31 March 2010

Lacey fences

The design site Doornob Design clued me into a cool re-imagining of the chain link fence yesterday.

The Dutch design agency Demakersvan rethought the omnipresent and always dreary chain link and applied a little old world charm to it. What a great idea and yet another terrific example of thoughtful industrial design. I swear, this has been a week for it.

It has me thinking what other patterns would work in this medium. Can I get it in argyle?

I love this Sharks and Jets homage. Street toughs look less tough when they're climbing over a Lace Fence.

When hell froze over

In the wonders never cease department, Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn picked up my post about Richard Holschuh from Saturday. They got my name right, my URL right and most of all they got Richard a world of exposure I never could have on my own.

To make matters even better, the lead paragraph started with an Apartment Therapy royal we.

We're smitten with these concrete countertops from Richard Holschuh, an artist and artisan from Vermont. His company creates custom concrete countertops for kitchens, baths, and other areas, and some of them blow away our usual ideas of what a concrete surface can look like.

I guess the key to getting websites with traffic counts in the millions to notice me is to mock them endlessly.

Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn: Concrete With Soul

30 March 2010

Who needs a chocolate Easter bunny?

Vosges Haut-Chocolat has a new collection of truffles that celebrate spring. And then some. While it's true that Vosges Haut-Chocolat is an advertiser, a good turn always deserves effusive praise.

From their press release:
Inhale the scent of fresh cut grass and springtime blossoms, gallivant in your galoshes in April rain showers…spring is a time for renewal, rejuvenation and a reminder to celebrate our magical Mother Earth. The Green Collection was inspired by the spices, teas, fruits and flowers indigenous to Asia, including Japanese cherry blossoms. The launch of the collection is centered on the life cycle of these beautiful blooms, and is available for a limited time only!

The 16 piece Green Collection includes:
  • Ellateria (4): Indian green cardamom + dark chocolate + white poppy seeds
  • Kaffir (4): Thai kaffir lime + fresh coconut + dark chocolate
  • Kayoko (4): Japanese matcha green tea + white chocolate + cherry blossom petals
  • Buddha's Leaf (4): Malaysian pandan leaves + dark chocolate + cocoa powder
Vosges Haut-Chocolat has three locations in Chicago, including one in O'Hare. They have two locations in New York and one in Las Vegas. Of course their amazing chocolates are available everywhere through their website.

I love good chocolate and the offerings from Vosges Haut-Chocolat are the best I've ever found. Which by the way, is why they're an advertiser in the first place.

Industrial design from Prague

Martin Žampach  is an industrial designer in Prague, the Czech Republic. He does really interesting and varied work and as with so many of my recent finds, I met him through Twitter. Industrial design represents a nearly perfect convergence of wide range of disciplines. It's art, it's science, it's engineering, it's math; pick a skill set and it comes into play. I've been fortunate to meet a number of industrial designers in the last year and getting glimpses of how they do what they do is a thrill to say the least.

Martin's been involved in some beautiful and clever projects and his entire portfolio is on the web, you can find it here.

Some highlights include glassware designed for Moravské Sklárny Květná. In English, that's the Moravian Flower Glassworks, from the Czech village of Strání-Květná.

Here's his Jar Rádiovka, based on an old beret.

Photo by Jiří Jevický

This is a container inspired by a spinning top.

Photo by Jiří Jevický

And my favorite, this is the Vespertillium clothes pin set. Martin was on the team that designed it for the Art Lebedev Studio in Moscow.

You can see these creations and the rest of his portfolio on his website, Martin Žampach.

29 March 2010

Lookie what KitchenAid's selling in Europe

It's not fair. KitchenAid's selling this gas/ induction combination cooktop in Europe but not in North America.

It has three gas burners and two induction burners and it's the perfect hybrid. Gas plus electric means that nobody converting to induction needs to buy new pots and pans. Cross the Atlantic with that thing already!

Step 90cm by KitchenAid

Every picture tells a story don't it?

As a designer, I believe that every room tells a story too. Whether it's consciously or unconsciously told, there's a narrative that connects a room. So with that said, what story does a bathroom that looks like this tell?

