montre
Que serais-je sans toi que ce balbutiement…”

jean ferrat michele roohani louis aragon

“Que ce soit dimanche ou lundi
Soir ou matin, minuit, midi
Dans l’enfer ou le paradis
Les amours aux amours ressemblent
C’était hier que je t’ai dit
Nous dormirons ensemble”

jean ferrat michele roohani nous dormirons ensemble

Even before he died, I would well up every time I was watching the young Ferrat sing “Ma môme”, in Godard’s film: My life to live. It’s Ferrat himself at the jukebox in this marvelous scene.

jean ferrat michele roohani ma mome vivre sa vie anna karina

“Ma môme, ell’ joue pas les starlettes
Ell’ met pas des lunettes
De soleil
Ell’ pos’ pas pour les magazines
Ell’ travaille en usine
A Créteil

Dans une banlieue surpeuplée
On habite un meublé
Elle et moi
La fenêtre n’a qu’un carreau
Qui donne sur l’entrepôt
Et les toits

On va pas à Saint-Paul-de-Vence
On pass’ tout’s nos vacances
A Saint-Ouen
Comme famille on n’a qu’une marraine
Quelque part en Lorraine
Et c’est loin

Mais ma môme elle a vingt-cinq berges
Et j’crois bien qu’la Saint’Vierge
Des églises
N’a pas plus d’amour dans les yeux
Et ne sourit pas mieux
Quoi qu’on dise

L’été quand la vill’ s’ensommeille
Chez nous y a du soleil
Qui s’attarde
Je pose ma tête sur ses reins
Je prends douc’ment sa main
Et j’la garde

On s’dit toutes les choses qui nous viennent
C’est beau comm’ du Verlaine
On dirait
On regarde tomber le jour
Et puis on fait l’amour
En secret”

anna karina michele roohani my life to live

Anna Karina is exquisite in Godard’s film; that one scene with the beautiful “chanson” redeems this mediocre movie.

jean ferrat michele roohani la montagne disque

Jean Ferrat stayed true to his principles—close to the communist party, he never became a member and condemned the atrocities of Stalinism.  Listen to his Bilan here. 

“Ah ils nous en ont fait avaler des couleuvres
De Prague à Budapest de Sofia à Moscou
Les staliniens zélés qui mettaient tout en oeuvre
Pour vous faire signer les aveux les plus fous
Vous aviez combattu partout la bête immonde
Des brigades d’Espagne à celles des maquis
Votre jeunesse était l’histoire de ce monde
Vous aviez nom Kostov ou London ou Slansky

Au nom de l’idéal qui nous faisait combattre
Et qui nous pousse encore à nous battre aujourd’hui

Ce socialisme était une caricature
Si les temps on changé des ombres sont restées
J’en garde au fond du coeur la sombre meurtrissure
Dans ma bouche à jamais le soif de vérité”

le bilan jean ferrat michele roohani

These are some of his disc covers throughout years of offering us the most unforgettable songs:

lp disc covers jean ferrat michele roohani

Last but not least, my favorite song of Ferrat singing Aragon, Dans le silence de la ville:

“Derrière les murs dans la rue
Que se passe-t-il quel vacarme
Quels travaux quels cris quelles larmes
Ou rien la vie un linge écru

Sèche au jardin sur une corde
C’est le soir cela sent le thym
Un bruit de charrette s’éteint
Une guitare au loin s’accorde

La la la…

Il fait jour longtemps dans la nuit
Un zeste de lune un nuage
Que l’arbre salue au passage
Et le coeur n’entend plus que lui

Ne bouge pas c’est si fragile
Si précaire si hasardeux
Cet instant d’ombre pour nous deux
Dans le silence de la ville”

silence de la ville ferrat michele roohani

Heureux celui qui meurt d’aimer…

I made this video clip as an homage to this  great  friend, humaniste, poet, musician:

watch my clip on youtube here Ma môme here

Richard Neutra, the bridge between Taliesen and Bauhaus

Richard Neutra, the quintessential California modernist architect, has made my stay in downtown Los Angeles worthwhile.

richard neutra self portrait in blue green michele roohani

Los Angeles’ main library has 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

To see my favorite architects go here

neutra la library richard michele roohani

Catch the exhibition at the L.A. Library here

My three Italian boy friends

I was late for my rendez-vous with Italo Calvino but he didn’t get mad; time is after all an elastic commodity for Italians…

italo calvino umberto eco primo levi michele roohani

Seamus Heany talked to me at length about him and encouraged me not to despair but how could I? Calvino suddenly died before I got to know him.

italo calvino michele roohani read books

Of the Italian Princes so far I only knew Umberto Eco and Primo Levi; I got to like Eco a lot after he took me to see the movie The name of the Rose about twenty years ago. Umberto and Primo each deserve their own blog post but let’s continue with Calvino.

italo calvino michele roohani pink orchids

I liked so much what Calvino’s said about reading that I need to share it with you; read it and judge for yourself:

“In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which are frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you…And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too. ”

italo calvino michele roohani read books wordle

The above image is that passage in wordle.

