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Entries in old is new (8)

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.

Monday
Dec262011

redefined: the cuckoo clock

photo by: jeaneeem Since the 17th century, the Black Forest—including its flora, fauna and wood chalets— has become synonymous with cuckoo clocks.

True Black Forest clocks are hand-carved dark-stained pine, Linden or fir cabins with leafy accents and birds as chimes. More elaborate variations include colorfully painted scenes with hammering craftsmen, folk-costumed maidens, or Lederhosen-clad revelers—oftentimes chasing across the clock face.

Typically the clock keeps time by way of a weighted mechanism—usually pine cones on chains or a swinging pendulum—and announces the time with the call of a cuckoo bird as it pops out of hiding.

Artisan clock makers still create these timeless timepieces, but the modern cuckoo clock has been edited to its most compelling element—a whimsical bird on its perch that originally signaled the arrival of Spring.

Monday
Nov282011

redefined: the doily

photo by: jadis1958 In the 18th and 19th centuries, sofas and chairs were very often durably constructed using labor intensive 8-way hand-tied springs and upholstered in mohair or horse hair. To protect them from greasy hair pomades and hard to clean hard-working hands, intricate lace doilies were placed at the head and arm rests.

And wooden case goods were often heirloom pieces, either as part of a dowry to newlyweds or as an inheritance; so, often crocheted doilies protected their finishes from anything that was placed on them—such as buffet services and dinner plates or perfumes and hair brushes.

Today, eco-friendly FLOR doily tiles reflect our appreciation for the delicate handiwork that created the original pieces of lacework.

Monday
Nov142011

redefined: the credenza

photo by: roberto_venturiniSimilar to credence, or belief in Italian, in the Middle Ages credenza was the act of tasting or testing foods and wines so they could be served to a master—with assurance from a credible servant that they were safe to eat.

Later the term referred to the room for this tasting—probably between the kitchen and the dining room—and still later, to the furniture the food was placed on.

Originally waist-high for convenience, with storage cabinets to keep serving utensils and table linens, and often topped with a sheet of marble or a linen runner. Later, fine china and small treasures were protected behind glass doors of taller styles—going up as rooms were made smaller and less communal.

Since furniture has been commercially marketed, they’ve been included in dining room sets so all the pieces match—table, chairs and storage. Now synonymous with a buffet—where all food plates sit cafeteria-style on top of a sideboard, or credenza—this casual style of self-serving a large party versus formal table service for each guest, suits relaxed gatherings in modern, open-plan homes.

So just as formality has relaxed—an engraved invitation can be a simple evite or tweet—credenzas can be used for dining, media or office storage, and mixed with various woods or lacquer finishes.