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January 31, 2006

Molding Light

Hiih_yellow_lampLam Quang and Krestrel Gates, creators of illuminated handmade-paper sculptures, have mastered a unique approach to lighted art.

Collaborating together from concept and design, to the creation of each piece of work, Quang and Gates utilize wire, bamboo, abaca, cotton and paint to mold the structures – drawing inspiration from flowers, sea creatures, insects and Asian aesthetic.

Check out HiiH’s lighted paper sculptures .

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Pure Contemporary + MocoLoco

We've posted some news stories on Australia's-now-London's design wunderkind Charles Trevelyan over the last few months, and this month he is featured in our Modern Interviews. But wait there's more! We decided to team up with our friends at MocoLoco MocoLoco to give you an added bonus!


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January 30, 2006

Stainless Steel Outdoor Furniture

Vuindoorloc_1 We're seeing more and more stainless for outdoors. Designed to match stainless barbeques and outdoor kitchens, stainless is a sophisticated look that just glistens in the sun. Plan to spend at least double the amount of good aluminum furniture. Here Brown Jordan International's Vu is on view in an indoor setting.

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Types of Wood: How to Choose

It's a question many of us ask ourselves before changing the floors, cabinets and furniture in our home - what wood should I use? Can I mix maple cabinets with oak floors? Is Teak the current wood of choice? Which wood is the warmest?Wood

Sunset Books helps define wood types, cuts, installation and more.

Wood Floors
Sunset Ideas for Great Floors

When you choose wood, you're choosing one of the warmest, most time-tested, and versatile flooring materials. And one that looks better with time.

Types of wood
Many wood species are used for flooring. Each one has its own natural color, markings, and advantages.

Oak flooring comes in either white or red. The color of white oak runs from a creamy white or light brown to medium brown. It's a bit harder than red oak, has smaller markings, and has a more uniform appearance. Red oak is reddish brown, and its open grain makes it somewhat porous.

Maple flooring runs from pale white to light reddish brown. It has a uniform texture and closed grain and is very hard, harder than red oak.

Pine, considered a softwood rather than a hardwood like oak or maple, was commonly used in early American flooring because of its natural stability. Longleaf heart pine (on a par with red oak) and southern yellow pine are the hardest of all pines. Minor dents and dings will happen over time but tend to enhance a floor's character.

Bamboo flooring is similar to oak in dent resistance and is much more dimensionally stable than most wood flooring. Because bamboo is harvested from grass and rejuvenates itself to maturity in three to five years, it is environmentally friendly. It comes in both vertical and flat-grain patterns and in a light natural and a darker amber color.

Cherry is appreciated for its warm reddish coloring, straight grain, and smooth texture. It looks sleek when sanded and finished and is frequently used for cabinetry. Of medium density, it is dimensionally stable upon kiln drying.

Mahogany, an extremely durable high-density wood, has a deep reddish brown color and very fine graining. Mahogany encompasses a few different timber species. It was first discovered in the West Indies but now, due to sustainable harvesting, comes from Mexico, and Central and South America.

Teak, similar in strength to oak, is naturally resistant to insects, fungus, termites, and temperature shifts. Recently brought back into vogue through sustainable sources, it has a distinct shading that varies from yellowish brown to dark golden brown. Its grain runs straight, although its texture can be uneven.

Types of construction
Wood floors can be made from solid wood, from engineered wood, or from reclaimed wood.

Solid wood is any wood that is one piece from top to bottom. It performs best in a moisture-controlled environment. Engineered wood flooring is made of cross-stacked layers of base wood with a veneer top layer of your choice of wood. Engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable and can be installed where solid wood cannot because of moisture. Reclaimed or recycled woods are made from boards salvaged from old buildings or river bottoms. The salvaged pieces can be 60 to 70 years old and sometimes come with a history. Since this wood usually comes from old-growth forests, it is harder and denser than new-growth wood. Typical reclaimed species include chestnut, hickory, cherry, and oak. Sizes
Wood flooring started as planks or wide boards; then the standard moved to 21/4-inch-wide strips and later to 11/2-inch strips. Now there's a broad range available. Strip flooring still ranges from 11/2 to 21/4 inches wide. Plank flooring ranges from 3 to 8 inches wide. Parquet is another form of wood flooring that involves decorative cuts of wood pieced together to create a geometric design. The pieces are usually held in place by nails or with adhesives or with both.

