Jul 31, 2013

Pieces of Urho's summer

Urho, the lazy little sausage, has had a fantastic summer. Before the July warmth turns to the rainy days of August, he wanted to share some of his summer moments of relaxing, supervising and of course, exploring. According to Urho, in terms of vacation activities, usually there is no need to go farther than the sea to fish. In other words, why take a vacation trip anywhere, when the couch at home is just perfect in so many ways!

There are some things money can't buy

However, when needed, Urho makes himself available for important assignments. For example, the initiation of the project "circular staircase" naturally required Urho's active contribution. He certainly knows how to position himself in the centre (on the way) of everything.

Aligned with the central pole

During the summer, our little daughter has started to express a growing interest in playing with Urho. Unfortunately, feeling is not always mutual from Urho's side. Only if there is food involved he agrees to play along for a while. 

"Oh no, it is that little person again!!"

One of the summer highlights in Urho's opinion was definitely the new atrium terrace deck. He has discovered it to have two benefits. First, it is a fantastically warm place to enjoy his daily nap. Second, along with the terrace came the barbecue. And along with the barbecue comes more opportunities to catch - a hamburger!

Bliss of slow summer moments
Life full of temptations

Even loving the domestic life and especially the couch, Urho agreed to join the rest of the family for a small trip to central Finland. His favourite destination this time was Minna's parents' summer house. While visiting, he has a full freedom to come and go as he wishes and explore the premises in the finest detail. Swimming, however, is out of question. Urho will tip his feet to water, but that's as far as he goes. Too cold, too wet - just too plain unpleasant!

Exploring the premises

Checking out the waterfront

There is also a downside in active exploring. If you stick your nose too close to something, it just might sting back. This is exactly what happened to poor Urho, and as a result, his right eyelid tripled its size due to swelling. Thankfully with some rapid first aid, he was all recovered and back in business in no time.

Swollen eye

Thankfully, there are still many more warm and nice summer days to enjoy. Just like the rest of the Olive Green Window team, Urho is planning to spend most of it outside. However, he fully agrees with Pekka that the fireplace project needs to be initiated soon to ensure sufficient time to finish before the temperature starts dropping. We will return to this later, of course!

Planning the next big project

Jul 23, 2013

Introducing Pekka & Minna

First of September 2013, Olive Green Window will celebrate it's first birthday. Yesterday it passed a significant landmark - the blog has now been viewed over 50 000 times. Thus, we really want to thank all of you for following our journey, it means a lot to us to know there are so many renovation/restoration/MCM enthusiasts who are interested in frequently taking a peak for what is happening behind the Olive Green Window.

Some of you may remember the story behind the blog, how we first got started. For a long long time, Pekka has been really keen on mid-century modern architecture and design, and collecting and restoring lights and furniture from that era. When we fell in love with our 1960's dream home and eventually closed the deal in August 2012, we knew we were about to launch a major renovation and interior design project, which we really wanted to document. This is when a budding idea of a blog finally materialised, and the Olive Green Window was born. This is also when we invited all of you to join us by making the blog public, and looking back, we are really glad we did. The blog has become an important element of the renovation project and a shared hobby, to which we both contribute in different ways.

Pleased to meet you in person! (Photo by Nani Härkönen, http://naniannette.fi)

So, who are we, and how do we work on this? Pekka is an industrial designer, co-founder and a creative director in Seos Design. His professional background is in design and design related research, consisting of working in several different positions as designer, design director, researcher and visiting professor. For last 15 years he has been working both in business and academic fields in Milan, Barcelona, Shanghai and Espoo. For the Olive Green Window -blog, Pekka takes most of the pictures and is the primary source of all the background information concerning the different pieces. Pekka just loves hunting down interesting MCM-pieces, and subsequently restoring them, whenever necessary. For him, it is often the process rather than the end result which he finds most interesting and rewarding. Without a doubt, Pekka is the driving force of creativeness also in the Olive Green Window team. 

Minna, on the other hand, has a very different background and profession. She has a long academic career in cancer science, after which she has ventured a commercial career in pharmaceutical marketing. Thankfully, she shares Pekka's passion for MCM architecture and design, and so far only a few of Pekka's obsessions have received and absolute "no" from her side. In terms of the blog, she is responsible for writing up the stories based on the background information provided by Pekka. In contrast to Pekka, Minna tends to prefer a completed project over the process, but has a very patient and flexible take on renovations, stretched schedules and continuous innovation. Where Pekka is the innovator of the team, Minna could be described as the (occasional) voice of reason.

