Jan 26, 2014

Two beds - One dog

It is said that a bed is one of the most important pieces of furniture one should invest, as we spend one third of our lives in it. Despite of this piece of good advice, we have been sleeping in an old monster, which should have been replaced both for visual and ergonomic reasons a long, long time ago. For some reason, it just hasn't happened yet.

Then one day Pekka's cousin called and asked if we could "baby sit" his bed for an undefined time. He was moving, and the bed wasn't suitable for his new apartment, but he didn't want to get rid of it either. As we had been admiring his bed and thinking of trying to find something similar, we were happy to help him. So a few days later, the old monster was gone and the new arrival had moved in.

Master Urho's bedroom

The bed is called Bella Notte by a Finnish manufacturer Asko. Launched in 1962, it was designed by the in-house design team led by the technical director Frans Meltovaara. Meltovaara, who had been hired by the founder Aukusti Asko-Avonius in 1930's, was a prominent character in Asko's history. He was a "behind-the-scenes" man of action, who ensured the chosen designs were aligned with capabilities of the factory.

At his own time, he might have influenced Asko's direction even more significantly than the founder Asko-Avonius himself. Indeed, it was Meltovaara who first met the designers, such as Tapiovaara and Wirkkala, and decided which ideas would move further. It was also him who was responsible for the technical advancements at Asko. Eventually, Meltovaara retired from Asko with a special recognition given by the Finnish president for a person with exceptional achievements in the field of industry.

Original Asko label

Asko, established in 1918 adopted a functionalist approach similarly to its Scandinavian counterparts after the exhibition of Stockholm in 1930. The transformation from period pieces to functionalism was demonstrated for the first time in the 1932 Asko catalogue, which introduced several items with direct lines and flat surfaces by Maija Heikinheimo.

Also the key design driver of Bella Notte was indeed functional: modularity, in the form of a removable and changeble head board. A consumer could choose a bed with a specific type of head board, or change it later to something different if needed. In our bed, the serial number of the frame (6057) is actually different from the serial number of the head board (6076), indicating this head board is not the one launched in 1962, but another option launched a year later. Bella Notte bed remained in production until 1974.

Side table
One of the reasons the Bella Notte also appeals to us is the teak finish. In 1954, teak entered the Finnish furniture market and remained popular throughout the sixties. The idea of using this exotic wood came from Denmark, where it had been successfully utilized by the furniture industry for several years. One significant reason for the teak expansion was an increase in global availability partly attributable to the war in Indochina, where roads needed to be built and trees cut to provide access for the heavy arms.

Unlike in Denmark where massive teak was preferred and carefully handcrafted by woodsmiths, in Finland teak was mainly used as a top layer of plywood veneer. Therefore, even if teak was a prominent wood on the surfaces of pieces of furniture manufactured in Finland in 1950's, the total share of teak used remained rather low.

Teak, of course!

So, to make a long story short, we are now sleeping much better than before. And the second bed?

Before Christmas, we heard Sofi really enjoys playing with dolls in day care. As she didn't have any at home, we helped her to write a letter to Santa Claus with a few wishes: a doll equipped with a bed and carriage. As Santa was a bit busy we offered him a helping hand and managed to find a 1950's doll bed from a Finnish internet auction site. The label on the bottom indicates it has been manufactured by Niemen Tehtaat Oy, which is the oldest Finnish family business established in 1898. The company still belongs to the same family, and remains as one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Finland.

Different bed, same dog

When Sofi isn't using the bed for one of her dolls, Urho may cease the opportunity and use it to support his nose, especially if the bed has been left in a place where the pipes of water floor heating create a nice, warm spot for him to lay down. That is, of course, if someone has first gently guided him away from his preferred place, the bigger one of the two beds. Fortunately, if all else fails, there is always the couch.

Jan 19, 2014

How about some teak?

Behind the Olive Green Window, the theme of sourcing continues to be quite a prominent one, as we are on the brink of making decisions regarding the surfaces in Project Downstairs. One of the visually most important and yet pending visual elements is the wood panel wall shown in The Vision -post

During the last months we have been in contact with several material providers and evaluated different options for the wall. As so many times before, Pekka he has literally "driven himself up to a tree" trying to figure out the optimal design of the wall: which wood should we use, should it be plywood or narrow wooden slats, and in the latter case, what should be the size and rhythm of the units? Yes, indeed once again, a lot of huffing and puffing.

Pile to teak

Finally, after an extensive research the news are excellent! Pekka found a source for massive teak with a very competitive price. Like for many other MCM enthusiasts, teak ranks rather high on the list of our preferred wood, and when the opportunity presented itself very close to where live, the status of the search suddenly changed from "ongoing" to "case closed".

