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House Tattoos Revised

by Nic Darling on February 19, 2010 · 27 comments

in Design,facade

As we approach groundbreaking (pray for a good concrete pouring day), we have continued work on the Skinny Project’s distinguishing feature . . . House Tattoos. The strategy for the tattoos remains very similar to what was discussed in Brian Phillips recent post, but we have made some considerable changes to the content. The goal is a move toward more abstraction and hopefully a design less attached to a specific time or place.

Whatever design we eventually settle upon will still be executed by the artist and silk screening guru Candy Depew. She will print the design on our fiber cement panels which will then likely be clear coated to protect the work. We plan to document her progress so be sure to stay tuned for plenty of pictures and videos.

Below are a few recent design ideas that we like. Take a look and let us know what you think. We need to make a final decision in the next week, and your input would be greatly appreciated.

House Tattoo Clouds 2

House Tattoo Clouds 1

House Tattoo Branches 2

House Tattoo Branches 3

House Tattoo Branches 4

House Tattoo Branches 1

As usual, I have my favorite, but I’ll keep it to myself until the readers have spoken. Let us know which design you think should be featured on our next three homes.

Do it in the comments.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 1 trackback }

Fiber Cement Panel Screen Printing on the Skinny Project
March 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Avery February 19, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I choose branches 2. Second choice branches 1. The colors seem a little much to me.

2 rebekah February 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm

branches 1 and 2.
clouds 2.

i like branches 1 the best.


3 Preston February 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I hate to be contrarian, because when this is done it could end up looking great. But I’m concerned that this ends up looking no better than a few racing stripes, or worse, several bumper stickers on a car. Maybe this isn’t a good example. How about a silkscreen t-shirt? I’d hate for it to end up looking cheap. So I’m inclined to say the tattoo needs to be as subtle as possible, maybe second from the top, if any. Not sure …

4 Michael McTigue February 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I agree with Preston. What I do like about the cloud options is that they seem much more unified, as if the un-treated panels are the matboard to the art on the treated panels.

5 tracy February 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

1st option, Clouds, are what I would choose for my home.

6 Jerry Hajek February 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Top clouds, monocolored branches; subtle is better if you’re going to do something ‘left of center’, no? ;)

7 Matt February 19, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Really love the concept, but share Preston’s reservations about final look. I’m also concerned over how they will hold up/age over time. With that said, I’m more inclined to the cloud patterns than the tree patterns, which are more visually discordant to me.

8 Peter February 19, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Ditto on the need to be as subtle as possible, so either of first two.

While I like the trees, this is a long term project, not like wallpaper that can be changed at will.

9 Aunt D February 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Would not want to date your homes so would not include any of these. As in “I love that 70′s” show I luv it cuz so much on the set is what was in my home growing up….they have grandma’s wallpaper and china…hahaha..don’t date your beautiful homes with the latest trend. Instead, keep it simple/elegant. It will last longer and be more marketable. U don’t want people driving through the neighborhood in 10 years saying “oh god that is so 2010″! Sorry, just the opinion of one old aunt :-)

10 meliason February 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

out of all options, i really only like clouds 1, because a little ambiguity is a good thing, and it forces multiple readings. the branches, not so much. but i’m mor interested in the ‘why’, rather than the ‘how’.

to me, h&dem @ eberswalde makes sense:

11 Ryan February 19, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I like the second last one.

12 Diogenes Goldberg February 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

I’m thinking… you’ve done so much right. You blend a strong green philosophy with humor, transparency, really great information, thoughtful exposition, and edginess. You have a GREAT site and GREAT people and are really raising the game for so many. But this whole business of house tats seems — just my .02 — a bit trivial and out of place. How about telling us what your actual monthly utility bills are running in completed projects? How about telling us about variations in temperature within the house front to back, first to second floor? How about telling us what the average humidity is turning out to be inside the units? How about telling us about how quiet these new properties are, how good the air quality is, when/how/if you plan to add a garage for the family with little kids or the empty-nesters who, although eco-conscious, still have a car…How about ceiling heights and ceiling height options…When/how/if you might provide access to the roof and when/how/if you might make the roof living…

I don’t mean to be overly negative. You really are doing a fantastic job and I love reading your posts.

13 chad February 20, 2010 at 10:32 am

Diogenes – I’ll take responsibility for a decreased amount of technical posts that you are referring to. I plan to post on many of the questions you mention above in the coming months. A lot of my blogging energy has been shifted to trying to get our volume up so we can become profitable and keep building homes to the standards we think all homes should be built.

