Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Transparency....The New Chiavari

Many of the design blogs I subscribe to rave about Philippe Starck's Ghost chair and rightfully so. A beautiful translucent interpretation of the classic Louis XVI arm chair that would compliment almost any setting. In many cases lately, even steal the spotlight.
Since it first became available for the event/party rental market in 2006, the Ghost chair has quickly become the most sought after seat for social events earning its reputation as the Couture chaise of choice over its long standing predecessor, the Chiavari chair.

Resource One inc., located in the Los Angeles area, is an event planning company and a distributor for the Philippe Starck's Louis & Victoria Ghost chairs which currently are available for hire at $40.00 for the Louis and $30.00 for the Victoria. A $10.00 price drop since 2006 when they rented for $50.00-$40.00. However, ExhibitHire in the UK offers the chairs at $9.50 GBP($14.00 U.S. dollars). Nevertheless, the current price point is still likely to prevent the mainstream from jumping on the trend wagon anytime soon. In the meantime, the wealthy 2 % , with their unlimited budgets, will continue to revel in these exclusive gems.

Initially there were some concerns about the durability of the Ghost chairs for high traffic use holding up to scratches. However, Roberta Karsch, President and founder of Resource one inc. explained in a 2006 interview with Event-Solutions magazine that "Resource One uses a special cream from the manufacturer to buff out any scratches.

I contacted my local Classic Party Rentals, one of the nations leading event party rentals company and choice for several high profile events to inquire if they offered the Ghost chairs. Unfortunately, they do not at this time. However, the sales agent(Sacramento office) indicated they hope to have them before the end of this year.

The sales representative further mentioned the Ghost chair's rival, the "ice" chair($6.00 per chair) is the popular new choice with many of their customers. The ice chair is the acrylic version of the original Chiavari and is beautiful. However, the comfort level remains the same. In my opinion, the Ghost chair provides better comfort.

Nevertheless, the steep difference between $40.00 and $6.00 is enough to sway any budget conscience party planner toward the Ice chair. I personally love both chairs. I think the Chiavari is a classic chair that will continue to be in demand. As a party planner, it's great to have another beautiful option.

As you can see from many of these event photos, it's easy to see why the Ghost chair has gained such popularity. Their translucence, mildly put are illuminating. My favorite is the Louis.

The chairs become a glowing accent to the table minimizing any visual obstruction showcasing the table setting and centerpiece for all guests to marvel at its beauty.

I just love the reflective glow the chairs make on the illuminated floor.

Recognizing the Ghosts strong appeal, makers of the Chiavari chair introduced the "Ice" chair which maintained the look of its original Chiavari but with a translucent acrylic frame.

(photos from resource one inc. , exhibithire.co.uk & ghostchairrentals.com)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fit To Be 8 Way Hand Tied?

No More Talking To The Hand

When shopping for upholstered seating , it used to be that the popular advice to guarantee you get the best quality upholstered seating, was to ask the following 3 questions:

1) Is the spring system 8 way hand tied?

2) Was the wood used for the frame kiln dried?

3) Was the double doweled joinery method applied when constructing the frame?

Of course the other considerations would be the type of foam/padding and of course the fabric choice. However, those are options that usually most furniture salespeople ask customers.

Now, I was informed to ask the above 3 questions when I purchased my first "quality" upholstered seating at Macys home furniture department store many years ago. In keeping to that advice throughout the years, I found it very helpful whenever I walked into a furniture showroom and asked the 3 questions. It even seemed to impress many of the salespeople at the time complimenting me on educating myself about the basics for quality upholstered seating.
However, it seems that in recent years, the upholstery manufacturing technology has changed. Or, perhaps I should say it has improved.

It appears the term "hand tied" is beginning to lose it's appeal. It's competitor, Pirelli webbing(created by Pirelli tire manufacturer, widely used in Danish furniture since the 1950's) has started to gain momentum as the preferred construction for today's consumers. Danish & Italian furniture makers argue that Pirelli webbing, at minimum, offers the same reliability as 8-way at a much less price.

