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January 28, 2005

Comfortable Computer Chair by Bluebroc


UK company Bluebroc joined the contemporary furniture world with their debut chair the C-Station. Borne of the extreme discomfort designer Paul Tasker experienced during a five month motorcycle trip from London to Sydney, Australia, the C-Station is a beacon of comfort that invites you to relax, of course, but also to work.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Tasker says. “Sitting on the bike, I dreamt of comfort. By the time I crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge the concept for the ‘C-Station’ was formed.”

No doubt his discomfort on the trip was magnified by those common sharp digs that remind us we've shirked some responsibility. Why else combine such a welcoming work area to the design? This chair has a place for your book, your drink, and your laptop, and it's not just a standard flat surface on which you could really just put anything. The C-Station is hooked up with hollow pipes for wiring so you can mount an adjustable monitor and sit back to do whatever it is you do. Ingenious.


Stay tuned to Bluebroc, they're getting ready to launch the C-2. The same old innovations but now, you can invite a friend. And with the new U-Station due out by this April, it seems like this company with a bent for stylish, contemporary, practical design, is just getting started.

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January 27, 2005

Home Makeovers Offer Confidence Boost?

With nearly all media (including Pure Contemporary) offering and showcasing home makeovers, the question begs, do we actually learn anything from these makeovers? Deborah Lotz, interior designer and CEO of Jewel Box Frames, says yes. "Home makeovers show the average person that it is possible to make dramatic changes without knocking down walls. They  can inspire as well as educate the novice on "how the designers" do these makeovers. I think the average person sometimes just does not know how to start. You'd be surprised at how many people haven't even framed a picture!"

Framing pictures and then some is Lotz speciality. The Manhattan Beach, Calif. resident has designed some of the most unique gold and platinum awards for the music industry and for rockers from Madonna to Outkast. She also has designed high profile spots like Spago of Beverly Hills.

For the rest of us who may not be so creatively endowed, Lotz offers a suggestion for tackling a makeover of your own. Experiment. "When I am making changes in my environment (or for a client for that matter) I like to work in stages. If I'm making a drastic change in color or fabric I will always do a test. Paint a 2ft portion of the wall or buy a larger swatch of fabric to see how it looks." Little steps makes the leap a lot less scary.

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Philip Johnson, Dean and Dickens of Architecture Dies

Philip Johnson, one of the world's most passionate and controversial architects, died Tuesday at his compound around the Glass House, his austere masterpiece in New Canaan, Conn.

He was appreciated as much for his opinions and support of other architects as he was for the Glass House, now considered one of the best examples of a home an architect built for himself but which, when it was built, garnered caustic complaints from neighbors.

Designer of the Four Seasons restaurant, the MoMa's sculpture garden and the pre-Columbian gallery in Washington's Dumbarton Oaks, all accepted as architectural masterpieces of the 20th century, Johnson flung himself into a variety of architectural styles throughout his long career.

His compound in New Canaan reveals, in the Glass House, his respect for Mies van der Rohe and, in the Gatehouse, a bending billowing structure, Frank Gehry's influence. He became impassioned with each evolution of architecture and built buildings in a variety of styles, some of which, like the AT & T building in NYC (now the Sony building) with its pink granite facade and Chippendale inspired shape, seem more of an anachronism than homage.

He is widely credited with having spread the reputation of Mies, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier into the United States with his 1932 book, authored with Henry-Russell Hitchcock after a European tour of Modern's earliest buildings, "The International Style." In 1979, a year after receiving the highest award for an American architect, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, he won the first awarded Pritzker Prize.

But he was controversial, too--More for his brief but outspoken admiration of fascism than for his homosexuality, but also for his contributions to his field. Some say he simply combined and reused previous innovations and styles. All agree that perhaps his greatest contribution was his mentoring and support of young architects.

Johnson donated his Glass House to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with the intention that it would become a museum open for tours.

