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August 15, 2007

The Story of the Barcelona Chair

Time for a history lesson. We'll take you through the past of one of modern furniture's best loved classics. Today's topic - the Barcelona Chair...


Designed expressly for the king and queen of Spain, this chair was a new, modern take on the scissor-like collapsible stools used by Roman and Egyptian rulers. Reinterpreting the form in steel and leather, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created a clean, now classic style that didn’t sacrifice the chair’s inherent meaning—to represent high status and exalted political position.

After just six months, the building Mies designed and created the Barcelona Chairs for was dismantled (the German Pavilion had been built for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain). His chairs, the only two in existence, might have been lost to the future, were it not for the ingenuity of manufacturers.

In 1931, a German catalog began offering the chairs. In 1948, Mies gave an apprentice photographs of the originals to create a few more for the lobbies of the Chicago Lake Shore Drive apartments. Later that year, Florence Knoll obtained Mies’s permission to begin a limited mass production of the design and hired Treitel-Gratz to complete five chrome-plated steel frames a week.

Find out when to spurge and when to spend on the icons of modern furniture in Clones or Close Enough?

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August 13, 2007

Cool Modern Convenience


Every home has that one room that is consistently too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. It's usually the one  located furthest from the furnace and A/C. A little device that fits into existing vents, though can change the temp in that room from 3 to 7 degrees.

The AirFlow Breeze increases the volume of air delivered into uncomfortable rooms. Two low-voltage fans, turned on and off by a temperature sensing electronic controller, control the amount of airflow in a three speed fan offering flow rates of 100, 70 or 40 cubic feet per minute (CFM).

The AirFlow Breeze conserves energy too. When the fan from the central HVAC system or furnace cycles off there is still conditioned air lingering in the ducts, the AirFlow Breeze pulls that air into the room.

The design slides into vent openings and plugs in to an electrical outlet, costing a minimum $5 a year in operating costs. It’s available online at for $59.95.

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Spice up the outdoors

Design_discoveries Outdoor design consultant John Aves lends his design expertise to Pure Contemporary readers:

Catlan from Miami, Fl writes: My husband and I are building a deck off the back of our Miami Beach home. We want to achieve a modern, clean look by using clear glass railings and sleek furniture. We are having a problem choosing the material to construct  the deck -- we don't want to use wood. Can you recommend any alternatives?

Your investment in the materials for your patio will pay especially high dividends in Miami, where your views and all connections to nature are precious. Stainless Steel or Polished Aluminum are the only metals (for holding the glass panels) that will stand up to the salt air and sun exposure in coastal Florida.

Flooring could be mosaic or tile. There are many wonderful choices in tile. Sandstone colors work well in areas where you may accumulate fine particles of sand and other airborne materials -- and it reduces the maintenance.

Using contemporary wicker/resin furniture will look and feel comfortable, but also cleans well and will withstands the coastal conditions. It feels good to the touch and is softer than metal. Maintenance and comfort are paramount. Check out Design Discoveries. Either the Thayer Hopkins Collection or Infinitas Modular Collection would be appropriate for a contemporary setting.  The modular option is especially helpful in smaller space where you may wish to re-arrange elements to suit guests, etc.

Category: ARCHITECTURE, PATIO & OUTDOOR | Permalink | Add Your Comment (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

Designer Bags


For designers by an uber-designer, the Designer's Bag by Michael Graves for Crypton gives creative types an artful way to carry their creations. The $200 bag comes in two unisex designs on Crypton's indestructible (stain and moisture resistant anyway) fabric. Purchase and browse the rest of Graves's designs at Crypton.

Category: ART & ACCESSORIES, CAROLINE BARRY, PATIO & OUTDOOR | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

August 09, 2007

Modern Beta Launch


Perhaps unsure of how this gem would sell, Steuben glass started with a "beta launch" of five limited edition Crystal Reef Fish Bowls by Michele Oka Doner. Just over 11 inches in diameter the crystal fish bowl sits atop a cluster of coral cast of (what else?) more Steuben crystal. For the minimalist aquarium hobbyist, this bowl would hold one lucky beta. Interested? Steuben encourages impulse purchasing. Go to the site, add it to your cart and proceed to check out. But for this ultra luxury fish bowl, you'll have to part with $23,000.

