Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sale at Russell+Hazel

Sale at Russell+Hazel, ends Aug 1.

Sale at Russell+Hazel, ends Aug 1.

Just been informed that Russell+Hazel, the Minneapolis-based purveyors of quality design stationery and accessories, is offering a 20% discount for online orders with an additional 20% off existing “sidewalk” sale merchandise. Use code “SAVE20” at checkout. Act fast, the sale ends tomorrow, August 1.

www.russelandhazel.com

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Parq Avenue Style – Alessi Paper Tray

Alessi Parq Document Tray

Alessi Parq Document Tray

I’m not a fan of the traditional document trays that seem to add more clutter to a desk corner rather than simplify. Every few months, I’d purge the stack of paper accumulating in the tray and think, “I’ll do a better job staying organized next time.” Needless to say, I was organized for a mere week before the tray was packed with lame memos and red-lined proposals.

If paper trays work for you, then use them. Just avoid those cheap plastic black or smoke gray sets you get at the local office supply store. And, trash the mesh metal ones; they are just as ugly. I’ll never forgive my assistant who ordered an entire set of the black plastic ones for every desk in the office. What an ungodly sight. Instead, opt for these thermoplastic resin trays from Alessi. The Parq collection is designed by Hani Rashid, the Canadian design guru responsible for popular fluid creations in architecture, furniture and accessories from the past 15 years or so.

Rashid’s unique voice in design is quite exciting. He co-founded Asymptote, a New York-based architecture firm, with Lise Anne Couture in 1989. Since then, they have been responsible for many dynamic projects, art installations, graphic and product design. You can view their portfolio at www.asymptote.net .

The Parq Document Tray from Alessi is available for $45 and can be purchased directly from their online store. It is available in three colors – black, white, and light blue. I actually like the combination of three trays in all colors, but for less of an impact, select one color for your desk. Visit their website and I promise you’ll find plenty of other great pieces for your desk. www.alessi-shop.com .

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Aqua Por Favor – Water Carafes

Water Jug designed by Menu A/S

Water Jug designed by Menu A/S

Hard to imagine being dehydrated in a country that’s practically a rain forest, but that’s exactly what happened to me while on vacation. I couldn’t understand why I was so parched, but realized that I was away from my desk where I drink more than the recommended 8-glasses full of water. How do I do it? Place a carafe full of water at your desk and keep your glass full throughout the day. With the heat emmitted from the computer and the summer temperatures reaching the high ’90s, it’s best to replenish your body to avoid thirst and hunger. Another simple trick for Diet Coke addicts like myself, add fruit to the carafe to infuse the water for a refreshing taste. I slice limes and occasionally add cucumbers or rosemary for some variety. It also looks interesting and makes for a great visual.

As for the visual, there are great looking carafes on the market. Depending how much you want to spend, you can find some fantastic designs like the one above from Menu, the Scandanavian design company of home goods . The Water Jug 1.3L is a classic modern carafe from their in-house designer Pil Bredahl. You can find other items from their beautiful collections at www.menu.as/en/ .

Menu's Water Jug 1.3L available at Fitzsu

Menu's Water Jug 1.3L available at Fitzsu

The Water Jug can be ordered online from Fitzsu Society’s web site for $80. www.fitzsu.com .

If you’re looking for something more affordable, CB2 offers the Cora Carafe, a streamlined two-piece cylinder that perfectly stacks its own cup.

Cora Carafe available at CB2

Cora Carafe available at CB2

Priced at $9.95, there’s no reason why you should ever die of dehydration at the office. To quench that thirst, order online at www.cb2.com .

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Mag in the Box – Magazine Holders

Box of Stockholm magazine holders at The Container Store

Box of Stockholm magazine holders at The Container Store

I love magazines. It’s the reason why I left a great job to help launch a new title that spanned three years (a success in the world of publishing). A trick I learned was asking people what magazines they read. You can learn a lot about a person by their subscriptions. Mine include Vanity Fair (aspiring), GQ (mens fashion and lifestyle), Details (gay), Portfolio (high-brow business, RIP), Domino (urban design, again RIP), and Travel + Leisure (hopeful vacations) – all share a theme of luxury, but I suppose one could also think of it as excess and opulence. Trust me, I’m neither rich nor privileged, but love the fine things in life. And I love tearing out pages of those fine things in magazines and keeping them for reference, resource and inspiration. If not just a few pages per magazine, I’m holding on to the entire issue. Imagine what an ungodly scene of stacks and piles of mags? Can anyone relate?

So my solution and recommendation to you is to utilize magazine holders for your bookcase and shelves. One of my favorite shops is The Container Store with plenty of shelves full of organizational boxes and accessories for the home and office. They carry a line of well-constructed boxes that look great and last a long time. Try these magazine holders (shown above) from Box of Stockholm that come in a small variety of colors. This is also a great way to introduce a splash of color without being too crazy with a bold statement. Currently these items are on sale for $7.99 each at www.thecontainerstore.com .

