Monday, February 26, 2018

History of Furniture: Sit Like An Egyptian

When we look at the history of furniture and furnishings, we can travel pretty far back in time (see furniture from Ancient Greece here). Of course we don't know for sure but we can guess what primitive cave dwellers used to furnish their caves: hides, straw, fire pits...the essentials for sleeping and waking and eating. But there are ancient cultures that have left behind a treasure trove of artifacts. So let's look at one of those cultures for this installment of the History of Furniture.

Thankfully, ancient Egyptian pyramids were buried and hidden by wind, sand, and time. Only when tombs started being discovered in the late 1700's did we, as a modern civilization, begin to see how Egyptians lived, first from depictions and scenes painted on tomb walls, then to finding actual furniture, furnishings, and everyday objects. The Ancient Egyptians believed that once dead, a person's soul lived on in an afterlife where they would need all the personal comforts of life on earth. Since many of the furniture pieces were made from wood, which rots over time, we have a better idea of what they sat on from images on tomb walls. But anything made of metal or stone has of course survived.

Since much of the wood in the immediate area of Egypt was of a soft variety not possessing the characteristics of strength to be made into furniture, they imported wood from surrounding areas like Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. The most common item in an Egyptian household, whether commoner or nobleman, was the stool. It proved practical as it could be moved from place to place as needed. Styles ranged from simple to elaborate. Egyptians were surrounded by a plethora of animals which were very important to their religious beliefs--there are many animal deities in their pantheon of gods and goddesses. All indigenous cultures look to the natural world around them to explain phenomena and creation stories and animal forms play an important part in ritual and everyday objects as well. Therefore, Egyptian stools for the wealthy class had legs fashioned into the feet of animals, whether herd creatures like gazelle or one of the holiest of Egyptian animals, the feline. They ranged from simple pieces made of reed and woven rushes to carved and inlaid wood, but nearly all of them had the typical concave seat that rises to points at each corner.

Seats were more common in wealthier households, and they retained their characteristic animal legs.

Of course the gold seats and thrones that have been discovered in tombs like Tut's are incredible objects studded with stones and featuring relief scenes and carved animals at the seat and arms.

Egyptian architecture reflected the natural world as well with columns representing the lotus, the papyrus, and the palm.

Happy designing!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Juju Wallpaper

My love affair with wallpaper continues. Take a gander at the magical, visceral work of Juju Papers.

Their website sums it up best:
"Juju is a wallpaper studio located in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Founded by Avery Thatcher in 2010, we have taken great care to develop a line of wallpapers that are beautifully crafted, and that have as light of an impact on our natural environment as possible. Every roll is printed by hand, is untrimmed, and in most cases has been made to order. We print with water based inks on creamy, durable, sustainably harvested paper. Primarily inspired by mark making, folk art, and the passage of time, our designs suggest the simplicity of an elegant old-fashioned signature, or the impossibly perfect collection of driftwood and sea glass on the shore."

Happy designing!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Shower Drain: Now You See It, Now You Don't

Sleek, contemporary bathrooms have been popular for quite some time now, but I am finding more and more clients want bathrooms that are not only sleek and contemporary but which also approach a kind of minimalism.

One of the ways to get a streamlined appearance in a bathroom is to limit the amount of objects and elements like the shower drain. And there are some wonderful products on the market that make the drain virtually disappear.

I love using channel or linear drains in showers. These types of drains are a trough installed at one end or side of the shower. Since it's not a center drain, the shower pan itself does not need to be sloped in on four sides but instead can be sloped in a single direction. This eliminates the need for smaller mosaic tiles which adhere to the contour of the slope. What we get is the ability to use larger tiles. Channel drains can come with metal grates like these examples from Easy Drain USA and Infinity Drain.

But to truly camouflage the drain, California Faucets' CeraLine is a linear drain that accepts the tile from the shower pan, so you can barely tell it's there!

And now we can go one more step and make the entire shower pan and drain a single piece. This integrated drain and pan by WETSTYLE called the Glacier shower receptor is a supremely minimal statement.

MTI makes shower bases with integrated hidden drains as well

And if you have a smaller shower without room enough for a single slope or if your home is built "on slab" (on a concrete foundation where moving the drain location involves jackhammering cement and is therefore difficult or prohibitive), California Faucets makes the Style Drain Tile, a tile-in center drain, so you can still camouflage the drain and achieve a sleek look!

If you'd like a modern, sleek bathroom, give me a call.
Happy designing!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Serif TV by the Bouroullec Brothers for Samsung

I previously wrote about Yve Behar's marvelous The Frame television, and now Samsung has introduced another television that is just as interesting.

While Behar's approach was to make the television disappear (an approach I utilize in my own designs), the award-winning Paris-based Bouroullec Brothers who designed the Serif TV envisioned it to be an object that fits into everyday life—a hybrid of furniture design and technology. It is an appealing prospect to incorporate the technology into an object that will join furniture and furnishings seamlessly.

A distinct stand design, featuring attachable legs that easily screw into the bottom four corners, works in unison with the Serif TV's design and evokes a Mid-Century aestehetic. The custom legs, included with the TV, allow it to sit comfortably and blend more naturally into the home.

The user interface includes a transition between standby and normal viewing options called "curtain mode". This feature allows users to apply a filter over the content, creating a "curtain" effect in which viewers can access services such as a clock, Bluetooth speakers, apps and their photo gallery.

A woven fabric cover magnetically attaches to the back panel of the television to conceal component connections, ensuring it looks great from all angles.

I love the idea of taking this piece of technology that has become shunned and despised from a design perspective and returning it to the days when televisions were housed in casework. The Seif TV feels modern but also a bit retro!

And best of all, the television is fairly affordable at $1,499. It is available at Samsung On-Line.

Happy designing!