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Entries in inspiration (14)

Saturday
Apr142012

inspiration: technology

Driving through the Gouzhu Mountain Range outside of Beijing, the juxtaposition of ancient and modern has never been so extreme—notice the solar powered street lights.

Built for protection and to control trade, the Great Wall of China—which can be seen atop the most distant mountain range—spans east-west about 5,500 miles starting around the 7th century BC making it one of the oldest man-made wonders of the world.

We’ve never been so aware of what can be done with raw materials—basically all of which come from the Earth. And we’re reminded that so many products, although aided by machines, are still man-made using similar materials—clay for porcelain plates, sand for glass, wood for furniture, oil for plastics.

We’re simply awed—attempting to post from a laptop via a wi-i cell phone hotspot—and wish we had better reception and more time to explore here. But we’re staying on the road…to Milan!

Thursday
Apr122012

inspiration: fundamentals

Nihao!

Our flight’s delayed so as we use the latest technology to post this—wi-fi via a mobile—images seen earlier in the day teach us that some things will never change. That what we consider fundamental tools are not only essential by definition—they can make for a ‘heavy’ luggage tag—and some of them are ancient ceremonies and methods which are still relevant in these very modern times.

For example, on our way to the factory that produces oliver plates, we’re reminded that white porcelain is fundamental to dining—that joyful things will always make us smile, that beauty in nature can be found anywhere and everywhere, and that maintaining one’s sense of humor is a must while traveling.

Monday
Jan302012

redefined: the club chair

photo by: lacasavictoria The club armchair first appeared at the start of the 20th century but as the Art Deco movement flourished in France in the 30s, so did a new type of comfortable armchair or ‘fauteuil confortable’.

Built to last, they were typically benchmade—constructed by one experienced craftsman at their own bench/station instead of on an assembly line—with 8-way hand-tied coil springs supporting the seat and backrest, and they were covered only in dark caramel leather.

Pre-Depression Gentlemen’s Clubs flourished as wealth increased and the chairs gained popularity—giving craftsmen and designers ample opportunity to make unique versions by altering or adding details in their own style.

As time went on, dozens of different shapes appeared. Some remain favorites, such as the “moustache” and the “gendarme’s hat”—named after the shape of the backrest—but the rounded shape is the club armchair’s most iconic silhouette of all.

CB2’s club piping chair reverts to the core philosophical elements such as being well made, and comfortable with a good pitch and solid armrests for long e-reads—but covered in a cool fabric with hot piping for maximum contrast.

Monday
Jan162012

redefined: the valet

photo by: H is for Home Originally from the French ‘embouteilleur’, or bottler, a butler was simply trusted to serve drinks to his master—which in Medieval times might have meant ensuring the wine wasn’t poisoned. Later the position became much more prestigious as head of the household staff—he managed the male servants while a housekeeper managed the female maids—
and he was often in charge of the wine cellar.

As far back as the 1500s, a valet was a gentleman’s gentleman, or a man’s servant who reported to the butler. The valet maintained a gentleman’s wardrobe, helped him get dressed, packed his steamer trunk—whatever he required to maintain his position in society.

In smaller households, a butler performed some of these duties—which may be how the terms became interchangeable.

Today’s valet is most often an attendant who parks a car. But a clothes valet still refers to a piece of small furniture that manages a wardrobe since it’s equipped with a hanger for a suit jacket, pants, tie, belt, a drawer or shelf for cuff links, wallet, rings—even a shoe rest.

When the norm was a large household headed by a butler with a valet on staff, a gentleman’s wardrobe typically consisted of bespoke suits, heavily starched collars and precious pocket watches. Today, the trine bench-valet speaks to our more casual times—with an arm to hang a shirt or jacket so it won’t get wrinkled, and a seat to comfortably slip on a pair of Toms.

Thursday
Jan052012

redefined: the wardrobe

photo by: One lucky guyAs nomads became settlers and built structures to live in for extended periods of time, they were basic—a floor, a roof, and four walls—and local woods or stones were the only construction materials available.

Over time, these simple structures got more complicated as separate rooms were devised for various uses—a common room for living, a kitchen with a chimney for cooking, and smaller rooms fit a bed for sleeping. Much later and smaller still, water closets for toilets and baths.

Less migratory, longer term storage solutions were needed for possessions acquired. Yet instead of closets—the tiniest of rooms within rooms—small multi-purpose furniture pieces were popular, and still movable.

From the Latin ‘armare’ to arm, and ‘armarium’ a chest or safe for arms—originally armoires were box-like chests with flip-top lids. At some point, they were turned on their sides and lids became doors which were quite large as they completely covered the box of the cabinet.

In the Middle Ages, French and English Royalty intermarried so naturally they shared their lifestyles—which might explain why ‘armoire’ and ‘wardrobe’ are interchangeable. Originally ‘guards of the robes’, wardrobes preserved and protected household textiles and clothes as more of each were required for various duties and events—and once more wealth was had to purchase them.

As migration from the countryside to large cities occurred during the Industrial Revolution, ingenious methods of construction were developed so that wardrobes could be taken apart and re-assembled in small Victorian bedrooms once gotten through narrow doorways—perhaps the earliest of ready-to-assemble (RTA) or knock-down (KD) furniture.

Ironically, just as plain box-like chests were multi-purpose hundreds of years ago, the same applies to the a symmetric closet which can be used for home office supplies, craft storage—or a hall closet.