Jan 28, 2013

Sneaky little sausage

It has been a while since Urho has appeared in the postings, so we thought it would be appropriate to write a few lines on his behalf. Urho's life is much the same, a lot of supervising and relaxing on the couch. Quite enjoyable. What Urho is NOT liking very much at the moment is the cold weather. Being a small dog with very little hair and very close to ground, we have tried to find him something suitable to wear to keep him warm. We have tried several things, but the most recent addition to Urho's garderobe is a custom made orange winter jacket, which flatters his lengthy figure perfectly.

All geared up and ready to go out!

 Top view

Being a brave little dog, Urho still does quite well in -15C, but when the temperature drops below that, things get difficult. As he does need to go out twice a day, at least very briefly, one would imagine he would have some appreciation for winter gear we have provided him. But one could not be more mistaken. Even if it is not apparent from the picture below, he really could not care less about the many outfits we have tried.

Out in the snow

So, here are two examples. The orange jacket is the newest, custom made addition. The blue one was bought last winter, and Urho wore it when he was not quite as long as he is now.  And Urho despises both of them.

Selected pieces from Urho's attire

A while back, we needed to leave Urho alone for a while. Knowing Urho's dislike for winter clothing, Minna had hid the new orange jacket in a closet so Urho couldn't get his jaws on it. But the little sausage can be quite sneaky at times. While we were out, the closet door had been opened, and the only thing which had been pulled out was indeed the new orange jacket. By now, you have probably guesses what had happened. If not, take a look at the picture below. Trying to make sure he would never need to wear it again, Urho had simply destroyed the zipper. Everything else around the apartment was intact. And just to add an example from Urho's darker history, the same photo also captures a destroyed clip of the blue jacket. So Urho really, really has a great aversion for outfits.

Two jackets - both destroyed

And, when the task has been completed, Urho takes his leave and makes himself comfortable in his favorite corner of the couch, squeezed in between the pillows, closes his eyes, and takes a long, long nap. Aaah, what a life!

Made to measure corner

Jan 23, 2013

Eames Lounge Chair

The Eames Lounge Chair, familiar to many from books, living rooms and even TV shows, is certainly an icon for mid century modern era. Since its launch in 1956 the Lounge Chair has since been in continuous production. It won the first prize at the Milan Triennial of 1957 and it was accepted to the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960.

We used to own a newer Eames lounge chair a few years back, but that one was sold some time ago and replaced by two vintage ones. Now preparing to the restoration of the two disassembled Lounge Chairs in the Man Cave, Pekka has intensively been searching information about the history of this chair. Despite it is well known, the detailed history and evolution of the chairs is not, however, as widely recognized. In this posting, we would like to share some of our key learnings and curiosities with you. 

Eames Lounge Chair (Herman Miller late 1960's model)

So, let’s get started. The Eames Lounge Chair, officially titled as Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671), first appeared on the Arlene Francis “Home” show broadcast on the NBC television network in US in 1956. The chair is a design of Charles and Ray Eames (husband and wife, not two brothers) for the Herman Miller furniture company, and it was released after several years of development. In the early days of the Lounge Chair, Ray Eames remarked in a letter to Charles that it looked "comfortable and un-designy". Charles's original concept had indeed been a chair with "the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt." 

The lounge chair was the first chair the Eameses designed for a high-end market, and it was made of molded plywood and leather. During the World War II the U.S Navy had called upon the Eames couple to create a lightweight, inexpensive leg split to help transporting wounded soldiers. Access to military technology and manufacturing facilities allowed the Eameses to perfect their plywood molding technique, subsequently used in several of their designs.

The Lounge Chair was originally produced and exported worldwide only by US company Herman Miller in Michigan. Despite its later success the initial sales were not very promising when compared to the tooling investment that had been done for mass production. During the chair's first full year of production only 484 items were sold. Subsequently, the sales rose to 1300 items per year in the beginning of 1960 and to 3500 per year by the end of the decade, ultimately hitting a hundred thousand items by 2004 (Eames Lounge Chair, in "An Icon of Modern Design" by Eidelberg et al.).

A year after it's launch in the US, a Swiss company Vitra become the legitimate manufacturer of Eames furniture in Europe. In 1970, Herman Miller issued also other licenses in order to manufacture more Eames furniture in Europe. The chosen manufacturers were NK in Sweden, ICF in Italy, Hille International in the UK and Mobilier International in France. However in 1986, Vitra was awarded the sole manufacturing rights for the Europe and Middle East regions. 

