Saturday, March 21, 2009

Studio 5in1 - Eco-friendly Lightcase Display

When Norman Rabinovich contacted me to discuss a display case concept for his storefront I knew it was going to be something very unique. Norman is the proprietor of Studio 5in1 a design collective that provides cutting-edge office and retail space to its in-house designers and entrepreneurs. Located on North 6th Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn, I knew this project had to be bold in design and function. Norman had several leftover pieces of reclaimed Douglas Fir joists that had been purchased at Build it Green in Astoria Queens and were used to build his floor and to cover an entire wall. Norman and I share in our appreciation of ecologically-conscious design and business practices so finding another use for these reclaimed boards was a must. We spoke briefly on the phone and later that afternoon I was picking up the lumber from Studio 5in1 with a basic plan... build a display case that uses as much of the leftover wood as possible.

Because we wanted to keep the patina of the 100+ year old lumber I was faced with the difficult task of constructing a solid, functional structure from irregular materials that could not be milled into perfect boards. It took a few days, many sketches, many mockups, a few splinters, and a lot of measuring, but I finally sorted out the final design, which would feature vertical planks with an internal structure that allowed an acrylic top to be lit from beneath while at the same time providing ample storage and access from behind.

It took 4 men to deliver this piece, but when it was finally in place all people involved in moving it agreed unanimously that it was worth every ounce of effort. The piece looked at home in the retail space and provided the much needed anchor the storefront needed.

Soho Brownstone - from old to BOLD!

I took this tired old living room in a gorgeous Soho brownstone and punched it up...

*I actually took this picture just after finishing the fireplace so it wasn't a true "before" picture. On the fireplace I applied white caulk between the bricks using my finger to smooth it out. I then painted the entire fireplace with Benjamin Moore "Decorator's White" in a flat finish. The result is the same look BDDW has received much attention for in its Soho showroom and people are always trying to replicate. I did a writeup on the technique on (scroll down to the bottom for the comment by "Dan G"). It's a very simple and inexpensive way to modernize a brick surface and seal it. Mounted just above the mantle is the "Captain's Mirror" by BDDW. George Nelson saucer bubble lamp provides ample light.

Continuing from the work completed on the fireplace, I installed drywall in front of the crumbling brick wall and painted it a soft grey color. A custom backing plate was attached to the brick wall prior to installing the drywall so that the Plasma TV would have a solid foundation from which to be hung. Speaker and cable wires were rerouted to be hidden from view. "Lake Cabinet" from BDDW acts as entertainment center. Reproduction Barcelona chairs and bench in a cream color with antique sofa complete the room.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1958 Paul McCobb lounge chairs - Restoration by Greene Furniture

I recently completed the restoration of these rare lounge chairs by Paul McCobb, which included ebonizing the natural walnut. The chairs are owned by interior designer, Robert Fodor, and are currently on display at Highland Park, a SOHO design store located at 175 West Broadway. *Special thanks to Sol Ovidia at Prestige Furniture & Design in Woodside Queens for the upholstery on these chairs.
C. 1958
Paul McCobb Predictor Linear lounge chairs manufactured in 1958 for the O'Hearn Furniture Company of Gardner, MA. Made of walnut wood and ebonized (not lacquered). The chairs have been reupholstered with two sets of cushions. One set in new Maharam Melange Tweed "Inca" upholstery fabric; and one set in original vintage 1955 Alexander Girard "Jacob's Coat" stripe upholstery fabric. Both sets are included."

1200 Fifth Avenue - part 3

This year-long decorating and design project at an amazing pre-war "Classic 10" on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park was a major accomplishment only achievable through collaboration with brilliant interior designer, Robert Fodor, and exceptionally dedicated electrician, Allan Jones. Working with these consummate professionals enabled the successful completion of this project and I'm honored to count them among my friends and colleagues in design. Without further ado, the pictures...


This picture shows one of our custom Rosewood and Travertine PTAC units. The Rosewood panels are completely removable, which exposes the PTAC system inside allowing for complete servicing and removal if needed. This exclusive Greene Furniture design requires custom metalwork to build the frame upon which the Travertine top sits and the Rosewood panels are attached. Prior to our design and installation, a plywood box was built around the PTAC unit which prevented removal and servicing of the system unless the entire box was broken apart and removed. This was quite inconvenient, as you can imagine.

The cream-colored Travertine top compliments the deep reds and blacks found in the solid Rosewood. A natural, hand-applied oil finish further accentuates the Rosewood's inherent beauty. A custom, solid Brass vent cover inlayed in the Travertine top and Brass screening behind the lower air intakes adds brilliance to the organic feel of the installation.

*Special thanks to SMC Stone in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for their great work fabricating and installing the Travertine tops on all of the PTAC units.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1200 Fifth Avenue - part 2

Master Bedroom:

Furniture and Decor - Freeform mid-century vanity and stools completely rebuilt and restored by Greene Furniture, Chillewich shades from the Shade Store, and custom hanging drum light.