So, we hope you continue following us, and enjoy the future posts to come. We have several projects ongoing and many more planned, so there will be much to share in the future as well! We really welcome your insights and views, so please keep leaving comments or send us email at theolivegreenwindow@gmail.com.

Finally, we want to finish by thanking Nani Härkönen (Nani Annette Photography) for taking our picture next to the Olive Green Window. She is a fantastic photographer, and receives our warmest recommendations!

Jul 22, 2013

The Deck, part III

We are exited to report that furnishing of the top floor atrium terrace is now completed! It has taken a while to find all the elements, but now most pieces have arrived and found their place. However, knowing Pekka this won't be the final set up, but it seems to be working quite fine for now.

As the terrace is located above the ground level, in addition to the visual and functional dimensions we also needed to consider safety. For example, one of the initial ideas - the couch next to the railing - was shot down pretty quickly after we had some young visitors very keen on climbing. Another important factor affecting the layout was the direction of sun light. As the terrace faces south, the sun crosses it sideways between 10 am and 6 pm. To maximise the amount of sun, the couch is now placed next to the west wall, the last spot receiving direct sun light in the evening. This way the couch is also not blocking the view from inside enhancing the interaction between in- and outside spaces.

General layout of the terrace

The pieces were selected to complement the Aarnio bubble chair. At the centre is a low coffee table made of metal and recycled teak. Next to the table is a weather resistant couch. And with resistant, we really mean resistant! The coach cushions can be left out in the rain and once the rain is gone, they dry extremely quickly. Quite practical!

Around the table there are two LCM chairs by Charles and Ray Eames. These chairs used to reside in the living room, but being approximately the same height than the couch they turned out to be a great addition around the coffee table. Naturally, as they do not handle rain very well, they need to be brought back inside if it is raining. Fortunately they are quite light, so transport back and forth depending on the weather is not a major effort.

Overall, we are really pleased with both the style and functionality of the terrace. Being visible from most parts of the top floor we wanted to decorate it with the same style as the rest of the apartment. During the summer months, it is really like an additional room. The close location of the kitchen next to the terrace is also convenient when preparing food for barbecue. Since the arrival of the grill, it has been in active use, but being rather large and not very pretty we placed it between the couch and railing. This way it is not in anyone's way and when in use the smoke escapes away from the terrace door.

An inviting view from the kitchen

Based on the past month's experiences, we are now even more convinced the Profi Deck material was definitely the right choice for us. Both visually and practically, it compliments both the terrace and our needs. The colour is in line with the structural wood work, and the decking boards have been laid in the same direction as the overhanging wooden structure and the inside ceiling. However, even more than the visual reasons, the deck boards are laid in this direction because the floor has a slight decline towards the railing. Assembling the Profi Deck with the rubber strips creates a water proof decking allowing the rain water to flow towards the drains, which are located next to the railing. This way the deck dries faster and the water flow also helps to clean the deck from dust and other particles.

The view from the railing

One of our latest auction finds also ended up to the terrace - a rattan ottoman designed by Franco Albini for Vittorio Bonacina in 1951. Pekka has been hunting this piece (two of them, actually) for more than a year now and finally the first one found it's way to our terrace! This rattan-made piece also belongs to the permanent collection of MoMA New York. Rattan is a natural material which grows mainly in the Far East, and its characteristics include elasticity, flexibility and lightness. The stool is woven by experienced, specialised artisans, and is stunningly beautiful, practical and yes, of course, vintage!

Ottoman by Franco Albini for Vittorio Bonacina 1951

The LCM's by Eames are roughly from the same period than the Albini ottoman. The design of the LCM's actually derives from the early 1940's when Charles and Ray Eames were experimenting with wood-molding techniques. Their studies led to a commission from the US Navy requesting the Eames couple to develop plywood items used in the WWII. Later Charles and Ray applied the same technology (molding wood and glue under heat and pressure) to make affordable, high-quality veneer chairs, which could be mass-produced using dimensionally shaped surfaces.

LCM by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller 1946

The plywood seat and backrest of the LCM are joined to the metal spine and legs with a series of rubber washers or "shock mounts". The shock mounts are glued under the seat and behind the backrest and screwed to the metal frame. The rubber mounts allow the backrest to flex with the person sitting in the LCM. Unfortunately, this is the greatest design flaw of the chair. The shock mounts are securely glued to the wooden backrest, but can tear free if excessive pressure is applied or when the rubber becomes brittle with age. It is not very uncommon to see vintage chairs to which holes have been drilled through the plywood to use screws to attach seat and backrest to the frame. Such a shame.

