What Do You Call It?

First there was the settle. Yep, bad name. It was a wood bench basically with a back panel and side panels or arms. Think of it as a church bench with a higher back. The reason it's a big deal is that it was pretty big and heavy so it was not easy to move, which "was evidence of the increasingly stable household that accompanied the rise of the middle class in the late Middle Ages."** There were versions of the settle that included the back tilting to create a table top and some that had storage under the seat.
Settle with tilting back that turned into a table *
After the settle came the settee in the 17th century, which is like an armchair that got stretched out. A settee was usually upholstered and provided seating for two or more people. It's changed a lot over the years but the same idea applies.
By the mid-18th century there was the sofa. It was a more casual solution to seating than the more formal settee, with an upholstered seat, back and arms and allowing for two or more people to sit. After 1830, when coil-spring deep buttoned upholstery was invented the sofa became even more popular.

So then is a couch the same as a sofa? The name couch comes from the French word, coucher, which means to go to bed. And even though we use the word couch and sofa interchangeably, a couch is traditionally quiet a but different. A couch, in the late 18th century, was more of an upholstered bench with a foot rest at one end and head rest at the other, more on the lines of a daybed. 

If you were a fantastic fan of E.R.Miller you read our blog about Graphic Standards that mentioned davenport and divan as styles of sofas that, not too long ago, were more commonly used terms. As promised, here is more information on those styles. 

A davenport is a type of sofa that is boxy (think Adirondack) and is named after the Boston furniture-manufacturing firm Irving & Casson & Davenport. It is similar to a futon in that it sometimes was made to open to a bed. 

The divan was created in France after 1830 when, as mentioned above, coil-spring upholstery began and people were gaining an interest in more comfortable seating. The name is based on a Moorish architectural term for a platform type area decorated with luxurious fabrics and cushions designated for (surprise) important people. 

*   chestofbooks.com
** The Wordsworth Dictionary of Furniture by Charles Boyce


Orrefors Glass

I first learnt of Orrefors glass when I came across a pair of lamps similar to these:

Pair of dark blue Orrefor lamps available at Quotient
They were different but still simple. I wasn't very surprised when I learnt that Orrefors is a Swedish company since many things Swedish are, in my mind, wonderfully beautiful. And yes, before IKEA came other companies that walked the line of good design and mass production. Orrefors, which started in 1898, made many more pieces than just household wares however.  They also made art glass prized for its beauty and even given as gifts by royalty and heads of state.

The name Orrefors comes from a combination of the word orre, which is the bird you see in the company's logo, and the word for, which is Swedish for river crossing, where the company's factory was located.

Teams of glass blowers, decorators, draftsmen, designers, and engravers made the Orrefors name famous through the decades. One of the struggles facing the company was finding new production methods and styles to define not only the company but also a Swedish style of glass design. Another issue was constantly finding a balance between making art glass to raise the notoriety of the Orrefors name and mass producing household wares which was necessary to maintain a steady stream of profit for the company. Attitudes towards design and fashionable style were another consideration.


Glass production was not the sole work of the Orrefors company at its inception (it started in 1726 as an iron company), but by about 1915 a glass design and production team was well established. Following the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement in England, Orrefors' designers strived to make all their designs elegant and appealing whether the piece was to be mass produced or used as a piece for an exhibition. The Arts and Crafts movement called for "beauty [as] a social function which contributed to a better, and more harmonious life."* Beautiful things were required to help society, and manufacturers, now well established after the Industrial Revolution, were needed to produce these objects. So magnificent were some of Orrefors glass pieces, that through a series of exhibitions in the 1920s Orrefors pushed itself to the forefront of global glass manufacturing. 

Styles and public views never stay constant for too long and as the years passed Orrefors designs morphed to meet new demands. Historical styles such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco were being banished for modern Industrial styles led by Germany by the 1930s. Form follows function was the new philosophy. Orrefors designs employed less engraving and more glass blowing at this time as the company again tried to redefine its style. The qualities of glass, as a material, were celebrated and how the pieces were created was made clear, in a way returning to the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s. 


Come the 1950s Orrefors was part of a global focus on Scandinavian design that again allowed the company the opportunity to be acknowledge for its beautiful and skillful work. Designers such as Nils Landberg, created stunning pieces for Orrefors that are, once again, in high demand. 
Orrefors is still in business selling glass products, http://www.orrefors.us/ but I have to admit the older pieces have more allure! 
Nils Landberg for Orrefors at gallery L7
$520 each piece

Carl Fagerlund designed lamps for Orrefors available at B4

Detail of pair of lamps by Orrefors available at Maison Gerard

1920s Art Deco Orrefor chandelier with etched glass shade available at B4

*   Orrefors Glass by Alastair Duncan pg. 26


Graphic Standards

I'm working on a new project for the gallery and it involves using Architectural Graphic Standards. I love organization and all that comes with it so a book of Standards, as in THIS is the way it is done, is right up my alley. Better yet, Architectural Graphic Standards has been around for what seems like forever so getting an old copy has the added pleasure of perusing the crisp but battered edged manila colored pages for beautiful vintage images as well as information.

This one made me appreciate all the geometry that makes simple arches look so, well, so beautifully simple.

You might not need a brickwork pattern for building a new home but if you need a different idea for how to layout the tile for a back splash or bathroom floor; or maybe a paver pattern for that garden patio that you can't wait to get out on because of all this winter weather, here you go:

Graphic Standards was first published in 1932 by John Wiley & Sons and it was written by Charles George Ramsey and Harold Reeve Sleeper. Back in those days things were different in many ways. The average cost of a new house was $6,510.00 and the average cost for house rental was $18.00 per month. A loaf of bread cost about seven cents*.

Lifestyles and houses were also drastically different. Great estates were built to include rooms for entertaining and living in ways that we no longer expect, such as drawing rooms, conservatories, stables, or greenhouses.  

However, some things stay the same, such as a good drink. And why not make that bar look good.

We have the same stuff but we lost the fancy names like davenport or divan. (More on this later.)

We also just lost the need for some things entirely.

Architectural Graphic Standards is in its eleventh edition, available on CD and as a good ol' book. Looking back at the old Standards it is very true that some things change but other things always stay the same.