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Tuesday
Mar302010

material world: terracotta

Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, 210BCDirectly translated, terracotta is baked earth. A material that’s literally as old as the hills, its been used for centuries to make everything from simple pottery to over 8000 soldiers which form the Terracotta Army. Between those two extremes—a vast array of building bricks, roof shingles, and cladding on steel supported skyscrapers.

After the Chicago fire of 1871, the need to rebuild the city allowed it to become a lab for technological advances in architecture at the same time steel became more readily available for building construction. The modern sky- scraper was born and clad in decorative glazed and unglazed terracotta. Hence the architect Louis Sullivan’s coined phrase, “form ever follows function”.

photo courtesy of flickr/yeowatzupPreviously it had been used in the building and decoration of the Forbidden City in the 1400s and plaques in Mesopotamia around 1950BC. Whether baked in the sun or high fired in a kiln, often terracotta is unglazed and textural. Its porosity makes it perfect for potted plants since it can absorb and hold water like a sponge, then feed them naturally over time.

For vernazza, terracotta is molded into a sleek modern dinnerware profile void of all ornamentation. The beauty of the design is in the detail of the proportions and the stark contrast between the warm unglazed terracotta body and the glazed soft-gray center.

And just as durable terracotta pottery survived thousands of years—dating as far back as 3000-1500BC—vernazza easily goes from the refrigerator to the oven or microwave. So yes, its safe in the dishwasher.

Thursday
Mar252010

designer profile: mark daniel of slate design

What are your sources of inspiration?
Travel, music, architecture, caffeine.

Who are your design icons?
Le Corbusier, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Hans Wegner.

What are your interests outside of design?
Cars, motorcycles, woodworking, video games.

What do you drive?
An old BMW.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
My 1973 BMW R75/5 motorcycle. I’ve spent the winter restoring it and am counting the days until I can start riding it!

Where was your favorite place to live?
Definitely Paris. I got to spend my senior year of college there. It completely opened up my world view of art, architecture and design.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
I’m a huge reader so it would have to be a library—which is currently in transition from the kids’ playroom. I have plans drawn up for built-in bookcases, a fireplace, and my Eames lounge.

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
This isn’t a very original answer but I have to say the iPhone. Not only does it revolutionize how I work, play and communicate, but it comes in a beautifully designed package. Really the ultimate fusion of form and function.

Form vs. function?
Function first, form is a result or an expression of the function. If it doesn’t work, it’s not good design.

Your personal decorating style is ___?
I’m very anti-clutter, so my house and studio spaces reflect the “less is more” school of thought.

What one item do you wish you owned?
I’ve always wanted a Arne Jacobsen Swan chair.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Photographs, lots of photographs. Photos of your family, places you travel, things that inspire you make your space personal and meaningful.

To see all of Mark Daniel’s current designs for CB2, go here.

Wednesday
Mar242010

creating wall“paper”

We’re planning our next trip to Milan and remembered how much we loved Richard Ginori’s collaboration with Paola Navone, designer of The Taste Lounge, shown lower right.

While they used hundreds of various patterned china plates to achieve the mosaic, Andy Warhol’s cow appetizer plates can do the trick.

Start with a clean wall and map out the space with a level, a ruler and pencil.

Check your local hardware store for 3M’s Command Strips to mount the plates without nails or hooks—use the Velcro version if you’d like the option of changing the color pattern.

Tuesday
Mar232010

vertical garden how-to

On the cover of our summer catalog, we created a vertical garden using maze wall hangings. This is a great way to add greenery to small outdoor spaces, or as living wall art for outdoor entertaining areas.

Succulents work well for this type of gardening because they need very little water and have slow, shallow roots which help to extend their life in the wall. They also come in an extensive array of colors and textures.

Other tropicals and ferns can also work well if they require comparable care—air plants* can be interspersed too—together the mix will enhance the overall texture.

Supplies:
1. Maze wall hanging(s) and mounting hardware appropriate for the wall.

2. Check local gardening centers for potted succulents, air plants and sheet moss. Tip: remember to take into consideration the location’s exposure to sunlight when choosing plants.

3. Succulent or cactus mix soil, gardening scissors, and plastic coated floral wire—which must be plastic coated so it doesn’t rust. Most home supply stores stock charcoal fiberglass screen material.

Directions:
1. Cut a round piece of the fiberglass screen. For a small succulent as shown, 10” across should be adequate. *Air plants can be included as desired and do not require soil or moss so skip to step 5 for these varieties.

2. Place a small amount of the sheet moss in the center of the screen and spread a thin layer of the succulent/cactus mix soil on top.

3. Take the succulent out of its pot, remove loose potting soil and save it for other gardening projects, and place it so the roots are in the center of the screen.

4. Wrap the roots and moss with the fiberglass screen to make a nice bundle up to the neck of the succulent and secure the bundle by tying it with the floral wire.

5. Place plants in their desired positions and secure with additional floral wire.



Care:
During warmer months, water thoroughly then let the soil go dry before re-watering. Succulents store water in their stems and leaves and can tolerate periods of dryness without harm.

During cooler months, water less frequently and less deeply. When a sunny day is expected, water in the morning so any excess will evaporate in the sunlight.

Thanks to curtis, catalog art director, for this submission.

Wednesday
Mar172010

artist profile: parvez taj

What are your sources of inspiration?
Human expression.

Form or function?
Both

What is your signature?
Stan Smith tennis shoes with the green back.

What is your personal decorating style?
Reclaimed rustic infused with modern.

Do you have a favorite possession?
My computer is the most important.

What one item do you wish you owned?
A house.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
I have the most fun in my bedroom—but I can’t say I have a favorite room.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Use nails and string to make interesting patterns on a wall or ceiling. I once covered a 1000 sq ft popcorn ceiling for $100.—and it looked cool.

Where was your favorite place to live?
I lived in Goa, India with a big group of friends for over 6 months. We lived in an old Portuguese mansion on the beach and watched the sun set everyday.

Favorite artist? Designer?
I define an artist as someone who’s expressing their sense of self—regardless of the medium. So belief in the individuals’ human spirit is the only common tread between my favorites.

My favorite artist is always changing but right now it’s Lil Wayne. I think his music is exceptional and I believe in him.

What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Richard Branson’s biography is full of great advice.