A charming Southeast Asian couple recently tasked me with designing a parchin kari kitchen backsplash for their Mediterranean-style home in Palo Alto. Also known as pietra dura (in Italian), parchin kari is a stone inlay technique of using cut and fit, high-polished colorful stones. Parchin kari is not associated with restraint, so how does one integrate this technique into a clean, contemporary interior?
Simplify the materials. Our goal was to create a modern kitchen, open and bright, with an accent of design and color at the stove. By minimizing contrast in the surround materials, we allowed the parchin kari pop! without being overwhelming. The result of less is more.
Embrace color naturally. Typical stones used include marble, precious and semi-precious stone. We used a combination of turquoise, agate and lapis lazuli for the flowers; mother of pearl for stamen; malachite for the leaves; and branches in Jaisalmer stone.
Roll with it.The downside of long-distance design – 8,000+ miles! – is that sometimes things get lost in translation. While our design was meant to be the full width of the range, we were able to accommodate the somewhat narrower final design with seamless results.
History and future.Developed in 16thcentury Rome and Florence, and being widely used in Mughal India, … Read More »
Summer is finally here. Time to relax, get outside and enjoy the fruits of our labour in comfortable style. For outdoor spaces, the right mix of furniture has flexibility, personality, durability and style. Above all, an outdoor space requires fun, sculptural pieces to compliment the organic shapes of nature. To help kick off your summer, get inspired, or find that right piece to mix into your outdoor room, here are a few of my favorite outdoor furniture finds.
Mix light and airy with solid volumes. For this outdoor space in Palo Alto I designed with Monica Ream and Stephen Verner, I paired oversized Lolah Lounge chairs with a Paola Lenti Otto footstool and Orlando daybed, resting on a custom concrete platform. The white curved slats of the chair create an organic volume, and echo the wood of the trellis. The solid shapes of the day bed and ottomans don’t compete with the chairs, while offering a really relaxed, carefree and flexible space to enjoy the sun, shade and pool. Click here to see more of this project.
Every outdoor room needs a piece of sculpture. The view is inspired, so should be your furniture. Simple, refined shapes mix well with the outdoors, and hold their own … Read More »
This brilliant restaurant, Loulou Restaurant Paris, recently got me thinking more about the use of caning in interiors. I love how the technique softens and adds texture to a clean modern space. I also am intrigued by the veiling of our voyeuristic tendencies: cane gently obscuring mirror. Clean interiors require a bit of texture, and modern interiors require a bit of history.
Lately I’ve searched out the variety of caned furniture. I like the touch of artistry and handicraft, plus the sense of exotic glamour. Adding warmth, texture and color to modern interiors is the key to creating inviting, comfortable spaces to live. Here are a few of my favorite interiors and pieces of furniture. I recommend you embrace the trend.
I’m not terribly acquisitive – could be an occupational hazard – but I regret passing up a set of 6 Marcel Breuer chairs at a second-hand store in San Rafael years ago. Bent tubular steel fashioned into a continuous frame, softened by the caned seat and back. Casual yet elegant, modern yet grounded in craft techniques, nearly a perfect chair…and now someone else’s chairs! Probably in a breakfast room in Mill Valley, or a second home in Palm Springs.
Here are a few other … Read More »
I wasn’t fortunate enough to make plans to attend this years Milan Furniture Week, which just ended. I followed with envy as friends and showrooms posted pretty pictures on Instagram. I did however take the time to check out some of the newest designs unveiled recently at the San Francisco Design Center. Color, texture, precise detailing…here are a few of the trends which I observed.
Pops of Color. Fresh, vibrant yellow and green made a strong showing. Clearly the design world is taking its cue from fashion. It is refreshing to see a bright yellow chair on a grey day, but I prefer the lichen green for a cozy read. Isn’t this what we need in the foggy Bay Area?
Richness of leather. Leather is being used in warm camel and wood tones, providing a visual rhythm and tactile warmth to any room.
Texture. Materiality and texture are having a strong presence, with chunky, tactile imperfection prized. Look for wicker, rattan, brushed wood, rope and hides to compliment your home.
Elegance and precision. There is still a strong showing for elegant, clearly crafted pieces, but often done in a restrained color palette. Look for details like metal legs, wide arms, simple proportions, and … Read More »
I caught the Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial at the San Jose Museum of Art just before it closed. Titled Beauty, the show explores contrasting themes in contemporary design, where the worlds of art, craft, technique and automation intersect or contrast. While offering a glimpse at the work of some of the hottest designers working today, the exhibition also offered an opportunity for me to ponder the age-old question…what is beauty? Here are a few of the standouts from the show.
