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|Paul Schulman Design was launched in 2001, with a focus on the intricate balance between construction and design. Since, Paul has been offering the full range of redesign services – from commercial, to residential.Expanding on that, Schulman’s flair for furniture extends further than remodeling and redesigning entire homes, but also into the design and creation of custom furniture pieces. Schulman’s specialty is truly his ability to combine interior design and construction. See his website to view astonishing “Before” and “After” photos of past projects.Originally a Boston native, Schulman has called Chicago home for more than a decade. Prior to opening up shop in Chicago, Schulman ran his own design store and showroom in Milwaukee, Wis. Schulman’s passion for design stems from his life-long interest and education in the fine arts.||With a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Metalsmithing, Schulman approaches all projects with an eye toward history, architecture, and fine design. Schulman’s expansive knowledge of raw materials allows him to navigate projects so that when completed, they are relevant to the client’s vision and are impeccably beautiful.Named Chicago Magazine’s Best Custom Furniture Maker in its “Best Of Chicago” issue and selected one of ten men to watch in CS Men’s “The New Boys Club” issue, Schulman continually garners attention thanks to his talent and hands-on approach to business, and is sure to remain a bellwether of practical, modern design.
|mc2 design lab is a creative collaborative effort between industrial designers Desmond Miller and Jerry Cmehil. The boys run the gamut, specializing in industrial design, furniture design and interior architectural design.
Desmond Miller, born in Lisboa, Portugal, studied Interior Design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and completed his education in Interior and Industrial Design Technology at Parson’s School of Design. He began his design career in Philadelphia, PA working as an interior designer for high profile design firms while freelancing as a product designer. After moving to New York he continued designing interiors for private residences as well as designing custom products for several prestigious design firms and showrooms in the US and abroad. Desmond’s aesthetic is derived from the disciplines of modern, classic, and minimal design principles respecting their history while emphasizing what’s to come. He is also the senior designer at ddc New York.
|Jerry Cmehil is originally from the Czech Republic, where he studied Furniture Design at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. He was first practical training in design and manufacturing at the Art Craft Studios in Karlin, Prague. After completing his education at Columbia University with a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design, Jerry began working in New York City with the most prestigious design firms on their product lines and equally prominent clientele on their private residences throughout the world. He specializes in high-end audio visual installations, industrial product design and interior architectural design.
mc2 design lab’s diverse furniture pieces remain modern and minimal, while offering up an edge of uniqueness with one-of-a-kind touches. Everyday objects are rethought, reformed and re-inspired with fusions of color, line and seemingly gravity defying shapes.
|When defining what is “good design” opposed to “bad” multiple factors come into play. The most basic seem to serve either aesthetic or practical needs necessary within design.
Function, fashion, endurance, durability, emphasis – just to name a few.
Functionality of a space is obviously a crucial factor as one must be able to carry out all required tasks, as well as those possibly unpredicted prior to completion, within it. If a space does not allow for easy, unrestricted movement then it has already failed. It should be capable of adapting as its users needs change and allow functioning with ease of the tasks it was originally designed for. Non-utilitarian aspects of “good design”, such as the use of current fashions and trends within a designed environment, although often a priority for many designers and clients, must be tempered to insure a space’s ability to endure after the current trends are no longer “in”. An environment that has style but is quickly dated is not of “good design”.
Furthermore, mastering style and functionality within a designed environment but not being considerate of the long-term durability of the material and textiles utilized can also adversely affect the spaces ability to be of “good” or “bad design”. Choosing materials and textiles that stand up to the everyday usage required within the environment and maintain a quality of newness by retaining a level of durability is also essential to defining a space of “good design”. A space must also be of strong compositional consideration to classify as one of “good design”. Proper emphasis of some items, colors or features while allowing others to take the proverbial “back seat” increases interest and user comfort within the space by giving the eye a place to rest. Over-the-top or mundane designed environments can either exhaust and overwhelm the eye or bore it.
|All of these factors are key when taking into consideration a spaces quality of design, but one component, unmentioned thus far, can ultimately supersede all other factors of “good design” and that is whether the environmental and health related impacts of the materials, textiles and construction conventions employed within the designed environment have been taken into consideration.
