Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrate Earth Month

This month marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Join more than one billion people in the commitment to sustainability. Let's build a healthier, prosperous clean energy economy now for our future. You can take action through Education, Recycling, Conservation, Sustainable Development and Green Building. Learn more about LEED Certification – an internationally recognized green building certification system (both residential and commercial) recognizing strategies in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in these key areas.

You can support the green movement through eco-friendly furniture. Smart Furniture believes in sustainability and we support the efforts of our partners in reducing their carbon footprint – most notably Herman MillerSteelcaseEmecoLoll DesignsMASH studiosGus Design Group and Ecotots.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Red House / High Point Furniture Market

Last weekend, a few of us headed to North Carolina to attend the well known High Point Market - one of the largest home furnishings shows. We saw some great furniture, admired newly launched products and met with both current and prospective vendors. It was a great show!  

One of our most interesting visits, however, was not at the Market. The famous Red House, only a mile from the market, was a noteworthy event, and we have the t-shirts to prove it. In case you have not heard of this furniture store, I highly suggest you watch this video.

Meeting "10 Gauge" was one of the main highlights of the trip.

Time Lapse

My multi-faceted buddy Eric's compilation video of some of the portraits he's painted in the last few months. Could make for some great wall décor at the Studio.

Favorite Youtube Videos

When your work revolves around the internet world, it's tough to not stay on top of the latest viral video. Here are a few of our staff favorites from YouTube; we've shared them with each other, and now we'd like to share them with our fans and customers. Enjoy the Keyboard Cat, favorite by: Karen We have more submissions from our staff and will be posting all week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Street of Eames

Today is Saturday, the 17th of April, and my husband, Jason, our friend, Lisa, from Herman Miller, and I have all piled into our friend Caroline's car. Caroline is one of the dedicated co-directors who has helped make the Street of Eames such a successful annual event. Our car makes its last of many turns, winding through a typical dated suburban community in Portland. It is still early, only 9am on a Saturday, and there are already plenty of cars lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the architectural gems scattered around the neighborhood. One particular home is located at the end of an unabiding court. It is referred to as a 'Rummer', meaning it was built by Robert Rummer, who has now been retired from residential home building for nearly two decades. Built between 1960 and the mid-'70s, these stylish post-and-beam homes gained much inspiration from the Joseph Eichler homes built in California during the late 1940's. These homes are spread all over Portland's West Hills and Beaverton, with small pockets in other communities. Known for their geometric lines, deep overhands and inner courtyards the Rummer homes nestle into the lush northwest background with the same fit as a villa fits into the landscape of Italy. A bright, peachy-red door leads us into an inner courtyard and we easily adjust to the peaceful earthen tones and large window scapes that highlight the homeowner's fine collection of vintage modern furnishings. Our mouths communally drop at the sight of the floating fireorb that intersects the main living area, each piece of furniture equally complimenting the other. This is just classic good design. We leave the home refreshed, and are off to explore seven other homes, each equally inspiring in their own way. That first home turns out to be our favorite stop along the Street of Eames home tour. With Caroline supplying us with architectural knowledge and an amazing insider's perspective, we gain an even greater appreciation of the uniqueness each design brings. These homes are a mix of contemporary and mid-century modern design, reflecting each owner's individual personality by emulating the rich architectural history of the city. What makes this tour really special, is that all money raised goes directly to support after school programs for homeless children in the Portland area. Each volunteer, homeowner, director and vendor does such a fantastic job of keeping this objective at the heart of the event. Sadly, this was the last Street of Eames home tour, as alternate sources of funding will support these after school programs. However, I have a feeling this group of mid-century modern lovers will find a way to continue their contributions to the community.
From left, Lisa Hubbs and Sophia Levens at the Street of Eames Home Tour
The Rummer House

Favorite Youtube Videos

When your work revolves around the internet world, it's tough to not stay on top of the latest viral video. Here are a few of our staff favorites from YouTube; we've shared them with each other, and now we'd like to share them with our fans and customers. We have more submissions from our staff and will be posting all week. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Street of Eames Auction Winners

A pair of LCW in Red Stain. Gorgeous!

