Roadside, USA: Kitschy and Cool Attractions Along the Country’s Highways

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Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

There’s really nothing quite like hitting the road, rolling the windows down to feel the breezes go through your hair, listening to a carefully-planned playlist, and then careening to a stop – I kid, drive safely, folks – to detour at a roadside attraction you saw just happened to spot as you were coming up to the horizon. That, my dear readers, makes me giddy as a child in a candy store and over my years of traveling, I’ve seen some weird, fun, and amazing things.

I’ve found Moab, Utah’s Hole N” The Rock to be worth a visit that’s upwards of an hour, thanks to the number of attractions within this attraction, starting from the actual house which is carved into sandstone, a newly opened zoo, metal sculptures, and curio shops.

Image source: flickr.com

Image source: flickr.com

Unusual architecture seems to be a common theme among roadside tourist spots. Zoomorphic buildings like the World’s Biggest Dinosaurs, Cabazon’s Ms. Dinny and Mr. Rex in California, Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic County, New Jersey never fail to tickle my fancy, as do places like the Biosphere 2, a research facility found in Arizona which was parodied in the 1996 movie, “Bio-Dome.”

Going on the road has also made me privy to natural wonders like The Lost Sea, an underground lake that goes through a network of caverns in Sweetwater, Tennessee, and the gigantic Chandelier tree in California, feats of human dedication and artistry like Roadside America, a sprawling miniature village built by a model railroad hobbyist, and Whimzeyland, the aptly-named private home-slash-art project in Florida, and just really strange or fun places like The Living Dead Museum, which pays tribute to George A. Romero’s movies, and the South Carolina theme park, South of the Border.

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Finally, one that combines my love for industrial materials and quirky attractions is the Kaskakia Dragon at Vandalia, Illinois. Built by the owners of the Kaskakia hardware store, the sleekly designed 35-foot long metal monster breathes fire at the drop of a coin. The dragon’s red bulb eyes, metallic skin, and hydraulic insides give it a steampunk appeal that I truly appreciate.

Hello there, I’m Scott Jay Abraham and I have a really bad case of wanderlust. I love going on the road, sometimes with my best buddy, Shadow, and stopping at quirky roadside attractions. Do you have any favorites I should check out? Chime in on the comments section of this blog.

Duct tales: Framing ductwork in interior design

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In most interior design paradigms, building infrastructure such as HVAC ductwork is an unsightly mess that should be hidden. Historically, spaces with HVAC systems exposed were usually industrial in nature. In some design paradigms, however, ducts are not as unwelcome and are embraced as part of the overall aesthetic of the space. Modern and postmodern contemporary interiors often incorporate them into designs when hiding HVAC ducts proves impossible or impractical.

Image Source: merchantcircle.com

Industrial interior design takes this a step further and embraces the mechanical aesthetic of the HVAC ductwork. They are often left uncovered when industrial buildings are repurposed, often only being retouched slightly to improve their general appearance, and are incorporated into the overall appearance of the interior along with the exposed brick and unfinished concrete walls of the building.

Image Source: infoforbuilding.com

The exposed HVAC ductwork is one of the archetypical hallmarks of industrial design. Indeed, incorporating deliberately exposed ducts is planned in much newer buildings incorporating the industrial aesthetic into their interiors. Because the ductwork is often still functional, special considerations must be made to ensure that the ducts work as efficiently as possible. Specific forms like spiral ductwork not only provide a visually interesting contemporary industrial look but also has significant energy-saving advantages such as tighter joints that prevent leaks.

Image Source: pixshark.com

As a deliberate design choice, leaving the air conditioning and heating systems visible can lead to all sorts of interesting visuals of the roof or ceiling of the room, creating a peculiar and eye-catching geometry in underappreciated spaces or work as accents toward other features. They can be painted to match the look of a room or left in their natural metallic color.

Industrial interior planner and sports fan Scott Jay Abraham here. For more on my take on the world of industrial aesthetics, follow me on Twitter.

Lofty ambitions: Forging living spaces with the elements of industrial style

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When you’re looking for a cool new place that screams both style and spaciousness, look no further than the loft apartment. These apartments, won from unwanted industrial spaces, are roomier than most urban abodes and can accommodate an undeniably modern atmosphere while retaining their old charm. Consequently, they are popular choices for young professionals with bohemian tastes.

Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

Practically given a new lease in life, the repurposed old building is the perfect canvas for the fusion of form and function seen of the industrial design aesthetic. An old factory or warehouse provides a well-worn backdrop that simply cannot be replicated. Frequently, designing the aesthetics of the loft living space will incorporate elements of the building’s old architecture, such as the exposed brick, concrete floors, and old HVAC systems, into its design. Visually appealing metal structures, whether pre-existing or salvaged from elsewhere, are a popular option.

Image Source: maincrust.co

Recycling and up-cycling are a big part of converting industrial spaces into loft apartments. Weathered wood is a popular choice that combines old charm with relative inexpensiveness, and can be converted into a variety of purposes from wall veneer to furniture such as headboards. Furniture choices can follow the same principle; functional yet visually unique tables, work surfaces, and chairs. Pendant fixtures are a good choice for lighting.

Image Source: homedit.com

The ideal aesthetic of industrial design is sleek yet very utilitarian, but it also shouldn’t be uniform unless that is the desired look. Breaking up the monotony includes mixing and matching materials in a space and providing occasional stand-out accents. Moreover, this interior style invites an assortment of modern and postmodern accent pieces without being pretentious.

Industrial designer Scott Jay Abraham here. Get more updates on me and my assorted interests on Twitter.