Sep 29, 2013

PH Artichoke

Let us start this one with a piece of history.

Undoubtably, Danish Poul Henningsen (1894-1967) is one of the legendary names when it comes to MCM lightning design. Henningsen (PH) started his career in developing modern lighting solutions when such technologies as an incandescent bulb was a relatively new innovation. According to his design philosophy, the beauty of an object must rise from the connection between its purpose and shape. Any practical challenges, such as e.g. the glare associated with the use of incandescent bulbs, had to be solved before the question of the light fixture's beauty could be addressed.

PH aimed to develop totally glare free lighting solutions by optimally fitting of the incandescent bulb and designing the light fixture to reflect diffuse light. He also wanted to be able to concentrate the light in a preferred direction, usually downwards, which was naturally achieved by reflecting the light by the shades indirectly. The colour of a given light was always chosen to match the function in the most cost-effective way possible to give each light the exact level of warmth desired.

See no glare?

The PH Artichoke (Originally named PH Kogle) was introduced in 1958 in the Langelinie Pavilion in Copenhagen, Denmark. Only a year earlier the demanding task of Pavilion lighting design was passed to Henningsen by the architects Eva and Nils Koppel, who were responsible for designing the space.

As only very rough sketches exist from the time before installation of PH Artichoke in the Pavilion, it is believed the light was developed extremely quickly. This is different from the other PH lights, demonstrated by the numerous archived sketches still available. The surprisingly fast development time of the light was indeed enabled by the fact that the PH Artichoke is actually believed to be based on an other PH light designed 30 years earlier, the PH Septima. During the development of the Septima, Henningsen had in fact designed also a metallic version of this light, but the concept never reached production. These drawings later on formed the basis of the PH Artichoke, launched some 30 years later.

PH Artichoke

Since it's launch, the Artichoke has expanded to include a series of four lights in different sizes: 84, 72, 60 and 48cm diameters. The largest Artichoke requires a stunning 500W bulb and it is used in spacious public or corporations settings, whereas smaller models, suited for a residential set up, use a 300W bulb with a dimmer. Originally in the Langelinie Pavilion a 1000W bulb was installed in each Artichoke to ensure the right warm atmosphere. It has been said that once the lights were installed, PH found the light to be too strong and realized weaker bulbs could have been used.

In the original Artichoke, the shades were lacquered brushed copper on the outside and coated with weak pink (same than in Pink Septima) in the insides. In the mid-70's, an optional new leaf material, stainless steel was introduced, and in early 1980's the completely white Artichoke became available to the public.

And why are we suddenly so interested in the PH Artichoke?

The Olive Green Window has been a host for quite a few PH lights, some of which have already found a new owner on their journey. Without a doubt, however, the above introduced Artichoke is one of our all time favourites. This particular piece was a recent find from an internet auction and arrived to our home from Denmark. It is an early, 60 diameter model made of copper...and upon its arrival, was in horrid condition, stinky and covered with tar, nicotine and dead insects. Exactly something you want hanging above your dining room table.

Desperately needing a face lift

We are not sure about the exact date of manufacturing of this piece. Inside the light we found a label with some sort of numbering, perhaps a specific product code in the Poulsen product portfolio.

Type 17080?

Pekka stripped the filthy Artichoke down to the bone in order to update it properly so it would be safe to use in every day life. Regarding the functional dimension of this light, one of the focus areas was clearly the electrical components such as sockets and wiring. All these were either throughly cleaned or changed during the process to allow safe use.

Wired out electrics

With a vintage Artichoke, one has to be aware of the existence of sulfur spots, also known as the flyspecs in the numismatic society. These dark brown or black spots appear on copper leafs and are formed when copper is exposed to the sulfur from the environment. Actually, it is quite normal for a vintage light to have some spots on it. In our case, however, they were all over and something needed to be done, desperately.

Sulfur spots on copper leaves

There are several different ways one can clean the copper leafs of a PH Artichoke. The chosen method depends on how dirty the item is. We were looking at the dirtiest end of the spectrum, basically everything from dust to tar, and nicotine to sulfur spots. The first three are really not a problem, whereas the sulfur spots change the game completely.

These anomalies on the surface finish are an outcome of the process called sulphatation and require a bit more intrusive method than just wiping to get rid of them. To remove the spots, Pekka first removed the clear coat finish. Once treated and cleaned, the difference between before and after was dramatic. A word of warning: if you choose to clean one, it is a one way road - to have an uniform look you have 71 more to go, regardless of them being in need of cleaning or not.

A piece of advice: work the leaves only in the direction of the brushed surface finish, and the end result will be fine. The observed down side was that by treating the leaves you also wipe off the years of patina. Unfortunately, in the case of the copper Artichoke is a major thing, but a compromise we needed, and wanted to make.