Having superior material properties to most other wood, teak is actually the most cultivated tropical wood type in the world. This particular teak comes from Costa Rica, a country with rigorous laws for nature protection. Approximately 35% of nature is under protection in 32 national parks and 182 natural protection zones, which is more than in any other country in the world. The wood has been planted on an erosion area and grown for 22 years under the FSC-certificate in a manner supported by Rainforest Alliance. 

Twenty cubic meters of teak

As any MCM enthusiast knows there are several design and architectural cues typical to this era (e.g. circular staircase, slate floor and atrium terrace). A central cue to be added to this list is definitely a wood wall paneling typically found in houses built during this period.

A picture Pekka took a while back on a lunch break in a location here in Espoo gives you a good idea what we mean exactly. The lunch venue he was visiting is a restaurant called Keilaranta, designed by Arne Ervi in 1951. The building still has most of its original MCM interior decorations in place, including slate floors and really cool wood panel walls, made of pine. Make sure to drop for a visit if you happen to be in the area!

Arne Ervi's view on wood paneling

Back to our teak pile. It took Pekka and his dear friend Timo (who we kindly thank as he is always ready to offer a helping hand) almost two hours to pick exactly the boards they wanted from the piles of wood shown above. Pekka had actually made a deal for purchasing a total of 1.5 m3 of teak, but forgotten to consider the total weight of his purchase. So, when approximately two thirds of the wood had been loaded on the trailer the tyres started to give away under the weight. Very soon it become evident that more than one appointment was required to transport the remaining third of teak home. 

One cubic meter / approximately 650 kg of wood

At this point (like so many times before), the sound of reason (Minna) had a question: "Where exactly are we going to store a 1.5 m3 of wood?" Not being able to provide a clear answer right away, Pekka and Timo carried the teak downstairs, and placed it in the only suitable available space for long boards: right in the middle of the room, where construction guys would be working sooner or later. So not at all ideal, but at least the wood was protected from the cold winter weather. 

Conflict of interest

Being a creative character Pekka soon thought of more suitable solution. Next morning, he created a temporary wood storage on top of the rock formations underground. After a bit of sweating, the pile had once again moved to a new location. 

Temporary storage

So what have we achieved and shared with you, our dear readers? Simply put, nothing more than a series of pictures of pile of teak in four different locations. Great. It seemed much more interesting than it looks here in a written format. But after all, it is not that long time ago we told you about moving 12 tons of stone, and you are still with us. Thank you!

In future we will be writing further posts concerning utilising this wood, so stay tuned! Also please let us know if you are interested in purchasing FSC-certified teak for any of your projects here in Finland. We are more than happy recommend our source!

Oh, and let's not forget. What does Urho, our beloved sausage think of the teak pile located downstairs?

I love the color of this wood!

Jan 15, 2014

Salvage operation

The last few weeks have been a bit busy with all kinds of ordinary things, and despite of good intentions and ideas, we have not been able to focus on the blog as much as we wanted. Therefore, now it is a perfect time to break the silence with a short story with a twist a modernist enthusiast might find quite intriguing.

Recently, our focus has been on sourcing materials for the ongoing (never ending) renovation. Last weekend we were visiting some dear friends in a town close to Helsinki. They also live in a 1960's home which still has some interesting MCM-details in place. Contrary to our taste, their preference in interior design is more contemporary. Given our MCM madness and the fact that as a part of their renovation project they were considering replacing one of these amazing details, a set of cobalt blue tiles with white ones, Pekka had only one option - he needed to save the tiles, one way or another. Fortunately, knowing Pekka's passion for these kinds of things, our friends kindly played along and promised the tiles would be ours if we helped in detaching them.

Cobalt blue

So gentlemen - pick up your tools and get started! In their original location, the tiles were placed in the front of a fireplace.

Tools for the task

Man at work

While working our way through the tiles we quite quickly learned the right technique for how to minimise any possible damages during the detachment process. From seventeen tiles which were detached from cement only two got broken. Not bad at all! The tiles were actually quite thick which made our work a bit easier than had we been working with a very thin tiles. Overall, the project can be considered a successful one.

Half way there

Now that we have a nice pile of MCM tiles the obvious questions arises: what are we going to do with them? Well, to be quite honest - we have no idea. But they are so cool, aren't they? Somehow, if you'd ask Minna she would tell you in an instant the lack of ideas is never a problem. Usually, the problem comes from the abundance of ideas - how to choose the best and at the same time at least a bit realistic one. Perhaps we should have a vote. If you had 15 cobalt blue tiles measuring 295 x 95 x 15 mm, what would you do?

Clearly, it is a story to be continued...

