Nov 18, 2014

Heads up: For sale!

For all of you who adore Scandinavian Modernist architecture, here is an intriguing opportunity! One of the ten units in our apartment building will be soon for sale. The apartment is located in the west end of the complex, and as an additional bonus has a window facing west and an additional skylight.

The photos are a courtesy of the realtor, Huoneistokeskus and are published upon request of the seller, a former architect, who wishes to find new owners who appreciate the modernist architecture and mid-century spirit of the apartment.

Nov 10, 2014

Urho the birthday dog

It was a double celebration in our family yesterday. First, it was the National Father's Day, Pekka's third. More importantly, it was also Urho's fourth birthday. Thus it now seems appropriate to let His Sausageness to tell a bit of his special day.

"Just like today, I love sleeping in. As long as it is warm and no one moves my blankets I don't really care about anything else. Especially if it is raining. If I can hear the rain drops, there is no way I will react unless I have to."

Yes, he is there!

" I right or is there something going on I should be aware of? This smell is somehow familiar...yes, it is bacon! And if I interpret the not so very subdued sounds of a two year old helping to prepare a surprise Father's day breakfast, I think I may have a chance to score my share." 

Driven by the scent of bacon

"Too bad, no luck with bacon this time. But let's check out what is happening outside instead. Still not quite comfortable with these funky stairs. They should install some kind of a special ramp for us sausages."

Equally careful progression

"This is the far frontier of my territory. Fortunately it is not too cold. How boring, though, that due to these autumn related cleaning activities neither of my wing persons is available for a bit of exploration. Pity, I think I might have smelled another dog nearby. Or a rabbit. Not quite sure."

Alert as always

"I don't really get what they are doing running up and down the hill, probably it has something to do with these leaves. Whatever it is, I'm quite enjoying the ride in a padded wheelbarrow."

Convenient downhill travelling

"For a dachshund I think I'm pretty skilled in striking a pose (incentives need to be attractive, of course). Naturally I'm quite handsome, but that I manage to look intelligent and brave as well. After all, I have four years of experience of doing the traditional birthday shoot."

The Official Birthday Photo

"We shoot a couple of other options as well, none of those quite as flattering to my figure as the photo above. However I fully recognise some humans just can't get enough of us dachshunds, and thus I gave my permission to publish them all."

"Eventually, enough was enough. After all, it was getting a bit chilly and damp so it was time to go back inside. And there had been some rumours of a special birthday treat including frankfurters..."

Are we ready yet?

"And yes, there it was. Not much of a visual masterpiece, but who cares - the rumour regarding the frankfurters was true! Aah, simple pleasures of life are very much appreciated!"

Just say the word...!

Nov 7, 2014

Early Edition 670 & 671, Part II

This post actually belongs to a series of updates dealing with a restoration of an early series 670 & 671, or better know as the Eames Lounge chair. The "series" might sound a bit of an overstatement as as the last related story was released almost one year ago...yes, point taken - we really need to shape up a bit! Anyhow, if you want to revisit the earlier parts you can find them here: 1 & 2.

So, back to the key character of the story - The Chair. After the initial assembly and first inspection (the chair had been disassembled for transportation) it was evident it needed to be disassembled again and work on the separate components should begin.

The frame

The first thing to do was to remove the cushions. It was easy to just unclip and slide them off the panels. Then off came the armrests, which are fixed in place with three screws in this early model. Later models have only two screws attaching the armrests to the metal brackets.

Early armrests with three screws

Next, the metal brackets on both sides of the chair fixing the backrest to the rest of the assembly were separated by removing four screws. When loosening the screws one should be very careful as the weight of the backrest starts quickly forcing the backrest down and if not supported properly, the wooden parts can easily break. Subsequently, the two backrest panels were separated from each other.

Armrest metal bracket

After the rosewood seat and backrest panels were taken apart from each other the die casted aluminum base was detached from the seat and ottoman panels. This was done by loosening four screws. 

Ottoman base

Once the chair was fully disassembled to individual components its dirtiness was even more evident. The entire structure was covered with years of dirt combined with a suspicious mix of old surface treatments. Additionally, the wood panels were very dry and desperately screaming for some oil.

Rosewood seat panel

Before the wood could be retreated with oil it was important to wash the panels throughly. A good approach is to use steel wool together with some sort of cleansing liquid. Pekka used a commercial cleansing liquid made specifically for furniture (there are several brands available to choose from). Alternatively, you could also choose to use methylated spirit or mineral spirits for cleaning. Whatever your preference, it is important first to try it on an area which is not visible to the eye, such as an area covered by a cushion. It is also good to do the cleaning in a well ventilated area or even outside as the evaporating fumes will make your head hurt if working in a closed, small space.

Seat panel - before

Pay attention when using steel wool on veneer. Rub it only to the direction of the grain, otherwise you might scratch the wood and leave unwanted marks. Be also careful when working on the areas where brand labels are located as you don't want to damage them either.

Use clean rags or household towels once you start rubbing the wood with cleansing liquid. As soon as the dirt starts coming off the panels do not smear it all over the panel, but rather wipe it off with a clean rag. Next, add more fresh cleansing liquid to the steel wool and repeat the same procedure to the rest of the panel.

Working with steel wool

After the panels are clean and dry it was time to start the most rewarding part of the restoration: applying the oil. Again, patience is a virtue: the oil can't be applied on a wet wood, ever. Depending on the ambient conditions and preferrer cleansing liquid with you may need to wait for a few hours or even to the next day just to be sure all the liquid have evaporated from the surface to be treated.