In 1997, speaking at the Glass House, Johnson said, "We're all interested in immortality. I don't think we care at all about sex. It's nice when it comes along, but what you live for is immortality, and my bid for it is my architecture, especially this place."

If the parties, dinners, essays and symposiums that celebrated his 90th birthday are any indication, Johnson will be remembered for many times his 98 years.

Read more about Philip Johnson in the New York Times and at

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January 25, 2005

A Mere Moment with Ettore Sottsass


Interviewing a modern icon takes some prep work. Especially when you know that you have a limited amount of time to interview the subject - and when you know the subject doesn't suffer fools.

When the subject is Ettore Sottsass, who has lived 20 people's lives in his 87 years, it makes it only harder. Sottsass, who put his mark on industrial design 50 years ago when he worked for Olivetti, has put his handprint on architecture, furniture design and social movements as well.

So where did we begin when we interviewed this modern renaissance man? Why the 6th decade of his life (Memphis) of course. And as to be expected we traveled to the future and back to the days of the Pleistocenes. We discussed diamonds (he disdains their bloody toll) and the currency of smiles. At 87, Sotsass is still actively designing and commenting on life through his designs such as his pedestrian Roppongi Hills in Japan and the exclusive Zhaoqing Golf Resort in China. 

Photo by Luca Fregosi

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Berloni "Weds" Progressive Designs

So what's it take to be the official Berloni Distributor for the US? Five years of dating says Scott Dresner, President Progressive Design Group (left in photo). After five years of Dresner designing, selling and installing the Italian maker's modern kitchen modules into the US residential and commercial markets, Roberto Berloni, CEO Berloni wanted to tie the knot.
If you haven't heard of Berloni before plan to soon. The billion dollar company is currently sold in 50 countries. Dresner's goal is to open Berloni dealers in the US' largest metros. | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Any Way You Sell It, a Picasso's Still a Picasso


If you're in the market for fine art to enhance your contemporary decor, you may want to snub the upscale auction houses like Sotheby's and Christies in favor of a decidedly less extravagant purveyor, Costco.

Jim Tutwiler, a fine art dealer from Orlando, Fla. who’s been selling pieces through the bulk and wholesale business for the past ten years, recently offered its second original Picasso. The work, described as a “doodle” on the inside of a book jacket, is in crayon, signed by the artist Nov. 29, 1970 and accompanied by a handwritten, signed declaration of authenticity from Picasso’s daughter, Maya.

Tutwiler first sold a Picasso drawing through in November 2004 for $35,000. He says buying from Costco is a boon to the consumer who pays just one-tenth of the markup they would be charged at a traditional gallery or auction house.

With a $39,999 price tag, this drawing is leagues away from the bulk pasta and soups Costco generally carries, but anywhere you sell it, a Picasso’s still a Picasso.

For all things contemporary, visit Pure Contemporary.


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January 18, 2005

Stokke Children's Furniture

At the Canadian Home Furnishings Market this week Stokke showed why its products show up in over 4 million homes. The family owned Norwegian company’s booth was managed by Piam, who happily pointed out all the forms and functions of each product. Standing on chairs, pulling out color swatches, and easily rattling off statistics on company history and consumer satisfaction, she got us just as excited about Stokke's innovative products as she is.



All available in a variety of colors from natural to lime green, Stokke products grow with your child. The KinderZeat is adjustable to any height and, with a weight limit of 300 lbs, can be with your child from toddler hood to adulthood. Pull the chair up to the table so your baby can eat with you. As she grows, adjust the seat and foot-rest heights, its sturdy design means the KZ wont tip over when baby climbs on it. Plus, Stokke knows the KinderZeat will be dragged from counter to sink to cookie jar shelf so they've added glides to make sliding as easy on your child as it is on your floors. It's no wonder that 25,000 of these chair wonders are sold in Norway each year--that's one for every two children born.

If you or a friend have a baby on the way, you've got to see Stokke's Sleepi crib system. This product will stay with your child from when she's days old to decades old. It starts out as a round bassinet, just like mommy's womb, and grows to become a crib. Lockable wheels at the bottom are perfect for rocking the little one to sleep. As the child grows and it becomes harder to lift her out of the crib, adjust the height, she wont escape and you'll save your back. When your baby's grown from tiny to toddler, remove a side piece to create a bed that's easy for your child to get in and out of and acts as a sofa when they're older. Don't need the sofa anymore? The Sleepi converts to two attractive chairs your child will have for years to come.

The Stokke Care system is just as ingenious and has the same staying power. It starts out as a height adjustable changing table with side compartments for everything you need. When your child no longer needs a changing table, Care becomes a work-table for toddlers to color and play at. An extended tabletop option gives the table length to become a desk for schoolwork or, add a few more shelves and you've got a great computer stand, CD rack and bookshelf.

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Slide into Modern Design

SlideshowfaceNormand Couture is still having fun with his Cameleon line that he developed for Shermag in the 90s. His latest is SlideShow -- a versatile seating/table combination that can be arranged -- and rearranged. The look was slightly reminiscent of the platform modules circa 1970s. But what was back-breaking then to rearrange, is shockingly easy now. Seating and tables can be transposed by simply removing the table tops Slideshowsofa1and sliding the seat to where the table resided. Standard sofa grouping is base with two seats and two end tables. Optional single seat and end table is also available.

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Laurier Banks on Titanium Finish

Canadian furniture maker Laurier has been steadily and subtly upgrading its wood product line to meet the needs of the luxury market. Its patented titanium-based finish InfiniT, guarantees against scratches for 25 years. To demonstrate, Marketing Director Simon Perreault grabbed a piece of steel wool and assaulted two pieces of wood (blocks that is -- and not the dresser, we noticed) -- one finished with InfiniT and the other not. Sure enough, no scratches on the titanium-finished block. Very impressive. But heck it was only steel wool -- for a real test let my two sons at it.

For all things contemporary, visit Pure Contemporary.

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January 13, 2005

Modern and Contemporary Designer Baby Furniture

With the BeBe Nursery line, carried by Sparkability and Offi, stylish parents don't have to depend on DNA to pass their savvy on to their children. They can outfit their rooms in affordable modern and contemporary baby furniture. BeBe Nursery's great lines and fun designs complement the rest of the modern home, and give babies an edge on style they'll appreciate when they're older.

BeBe is the baby of Harvard educated designer Roberto Gil, whose Argentine routes and architectural background translate to exciting, bright, modern designs that make babies chic and keep cash in parents' hands.

"Finally, a designer determined to change the traditional, characteristic attitudes and habits of the generic baby's room, has created a line of baby furniture derived from his study of modern furniture" says Maine-based direct marketer and dad, Mark Woodbury - founder of - a website selling toys and modern furnishings for kids. "Roberto Gil realized that to create the ideal first environment required an entirely new vision for everything that went into the nursery, one that reinforced its relationship to the rest of the home's decorative scheme."

Gil believed that families today want the nursery to flow with the rest of the house. "We have high expectations when it comes to our families and our children. We ourselves look for high functionality and clean design." Gil's other lines of children's furniture have been sold most recently at furniture stores around the world including New York, London, Tokyo, Milano, Moirans-en-Montagne, France and Brazil.

The new Kids BeBe nursery collection including two Crib versions, a Changing table and a Storage cabinet - the core elements of the collection - are made of Stained Brazilian Plywood. The designer was able to outline his needs very specifically because of his extensive research into what parents want. That made it easy for him to focus his particular skills and to engineer function and style into the line. The result is very workable furniture. A beautiful crib, for example, that is still affordable. The natural ply ends provide the simple yet strong structure for the adjustable bed support (mattress adjusts to three different heights) and the adjustable rail with hidden hardware. And for all the extra linens, the trundle underneath will hold them until they are needed, and roll them out when ready. The BeBe line will begin shipping in early February, but you'll have to wait until April for the Storage cabinet.

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