Design Defined: Étagère

What is an étagère?

Étagère translates to shelf, and is essentially an open display furniture piece for objects and collectibles.  

I think simply by using the French word étagère, it implies something delicate and refined. Technically any open shelving unit could be an étagère, though I think what separates one from, say, the shelves storing tools and cleaning supplies in your garage, is the idea that what sits on these shelves is something you want to look at every day and/or show off.  

Here are some that I love.

Sources, from left to right: Room and Board; One Kings Lane; One Kings Lane

Sources, from left to right: Room and Board; One Kings Lane; One Kings Lane

What can you display on an étagère?  The bigger question is, what do you like to look at every day?  For me, it would be a box that Nate Berkus gave me, a brass bird that reminds me of an old client, agate I bought at a town along Lake Superior, pottery made by an old friend, as well as framed photos and my favorite books.

A Fun Playroom

Last week Boston-based interior designer Erin Gates announced her forthcoming rug line with Momeni, and this light blue animal print is serving as the perfect inspiration for a fun play room, or even family room.

The double chaise sectional is inspired by this space, and I think it's probably the coziest seating arrangement there could be.

Make Something Wonderful and Put It Out There

Apple's keynote last week announced the groundbreaking 10th anniversary iPhone.  It was the first event at the new Steve Jobs Theater, and opened with these inspiring words from the theater's namesake.  

There’s lots of ways to be as a person, and some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear their story or tell yours. But somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation. So we need to be true to who we are and remember what’s really important to us. That’s what going to keep Apple, Apple, is if we keep us, us.
— Steve Jobs

Again, this can be applied to so much more than technology.

Design Defined: Duchesse Brisée

What is a duchesse brisée?

It is a essentially a chaise lounge, divided -- usually into three parts (two chairs and an ottoman), though often as two pieces (a shorter chaise and a chair) or other variations as well.

Duchesse Brisee 1.png

It is an 18th century French furniture style that is often too traditional to use in spaces today -- in fact, I don't really come across modern manufacturers that make this -- but the puzzle piece aspect of it is certainly fun.  With the right fabric, finish, and room, it can work.

Bringing Order to Complexity

Apple is scheduled to announce its next iPhone, the 10th anniversary iPhone, later today.  In honor of that, some inspiring words from Apple's lead designer, Jony Ive, that can be applied to so much more than technology.

We have always thought of design as being so much more than just the way something looks.  It’s the whole thing, the way something actually works on so many different levels.  Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience.
I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency.  True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation.  It’s about bringing order to complexity.
— Jony Ive