Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Industry Booms


Ghislain Antiques is based out of Saint-Ouen (about 100 miles southwest of Paris), but also has a shop in Stamford, CT.

Overall, they seem to specialize in big, beefy antiques, like big, soft, brown leather club chairs, or this Henry II table:

But more interesting is the majority of their finds seems to be taken from old factories and warehouses, and has an extremely industrial kind of aesthetic.  Here's a low, early-20th-Century table which would make a great coffee table:

These kinds of items have obviously proven popular, and I can see why, myself--I think that's ridiculously cool (although in my NYC apartment, I'd need something a little bit more light and airy--or at least easier to move around).

The representative at the booth was explaining to me, though, that many of the trappings of a present day home can't really be found in a century-old factory.  They'd have no reason to have bookshelves in an environment like that, he pointed out to me, motioning to this piece behind him:
So that's a new piece.  They have a whole selection of pieces in steel to fill in this gap, but still look like they once lived in an old factory building.  

Here's a new coffee table in that vein:
And here's a new dining table and chairs:
The table may not be for everyone, and I'd even suggest an entire room furnished this way could get a bit oppressive.  But as I've often said elsewhere, with a few light, delicate items mixed in for contrast and relief, I think this could be gorgeously dramatic, so robust, and at the same time, wonderfully unpretentious.  With a table hinting at being a factory work-surface, one wonders if dinner guests would begin to work as a well-oiled team--more efficiently passing the mashed potatoes and green beans.

The chairs are a bit problematic, because they're extremely heavy.  Especially if you're sitting on a rug, you're not going to be able to stand up and just bump the chair out from underneath you with your legs, in fact, it probably wouldn't even budge.  They're not going to treat an antique rug all that kindly, and they'd likely scratch the you-know-what out of a fine wood floor.  I asked the designer if he'd ever thought to use aluminum, thinking he could get essentially the same look at half the weight or so.  He said no, because it's not strong enough of a metal, but I still believe a few adjustments in the design to accommodate a lighter material would make these much more practical.  Nevertheless, the chairs are very comfortable to sit on, and I adore the look of them.

As far as the shelving goes, at first glance one might be inclined to think a collection of fine glassware or heirloom pottery would be served a great injustice arranged on here:
I propose exactly the opposite.  First of all, the very delicacy and detail of such a collection would be set into such sharp contrast in a piece like this that their refinement would stand out far more than on some fussy carved wooden china cabinet.  On top of that, the aesthetic of these pieces calls attention to manufacturing, which would highlight the very craft of the pieces on display--why I chose to use hand-thrown pottery as an example.  Subconsciously, the shelving would make a visitor much more aware of how the pieces on it were created.

©2008, Ryan Witte


yacoob said...

Over a long period, metal shelving offers a number of benefits over commercial shelving made from other materials. These shelves bought a very good attraction to the kitchen and looks pretty good...even it becomes as a room divider also...

bronxelf said...

Nice. I like the industrial look so much. Now of course I'm back to the idea of totally redoing the guest room like this. Damn.

Ryan Witte said...

Hey Elf, I know, so do I. If you do go all the way with it, you'll have to post some pictures.