Thursday, September 24, 2009

Up in the (Faux) Trees

Here's another item I came across an ad for recently and which sufficiently intrigued me to check out their website: faux trees. Really nice faux trees. No, not an oxymoron. The company that makes them is called NatureMaker.

Turns out the guys who make the trees you would see inside Caesar's Palace or the Paris Casino (shown above) also make them for residential applications as well. I can't say I love every image in their gallery - let's face it, sometimes a tree inside a house is just strange and contrived - but I find them thought-provoking. I like to look at an item like this and think, "how could I make this cool? What could surround this item to make it look authentic and not just theme-y or like a stage set?"

My favorite image from their residential portfolio is shown both at the top of this post and here in another photo. The bleak, twisty Bristlecone Pine is 15' high by 15' in diameter, so you can imagine that the overall room is huge. I think the designer did a really good job. The tree looks like it blends well into this stark interior.

This image is of an exterior residential application - the beautiful faux Cypress columns are 32' high (!) and support the carriageway of a luxury home. The idea of the faux trees here makes sense to me - from an engineering standpoint, you can be sure they're made out of a strong enough material to bear this much weight, and you don't have to figure out where to source two matching real timbers to do the job.

NatureMaker seems to do quite a brisk business in restaurants. This one I found particularly pretty. It's an olive tree at Via Delizia Bistro in Portland, OR. The canopy is 27' wide and the height is 14'.
I had a lot of fun scrolling through NatureMaker's portfolio. What do you think?

Playful Wallcoverings

I came across two fun things in this month's Interior Design magazine.
One is this new wallpaper pattern fom Wolf Gordon. WG is a favorite of mine. They make a lot of contemporary, graphic or textured wallcoverings that are more durable and suited for commercial applications (but of course also work for residential.) Contract/commercial settings have higher performance requirements - think about it - you want to be able to wipe the walls down if stuff gets splashed on them, and you wouldn't want someone in your restaurant damaging the walls by just brushing against them with their studded belt or scratchy jewelry - so you can usually use a commercially intended product in the home, but not all items intended for residential use are durable enough for commercial applications.

Anyway, this new pattern from Wolf Gordon called Irene's Damask is really fun because at first glance, it looks like a traditional damask, but when you look closer, you can see that it is made up of animals. The pattern was just introduced and I couldn't find it on WG's website yet, but I found the image I had seen in the magazine. I hope it is part of a whole collection with a similar feel.

There is another company I've seen do a similar thing with damask. Studio Printworks carries a design by Paul Loebach called "Yee-Ha." It is a composition of cowboys on horseback, oil rigs, football helmets, and more Texas-style imagery, but at a glance, it looks like a perfectly traditional damask pattern. It's available in a whole range of colors.
I've also seen the Scottish company Timorous Beasties create toile patterns with somewhat disturbing contemporary urban street scenes and images of large iguanas Have you come across any other companies that play with traditional concepts of pattern like this?