Friday, March 30, 2012


The design industries are almost as narcasistic as the people in the motion picture field. We are always patting each other on the back and giving out more awards than do for "Toddlers and Tiaras". I find it hard to figure out how one console beats out a demilune in the eyes of the professional judges. I frequently disagree with what wins at these design competitions, not to mention the little brats who run away with the tiaras and the trophies twice their size, or even the ability to discern how one goes about judging a show when there are so many different apples, oranges and exotic fruits to pick from. The categories for judging may try to narrow down the fields but grouping all furniture or all accessory items as a group doesn't always make for an equitable playing field. Trying to award the top furniture designer when the field of possibilities includes bistro chair makers, concrete slab coffee tables and deconstructed sofas doesn't always allow me to see a clear winner but this year, I have to admit, they could have put me on the jury and the selections would have been the same.
Robert A. M. Stern's venture into residential furniture produced a handful of pieces exquisitely crafted and beautifully designed. Every detail on every piece held the prefect proportion and correct detail. They smartly limited their offerings to a few pieces, not willing to extend their line until each piece meet with an extremely high production standard not always found in new introductions. There was no embarrassment in exposing their booth's minimalism.
Their bar was set so high that only a few pieces met their expectations and that's what was shown. They are working on additional pieces to the line but are only willing to introduce them after the piece has passed their very critical eye. This did not go unnoticed by the judges.
Now not because Dan is a good friend but the judges got this one right as well. Daniel Levy's porcelain lamps and tabletop dinnerware were exquisite even in comparison to all the beautiful glass and ironwork that he was competing against. Dan has focused his marketing toward high-end designers and architects who supply a full service approach for their clients.
He has developed a standard line of products but most of his commissions are custom-made with intricate glazes matched to the customer's own palette and desire. There is a minimalism of design with a Zen-like beauty to his work. It all matches his personality; the subtleness and restraint of his work are a duplication of his voice and manner. He so deserved the accolades the judges gave him.

I was totally fascinated with texture and surface as I strolled the aisles of Pier 94 at the Architectural Digest Show. I wanted to touch everything starting with the offerings from Wud Furniture Design out of Brooklyn. The "U" in wud has an umlaut over it but my search for the elusive umlaut on my keyboard ended with only a sigh and a few graphic curse words. I think the pronunciation of their company name is equivalent to my less sophisticated "wood" with a slightly extended puckering of the lips to give it that Germanic thrust.
The "wudites" have developed a way of creating a patina on metal and then freezing the results in a layer of resin. It's the furniture makers equivalent of a gemologist discovering bugs encased in amber. Amber may take centuries to form but the Wud technique is readily available within weeks. Their process takes the form of steel, brass, bronze, almost any metal and entombs it in resin which they then use to form exquisite furniture and countertops. The resin has a very smooth feel. It's impervious to stain and can take a real beating.
The cool touch of concrete was material that almost reached the point of over-exposure but here concrete was taken to place I hadn't seen before. This vendor poured his concrete into slabs, stained the concrete and then scratched into the stained areas to create a contrasting rough texture to the smoothness of the polished outer rim. The result is a surface so smooth you could skate on it where it's been left unstained and etched, and the etched areas are the places where the Zamboni has yet to go leaving a field of skater's blade marks.
In an attempt at making concrete defy its weight Erwin Hauer has mixed it with a portion of plaster and turned it into lace. White lace walls with the muscle to work as a supporting partition wall when necessary with a three-dimensionality that is magical. The pieces are made in modular units that are fussed together to make these beautiful honey-combed walls.
The amazing array of patterns is enhanced by the beauty of the patterns made when you addmlight and shadow to the mixture.

I have always contended that good design doesn't depend on money, at least not money alone.   I've spent a career matching "the proverbial Gap T-shirts with Armani suits "or the decorating equivalent to that fashion trick employed by many even the ever stylish Sharon Stone in order to create beautiful spaces while trying to stay on budget.  The trick here is to watch the quality quotient.  Finish is usually the first give-away of a poor quality item.  Wood should look like wood, stone should look like stone, and you get the idea. These days construction doesn't have to be flimsy to make something for a lesser price and veneers are used throughout the industry whether high or low.  Just pay attention to how they are cut, glued up and used.  MDF is not a four-letter word but particleboard is.  Structure is important.  Chairs, sofas and benches should support people of substantial size and tables should never wobble. This week's homage to the tabletop version of European football requires a great deal of cardio to help avoid the repercussions of sticker shock from high-end adult toys

The Crystal Foosball Table
By the Teckell Company
Available at the Cyrus Company, NYC

The All-Weather Foosball Table
By Design Within Reach

We're having a heat wave and its hit Manhattan. The crowds have packed the newly patterned streets of the Saturday Farmers Market in Union Square. A spring heat has brought out the shorts and short sleeves.
Apple blossoms have bloomed, the hens are laying colored eggs and daffodils can be found sprouting out all over.
Lets hope the weather holds and the bounty continues to fill the market. Enjoy the mild weather. The heat of summer may be just around the corner

Parc de Sceaux, France, 2007
Lynn Geesaman, Photographer
Represented by Jackson Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta

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