Gore Vidal wrote in 1985: “Europe regarded Calvino’s death as a calamity for culture.” and I agree. Italy is not just an operatic country with clowns like Berlusconi at its head…

A couple more quotes from Calvino:

“Novels as dull as dishwater, with the grease of random sentiments floating on top.”

“Only a certain prosaic solidity can give birth to creativity: fantasy is like jam; you have to spread it on a solid slice of bread. If not, it remains a shapeless thing, like jam, out of which you can’t make anything.”

Read about Calvino here

Vidal talking about him here

Love is in the (freezing )air…

Another Valentine’s Day and another excuse to say I love you to people who matter—in the universal language of poetry and roses…

michele roohani valentine 2010 red envelope

I am in love,

hot heart on snow valentine micheleroohani

with  Italo Calvino but he doesn’t care much about me…I have to dedicate a post to him!

italo calvino michele roohani

“Mon bel amour mon cher amour ma déchirure
Je te porte dans moi comme un oiseau blessé
Et ceux-là sans savoir nous regardent passer
Répétant après moi les mots que j’ai tressés
Et qui pour tes grands yeux tout aussitôt moururent” Aragon

marsano valentine rose heart micheleroohani

Let’s stay in Europe with an Irish poet:

“Her scarf a la Bardot,
In suede flats for the walk,
She came with me one evening
For air and friendly talk.
We crossed the quiet river,
Took the embankment walk.” Seamus Heaney

hot brazilian twins valentine michele roohani red lingerie

Some sexy poetry from the good old English poet:

“The things about you I appreciate
May seem indelicate:
I’d like to find you in the shower
And chase the soap for half an hour.
I’d like to have you in my power
And see your eyes dilate.” John Fuller

sprungli valentine chocolate michele roohani

I wish all of my friends a very sweet Valentine:

sprungli cream rahm valentine micheleroohani

One last poem from Fereydoon Moshiri:

بگذار که بر شاخه این صبح دلاویز
بنشینم و از عشق سرودی بسرایم
آنگاه به صد شوق چو مرغان سبکبال
پر گیرم ازین بام و به سوی تو بیایم
خورشید از آن دور از آن قله پر برف
آغوش کند باز همه مهر همه ناز
سیمرغ طلایی پر و بالی است که چون من
از لانه برون آمده دارد سر پرواز
پرواز به آنجا که نشاط است و امیدست
پرواز به آنجا که سرود است و سرور است
آنجا که سراپای تو در روشنی صبح
رویای شرابی است که در جام بلور است

michele roohani rhinestone red heart ranunculus

“I’d like to be your only audience,

The final name in your appointment book,

Your future tense.”

 michele roohani valentine 2010 pink roses in a stoup

If this wasn’t enough to satisfy your Valentine’s cravings you can see more of Valentine 2009 here and Valentine 2008 here.

To hear all the above poetry read by a great voice go here.

all the flowers in this post are from Marsano in Zurich http://www.marsano.ch

Persian Rug: a paradise at your feet

Being Iranian, I am fascinated by Persian rugs and the exquisite uniqueness that defines them. The art of carpet weaving in Iran is deeply connected with the culture and the customs of the country.

persian rug michele roohani

Being away from California,  surrounded by snow in Switzerland and far from my natural  “soft fascinations” (read flowers, sunshine, rustling trees) I am experiencing a funny sense of “ecoanxiety” that may be cured by writing about my favorite permanent garden: the Persian Rug…

cartoon drawing naghsheh persian rug michele roohani

The designs (naghsheh or cartoon—a grid on paper with spaces colored to guide rug weavers in selecting pile yarns) are still mostly drawn by hand even though computers are doing wonders in this field.

Iranians are literally conceived, born and brought up on Persian rugs! Warmed by their soft and comfortable texture,  touching, caressing,  lying down and relaxing on them, comes naturally to Persians. The rugs add warmth underfoot like my favorite red carpet with these gorgeous Shah Abbasi patterns (with floral and leaf motifs mainly in the form of lotus blossoms):

shah abbasi motif esphahan persian rug red michele roohani

The density of tightly woven Persian knots (or guereh) are the calibrating tool for the quality of the rug,

knot count on nain rug michele roohani

a good Nain rug may have 500 kpsi or 500 knots per square inch (farsibaaf,  asymmetric or Persian pile knot.)

persian knot ardabil carpet michele roohani

This is how a flower looks on the back of this Nain (Na’in):

persian knots rug nain michele roohani

and the same carpet from the front:

michele roohani naiin persian rug shah abbasi

Like most textiles, carpets consist of warps  (tar) and wefts (pud). The warps are the threads running the length of the carpet. The wefts are the threads that run across its breadth. This is the same carpet spread out:

glenroy sunset nain rug michele roohani

Persian rugs go by region (cities mostly— like Tabriz, Esfahan, Nain, Kashan, Kerman, etc…) and each region has its MasterWeaver brand. A small encased signature can usually be found in the minor border like Habibian in Nain, Pirouzian in Tabriz and Taghavi in Bijar.

ardabil carpet cartouche hafez maqsud kashani micheleroohani

The most important signature must be Maqsud Kashani’s (from 1540) on the famous pair of Ardabil Carpets. A poem of Hafez is woven into the cartouche:

“Except for thy threshold, there is no refuge for me in all the world.
Except for this door there is no resting place for my head.”