Max Lamb might be one of my favorite designers working today. There is something visceral in his process, as Lamb explores and integrates the process of furniture making into the end pieces. Lamb uses raw, often inexpensive and throw away materials, in combination with experimental techniques which result in a rough and tactile quality. This work resonates directly with me, perhaps because I believe that intellect and education only bring us so far in the designing of spaces…we need to ask how does a space feel.
To get a glimpse of Lamb’s process, check out this video of the fabrication of the Pewter stool, where Lamb pours molten pewter into a mold dug into the sand at the beach. He then excavated the hardened piece from … Read More »
If you attended the Fog Fair last week, you most likely noticed three works by the Dutch duo that makes up Studio Drift: Shylight and In 20 Steps at Pace Gallery, and Fragile Future at Carpenter Workshop Galleries. These two designers are working to create site-specific installations and interactive sculptures that deal with space and light, utilizing an understanding of geometries and movement in the natural environment paired with the latest in technology and craft. This is worth checking out.
I first noticed Skylight in a video of the installation at the Rijksmuseum. Mimicking the metamorphosis of flowers from day to night, this is a dynamic interpretation of lighting, which are normally static in the form of stationary pendants or chandeliers. I think this is perfect for a temporary installation or public space…a little bit goes a long way.
In 20 Steps expresses the movement and “ultimate freedom of flight” in brass and glass, LED and microchips. Simple elements become dynamic, and capture light as the sun sets.
My favorite, perhaps the most easily integrated into the above-average home, is Fragile Future. I love that dandelions were hand-picked, with their seeds individually glued to LED lights, becoming something both fragile and exquisite. Perhaps I just remember playing … Read More »
I’ve spent the afternoon being inspired at the Fog Art+Design show at Fort Mason Center, January 12-15. The fair brings some of the best contemporary furniture dealers and art galleries to San Francisco. There are many amazing objects and pieces of furniture which will make you stop in appreciation, especially if you appreciate process and technique. New discoveries and works by old friends abound. Even if you’re not a collector, a show like this helps to train your eye, which will make it easier for you to sort through all the design choices you encounter. It also helps one learn how to stylishly display our own personal and prized treasures at home. I hope you’ll go explore. Here are a few of my favorite objects from the show.
Finally, check out this great ad…love my day job!
David Bjørngaard, January 2017
One of the materials which I have embraced this year is terrazzo. Part of the reason is that terrazzo reminds me of Italy, where it was invented in the 16th Century; terrazzo is widely used in Italy in homes, lobbies and restaurants. Part of my interests is due to terrazzo’s sustainability, being made from remnants of marble, quartz and glass. I also like the Art Deco and 1950’s vibe, as can be seen here San Francisco in many residential developments; just take a drive through the outer neighborhoods and look at the beautiful terrazzo entry stairs, still colorful and intact.
What is terrazzo? Terrazzo is a composite material originally made of cement and marble remnants from quarries. Today, resin is also used now as a binder, while quartz, glass and metal are being used in addition to marble. Terrazzo is either poured on-site, or can be purchased in tile or slab form for easier (and often less expensive) installation.
Why choose terrazzo? In addition to the charmed history and sustainability, terrazzo is extremely durable, and is available in nearly unlimited colors, in a range of materials. Terrazzo, which retains warmth, is also a great choice when using radiant heating.
Where can you use terrazzo? I’m … Read More »
Connecting and working with talented individuals is one of the highlights of my job. Local crafts people and artists have a thoughtful perspective on design, and they help create objects that are both more meaningful and fully realized. International designers often have a different cultural perspective, a different aesthetic framework, yet it is exciting to see that many of us are working on projects that emphasize the same core values: using traditional techniques, sustainable materials, and cutting edge designs. I recently meet Nani Marquina, a talented designer and founder of the eponymous firm which creates and explores ideas surrounding rugs. Here are a few of my takeaways from our meeting.
Rugs define a room, creating atmosphere and emotion. Rugs provide the foundation of a room, while adding warmth, color and comfort. Bohemian. Tailored. Artistic. A rug suited to your personality and taste really can provide a transformative experience to your space, expressing your personality. A thoughtfully selected rug transforms an existing room, making your existing furniture look new.
Collaboration yields striking results. Through a range of collaboration with designers such as Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Ron Arad, the company is pushing experimentation of textures, shapes and materials. Carpets are being pieced together, or woven … Read More »