Tag Archives: furniture



Image from bigontrips.wordpress.com

While winter is definitely not my favorite season, experiencing it has brought about new delights for me. While my first experience of winter was by no means extreme as it was in Japan, sometimes it would be a challenge to keep warm because not many houses use central heating. Most houses in urban Japan are usually smaller than average, so individual space heaters or room heaters are usually the norm.


Image by Flickr user dejahthoris

There is a particular type of heater however that made my Japanese winter experience very memorable. It is a traditional space heater called a kotatsu. While kotatsu are traditionally Japanese, there are similar devices in other countries such as the Persian korsi.

the persian korsi

Image from mypersiankitchen.com

Today kotatsu consist of a low table with an electric heater hidden underneath its surface. Inserted underneath the tabletop and above the heater is a comforter-like blanket (futon). This blanket traps the heat coming from the heater so that the interior acts like a convection oven for your lower body.

Underside of a kotatsu

Underside of a kotatsu, image from Wikimedia Commons.

The design of the kotatsu evolved over time together with the structure and needs of the Japanese house. In medieval Japan, homes were built around a cooking hearth which also served as the main gathering area.

japanese room with hearth

Japanese cooking hearth, image from earthembassy.org

As the use of tatami mats spread, the living area and cooking areas became separated, so a need for a localized heat source arose. Early pre-electric kotatsu simply had a table with a pot underneath, where charcoal was burned. The comforter was placed over the table to contain the heat.

Kotatsu in a Edo-period room

Edo-period style Japanese living area. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

As a symbol of winter in Japan the kotatsu is usually associated with feelings of warmth and togetherness. It is a common tradition for people to have a winter meal, often a form of hotpot, on the kotatsu.

Kotatsu in Nodiame Cantablie

Scene from the Japanese show Nodame Cantablie

Although traditionally the kotatsu uses a low, square table, some modern kotatsu sold in Japan are round or oval in shape, which allows for more people to gather around a smaller area.

Girl and kotatsu

Image from joyfulmar.blogspot.com

The feeling of gathering and collaboration when sitting around a kotatsu is certainly a big component of its design. Unsurprisingly, a completely modern adaptation of the kotatsu I came across tries to echo these ideas, but this time placing the table in more diverse settings.

modern adaptation of a kotatsu

Image from Kaiju Studios

Designed by Kaiju Studios for Herman Miller, this version of the kotatsu does not have a heater underneath it, but it could definitely generate some heated discussions depending on where it is used. This table looks like it could be useful in both a creative office setting as well as in a home.

adapting the kotatsu for the office

Image from Herman Miller

The kotatsu is a representation how traditions can be kept alive through adaptation, as well as how adapted traditions can keep certain values alive. Because it is still widely used, the feeling of winter as a time for people to gather together and share warmth (literally and figuratively) is maintained in some ways. Translated into modern design, it emphasizes how the act of gathering and collaboration are integral parts to a successful, memorable experience.

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Paint Chip Projects

I am still settling into my new place and so far the biggest stumbling block, besides having the delivery guys unceremoniously dump my couch three floors below my apartment door, has been trying to choose paint colours.

paint chip samples

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Before I moved in, I was sure I knew the perfect hues and collected a small sampling of paint chips from my local store. But now that I have been in the space for a while, none of my original picks seem right for attic rooms with sloping ceilings and little natural light. So it’s back to the paint store for a few more chips.

Bicycle with rainbow wheels
Photo: Buzznet

Not only am I ready to give up and pull a random colour out of a bag like Rachel Berger did for her 100 Colors, 100 Writings, 100 Days project but I’m also feeling a little guilty about all those wasted swatches. Since they can’t be recycled, I wanted to find a way to reuse them in a way that wouldn’t resemble a third grader’s art and crafts activity.

Pantone swatch mosaic rendition of a Manet painting

Photo: Tim Fraser Brown via Shape + Colour

This awesome reproduction of Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Berger took designer Tim Fraser Brown and his friends four days and 5000 Pantone chips to make. This is definitely not a third grade project but it is perhaps an overly ambitious goal for my limited palette of chips.

Coffee table with paint chip top
Photo: Ready Made

An internet search reveals hundreds of amazing projects. One of my favourites is this table treatment, which would be an excellent way to disguise a scratched surface or to dress up an inexpensive piece of furniture like IKEA’s Lack table. By using double-sided tape, as Ready Made suggests, you can change it up whenever you like.