Smart Furniture Visits The Street of Eames

On Saturday April 17, 2010, Portland, Oregon will host the 5th (and final) Street of Eames home tour. When one of our employees recently relocated to Portland, we could not pass up the opportunity to get an insiders view of what this fantastic event is all about. Street of Eames began as fundraiser for homeless students in Portland, particularly at Chapman Elementary School. More than half a million dollars later, the home tour has reach its goals of funding and can now pass the torch of raising money to a social service agency. For Oregonians this is a chance to give back to the community and take a sneak peek into some of the city's most coveted dwellings. This year's tour will feature eight homes in the Portland area, including homes by Ben Waechter, Path Architecture, Seed Architecture Studio, and renowned Portland architects, John Yeon and John Storrs. The tour takes you from mid-century modern to contemporary homes and is sure to inspire for those lucky enough to attend. Stay posted for a first hand account of the tour from our very own, Sophia Levens.

Storrs House, photo by David Papazian

Yeon House, photograph by Kim Blau

Rummer House, photo by David Papazian

Oringdulph House, photo by David Papazian

Z-Haus, photograph by Stephen Miller

Park Box, photograph by Ty Milford

14 House, photo by Jeff Beck

Monday, April 12, 2010

Matt & Aeron, Day Five.

Hey everyone- this is my last day talking about the Aeron Chair. I think I've touched on its major points- the lumbar support, the Pellicle fabric, the adjustable arms... Today I just want to mention a few things about the overall design. To start, I have to just express that this is a cool looking chair. The guts of it (underneath the seat) has a lot going on, but the back, the seat pan, and the base are all very sleek looking. It's a chair that actually has a distinct profile, which is pretty neat.

I do have a couple of things- you may call them complaints- about the Aeron. Herman Miller has improved on these issues with the Mirra and Embody Chairs, both of which have been introduced since the Aeron Chair. The first issue pertains to the Aeron Chair's back frame. The perimeter of the back is made of hard plastic; so the back feels soft and giving as you move up the Pellicle back- that is- until you hit the rigid frame. For this reason, it's important to get the size that fits you right. Aeron comes in 3 sizes to fit the vast majority of the population. If you get a size A and you need a size B, your shoulder blades will hit the frame and make you unhappy. The rigid frame also prevents you from twisting free spiritedly (quite the adverb) in the chair- something you come to expect once you've sat in the Embody Chair, and to a lesser extent- the Mirra Chair.

The second issue I have is with the tension mechanism for the recline. Maybe I'm just lazy and like to lean back in my chair too much, but I think the Aeron Chair is a little bit too serious about keeping you upright in a traditional tasking posture. You can recline, but you kind of have to work for it, otherwise Aeron will tilt you forward again.

I don't want to sound like I don't like the chair; the only reason I noticed the rigid frame is that we have different sizes around the office so I tried all of them, which is how I found that I'm not comfortable in a size A. And the thing with the twisting- I think this is just me being spoiled after sitting in an Embody Chair- a chair designed to let you twist. This feature has just come out in the last couple of years- and the Aeron Chair was introduced way back in '94. That's about all I have to say on the Aeron Chair- I hope you learned something new.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Matt & Aeron, Day 4

Today, I'm gonna talk about the Aeron Chair's arms. They're pretty important, as a good office chair is not a good office chair at all if the arms are lacking. I've been sitting in two different Aeron Chairs for the last couple of days- one of which is slightly better than the other in the armpads department. The first chair I sat on had leather armpads, and the one I'm currently sitting in does not. Alas. The leather armpads are better. They're soft to the touch, and they look just plain nicer than the standard armpads. The Aeron's standard armpads look and feel OK- they have a pleasant, spongy feel to them that's like a soft rubber. But they're not leather. The leather armpads look more inviting and are definitely more relaxing rest your arms on when you want to lean back into the Pellicle of your Aeron Chair.