The incorporation of sustainable and smart design in our indoor environments can play a vast role in reducing everyday ecological impact while improving the quality of life of those occupying the space. Choosing materials and textiles consisting of easily renewable, recycled, recyclable and/or un-hazardous contents is not only helpful in reducing the negative effects on the environment through manufacturing of the product and resource usage but also reducing adverse effects on the health of the people inhabiting it. Toxins and off-gasses from materials and textiles made with harmful chemicals as well as through unsafe processes are greatly detrimental to the health of not only the people exposed to the final product but also those involved in the manufacturing of such harmful materials. Polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”) is probably the most well known example of an extremely harmful material to both those manufacturing it as well as the end user yet it is still widely used in the building and design sector.
Ultimately through embracing the concepts to preserve what we can, use what we have and re-innovate or do away with altogether the current harmful processes and conventions involved in the Interior Design and Architecture industries, we as a collective vocation can positively impact our lives, the lives of the inhabitants of our created environments and those of future generations. Sustainable design IS good design.
|Containing signature devices and acting as an illustration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideals and design principles, the Meyer May House is an uncomplicated example of Wright’s concept of “organic architecture”. Although his architectural works vary they all have originated out of this same specific fundamental philosophy. Working within the notion that architecture must be “natural to the time and place for which it is designed, [and] natural to the man for whom it is built” (An American Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, ©1955); Wright designed the Meyer May House as a cohesive juxtaposition of planes and space against natural light.The house was consciously placed on the site to allow for maximum southern exposure to the living room highlighting the art glass skylights and custom abstracted wheat stalk – a common Wright device – designed windows, while still accenting the perennial gardens outside.||The open plan and furniture placement, as well as, the simple, uncomplicated furnishings, and textiles, offset continued detail to architectural features, such as built-ins and geometric column work, creating a strong emphasis of features against more subordinate ones and further drawing nature into the house.Meyer May, who commissioned Wright to design the home for his wife and himself in 1908, was a prominent Grand Rapids, Michigan, clothier and a vanguard in his time. Through hiring Wright he brought to Grand Rapids a home contrasting its traditional, Victorian and Craftsman inspired neighbors. Offering an equal insight into the modern, as well as acting as a statement against Industrialization, by changing the focus to nature and simplification of material while emphasizing craftsmanship and detail, the Meyer May house is an unrivaled example of Mid-West architecture and the now infamous “Prairie Style”.|
|The birthplace of the automotive assembly line, architecture of Albert Kahn: Highland Park is an early example of concise urban design, buried below a distressing layer of dilapidation and disrepair. Hidden down forlorn streets lie husks of once were exquisite examples of the boon produced by the turn of the 19th century automotive production boom. Transitional homesteads in pleasant juxtapositions largely of the Arts & Crafts movement and Tudor and Romanesque revival styles stand dark within the hurting neighborhoods.Designed as ‘Ford Town’, Highland Park is a mindfully intricate collection of community and commercial properties, and neighborhoods once of varying economic and social classes. Large, wealthy middle-class single family homes built for the upper management of Ford’s Highland Park Plant, the first facility to implement the assembly line and built in 1909, shared corner store with Deco inspired apartment complexes, and the modest, ranch style two-bedrooms of blue collar co-workers. The diversity of homes offered was equally complimented by the selection of retail amenities. Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s ‘Grand Old Mainstreet’, was said to have a shop for everything.
Literally a city within a city, itself surrounded by the city of Detroit; Highland Park at its peak was a predecessor of New Urbanism: the modern praised direction of urban planning, where walkable neighborhoods are made up of an assortment of housing and economical statuses, as well as easy accessibility to daily necessities, art and entertainment. New Urbanism strives to counteract ‘Urban Sprawl’. If Highland Park were to be restored it could be on par with these highly sought out new communities around the country, but with the amazing architectural integrity and level of craftsmanship synonymous with the historical homes that make up its neighborhoods.