Linen wrapped magazine holders from The Container Store

Linen wrapped magazine holders from The Container Store

They also have two in a linen-fabric with a metal label holder. Available in two colors, light blue and lime green, I’d suggest using both colors since they go so well together. These are priced online for $6.99 each. Here’s the direct link for them.

Recycled fiberboard magazine holders at Crate & Barrel

Recycled fiberboard magazine holders at Crate & Barrel

If looking for something more understated, then try these recycled fiberboard products available at Crate & Barrel. They retail for $9.95 at www.crateandbarrel.com .

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In The Air

Tom Ford's Japan Noir

Tom Ford's Japan Noir

Hear me out. Pick one of your favorite scents and keep it at your desk. I always found it interesting that many of my favorite colognes are packaged in great bottles that rarely see the light of day, figuratively and literally. It’s advised that you keep your fragrances in cool and dark places to uphold their integrity and potency. Most of mine are either in the closet or placed on the bedroom dresser…all but one. I keep one bottle at my desk for a few reasons. As I was saying, I like the look of the bottle on a desk because it looks like something special. At some point during the day, I like the smell of a slight spritz of the scent acting like a room diffuser or air freshener. Lastly, it’s practical to have a bottle at your desk so you can lightly spray on your forearm or neck before leaving the office for a client meeting.

Don’t over do it. Find a perfect balance and you’ll be sure to impress your coworkers and clients with a “je n’ai sais pas” quality. Here are a few of my favorite asexual scents.

Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma

Jo Malone Cologne 154

Jo Malone Cologne 154

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Executive Sweet – Office of L.A. Reid

Def Jam Chairman L.A. Reid's office (GQ, 11/08)

Def Jam Chairman L.A. Reid's office (GQ, 11/08)

There’s a lot to learn from Def Jam Chairman L.A. Reid. Not only did he work his way from the ground up as a struggling musician to the head of R&D, but reinvented himself as a power executive with the Midas touch…almost literally. His artists have gold and platinum records and he is consistently praised for having the ear for picking today’s hits. He also has an impeccable eye for details and his office is proof of it. Last year (11/08), GQ featured Reid’s Manhattan executive suite for their design primer. Kudos to them for selecting such a polished and sophisticated office to profile.

L.A. Reid's office (GQ 11/08)

L.A. Reid's office (GQ 11/08)

Some things to take note. The desk functions as a conference table with the credenza being utilized as the functioning place for Reid’s computer. This is a great idea for someone who conducts meetings at their desk and needs plenty of space. On the table, a few silver boxes and small accent pieces, including a mint julep cup for pens, make for a stunning and eclectic collection.

Orchids are great for any office. Reid considers them to be “the closest thing to having a hot girl around.”

A collection of b&w photography is placed in the corner of the office near the “lounge” where business negotiations are conducted. The arrangement of furniture, a sofa with two lounge chairs perfectly positioned in a L-configuration with a well-appointed coffee table makes more for a “living room” feel than a cold place for discussing contracts. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that the furniture is HBF, from Barbara Barry’s collection.

The color palette, chocolate brown with cream and white accents.

And most importantly, a drawer full of Reid’s favorite cigars.

Now tell me, isn’t this office a sweet suite? I don’t think I’d be complaining to work if my place of business looked this good. Now do the same for yourself.

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Photographer, Artist, Genius – Julius Shulman, R.I.P.

Julius Shulman (1910–2009) Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Julius Shulman (1910–2009) Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Sadly, Julius Shulman, who’s considered by many to have pioneered modern architectural photography, died last Wednesday in Los Angeles due to declining health conditions. His iconic images represent an era of progressive architecture that truly set the tone for the high-life in Southern California. I can’t imagine one person who has not been touched by his famous picture of Pierre Koenig’s Case Study 22, capturing the excitement and romance of hillside living in Hollywood.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Julius while a student in college. His photography class was more of an extracuricular activity than a formal workshop. For those privileged few of us who sat with Julius, we heard countless stories about his clients and projects. We knew them as legends, he knew them as friends, – Neutra, Ain, Lautner, Schindler, FLW, Saarinen, Frey, Eames, Soriano – all brilliant minds of the modern era.

To this day, I still think about the wise words he shared about having a keen eye when composing life. Everything from design, photographing, staging, organizing (Julius, wasn’t one for structured organization, but knew where everything was placed in his studio), and living…always keep it simple and let the work show its greatness. In honor of Julius, I suggest that we all do the same with our life and mirror the brilliance of his work. Keep it simple.

Here’s a picture I keep at my desk. It’s one Julius helped me compose when we were visiting Case Study 22 with the class. I think I got a B- that semester, mostly for the terrible exposures. However, he did think this picture was my best work. I’m just grateful that I had the chance to be mentored by greatness.