Old and new

When disassembling a structurally rather complex item such as the PH Artichoke, it was essential to do it in a systematic manner. There are 72 leaves of copper in 12 rows, all of which are different in size. After taking all the copper leaves off, all that was left was a bare steel structure.

Piles of copper

Steel structure

The steel skeletal was also disassembled down to single components enabling a more effective cleaning. For these elements a wash with warm water and soap was sufficient to rid the nicotine and tar accumulated over the years.

Clean steel skeleton

The painted components were first washed and dried. Afterwards, they all received a new layer of fresh white paint.

Warm bath

Once everything had been cleaned and re-treated, the big moment was finally there. Pekka was able to start the assembly, the moment everybody had been waiting for.

Installation of the copper leaves

After two and half months of intensive restoration this stunningly beautiful MCM light finally hangs above our dining table. It is unbelievably beautiful. Just gorgeous. And we are completely in love with it!

Finally, the Artichoke has found its place

And last but not least - what are Urho's thoughts on this? Well, as so many times before, he could not care less. In Urho's opinion, the best thing about the Artichoke is that the 300W bulb creates some additional heat to the chilly autumn days. We are nearing the time of the year Urho starts cuddling closer and closer to warm human bodies, or when there is no warm body around, he simply digs his way between the couch pillows. So any extra heat, even a fraction of a degree, is warmly welcomed by our heat-seeking sausage.

Between the pillow and a hard place

Sep 17, 2013

Winner announcement!

Finally, it is time to announce the winners of the Anniversary Competition! There were two ways to participate: either by leaving a comment at the blog or sharing the story link in Facebook. Now the two lucky winners to receive a set of Porche knives have been randomly selected.

However, before announcing the names, we really would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for the encouraging and kind comments. Receiving such positive feedback from our approach and style, hearing that we have been able to inspire others in their projects, and receiving several good suggestions for future posts (e.g. tour around the apartment, DIY-projects) from so many readers is extremely delightful and motivational. Hopefully you will keep sharing your thoughts with us also in the future!

Our project here in the Olive Green Window continues, on many different levels. For example, the downstairs is moving forward, and Pekka has been working on a few interesting restoration pieces. So, there are many stories to be told and photos to be shared - hope you will keep on reading and enjoying!

But now, it is time to announce the two winners (who will be contacted by email tomorrow):


Tyler@BackToTheTrees (via the blog) and Pia Tötterman (via Facebook)

Porsche knive set for Tyler and Pia!

Sep 10, 2013

The Evacuee

Just a give you a fair warning - this post is not about renovation, restoration or even about slaving underground carrying stones. Instead, this is a short story about a special evacuee residing here, behind the Olive Green Window.

A while back Pekka's sister started renovating her apartment (seems to run in the family!). To make a long story short, a project which was anticipated to last for a few weeks suddenly stretched due to water damage to something much more extensive. Left without a place to live, we suggested she should come and stay with us. After all, even if the downstairs remains unfinished, the upstairs guest room is currently vacant.

So, Tiina become an evacuee and as a return, she promised to help us out with some of the household/dogsitting/babysitting activities. But sometimes life really comes with surprises. Back then we had absolutely no idea we had just made a deal of a life time.

Recently, we have come to notice how much more organized one should become when kids arrive. With our little daughter starting daycare, both of us being back at work and Urho requiring his daily exercise, our daily routine is still very far of smooth, precise or let alone organized. This is where an extra pair of hands starts getting very useful. With Tiina here, miraculously Urho is being walked in the mornings, dinners cooked, apartment vacuumed twice a week and laundry washed. In addition to that, there is an entertainer for little S available, when we for example want to work on blog posts. And, let's not forget about her heroic input in the basement last weekend!

Evacuee and her shovel

This is why we are actually secretly keeping our fingers crossed for some delay in Tiina's renovation project. She is welcome to stay as long as she wants. Actually, we are quite worried how the Olive Green Window team is going to survive without her help, when she eventually gets to move back to her place.

So, Thank you Tiina, we owe you big time! And by the way, anyone else interested in "au pairing" when the time comes?

Sep 9, 2013

Underground Weekend - Day 3

After three extremely hard days of work, all the stone and most of the construction waste has been dug out. On the last day, it was just Pekka, Minna and Tiina. But we were determined to finish. And we did. The pallet is full, the underground space is nearly empty and just needs a few finishing details before we can start transforming it to a storage space.

16 tons of stone to be used as land fill

Largest rocks were saved for garden work next summer

Wood and construction waste, separated form stones

In addition to sore muscles (some of them previously unidentified) screaming for rest, some other interesting discoveries were made along the way. A national tabloid, Ilta Sanomat from 1966 and a newspaper Uusi Suomi from 1965, were both in pretty decent condition given the fact they have been spending some 50 years underground.