Panel-oil and a dachshund's snout

There are several types of oils to choose from. Some brand names indicate what the product actually contains (such as pure tung oil) and others are just names (such as tung oil finish) created by marketeers and might have little or nothing to do with the actual oil composition. The content of these products usually varies being usually a blend of some sort of oil, varnish and hardener, and perhaps not be the best choice for a vintage chair. Whichever oil you choose make sure you know how it will behaves on the surface to be treated, just to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Originally, Herman Miller used gun stock oil - so take a wild guess what Pekka chose for our chair?

Half washed, half oiled

After careful cleaning and treating, it is certainly a pleasure to see how the oil gives richness to the wood tones and really makes the grain pop. Yes, freshly oiled Rio palisander is indeed one of the prettiest sights we know!

Freshly oiled rosewood

In the next part of the series (promised, it will not take another year) we will show what happened to the base, domes of silence and the shock mounts. So please stay tuned!

Nov 2, 2014

DIY acoustic slat wall

So, it's been a long while. It seems that we are currently in a midst of a period when there are so many different things ongoing simultaneously that in the end it seems extremely difficult to find the appropriate time for...well, basically anything. But better late than never - now we are back and quite exited to share with you our experiences on how to construct an acoustic slat wall!

Half way there

For the last two moths, as boring and slow it might sound, Pekka has been sanding and oiling teak slats made of material sourced from The bunker has proven to be an absolute necessity allowing the isolation of this kind of smelly and dusty work, which when for example left to dry does not conflict with everyday life. To date,  nearly half of the wall is ready, the other half waiting to be finished before the first week of December when the electrical work including the indirect lighting of the slat wall will be finished.

Never ending row of teak slats

We also needed close to 15 square meters of acoustic panels for the slat wall, and as a result of some research work, found an excellent material provider option from Finland: Konto. Especially here in Finland Konto is recognized for its innovative acoustic products made mainly of peat moss. Specifically, we would like to thank Sami Laitila from the Konto Team for is expertise and kind customer service. If you have any needs regarding acoustic panels, do not hesitate to contact Sami!

Twenty acoustic panels and a non-acoustic dacshund

There are several reasons why we ended up choosing Konto. First, we preferred a Finnish product with solid acoustic capabilities minimizing the echo created by the slate floor. Second, the Konto panel works exceptionally well in the slat wall sandwich structure Pekka created. The panels are rigid enough not to squeeze together too much, and they have a tough outer surface that will not break easily. Third, as the panels are mainly made of peat moss it is a sustainable product matching our renovation philosophy.

Beautiful surface texture of Konto acoustic panel 

Konto acoustic panels are also very easy to resize with a stanley knife. Afterwards, a cut panel edge  can be "re-closed" with  heat for example using a flat iron. After this, the edge can be painted, leaving no visible cues of previous modifications. Pekka needed to do some detailed cutting for a vent that is located at the top part of the wall. He also sliced a very thin, round piece of the panel in order to clue it on the top of the vent lid. This enables unification of the surface texture with the rest of the wall. Now the only missing part is a slat hatch.

Missing a slat hatch

Other important piece what was needed for the wall is a ten meter LED stripe, which will be a light source for an indirect wall light. We found the components from Adlux (highly recommended material provider). There were two important considerations. First, these LEDs provide a light with a color temperature of 5500K, which is very close to the day light color temperature. This kind of lighting conditions compliment the surrounding colors in the best possible way. Second, these LEDs can be dimmed, which we considered very important to be able to adjust the amount of light to match the different uses of the space.

Ten meters of LED

Next to the construction of the slat wall. First, an acoustic panels is "squeezed" between teak slats (in front) and a board of plywood (on the back), creating a sandwich structure. All these three elements are then attached together with screws from behind.

Sandwich structure
The wall itself is also modular. The width of each module was determined by the width of Konto panels (594 mm). Pekka started building the modules with a sheet of plywood and then adding an acoustic panel on top.

Ready for the slats

Then he placed the teak slats prepared with love and patience on top of the plywood-panel base.

Each module requires 18 teak slats

The idea was to have a fixed space between each slat leaving the black acoustic panel partly visible on the back. This was achieved by using pieces of wood as spacers allowing Pekka to control the gaps between slats while completing the screwing phase.

Slats & spacers

Pekka had also pre-clued stripes of printed paper to the back of each plywood element. These stripes helped to determine the screw marks with precision allowing easy assembling.

Crosses marking the spot
Slats & gaps
Once each module was completed, the next step was to attach it up on the wall with screws. Leaving an empty slat space to each end of the module enabled fixing the modules with screws from front up to the wall. Later, single slats will be glued to cover the empty spaces, hiding the screw heads and creating an illusion of a perfectly screwless entity.

Fixing gap on side of the module

On the very bottom we left a small space between the slats and the slate floor, which determined by the choice of material is a bit uneven. This appeals to us visually, as the slight unevenness is not so noticeable, but it also has a functional aspect. We will be using the space to hide electrical wires etc. behind a black hatch made of Konto material. 

Once again, even if it is an extremely slow process where counting the working hours makes absolutely no sense, we are really happy to see how the finished half of the slat wall looks, and can't wait to share the rest of the story with you!

To be continued