Today, La-Z-Boy Furniture, a national furniture manufacturer in the U.S., boasts about it's 8 way "machine" tied technology that provides equally distributed amounts of strength to its tie method making it superior to the antiquated hand tied process. They'll further remind you that man made 8 way hand tied isn't always going to be consistent as the worker creating the ties may lose strength after working on a spring system for so long whereas a machine does not.

Even Consumer Reports have chimed in educating its readers to :
  • Disregard the term “eight-way hand-tied springs.” It’s no longer synonymous with comfort or high quality. Other types of springs--coil, cone, S-shaped, and grid--can be just fine; they mainly influence how comfortable the sofa feels to you.
The jury is still out with me on whether or not the fact that the once valued term "hand made" is slowly becoming discounted as the inferior method, is a good or bad thing. On the one "hand", I view this as technological progress which is generally considered a good step toward innovation for the human race. On the other "hand", there is a real appeal to me that a hand made item is the measure of craftsmanship.

8-way hand tied construction

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Counting Threads For A Comfortable Nights Sleep

(image from Hotel Luxury Collection)

From Consumer Reports:
Some thread counts are bogus
Thread count is the new marketing mantra for sheets. The higher the better, you’ll hear. But some sheet makers are boosting thread count simply by counting wrong.

The right way to count is to add up all vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch of fabric. Two hundred is typical and perfectly fine; 400 may provide a finer, softer sheet. Above 400, the only difference is likely to be price.

Our tests included some sheets listing thread counts of far more. The discontinued Linensource Regency Collection, $280 per queen set, claims a stunning 1,200.

Then we checked the math. Many sheet makers, including Linensource, count plies--very thin yarns that make up a thread. We hired an independent textile lab to count threads. The actual count: 416. That’s just 35 percent of what Linensource claims.

Bottom line: Pick a sheet between 200 and 400 thread count that meets your other criteria. Paying more for higher thread count is wasting money.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who Is Andrea Palladio?

If you've studied the history of Architect or simply have a fascination for historical architecture then the name Andrea Palladio should be no stranger to you. I wasn't familiar with Palladio until I visited Italy. It would be difficult to explore Italy, particularly Vicenza or Venezia without leaving with a profound appreciation and respect for Palladio because the region contains much of his work and he is a historical icon not just to Italy, but to the architectural world at large. Palladio (1508-80) was and is considered to be the most influential architects of our time.
Palladio was the first to develop a systematic organization of the rooms in a house. He was also the first to apply pedimented porticos from Roman temples to houses. This style of a formal porch is defined by a shallow triangular gable (Timpano) supported by a row of columns. Both these features are exemplified in the Villa Almerico "The Rotonda".
Most are familiar with the Palladian window which is his design. The ornate windows carrying his namesake really took off in America in the late 1700's when the Federal style of architecture began to evolve from more traditional colonial style. The design of Washington D.C.'s White House also took inspiration from "Palladianism".
Palladio was born November 29, 1508, in Padua, and trained as a stonemason. He moved to Vicenza in his early twenties. Originally named Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, he was named Palladio by the Italian poet and patron Gian giorgio Trissino, who oversaw Palladio's architectural studies. Trissino took him to Rome, where Palladio studied and measured Roman architectural ruins; he also studied the treatises of Vitruvius, one of the most important of the Roman architects.
In and near Vicenza he designed many residences (Villas) and public buildings (Palazzi). He also planned several churches in Venice, San Francesco della Vigna, San Giorgio Maggiore, and Il Redentore. One of his last work was the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, completed after his death by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi. Palladio's own use of classical motifs came through his direct, extensive study of Roman architecture. He freely recombined elements of Roman buildings as suggested by his own building sites and by contemporary needs. At the same time he shared the Renaissance concern for harmonious proportion, and his facades have a noteworthy simplicity, austerity and repose.

Palladio was the author of an important scientific treatise on architecture, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture), which was widely translated and influenced many later architects. Its precise rules and formulas were widely utilized, especially in England, and were basic to the Palladian style, adopted by Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren, and other English architects, which preceded and influenced the neoclassical architecture of the Georgian Style.