Built-ins (background) - I designed and built the window boxes that run from wall to wall to hide the PTAC (Packaged Thermal Air Conditioner) unit. It was important that the PTAC window boxes not only complimented Robert Fodor's design vision for the space, but enabled unobstructed access to the PTAC unit for service & repair. I engineered the units so that the solid Rosewood facade panels are completely removable, leaving only the Travertine top and solid Brass vent inlay sitting atop the internal metal framework, which allows technicians unrestricted access to the PTAC unit.

We installed these custom PTAC window boxes in 6 of the apartment's 10 rooms. In the Master Bedroom the rosewood panels have 2 cubby boxes with recessed lighting and are used to display sculptures. The lighting runs on its own dimmer switch.

Monday, March 16, 2009

1200 Fifth Avenue - part 1


Furniture and Decor - Modernica Free Form sofa, Womb chair by Eero Saarinen, Ox chair by Hans Wegner, glass pieces & lamp by Blenko, Chillewich shades by the Shade Store, Danish modern drum coffee table with glass top, George Nelson cigar bubble lamps, Walnut wall-mounted bar cabinet by Johnson Furniture (1956) attributed to designer Renzo Rutili, Mosaic wall sconce with colored glass inserts by Hubbardton Forge, Lightolier arc task light, and hanging lamp (1958) attributed to Harry Bertoia. 

Built-ins (background) - Designed and built exclusively by Greene Furniture, the window boxes that run from wall to wall hide the PTAC (Packaged Thermal Air Conditioner) unit and feature 1" Travertine top with custom solid Brass vent inlay and solid 1" thick oiled Rosewood facade panels that are removable for easy access to the PTAC unit.  We installed built-in Rosewood and Travertine PTAC covers in 6 of the home's 10 rooms.  In this room, the Rosewood panels have 2 cubby boxes with recessed lighting and are used to display sculpture.  The lighting runs on its own dimmer switch.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Handcut Dovetails...

*Those are not jigged dovetails...
There is no finer measure of a woodworker's skill than his ability to cut dovetails by hand.  There are few on the planet who can cut dovetails this precisely and I'm fortunate to count the man who cut these among the members of my team.  My guys are the best!

Radiator covers by Greene Furniture

Radiator covers don't have to be ugly!  When this client contacted me the first thing she asked was, "Can you make my radiators look modern and sleek, like something at a spa?"  The pictures tell the tale...  We definitely accomplished our mission.  

Torsion box floating shelf

An executive at one of my commercial clients, an advertising agency in Chelsea, contacted me and asked, "Dan, can you build me a floating shelf for my pictures?"  Having built his entire office out of Baltic Birch multi-ply he wanted his floating shelf to match the rest of the furniture.  It took a couple days of building and a day of finishing to complete this shelf and I couldn't be happier with the result.  It has an intricate internal gridwork that provides an amazing amount of strength and rigidity while allowing the shelf to support a lot of weight.  The front lip prevents framed artwork from sliding off and the entire shelf can easily be removed from its hidden mount if/when he ever decides to do so.  Another great project and a fun exploration of the torsion box floating shelf design.

Did I mention that we didn't use a single nail or screw in the entire piece?  The beauty of the torsion box design is that it's internal gridwork, when properly built, is strong enough for a grown man to stand on and doesn't require any mechanical reinforcement in assembly, just glue.  

Midcentury Plyboo Nightstand concept

Solid bamboo, dovetail joinery, soft-close drawer glides, bamboo spindle legs, hand-applied oil finish...  Does it get any better?!
This piece, like many of my pieces, was inspired by my favorite midcentury designers.  In this case, George Nelson and Paul McCobb.  Using bamboo plywood ("plyboo") I designed and built this nightstand concept as an exploration of combining mid-century design with modern, eco-friendly materials.  Even the brass drawer pulls are custom.  I love this piece and am refining it for production.  It will be available in natural, dark, and neopolitan plyboo.  It can also be made from any hardwood or plywood.  I hope you like it!

"Domino Benches" by Greene Furniture

No hardware, just joinery... I designed these benches to use no screws, just really solid joinery, dowel, and glue. They will last a lifetime, perhaps several, and look absolutely gorgeous for a long time to come.
Both of these matching benches were made of solid reclaimed Cherry and finished with precat. lacquer in a dull finish. I would have preferred to finish them with hand-applied oil, but the client requested lacquer.

I'm currently planning to build an identical bench out of reclaimed Black or Claro Walnut with an inset black leather cushion. The bench will likely be 48"-60" long and finished with hand-applied oil and wax. Joinery will be identical to those above. Stay tuned...

First Post

Welcome to my new blog. I plan to use this space to post my thoughts, news about projects, and general ramblings about all things designish. Feel free to post your comments and check back regularly for updates.

Yours in design,
Dan Greene