We welcome our friend and guest blogger, Charu Gureja. “I’m an interior designer, passionate about interior spaces, architecture, furniture, lighting and art. Generally speaking, I enjoy anything and everything related to art and design! Growing up in countries like Egypt, Japan, Sri Lanka, India and Singapore, I’ve come to appreciate a wide variety of design principles.” Pocket Full of Design . Charu brings to us her global point of view and her specific interest in modern lighting.
Like other elements of Mid-century Modern design, lighting fulfills both the aesthetic and functional needs of a space while eliminating the need for extraneous decoration. The fixtures have simple yet sculptural forms, which make them versatile enough to fit into spaces of any style, be it traditional, industrial, eclectic or contemporary.
Through the following examples I hope to inspire you to create your own unique look using Mid-century Modern lighting. The Paradigm Gallery website and blog are a great resource in terms of inspiration and products to help you along and I’m thankful to them for inviting me to share my thoughts here!
“Instinctively I was drawn to the beauty of things coarse and unrefined; things rich in raw texture and rough tactility. Often these things are reactive to the effects of weathering and human treatment.
And lastly, I was attracted to the beauty of things simple, but not ostentatiously austere. Things clean and unencumbered, but not sterilized. Materiality, pared down to essence, with the poetry intact.” Leonard Koren http://bit.ly/1dtfdzh
thursday’s child: wabi sabi
wabi sabi is flea market finds, not michigan ave purchases. it celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. it reminds us that we are all transient beings, that our bodies as well as the material world around us are fleeting. through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace wrinkles and rust, grey hairs and frayed edges and the march of time they represent. it’s a fragmentary glimpse of the part, not the whole, the journey not the destination.
Wabi means things that are fresh and simple. It denotes simplicity and quietude, and also incorporates rustic beauty. It includes both that which is made by nature, and that which is made by man. It also can mean an accidental or happenstance element (or perhaps even a small flaw) which gives elegance and uniqueness to the whole, such as the pattern made by a flowing glaze on a ceramic object.
Sabi means things whose beauty stems from age. It refers to the patina of age, and the concept that changes due to use may make an object more beautiful and valuable. This also incorporates an appreciation of the cycles of life, as well as careful, artful mending of damage.
– “The Classic Tradition In Japanese Architecture: Modern Versions Of The Sukiya Style”, Teiji Itoh, Yukio Futagawa
“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional. … The closest English word to wabi-sabi is probably “rustic”. … Things wabi-sabi are unstudied and inevitable looking. .. unpretentious. .. Their craftsmanship may be impossible to discern. “
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Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to “mix it up” when decorating a space. An eclectic approach, or mixing it up refers to combining seemingly disparate styles of furniture and accessories. That could include: an industrial coffee table, a Scandinavian style sofa, a mid century classic lounge chair, a vintage lighting fixture, perhaps an antique gilded mirror or Victorian footstool. The point is, there are many styles that play well together. Ultimately, success is achieved by blending and balancing the elements in a way that each distinct piece is an important part of the whole, a composition of varying personalities if you will. I have always approached decorating with the philosophy that I need to have a connection to the things that I live with. The item needs to be beautiful to me, not just a functional piece. I don’t adhere to a singular era or style.
Having said all of this, I will now add some of the fine tuning details for creating your signature environment. Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the quote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” As I have developed and honed my philosophy on decor, it has gradually grown into a simpatico with the Miesian theory of “less is more”. I need my spaces to breathe and allow for the individual elements to shine and be seen. If you overcrowd a room with furniture or accessories it creates a heavier space with a cluttered vibe and the individual beauty of each item gets lost in the confusion. Nothing weighs a room down more quickly then loading every flat surface with “things”. Someone visiting my home once said, “in every direction I turn there is a thoughtful, creative, view”, and he was not speaking about gazing through the windows.
The last few things to consider are the horizontal and vertical spaces, or simply said, the walls, floor, and ceiling. They have the potential to help create your room palette, add texture, and either calm or invigorate the energy. You can stay monochromatic in the decor or not, and use large art for color, multiple photos, posters, collections of tarnished silver trays or mirrors, whatever works for you. The most important thing to remember is to always edit your work. Keep in mind that it is a dynamic expression of you. It is changeable and adaptable to change. Think of the room as a visual expression of your autobiography.
There are many integral factors that should be considered when making key decisions about Mid-Century Modern designs. Color, size, shape, “feel”, and price should all be appropriately weighed in the mind of the consumer, but this quick story from the education of a well-known Harvard trained architect illustrates that there will always be unanticipated variables. As a side-note, the teacher discussed below is the famous Walter Gropius, who is regarded as a pioneering master of modern architecture.