Another aspect of the Aeron Chair that should be covered is adjustability. The Aeron has loads of options- which is a lot to think about, but the options let you buy just what you want to pay for. Which is nice. Anyway, one option I would strongly recommend are the adjustable arms. You actually do notice the fixed arm option when you're sitting in it, and they just don't live up to the rest of the Aeron Chair. The adjustable arms are much better. The arms swivel in and out and you can adjust the height with a locking lever located behind the arms. The height adjustment mechanism is not overly convenient; you have to flip a lever up, adjust the arm to the height you want, and then lock it back in place, but once you've found the height you want you're pretty much set.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Matt & Aeron, Day Three

Yesterday I covered the PostureFit Lumbar Support that is one of the main options on the Aeron Chair. Today I wanna talk about another unique feature that was pretty groundbreaking at the time. This is the patented Pellicle fabric that was developed by Herman Miller. Pellicle is a breathable, flexible synthetic material that is outstanding in every way- in my opinion, at least.

Breathable is the key for me. Pellicle ventilates extremely well- and it covers the entire seat pan and back. And because Pellicle covers a suspended seat pan on Aeron (meaning its just fabric supporting you, not fabric over a cushion over a solid seat), you're behind and back are pretty much completely exposed to the air. This is a different feel from standard seat pans over foam and generic upholstery, where you can have many stifling inches of materials between you and the open air. Pellicle is so thin you can literally see through it. Also, it feels good to drag your fingernails across and it makes a cool noise similar to a zipper. It's not the softest material out there, but it's not rough at all. It's just not as soft as say, a standard leather or the Embody Chair fabric.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Matt & Aeron, Day Two

So, today I'm going to talk about the PostureFit Lumbar Support on the Aeron Chair. To start, I have to preface by saying that the Aeron Chair really did make an impact on the office furniture scene when it came out in the 1990's. The lumbar support feature was pretty revolutionary in that it was designed to allow you a make small tweaks to the amount of support you felt. Herman Miller has come out with a number of office chairs in that time, but the lumbar support on Aeron still very much holds its own.

There's a little knob underneath the seat on the right side of the chair that has three little grooved prongs sticking out of it, so it's easy to grab, and it's fairly awesome. When I sit back in my seat, I can feel the padded support hitting the lower part of my back, as it should. The level of adjustment is pretty comprehensive, so if you think its a bit intrusive, you can turn the knob as you're sitting back and feel the pressure give. And the best part is, it doesn't really move in increments- you can move it out or back just as much as you want. What I mean is, some adjustment mechanisms have settings, say 1-5, with 1 being no support and 5 being lots of support, and some poor soul might find themselves wishing there were a 3.5 setting. This isn't an issue with the lumbar support on the Aeron Chair. The level of support you feel is only limited by the dexterity of your fingers. I would strongly recommend this feature because it's definitely a strong point of the chair.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Matt & Aeron, Day One

Working at Smart Furniture is kind of like playing musical chairs. You can't ever assume that what you're sitting in today will be what you're sitting in tomorrow. We shuffle chairs around to learn about them; it creates a nice communal feel around the office and gives us an excuse to steal each other's chairs pretty much whenever we please.

And so today, I find myself sitting in the Aeron Chair. Seeing as how this is pretty much the most famous office chair ever created, I'm surprised that it's taken this long for me to land one. This particular version I'm sitting in is a size B, which seems to fit me just fine as I'm 5'11 and skinny; it has leather armpads (nice), and the PostureFit Lumbar Support option.

To start, I'll say that you must make adjustments to your Aeron Chair before you can really get comfortable. This is a task chair through and through- and the hallmark of a task chair is that it has a lot of adjustments available for you to tweak in an effort to custom fit the chair to your person. The Aeron Chair has a back stop and a forward tilt adjustment mechanism that make a big difference in how the chair feels. Tomorrow, I will elaborate on said adjustments.