And here it is in silver, though to class it up we'll call it platinum.

So what's the story? Or more tellingly, what story would you tell after coming into contact with a bathroom such as this?

All fixtures by Lineatre.

28 March 2010

Art, math, science, music and life --together at last

Many thanks to the amazing Julie Richey who sent this to me this morning on Facebook. It sums up perfectly where my head was when I was thinking of a logo for myself.

Art, math, science, music and life aren't in conflict. They are the same thing.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

From Houzz:

Lola Bs traditional

This space is undeniably fussy and romantic, from the chandelier to the Hotel de Paris sign. However, the particular shade of blue gives the room a bit of an edge, saving it from saccharine sweetness.
What edge? Maybe this room remembers seeing the edge as it slid into the abyss. I don't care what color these walls are painted, the hokey Hotel de Paris sign and the antique grocer's scale make for one cloying sideboard. Saved from saccharine sweetness? Hardly. This vignette is giving me a cavity.

It does make me wonder though, do Parisians hang fake signs that read New York Hotel or The Inn of Los Angeles in their dining rooms in a failed attempt to appear worldly and sophisticated?

The melancholy housefly: Italian furniture, Italian humor

Another recent find on Twitter is CLABfordesign. CLAB is the brainchild of Umberto Dattola, an accountant turned carpenter in Bescia, Lombardia. CLAB stands for creative lab and it's Umberto's description of the inspiration behind this piece of furniture that sold me on his entire enterprise.
On a hot and humid day, a fly flew into my car. At first I did not notice it, but after it started annoying me, I tried to kill it in every possible way. Since I could not kill the fly, and it was not safe to keep driving without concentrating, I decided to stop and let it out. I parked the car near the shore of a lake.

It was a wonderful day: the sun was warm and the previous night’s rain had cleared the sky. As I opened the door, I felt the light and the clean air come into my car. I got out to enjoy the place and the day.
The fly seemed to be feeling as happy as me. It flew quickly over the beach, dived towards the water, then suddenly veered to avoid it. It then started swerving among the tree branches and drawing circles in the air. I watched it in amazement.

After about twenty minutes, the fly began to slow down and, soon afterwards, it stopped to watch the lake, just as if it had been struck by melancholy. I wondered what could make a fly melancholic. Could it be some kind of sickness for places, friends, or family? Does a fly actually have a family? Finally, it flew towards my car again.

When I opened the car door, it got back in, so I decided to take it back to the place it came from. On the way home, the fly kept quiet and never disturbed me again.
I'm sold on this bench by virtue of that narrative alone. Check out the rest of CLABfordesign's offerings on their website and follow Umberto on Twitter!

27 March 2010

Richard Holdschuh, an artist in concrete, talks about counters

Richard Holdschuh is a visionary. His Brattleboro Vermont company, Concrete Detail, is one of the leading purveyors of concrete counters in the country. Their custom work is easily the most thoughtful and precise concrete work I've ever seen. I met Richard through Twitter a few weeks ago and I learned that not only is he the soul of those amazing counters, he's also a heck of a guy.

I don't write enough about concrete counters and I asked Richard to put something together for me to start to rectify my lapse. He did. You can learn more about Richard and his company through their website, Concrete Detail. Feel free to ask him any questions in the comments section and I'll forward everything to him. Maybe we'll get him to come back to answer some of them personally. So without further ado, here's Richard.

Concrete started out simply as an alternative to wood, in my mind. Having been in construction as a carpenter for 20 years, I was looking for a means of moving in a different direction: to use some of what I already knew - to go to places I had only dreamed about. Being a carpenter in Vermont (along with half the population) often entails straddling a roof 35 feet off the ground at 20 degrees F (comfy) or chipping a half inch of ice off your framing lumber so you can build a wall (highly productive) or listening to tales of last night’s fight at the bar (heartwarming). Notice a theme here? Suffice it to say, I thought I could do better.

