Monthly Archives: July 2009

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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Fortunes in Your Crystal Ball – Glass Paperweights

Black & White swirl Murano glass paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

Black & White swirl Murano glass paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

I remember being mesmerized as a kid with the glass paperweights that sat on my neighbor’s living room table. His mother used them more for decorating than any functional use, but the intricate hand blown glass was fascinating. We played for hours looking deep into the tiny pockets of air and thought we had special powers just like the Disney cartoons featuring the infamous crystal ball. I still think these artisan examples hold some unknown power. The way they are crafted is quite impressive. And the quality they bring to a desk is just as artistic.

I have a few Murano glass paperweights on my desk. They are mementos from my trip to Italy and I was able to find some unique fortunes for around $10 USD. A simple Google search brought me to DapperFrog.com, a purveyor of household artifacts for a wide selection of glass paperweights. When searching for your own treasure, be sure to stay away from the “flowers” and “fishes.” You’ll know what I mean once you start looking.

The black & white swirl paperweight above sells for $49.50. I think it’s quite stunning and would look fantastic on either a black or white work surface. Another favorite from DapperFrog is the Circus Stripes with Aqua, priced at $39.50. And take a look at the egg-shaped Mondrian swirl. For an eclectic set, be sure to find paperweights in varying sizes.

Circus Stripe with Aqua from Dapperfrog.com

Circus Stripe with Aqua from Dapperfrog.com

Mondrian swirl paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

Mondrian swirl paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

I also found a rather inexpensive option if the Murano glass is a stretch for the budget. The New York Public Library is selling an etched globe paperweight through their online store for only $15. It’s a simple design that throws me back to the heyday of Pan Am Airways.

Etched globe paperweight from NY Public Library Store

Etched globe paperweight from NY Public Library Store

To purchase the etched glass globe, visit www.thelibraryshop.org and do a search for paperweights.

Visit www.dapperfrog.com for rare Murano glass paperweights and other office accessories that might be right for you.

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Boy Oh Boy – Journals

Oh Boy notebook from Chronicle Books

Oh Boy notebook from Chronicle Books

When it comes to office accessories, I try to avoid the child play of goofy trinkets and toys that often plague so many of our co-workers’ desks. However, I do try to add a bit of fun with some rare finds of journals used for notetaking. Why not show up to the board meeting with an usual spiral notebook that beats the stuffy leather portfolios with that ugly yellow pad of paper. I always found it interesting that my marketing colleagues in Texas, just like myself, carried around with old-school spiral binders for jotting down thoughts, ideas and memos. It must be an innate love for writing everything down on paper and having an organic resource of information collected through the art of collaborating.

I’m always writing in my books, mostly to have proof that something indeed was stated in a meeting. Boy oh boy, I can’t tell you how many times I found myself in an argument with my boss due to conflicting stories. Luckily, I had the information scribbled in my notes and I was able to walk back to my office with small bode of confidence.

One of several notebooks I keep at my desk is this one from Chronicle Books’ Oh Boy collection called the Cambridge Journal. This striking medium-size spiral with it simple stripping of cream, red and burgandy, measures 7″x9.5.” The design is from Chronicle’s art director Henry Quiroga who is based in San Francisco. Another design of his is the Housecoat Journal (below). Either makes for a great book for writing all of those important points.

Housecoat journal by Chronicle Books

Housecoat journal by Chronicle Books

As much as I enjoy the fun notebooks for the mundane office meetings, I encourage you to have a more tailored, professional looking journal for client meetings. I’ll be making various recommendations of these alternatives in upcoming posts. In the meantime, the books from Chronicle are very affordable and can be found at some major retailers like The Container Store. The online price is $9.95 and can be ordered directly from Chronicle at www.chroniclebooks.com . Be sure to do a search for “oh boy” at the top of their home page to make it a bit easier.

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Call Me – Letterpress Business Cards

$95 letterpress business cards by The Mandate Press

$95 letterpress business cards by The Mandate Press

Even if you have a work-issued business card, you might want to invest in a personal calling card for those impromptu chance meetings at happy hour, or to give a colleague direct contact information when moonlighting. Whatever the case might be, I’m a true believer in a very clean looking card that is timeless and polished. As I have stated before, letterpress is a beautiful way of adding a sophisticated feel to a rather simplistic design. Typically, letterpress is a rather expensive process when ordering stationery, but fear not. Just like the Thank You cards from Target, you can order custom letterpress business cards from The Mandate Press for $95.

Choose from nine templates of ready-made artwork of clean, streamlined designs you can use for your calling cards or opt for uploading your own creation. Whatever you decide, you get one box of 250 cards for under 100 bucks. The limitations, if you want to call it that, is the single use of black ink on a white cotton card stock. If interested in a more complicated designs, possibly with the use of color, you can contact the printers online for an estimate. Regardless, the process is effortless and you’ll have your cards in a week.

Try James Bond as shown above, or for something unique, I really like Kahlo. And you definitely can’t go wrong with The Aristocrat.

Kahlo letterpress card by The Mandate Press

Kahlo letterpress card by The Mandate Press

Artistocrat template by The Mandate Press

Artistocrat template by The Mandate Press

The Mandate Press is a small production house based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are very design-savvy and willing to assist with your needs. When I ordered my cards last year, I decided to create my own artwork and submit a PDF. With the exchange of a few e-mails to verify the art and cut of the cards, I now have a small piece of artwork to distribute whenever I’m asked for my info. Additionally, the b&w cards sit eloquently on my black desk, further enhancing my desk theme.

Impress your friends, peers and potential freelance clients with a very unstated, professional card. Order you set today at www.themandatepress.com .

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Vanity Project

Yves Saint Laurent's Telephone Table (Vanity Fair, Jan. 09)

Yves Saint Laurent's Telephone Table (Vanity Fair, Jan. 09)

I often tear pages from magazines for thoughts and inspiration and file them as such. This example is from Vanity Fair’s January 2009 story about Yves Saint Laurent, his homes and amazing art collection that was being assembled for an estate auction. The entire spread was incredible. The amount of detail and finesse applied to the designer’s living space was beyond decorating. It was quite simply put…art. You can immediately see that the legendary man was inspired by so many intricate items in his home that his lifestyle embodied the total brand he created in the 60s.

Art comes in so many different forms, but I can’t dismiss the simple gesture of one’s own initials used to create an ever-lasting identity. The YSL logo that was hand-lettered by artist Cassandre in 1961 is beautifully framed and situated on Saint.Laurent’s telephone table. There’s something quite distinct and sophisticated with the ultra thin san serif font drawn on parchment, with a linen colored matte and black gloss frame. I look at this image and think about the importance of staying true to your own brand and embrace the entrepreneur spirit in all of the smallest tasks at hand. The logo for the french fashion house is iconic. It’s truly a piece of art that makes for a grand impact.

Last week, I mentioned that I would have some ideas about DIY artwork for your office and would present them over the course of several posts. With the ongoing Aaron Bros sale, you can easily find a similar frame that will provide you with the opportunity to create your own logo artwork. Honestly, if you think you can make the attempt, I love hand-drawn fonts such as the YSL piece above. But, if you’re a bit “sketchy” with the pen and paper, then try mimicking the initials on the computer and then print it out on nice Strathmore cotton paper. I think you’ll be amazed how subtle the fonts take on an artistic quality that truly provides value to your frame. This is an easy way to break away from traditional pictures in your office and really provides a sense of pride for your own name and brand.

Yes, I know it’s a vanity project, but at times, it’s bold and nice to proclaim your confidence.

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