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Monday, September 15th, 2014

(Re)Introducing the Spanner Lounge Chair With Arms

Becky

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We are so pleased to announce that we are carrying The Spanner Lounge Chair with Arms at Design Public. Originally created in 1950 by Russell Spanner (1916-1974), the award-winning chair has been out of production for more than 50 years. Gus*Design Group worked in collaboration with the Spanner family to revive this iconic chair, meticulously matching the materials, construction and details to the original chair.

The frame is constructed of  solid birch and curved birch plywood and the seat is 100% cotton woven strapping. During the design collaboration with the Spanner family, Gus*Design Group worked hard to match the finishes (both light and dark birch) and strapping colors (choice of green, red or black strapping):

Vintage Ad for Russell Spanner's Furniture

Today we’re talking with Joran Van Lange, the designer at Gus* Design Group who acted as design and production lead for the Spanner Lounge Chair reissue, to learn more about this exciting re-release.

How did you discover the work of Russell Spanner?
I first saw his work in a design lecture while I was in school.  His original designs show up occasionally here in Toronto at vintage and mid-century antique shops, so before we even knew Russell’s background story, we were familiar with the Russell Spanner “look”, which is very recognizable.

What drew you to the Spanner Chair in particular?
There’s something really positive and energetic about the lines and angles of the chair.  It’s bold without being too serious.

Which leads me to, what about its mid-century design still works so well today?

The design is relevant today for the same reasons it was relevant in the 1950s. At that time, North American cities were seeing an explosion of compact, post-war homes, which needed furniture that was smaller scale.  The movement toward condo and small space living in the last decade has meant that consumers are again looking for smaller, lighter furniture pieces.

Aesthetically, the chair embodies the mid-century tradition of leaving components and hardware in plain view.  Nothing is hidden by panels or upholstery.  There’s a transparency in that which people appreciate.

What is the history of the chair?

The Lounge Chair was designed by Russell while he was working as foreman at his family’s woodworking factory.  It’s believed that he used some of the jigs and parts of other industrial products to form the basic components for the Lounge Chair.  As an example, the frame for the seat shares the same proportions and joinery as the industrial battery boxes which the factory produced at the time.

Where are the reproductions produced?

We felt that because this chair was originally designed and produced in Toronto, it was important to carry on that legacy and produce the re-issue here as well.

Did you learn anything new about design and production from the process of putting the Spanner Chair back into production?


We realized once we began to dissect the original chair that there are some very sophisticated joinery details going on.  Everything must be manufactured perfectly in order for the design to work.

It works beautifully.

Purchase a Spanner Lounge Chair with Arms at Design Public

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Monday, August 25th, 2014

California Boho Goes Pro in this Santa Monica Office

Becky

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TV production developer Ashley Stern needed to set up a Los Angeles outpost for her Paris-based company —quickly and on a limited budget. The space her real estate agent and interior designer Veerta Motiani helped her choose had plenty of pluses. It was around the corner from Santa Monica’s Main Street, it had wonderful high ceilings and industrial style, the building was new with a gorgeous lobby and roof-deck ocean views, and the price was right.

However, the long narrow space posed some design challenges. It didn’t get a great amount of natural light, the ceilings were a little too high for human scale and she wasn’t allowed to paint the walls. On top of that, Stern needed the space to serve as her office, have room for a potential intern, include a conference table space and be set up to accommodate two of her French colleagues when they were in town on business.

photo by Alen Lin

The project began with Stern’s desk. “She was nervous about this idea, but I had to tell her to just trust me, we were going to use a dining room table instead of a desk to serve as the centerpiece of the room,” Motiani says. The rustic light pine table serves primarily as Stern’s desk but can also accommodate two of her French colleagues when they are in town. Because it’s open underneath, her co-workers or her intern, or both, can join her around the table to conference and to work on their laptops. Two comfortable modern chairs serve as their desk chairs when they are in town. Turned around, as you see here, they offer another place for Stern to have one-on-one meetings.

Motiani wanted the room to reflect Stern’s bohemian style and the relaxed coastal Santa Monica/Venice Beach vibe. The rug’s deep blue chevron pattern brings in ocean color, while a woven ottoman adds a beach grass feeling. The ottoman also functions as a side table for notepads and pens during meetings and as a casual extra seat.

photo by Alen Lin

Because the room was dark and they weren’t allowed to paint the walls, Motiani found a contemporary steel chandelier that fit in with all of the industrial elements on the ceiling. She also chose a white filing cabinet and accessories near the windows to reflect the light and keep things bright. Stern literally was brought up in a [converted] barn and loves horses, so Motiani chose a white horse ceramic piece to sit atop the filing cabinet. She brought in plants to play off the glimpses of tree branches outside.

To save on the budget, Motiani found a handful of pieces in Stern’s family storage unit. The tall lamps were among their things; Motiani knew their exaggerated height would help the design stand up to the extra-high ceilings.

photo by Alen Lin

Another way Stern’s family helped the decor in a major way was through the artwork. Stern’s grandfather is noted photographer Phil Stern. He allowed Motiani and his granddaughter to cull his archives and pick out exceptional pieces for the office.This photo of James Dean in the turtleneck is one of his best-known pieces.

The glass console table can serve as a landing spot for keys and bags, a credenza or as a separate desk for an intern. A sofa serves as a more casual space to work from, where Stern can relax and get her creative juices flowing or pow-wow with a colleague. The coffee table is an upside-down metal bucket from Stern’s family storage unit. Motiani chose it because of its beautiful green-gray color. The piece adds an interesting rusty and crusty patina to the room, suitable for this more relaxed seating area.

photo by Alen Lin

“This project was a challenge — I really had to hustle to keep within the budget,” Motiani says. “We were really lucky that her family had so much great stuff they weren’t using!”

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Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Danish Design Store Is Having a Sale

DesignPublic.com

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Pssst… our sister store, Danish Design Store, is having a sale:

If you’ve been eyeing a modern icon like Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair (they come in all sorts of fun colors in addition to various woods and finishes),

a PH Snowball Pendant by Louis Poulsen,

or perhaps a Finn Juhl Nyhavn Table with Tray Unit

… now is the time. The store has an amazing selection of Danish classics and new designs, so be sure to stop by. On top of the 15% off, there is also free shipping.*

The sale is only running from March 6 to March 18th 2014. Shopping pieces that grace so many of the world’s museum’s permanent collections is a big decision. Buying one is a decision you will never regret. Here’s what you do —  go browse, go to bed, sleep on it and dream about it in your home and imagine yourself using it. Then do the math — think about how much you’ll save and figure out if brown-bagging it for a month will make it affordable for you. When you wake up, your decision will be made.

By the way, Danish Design Store is curated in such a way that if  the piece you have your eye on isn’t already a sought-after icon, you can bet someday it will be, like the Panton Bachelor Chair, which looks like someone dreamed it up while playing with a paper clip and staring at a classic white window shade.

Shop the sale

*The sale excludes the following brands: PP Mobler, One Collection, Hay, Innovation, Menu, Glerups & Stelton

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Monday, September 16th, 2013

Touring the Old Fourth Ward

Becky

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Loft, bungalows, modern houses, the Beltline, new parks, Martin Luther King’s birthplace, fabulous restaurants, funky shops … they all come together in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, a historic area that’s becoming one of the city’s favorites. This Sunday a handful of residents opened their doors and let us into their homes for a Fall in the 4th Ward home tour and it was fantastic.

Our tour began at a former cotton warehouse in Studioplex. In the courtyard, you can see the old metal doors and structure of the second story, which has been opened up (it’s also open to the sky, so balconies that look out here are great bonus areas). Here we saw three very different ways people are living in these true lofts. One was a one-room full of amazing artwork and custom furniture, another had added a second story loft bedroom and rents the space out for events, the third was a wide-open artist’s live-work studio with 15 foot ceilings. Here’s a look at that one.

One of my favorite things about this space was that the owner had separated her bedroom with a clear glass wall and installed this stained glass window. On the other side is the media area complete with built-in shelves around the window.

The owner is also an architect, which explained how she designed this beautiful kitchen:

The cabinets were rough wood with stainless steel cabinets; the kitchen island has a beautiful patina. The open shelves were artfully arranged, and the pantry, complete with antique pie safe, was stunning:

A few blocks away we toured through this beautiful modern home by TaC Studios:

This home is Earthcraft certified and sustainable elements include a 500 gallon rain cistern. It’s located near the new Beltline East Side Trail and it’s scale respects the other homes in the neighborhood. While compact, the interiors are open and airy, and make it feel like a much larger house inside. Connections to the yard through doors to the dipping pool courtyard and the master bedroom balcony open the living space to the outdoors.

Finally, we came upon a once-derelict bungalow that had been rehabbed and sold by an architect neighbor. You know, when you see that a lot of architects are flocking to a particular neighborhood, it’s an early sign of transition. It’s amazing to see this neighborhood now compared to what it was like when I first toured the area about six years ago.

The lovely blue door was an indicator of what to expect inside. The architect made the most of the small 2-bedroom, 1-bath home, and the owner has an amazing eye for mixing eclectic pieces.

The living room opens into the kitchen, which also incorporates the dining table. Sorry my shots do not do the beautiful home justice.

Did you attend the tour? If so, which house was your favorite?

For more, check us out on Instagram!

Photos of the modern house courtesy of TaC Studios Architecture. All other photos by Becky Harris.

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Friday, May 17th, 2013

5 Ways With the Saarinen Dining Table

Becky

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We are so proud that we offer Saarinen Dining Tables from Knoll. They are a mid-century modern classic designed by Eero Saarinen to help “clear up the slum of legs,” both table and chair. Pedestal bases reduce the number of legs from four to one, and both the tables and chairs have come to be known more commonly as tulip tables and tulip chairs.

Available with marble, laminate, granite, wood veneers and more, the tables come in several sizes. The greatest thing about these tables is that they fit in everywhere, from serving as the main dining table in the center of an elegant dining room to a small kitchen table in a colorful eat-in kitchen. The table is a classic mid-century modern piece that does not go out of style.

A nod to Sputnik. This retro-inspired room by Kristen Grove is definitely mid-century modern inspired, but has a fresh look with its lovely floors and updated takes on .

Clean organic contemporary. Croma Design mixes pedestal and legs, marble and wood with a backdrop of grasscloth in this harmonious contemporary dining space.
A mix of old and new. A wide age-range of furnishings within traditional architecture creates quite the combination. The table fits nicely into a modest-sized corner, and in this case, plays off the curves of the classic Cherner chairs and Patricia Urquoila Caboche light. (via Remodelista, photograph by Photography Lisa Duncan and Wayne Miller)

Paired with its old friends, the Eames and Mr. Nelson. This room has a warm yet somewhat minimal vibe, combining several mid-century classics in including Eames chairs and a Nelson Ball Pendant Light. The sideboard, pewter pieces and artwork warm it up and infuse it with the owners’ personalities, thus keeping it from looking like a catalog shot. (via Plastolux, photograph by Chris Nguyen)

Partying it up with bentwood chairs. A Saarinen table paried with fanciful bentwood chairs makes for an yummy eat-in kitchen table, slum of legs be damned!

Shop all Saarinen tables

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