Monday, November 29, 2010

Trump Hollywood Condominium - Completed Project Photos

We have just received photos of the recently completed project at the Trump Hollywood condominium. They are arranged as "before" and "after" images to help show the transformation of this remarkable space.

The following is a "before" image of the office area that gives a sense of the existing space before the custom desk and cubbie cabinet were set into place.

The custom furniture shown here was crafted out of flat cut smoked maple. In the niche space to the right a cubbie cabinet was set into place, consisting of a large door concealing adjustable shelves for storage and a pull-out shelf for a wireless printer.

The main desk has a glass door display space on the right hand side placed over cubbies for storing electronic components. Double file drawers on each side of the knee space were crafted out of dovetailed solid maple running on heavy duty Blumotion self closing linear ball bearing slides.

The large open area above the work surface was designed to hold three integrated monitor screens. The pull-out keyboard tray in the kneespace is Accu-Ride.

These are the "before" images of the dining area showing the drop ceiling that the GC (General Contractor) was in the process of adding at the time. Note the round cove that is being integrated into the ceiling. This cove will later house a custom chandelier that will end up being perfectly centered over the dining table.

The dining room wall unit was crafted out of satin finished Koto wood, and detailed with antique bronze recessed pulls, halogen lighting and bronze mirrors.

The dining table is a custom made version of the Ellipse II Table with a boat shaped top configured in a diamond matched grain pattern. The Cerused Walnut finish complemented the Koto wood on the wall unit perfectly.

This is the "before" picture of the right side of the Master Bedroom main wall.

The custom furniture in this area was crafted from a light taupe figured Anigre finished in low-VOC satin lacquer. The recessed valance area over the upholstered bed was later fitted with draped custom fabric.

This is the "before" photo of the left side of the Master Bedroom.

Note how the headers over the wall panels maintain a continuous line into the valances over the windows.

The window wall before....

...and after.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

400 Wood Boxes - Gaia Jewelry Chest

In 2004 Lark Books selected the Gaia Jewelry Chest for publication in their book "400 Wood Boxes".

This jewelry box was originally designed in 1999 as a gift to my wife. Measuring 7-1/8" wide x 7-1/8" deep x 12-3/8" high the exterior is crafted of Curly Moave veneer inlaid with solid mahogany beading. The 5 interior drawers were sculpted from solid Sapele joined together with sliding dovetails. The doors open and close by means of precision inlaid SOSS hinges.

Irenic Bed - A Custom Commission

We recently delivered an Irenic Bed that was custom commissioned for clients with a keen awareness of environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Of utmost importance to them was finding a "green" bed made of FSC certified and NAUF wood, non-UF glues and low VOC finish that was also compliant with CARB2 standards. The Irenic Bed, they soon discovered, easily met these criteria.

Their next requirement was that this bed be modified to accomodate a Queen size mattress. Although the Irenic Bed is normally made in a King size, I assured them that changing to Queen was not a problem.

The next challenge was to accomodate a special mattress they had already purchased. In lieu of a conventional mattress and boxspring these clients had sourced a natural latex mattress with bunkie board that required special "T" bars to elevate the mattress to a particular height. Once again this was not a problem to do.

Finally, the clients pointed out that they wanted to keep their existing night stands, dresser and chest rather than replace with new matching casegoods. I pointed out that this would not be a problem either, because we could custom finish the bed to match the existing furniture.

The resulting bed is shown here:

We used plain sliced oak to create a radiating cathedral grain pattern on the head and footboards to emulate the rising and setting Sun. Inlay beads of solid oak were used to soften the corners, while the finish was custom tinted to match the existing night stands perfectly.

The net result is another happy customer, which is the best news of all !

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aum Table - The Story Behind Its Creation

Aum is a mystical and sacred syllable that is integral to the Indian religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. This symbol is taken to consist of the phonemes, "a", "u" and "m", which variously symbolize the Three Vedas or the Hindu Trimurti on the three stages of life (birth, life and death).

In 2003 I became profoundly fascinated with the idea of designing a sculptural piece of furniture that could capture the essence of this "name of God" symbol. The exercise turned out to be a humbling one, to say the least, although the process did result in the creation of the tables shown here.

