Category Archive 'Design'
03 Oct 2020

Superb Newel Post by Thomas Day

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After some years of enjoying the festive social life of Virginia Hunt Country, Karen and I are finding the absence of society here at our farm in the Central Pennsylvania boondocks a little dull. Moreover, with old age comes arthritis and one feels the winter cold in the knees.

Despite my Northeastern Pennsylvania Coal Region origins, I have old-fashioned tastes and apparently a natural rapport with Virginia. When I arrived at Yale, a number of my classmates misspelled “David Zincavage” as “Davidson Cavidge,” having leapt to the conclusion based on the formality of my dress and manners that I was of Virginia gentry background.

A return to Old Virginia is tempting, but Occupied Virginia inside, and now sprawling over the beltway, loaded as it is with functionaries and bureaucrats all battening on the Federal purse, combined with the welfare class of the Commonwealth’s handful of large cities, recently successfully outvoted the natives and returned Virginia to a revolutionary Reconstruction regime run by Scallywags, Carpetbaggers, and African-American demagogues and mountebanks. I’m not sure my blood pressure would stand a closer proximity to Virginia politics. So we’ve been looking for an affordable very old, very large house (we have an enormous library) further South, hopefully in proximity to an organized fox hunt.

I came, last night, upon a really beautiful North Carolina house (in Milton) which is unfortunately too small, but which has really beautiful architectural detail apparently by a local free black cabinetmaker-woodworker. I think his newel post is a delightful piece of imaginative design. If you lived there, you’d smile every time you saw it.

Wikipedia:

Thomas Day (1801-1861) was a free black furniture craftsman and cabinetmaker in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. Born a free black man in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, Day moved to Milton in 1817 and became a highly successful businessman, boasting the largest and most productive workshop in the state during the 1850s. Day catered to high-class white clientele and was respected among his white peers for his craftsmanship and work ethic. Day came from a free and relatively well-off family and was privately educated. Today, Day’s pieces are highly sought after and sell for high prices; his work has been heavily studied and displayed in museums such as the North Carolina Museum of History. Day is heralded in modern society as an incredibly skilled craftsman and savvy businessman. …

With his furniture designs so popular and highly sought-after, it was no surprise that Day began to provide architectural work to homes in his region as well. In this architectural work, Day employed many of the same design motifs as in his furniture, playing again off his own interpretation of the Grecian/Greek Revival Style. For large plantation homes in the North Carolina and Virginia areas, Day provided mantle pieces, stair brackets and newel posts, and door frames among other architectural work. His work focused on symmetry, and he often incorporated similar or complementary designs in the newel posts and stair brackets to create a balance of design and to emphasize his furniture designs, since many homes he did architectural work for also boasted multiple furniture works by Day. As with his furniture designs, it appears that Day’s initial architectural designs stemmed from popular architectural pattern books; to these, Day would again add his personal design motifs to create unique products.

In his work on door frames, scholars agree that Day created both sidelights and transoms for interior doors in many homes he worked on. These architectural elements are characterized by the repetitive use of rectangular patterns. Day also often created newel posts for staircases, which he commonly designed utilizing s-curves and elongated scroll shapes, which represented Day’s interpretation of the traditional newel post; Day’s posts were both larger and longer than the classic Greek Revival Style posts, and are emphasized by the simplistic stair banisters that accompany them. As with his furniture, Day took the popular design of the newel post and added his own stylistic flair through his scroll curves. In crafting these newel posts, Day employed four different types of newels: s-shaped, traditional, a fusion of the two, or completely unique designs; today, twenty-five s-shaped newel posts have been attributed to Day. Day crafted stair brackets to match and complement these newel posts, again employing curvatures and wave motifs that, combined with the newel posts, suggested a tranquil fluidity.

03 Oct 2020

BMW R7

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Unveiled in 1934, the BMW R7 was a motorcycle ahead of its time both conceptually and practically. Despite the futuristic appeal of its sleek design, the R7’s high manufacturing costs kept it from ever seeing mass production. It wasn’t until 2005, when the original prototype was uncovered and showcased at Pebble Beach that the world truly came to appreciate this innovative design. Valued at over $1 million, this original R7 is the stuff of collectors’ and motorcycle enthusiasts’ dreams.

Among those to appreciate the BMW R7 was team at NMOTO. Taking inspiration from the past, NMOTO then launched the Nostalgia Project, an ambitious and successful attempt to join old designs with current technology. By utilizing modern materials and traditional manufacturing methods, NMOTO was able to create a lighter and more powerful final product.

The full name of this replica vintage bike is BMW R7 85th Anniversary Commemoration Limited Edition. It’s built by custom bike designer Alex Niznik of NMoto – a custom workshop based in Florida, USA. The base model is a 1934 BMW R7 and this exclusive model is a limited edition of just ten units. The price tag sits at $250,000 as of Apr 13, 2020.

15 Oct 2017

Apple: Really Bad at Design!

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Joshua Topolsky tears off the band-aid.

The “notch” on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd — it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience. The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screenspace.

It is, put plainly, a visually disgusting element. One which undermines the core premise of the iPhone X’s design (“all screen”), and offers a feature as an excuse which is really an answer in search of a question. To wit: no one wanted or asked for Face ID, and the feature actually raises new concerns about security for users. From a performance standpoint, there is hardly a differentiating factor between the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus beyond display size and type — the former is a flagship only because Apple wants it to be one.

