Ideas for Contemporary Living

Tag: Furniture Design

2018 Showcase House

Posted on September 25th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit, Knowledge, The Moment. No Comments

Why can’t the dining room be the new family room, a place where the entire family can gather throughout the day? This is what I was saying as I drove back to the house, to take a second look at the dining room when it was in its ugly, no-character stage prior to our work.  How would I use the space, I opined? Coffee and news in the morning as I wake up; some breakfast at the cafe table to get me going; work on my laptop at the BDDW dining table, working but feeling like I’m in the park; read my book and enjoy the fog rolling in mid-afternoon; dinner with Sean or friends; a cocktail party in the evening. A room with this view needed to be used! Towards this end, I created a flexible space to accommodate lots of uses. Here’s a quick look at my approach.

Provide the tease.A bit of sparkle, reflected in the mirror just off the entry, catches your eye as you enter the house. (this also provides a great space to check your hair while heading out). A neutral color palette of sisal and plaster, with the absence of window treatments, focuses the attention.

Draw … Read More »


Posted on December 13th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Inhabit, The Moment. 2 comments

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 »

Spring Design

Posted on April 13th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, The Moment. No Comments

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 »


Posted on February 28th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Here/There, The Moment. 1 Comment

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 »


Posted on October 8th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Here/There, The Moment. No Comments

On my recent trip to Milan, it was hard to decide where to go and what to see simply because there was too much to see: Milan is the hub for Italian interior design. Friends and colleagues gave suggestions to me, and in the course of the adventure my weary feet lead me to other sources of inspiration. Here’s a quick survey of four showrooms that I found particularly inspiring. (For two more, check out Italian Design Now)

Artimede is making an impact on design by employing some of the most famous designers working today to design light fixtures utilizing the latest technology. It was great to see this showroom in person. The results are innovative and modern, using minimal design for maximum impact.

Poliform is know in the US for kitchens. A revelation for me was their furniture showroom, with its contemporary mix of materials, color and design. It would be easy (and expensive) to outfit a home shopping here.

An unexpected find was the opulent Meissen showroom, off the main shopping street, tucked into a renovated private home. Oh the splendors of money and good taste.

Close to our hotel was the Poltrona Frau showroom. I was never a big fan on the company over the years, but this may have been … Read More »

Design Week

Posted on February 7th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, The Moment. No Comments

This past week ended Winter Market at the San Francisco Design Center. While it is not the Maison & Objet in Paris, it is a celebration of creative culture brought to our shores. It’s a chance for showrooms to introduce new designs, and for everyone to gather and celebrate that a living pedaling beautiful objects can be made. And there are some very pretty objects.  Here is a tiny sampling of new items which caught my eye.

David Bjørngaard, February 2015


In the details

Posted on December 5th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, The Moment. No Comments

I recently came across the furniture of Martin Szekely. Clean lines, architectural detailing, and materials which are innovative and tactile distinguish this work. Szekely’s stated goal is to bring design to the reductive “commonplace”. I hope that you enjoy and feel inspired.

David Bjørngaard, December 2014


Posted on December 4th, by David Bjorngaard in Inhabit. No Comments

I’ve been thinking about denim a lot lately. It’s now a big part of my life. On a “stupid” level, I wear jeans all the time: to meetings with a smart jacket, on the weekends when meeting friends, out dancing…yeah, almost everyday. Occasionally I am reminded of the design potential of denim.

Years ago, as a young gay designer, I came across this image in the house of Hubert de Givenchy, and it seared itself into my brain. How chic is the use of denim table cozy! How unexpected and practical! I have often referred back to this image when thinking about design.

Luckily the image brought me to search out more of Givenchy’s interior design work, and I have not been disappointed. Givenchy it turns out is one of the few fashion designers worth looking at for traditional, understated interiors that showcase architecture and art. While a departure from the contemporary interiors which I love and share with you here often, I have learned a lot from the great sense of proportion, materiality, and editing in Givenchy’s homes. Here is a view to Givenchy’s studio, where he found inspiration for his art.  I hope that you enjoy.



David Bjørngaard, December 2014


Dans un intérieur

Posted on October 9th, by David Bjorngaard in Elements, Here/There, The Moment. No Comments

If I flew to Paris tomorrow I would visit my friends, eat at Saturne, and leisurely sit at a café with a glass of wine watching the world stroll by. Then I would go see the show Dans Un Intérieur: Meubles, œuvres murals & textiles d’artistes.

The gallery show is poised at the edge of the traditional boundaries of art and craft, form and function. In the show, fine artists take up representational mediums traditionally reserved as craft. The results are beautifully detailed, original piece of furniture, sculpture, carpets and wall tapestries.

The show posses interesting questions about the relationship of the high art and craft, and the sublimation of craft as a secondary art. I find it refreshing to see these boundaries pushed, and that the art world is embracing “craft”, at least in one gallery show. What I love about this work is that the presence of the artists “hand” is not eliminated, or sublimated to the piece: the slight imperfections (or not so subtle) which result from when a person, not a machine, makes things.

The discussion of how interiors can rise from craft to art awaits. I know it’s possible…I’ve seen it and done it. In the mean time, let’s celebrate art and craft, and towards … Read More »