Given the above, if you are interested in buying a new Eames lounge chair in Europe today, you are restricted in buying one produced by Vitra. None of the other new Eames lounge chairs sold in Europe are made by an authorized manufacturer. Again, if you live in the States or Asia you would buy a chair made by Herman Miller. And is there a difference between the two? Yes, there is. An easy way to distinguish between the two authorized manufacturers is to look at the base. The one made by Herman Miller has a so called flat top-base, whereas the one by Vitra has a so called contract-base. In all other respects the two chairs are very similar, if not identical, for us the commoners.

Herman Miller base on the left, Vitra base on the right

With the introduction of new materials and manufacturing methods the chair’s construction has evolved during almost 60 years it has been in mass production. Based on these structural and visual cues, such as the number of screws under the armrest (only the very first series had three screws under the armrest, all the other series have two), it is possible to derive the approximate age of a given chair. And why is this be important? Besides the general condition, the age is one of the key factors determining vintage chair's market value. With relatively few chairs initially manufactured in the early days, the older a chair, more valuable it is. Quite simple, isn’t it?

First generation Lounge chair, armrest with tree screws

Some chairs have an actual stamp on a sticker, which is placed underneath the seat stating the exact year of production. However, when it comes to chairs lacking one, knowing the exact year of production can sometimes be difficult. Even if structural differences can give out the general age, in addition to the mass produced chair series, there have been special orders and made to measure series that deviate from the "norm". Additionally, when trying determining the age of a given chair one has to understand that some of these chairs are almost 60 years old. Therefore it is very likely that at some point during the lifetime of a particular chair, it may have been altered due to maintenance or a breakage of a component. In these cases, a chair was sent back to the manufacturer who replaced a broken vintage component with a newer one. This, of course, created a mix of old and new, making it more difficult to determine the age of an altered chair today.

Surprise in our first generation cushion filling - layer of foam added afterwards!

Originally the Lounge Chair was designed in 1956 with 100% down and duck feather fill. As Charles Eames ended up not liking how the cushions became flat and unsightly after only a few years of use, the design was changed so that for a time, most chairs were made with a mix of down feathers and foam. Sometimes around 1971, with the arrival of new filling materials all of the Eames lounge chairs were made with a mix of foam and fiberfill, and no more feathers were added. However, custom options certainly caused some variability, and for example a chair with 100% foam cushions as early as from 1960 has been identified. 

A good way to confirm the age of the frame and cushions of the chair is to check the shape and color of the clips attaching the cushions to the wood shells. If they are circular and silver in color, the clips were installed before October 4th, 1971. After 1971, the clip of choice was long, thin and black in color.

Cushion clip - pre October 1971

Cushion clip - post October 1971

It is import to understand that together with the shockmounts (we'll come back to these in the later postings) one of the most delicate components of this chair is the leather on the cushions – if not treated well, it will crack. So when the old chairs returned to manufacturer for a cushion repair, they usually changed not only the cushions, but also the clips (to fit the new cushions) altering this important visual cue. 

Originally the wooden parts of the Lounge Chairs were made of Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra) veneer, which was used until 1990 but then discontinued due to harvesting restrictions. Nowadays, the chair is made of walnut, cherry or sustainably grown Santos Palisander, which was introduced in 2006 for the Lounge Chair 50th year celebration.

Brazilian rosewood veneer

The chair is composed of three curved plywood shells. In modern production these shells are made of seven thin layers of veneer glued together and shaped under heat and pressure. This is different from the original, vintage chairs in which instead of seven layers, there were only five layers of plywood.

Three different kind of brand labels can be found in the Lounge Chairs marking the different production times: a round label (1956-1970), a black horizontal label (1970-1990) and a silver horizontal label (from 1990 onwards). Labels can and will rub and fall off, so if your chair does not have a brand label it does not automatically mean that the chair is not authentic piece.

First & second generation label

Fourth generation label

The earlier production series had a push-on rubber boot glides on the feet of the ottoman. This design stemmed from the ottoman base used originally as a side chair base, which only designed to accept boot glides. When this base was adapted for use on the ottoman, customer complaints poured in, as it turned out the glides fell off quite easily and were not adjustable like the glides on the lounge chair base. Therefore the design was altered and similarly to the chair, also the ottoman received adjustable, screw-in glides called the “dome of silence”.