( from wikipedia)
The above image is of the Teatro Olimpico ("Olympic Theatre") in Vincenza, Italy, designed by Palladio as his last work. It is widely considered the first example of covered theatre of the Modern age.

San Francesco della Vigna

Inside the San Francesco Della Vigna

Il Redentore in Venezia, Italy.

Inside Il Redentore

Dan and I visited Venezia in 2001 and stayed at the beautiful(but noisy, heavy tourist traffic) Hotel Savoia & Jolanda which is located on the waterfront. Our room had a perfect view of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore designed by Palladio in 1565 however was not completed until 30 years after his death on August 19, 1580.
He was married to Allegradonna, daugther of Marcantonio, and had five children, Leonida, Marcantonio, Orazio, Silla and Zenobia.

Statue of Andrea Palladio at the Piazzetta Palladio in Vicenza.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Time Basket Case

With Springtime just around the corner, outdoor attractions such as parks,beaches and lakes become popular day trips or weekend getaways. Since baby Daniel joined our family in November 2007, long distance vacations are out of the question until he is a bit older. In the meantime, I've shifted my excitement to creating stylish and elegant alfresco dining.

I purchased this picnic basket and matching cooler at William Glen. A durable Sisal weave construction with leather trim and brass hardware. The hard canvas with leather trim wine tote(left) was purchased at Eddie Bauer .

The basket is for 4. However, I converted the basket for six by adding additional plates,knives and forks. I stored the extra 2 glasses in the matching cooler to complete the set for six.

I replaced the original utensils with a more elegant set of stainless steel pattern by Gorham. I also replaced the coffee cups with cut crystal tumblers and finally the white ceramic plates for blue and whites for a more formal setting.
Now, most people I know stop at the picnic basket. Not me.

I like to take it a step further to make certain that in the event I should have to provide my own seating, I am prepared with coordinating ultra lightweight folding chairs and table for my guests. I purchased 6 of the above chairs at Target last year during their clearance sale for $15.00 each. For the grassy knoll, 2 sand toned fleece blankets with waterproof backing.

A blue and white ceramic basket vase such as the one above for 2 small potted flowers and voila! a beautiful portable outdoor setting for six!!! We have tentative(errands/chores permitting)plans for a day trip to Rutherford Hill winery in Napa Valley this weekend which is a 40 minute drive. If we make it, I'll post photos of our spread. Below are 2 vintage cases I found online while browsing for the latest picnic baskets. I hope you enjoy the photos.

A vintage picnic case for 2 (Bonhams)

A vintage portable cafe station (Bonhams)

Following are several picnic baskets/cases that I thought screamed "Class"

The Windsor Basket for 4 available at Bed Bath & Beyond

A beautiful canvas hard shell picnic case with leather trim and wood handles for a party of 4. Available at Picnic World

A sophisticated weekender picnic case for 4 available at Picnic World

The Estate collection picnic case for 4 available at Overstock

Terazzo red striped basket for 4 available at Picnic Fun

Terazzo elite for 2 available at Picnic Fun

Terazzo elite for 2 in Tangerine available at Picnic Fun

Cornish Blue Basket for 4 available at Picnic Fun

Serenity Rose by Sutherland Baskets available at Picnic Baskets Online

Gordon Luxury Wine & Tea Picnic Basket For 4 available at Elegant Picnics

Canvas hard shell picnic trunks with leather trim for 2 available at Neiman Marcus

For the no-limit budget individual with a desire to piss off the masses.

This lavish picnic trunk is by Pinel & Pinel, a purveyor of French luxury well known for its contemporary and bespoke trunks.

You can purchase this trunk for a mere $45,000.00(U.S. Dollars)

This picnic trunk is by Goyard a popular French packing case and trunk maker. The case comes equipped with everything you’d need for a well-dressed picnic table at the Silver cutlery, porcelain plates, crystal tumblers and more are tucked into a leather case in the brand’s signature print.

Picnic Trunk For Six By Louis Vuitton

Vodka,Caviar & Blini anyone? (Louis Vuitton)

This picnic basket by Coach debuted in 2005.