“My mentor was Gropius, whose ideas were comparable to those of Mies van der Rohe. It’s rather sad, but after all my time at the feet of the master, the first thing that comes to mind after all these years is that silly conversation about the entrance stair to one of my building designs.”
“I designed free ‘floating’ concrete entrance stairs with steel reinforcing bars and an open area underneath. I thought it was quite sculptural and added to the overall lightness of the approach. When Gropius came for his critique he pulled at his eyebrow and contemplated my efforts for what seemed like an eternity. He then stated these immortal words which have been seared into my memory in his Germanic accented voice: ‘Roy do not do ‘dis – dogs will get under there and fornicate!’”
“These were hardly the words expected from a guy who to me was a near deity, but I have cherished them ever since. As far as I know, no dogs have ever had illicit carnal affairs under one of my structures.”
This is the first part of several amusing anecdotes that we are gathering directly from the memories of key figures in the colorful history of modern design. Please check back soon for another quirky true story.
The problem with small spaces is the unique design challenges they pose. It’s tough to incorporate all your ideas, all your furniture, and still retain space. With small spaces, it often comes down to sacrifice. Here are some tips on how to reduce your sacrifice, incorporate your ideas, and keep the space uncluttered.
1. Be a Magician: Give low ceilings the illusion of height with furniture that’s low the ground. Also, keep ceilings white where possible to open it up.
2. See Through: Clear glass furniture helps to pass light to the space without creating the appearance of clutter. Find coffee tables, end tables, and even plastic see through chairs that allow light.
3. Select Calm Colors: Calm and light colors evoke a sense of tranquility and serenity. In addition, these colors open up a space. Paint walls in one calm color, with ceilings in white to maximize brightness. You could also paint two or three of the walls in a light, calm color, the 4th wall being in a darker tone.
4. Use Mirrors: When we suggest using mirrors, we’re not talking about walls of mirrors. Rather, subtly placed mirrors, perhaps a mirror on the floor leaning against the wall. Don’t go overboard. Use just enough reflective surfaces to extend the space and create a more open environment. Play around with it. Try placing interesting objects and accessories in front of a mirror to create unique effects.
5. Find Your Inner Minimalist: Accessories are great by adding color and life into a space, but don’t go crazy. If it isn’t essential, get rid of it. Too many accessories create clutter and eye sores.
6. The Shag: If you’re in a space with plenty of concrete, hard wood, or tile, then you need to grasp the importance of rugs to create the appearance of space, as well as to accessorize. Contemporary and modern rugs usually come in abstract shapes and colors and can become the key focal point of a room. This will eliminate the need to accessorize more, creating less clutter, and opening your space.
7. Cultivate the Space You Have: Create unobstructed views where possible in your rooms. When furniture or other objects impede the eye’s natural sight into a room, spaces seem smaller. Small furniture pieces like chaises, ottomans, and benches ensure that spaces don’t appear cluttered. Find unique arrangements that leave much of your space open.
8. Watch your Windows: No outlandish curtains with dark colors that make a room feel stuffy. Let the natural light permeate. If you need shades, choose soft, subtle tones.
9. Find Right Compartment: Storage devices don’t need to be boring and ugly. There are a variety of contemporary storage baskets, racks, and more that will help you get organized with style.
10. Watch Your Head: In a small bedroom, a queen or king size bed will quickly fill up a room. So when choosing a bed, pick wisely. If you can find a bed low to the ground that suits your style, then go for it. Also, be careful of your headboard. Nothing too ornate taking up much of a wall.
11. Skin the Patterns: At Paradigm Gallery, you won’t find furniture pieces with patterns and for good reason. Patterned upholstery creates distraction and usually robs visual space. If you really need leopard print, then pick one furniture piece or room to go crazy with. Be mindful of themes.
12. Small Space + Big Furniture = Lack of Space: Choose pieces with smooth lines that provide functionality for people using it. If you never entertain, what’s the point of huge overstuffed couches? Make sure the furniture fits your lifestyle and you don’t have to conform to the furniture
Modern furniture is a brave new endeavor focused on renewing expectations for the everyday home. Gone are the days of generational furniture and legacy design expectations. Instead, today’s homeowners can expect the same quality of design that defines and creates the exterior of their home. Ultimately, we can extend this expertise into the interior of every home. Modern furniture is more than a contemporary trend, it is a stylistic revolution.
