23 August 2019

A Few of Our Favorite Things


(Please note: We are not being paid, sponsored, or receiving any form of compensation in exchange for including the following items in this post.)

Reclaimed wood floor in a modern coastal home.
From time to time we like to share a few of our favorite products, materials, innovations, etc. that are tailor-made for contemporary modern and mid-century modern houses.

In this post, we’re celebrating a couple of incredibly cool and environmentally sustainable building materials. We’re also honoring an iconic mid-century modern dining table created specifically to eliminate the “slum of legs.” (Keep reading to find out what that means…)

Reclaimed wood wall/headboard
1. Reclaimed Wood: as green as it is gorgeous

Reclaimed wood is just what it sounds like: old lumber, originally used for one purpose, that’s been reclaimed for another purpose. Some advocates call it “antique wood.”

Reclaimed wood is salvaged from old, abandoned barns and sheds, shuttered factories and warehouses, razed houses, etc., built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Depending on the region in which it’s located, reclaimed lumber can be found in almost every type of wood: Cherry, Cypress, Longleaf Pine, Mango, White Oak, Walnut and Black Walnut, Mahogany, Pecan, Teak, and other exotic woods.

For architects and home builders, using reclaimed lumber helps a new structure achieve LEED green building certification because (1) it’s considered recycled content, (2) it meets the “materials and resources” criteria for LEED certification, and (3) some reclaimed lumber products are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, which satisfies LEED’s “certified wood” category.

Reclaimed wood is primarily used in residential settings also accent walls (exterior and interior), cabinetry, furniture, and, best of all (in our opinion), flooring -- beautiful, environmentally friendly flooring that’s rife with character.

Now, don’t make the tragic mistake of thinking “reclaimed” automatically means rustic and country. “Modern designers and architects increasingly turn to reclaimed wood and other components to lend a unique persona to modern homes – both for the exterior as well as for interior spaces,” Vera Dordick in her article “Reclaiming Wood for Today’s Modern Homes” for Homedit.com.

Overhead, a reclaimed wood ceiling
Reclaimed wood resources and specialists are available all over Florida. So before you make a wood flooring decision, do yourself and the trees a favor and consider beautiful, eco-friendly reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed floor and island base in soft gray finish
2. Raw Concrete: sustainable and sexy

Speaking of sustainable building materials, concrete is as good as it gets.

In its “raw” form, it’s so much more.

Raw concrete walls in an elegant bath
“Raw” concrete is concrete that’s left unfinished after it’s cast so that the marks imprinted on it by the form molds remain visible.

As a sustainable material, concrete is abundant, renewable, low maintenance, and durable. (It will pretty much last forever.) By its nature, it promotes passive energy conservation: In interior applications, it absorbs heat from the low winter sun then radiates that heat into the room when the sun goes down. In the summer, it holds cooler temperatures at night and remains cool the next day. This barrier between outside extremes and interior comfort reduces operational HVAC energy usage by an estimated 29 percent, maybe even more.

Of course, concrete wasn’t always an option in the home building industry. Commercial and industrial, yes, but not residential.

In the early years of his illustrious career, Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who helped found the Modern Architecture movement, worked as a draftsman for Auguste Perret, the first architect to use reinforced concrete in residential construction. In 1914, Le Corbusier enlisted the help of engineer Max Dubois to determine a variety of uses for what he called béton brut, which means “raw concrete” in French. And with Corbu’s stamp of approval, other modernist architects began to consider it.

Actually, béton brut denotes an architectural expression of concrete rather than the robust material itself.  

Raw concrete wall in a bedroom
Other than in garages and basements, concrete isn’t visible in most houses. The foundations may be made of concrete block, but they’re covered with brick or stucco veneers. (The veneer-over-concrete-block approach to foundations was Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea. He also invented the concrete slab on which many mid-century houses were built. Both concepts were intended to reduce the cost of architect-designed houses.)

For a breezeway, raw concrete walls and ceiling
For several years now, however, many modernist architects and their residential clients have embraced the intrinsic beauty and authenticity of exposed, unfinished concrete in various applications, including walls within ultra-elegant modern spaces. The rugged texture of raw concrete is dramatically juxtaposed with lots of sparkling glass. The result is exciting and, yes, downright sexy.

The Saarinen Tulip Table vs. the “Slum of Legs”

Marble-topped oval Saarinen table from Knoll
Finnish architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), who designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch among many other well-known structures, was pummeled with praise for the modernist furniture he designed for Knoll. Among them: the popular Tulip Table. It was part of his Pedestal Collection of the late 1950s.

A white engineered-granite top
According to Knoll, Saarinen vowed to eliminate the “slum of legs – the ugly, confusing, unrestful world” -- underneath chairs and tables with four legs.” His pedestal dining tables were the answer since the tops are supported by one shapely post in the center.

Saarinen’s tables have been widely copied and reproduced, but authentic Saarinen tables were manufactured then and now by Knoll Associates, which Florence Knoll founded in 1948. From Knoll, they are 28-1/4 inches tall and the tops range in size from 35-3/4-inches round to 96 inches oval. The bases are made of heavy molded aluminum painted black or white. The tops are available in a variety of marbles, woods, granites, and laminate.

