Sunday, January 20, 2013

the spaces we make

we make furniture, one piece at a time, it's true, but, we also sometime make spaces, often intimate and personal spaces, that can have a deep meaning for us and for the clients we work with.  i visited the space in the photo above yesterday, to discuss some new work in an upstairs office, and was struck by the peacefulness and beauty of it.  the client was the designer and she has an impeccable eye.  we applaud her taste in custom furniture.  the two pieces we made in the photo, the large kas tv cabinet in the background, (back when big tvs were still big), and the custom pool table in the foreground, both look great over 10 years later.  both were challenges on a lot of levels, but looking at them now i remember the challenges as both fun and considerable.  click the photos to enlarge them ...
this piece was for another special client who was, to say the least, a collector.  he pointed me to set of random shelves with items arranged lineally and told us to, as i recall'  'make them make sense'.  the individual shelves are lit, the objects are all in original finishes, and while almost all were antiques, there were some most arresting, contemporary, maria martinez pieces in the mix.  the duck decoys are all 'top shelf' and represent just a tiny part of his 100 plus piece collection displayed throughout other areas of the house.  it was also my first experience of seeing diebenkorns, milton averys, stuart davises, and georgia o'keefe paintings in a private home.
and in preparation for a recovery from a hip transplant, we created this round and tapered tv stand in a corner of the bedroom.  this was one of the first flat screen tvs i had ever seen and he encouraged me to stretch a little outside the box on the design.

the next four images, including the greene and greene style desk and chair above, are for a husband and wife who are long time (25 years) clients, and for whom we have done many, many pieces.  there's generally a discussion or two, a sketch or two, and then a negotiation or two, and than we do it .. in the end, the pieces always seem to feel just right for their spaces.
table and chairs, 1987 
coffee table, 1989 ... the challenge here was to not obscure the amazing carpet.  i saw it this holiday season and the rug is as vibrant and arresting as ever.  we took our main design cue from the 'ram's head' detail in the carpet design ..
loyal readers have seen this one before, but it's from the same house as the three photos above.
in this kitchen we took our cue for the stools from the verticals on the island face, using a frank lloyd wright inspired stool design and a cherry counter top with a walnut and curly maple stripe down the center.
and in the next room, we built an entire greene and green inspired dining room with a custom sideboard and mirror, some wall sconces, an expanding table with 8 chairs, a hanging lantern and a corner cupboard that you can see reflected in the mirror.  this work was all done in 2003, and the client liked it so much, we did another very similar version of this room in 2008,  for another house he built in greenwich, ct.  the detailing of the sideboard construction for that dining room was our most popular blog post ever.
in 2003, we also created this double chest in quartered sycamore, along with a bed , side tables and a reclaimed chestnut tv piece.
this cherry and burl dining room set was another commission that created an intimate dining room on long island.
and, working with the manager at the equinox hotel in manchester a few years back, we designed and fabricated this lighted corner display case where the hotel features its events. sometimes a little used, awkward corner space can become highlight of the area.
and this piece was another 'ambiance piece' for a local hotel, the dorset inn, where it lived for almost 20 years until the inn changed hands recently and it went off to the former owner's home, one of, i believe, the only pieces she retained when the inn was sold.

     and sometimes, folks just want to have fun .... why not have your own custom home bar.  we would have liked to make the stools too, but i think that would have been a stretch after the bar project.  one of the most rewarding things we get to do in our work is to work with clients to produce their visions, and then visit those spaces later, after the fact, to see how they use and enjoy them ...

are we interior designers?  not really, and certainly not all the time, but occasionally we get to start from nothing and create a warm and personal space for our clients with our designs, and that is a most rewarding experience.

below is an intimate dining table in a park avenue apartment that the clients helped me to design and they tell me still that they use it 'every day'  ..

more on interior design and a brief discussion of the influential book 'a pattern language' by christopher alexander at this link

"At the core... is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets and communities. This idea... comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people". —Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, front bookflap

another good one i'm reading right now is 'at home..a short history of private life' by bill bryson.

my own office at work

a custom home office, danby, vt
entry hall, manchester, vt


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting pictures of your work. I'm seventeen and I'm starting to build furniture for different clients but I'm realizing I have a LOT to learn. I appreciate you taking time to blog.

Jim Probst said...

Great post Dan. Whenever I start to get the big head, I only have to spend a few moments looking at your work. I'm impressed with not only the overall body of work, but the variety of styles that you manage to execute so well. Not only that, but you seem to be getting a lot done.