Modern architects, like modern furniture designers, harness an absolute mastery of their surroundings. With space and balance, time and aesthetics in mind, they incorporate both original ideas and tried, true practicalities into a building’s overall design. Masters of their craft, a skilled architect can make the transition from the exterior to the interior, the seen to the unseen.
The work and creativity of modern architects and modern furniture designers run parallel in our ever expanding cultural register, but they have significantly different life spans. While a well-designed and well-preserved building may house families, businesses, and a myriad of occupants for centuries, furniture of past design quickly becomes obsolete, showing signs of aging and use prematurely. Modern furniture seeks to correct this flaw. With the art of modern furniture design, the interior and the exterior of any building are seamlessly tied together. Modern furniture becomes a physical manifestation of the needs of the dweller.
An architect not only builds for the love of building, but for the desired design of the homeowner. The same concept holds true for modern furniture. Modern furniture is implemented as an extension of the inhabitants of a home. Every piece of furniture serves a purpose, oftentimes more than one. Each table, lighting fixture, and chair holds an individual resolution that is unique.
A proper collection of modern furniture can never truly be duplicated when one takes into consideration the balancing of exterior and interior, yin and yang. When purchasing modern furniture, you are purchasing not processed wood and metal products, but fulfilling a drive to find your specific design. Modern furniture ensures that your home is unique to your individual space, style, and passions. Each sofa set, table, and piece of lighting serves the overall aesthetics of a homeowner or business. In serving each unique home, design, and inhabitant, each piece of modern furniture can be expected to fill the design needs of any discerning taste.
When furnishing a home around your individual needs, desires, and dreams, choose modern furniture. Extend your creativity to the interior spaces you will reside in. You deserve it.
As things around the U.S. and the world change economically, we’ve gotten more and more calls asking about advice to maximize the space of a room. This could be due to people downsizing to smaller places, crashing together, etc, but there are definitely unique challenges that arise when working with a smaller space.
So, because you wanted it, here are some tips to consider when designing your small spaces:
Don’t Follow Formulas – there is no special recipe to succeed at small space design. Forget what you thought you knew, just break rules, and challenge yourself.
Discover What Your Room Needs – get to the essentials. What do you really need?
Keep Floors Open – nothing sucks up an open environment more than a floor filled piece of furniture.
Light Colored Walls – yes, you’ve probably heard it before, but it’s the truth.
Get Some Mirrors – not overdone, just enough. One medium sized one or a collection of smaller. Don’t overdo it.
Expandable Dining Tables – we have plenty of modern dining tables that expand, check them out in our dining room section.
Clear Glass + Simple Frames – this includes clear furniture items, especially useful for coffee tables like the Noguchi Coffee Table with sleek frame, clear glass.
Design For You – not in the event of having guests, etc. Design for your everyday use.
First Settings Aren’t It – it will take you a couple of edits to find what works for you. And, that’s ok.
Think Vertical – work with your space in both directions
Remember, there are no hard rules for designing your small space. Have fun and enjoy your new space.
Recently, we ran across a great post in the LA Times Home & Garden section that listed some of the worst design trends that top experts wish would simply, DIE in 2009. These “experts” included interior designers, designers, retailers, and other design pros, so they kinda know what they’re talking about. Here’s a quick rundown, plus a little Paradigm Gallery analysis 🙂
“Please, in the kitchen, no more granite countertop. It came into vogue in the ’80s, and it makes a place look dated instantaneously. I am pushing for an orange Formica comeback. If you don’t think you can pull that off, then honed white marble is always beautiful, soapstone or poured concrete looks great in rustic homes, and Corian gives a simple look that does not dominate any room.”
Our Take: Yeah, we are equally appalled by the question “Is this granite?” on House Hunters.
2) Residential Kitchens that Look Commercial
We kinda like sterility
“A kitchen chock-full of stainless-steel appliances is cold and old. Viking and Blue Star have a number of custom finishes that give a warmer, fresher look that can integrate your appliances with your cabinetry or add a fun pop of color to your kitchen.”
— Kristine Paige Kamenstein, Jackson Paige Interiors
Our Take: I guess it’s up to you. We’re somewhat split here. Some enjoy a cold sterile appliance set with punchy cabinetry incorporating bright and vibrant red, orange, and blue cabinet covers.
3) Mass Produced, Oversized Club Chairs
You look so small in that chair...
“I am tired of furniture that is scaled for a giant. Even if you have high ceilings in your home, you can buy furniture that is human-scaled. I love Ralph Lauren’s Colorado club chair, and for a less expensive alternative, a vintage club chair is a good option.”