جز آستان تو‌ام در جهان پناهی نیست

سر مرا بجز این در حواله گاهی‌ نیست

ardabil carpet central medallion micheleroohani

The Ardabil Carpets  have an interesting story:  the lower field and border of one of them has been used to restore the other (now in Victoria and Albert Museum in London). The used and abused twin sister was kept in the dark (not to outshine the V&A version) until 1931 and finally found her way to Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1965.

ardebil ardabil carpet lacma micheleroohani

After exhaustive restoration done to the dazzling beauty, the LACMA sister was finally shown last year (look at how they had to wash it!)

washing of ardabil carpet lacma

The Ardabil carpets are the world’s oldest dated and historically important carpets in the world. This is the twin sister in Victoria and Albert museum in London:

ardabil carpet V&A museum Richard Wait micheleroohani
It all comes down to this fundamental design that I just finished reproducing for the blog:

michele roohani persian rug layout glossary toranj

A love for fine Farsh (rug in persian) may be one of the few things that Shahs and Mullahs have always agreed upon!

cheese and wine in the garden michele roohani

Even though I have visited the great Manufacture des Gobelins some years ago,

manufacture des gobelins paris michele roohani women tapestry

I am dying to see the real thing in Iran,

chris lisle carpet weaving iran michele roohani

and take some great pictures.

loom metier a tisser michele roohani natural dyes

I will leave you with this superb painting of my favorite Orientalist painter, Gerôme, called The Carpet Merchant (ca 1887):

jean leon gerome carpet merchant marché du tapis michele roohani

A great site to get acquainted with Persian rugs: Farsh Mashad

Weaving Art Museum here

About different motifs and style here

Port-au-Prince: Capital of Pain


1 : a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss
2 : a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering

This “bar-coded” child is the symbol of the total helplessness of people in Port-au-Prince.

ruth fremson nytimes haiti earthquake

I am heartbroken by the utter distress/despair of Haiti. So much misery and suffering caused by a few seconds of random natural violence…

damon winter haiti earthquake

“Tout est enfin divisé
Tout se deforme et se perd
Tout se brise et disparait
La mort sans conséquences”

jean michel basquiat haiti michele roohani

“Everything is finally divided
Everything is deformed and lost
All breaks and disappears
Death without consequences” Eluard

jean michel basquiat haiti michele roohani radiant child

I wonder how Basquiat would have seen all this suffering in his fatherland; he painted some prescient images in 1980’s…

jean michel basquiat haiti michele roohani untitled

Damon Winter has taken striking pictures of the inconsolable Haiti.

damon winters haiti ny times michele roohani

Different shades of white

White is the color of purity, cleanliness, and innocence…or is it? I am surrounded and inspired by it lately and these are my white (ivory, ecru, eggshell, etc…) images:

michele roohani snow heart

I went out to take pictures yesterday; I love the quiet that sits with the snow,

michele roohani snow lindenhof zurich

even when it gets dark early.

snow candle michele roohani

These are my shoes,

michele roohani snow shoe print

and this is not,

white high heel shoe michele roohani

these are LeNôtre‘s shoes:

chantilly le notre statue marble  Noel, Edme Antony Paul michele roohani

on more recent creations, this is a white interior,

white interior car michele roohani

and a very expensive exterior,

white bugatti michele roohani

and people who can’t afford it:

amsterdam bike street michele roohani

Four white dogs,

four white poodles mcihele roohani

and some not so white ones,

white toy dogs Anne-Claire Petit michele roohani

a white wedding gown,

baracci wedding gown michele roohani

a much simpler one,

buenos aires wedding gown vitrine michele roohani

and some pretty pearls to go with it,

pearl necklace michele roohani

and a white church to complete it!

notre dame cathedral paris night michele roohani

Some punctual white statues,

gloria_friedmann_louvre michele roohani

and some timeless ones:

capoeirabatuque mestre amen michele roohani

Sunlight flirting with a quiet white curtain,

white curtain shadows michele roohani

in need of music:

white piano keys music michele roohani

to dance the “Swan Lake”,

white swans lake lucerne luzern michele roohani

or some other dance in white pants:

capoeirabatuque mestre amen michele roohani

back in good old California, some white table at the Huntley’s:

huntly santa monica white curtains michele roohani

with some great coffee in white cups,

coffee cups in the sun huntly hotel michele roohani

white on white:

sun worshipper in white bathing suit and hat michele roohani

and San Vicente’s majestic magnolias…

white magnolia san vicente blvd michele roohani

see “my green movement” here

my “red post” here