Unfortunately Highland Park found itself in economical distress at a time when much of the county was feeling prosperity. The shutting down of the assembly line in the late 1950’s devastated the city as jobs disappeared, quality of life deteriorated. Long before any legislation to impose corporate responsibility were in existence, Ford found little opposition in simply deserting the city it built.
|Luck did not improve for Highland Park. Dutch Elm Disease took the dense old growth that gained it its designation as ‘the City of Trees’, as crime bled into the neighborhoods. Political corruption and societal conflicts further decimated the small independent metropolis. The more recent ritualized burning of vacant homes on ‘Devil’s Night’ each year further physically scars the landscape and emotionally the general sense of well-being, and acts as just one more blight to be visited upon this noteworthy city.Up is Highland Park’s only option. Neighborhood organizations work to cultivate the charred lots, where stood once testaments to the prosperity of industry, into community gardens and farms. Providing fresh, local and affordable produce, and almost equally important positive communal activity. Efforts to rescue these beautiful neighborhoods are also there on a small scale. A city with such a unique and groundbreaking history could aim to follow suit of renaissance areas like Detroit’s Midtown or Riverfront, which are appealing to the growing in surge of young professionals in the metropolitan area. The Michigan Film Tax Incentive could bring Highland Park a new industry as well. Detroit is already leading the state’s embrace of its budding film industry with projects underway to explore re-purposing the vacant automotive complexes into studio lots, and major production films increasing every year.
Though battered; Highland Park still stands, waiting for the future, unable to truly hide its architectural beauty, its strong past, and heart: that is its people.
|Located on historic Heritage Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and nestled amongst contemporaries, as well as newer and older structures, the Voigt House is a testament to Victorian design through it’s embracing of formality, civility and societal structure within and out of the home. It further
stands as a unique example of Chateauesque, Queen Anne Victorian architecture due to the employment of technology considered advanced at the time throughout and because of it’s virtual “time capsule” condition, as the home has always been within the original family (prior to it’s acquisition by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids). Little to no changes or modifications have been made since its construction began in 1885, making it one of the few homes in the United States accurately representative of the period in which it is built.
The Voigt house’s ability to allow viewers this step into the past is only further complimented by the locally crafted and custom case goods with the intricacy and level of craftsmanship synonymous with the heyday of the “Furniture City” of Grand Rapids, Michigan. A potpourri of one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces, machine crafted and combination machine and handcrafted pieces make up the Voigt collection, many purchased during local sample sales which would contain pieces used as display during the Grand Rapids Furniture Market (similar to the one now held at the Chicago Merchandise Mart) from some of the big makers, such as; Berkey & Gay Furniture Co., Baker Furniture Company and Kindel Furniture Co. Only people who worked in the furniture trade could tour a manufacturer’s actual showroom displays, so the sample stores offered a glimpse of the coming season’s newest introductions to the general public.
Although the Voigt’s were newly wealthy due to Carl G.A. Voigt’s success as a successful retailer and flour miller they still favored furnishing their home one bargain at a time, rather then purchasing a suite ensemble at full price; thus the Voigt’s were quickly known regular customers of the sample stores (Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America’s Furniture City, Christian Carron, ©1998). This frugality and “cutting of corners” was not only a permeating trait of the family, still apparent today in details within the home (it is not uncommon to find differing degrees of finish from room to room, or even door to door, depending on the amount the space is exposed to people outside the family or staff, or status of user), but also an attribute mirrored in Victorian ideology.
|The house itself is to the credit of by prominent regional architect William G. Robinson, who took inspiration from the chateaux at Chenonceaux, France. True to Victorian design the home is divided by function and purpose into a series of rooms with varying levels of access and allotted activities. The home itself is filled with personal items, such as the paintings displayed on the main staircase landing and the Art Nuevo stenciling upon the cove ceiling in the dining room, both done by one of the Voigt daughters, or the wooden rocking chair, presumably given as a gift, that sprouts from it’s back carved ears of corn, a link back to the family’s milling business.
Victorian innovation was also applied throughout the house. Cisterns on the roof collected rainwater, which was used for non-potable water needs throughout the home. The lamps used supported both electricity and gas. Radiators and gas Adam’s style fireplaces heated the home, while technologies such as call boxes and cords allowed communication between family and staff.
The preservation of such items, from common kitchen utensils to the youngest child (and last resident) Ralph’s childhood suit, is what makes this home an intriguing historical collection of life in the late Victorian period and a testament of one family’s devotion to Victorian and immigrant values.