At Case Study 22 w/Julius Shulman, Image by The Desctop

At Case Study 22 w/Julius Shulman, Image by The Desctop

Julius Shulman with Buck Stahl, client of Case Study 22

Julius Shulman with Buck Stahl, client of Case Study 22

For an in-depth article about Julius, visit www.latimes.com .

There’s also a documentary about Julius and his work. More info at www.juliusshulmanfilm.com .

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Classic Redo – Classic Design L.A.

Raoul Benassaya and employee at Classic Design in Torrance, CA

Raoul Benassaya and employee at Classic Design in Torrance, CA

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Classic Design, a custom furniture, upholstery and refurbishment company, located in Torrance, CA for an intimate viewing of their work. I had no idea that I’d be walking into a bonafide museum of original classic furniture waiting to receive some TLC from the masters behind the business. Founder Raoul Benassaya, along with his son Julien, meticulously restore modern furniture to its complete glory with an extensive process that typically yields six weeks or longer. The art of their profession is seen in every polished chrome, polyurethane stain, horse-hair fabric, and detailed stitching assembled in such a perfect fashion. Although they have the capabilities for producing custom furniture, it appears that their heart and soul is in dealing with full restoration of the classics.

The trip to their facility reminded me of the importance of finding great craftsmen for projects associated with the office. Imagine finding a great antique desk that needs some help. A lounge chair that would make the perfect companion for your office. Bringing new life to some of your retired furniture that would work well in the workplace. These days, it can be more economical to restore furniture than buying something new. And honestly, you might end up with something more valuable and better looking. Now thinking of it, this could be a new MasterCard commercial…”priceless!”

Classic Design is among the elite in their profession. With clients like Andree Putnam, Richard Meier, Gwathmey Siegel, and more, the Benassayas are the chosen choice for Herman Miller and Knoll when it comes to restoring their own classics. If you can not swing the coordination or expense associated with the pros, you can easily find a local refurbisher in your town.

At Classic Design

At Classic Design

Restoration in progress

Restoration in progress

Restored Eames Lounge Chair by Classic Design

Restored Eames Lounge Chair by Classic Design

Chrome tubular chair with blue leather

Chrome tubular chair with blue leather

Egg chair restored by Classic Design

Egg chair restored by Classic Design

Custom sofa by Classic Design

Custom sofa by Classic Design

For more information about the company and their work, visit www.classicdesignla.com .

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Sit You!

Setu Chair from Herman Miller

Setu Chair from Herman Miller

In the world of contract furnishing, there seems to be a new chair design every minute. I’m not sure if anything has topped Herman Miller’s Aeron chair in the ’90s (it’s the chair I have for my desk), but I think they have produced something that might just be their next big sensation. The Setu chair is quite revolutionary. It requires no tilt or twists of knobs for lumbar support or reclining. With its innovative spine construction and elastomeric fabric, the chair flexes, bends, suspends and contours to the users body. It conforms to your needs without having to make subtle tweaks and adjustments.

Available in five frame colors and 12 different fabrics, the Setu can be ordered with castors or, as I would prefer, glides for a stationary function that can easily act as a lounge chair. And yes, there is an available ottoman to complete the set.

Setu Chair in Slate Grey

Setu Chair in Slate Grey

Setu Chair w/o arms in Studio White

Setu Chair w/o arms in Studio White

Studio 7.5 from Berlin designed the chair. I love how they took a cue from my favorite Eames chair, the Aluminum Group Chairs, yet remain progressive and sleek through the technology. To learn more about the creative designers, visit their brilliant site at www.seven5.com .

The chair starts at $650 depending on the configuration – arms, no arms, lounge chair, guest, etc. You can retrieve more information, including how to acquire the chair at www.hermanmiller.com .

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Who’s The Fairest of All?

Aluminum mirrors from CB2

Aluminum mirrors from CB2

I’m not really vain, at least I don’t think so, but I do have a mirror hung above my desk. Hear me out. In Victorian times, mirrors were perched throughout the house to reflect natural light and the flicker of a candle. Some mirrors were convexed to provide optimal reflection in a room, especially when positioned above the fireplace. In a similar fashion, I like the idea of reflecting light in the office to provide more natural light. You can do this in either office – home or business. Plus, the added benefit of checking how you look before leaving for a meeting, especially when you’re accustomed to eating lunch at the desk, is priceless.

Honestly, I’d try to find a guilded, antique finish mirror from a flee market and make a bold statement above your desk. But if you shy away from grand gestures, then try these mirrors from CB2. Aluminum circle mirrors in varying sizes, the set of five is great for a contemporary arrangement. Priced just under $60, you can order them direct from their online store at www.cb2.com .

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