Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shadow Furniture

Photo courtesy Flickr

On an impulse, I bought a four-panel mass produced shoji screen at the University District’s long-established Japanese boutique. The screen’s about six feet high, and each panel is about fourteen inches wide. I mounted magical sliding buttons on each of the panels to make the screen easier to configure, and it floats around the house doing this and that here and there.

When the weather is warm enough to leave interior doors open, I set the screen between the resident geek’s electronic assembly bench and the open door of the tech room, our version of “X-Files” circuit-packed trailer. The arrangement opens the interior to a good view while concealing the production space in the room.

Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise Of Shadows” opened my eyes to the culture and insight behind the Japanese architecture that is so familiar to long-time Northwest residents. His book came to mind the other day as I realized that backlighting the shoji with the bench’s task light added a subtly decorative dimension to the essentially shallow mass-produced carpentry of the screen.

Setting shapes in front of shapes adds interest and depth to a composition, I learned in design class. I have not found reason to disagree with that principle. That trick is a good way to enrich a space without cluttering it.


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