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June 08, 2006

Dishing About Italian Design

20060511_124_email_1Karim Rashid, one of today's most prolific product designers, informally spoke at the Furniture Fair in High Point on the secrets of Italian design and why our domestic environments are not as up to speed as our work ones. To Rashid, the word design connotes invention, whereas when you are borrowing from history, you are merely styling. Italians he said, embrace experimentation and innovation.

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"The Italians have a human desire, a material desire and a historical desire to make something beautiful and innovative," he said, "Design is about enhancing the evolution of our physical world."

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The youth culture is demanding different products from what their parents wanted. Inspired by (and hooked on) design icons like iPods, they are demanding that their homes be as efficient and technically evolved as their offices. This is driving new types of products -- and the embracing of new materials.

TOP: Design icon Karim Rashid is joined in the discussion by PURE CONTEMPORARY Editor Diane Burley. Both are sitting on Rashid-designed "Skoop" stools by Bonaldo.

Flap Table by Bonaldo offers compact round table -- with leaves that flip up and surround the original.

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June 07, 2006

Walk-in Tubs Open Doors to Bathing

Safety_tub_closedIt's ironic that the bath, that inviting retreat that offers such rejuvenating powers, is off-limits to the population with both time to indulge and the greatest need for it. For those convalescing, infirmed or just not as steady on their feet, climbing into a bath might as well be an ascent to Rushmore.

But pride as it is, few of us want products that scream out our limitations. That's why when we saw the Safety Bath in prototype last year we held our breath that it would become real. And it has.Safety_tub_open

Safety Tub® literally opens the door to bathing for people who lack the mobility to climb into a tub. Walk-in, sit down and fill up the tub and soak for as long as you wish. The patent pending gasket creates a firm seal that doesn't release until the water has drained.

Available in white and beige Acrylic, variety of sizes and optional hydrojets, bubble massage and heaters. Safety Tubs are the epitome of form, function and common sense in the quest for great universal design.

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Prettiest Painted Room in America

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A narrow stripe done in shades of turquoise and pale green, this room has a look that’s decidedly “pretty." Or so it was judged in the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute's "Prettiest Painted Room in America Competition."

The room started off white but was transformed into a media room by Interior Designer and psychology Ph.D, Penny Drue Baird. She used wainscoting and beadboard applied in varying directions to create the award winning style.

Harris_100We happen to think the runner-up room by designer Karen Harris is far more impressive with its abstract rainbow theme. But "pretty" is pretty subjective, so what do you think? Do you agree with the judges choice of the prettiest painted room in all of the United States?

Email us with a LOW RESOLUTION image if you think you've got it beat.

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June 05, 2006

Pouf! Formidable Design

Hilow_pouf_1French designer Christophe Francois of Kyo Design  has taken his hilow collection of storage cubes on casters and re-created them in high-density foam (sans casters and storage) to create a series of geometric-shaped Poufs. The simple foam forms are now covered with cotton covers -- that are removable and dry-cleanable.

For hilow One, Francois added the hilow mechanism and acrylic top from his former series that transforms a square pouf. Closed the pouf is an end table or perch, press the button, and POOF! the table turns into a mini-desk.

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Available in orange, red, grey and black.

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Modern House Numbers

The perfect font underscores meaning and brings another dimension, whether humor, elegance, nostalgia, to words on a page. Major publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue and many others all use recognizable fonts that are uniquely their own.

That's why we like the fonts we found at WestOnLetters.com. They have an easy to understand website with a limited number of choices. But they've been able to include over 40 fonts we know and love, from Americana Bold to University Roman Bold, to create house numbers for anybody's taste.

We chose Ribbon for the modernist's home.
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For an Arts and Crafts style, we like Roffe.
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Other sites, like CustomHouseNumbers.com offer several more choices, making it much more difficult to decide. We loved that CustomHouseNumbers broke their fonts into categories like Neutraface, and Early to Mid-Century, but the later category was empty. Their Mixed Eras section is good and allows you to put your own address in so you can see just how your numbers would look.

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June 04, 2006

30 Years of Zaha Hadid

Highlights3Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi born architect who has won tops honor for architects as well as the hearts of fans the world over, is the subject of a 30-year retrospective of her works on display at the Guggenheim in New York. New York Times architectural expert Nicolai Ouroussof is as smitten by Hadid's works as he is with the show's layout, which builds momentum and expectations as one rounds each floor. The Times review includes a slide show of some of Hadid's more impressive works -- including the Dancing Towers in Dubai, her London Olympic Aquatic Center (2004), and sketches of the Cardiff Bay Opera House.

Ouroussof notes that while Hadid's work is becoming more highly sought -- she is notably absent from any forthcoming commissions in Manhattan. Is it a snub or is it a lack of imagination by risk averse patrons? Interestingly, for two days, the review was the one of the paper's most emailed articles. So perhaps that omission is about to change.

The show runs through October 15 at the Solomon S. Guggenheim Museum.

Pictured: Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Photo by Christian Richters.

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June 01, 2006

Beds for All Lifestyles

Maximo2_katalog_m_kleinGerman maker RUF knows beds -- the ergonomics, the design and certainly, the functionality by personality type. A couple years ago, RUF put the video screen at the end of the bed for those who craved a home theater in the boudoir.

More quiet opulence types will love German designer Thomas Althaus' Maxim. Althaus has created a generous headboard and low-profile platform (with or without the side extension) and stretches luxurious Ostrich leather across them. This exotic hide is known for its accentuated quill dimples, suppleness and strength. He added a metal side table which hinges into the furniture.

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For the more youthful market, RUF offers Corner. The corners raise to 90 degrees to convert from bed to sofa to bed again. The leather-like cover adds to the versatility.

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Bringing Back Linoleum

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Once the cause of hasty removal projects, linoleum is making a comeback with vibrant colors and an edge in eco-consciousness.

That floor covering of yesteryear remains inexpensive, natural, renewable and easy to install and care for. It’s still made the old fashioned way, with linseed oil, powdered cork and a magic mix of organic materials. Plus, those brown on taupe tile-imitation patterns are a thing of the past. New linoleum comes in fresh modern or retro looks.

We say, “Welcome back!”

Image: Armstrong Marmorette in Firebird Red and Bamboo Tan.

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