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Wednesday
Jul142010

material world: acrylic

Formulated in the mid-1800’s, acrylic has evoked modernity since it was first commercially developed in the early 1900’s.

Scientifically, clear acrylic is a generic term for PMMA—synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate; while Lucite®—MMA—is trademarked. The key difference is at the chemical, base level and is apparent in how both are best used. Acrylic is usually formed into sheets while Lucite® is typically hand-cast, almost crystal clear, often deliberately made with inclusions.

Swatch store door handle, Milanphoto by: ellenm1In the 20’s and 30’s, new materials and technologies were exploited and stream- lined Art Deco designs were the perfect form as modern- ism exploded on the scene.

First marketed in 1936, it’s been used in many places for many items—but none more than replacing glass for safety reasons.

Having few reactions with human tissue, specifically in and around the eyes, splinters from acrylic sheets were far less harmful if impacted. This realization opened the door to over-sized sheeting for public aquariums and guards around ice hockey rinks—not to mention contact lenses and safer shields for helmets and airplanes. Remember the war-time montage from It’s a Wonderful Life when “Sam Wainwright made a fortune in plastic hoods for planes.”?

photo by: pablo sanchezphoto by: karen horten


The terms acrylic, Lucite®, plexi-glass, are often used interchangeably with clear resin recently added to the group as technology evolves.

Starting around 1957-75—around the time of the space race and disco days—‘ultra-modern’ goods were revived and further developed as home furnishings. In the past few years, acrylic and Lucite® have gained favor in women’s fashions—especially in shoe heels this year.

Besides chrome, few materials have an undeniable and unmistakable air of modernity as acrylic. Its streamlined nature is perfectly married to sleek profiles—which open the imagination to multi-uses in a variety of spaces.

For small spaces, acrylic peekaboo and format collections are must-haves with their nominal visual weight—not to mention a “goes anywhere, goes with anything” attitude.

Tuesday
Jul132010

one of a finds: wagon wheel mirror

Rustic animal-drawn wagons, often up to 20’ in length, are still a common sight in India transporting people, goods and agricultural produce throughout the country—the only modernization being the change to more durable and shock-absorbing rubber tires.

Discovered in Gujarat—the westernmost state of India and a trading center since ancient times—each of these unique hardwood wheels has a history dating back to the 1930s.

Finding beauty even in the utilitarian, each worn and weathered wheel shows evidence of hand-carved concentric designs and skilled woodworking joinery piecing six sections in the round.

Over the decades, this repurposed wagon wheel mirror has traveled many miles over the rough Indian terrain to reach its final destination. Each is fit with a new polished mirror, reflecting on journeys past and the invention (and re-invention) of the wheel.

Monday
Jul122010

in multiples: bins and boards

When organizing media—either for business or pleasure—it’s most helpful to keep them organized by categories. Multiple storage bins, boards or racks, keep resources within reach but easy to find.

Friday
Jul092010

our neighborhoods: weho

Before CB2, the previous tenant of 8000 w. Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood was a popular Virgin Megastore—but its most famous was the legendary Schwab’s Pharmacy a few doors down at 8024.

photo courtesy of the_toe_stubberIn the movie “Sunset Boulevard”, William Holden’s character refers to Schwab’s as “headquarters—a combination office, coffee klatch, and waiting room” for Hollywood. 

For over fifty years, from 1932 until 1983, Hollywood’s most famous stopped by once or twice, during low and high times: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Winters, Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Sylvester Stallone, Goldie Hawn, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton…

Schwab’s was the hangout for anyone in the business. Legends—and rumors about them—got started here. Lana Turner was discovered at the counter. F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack buying a pack of cigarettes. Songwriter Harold Arlin wrote “Over the Rainbow” by the light of the neon sign. Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd played pinball in the back room.

photo courtesy of onefish2Farther west on the boulevard, at the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights, was the The Garden of Allah.

In 1928, silent screen star Alla Nazimova developed the land surrounding her mansion into the legendary private bungalows.

Silver screen stars who visited regularly included Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, W.C. Fields, Humphrey Bogart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Marx Brothers, and Orson Welles.

It’s rumored that Tallulah Bankhead swam naked in the swimming pool and Marilyn Monroe was discovered sipping a Coke beside the same pool. Alas, as Joni Mitchell sang, they “paved paradise, put up a parking lot” when it was demolished in 1959 and replaced with a strip mall.

Who knows, maybe someday you’ll hear someone say they saw _____ at Crunch Gym, Trader Joe’s or CB2!

Thanks to todd, store designer west hollywood, for this contribution—and for the concept of the series.

Wednesday
Jul072010

paint colors: fall catalog 2010

For Fall 2010, we took a much different approach to how we used color in catalog photography. Our goal was to let the bold colors speak for themselves and create environments where they could pop.

About half of the book was shot on location where you’ll see textural brick walls, amazing single paned windows and subway tiles in a living room!

Another 20% of the photography was shot against Benjamin Moore’s “stone harbor”, BM 2111-50, which set the a dramatic mood for these living rooms.

For these bedroom shots, we used a soothing, lighter grey—“heaven” BM 2118-70.

Lower left: By using “yellow finch”, BM 2024-40, the odyssey dining table and hyde wall cabinets blended with the environment which created the perfect contrast for the blackened thor chairs to pop.

Lower right: Lastly, we used “universal black”, BM 2118-10, since the darkest shades create contrast and enhance colors that are near or against it. This is why the wood grain of the vice high dining table stands out—not to mention the red engine barstools.