The only two companies producing LCM's chairs are Herman Miller in US and Vitra in Europe. Since the launch of LCM's they have become available in several different wood finishes and colours. Our chairs have a walnut finish and are made by Herman Miller.

LCM's with Ottoman

On a completely other topic, there have been two recent landmarks in our little daughter's life: she just celebrated her first birthday, and a bit after that, learned to walk. For her birthday present, she received a beautiful flower from her grand mother.

Flower on teak

Just like us adults, also the junior members of the family are really enjoying the sunny terrace. Also, we brought the plants out for the summer to allow them to take advantage of the short sunny summer months of the Scandinavian summer.

Two happy juniors

To conclude, it is now a bit difficult even to remember the terrace before the transformation. We just love it! To us, the Profi Deck is a perfect solution: it has a flexible design and is easy to install and maintain (even the worst barbecue messes have been easy to clean). It is also visually appealing and very pleasant to walk on. Finally, an important attribute for us was also the fact that the Profi Deck material is upcycled, and thus in line with our goal to conserve as much of the original elements of the apartment as possible and reuse recycled materials wherever feasible. Therefore, we are glad to recommend the Profi Deck solution for anyone. If you want to come and check it out, you are most welcome!

Jul 7, 2013

Circular staircase!

When we first visited our future home to be, we noticed that somewhere along the way the original circular staircase had been removed and replaced by a wooden alternative. Yes, the replacement was circular as well, at least to some extent, but visually they had nothing in common with the original ones. Where a circular staircase is a very dynamic, light and mid-century style structure, wooden staircase with steps closed from the wall end looks static and feels heavy. And clearly, such a staircase is not aligned with our vision at all.

So, a clear need had been established. It probably comes as a surprise to no one there was no way Pekka could let this opportunity for a good hunt to pass by completely unutilized. And it just so happened that quite soon, almost miraculously, a perfect solution for the stair issue appeared to his radar from a thin air. A circular staircase, made of steel - for sale, in a town nearby only about two hours away from us!

Photo by Sari Kauppinen

There was also no way Pekka could wait a single night before driving to pick up the stairs. He wanted to go right away to get those stairs, to physically have them in his possession as soon as possible. In a situations like this, Minna has already learned it is useless to try to be the voice of reason, but it is better for all parties if these spurges of energy are fully supported. So a few hours later, the stairs had arrived!

Rough load of stairs

The stairs are covered with rust, extremely dirty and to a untrained eye look like a disaster waiting to happen. But their condition is actually ok, as they are structurally undamaged. All they need now is just some "rough" loving care - in other words, a serious facelift.

Some rusty steps

At the moment, the staircase is fully disassembled and stored in our garage ready for sandblasting and painting. There is no reason to suspect that sandblasting would not be able get rid of all the rust, paint and dirt.

After being thoroughly primed, the stairs are going to be painted black, of course. We are also considering adding another material besides steel on the steps as pure steel might be cold, noisy and slippery at times (remember, showers are located downstairs and one might occasionally exit with wet feet - dangerous!). Maybe some sheets of rubber, remains to be seen.

Pieces, pieces, pieces

As a final update to be shared, we have also made a decision considering the downstairs slate floor material. Just yesterday, Pekka ordered almost 100 square meters of slate (we will return to this a bit later), which is expected to look pretty good with the steel staircase! Aaah, the happiness of being a few  more steps closer to our vision! We are quite happy!

Jul 3, 2013

DIY: Wooden Curtain

A while ago we promised to post  DIY story about the wooden curtain. This "curtain" was originally prepared for our old apartment, but as a pleasant surprise only very minor modifications were required to fit it to the living room windows in here as well.

Behind the Eames

First, you need some round wooden sticks (ours happen to be pine and have a diameter of about 10 mm) and screw-in hooks.

The essentials

Then, the hook is screwed in. The "mouth" of the hook was spread open a bit, so that it would be easier to attach the hook to through a ring.

A hook with a wide mouth

Finally, the sticks were hung to a regular curtain rail, hosting a required number of sliding rings. To make the sliding rings, we removed the curtain clip part from a regular curtain clip - sliding ring complex, just to be able to reuse something what was already available instead of shopping for anything new. Most probably you are able to buy just the sliding rings without curtain clips, which of course would be quite practical saving the step of disassembly.

Hanging in there

Finally, the only thing left to do is to hung up the sticks cut to the desired length and to organise the sticks to a preferred rhythm! Easy, quick and quite pleasing to the eye!