First generation push-on rubber boot (before 1957)

Screw-in glides, "Dome of Silence" (after 1957)

Taken together, rather than trying to give you tools to determine the exact manufacturing year of a given chair, it is simpler to divide the designs in different production series, e.g. “Generation 1,” “Generation 2” etc. The most significant structural differences and visual cues for each production generation are listed below. Please note that there is variation not only due to the reasons presented above (e.g. custom orders and repairs), but due to the differences in opinions of various sources.

GENERATON 1 production: 1956-1960 
   Silver circular cushion clips
   100% down cushions filling
   Boot glides to ottoman base (pre '57)
   Three (3) screws to armrests
   Round Herman Miller label
   Brazilian rosewood veneer
   Gun stock oil finish

GENERATION 2 production: 1960-1971
   Silver circular cushion clips
   Down cushions + other materials
   Adjustable/screw glides to ottoman base
   Two (2) screws to armrests
   Round Herman Miller label
   Brazilian rosewood veneer
   Gun stock oil finish

GENERATION 3 production: 1971-1991
   Long black cushion clips (Oct '71)
   Foam and fiber fill cushions
   Adjustable/screw glides to ottoman base
   Two (2) screws to armrests
   Long black Herman Miller label
   Brazilian rosewood veneer
   Lacquer finish since 1980

GENERATION 4 production: 1991-
   Long black cushion clips
   Foam and fiber fill cushions 
   Adjustable/screw glides to ottoman base
   Two (2) screws to armrests
   Long silver Herman Miller label
   Walnut, cherry or Santos Palisander veneer (2006)
  Lacquer finish

We will keep updating this posting whenever we come across some new information regarding the chair's history. If you have some updates or corrections regarding the text, please kindly let us know and we would be glad to learn and make the necessary updates! 

For the Eames Lounge Chair part II please go here.

Jan 20, 2013

Some questions for you!

You are warmly welcomed to participate in the very first quiz of the Olive Green Window! We would like to invite you to test your knowledge and identify some classics we have addressed in the previous postings. The lucky winner will receive a copy of "Kauneimmat klassikot", a book about beautiful homes with timeless furniture!

Kauneimmat klassikot by Andrew Weaving (original English title: Living Retro)

How to participate?
It is very simple - just follow these two steps:

  1. According to your best knowledge and using the blog postings as a source, identify the objects and designers in each photo. We are always looking for WHAT and WHO.
  2. Send us your answers via email to theolivegreenwindow@gmail.com by Feb 28th, 2013
  3. You are also welcome to leave comment on how you liked the quiz or any other suggestions or wishes you might have!

So here are the five photos: WHAT is it and WHO designed it?






How will the winner be chosen?
The winner of the quiz will be the participant with the highest number of correct answers. If there are more than one participants with the same winning number of correct answers, the winner will be randomly selected amongst these participants.

How will the price be delivered?
The price will be mailed to the winner (both to Finland as well as abroad) during the first two weeks of March 2013. For this, we will be kindly requesting the winner's mailing address by email after the announcement of the winner on the blog site. If the winner has not responded back within two weeks time, an alternative winner will be chosen.


Jan 17, 2013


As you might remember, the main focus of renovation project has now moved downstairs. Now, we are glad to report the near completion of the very first part, which is a small room behind the bathroom (see the floor plan). This room was, from the very beginning, agreed to be used for various hobbies, such as furniture restoration, diving equipment storage and care, and all kinds of miscellaneous arts and crafts. In other words, this room was to become the Man Cave (freely translated in Finnish: "Miljoonahuone").

The leading idea for the Man Cave is crystallized in the Bauhaus principle: "Form follows function". For instance, the room has an efficient working light above the desk, which is set at the kitchen counter height to allow comfortable working position. On top of the desk there is a protective sheet of vulcanized rubber and several electricity sockets for simultaneous use of tools. The floor is covered with a plastic mat, so one does not need to care for spills. 

Now, every single tool has its designated place, and they can easily be found without swearing and cursing. Also, earlier all the diving gear, rebreathers and such, were lying around the dining room table waiting to be cleaned after use (and obviously thus annoying everyone). Now, they also have a place where they can be left waiting to be cared for. Needless to say, priceless.

The old wallpaper was removed, and borrowing an idea from a work project Pekka installed self adhesive Buzziskin felt on the wall (Thank you, Anu!). It is not only visually pleasing, but it also functions as an acoustic wall and offers a surface to put up photos or blueprints. With the two welded metal support pieces, the desk top was designed to carry up to 200 kg. So it won't be the desk which will form a bottleneck for any given project one might desire to take on in the Man Cave. 