News from January 24, 1966

Last but definitely not least, we want to share two shots illustrating the point when the 16K pallet was finally full and our respirator masks had become saturated with grit and impossible breath through.  On the back of the "room", a huge piece of rock foundation was dug out, and the front part is all clear. All that needs to be done now is to take a bit more construction waste out from the front part of the room, vacuum and wash the ceiling, rock and walls, and we can start building the floor and the shelves.

Look what we found!

Visual sit rep from day three

Finally, all of you who were there to help - we owe you big time! Like mentioned earlier, we couldn't have made it without all of you. Before crashing to bed, muscles aching and screaming for rest, we take our hats of and bow deep. You know who to call next time when you need help. 

Sep 8, 2013

Underground Weekend - Day 2

On Saturday, the project continued. First it was just Minna and Pekka in the morning, while Pekka's mother was taking care of the little S. Then thankfully, friends started arriving, one by one. Finally, there were five persistent souls working in the basement at the same time, and the enormous pile of stone started shrinking, little by little.

The best work out - who wants to go running anyway?

Some serious grit in the air

Believe it or not - it is shrinking!
One of the many wheelbarrow rides - there and back again

In the end of the day, the palette was two thirds full, we were horribly tired and awfully dirty. Nevertheless, the fact that we were clearly making progress made everyone very happy. Once again, we owe our most sincerest thanks for the Saturday's stone team - Tiina, Merja, Tumppi, Matti and Janne. Without all of your help this weekend would have been mission impossible!

Pallet filling up

Just a bit dirty

Visual sit rep after day two

Sep 7, 2013

Underground Weekend - Day 1

What do you need to empty an underground space filled with stones? Yesterday we started with four brave and strong guys with face masks, three wheelbarrows, two shovels, and lots and lots of cold drinks. And one shovelful at the time, the stones and construction junk started moving out.

Men at work

Urho - once again a bit confused: "What's happening here?"

In Urho's opinion, the project is much too energy consuming. So he prefers to follow from a distance while the Fantastic Four does the dirty work.

Taking a well deserved break

Meanwhile in the living room: "What are the dads doing?"

In the end of the day, we had clearly made some significant progress. Thank you Matti, Juha and Janne for your invaluable help! But as the picture below demonstrates, there is still so much more to go. Looking at the bright side, at least we don't need to try to look for additional weekend activities!

Visual sit rep after day one

Sep 3, 2013

So it begins

We have not hurried forward with the Project Downstairs, for several reasons. However, it is quite exciting now when it is finally moving forward again. You might remember a small hole at the back wall leading to an underground space, filled with construction waste. Well, we had great plans for this little entrance.

A small hole in a wall

To assist in execution, we called in a professional. It took him only two hours to expand the entrance  by cutting through the concrete wall with a diamond bladed circular saw. Suddenly there was a full-size entrance leading to our storage space to be.

A bigger hole in a wall

There is just a little hurdle along the way before we can start constructing a temporary floor and some shelves. Can you guess what we (and some of our lovely friends) are going to be doing this coming weekend?

Finally, just a little reminder - remember to participate in the Anniversary Competition by leaving a comment after "Happy Anniversary, Olive Green Window"!

Sep 2, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Olive Green Window!

Unbelievable - it's been a year!

Actually, it's been a day more than a year, but yesterday was chaotic. It is amazing how much commotion a small person can create between sunrise and late evening, if she so wishes. So even if it was the actual anniversary, Olive Green Window needed to yield in front of a stronger force.

A year ago, the apartment looked a bit different. It has been a quite of a journey, but an enjoyable one, and so far we are really happy with the outcome. Upstairs is fully habitable, there have been no insuperable hurdles or devastating drawbacks, and all participating parties have more or less managed to maintain their sanity. Following several iterations, most of the furniture is starting to find their places, at least for the time being (until Pekka gets his next big idea). Slowly, the apartment is really becoming our home.

Fortunately, one thing which truly is permanent behind the Olive Green Window is change. The snapshot below was taken last weekend - guess why there is a ladder in the middle of the living room? There are actually two reasons...(which are to be returned later).

Pekka's little helper

It took him a while, but also Urho is starting to feel fully adapted to his role as a house master. He is no longer sad to be left at home alone, but has rather come to realize the benefits of an empty apartment during the day. 

A sharp look of a "badger hunter"

Finally, we would like to kindly thank you, our dear readers, and invite you to participate a competition to celebrate the one year anniversary of Olive Green Window! The idea is quite simple. Just leave a comment after this posting or share the story link in Facebook, and you are in. The competition closes by the end of anniversary week (September 8th, 2013). 

Two lucky participants receive a bit of luxury for their kitchen - a set of Porche knives.

Winners will be randomly selected among all of those who either left their greetings or shared the link via Facebook. The prize will be mailed to the winner (both to Finland as well as abroad) by the end of September 2013. For this, we kindly request the winner's mailing address by email after the announcement of the winner on this blog site. If the winner has not responded back within two weeks time, an alternative winner will be chosen.

GOOD LUCK! ...and hope you keep reading!