It’s been a long time since a new furniture design has grabbed as much attention and praise as Herman Miller’s innovative Aeron chair. Designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick and introduced in 2001, the radically different office chair replaces padded upholstery with a strong, shape-retaining mesh skin called Pellicle.
Aeron recently became the latest addition to the contemporary decorative arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – a first for an office chair 家居設計. Explaining its inclusion, curator Katherine Howe said, “The Aeron represents something completely new, something that will make a difference. (It) is a superb example of the marriage between innovative materials and sophisticated design that is so much a part of our late-20th-century world.”
The chair is the first object selected through a collaboration of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and the MFA. The joint effort will identify outstanding examples of contemporary design, which ASID then will acquire for the museum by purchase or donation. Harriet Coulson currently chairs the ASID committee.
Treece Tate and Russ Fabiani of Herman Miller were instrumental in getting their company to donate the Aeron to the museum. The chair is also in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Fabiani said that when Aeron debuted, it was so strikingly different that some people called it “a fly swatter on wheels.”
Designer Michael Dale, a member of the MFA decorative arts subcommittee, called Aeron’s design “representative of our times, the computer technology age.”
From ornate and traditional to sleek and sexy, the stylistic mix includes authentic Chinese elements, colonial charm and modern Tiger economy. For anyone fascinated by this changing city, Private Hong Kong offers an armchair home tour to relish.
If you frown upon rustic, weathered tables and doors with paint peeling away to bare wood, you probably won’t appreciate Austin authors Karen Witynski and Joe P. Carr’s exploration of the appeal of old furnishings from Mexico. But these two have spent years in small towns and country villages, sifting among utilitarian vessels and carved objects that reflect rich local history.
It is seductive, mysterious, addictive-it’s jade. People have died for it. Legends surround it. A Chinese emperor once offered fifteen cities for a jade carving so small that it fit in the palm of his hand. Jade was thought to be a male stone, so naked virgins were sent to gather it from stream beds in the belief that the stone would be attracted to them. Jade has survived floods, fires, burial, and economic upheavals. Not least of all, during the past decade, some jade carvings have appreciated at a rate of nearly three thousand percent. Another plus for collectors is that manly of these treasures are small enough to be easily portable or worn as jewelry.
Jade carvings are hoarded by some shrewd investors and continue to be avidly sought. Jades worth investing in are gem quality Burmese jadeite, the archaic jades from the Han through Sung Dynasties (206 B.C. to 1297 A.D.), or the more recently produced Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasty pieces. While it is true that some jade carvings can set you back thousands of dollars, fine, authentic pieces can still be bought for a few hundred dollars or less.
Any potential collector must first acquire at least a working knowledge of the mysteries and myths surrounding jade. It was thought to protect the dead from decomposition, so many jades were buried with the deceased. When excavated, these are sometimes called “tomb jades.” Chinese authors have called jade “tears of the Imperial Dragon,” “a window to reality,” “the stone of heaven,” “the stone of immortality,” and “the living stone.” Such references allude to nephrite, one of the two stones which are grouped under the general term jade. The other is jadeite.
When most people think of jade, the color green comes to mind, although jade comes in every color of the spectrum. Pure jade (both nephrite and jadeite) is white. Color comes from impurities of other minerals in the stone. Iron gives the largest variety of colors from pale green to browns, yellows, grays, near black and, on very rare occasions, blue. Manganese is responsible for shades of gray and black and, very rarely, pink. Chromium makes possible the vivid emerald green of the valued Imperial green jadeite color.
While manly cultures, including native Americans and ancient tribes from the South Seas to New Zealand have collected and prized jade, it is the oriental jades which excite most collectors. West Coast jade fanatics are especially fortunate because so many fine jades are available in the area.
So, jade is really a broad category which includes two separate stones. Nephrite is a silicate of magnesium. It is the old, original jade of which all archaic pieces are made. A relative newcomer is jadeite, which comes from Burma and was not known in China until 1784. It was pure white nephrite which the Emperor of China used as an instrument for communicating with heaven. It was nephrite which was used for ceremonial implements and on which the history of Chinese art and symbolism is hinged. Nephrite is the toughest stone on earth: it takes fifty tons of weight to crush one cubic inch of nephrite. Because of its toughness it wears extremely well, and even ancient pieces often appear in flawless condition. Jadeite, however, has a crystalline structure and breaks relatively easily.