January 31, 2013

freeway fridays!

We live in Los Angeles California, where driving is more than a means of transportation, it’s a way of life, a means of survival in an urban landscape surrounded by ribbons of roads, surface streets and freeways. We spend a great deal of our lives figuring out the best way to get from one place to another, traveling between east side and west, driving alone in gridlock and traveling together in the carpool lane.

L-R: Rosemary passing her road test!, driving around Detroit, driving in our first car!
When we first started talking about moving to L.A. after grad school, spending that much time in the car seemed crazy! We were living on campus just outside of Detroit Michigan while we attended Cranbrook Academy of Art. Rosemary had grown up in Montreal, a city with a great public transportation system and so had to sign up for AAA driving lessons while at the same time getting her masters degree. We got our first car at the beginning of our final year at Cranbrook, those first few months of practice drives were a true test of our relationship, we explored the city together, setting out in the car without a plan. It was exciting and nerve-racking! The car soon became our little bubble of space, where we could talk or plan or fight, away from roommates and studio mates. Little did we know how this would prepare us for life in L.A.

L-R: somewhere in Texas during our cross-country road trip, Robin working on our bookshelf in our new apartment, hanging out at the beach
When we arrived here, we had just completed an eight-day drive cross-country. We were exhausted. The next few months were a whirlwind, looking for a place to live, finding jobs, making furniture, trips to Ikea and Home Depot, all while doing the most un-L.A. of things, sharing a single car. We were so excited to explore a new city together, a place that neither of us had ever lived in before, that we hardly noticed the beginning of our transition, we were turning into drivers. In fact, it took us a really long time to come to that realization. We were so overwhelmed that it truly wasn’t until our second year here. Once we had a good working sense of the city, where to find things, how to get around without a GPS, we started to realize how much fun driving could be. Not to say that we don’t still get frustrated when we’re stuck in traffic on the 10 heading east at the end of a long day, or that we’ve accepted how insanely people drive when it rains, but we understand that a good deal of our lives will be spent in the car, and so we now try to use that time more wisely, discussing dinner plans, bills that need to be paid, making phone calls. It’s no surprise then that we have come up with a good number of our design ideas while stuck in traffic somewhere or looking for parking. We are inspired by the roads we travel during our daily commutes, on our way to discover new restaurants, explore new galleries or museums.

L-R: rush hour traffic on the 110 North, Los Angeles from the air, The Californians skit on Saturday Night Live.
One Friday, a few weeks ago, we came up with the idea of Freeway Fridays. We were driving along the 110 Harbor Freeway, on our way to Randy’s Donuts, a donut place that we’d always heard about but never tried, and we were talking about how we explored the city when we first got here and how crazy it was that there was still so much of the city we’d never visited. For full disclosure, we were also talking about how we had favorite freeways (yes, the Californians skit on SNL does hold more than a little truth in it!), and how driving different freeways inform how you experience different parts of the city. 

L-R: intersection of the 110 and the 105 freeways, DTLA  as seen from the 110, Randy's Donuts in Inglewood.
So, here’s the plan, every few weeks, we’re going to choose a freeway that we have or haven’t driven before, and we will explore that part of the city. Check out the built environments of overpasses and underpasses, enjoy the architecture or snack spots or vistas that we find, and take pictures (lots of pictures!) that we’ll post on Instagram or Tumblr as we go. We will venture out into parts of the city we like as well as parts of the city we’ve never been to before. In short, we’re going to see our city with new eyes.  

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