Different species of woods have different standards. The higher the grade, the clearer the wood. Oak has three basic grades. Select oak is mostly clear, but shows some natural characteristics, such as knots and color variations. No. 1 Common oak shows light and dark colors, knots, flags, and wormholes. No. 2 Common oak is even more rustic. Maple has three grades ranging from Clear, with limited character marks, to No. 1 Common and No. 2 Common, with more characteristics of the species. There are various grades as well as hardnesses of pine flooring. Within each type of pine -- yellow, white, or heart, the grades range from a rustic country look with all of the wood's characteristics to a clear wood.

The angle that a saw cuts a piece of wood determines its cut. The three standard hardwood cuts include plainsawn, quartersawn, and riftsawn. Plainsawn, which shows growth ring patterns, is the most common. Quartersawn wood is more refined and less susceptible to moisture, but it's also more costly. Riftsawn wood is cut at an angle slightly different from quartersawn wood.

Finishes and treatments
To finish a wood floor, you can choose a surface finish made of synthetic resin or use a penetrating stain or wax. Surface finishes are available in high-gloss, semigloss, satin, and matte.

But your choices don't end there. Surface finishes include oil-modified urethane, moisture-cured urethane, conversion varnish, and water-based urethane. Moisture-cured urethane is the most durable of these finishes, yet it's the hardest to apply. With a two- to three-hour drying time, water-based urethane dries the fastest.

Penetrating stains and waxes will soak into the pores of your wood floor and harden to form a protective seal. If you wax your floor, you should only use cleaning products specifically made for wax finishes. Also recognize that these same stains can be used to mimic the inlays of exotic woods.

As wood floors grow more popular, many homeowners are turning to faux finishes for cost-effective custom looks. You can paint hardwood floors of any type, whether they are old or new and whether the finish was applied on-site or in the factory. Paint professionals recommend water-based paints for best results.

Although experts caution you may weaken your floor, wood flooring can be bleached for effect too. Bleaching wood involves brushing the wood with caustic soda or ammonia and applying hydrogen peroxide. If you're looking for a whitish finish, pickling may be a better choice. By rubbing white paint into your wood flooring, pickling will highlight its markings

Ready-to-install, prefabricated wood tiles with medallions, starbursts, and borders are available through most wood flooring dealers. Most of these off-the-shelf designs are laser-cut creations. At one time, such designs needed to be hand-cut and so were quite costly. These prefabricated pieces let you affordably mix and match to create your own patterns. Preplanning your floor design is crucial if you decide to use an inlay.

Care and cleaning
Dirt, grit, and sand pose the main threat to a hardwood floor. They act like sandpaper on a floor's finish, resulting in scratches, dents, and dulling. Placing floor mats or area rugs at your home's entrances will help trap dirt and prevent damage. It's also important that you wipe up spills right away, and when you vacuum be sure to use a vacuum with a brush attachment, not a beater bar. After vacuuming or sweeping, you may damp-mop your floor using a neutral-pH wood cleaner. If your floor is sealed properly, water won't damage it.

To allow your wood flooring to acclimate, it will probably be delivered to you about four days before installation. The most popular way to install a solid wood floor is to nail down unfinished solid wood flooring to a wood subfloor (usually 3/4-inch plywood) or joists (or glue parquet tiles directly to a concrete slab), then sand it and apply a finish. If you can bear the dust and fumes, this method provides the most design options. Wood flooring can be made to lie end to end, or it can have a tongue-and-groove construction that fits together like a puzzle. Prefinished flooring is sanded and finished in the factory, cutting on-site job time by at least half. Floating installations, in which planks are joined to one another rather than a subfloor, are used for engineered wood floors. Some engineered wood flooring can be nailed down, which requires a wood subfloor.

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January 26, 2006

Stylish Function at italdivani

Pure Contemporary saw italdivani at the Canadian Home Furnishings Mart in Toronto and loved their emphasis on useful styling. 

This sofa's seat cushions are zippered in.  That means they wont slide around like leather cushions often do, but if the unthikable happens, they can still be flipped.

The company debuted a new recliner too. The model features an adjustable headrest without the Velcro strips that might accompany such a thing.  There's a loop in the pillow that hangs at the back of the recliner and suspends a pretty silver weight. Just sit, recline, reach up and pull your pillow where you want it. The weight ensures it stays put.


Notice the bright white leather?  Italdivani spokespeople say this is the color that everyone wants. It's back from the late '70s and we hope it sticks around a while. And from the looks of the gorgeous Bizzarri S.P.A. showroom at the last High Point market, we're betting they hope so too.