Having said this, we all stand behind the house tattoo concept. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. That’s what comments are all about and we don’t want to discourage any differing viewpoints in any way. We are, however, confident that the finished result will be fantastically awesome.

We will try to do a post on projects throughout the world that have employed similar concepts on their facades. Ones that inspired us. Maybe a reader out there even has an example we haven’t seen. We are also exploring the best colors and UV resistant clear coats to cover the prints and ensure they are maintained for the longest time possible.

14 NelsonL February 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I vote for clouds 1

15 Matt February 20, 2010 at 11:06 pm

#1 or #2. Going coarse on the halftone patterns is good for giving it an abstract quality. However, scaling up the pattern to the actual house may change how coarse it appears. For example, when #1 is viewed at this scale and resolution, the halftone coarseness is blended (much like a magazine or newspaper print viewed from a normal distance). However, when #1 is scaled-up it could look very different to an observer standing across the street. I don’t like the dead branch patterns at all; too “Blair Witch.” For a “green” house, I feel that it’s important to convey a lively motif, and the fair blue skies of #1 and #2 do that very well.

16 RBauer February 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

The concept of the tattoo is very cool but I think you guys are off your game here. The above designs are not the least bit abstract! The vertical “pixels” of your exteriors — they suggest minimalist abstraction. These are the opposite. They are very literal. Pictorial actually. And dont jive with your clean and minimal approach.

Why not capitalize on the wonderful vertical entropy already present in placement of windows and the shape/arrangement of the siding youre using? You could incorporate textured panels or contrasted shading and coloring or repeating patterns that are off-set and don’t align.

Leave these designs for tshirts and give some more thought to this one please…

17 RitaF February 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

The tattoo concept will become a hsitoric datemark years from now with owners painting over it to bring their homes up to date. I would suggest the use of colors and textures which decades from now will not look like a 2010 gimmick.

18 Goran February 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

For no other reason than, you asked, I like branches 3, 1 and 4, but they’re all interesting. Not sure I see the difference between branches 1 and 4.

Is an objective of the house tats is to provide a signature “look” that can identify the Postgreen brand house, sort of in the same manner as Apple? If the brand is successful, people will love having it on their homes.

If so, any of these match up well with the original 100k and 120k house look, but I’m not sure they match up with the Passive project.

19 Pink Robe February 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I have to agree with RBauer above – the tattoos are too detailed. I also find the branches too repetitive, more like wallpaper than a tattoo. I suggest you dramatically increase the scale of the pattern so that the facade constrains a single branch or single cloud. When viewed from afar, the gross image is seen, while moving closer will allow the detail in the construction to shine through. My $0.02…

20 sabeyer February 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Branches #4. The pixel/clouds do nothing for me at all–but then I’m married to a half-toning expert, and if I have to look at another dot pattern I’ll scream. As far as tats being gimmicky or potentially dated, it seems to me that avoiding something because it may look too 2010 in the future is just the flipside of the urge to paint a house beige and install granite to make it neutral and current. In other words, I don’t know what’s going to look dated, or what’s going to look stylishly retro. It’s best to go with what you like and love it while you have it. Obviously, house tattoos, like wallpaper, aren’t for everyone. And thoughtful renovations are part of the lifecycle of any well built house.

21 Krista February 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Branches 1 gets my vote.

22 Matt February 24, 2010 at 12:35 am


One idea I have for Candy is to have a gradient/cline in halftone radius, increasing the higher you go on the building. For an observer standing on the sidewalk in front, this would give the impression of constant halftone radius, with even blending at the bottom (4-5 ft. from observer, small halftone radius) and at the top (10-25 ft. from observer, larger halftone radius). From farther away, down the street, the house’s halftone blending would look different at the top and bottom.

23 Aaron Miller March 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I like the more subtle ones, number one in particular with a grey scale sky.

24 RitaF March 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

Diogenes makes a good comment. The “how does it work” details are now more important since a bunch of homes are up and running.

25 Matt March 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Updates for those following this thread:

I like the direction you’re taking.

As far as halftones go, you might draw some inspiration from what Virginia Tech’s architecture team did for Solar Decathlon last year:

They not only used different dot sizes, they also varied the light transmittance with angled vanes in each hole. Looked fantastic.

26 Shakila March 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

I say clouds. Although I like the idea of the tree branches, I think they would look out of place during the summer/spring months and be downright depressing during the winter months.

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