Our Take: You are right Andrea. Seriously, there is comfort, but it’s like clothes. You don’t want to be swallowed with a baggy fit. We certainly prefer a Pavillion Chair or Le Corbusier Chair in petit, grande, or even extra grande sizes. Know what we mean?
4) Oversized Sleigh Beds
Did Brenda Walsh have one of these?
“If you have a team of Clydesdales, drive this old chestnut straight to the barn. Try something that brings pizazz back into the boudoir, like a headboard of soft gold-leaf leather with a nailhead design.”
— Craig Olsen, designer and retailer
Our Take: ABSOLUTELY! Too much in the bedroom almost chokes your sleep. Sleek, platform beds will be around a while. Take advantage now, like the Worth Bed, shown below:
Clean and mean
5) Cubed Ottomans and Faux Zebra Prints
“Little cubed ottomans are o-u-t,” designer and retailer Craig Olsen says. “Hexagons and ovals will lead the eye straight to the piece and make the room remarkable.” When it comes to faux zebra prints, designer and retailer Suzan Fellman sounds off: “Good God, how does a zebra print translate onto a cowhide rug? There are superior floor treatments, in a reasonable price range, that do not pretend to be something that they are not. I would opt for an Arzu Firuz vinyl carpet with laser cutouts that create a great pattern for the floor and are so easy to maintain.”
Our Take: Ok, ok, so we offer the “Pony Cube”, so we’re somewhat guilty to a degree, but we do have tons of non-cube ottoman and coffee tables to take advantage of.
So, what do you guys think? Any dreadful Design Trends that you just want to cast off for good?
Every year, just like GQ names a “Sexiest Man Alive”, and Motor Trend names its’ “Car of the Year, Pantone, a leading color authority named “Blue Iris” as its’ “Color of the Year” for 2008.
As 2008 comes to a close, we noticed that “Blue Iris” didn’t really take off as much as other colors, especially in interior design.
In fact, 2008 seems to have been the year of Green, from a color and environmental movement. Everywhere we turned, greens, ranging from lime to olive green popped up all over the place. Just walk into Crate and Barrel and you’ll see what we mean.
One of the recent “Color of the Year” winners, Cerulean, which won in 2000 made a guest appearance in “The Devil Wears Prada”, so Pantone’s picks definitely do shape fashion, design, and the mainstream.
Check out how Meryl Streep lets Anne Hathaway know about the importance of fashion in conjunction with Cerulean:
However, we Blue Iris did impact Paradigm Gallery in one major way: The Egg Chair. Our Egg Chair had always been a very popular modern classic piece. Typically, our top selling Egg Chair color is black or red. But, this year, Cobalt Blue came to the forefront as our most popular color Egg Chair color of 2008. Cobalt Blue is very similar to Iris Blue, so maybe the Pantone folks were onto something.
What colors stood out to you this year? Did Iris Blue play a part in your design?
Partners Cara Cummins and Jose Tavel of TaC Studios
As a lover of all things “design” related, we are definitely Trade Magazine junkies! And I have to say that we were not disappointed by the December issue of Metropolitan Home.
We came across this amazing home built by the home owners themselves, Jose Tavel and Cara Cummins of TaC Studios. TaC Studios, is a full service architectural firm located in Atlanta, Georgia.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Jose and shared with him how much we enjoyed this article and what he and his wife Cara had created. We are thrilled to share these photos as this blend of Modern Architecture and eclectic design is the way we like to decorate homes but this Atlanta home is a level up!
What initially attracted us to this home was the way the interiors were designed. And then seeing that they built and designed the home with many materials that were recycled and or locally procured, keeping it green- because every little bit helps! Made us admire this home more.
We love this homes mix of modern furniture and eclectic furnishings and accessories. Like the womb chair & ottoman with African stools and custom media cabinet built by Tavel. The beautiful canvas was done by his wife Cara. WOW, this couple is not short on talent! Right off the dining room is a Le Corbusier chaise and Eileen Gray table under a wall of custom designed floating shelves with a collection of American Folk art. This home breaks the myth that Modern design is cold and industrial with the rich warm tones on the floor to the colors and textures that the decorative items provide. Very well done!!
This 3 story, 3 bedroom home with a roof deck has it all. It functions as the couple’s home office for TaC Studio on the first floor, while the 2nd level has the living room, kitchen and dining room and has an open loft feel with so much light from the huge windows. The bedrooms are on the 3rd floor.