Thursday, January 18, 2018

The House Carl

A medieval hall house had a staff of what we might call stage hands, roadies, or roustabouts. They were known as house carls. Carl as in kerl (fellow, or guy), I suppose. The main room of the house, which could shelter twenty people in two hundred square feet, had a fire pit in the center (heorth, or heart) and a board and trestle for mealtimes.

Board and trestle as in a collection of planks laid across sawhorses. The lady of the house asked the carls to knock down the table after a meal when another use was required of the space. After my nest emptied, my enthusiasm for rearranging furniture diminished. Last fall, the nest was completely empty for a couple of months, and I discovered a harmonic convergence of high tech and medieval housekeeping.

Many of the home furnishings that are current here are so light compared to their recent antecedents that I can easily manipulate them myself with only a pair of sticky-palmed work gloves to help. A minor maintenance hassle with the plumbing caused me to set up camp in the family parlor off the kitchen. The board and trestle that serves my graphic needs also makes a dandy raised platform for sitting and sleeping a la Japan. Industrial grade dairy crates replace the featherweight folding plastic sawhorses that had supported two hollow-core doors hinged together -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Noodle Bowls

A classic noodle bowl is a kitchen workhorse that saves space and time. I accumulated four of them over several years. The motley but harmonious assortment enlivens my plain tabletop and replaced uninspiring utilitarian mixing bowls.

I use the bowls as serving pieces for small dinners and for food preparation. They are sturdy enough to use for mixing and a perennial favorite for dry cereal -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Face Recognition

I stumbled across a not so minor miracle of consumer production: the battery-powered travel alarm clock designed by Dieter Rams. Steve Jobs' work was influenced by Rams' design of kitchen amenities. His principles of design are easy to find on the net and well worth a moment of consideration. The one I like best is not to do any more designing that you have to.

In the mid-Seventies, Seattle's Broadway was still a center of high-end European design. The store with the Copenhagen-blue facade offered Rams' clock at a price that was just out of my student reach. I never forgot it, though, and now and then when I was shopping for a travel alarm I would wish for the straightforward, gentle elegance of the original piece I found in that shop. 

Not so long ago, I realized that the clock face on Pomme products is the very one I remembered. A quick surf brought up the clock reissued, and at the same price as the first one. The in-house critic noted that the clock lacks a light for night viewing. That technology wasn't convenient at the time, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hands of the clock sport old-school glow-in-the-dark technology.

It seems clear that the clock could be the progenitor of Pomme's white laptop case. The clock is a joy to handle. It's fussy to set, but I assume that means it can't accidentally be reset. The graphics are clever and economical. The great surprise of the device is how it handles: the proportion of weight to size is enough to stabilize the small case, and the form seems to exercise the many joints of the manual motor train without stressing them. I feel like I'm shaking Rams' hand when I handle the clock.


There must be a fascinating history of patents and materials encased in it. I don't recall seeing plastic or pigments of that quality in any other consumer products of the period, nor electronics that small and subtle. Sitting on my actual desktop, the little clock is a Seventies beacon into the future -30-
More after the jump.