The Ubiquitous No. 14

You may not know the name Michael Thonet, but you’ve probably sat in one of his chairs hundreds of times. Thonet was a German-Austrian furniture maker and designer who developed bentwood furniture and the incredibly popular No. 14 chair, known as the Cafe Chair, that is used in bistros and restaurants around the world.

The Urn: Logo From Antiquity

When we see an Apple logo on our smart phone, we don’t think fruit, we think cutting-edge devices. When we see Starbucks’ green mermaid with long wavy locks, we don’t think sea creatures, we think a cool place for cappuccinos. And when citizens of America and Europe in the 18th century saw urns, they didn’t think funerals and ashes, they thought noble simplicity, beauty, and reason.

The Sea Shell: Design Motif

“Why are there so many sea shell designs on furniture, textiles, and architecture?” As with many decorative and design patterns, the answer lies in a combination of ancient superstition, the borrowing from nature’s unchanging harmony, and

A Proper Setting

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the wildly popular BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey. Fans are eagerly anticipating the third season here in the U.S., which will begin airing in January. The series has sparked a renewed interest in Edwardian style and an appreciation for British historic homes like Highclere Castle, which is the real-life setting for the fictitious Downtown Abbey.

Set Design: The Great Gatsby & Anna Karenina

Set designers are becoming more influential in the world of home decor, offering inspiration and nostalgia on the big screen and on television. A perfect example is the huge influence Mad Men has had on fashion and furnishings. Set decorators Amy Wells and Claudette Didul paid attention to the smallest details to recreate the homes and clothing of the 1960s, sparking a mid-century-modern trend that is still going strong.