Measuring 18" (46 cm.) wide x 15" (38 cm.) deep x 18" (46 cm.) high, each table has been sculpted from a pair of undulating ribbons of Macassar Ebony ply that had to be simultaneously bent and shaped to form. Inlaid beads of solid cherry were used to soften the corners.

Fixed bottom shelves were actually made for each of these tables (more for utilitarian purposes), but they were left off the final design because of how much I liked the unbroken flow of the curves. Besides, these tables would not look anywhere near as nice if there was "stuff" cluttering the underside.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pyramid Keepsake Box

Because of my long fascination with pyramids and the geometries behind their construction it was probably inevitable that I would eventually try building one of these things. The following images are of a scale model I made using various samplings of exotic woods and materials.

The Pyramid Keepsake Box shown here was completed on December 21, 2004 and measures 12” (30.5 cm.) x 12” (30.5 cm.) x 7.63” (19.4 cm.) o.a.h. It is custom made from a variety of materials including Quartered Bubinga, Maple, Amboyna, Black Walnut, Hawthorn, Sassafras, Macassar Ebony, Movingui, Padauk, Curly English Sycamore, Crypto Crystalline Quartz, Mother-of-Pearl, and 22k Gold Leaf.

It was named “Khufu”, which is a name inspired by the second Pharoah reigning in the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. Khufu’s pyramid was known as “Khufu Belong to the Sky”. Located in Giza, it was constructed between 2589-2566 BC and has a base measure of 230m.

The precise dimensions of this box are founded in the same exacting proportions used to construct the Great Pyramids at Giza, in Egypt. Central to this geometry is a mathematical ratio known as the Divine Proportion, or Phi, which is numerically represented by the number 1.618034.

The shortest distance from the exact center of the base of this box to the outside face is 6”. The overall height is 7.63”, while the diagonal measurement from the peak to the center of each base side is 9.71”. Using these dimensions we can determine that:

/ 7.63 = 1.272 = square root of Phi

/ 6.00 = 1.272 = square root of Phi

/ 6.00 = Phi

In the Thirteenth Century a mathematician by the name of Leonardo Fibonacci discovered a simple series of numbers that later became known as the Fibonacci series: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144, 233, 377, 610, 987 etc. In this sequence each number in the series is the sum of the 2 numbers that immediately precede it. Alternatively, each number can also be calculated by multiplying the number that immediately precedes it with the Phi number of 1.618034.

Phi and the Fibonacci series of numbers are highly significant because they form the primary mathematical basis for all life and proportion in the natural world.

The DNA molecule, for example, which is the program of all life, is based on the Divine Proportion. It measures 34 angstroms long by 21 angstroms wide for the full cycle of its double helix spiral. 34 and 21, of course, are also numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. Plants also illustrate the Fibonacci series in the numbers and arrangements of petals, leaves, sections and seeds.

The human body is similarly structured around Phi and the Divine Proportion. Taking one’s measurement from the floor to the navel, and multiplying by Phi, will give a resulting dimension equivalent to one’s height. Also, measuring from the tip of any finger to the first knuckle, and multiplying by Phi, will give the dimension between the first and second knuckle. Multiplying this dimension by Phi again will determine the distance between the second and third knuckles.

The Divine Proportion found on the human body is perhaps best illustrated in Leonard Da Vinci’s renowned artwork “The Vitruvian Man”.

In addition to the Divine Proportion used to create the geometry of the Pyramid Keepsake Box, a number of holistic and traditional healing elements have also been incorporated by way of materials selections.

The pinnacle of the box has been sculpted from a single block of wood called Amboyna (Pterocarpus indicus), and it comes from the last remaining board known to exist of the very first trees to be sustainably harvested on the Solomon Islands in the mid to late 1990s. This pinnacle is capped with a special formulation of 22k Gold Leaf - which has been blended from the 3 traditional healing metals of Gold (91.8%), Copper (2.3%), and Silver (5.9%).

The main body of this box is made of Bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei), which is a luxurious African hardwood that is often used by luthiers for making harps and other instruments.

In the upper storage level a concave recess has been carved into a block of rare wood known as Hawthorn (Crataegus). Hawthorn is a traditional healing wood that has been used in medicinal practice for a considerable period of time. It was well known to the ancient Greek herbalists, and records indicate that it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine dating back almost 5,000 years.