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January 24, 2006

Stokke of Genius


Not only is the Stokke Xplory aesthetically appealing, but your child will love it too! While conventional strollers place baby low to the ground, blurring their view of anything stimulating, the Xplory seats junior front and center -- allowing him to face the world head on and at eye level. Children can also face parent, creating stronger bonds.

Numerous positions allow you to customize your and your child’s riding experience, and it's oh-so-easy to maneuver wheels make this a new mommy must-have.

More modern baby and children furniture from Stokke.


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January 23, 2006

Fasem Turns Heads in Cologne

Fasem's new chairs, Charme, made of solid aluminum and featuring tufted Italian leather seats, turned heads turn at the IMM in Cologne this week. Available in black or white.


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NY MoMA gets Trashed

B00017utgw01a3drkn6skdioqj_scmzzzzzzz_The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design is including the award-winning GARBINO trash can, designed by Karim Rashid and produced by Umbra, in its permanent collection in New York.

Umbra debuted the Garbino Trash Can in 1996, along with the larger Garbo Can and the smaller Garbini Can. This was the first family of products designed for Umbra by Karim Rashid. Known for its swerving rim, flowing curves and negative spaces, the Garbino brought glamour to trash cans. The Garbino, with a 10-quart capacity, remains a key part of Umbra's line; it is a core product that each year introduces Umbra's newest colors.

"Karim Rashid’s Garbino trash can is wildly successful because it’s an almost perfect design… It’s highly functional -- it has handles built in and is shaped so that trash goes in and out easily. But the first thing most people notice about the Garbino is that it looks and feels great," commented Virginia Postrel, author of The Substance of Style: How the Growth of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness, in an interview with

"When Paul Rowan first asked me to study wastebaskets in 1994," Karim Rashid recalls, "the ubiquitous plastic wastebasket on the market was a rectangular black can with absolutely no character, and there was little alternative. I thought that banal objects need life, they need presence, but they also need to make awful tasks more pleasant."

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January 22, 2006

New Trends and Home Wreckers

Farm_sink_1It's a new year and already the hot trends of 2005 are so out! But what's next -- should you splurge on dual vessel sinks for your master bath, or leave the bowls alone and opt for a more functional approach?

A new addition to kitchens in 06?

Sally Beatty, for The Wall Street Journal Online, helps us decide what should adorn out homes this year.

On the Way Out?
Avoid these now-popular design trends in 2006

January's renovation resolution: Don't ring in the new year with a home-improvement look that's already on its way out. With the $233 billion remodeling business booming -- up more than 50 percent from 1993 to 2003 -- manufacturers and retailers are pushing more options for floors, countertops, bathroom fixtures and other stuff that costs tens of thousands of dollars to install and rip back out again.

But clearly, some big household fads are more quickly destined than others for the crowbar treatment. Those matte-surfaced, honed-stone countertops that have been big sellers over the past year or so? The idea may not look so brilliant in a few years, and even their makers say they chip more easily than shiny versions. Plus they stain.

So for homeowners considering installing open cabinets, floating staircases and bowl-shaped bathroom sinks, the question is: Which of these is the next doomed avocado-colored dishwasher? We talked to decorators, retailers and manufacturers and came up with five trends most likely to die.

Are vessel sinks being replaced by farm-style? Should you really buy the trendy glass doors? What's around the corner for countertops? Read more about New Home Trends. 

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January 20, 2006

What's New at imm cologne

The imm cologne furniture show is in full swing right now as thousands of people discover what's new and what's next in modern home design.

As in an auto show, many pieces at imm cologne are futuristic prototypes, a designers dream of what could be. And many of these will not be manufactured, or will be created only in very limited runs. Other designs will become important "it" pieces the likes of Karim Rashid's Garbo garbage can. But what always comes from imm cologne is a look at what trends will fill the market place.

And for the trend that's growing so quickly it will soon be unavoidable, look no further than Cologne's two hall exhibit labeled, simply, Smart. The smart halls are stock full of flat-pack items. They’re pieces of furniture that can be easily assembled and disassembled for fast packing and easy shipping. The pieces work for people who want to keep their nomadic lifestyles without giving a fortune to UPS.


Topping Cologne's Hit Guide this year is Rashid's Dragonfly for Bonaldo. It's a chaise lounge with a bottom half that flips upward and fits snugly into the top half of the chaise to create a chair. The design is a simple curve and has the "of course!" ingenuity that makes other designers wonder why they didn't think of it first.


As far as Smart products go, Dragonfly is certainly one of them but we find it a bit uncomfortable to sit in, and don't even think of gaining weight. The Dragonfly is narrow, a slick curved line reminding you to keep that diet going.

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