Minna's father, inspired by his three young grandchildren, introduced his idea of utilizing empty baby food cans to Pekka over the Holiday visit to Kuopio. Being someone who makes a living in product development, Pekka instantly saw the genius in his father-in-law's idea. Being someone who tends to get sucked in very deeply into a given project, it was not surprising this particular project also grew a bit out of proportion. Just a bit. But the row of storage cans for nails, screws and other what-nots helps one to get organized.

The Man Cave also has plenty of storage space for antiques. Of course, there is a designated place for Urho as well, as he likes to join Pekka downstairs and oversee the progression of his master's projects.

Remember the Eames Lounge chair from the posting called "One sunny morning"? Well, in the Man Cave there are actually two more of these chairs - one made by Herman Miller and another by Vitra, both vintage. The Vitra one is not actually ours, it is here for restoration and will be moving away sometimes in the future. So currently, they are both dissasembled and being restored - a story to be shared with you later. By the way, just in case you happen to be interested in buying an Eames chair, let us know. One of them is indeed for sale!

Jan 6, 2013

Round of excuses

There are two goals for this posting. First, to introduce the last part of the living room which you have not seen yet - the dining area - and second, to discuss a major dilemma regarding the dining room chairs.

The dining area is located next to the Vodder credenza. It consists of a table for eight people, chairs and a light above the table. As you have seen in the previous postings, we also have a separate breakfast table next to the kitchen, but in addition to this we thought it would be nice to have space for group of eight diners. Easier said than done.

Looking out for snacks

The question which dining room chairs should one choose can be a tricky one. Of course, the perfect chairs do exists being a set of Kjaerholm's PK9 in cognac leather or Wegner's CH24 Wishbone chairs. However, the Kjearholm ones happen cost a small fortune thus being absolutely out of our range, and the Wishbone chair seats are woven paper cord (not a great match with small children, and they are bit of a cliche anyway). Therefore, we are forced to consider other alternatives. Up until now we have been quite happy with our current choice, the Eames plastic DAWs by Vitra. The DAW is an arm rest version of the famous Eames plastic chair, which was launched in 1948 for the Museum of the Modern Art low cost furniture design competition, being the very first industrially manufactured plastic chair. 

The DAW was originally produced by Zenith plastics in Los Angeles as a fiber glass version (the famous rope edge chair). However, due to the environmental pressures both Herman Miller and Vitra started to produce it in injection molded version, which are the ones we currently have. Originally, this chair was launched with a rod base, and the DAW base which we have in our chairs was actually used for a very short time period during the 1950's. It was brought back to manufacturing only several years later. The chair works well around the table but also equally nicely as a side chair or a study room chair.

Eames DAW

As much as we like the Eames plastic chairs, they have one fundamental problem considering our dining room. We would like to fit two chairs on each side of the table and one on each end, but unfortunately there is not enough space between the table legs on the sides for two chairs to be pushed under the table when not used. Having eight of them would be just too much, even in temporary use. Therefore, all four chairs are on sale in Huuto.net, either as single items or as a set of four. If you are interested, do not hesitate to contact as by email (theolivegreenwindow@gmail.com). 

Another interesting topic is the choice of the dinner table light. Many of you know and might even have the Lokki light (also known as Lentävä Lautanen, the Flying Saucer) by Yki Nummi. Very few lights have gained such a prominent national status as the Lokki in Finland or the famous PH5 by Henningsen in Denmark. The George Nelson Bubble lamp has a very similar status in USA. It became the mid century pendant light of choice by the Average Joe. We usually prefer vintage, but in this case we chose a later production series instead, as the cover material in the older lights tends to turn ugly yellow with age.  

Nelson Bubble Light by Modernica

Those of you who visited our old apartment might remember our old ROUND dining room table. As we now have a bit more space and aim seating eight diners at the same time, we "upgraded" to a Piet Hein's Superellipse manufactured by Fritz Hansen...well, almost. When searching for a large round table to our old apartment, we came to notice they weren't widely available. Therefore, we bought a set of original legs from an auction house and ordered a custom made table top separately. Now, it was easy to change the table top to something which greatly reminds the Superellipse (Our apologizes, Piet!). We usually don't like cutting corners this way, but somehow this can be justified by significant wear and tear caused by kids. 

DIY superellipse

So if you are wondering which dining room chairs we have set our minds at after selling the Eames chairs? Well, keep on reading the blog and you will find out, as the HDP model is actively being used in chair search!