Plenty has been written about the mind-numbing, face-palming, irritating stupidity of the notch. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. I would love to say that this awful design compromise is an anomaly for Apple. But it would be more accurate to describe it as the norm.

RTWT

02 Nov 2016

Skeleton Rocker

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skeletonchair

05 Jun 2016

Artificial Following Nature

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HypodermicNeedle
CobraFang
Above: the tip of a hypodermic syringe needle.
Below: the tip of a fang from the Monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia).

Both are designed to pierce the skin and admit fluids into the bloodstream, although it is often the case that the intended effects are polar opposites.

Artificial designs frequently imitate those of nature; in this case, mankind was approximately 25 million years late.

11 Nov 2015

Tughra of Sulieman the Magnificent

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Tughra1

Tughra2

Tughra3

Tughra4

Tughra5

Tughra6

Tughra (Official Seal, Signature, or Monogram) of Sultan Suleiman. Istanbul, Turkey. c. 1555-1560. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper.

06 Nov 2015

Lalique Watch Case

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LaliqueWatchCase
pocket watch. Rene Lalique (1860-1945) Ca. 1899-1900. Gold, enamel, moonstone.

“Of gilt-finished jewelled lever movement, the openface pocketwatch of circular outline with blued-steel moon-style hands and applied black enamelled Arabic numerals, against the gold ground accented by blue and white enamelled fluttering butterflies, within a polished gold case, the reverse depicting numerous flying purplish blue enamelled bats, with scattered moonstone accents, further embellished by a sculpted gold serpent bow.”

30 Aug 2015

Duesenberg Coupe Simone: The Car Which May or May Not Have Ever Actually Been Built

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DuesenbergSimone1
DuesenbergSimone2
DuesenbergSimone3

What actually exists are 1:24 models of the car made by the Franklin Mint, by one account, from drawings found in a barn on the remote Central Pennsylvania estate of Guy de LaRouche.

The legend says that the Duesenberg Coupe Simone was created by the coachbuilding firm Emmet-Armand on the Duesenberg Type J frame in response to a special order from French cosmetics magnate Guy (or Gui) de LaRouche (or LaRoche). The coupe took three years to build and was finished after the bankruptcy of Cord and the end of Duesenberg production. The Coupe Simone was named for LaRouche’s lover and was intended to be a gift to her. It was sent to France for LaRouche’s approval, before it was to be exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but disappeared as the result of a love triangle and the outbreak of the Second World War. The Coupe Simone was either destroyed during the war, or remains forgotten today, rusting away, in a barn somewhere in rural France.

An alternative story contends that plans for the car were drawn up in the 1930s, but the car was never built, and only the Franklin Mint models made from drawing re-discovered decades later were ever actually built.

Another version contends that neither car nor drawings nor French cosmetics king ever actually existed, and the model car was invented in the late 1990s by a couple of Franklin Mint designers, who made up a romantic story to explain the Art Deco automobile they had imagined.

Diesel Punks: The Strange Case of the Midnight Ghost.

Opposite Lock: The Duesenberg Coupe Simone: A One-Off that Never Was.

Wikicars: Duesenberg Coupe Simone

Before Its News: A Duesenberg That Didn’t Get Past the Drawing and Planning Stages of a Coachbuilder.

23 Jul 2015

Art Deco Motorcycle

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Magestic1929
1929 MAGESTIC

The Vintagent:

Georges Roy began motorcycle production with an unorthodox ‘New Motorcycle’ with a pressed steel chassis, then moved further from the mainstream, beginning production of the hub-center steered Majestic in 1929. The machine is a brilliant Art Deco sculpture, with a swooping unbroken line from the curved front wheel beak to the sporty abbreviated tail. The side panels are punctuated by louvers like a racing car (and the bike pictured is painted Bugatti / French racing blue). As the entire chassis is pressed thin-gauge steel, the overall weight is fairly low – I would estimate from hefting and pushing one around that it weighs 350lb. The chassis is constructed using two mirror-image side pressings, rivetted together by firewalls at the front and back of the engine, with further strengthening panels beneath the engine, plus the two large, fixed top panels. The whole structure, much like a monocoque car (or a late Cosworth /Norton racer), is extremely rigid. The central engine cover is removable for access) …, and … the side members are totally louvered to keep the engine cool. There’s plenty of room in the engine bay for a large motor, or even a radiator for a water-cooled machine. The petrol tank sits under the front bulkhead.

23 Jul 2015

Art Deco Automobile

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Mercedes500K
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Erdmann & Rossi

Via Ratak Monodosico.

05 Jul 2014

The Schlörwagon

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Schloerwagen2
Schloerwagen1
Schloerwagen3

Built, just before the start of WWII, on the rear-engine Mercedes-Benz 170H chassis it was known as the Göttinger Ei (“an egg from Göttingen”) or the Schlörwagen. Its designer, Karl Schlör, a Krauss Maffei engineer, had proposed a bodyshell with extremely low drag coefficient as early as of 1936. The prototype dazzled the public at the Berlin autoshow of 1939. But, because of the outbreak of WWII, the Schlörwagen never actually went into production. Karl Schlör died in 1997.

Via Retronaut.

02 Feb 2014

Salvador Dali Silverware

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Salvador Dali – Ménagère (Cutlery Set) 1957.

Gomez Addams probably uses this service everyday.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

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