Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pied Cow Photo Project

Welcome to my Pied Cow Art 101 (Architecture) photo project. This post will analyze The Pied Cow discussing its various functions, firmness and beauty using basic architectural terminology.

The Pied Cow is more than a mere coffee shop. It's a unique experience that reflects SE Portland's funky, artistic, do-it-yourself ethic, while remaining a solid local business. The interior, exterior and outdoor areas of this coffeehouse is what gives it's customers a sense of wonder, charm and delight.

As you can see the building The Pied Cow's in is a former residence. This Queen Anne style Victorian house was built in 1893. In order for potential customers to know this is not a residence but a bona fide business, multiple signs are easily seen from the outside, beckoning for us to have a beverage there.

The symbolic function of this building as a business is mainly from it's signage, alerting patrons of its coffeehouse prowess.

This is a shot from the sidewalk outside of The Pied Cow's garden seating. There are no walls except for the shrubs, bushes and tall grass. This "nature" wall serves patrons in two ways. 1. The psychological function of an enclosure like this asks for a certain mood. Not only do customers within it feel more relaxed but people outside can see in just enough to know that this is a private area. 2. Though there is no material, the nature wall goes completely around the garden seating and is quite thick and not easy to get through. Therefore the firmness is represented by the structure or in this case, landscaping, of the wall.
Inside the "wall" a customer can relax in the shade and enjoy being in nature while enjoying an urban experience. Once again psychological function works its magic because the boundary behind her conveys the beauty of nature while being thick enough to tone down any traffic and noise outside.
The stairs up to the inside of the actual building serves the circulatory function for getting customers inside the coffeehouse.

This pathway on the left side of the steps goes to the outdoor seating area. This is another example of circulatory function. This pathway also allows servers to bring patrons their treats!

The circulatory function of the garden area is really great. It's very easy for patrons and servers to go from table to table or table to indoors and back because there is sufficient space between tables for people to get around. The fact that the tables are smaller and well placed within this area also adds to the ease of flow.

The floor of the covered patio within the garden area is brick laid into the dirt. In terms of firmness the flooring is pretty solid, however if your wearing high heels it's a little harder to get around.
Above the brick flooring are metal sheets acting as a cover held up by solid wood posts and cantilevers. The metal covering is thick enough to protect people from rain and rougher weather but thin enough to keep excessive heat at bay in the sunshine. A fabulous example of firmness!

And now I'll discuss The Pied Cow's beauty.

This window is one of many fun surprises that illustrate the attention to visual detail this business is known for. Here a mere window that is likely passed by hundreds of times a day has added ornament and color around its frame.

Queen Anne style Victorian homes are known for being the most ornate. At the highest point of this former home are sculpted metal stakes. This ornament adds whimsy when viewed while relaxing from the garden area.

The Pattern on the exterior walls here is known as Eastlake, named after the designer Charles Eastlake. This lacy pattern evokes a fanciful feeling but also adds texture to the look and physical feel of the building.

Here light is expressed is two dramatic ways. Above the door to the former home is a glass window with the numbers of the street address engraved into it. This not only is a lovely way to let in more light but also helps people identify the building by address. Colored glass squares on the sides of the window add a nice hue to the light coming in.

Also in the door way is a beautiful hanging light fixture. The light cover has delicate patterns in its structure and gives off a sense of richness to the environment. Even the apparatus used to hold the fixture to the ceiling has richly beautiful detail.
In a smaller room off to the side in the Pied Cow is a lovely and sometimes missed detail that represents scale. This tapestry covers the entire ceiling. The sight of this detail is awe inspiring when discovered because of its coloring and size.

By now it is quite evident that color is used to a great extent at the Pied Cow. This photo depicts a strong use of color from the wallpaper to cover the interior walls to the paintings used to decorate the walls. Some may call this look "busy" but I think it is quite fun!

Again we see color but this time it is used for the customers when they pay for the use of a hookah, also known as a water pipe, for inhaling flavored tobacco. Next to the hookahs is one of the odder decorative touches in the form of an empty wooden picture frame on the ground laying against a table. Behind the frame is a large brick with a little ceramic figurine on top. I like this quirky ornamental detail, even if it's a little too "strange".

In closing I'd like to say that I know The Pied Cow is not for everyone. I've heard a few people say it's overwhelming in detail. That there is too much going on from the mismatched chairs to the contrasting colors to the excessive use of whimsical decorative items. Is the Pied Cow funky? Yes. Is its interior full of seizure inducing sights in every nook and cranny. Absolutely. But this is what makes the Pied Cow so unique and so very Southeast Portland. The aesthetic is multifaceted and diverse which makes this coffeehouse a very fun place to go to. Just like Portland the Pied Cow is colorful and oriented toward using any and all resources. From utilizing an old Victorian house...

to using trees and shrubbery to bind its space together, The Pied Cow is not only an experience but also a statement.

And that statement is...
Being laid back is beautiful!

No comments: