Friday, March 23, 2012


There's always an abundance of price points when it comes to consumer goods. You can pay less than ten dollars on a table lamp at Ikea or pay several thousand dollars for a custom-made lamp from a Beverly Hills designer. The term starchitect is wildly popular in urban areas where the name of Giorgio Armani or Frank Gehry can increase the price of a condo by a huge percentage.
Money is a big factor in any business but few industries are able to actually use money as the literal material for their creations. There are some furniture and product designers who are trying to turn some hard cold cash into their actual art. The most famous designer of money-based furniture would have to be Johnny Swing.
Google his name and hit the images button. His work transcends seating and takes on the mantle of sculpture. A couch made of 15,000 nickels and 35,000 welds undulates in soft curves like a Henry Moore sculpture. If Johnny ever made a sectional he'd have to hire a Brinks truck to keep thieves from running off with all that loot he substitutes for Dacron and birch. His ingenuity with his choice of materials is amazing but his worth as an artist far surpasses the value of all those coins.
Johnny has also designed a more attainable line of money based little moneymakers. Paper money inspired pillows and children's toys including this "must have" piggy-bank are some of his creations more likely to pay the bills.
One of last year's big movie moneymakers was "War Horse". Rachael Denny has taken the moneymaker part and created her own version of "War Horse" with an equestrian head made from flattened pennies.
Now that most money takes the form of plastic, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" costume designer, Lizzy Gardiner, designed a gown made of expired American Express gold cards for her trip down the red carpet at the 1995 Oscars. It is exquisite when standing but I keep wondering if she was ever able to sit tied in by all those cards.
All these designers were able to put money where the mouth was and create fashion, furniture and fun out of what some of us like to horde and others like to spend. Money makes the world go round.

Black and white stripes is a look you can get without having to commit a crime. Stripes have been a design motif popular with almost every design period ever created. I'm sure if you went back to look at a Neanderthal family cave you'd see stripes somewhere in their design aesthetic. It's a bold statement. There's not much more you can do in the realm of contrast besides pairing up black and white.
These stripes work a room the exact same way they work on your body. Make them run up and down and the space is going to look taller. It'll draw your eye up and make a low squat room look elongated. In fashion, wear your stripes vertically and it can shed ten pounds without having spent twenty minutes sweating out over a P90X DVD program.
Wear your stripes horizontally and you've created vastness where vastness may have never been before. Bathrooms are rarely the largest room in a home but adding a series of meticulously painted horizontal stripes to the walls makes this tiny space seem larger than it is.
The size of stripes can vary from the heavy kind that add structure to this wall increasing its visual load bearing capacity to the finer stripes shown here on a rug.
Try to image this room without the addition of those stripes. The winter scene from outside would have blown in and taken with it the beauty of this perfect scene.
At first glance the stripes in this entry can seem like a dizzying piece of Op Art but there's a Vasarely like quality here where the repetition of stripes circling the room from floor to wall to ceiling and back to wall creates a new dimension that propels you into the space with the kind of excitement you feel on the downward path of a rollercoaster ride.
We've even gotten into the act of using stripes and in an entryway as well. I'm stretching the black and white theme here to include our silver metallic horizontal stripes. I'm also breaking the stripe symmetry look and adding a bit of asymmetry to the way we applied our stripes. What you can't do with a level, a measuring stick and a roll of blue painters tape.
There's no subtlety in the use of stripes on this penthouse balcony. It boarders on ungapatchka but its traditional style and avoidance of fuchsia or canary yellow leave it with a certain elegance and accessibility.
But there are times when stripes lead a more accessorizing role in the d├ęcor of a room. Sometimes it's just enough to add that one bold element to take a room from bland to dynamic without keeping you up all night. The striped bench at the foot of this bed only enhances the restful nature of this bedroom. Its occupants have nothing to worry about or distractions fighting to keep them awake at night by the addition of these bold but controlled stripes.


My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn, 1963
Cecil Beaton, Photographer
Cecil Beaton Archive at Sothebys

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