Category: ART & ACCESSORIES, CAROLINE BARRY, MODERN PETS | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

Toy Testing


Adults and children have different ideas about what's fun. While we proudly present the gift we've searched for all month, junior's more interested in the cardboard box it came in. Kids can make a box be anything, that's why while all those flash in the pan fads went forgotten, the cardboard box was introduced into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2005.

Bilibo honors kids' ingenuity by delivering the same low-tech fan-fare as the cardboard box in a package that resists rain, sand, snow and the general wear and tear of a much a loved toy. I've been enthralled with the award winning toy since I first saw it about three years ago, and today I finally bought one. My nephew's turning two and I can't think of a better test market for what's sure to be a favorite toy. Standby, I'll let you know if this bundle of options meets Jude's standards and survives.

Anybody else try the Bilibo? And are two better than one?

Give Bilibo to your favorite little friend.

Category: CAROLINE BARRY, MODERN KIDS | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

August 08, 2007

Wall Candy


One of our favorite designers, Eric Pfeiffer (Offi, Pfeiffer Lab) put his kid design cred to the test with WallCandy Arts. We've seen decals like blik and beearo, but Pfeffer's wall decal design for Wall Candy is the first to employ a chalkboard. Shapes include animals (Chalk-O-Diles, giraffes, elephants, rhinos), rectangles, Chalk Trees, and Growth Trees, and they're all easy, stick and remove message spots or creative pads for kids of any age.

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Modern Kitchen Design Plans


Last night I dreamed I was midway through a luxury kitchen renovation - at my own house. Everything was going smoothly. The cabinets were in, I had a new floor and, this I remember specifically, a white and gray Carrara marble countertop and backsplash. 

Of course, this would never happen. Even if I were getting a new kitchen, it wouldn't go smoothly. And Carrara marble, I'm not sure about that.

It's beautiful, and I love the serenity of the colors. But is that even a green material? Sure it's natural, and it just comes out of the ground, but the process. The process is serious business. Cutting it, hauling it, shipping it, processing it. These activities do major environmental damage each year. 

Lucky for me, I happen to know my parents have a big unfinished slab of the stuff in their basement. It's left over from when the builders put in the marble thresholds sometime around 1900, and I'm sure they, like us, had no interest in trying to move the thing up the stairs once they were done. I'm remembering this piece to be 3.5 to 4 feet long by 2.5 feet wide  and 5 inches thick, which could be enough to be sliced and diced into some mighty fine countertops for my kitchen or bathroom. And since it's just sitting there, wouldn't it be worse to order an entirely new surface, even if it were more green? I think so. And clearly my dreams are telling me to soldier on, but how do I get this thing up, out and made into countertops? Please give me your tips below!

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August 07, 2007

Design for your Baby


How many times have you purchased a product only to find that the design lacks some obvious functionality?

Manufacturers want to design the best products, but a lot of times it's the consumer who's the expert -- we know what we want because we're so frustrated with not having it. It pushes us to become inventive, and nobody gets creative like new parents. Beyond the hell of car seats, the ubiquitous diaper bag gets the poorest marks. Each one available claims to have the best storage and smartest design, but none breaks through as the ultimate.

That's why Wee Generation wants your input on what makes the best diaper bag. They've assembled a crack team of design experts to cull your ideas and come up with the world's best version. The only rules - the environment comes first. This bag is about the future after all, and cradle to cradle the future is green.

Get more info, send in your ideas and sign up to be on the waiting list at the Wee Generation website. This bag may not exist yet, but its buzz sure does. After all, with so many experts chiming in, it's sure to be a winner. We'll know for sure before the close of 2007, when the mystery bag debuts.

Related Stories:
Modern Trends in Cribs and Nurseries

Category: CAROLINE BARRY, GREEN DESIGN, MODERN KIDS, NEWS & EVENTS | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

August 03, 2007

Green Flooring

I'm always on the lookout for reasonably priced green flooring options. And while I can find great materials like rubber and recycled limestone for commercial applications, coming across these for residential is always a bit more difficult. But today I discovered Green Floors. They've got it all, recycled leather, limestone, carpets made of 100% post-consumer recycled food and drink containers, even flooring made from recycled tires. Of course they have the standards too: bamboo, cork, linoleum and marmoleum, and they cater to residential or commercial consumers. Can't decide which material suits your project best? They'll send 4 samples for $5.95 to cover the shipping costs.

Category: CAROLINE BARRY, GREEN DESIGN | Permalink | Add Your Comment (0) | TrackBack

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