onsdag, november 07, 2007

Pucci, Schmucci ... It's Saarinen Who Rules

The Style Issue has gone to print, so now it's time to get ready for home interiors. As a child, I was forced to wear saddle shoes and my brothers' galoshes (the only word for the footwear that was black and buckled enough to make a fireman proud) for a long enough period for it to have a scarring effect. Furniture, however, ran from Scandinavian to Wright to French Country veins, so although I can - after years of therapy - talk the talk and walk the runwalk walk about fashion, interior design feels as natural as sunshine.

"Yours in the only house where the people call the furniture by name," a friend once said after hearing someone refer to the foyer table as "The Saarinen." It doesn't matter that we load it up with keys, mail and every piece of crap that makes it in from the car or the corner store. What matters is that we recognize who created the workhorses that hold up our precious nonsense pocket fodder, reams of paper, multiple PCs and Macs, or tired bodies, and we do it with the precision that others demonstrate in spotting a Canal Street LV from 50 paces.

Furniture is, to me, more important that haute couture or knowing where to score a knock off. Furniture has the potential for a soul. Well designed pieces can take you back to mom's arms or daddy's lap. If created by a master, it can look like art in the process. But just because it looks like art doesn't mean it's well designed. I have made mistakes. Plenty. For example, I've learned to avoid most things transparent. And I finally figured out why Philip Starck's bubble creations - as wildly successful as they are as trend pieces - bug me. They look like something they very much are not, and it irritates, if only for a subliminal second, my brain. His hard plastic furniture extruded into the shape of overweight sofas creates an internal conflict that the functionality of the piece does not overcome. Go ahead, just try to get cozy.

But I am still in awe of the pair of Wegners that my husband collected. (Image via here.) I didn't think much of them at first. They were precariously close to wicker-looking and in isolation seemed milquetoast. But then I sat in one during a football game and for the first time in a decade elected to watch the entire match. I didn't want to move. The arms were sturdy, the grain was well marked, the caning secure but giving, and the comfort was incredible. Something about the drop between my knees and the low back of the chair, then the angle of the upright made me feel like I was being carried. By a professional. Then I realized that because of their simplicity the chairs went with anything I put them next to. They stood strong on their own without taking command.

It's a whole 'nother world out there with furniture. The trick is to find the time to find and test run. But keep in mind that there is often a reason something has been called a classic.