I searched for a trade, craft or product which could build upon the skillset I had developed and allow me a creative outlet which had been neglected since I was much younger. If it was inside a heated, organized shop with other like-minded creative types, it would be almost too good to be true. And so, after much research and soul-searching, the answer (for me) turned out to be what we in the business refer to as “artisan concrete”. What is that, you might ask? And rightly so, because it is still a fledgling industry going through many changes even as it begins to find its place among the more conventional materials. Happily, the media and design professionals in the US are now paying more attention to this upstart and consequently public awareness is reaching a tipping point.

The poster child for artisan concrete is the handcrafted countertop and this is the majority of our work at Concrete Detail, which is the company born of my quest. We create custom tops for kitchens and baths, many of which include sinks as well; we also design and fabricate fireplace and tub surrounds, furniture, wall panels, tiles, bar tops, vessels, and much more. Concrete Detail brings the project full circle, from consultation and design, to fabrication and installation. We enjoy the intimate collaboration with our clients as an integral part of the process of fulfilling a commission – which brings us to the reasons for choosing concrete as a surfacing option.

Concrete countertops are, at least in our interpretation, highly functional aesthetic furnishings – we call it Artformed TM. Not rarefied, subjective collector’s items, but hard-working and deeply satisfying necessities. Every home needs a countertop and everyone wants to make their home their own; the medium of concrete allows personal expression without design constraint, all the while meeting the demands of everyday life with durability, versatility, and sustainability (at a very competitive cost). Today’s high performance concrete has very little to do with a cracked sidewalk and everything to do with lasting design in the hands of a master artisan. We utilize these capabilities to invest the concrete with soul: captured within the finished pieces are the craftsman, the dweller, and their environment. When the completed elements are delivered and brought into their intended places, they belong – because they were consciously made for that person and place alone. This is the essence of appropriate design.

Once again, you can get more information about Concrete Detail on their website. Thanks Richard!

26 March 2010

Here's the light output for Water Pressure Chandeliers

I just heard from Water Pressure Lighting and they want me to let you know (Nancie Mills-Pipgras in particular) that their LED bulbs go to 30W equiv, for a total 150W, plus they're dimmable!

Hanging out with celebrities

I just found out that I'm on the guest list for a party in Chicago next month that's taking place during the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. While I'm there, I'll be granted an audience with the man who brought the world a Barbie hair chandelier.

That's right, it's me and Jonathan Adler baby.

The only thing that could make it better would be if Maxwell  Gillingham-Ryan and Oliver Ryan, the founders of Apartment Therapy, were there too.

I like chandeliers. There I said it.

Confession time. Despite all of my barking about clear spaces making for clear thoughts I have a weakness for chandeliers. Not just any chandelier, but chandeliers never the less. I blame James Moder.

James Moder made the first deconstructed crystal chandelier I'd ever seen and it changed everything. Until the day I stumbled upon one, I thought chandeliers were the sole province of elderly women and fussy designers. Moder's Broadway series had something to say and it very nearly made fun of the medium it was constructed from. Brilliant, really.

Chandeliers have been around since Medieval times and they've been adorned with crystals since the 18th century. They are a world unto themselves, with their own vocabulary, their own manufacturers and sometimes, their own dedicated distribution networks. In the world of lighting, they hold themselves apart.

They should. I swear they're an art form.

Dwellings, Ltd has a new collection of five chandeliers called Water Pressure. Each chandelier takes its inspiration from an example of falling water and then tells a very clear story. There's nothing subtle or implied, these pieces have a point of view. They are also hand made from jewelry-quality Swarovski Crystals.

Crashing Wave is just that, complete with a shoreline.

Lawn Sprinkler is a summer day in bare feet.

Lather Up is a soaking shower.

NYC Sewer Grate is rain falling through a grate as observed by mice.

Irrigation is a farmer's field.

That Crashing Wave is a wonder. And if that weren't enough, Dwellings, Ltd is offering free shipping to the US and Canada through April 15th.

What do we think? Am I alone in my appreciation for the not-so-humble chandelier? Chandelier fans, how does the Water Pressure series stack up?