edited by Alexa Yablonski -- Interior Design, 11/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Used to shuttle digital information to and from computers and cable systems, fiber optics typically win appreciation for what they do, not how they look. But their aesthetic appeal shines through with designers Suzanne Tick and Harry Allen's pair of custom-ordered lamps woven from fiber-optic strands. "It's an amazing material—it can hold light within the filament," says Tick. Creative director of KnollTextiles, she's known for weaving experimental fibers. Even so, she admits that the table and hanging lamp weren't easy to develop: "We did a bunch of weave trials, but we couldn't predict how the light would react until we plugged it in." Allen worked on illuminating the strands and sculpting them into poetic shapes. A color wheel, installed at the light source, can subtly reprogram each lamp's hue. "These definitely aren't reading lights," Tick says, laughing. "They're romantic, soft, and tactile, like a veil." Suzanne Tick, 636 Broadway, Room 1200, New York, NY 10012; 212-598-0611. circle 314
Worth the Wait
Sometimes a seed takes a while to grow. Some 15 years ago, Kevin Walz's brother, Barry, went to the designer's getaway on Shelter Island, New York, to right a sagging porch—and abandoned a canoe there in the process. The orphaned vessel, handmade of cedar and fiberglass, became an object of sustained amazement for Walz. "It was 20 feet long and weighed nothing," he marvels. "I'd carry it down to the water on my head."
Since then, Walz has picked up the coveted Rome Prize, relocated to Italy, and completed an untold number of prestigious projects. But when he started to ponder how best to "harness wood's natural properties," his thoughts returned to familiar territory. That same canoe is now credited as the unlikely inspiration for his first furniture collection for Ralph Pucci International, unveiled this month.
Taking a cue from the canoe's construction, Walz sandwiched carbon fiber between walnut laminates, creating an agile material capable of audacious, aerodynamic shapes. Sensual details—such as the delicately curled lip of the coffee table's top and the sinuous dip in the seat of the pull-up chair—distinguish the five pieces. But for Walz, the striking forms share star billing with the character of the wood. He celebrates its inherent variety of color and grain by eschewing glossy lacquers in favor of natural impregnators originally pioneered for the Italian stone industry. As a result, he says, "The furniture looks modern yet more like wood than I've seen in production in a very long time."
Walz also designed four upholstered pieces to "provide a yin to the wood's yang." Their proportions and heft bring another comparison to his mind. "The wood pieces feel like skeletons," he says. "The upholstered pieces feel fleshed out like bodies." He offers no similes for the Pucci show's third and final element: paintings of his Rome studio, rendered in black tar on vintage surplus Italian army linen. Ralph Pucci International, 44 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011; 212-633-0452. circle 315 Rugs through KorQinc, 155 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022; 212-758-2593. circle 316
After successfully launching the Room magalog—and defining the term in the process—former magazine editor Amy Crain followed up with an ancillary furniture and accessories showroom in New York. As of late, Crain has branched out again, designing a signature line of furnishings that somewhat literally rounds out the Room collection. "There's so much on the market that is minimal and spare. We've done something softer, more feminine and inviting," Crain says. While she does appreciate the lean look typical of Minotti and S. Russell Groves, whose pieces you'll find in the store and on the magalog's pages, her debut pieces are characterized by elegant curves and a vaguely vintage appearance. Adds Crain: "They're a bit old-fashioned—but not overly so." We agree. With a sweeping seat and back, her low-slung leather armchair resembles one of those versatile flea-market finds that's fabulously loft-ready. 182 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013; 888-420-7666; roomonline.com. circle 317
Braytonspaces: Sieste wows with functional grace—and has a NeoCon gold award to show for it. Ideal for health-care and hospitality markets, this three-seater converts to a full-size bed. Just flip the cushion, made of 4-inch-thick high-density foam. 250 Swathmore Avenue, Highpoint, NC 27263; 800-627-6770; brayton.com. circle 318
Ralph Lauren Home
Ralph Lauren Home: Calling to mind French furniture from the 1930s, the curvaceous Sheltering Sky bentwood lounge offers a classic—and comfy—perch. Made of light oak and upholstered in brown raffia, the piece measures 27 inches wide by 36 inches deep by 32 inches high. Available in January. 1185 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036; 888-475-7674; rlhome.polo.com. circle 319
Lucia: New to the Tessera series of case goods is a four-drawer bureau in cherry. The pieces, offered in multiple sizes and drawer configurations, are distinguished by a quilted face pattern, elegant proportions, and lovely details. Note the anodized-aluminum legs capped by cherry feet. 5600 Georgia Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33405; 561-547-7077. circle 320
HBF: Created to meet the rapidly changing needs of today's workplace—and accommodate collaboration—the Horizons Office collection comprises a vast array of flexible pieces, from desks and credenzas to tables and storage cabinets. Offered in cherry or maple, the elements feature metalwork accents inspired by designer Wayne Braun's passion for Gibson guitars. Merchandise Mart, Suite 387, Chicago, IL 60654; 828-328-2064; hbf.com. circle 321
Donghia Furniture/Textiles: Besides weathering the outdoors well, teak bestows a certain warmth and ease when used inside. Case in point: the Amagansett line of credenzas and cabinets. Designed by Glyn Peter Machin, the modular pieces rely on glass-paneled drawers for a touch of modernity. 485 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-2777; donghia.com. circle 322
Waldmann Lighting: With high-tech styling courtesy of Porsche Manufacturing, the Diva task light is easy to take a shine to. We love the sleek ribbed head and the interior parabolic louver, which spreads light evenly over work surfaces to eliminate glare almost entirely. 9 West Century Drive, Wheeling, IL 60090; 800-634-0007; waldmannlighting.com. circle 323
Loft: Designed in 1973 by Robin Day, Polo has been resurrected—and not a minute too soon. This versatile polypropylene chair's Swiss-cheese holes and vibrant colors add instant charm to café, home, or office. Sled, five-star, skid, and bar-stool bases available. Terminal-NYC, 28-30 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-219-3411; terminal-nyc.com; thepolochair.com. circle 324
Guéridon: Design devotees tired of watered-down, tinkered-with knockoffs will appreciate these pristine reeditions of Serge Mouille lighting from the 1950s. Floor lamps, desk lamps, pendants, sconces, and lighting columns come with certificates of authenticity signed by Gin Mouille, the widow of the acclaimed French designer. 359 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-677-7740; gueridon.com. circle 325
Jocelyn Warner: For off-the-wall lighting solutions, consider simple tripod lamps with shades made from Warner's wallpapers. The bases are available in either black or silver. 19-20 Sunbury Workshop, Swanfield Street, London E2 7LF, U.K.; 44-20-7613-4773; jocelynwarner.com. circle 326
Kusch + Co
Kusch + Co: Reconfigure training rooms easily by stocking them with the Profession series. The modular conference and seminar system includes stacking chairs and folding tables on castors. Trolley, flip chart, marker board, and tackboard also available. 41 Keyland Court, Bohemia, NY 11716; 631-589-7337. circle 327