In très Brooklyn, I shared with you a movement that has reached from Brooklyn to Paris to San Francisco: a desire to use locally sourced, natural products which have a sense of authenticity and refinement. On the surface, this shift in how we live has produced an aesthetic language, a set of codes which signals to people that we get it. Go to any restaurant in the hip Mission, and you will see what I mean: there are wooden table and chairs, maybe leather cushions to soften the seat, cool industrial lighting, and charcoal grey walls (or a chalk board).
Dig deeper into the movement, and it is evident that this lifestyle shift is about choosing how we spend our time, respecting our bodies, figuring out which things we value, and deciding to whom we want to give our money. I think a lot of us are struggling to find the right balance here. The end goal is to create more time with family and friends.
If you want to implement this look yourself, consider some of the following ideas, so that you achieve a more personalized, expressive aesthetic that will weather the test of time:
•not everything needs to be new and matching. Mixing together benches and different types of chairs will create a casual atmosphere for entertaining, and your guests will be more relaxed. Stripe the finish off the hand-me-down table from a relative (maybe paint them a color too), and enjoy the practicality and the personal connection.
•consider comfort. Invest in seating so that you and your guests want to linger at dinner. My favorite chairs were designed by Eero Saarinen: not locally made but beautifully designed. Add a seat cushion in leather or an outdoor fabric to soften an uncomfortable wooden chair, and your guest will be more comfortable and you won’t worry about spills.
•value authenticity by selecting furniture which will age naturally. An oil finished table will show the wood grain while mellowing in time with the marks of age. If you have a tight budget, even better: find a second-hand table, and you will already have a step up on others in the aging process.
•painting is the easiest and least expensive thing to change, and the right color will make your place feel contemporary. The color palette of this movement includes naturally finished oak and walnut contrasted with graphite grey walls and chalk-white walls. Select a blue-grey or green-grey, and you will be on trend for the foggy ephemeral color palette for 2014. Or select grayed out versions of your favorite color, be it aubergine or brown.
David, November 2013
(source images: Saturne, Bar Tartine, Saarinen Chair, Urban Hardwoods Tables)