Hawthorn is an aroma-therapeutic healing wood since it produces an aerosol of complex compounds - all of which are medicinal. The primary benefit of the aroma-therapeutic properties of the Hawthorn is to help alleviate stress and strengthen the heart. (Please note that due to the dense properties of this wood, plus the fact that the inset has been made from a solid monolithic block, there is a natural tendency for the Hawthorn to crack due to seasonal - or regional - changes in humidity).

The center storage level is lined with black Tuscany leather. A sliding/removable divider is located in this tray, which is made of a wood called Sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Sassafras carries within it oil based complex of compounds that are naturally saturated within the wood itself - both as a wax and as oil. Through handling and the bumping action of contents against the fibers of this wood, the oils contained within the Sassafras are released as an aerosol each time the tray is opened and exposed to air.

This aerosol is considered to be a tonic to the human body, since it helps to promote an overall feeling of well-being. This state increases the ability of the deep centers of the brain to promote increased and clearer thinking.

The oil of the Sassafras is related to Myrrh, one of the legendary woods of the ancient world. Sassafras is also the wood used for spiritual cleansing by many tribes of North American Indians, in their traditional sweat lodge ceremony.

The bottom level of the Pyramid Keepsake Box features 4 removable trays made of wood that comes from a tree that is a member of the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) family of trees. Native American medicine women discovered through many generations of trial, error and observation that this wood has medicinal properties that are useful in the prevention and treatment of disease. It is believed that simply touching this wood will release the active molecules to the surface of one’s skin, where they can be naturally absorbed into the pores.

Separating the 4 trays are 4 recessed dividers, each of which is a distinct color that represents the 4 sacred directions of the indigenous tradition.

East is the color Yellow, and is represented by a wood known as Movingui. East is the direction of Spiritual Illumination.

West is the color Black, and is represented by a wood known as Macassar Ebony. West is the direction of Introspection.

South is the color Red, and is represented by a wood known as Padauk. South is the direction of Innocence.

North is the color White, and is represented by a wood known as Curly English Sycamore. North is the direction of Wisdom.

At the central point where these 4 directions meet there is an inlay of quartz stone, which is known as a Tantric Shiva Lingam. Shiva Lingams originate from a riverbed in the Narmada River in India. It is an Indian belief that millions of years ago a meteorite collided with the earth at what is now the source of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh, a mountainous province some 300 miles northeast of Bombay, India.

The tremendous heat of the collision caused a fusion of the ambient rock and the meteoric material. Over the ages a river began to flow through this area and the combination of these factors produced the unique condition in which pieces of the fused matter, revolving in the river bed over thousands of years, take on a distinct ovoid form. The oval form is markedly different from the flatter, thinner rocks normally appearing in the riverbed.

Once a year, after the long dry season and just before the monsoon, when the river is at its lowest, the villagers, working with oxen and rope, go out into the riverbed and pull the stones from the water. The stones are then hand-polished, a large one taking several months to complete. About twenty to thirty large pieces are taken from the river each year.

Down through the ages these stones have been carefully selected from this energy centre during the dry season by a few families, trained in the art of collecting, shaping and polishing the stones to bring out the natural markings called the "yoni". The lingams are handled in accordance with ancient Vedic tradition, and are thus highly blessed.

They have been allowed to come out of India at this time because of the desperate state of the planet. The Lingams are energy generators of balance, of Soul consciousness, and healing. It is believed they are impregnated with spiritual light resonating with the fifth Chakra, or Heart Chakra; thus their particular job in healing the planet is through opening the heart, healing the pain in the heart that obscures the harmony and knowingness of the soul residing within.

It is said according to the Vedic knowledge that the Lingam represents the inner being, the energy shape of the soul, or the essence of a human being. The upright egg shape represents the divine masculine energy, the power of Shiva. The marking, called the yoni, represent the divine female energy. Here is a balance of male/female, Yin/Yang, dark/light, knowledge/wisdom, the positive/negative energies unified - the wholeness of the soul, which is neither male nor female.

It is also said that by destiny everyone has their own Lingam. It is as if the signature of one's soul has been alchemically embedded in the stone down from the millenia of its making in the embrace of Mother Earth, and finally in the hands of an esoteric craftsperson. The Lingam draws out our soul qualities. As a result, it is a potent force for healing and meditation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Secret of Happiness

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

from the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho