Posts Tagged ‘room dividers’

Pole shelving – turn this ugly example into something better

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

60s DIY bookshelf/room divider

Yet another 60s DIY project from The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement, Greystone Press, 1970. While the bookshelf directly above is cringe-worthy (almost in the “so bad it’s good” category, but not quite), it could be very mod if it were updated and re-made properly with more attractive materials. One advantage of pole shelving is that unlike wall-mounted shelving (previous post), you can bring it out from the wall and let it function as a room divider. If you do want to place it against a wall, the fact that it is anchored from floor to ceiling means that you don’t have to screw into the wall, either when you’re not allowed to alter the wall in a rental, or when your plaster wall is disintegrating and too weak to support heavy shelves. See some pole-mounted cado-style shelving here. The trick is to figure out how to anchor your poles—once you’ve done that, suspending the shelves is easy and there are many ways to do it. Some Apartment Therapy tips here and we found a blog called Pole Shelving which shows a number of styles and provides many links to tutorials. Below, from Time Life: aluminum poles used as room divider in New York apartment, has three pole shelves held on by clamps. Taken in December 1953 by photographer Peter Stackpole, the bookshelf cost $142.50 at the time and were made by a company called Polecats Inc. Rakks and ISS are two big current suppliers of these systems. But somehow the 50s example has a bit more style.

Time Life pole shelving, 1953 by Polecats

Click below for a similar project but that uses boxes rather than flat boards, and comes with excellent DIY instructions.



Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Softwall, flexible room divider by Molo Design

Just a few blocks up the road from my studio is the workshop of Vancouver’s Molo Design. You’ve probably seen their accordioning softseating or their softwall room dividers which are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. A few times a week Molo’s unmarked shopfront morphs into a new fantastical environment while they test or photograph new pieces, and I always check it as I go by. You can see the shopfront window below. Molo’s pieces are pretty environmentally friendly, hold up well and are some of the most beautiful room dividers I’ve ever seen, in white and now in kraft paper as well. The kraft paper walls are here, and Molo also does beautiful double-walled glassware.

Molo Design, softseating and softwall

Molo Design, softseating and softwall

Molo white softwall

1960s DIY projects – geometric wall treatment, vertical lanterns

Monday, January 12th, 2009

60s DIY relief wall treatment

Here are two quite beautiful DIY projects from the 60s, both found in The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement, Greystone Press, 1970. Most of what you find in the book is a bit kitschy, but these two ideas seemed brilliant. The instructions are a little minimal, but a pair of fairly resourceful people could probably figure them out. Caption for the white relief wall treatment above: “Cover a wall with lattice molding. Between two 1x2s, space as many strips of lath as you need and nail them in place. Cut a diagonal strip at top and a circle in the middle. Nail and cement the lath to the wall, but slightly offset the sections. Paint the entire surface in flat white.”

60s DIY lamp made from bamboo lanterns

This lamp is attractive, and with the new LED Christmas light strings, it would be easy to make without threat of burning the rice paper. These lampshades are cheap to buy, but the effect when they’re strung together is more than the sum of its parts. “Paper lampshades come in a multitude of shapes and sizes – here we have a cylinder, an oblate spheroid, and globes in three sizes. This cheap but glamorous installation was made by sewing the shades together with wire wrapped around the wood frames. Illumination is provided by a Christmas tree light string carrying small frosted bulbs of low wattage.”

Functional weavings by Diane Thorp

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

It would be a cliche but probably also true to say weaving is an endangered or at least increasingly uncommon art, so I’m always excited when I see being done, especially locally. Diane Thorp is a weaver from Vancouver Island whose work has been widely exhibited and has been featured in Fiberarts Magazine and other places. We really like the subtlety of her work. Among many other things Diane makes custom “transparencies” or weavings for windows as well as for hanging room dividers. The pieces are aesthetically pleasing while also functioning as window coverings – they provide a degree of privacy (or block ugly views), are nearly transparent during the day (this is very hard to photograph!) and then are more pleasingly opaque at night. Diane works entirely with natural fibres and these transparencies are woven with linen. They are so loosely woven that they seem fragile, but they’re not.


Make your own Japanese shop banners.

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Restaurant banner in Matsumoto City, Japan

Unagi! Fabric eel restaurant banner, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

These textile shop banners are common in Japan. Given how easy they are to install and how much more beautiful they are than typical signage, it seems strange that they haven’t been widely copied. They can easily be adapted for interior decor, too, not just exterior purposes. These two examples are from restaurants – the yellow one is in Matsumoto City and the blue is from a specialty eel restaurant in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. Their bottom corners are held down either with iron weights or simple hooks screwed into the sidewalk. The banners have the dual function of advertising the shop or restaurant as well as hiding bland areas of architecture or unsightly objects – here the blue fabric panel also serves to hide empty beer crates awaiting pickup. These could so easily be rigged up at home, for many purposes – as room dividers for interiors, or as space dividers outside for carports, patios or yards. Even plain or printed outdoor canvas would work, and the panels could just as easily be hung vertically – they don’t have to be pitched at an angle.