DWR: Tools for Living was jam-packed last night for Dr. Eric Sanderson’s lecture and signing of his best-selling book Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. People started arriving around 5:30 so they could get a seat; we were limited to 40 chairs. The rest of the crowd strained their necks to see the presentation, meticulous and beautiful recreations of New York City’s habitat and landscape as it was on September 12, 1609. Dr. Sanderson also described how his Mannahatta Project looks not just into the past, but also projects what New York City might look like in 2409, if we take steps now to make our city a better habitat for all who live here.
January 29, 2010
No matter what kind of gizmo Apple throws our way, you can be sure there’s a task chair ready to meet the need. For an iPad, I’d recommend the Generation Chair designed by Formway for Knoll®. This is a chair that lets you sit how you want. As you move, it moves (even if you’ve got some unusual moves). Its elastic design rearranges itself in response to your body position, which Knoll describes as “holistic ergonomics.” Plus, it comes in eight colors, including firecracker (apple) red.
Check out the Generation Chair at the following DWR Studios:
January 26, 2010
Your clothes say a lot about you, but if they could literally speak, they’d tell you a secret: Dry cleaning and French cleaning are the same thing. The latter just costs more because it shows that the proprietor knows his history (thus, earning that history degree left him with student loans to pay off).
As the story goes, a Frenchman named Monsieur Jolly-Bollin noticed that camphene from a spilled lantern removed stains from a tablecloth. Sadly, his discovery was named “dry cleaning” and not “jolly cleaning,” which would've been more relevant (your clothes need cleaning after you’ve been jolly in them) and less misleading since the process is very wet. When clothes are dry cleaned they’re washed in a solvent called perchloroethylene or “perc” for short. The perk of perc is that it’s good at removing oil-based stains. Unfortunately, it’s also toxic and a source of ground-water pollution. And that smell? It’s actually caused by dirty perc, so if you don’t like the odor, find a place that consistently uses fresh perc.
The question of “organic” dry cleaning is a lint trap I’ll avoid right now, but I’ll share with you that when I pushed my dry cleaner to tell me what makes his process organic, he told me that he will wash my clothes in water (no perc) if I request that service. All-righty then.
What got me on the topic of dry cleaning are neon signs. Dry cleaners have some of the best ones around. In contrast to how neon is used for Vegas and beer signs, the medium is simplified and a bit architectural when it’s used to distill a white button-down shirt into a crisp illustration made with tubes. It’s simple and straightforward – a world where being wild means putting on a tie.
Neon is a noble gas, and that’s not a reference to Prince Charles and baked beans. Rather, the term refers to an odorless, colorless, monatomic gas that has a low chemical reactivity. When a high-voltage current is run through a glass tube filled with neon (or argon or phosphor), the gas glows. The tubes are often made of borosilicate glass, which is highly heat resistant. (We sell glass coffee mugs made out of this stuff.)
There’s an art to how the glass tubes are bent into words and images, and some of the most outrageous examples of neon signs appeared in the 1940s and ’50s in Las Vegas. Unlike the furniture that defines mid-century modern, the signs from this era are aces in decorative excess.
The Stardust Hotel in 1958 (top), and the updated façade and roadside sign in 1964 (bottom).
Doing justice to neon was the Stardust Hotel, with its façade covered in an exploding solar system and sparkling neon starbursts. Using 7,100 feet of neon tubing and more than 11,000 light bulbs, the sign was visible from 60 miles away. In 1991, the typeface was updated to a less groovy-age font but that wasn’t enough to save the hotel, which closed in 2006.
The Stardust building was demolished, however its signage went to the “bone yard” of retired signs at the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO). In the mid 1990s, the Allied Arts Council realized that YESCO had hundreds of these cultural relics on their property, which led to the creation of the Las Vegas Neon Museum. The Museum’s holdings of decommissioned signs are currently stored in two open-air lots, but in 2011 it will open a park filled with neon artifacts from 70 years of Vegas landmarks. The Museum’s visitors’ center will be in the former lobby of the La Concha Motel, designed in 1961 by Paul Revere Williams.
Like a neon sign that was saved when its hotel was demolished, the La Concha lobby was rescued by local preservationists when the hotel’s owner wanted to make room for a larger casino. To move the lobby, with its 28-foot-high swooping concrete roof, the structure was cut into eight pieces and reassembled on the Museum’s property.I look forward to checking out the Neon Museum when it opens, and I’m especially interested in seeing the museum’s own signage – will it be outrageous neon or simple and straightforward, like a dry cleaners’ shirt?
January 19, 2010
To everyone who has participated, I want to personally thank you for your generous donations to help the people of Haiti. We have raised $94,905 for UNICEF so far. However, the donations don’t have to stop there. The people of Haiti are still hungry, homeless and lack adequate medical care. Join us in helping the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
President and CEO
January 14, 2010
UPDATE: In just 24 hours, UNICEF’s Haiti Earthquake Fund received $25,000 in donations from DWR customers, fans and employees. Design Within Reach, Inc. pledged to match up to that amount, which brings the total donation to $50,000 so far. When asked about the relief effort, our CEO John Edelman replied, “While our company’s name is Design Within Reach, today we are proud to provide help within reach to the people of Haiti. I am equally proud of the support of our customers and employees in joining me in providing assistance. Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Haiti.”
Our pledge has been met, but that doesn’t mean that the donations have to stop there. Join us in helping the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
January 13, 2010
Join us in helping the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. We’ll match up to $25,000 in donations to UNICEF, for a collective total donation of $50,000.
January 11, 2010
We’re having three Clearance Sales at our Annex locations, this Saturday and Sunday. The Annexes – in Palm Springs, Cleveland and Secaucus, New Jersey – are receiving large shipments of “scratch and dent” items and customer returns. Save 20–70% at the Annex Clearance Sales on January 16 and 17. Click here to learn more and to find a DWR Annex near you.
January 05, 2010
New York’s chilly weather and falling snow inspired our latest DWR: Tools for Living SoHo window, “Modern Snowflakes.”
This window is the work of artist Mika Osborn, who was recommended to us by our good friend James Victore. Mika was born and raised in Tokyo by her Japanese mother (a writer, producer and stained-glass designer) and American father (a commercial photographer). At the age of 15, Mika wanted to explore her American roots and decided to continue her studies in the U.S. She enrolled in a small boarding school in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and that’s when this Tokyo girl got in touch with her hippie side. Later, while attending college in California as a Communications major, she developed a passion for art and design. She transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City and graduated as a Graphic Design major in 2009. She is now working in Philadelphia.Posted by Dan Murphy, DWR: Tools for Living, SoHo
January 04, 2010
Now open in Dubai: the Burj Khalifa tower, which stands at 2,717 feet (828 meters) tall, has more than 160 floors and boasts views up to 60 miles. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, a few of the tower’s many features include a mosque (floor 158), an Armani hotel and 54 elevators, which can reach speeds of 40mph. Read more at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Design Within Reach and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County invite you to check out a special event with Emeril Lagasse on January 9, 2010. As part of the Celebrity Chef Series presented by Johnson & Wales University, Lagasse will discuss his culinary journey to success and then give an on-stage DWR-flavored (keep an eye out for our furniture and accessories) cooking demonstration of some of his favorite recipes featuring South Florida ingredients.
For tickets to the Celebrity Chef Series grand finale featuring Emeril Lagasse and hosted by Norman Van Aken, go to www.arshtcenter.org.
John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall
Adrienne Arsht Center
Saturday, January 9 at 8pm