Vintage Tulip Tables are available. But so are a plethora of cheap, badly made knock-offs. If you’d like to bring a vintage Saarinen table into your home (and who wouldn’t?), know the characteristics of the authentic version, especially since the 1950s versions are selling for thousands. Pamela Wiggins’ article “How to identify a genuine Saarinen Table” (The Spruce.com) will give you all the information you need to make a confident purchase. Or save yourself the angst and buy a new one from Knoll!

A Tulip Table with a black base and gleaming wood top

05 July 2019

The Modernist Angle Blog is Moving

Like most people, I hate moving. You probably feel the same.

Moving a blog or website is even worse. But when better digs or better conditions are beckoning, it is hard, if not impossible, to say "no".

Modern homes in Florida, transmogrified or not, offered for sale by ModernFloridaHomes.net

So: for reasons that have something to do with my new office transmogrifier and the upgraded Fluxmaster (if I got that right), The Modernist Angle is moving into the same modern quarters as its website sibling, Modern Florida Homes.

Please visit – the doors are wide open!

Calvin + Hobbes © Bill Waterson

04 July 2019

To a Happy Independence Day!

Modern Homes in Florida for sale - luxury, waterfront, mid-century and contemporary

Independent: c(1): Not requiring or relying on others, not subject to control by others (Merriam-Webster)                   

Today, the US commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence: Thirteen American colonies regarded themselves no longer part of the British Empire but as a new nation: the United States of America. 

A Salute to the Union is fired at noon by any capable military base.

In that spirit: to a Happy Independence Day!


Photo tckaiser 

23 June 2019

Sculptural Luminaries, Inspired by Nature

The first - the Coral

Ten years at sea would have a profound impact on anyone’s life. For New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge, it inspired him to create furniture and lighting that expresses his close connection to the sea, to nature in general, and to his deep commitment to environmental stewardship.

Trubridge graduated from Newcastle University in England in 1972 with a degree in naval architecture. He
David Trubridge
taught himself to make furniture while he worked as a forester in rural Northumberland.

Then in 1981, Trubridge, his wife Linda, and their two small sons set out on a yacht named “Homepipe” determined to navigate their way through the Caribbean and the Pacific. They’d sold everything they had to buy the boat that would be their home for a decade.

When the family ultimately settled in Whakatu, New Zealand, Trubridge began to work on furniture designs that would be the basis for his small business. When he introduced “The Coral” pendant light in 2004, that small business gained the attention of the international media and, in turn, the international market. His small business wasn’t so small any longer.

The Kina
“The Coral” wasn’t originally intended as a light. It was just a form Trubridge created out of plywood by repeating a geometric polyhedral 60 times. Trying to find a use for this fascinating form, he stuck a light bulb in it one day. And so began a series of “sculptural luminaries, inspired by nature,” such as…
·       “Navicula,” which recalls the microscopic diatoms that float in the ocean
·       “Kina,” which references the inner shell of the sea urchin that wash ashore on New Zealand beaches
·       “Flax,” inspired by the long leaves of the indigenous flax plant
·       “Snowflake,” which Trubridge designed after a trip to Antarctica
·       “Ulu,” based on the leaf of a certain Tahitian tree
·       and so on…

The Navicula

A Problem and Its Ingenious Solution
Most of David Trubridge’s lighting pendants are quite large – one of many reasons why they work so well in open, clean-lined modernist interiors. “Navicula,” for example, is 22” x 8” x 57”. “Snowflake” is 31” x 16” x 31”. The “Sola” pendant is a 31” x 31” x 31” globe. Made of plywood and other lightweight materials, the large pendants aren’t heavy. But imagine the shipping charge for pieces of that size, which would have to be passed along to the buyer, thereby dramatically raising the price. Beyond the cost, Trubridge was also concerned about the carbon footprint such shipping would entail.

The Kit
So he devised a clever solution: He would ship his giant designs as kits of parts that buyers would assemble when they arrived. That way, the lights could be shipped economically in flat boxes. And the environmental impact? Trubridge now holds Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

According to the website (www.davidtrubridge.com), Trubridge and his company are also dedicated to sourcing sustainable materials. “Wherever possible, all timber is from sustainably managed plantations in New Zealand or the United States. Wood is left natural where appropriate, with natural non-toxic oils being used in place of harmful solvents. From a design point of view, the products use only the minimal amount of materials and are generated with a focus on longevity.”

The Hinaki, inspired by fish traps

Trubridge’s work has been featured in numerous international publications. In 2008, Express magazine named him one of the top 15 designers in the world. In 2012 the Pompidou Centre in Paris acquired his “Icarus” installation for its permanent collection.  

Where are they?
David Trubridge collections are available through retail stores, some of which will assemble the pendants for you for a small fee. The website lists three Florida cities with Trubridge retailers: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Pensacola. Go to the Where To Buy page to find those and all other retail sources.


To see all of Trubridge’s collections, visit www.davidtrubridge.com.