Box and bow made with paint chips
Photo: Style With a Smile

I’m always trying to cut down on using store-bought gift wrap, so I can’t wait to try Jonathan Fong’s paint chip box and bow to jazz up a birthday present.

Coaster craft project using paint chips
Photo: Crafty CPA

The trick to projects like these is to make something that you will actually use, which is why I love the Crafty CPA’s paint chip coasters. And the bonus is that you don’t need to go steal dozen of cards from the paint store to make these; you can just add to your coaster collection when you are done with your latest samples.

Shredded paint chips on a wall
Photo: Babble

While I may be no closer to choosing colours for my walls, at least I have some ideas about how to reuse all those pretty paint chips. What do you do with your colour strips once the decision has been made?

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Capiz — Coming Out of Its Shell

Image via The Dailies

The capiz is a pretty common mollusk around South and Southeast Asia, prized more for its beautiful shell than its edible flesh. When I was growing up, I usually found it in windows of quaint old houses in the Philippines, or used as material in bric-a-bric peddled by old ladies in tourist shops. This is probably why I had always thought that anything made out of capiz shells were old-fashioned.

Spanish colonial capiz windowpanes. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Image by John Lander via Asia Images.

But in recent years, I was glad to be proven wrong and be enlightened on the enduring beauty and versatility of this mollusk. I was surprised at how it can be integrated into modern architecture and design. They have a gorgeous texture, pearly luster, and a wonderful translucent quality that brings a lovely warmth into any space.

The very basic capiz material. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Capiz shells make dazzlingly beautiful lamps and chandeliers, as their translucence filters light through and bathes the room in a soft glow. On furniture, walls, and home decor they lend exquisite sheen and texture which really kicks up the wow factor.

Wall Tiles

Capiz Wall Tiles. Image via La Casa Deco.

Image via La Casa Deco


Image via My Milk Glass Heart

Image via Belle Maison

Image via Houzz


3-drawer capiz chest. Image from Country Wood Furniture.

Home Accessories

Image via Homes Direct 365

Image via Houzz

Via The Diplomatic Wife

Via The Diplomatic Wife

Image via Damn I Like That

Via JL Designs

New Designs for Winter 2011

We are thrilled to announce that Greentea Design has just launched eight gorgeous new furniture pieces!

This console is one of the three sexy new additions to the Yoshida collection.

And here we’d like to introduce… the étagère, an open display shelf that exhibits a delicate, refined quality.

Click here to view the rest of the new products.

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Sitting Pretty

chair painting by Christopher Stott

At its most minimal a chair is a piece of furniture that allows one to draw a moment of comfort. A seat, a back and a base sum up its parts, but of course a chair can be so much more. Seating design encourages experimentation in materials and form, and offers an endless series of combinations that can result in an object of great beauty. Pushed too far however, and comfort can take a back seat to creative expression, but in the best cases an amazing balance is struck between form and function.  Here are few examples of chair designs that have found just such a balance.

Latica Chair by velichko velikov via designboom

The Elastic chair is the most fun you can have taking a seat. Forty colourful bands of elastic make up the inside of the chair, allowing for a little bounce or a gentle rocking motion. Veliichko Velikov created this chair to look like a daisy, and it’s also stackable.

“knitted” Eames wire chair via Re-Craft

The look of metal wire chairs is chic but not exactly inviting, especially during the winter months. This “knitting” idea is simply brilliant if you have one of these chairs in your home. Using wool roving you can weave it through your chair, instantly adding warmth and soft texture.

corner chairs anton bjorsing

Anton Bjorsing’s chairs take advantage of corner spots providing two joining seats. It’s a clever idea that is visually arresting. I love how it appears to be sneaking around the corner.

Melting Chair by Philipp Aduatz via Freshome

This chair by Philipp Auatz appears to be melting into the floor. The soft lines are seductive, and the mercury silver is half sci-fi and half glam. There’s something I really like about how this piece of furniture appears to be in the process of disappearing.

whittle chair via dornob

Karen Ryan took an ordinary solid wood chair and whittled it down to a piece of art. Part clever upcycling idea and part a meditation on mass production vs. handmade, the finished product is gorgeous.

rocker print by cheryloz

Until I can afford the Eames rocker of my dreams I can satiate my desire by bringing home this beautiful print by Etsy seller cheryloz. I may not be able to sit in it, but that’s okay because it can brighten up my walls instead.

Happy Friday everyone!

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