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November 26, 2008

To our friends and family: Save 15%.


As part of DWR’s extended family, you may already know that between our core assortment and Tools for Living items, we offer gifts for everyone you’re buying for. Of course, we have the design aficionados on your list covered (you probably already knew that too). But then there are the jetsetters, the foodies, the book lovers, the crafters and the people who just love good-smelling soap. We have clocks for the punctual ones and lounge chairs for those who like to kick back. There’s even a Tepee. And, starting November 28, for four days only, you can save 15% on any of it (use code DWRFF8 at checkout). (Here’s some small print: Valid 11/28/08–12/1/08. Not valid on Artemide, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, Herman Miller®, Kartell, Knoll® or Vitra products or on the DWR Airstream or Kithaus.) Find a family of Finger Puppets here. Shop here.

November 20, 2008

Drawing circles in square peg times.

I stayed at a hotel recently that had porthole-shaped windows – 11 floors of them. It was the Swiss cheese of building facades. But looking at the view of New York City from my private bubble of a hotel room got me thinking about how times of “roundness” come and go in design, creating a dotted line, so to speak, from one design period to the next.

The theory of psycho-geometrics uses shapes to identify different personality types, and people defined as “circles” are those who others bring their problems to. You may have heard of these theories if you’ve ever taken a
Myers-Briggs test (if you feel like you’re the last to know about this, you’re probably a “rectangle” personality), and I wonder if designers are drawn to round shapes – the “personalities” we bring our problems to – at times of uncertainty or stress.

And while uncertain times inevitably pass, there are examples of round designs that endure, even through times when we think being round is square. An example of this is a logo that Paul Rand designed for the American Broadcasting Company in 1962, which is still in use today. “In order to understand the aesthetic in its ultimate and approved forms,” wrote Rand in Design, Form and Chaos, “one must begin with it in the raw; in the events and scenes that hold the attentive eye and ear of man.”

It is suggested that the typeface Rand used was based on the simplified shapes of the Bauhaus, the German school that emerged in 1919, also a time of global uncertainty. It was in 1920 that another example of enduring round design was created: Eileen Gray’s concentric glass table, which she designed for her sister who loved to eat breakfast in bed. It’s a table that uses a shape associated with comfort to fulfill a need for providing comfort.

Round shapes are symbols of unity and, while no one would call New York’s Guggenheim Museum cozy, its top-to-bottom experience does elicit a feeling of togetherness. There is something comforting in how its spiral architecture clarifies the path you should take, especially when compared to museums that send visitors wandering and retracing steps through a maze of interconnected rooms. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum opened in 1959, amid a country struggling for integration and civil rights.

Returning to my earlier mention of portholes, the comfort provided by these round shapes in ships is quite literal, in that portholes bring light and air to a ship’s lower quarters. Plus, a round window is stronger than a square one since corners are stress points that can weaken and crack under the force of waves. Another function of being round, such as the design of a manhole cover, is that it is impossible for a round cover to fall into a round hole. “As far as I know,” wrote
George Nelson in How to See, “the design [of round manhole covers] is used all over the world. The reason is simply that no one has ever come up with anything better.”

It remains to be seen how much “roundness” (or desire to be at sea, or hiding in a manhole) will come out of the current conditions of uncertainty, but if you’re lucky enough to own a front-loading washer with porthole opening, don’t be surprised if you start to find comfort in doing laundry.

Click here to see more photos.

November 19, 2008

No John Doe hotel.


If you were a travel expert, where would you reserve rooms for the San Francisco-based DWR team to stay in New York? Our most recent visit - we were in town for the opening of the DWR: Tools for Living store in SoHo - was at the Hotel on Rivington designed by Marcel Wanders. Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, this hotel is in a great location, providing a true New York feeling (and not just the gentrified neighborhoods) no matter which direction you travel. Walk across Delancy Street and you feel like you've stepped back in time. Prune, Shiller's and Katz's, all within a few blocks of each other, make you realize why New Yorkers don't cook at home. 

Hotel And being less than a mile from SoHo, the walk was an ideal way to start each morning (made complete with a look-see at Sigerson Morrison shoes on Price Street). The Rivington gives visitors the unique feeling of being part of the neighborhood. As for the rooms, they're comfortable and feel super spacious due to floor-to-ceiling windows. We liked the remote-control window shades that opened with the press of a bedside button, and the bathtub was especially beautiful. The Hotel on Rivington is one of about 10 hotels in New York that have joined the Mr. and Mrs. Smith luxury boutique hotel group (no, they have nothing to do with Angelina and Brad). If you never want to stay in another could-be-anywhere hotel, check in with the Smiths.

November 18, 2008

Free samples.

Ok, not free exactly. But definitely as much as 70% off the original price. Join us this weekend for the DWR Sample Sale in San Francisco, where we’ll be selling scores of samples, overstocks and returns in all categories. Learn more here.

November 14, 2008

Meet award-winning architect Ray Kappe in Beverly Hills.


Join us at the Beverly Hills Studio to celebrate Ray Kappe’s extensive exploration in prefabricated architecture during the opening reception for “Ray Kappe: Then and Now: Forty Years of Prefab,” on view at the Studio through November 29 (at which point the exhibit will move to the A+D Museum). Kappe will be here answering your questions – extra credit will be given to the first person who asks him about the Studio’s Brighton Way building, which he designed in 1971. Renowned for the open spatial quality of his innumerable award-winning residences in Los Angeles and around the country (including the Rochedale residence, above), the founding director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture continues to be in the forefront of his profession. In 2006, Kappe achieved the first ever LEED® Platinum Rating in Sustainable Residential Design for his modular steel and glass prefabricated house for LivingHomes in Santa Monica. Kappe continues to design from his strengths while incorporating new and sustainable technology. Refreshments will be served. Learn more here.
Posted by Sara Zofko, Proprietor, Beverly Hills Studio

November 10, 2008

Change is in the air. And by change, we mean a new chair.


The DWR Annex Warehouse Sale is this weekend in Secaucus, New Jersey. It’s a great time to find everything you need to initiate change (in your home or office) – all up to 70% off. There will be lots of beds, tables, outdoor, classics and more. And of course, chairs. If you need a ride, a free shuttle will leave hourly from the DWR: Tools for Living store in SoHo. Learn more here.