Fifteen pieces waiting for a new location 

Jan 3, 2014

Flying Carpet

A while back, Minna was in Istanbul with her friend Stina. One day they found themselves at the Grand Bazaar, with an idea just to quickly get some cashmere and spices. Stina, an avid photographer always looking for visually interesting photographic opportunities, was quite attracted to the rich colours of various items on sale.

Colorful ceramics (photo by Stina Roth)

Pile of flying carpets (photo by Stina Roth)

At one point, when Stina wanted to get a better picture of a pile of colourful carpets, they decided to enter one of the stores, which happened to be a carpet boutique called Dhoku. After taking a few pictures and admiring the beautiful carpets which clearly were of high quality, Stina realised she would actually need a new carpet in her living room. And what would be a better place for carpet shopping than the Dhoku boutique!

The style that caught her eye was called "Decadent". This particular carpet is made of pieces of old vintage carpets, which have gone through a process to neutralize the original colours while still retaining the essence of its design. Subsequently, the old carpets have been re-dyed, cut in pieces and reassembled to create a new, unique design.

Dhoku label (photo by Stina Roth)

Original pattern, neutralised and re-dyed (photo by Stina Roth)

While Stina was pondering the colour and design of her carpet-to-be with Cem, the carpet designer, Minna also started contemplating whether the Olive Green Window team would need a carpet under the dining set. So suddenly, inspired and encouraged by each other, they were in business of buying two carpets instead of just taking a few colourful pictures. Both carpets were to be custom made in terms of size, design and colouring. Deciding all this took a bit of time and a few cups of tea, but finally all the details were set. Cem and her colleagues were very professional, knowledgeable and really took their time to assist their customers.

After a few months of anxious waiting, the carpets arrived to Finland. We were delighted to see the quality, design and materials were really top class, just as experienced in Istanbul. The tone of the carpet chosen by Minna didn't first seem quite ideal considering the colour palette of our dining room, but now after adjusting the lighting and other textiles in the room, we have really started to like it a lot. We love the fact it is recycled, the size is just perfect, and the carpet ties the dining table and the chairs together in a very nice way. And as an added bonus, the Cherner legs are no longer making squeaky noises!

Under the Cherners

Beautiful old patterns

Even if this blog is about Olive Green Window, this time we also want to take a quick peak in Stina's living room and see how does her carpet look like? And yes, it fits perfectly in her living room the carpet colour complementing the furniture extremely well. And what is most important, her two dogs have also approved the new arrival!

Rosmo's pose (photo by Stina Roth)

So, inspirational carpet shopping with a friend in Dhoku, Istanbul - highly recommended to anyone in need of a little adventure! 

Jan 1, 2014

Reflections and Resolutions

Looking forward! (Photo by Nani Härkönen, http://naniannette.fi)

Farewell 2013 & Welcome 2014! Last night, we were honoured to celebrate New Year's Eve in a very special company at a wedding reception of our dear friends, M&M. It was a wonderful and memorable way to close an eventful year, which from the perspective of the Olive Green Window -projects started from a complete mess downstairs, and finished with a bit more organised chaos in the same area

It was quite easy for us to pinpoint the Olive Green Window highlights of 2013, and similarly identify our ambitions for 2014. To start with the former, our four favourite reflections are (in chronological order):

  1. Functional laundry room
  2. Atrium terrace
  3. Project Downstairs kick off
  4. Extensive acquiring and disposing of antiques 

Our wish list for 2014 includes the following:

  1. Completion of Project Downstairs
  2. Back yard revival
  3. Underground storage room
  4. Sofi's room

In terms of New Year's resolutions, we are not going to commit finishing the items mentioned on the wish list above, because based on our experiences, the "arch enemy of scheduled commitments", the unexpected is inevitable rather than exception. Instead, we have chosen two we can actually keep: one related to the Olive Green Window blog, and another related directly to us:

  1. As relative new bloggers, we are continuously amazed of the growing interest and positive feedback from you, our dear readers. For that, we owe you our deepest gratitude. Driven by your interest and our personal vision, we will commit to also invest time, effort and above all passion for the Olive Green Window blog, and regularly share our stories at least on average weekly intervals. Please keep sharing your feedback and thoughts with us!
  2. The second resolution is a more personal one by nature, but to really keep it alive more than a few weeks, we want to share it with you. In the future, we both are responsible for the other one exercising at least three times a week. Allocating time between Sofi, Urho, home and work it is not always easy to find the time for exercising. So instead of Minna keeping track she goes for a run three times a week, she will ensure Pekka will head to the pool often enough, and vice versa. Based on a short trial period in 2013, the system seems to be working extremely well!

So once again, thank you! It has truly been a pleasure to share our journey with you all. May the New Year bring you patience with your renovation / restoration projects, success in your antique hunt, and unforgettable moments with your VIPs!