Bringing the Past to the Future

What does modernism mean? We have been blessed here at Nested Green Inc. with a couple of fabulous design projects that have had me thinking deeply about designs of the past.  Those techniques, shapes and materials that are considered “old fashioned” to some are really the base for the what many would consider “modern” design.  When I’m asked by clients “Do you do modern?”… I have to ask what they mean by “modern”.  Technically, with tools, materials and techniques, unless we are building a space the way the hardcore Amish society can, then it will always be “modern”… our building code insists on it.  As for aesthetically, modern design has an impressive history that is subjective to each persons reality and perception of what “modern” means. One of our projects is a renovation of a 70’s high-ranch on a lake in an up-scale community.  There are many directions we could take this lovely back split bungalow with a sliver of a view of the lake… embrace it’s 70’s roots? … reproduce a Hampton’s upscale vacation home?… or take it back to it’s origins of the 70’s style and go for Craftsman. The client chooses the direction, we follow the direction to make the dream a reality. Large windows, posts & beams, river-stone fireplace, sweeping lake-side decks… I’m thinking (hoping for) Craftsman. Craftsman Style The Craftsman style we know today has many inspirations at it’s roots. William Morris of England at the turn of the 20th century promoted a philosophy of “have only what is beautiful and useful in your home”… an idea abused by modern day mega-mass furniture co. Ikea.   Arts and crafts for the masses back in the day, ironically were mostly afforded only by the upper classes.  Then there are the American sources like Gustav Stickley for his furniture and later Frank Lloyd Wright’s stylized version of Arts & Crafts with his Prairie School of designs and philosophies.

“A craftsman is an artist or artisan who practices a trade or handicraft and creates beautiful (decorative) or practical (useful) objects and structures from natural materials with skill and dexterity using his or her hands.”(1)

A recent visit to a commercial furniture dealer who sell Herman Miller furniture (thank you Ben at OBI Environments in Ottawa) had me contemplating the effect that mid-century designers have had the industry.  Companies like Herman Miller and Knoll have been influencing the designs of interiors for 75 years… furniture and textiles with designers such as Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry, Marcel Breuer.  Suzanne Tick, whom I met in San Francisco almost 15 years ago is a talented textile designer whose work is very  much up-holds the philosophies as such designing with textiles. (2)

Florence Knoll defined the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America

Florence Knoll defined the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America

So we ponder the term “modern design”.  What does it mean?  It is a subjective term but there is more to it.  Is it about idealism or is about acquisition?  What does it mean to be a modern person?  Is it about the ownership of technology and how we use it?  Isn’t everything that happens is in the future considered modern?  What if our future selves are left without our much depended technologies and luxuries?  If we embrace the lifestyle of our ancestors can we still be “modern”?  Well, we know there is no going back completely to the ways of the past unless that much advertised Zombie Apocalypse actually happens… But we know too much to return completely to the way things were long ago. Evolution is a much desired trait by all species.  Adapt, grow and pass it on… that’s how nature does it.  So one is compelled to giggle just a little when asked “Do you do modern? Smile… pass it on.

Saarinen's revolutionary Pedestal Collection debuted in 1958

Saarinen’s revolutionary Pedestal Collection debuted in 1958

(1) http://www.arts-and-crafts-style.com/craftsman-style.html (2) http://www.knoll.com/shop/by-designer/suzanne-tick http://www.knoll.com/discover-knoll/timeline Photo credit: http://www.knoll.com/designer/Eero-Saarinen

Clutter Out… Calm In… Removing the unnecessary to see the important.

Mud room, custom organization system

In northern climates, as the blanket of brown snow recedes, thoughts of Spring bring with it a sense of re-birth and a chance to start life anew.  Spring also signals the time when many of us look around our winter encrusted entryways and dread the scraping of mud and salt off the floor tiles.  Piles of lone mittens, out-grown boots, sports equipment and water-logged school reports may also be a burden needed to be dealt with.  There’s a reason why “Time for Spring Cleaning” is on everyone’s lips and minds, whether you are the one designated to perform the task or not.  Clearing out the clutter, especially after being shut-in for what seems like an eternity, not only removes the safety hazards that have been building up but allows for the calm and restful feelings that an organized and clean space brings to us.

The physical act of removing clutter from your life is quite simple, there are a multitude of web-articles that will list how you should go about the task.  It is the mental aspect for many that becomes the challenge when deciding to throw-out or donate perceived precious items.  When beginning a lifestyle change like loosing weight, you would clear out your pantry and refrigerator of toxic and negative food, this is true of our possessions too. IMG_0519

The front entry of your home is a great place to start your new diet.  When we come home at the end of a long day at work, the last thing we need to be greeted with is clutter.  “That which clutters the floor, clutters the mind” I always say… usually to myself.  We contemplate, “How did it get this bad?”… “Didn’t I just clean this yesterday?” … “Why is the cat napping on my favourite scarf?” … and then we look for someone to blame… one may scream out the injustice of it all but no one listens… ever.  Then we formulate a plan so this never happens again… but always does.  It may seem like a useless task to take control of the mayhem but when your mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly and notes what a lovely floral display you have on the entry hall table… all is right in the world.

 

Gravel underfoot gone.  Lone mittens gone.  Salt stains… gone.  Sanity returns. Hellooooo Spring!!

#clutterlessnest  #nestedspringcleaning  #nestmess  #nestedsanity