Product Development

New Molten Gypsum Finish

We are very excited by our new Molten Gypsum finish. It adds subtle, usable texture to a project, can take any color (1 or more!), has an organic quality that can be enhanced or minimized and it's super durable to boot!  The images here are of the finish in Crimson and the texture is from the gypsum chunks that are embedded in the lacquer/resin mixture. 

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Old Dog, New Tricks: 3D Printing

We recently took our first dabble into the world of 3D printing. If you are not familiar with 3D printing, imagine your printer at work not only going back and forth as it prints out lines of text, but also "printing" layers upon previous layers making the text 3D. This is why 3D printing is also called "additive manufacturing." So you could theoretically print any 3D object from an electronic file. Needless to say we've been watching the space excitedly because, not only could it significantly cut down on materials waste, but also any of our designs could be printed by whomever has the right file, anywhere in the world...in theory.

Perhaps fortunately, the reality of 3D printing is not up to that scale yet. Most printers simply aren't big enough to print a chair, for example, and the costs to do so compared to current fabrication convention would be prohibitive. However, it is very useful, and fun, for small scale pieces, parts and prototypes.

Inspired by a vintage bar-tool, we designed one electronically with a ice pick, mallet, and bottle opener with a patterned grip. Once the file was complete and the design was ready, we uploaded it to Shapeways. Shapeways is basically a 3D printing outsource firm - we don't have our own 3D printer, so we upload a file on their website, they immediately tell us if the file is printable as well as the costs to do so in various materials. We chose to print our prototype in both a grey finished steel and a hardened plastic. Then, Shapeways shipped them both to us in about 1 - 2 weeks.

Having the full scale prototype was extremely useful - right away I could see the handle was too long, the gauge of the bottle opener neck too thick and the grip pattern not as detailed as I expected. The plastic one was the same except that we left the handle with no grip pattern. We did this because we could carve the plastic the old fashioned way. So the next step could be hand-carving the plastic 3D printed prototype and then "lost wax" casting the hand-carved/3D printed prototype. And in fact one of the materials offered for printing was castable wax in the event you are ready to skip the hand-carving step.  

Currently, this seems to be the way 3D printing will be the most useful to a design firm like us: printing prototypes that we can then cast. The fact that we could in fact print certain items in castable wax was slightly mind-blowing. So metal parts and hardware, frames and more will now be much easier to customize on a project by project basis. But for production pieces, both because of the time required to print and the cost, 3D printing is not there yet it seems. Also, I am not sure how useful it will be for printing small scale prototypes of custom pieces for clients - I'm not entirely convinced how useful today's client would find a miniature, single material, version of their project and they certainly won't be thrilled by the added time they require. Prototypes may be useful for production pieces as we develop them, however full-scale prototypes seem like they will remain more useful. But we will see - it is fun and invigorating to have another tool for the design process. And like most tools, a year or 10 from now, we'll probably be using it in a number of different ways. 

This vintage inspiration piece. 

This vintage inspiration piece. 

A 3D perspective view of the bar-tool design in Rhino

A 3D perspective view of the bar-tool design in Rhino

The metal and plastic bar-tool prototypes. 

The metal and plastic bar-tool prototypes. 

Most importantly - the prototype works! 

Making of the Portal Sconce

Earlier in 2014 we were very excited to introduce the Portal Sconce. The sconce was inspired by a new and creative mirrored glass technique we discovered several years ago. The effect of this glass stayed with us but we were not sure how to best use it. Finally, the idea for a low-profile wall sconce with clean lines evolved and took form. But it had been so long our craftsman had to re-develop the technique! Without going into too much detail, the process involves firing glass to get a 3D effect. However too little time/too low a temperature will not yield the effect and too much time/too high a temperature will simply leave you with puddles of glass. After some trial and error, we landed on the correct result. Below are some images from the process - thank you for having a look! 

The first frame test for our Portal sconce. Templates for the glass were based on this prototype. 

The first frame test for our Portal sconce. Templates for the glass were based on this prototype. 

The first frame prototype in American Walnut and brass for the Portal Sconce

The first frame prototype in American Walnut and brass for the Portal Sconce

Un-mirrored glass firing test which was unsuccessful.

Un-mirrored glass firing test which was unsuccessful.

First time we had a fully assembled prototype with mirrored glass in the walnut and brass frame

First time we had a fully assembled prototype with mirrored glass in the walnut and brass frame

Pair of Portal Sconce specially wired with battery pack LED lights for Harry Heissmann's use in a showhouse/ 

Pair of Portal Sconce specially wired with battery pack LED lights for Harry Heissmann's use in a showhouse/ 

Detail of the mirrored glass of the Portal Sconce as lit by 2 halogen bulbs

Detail of the mirrored glass of the Portal Sconce as lit by 2 halogen bulbs

The Portal Sconce by Victoria & Son

The Portal Sconce by Victoria & Son

The New Barroux

We introduced our New Barroux Chair at the recent Architectural Home Design Show in New York City. It is a model that has been a family favorite for many years because of how supremely comfortable it is. Perhaps more well known as a Maison Jansen model, the design in fact predates that eponymous firm. My grandfather attributed the model to Paris' Maison Barroux and some of the very first ones we made still had levers under each arm. These were part of the original design and controlled ratchets which allowed the back to recline so far as to nearly become a day bed. 

We thought our model would lend itself perfectly to being updated so a new generation could appreciate it.

The first thing we did was to elongate the legs and raise the seat height. The original frame is quite low, even allowing for the down cushion. Raising the height we believe will make it more user-friendly in public, social settings. 

The next, and perhaps most obvious change, was the upholstery. We were influenced by contemporary upholstered chairs by designers like the Bouroullec Brothers and Robert Stadler. What inspired us specifically was a quilted or tufted technique applied continuously from seat to back - eliminating the visual seam between the these two parts of the chair. But, while we applied deep tufts over the seat and back of the New Barroux, but we kept one of the construction features that made the original so comfortable - springs in both the seat and the back. The result, we believe, is chair that lends itself to both modern and traditional settings and one that is not only comfortable to sit in, but easy to get in and out of.

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The classic Barroux model with sprung back and dorp-platform seat, loose down-cushion and bolster. 

The classic Barroux model with sprung back and dorp-platform seat, loose down-cushion and bolster. 

An original style Barroux in reclined position. One of the mechanical levers is underneath the arm. 

An original style Barroux in reclined position. One of the mechanical levers is underneath the arm. 

Our New Barroux in process. Padding and form is supported by springs in the seat and back. 

Our New Barroux in process. Padding and form is supported by springs in the seat and back. 

Traditional trim and tufting by hand. 

Traditional trim and tufting by hand. 

The New Barroux Chair

The New Barroux Chair

Old and New Barroux, side by side. 

Old and New Barroux, side by side. 

The New Barroux Chair at AD Home Show 2014

The New Barroux Chair at AD Home Show 2014