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Shutters


Shut, shut, shutting out

SHUTTERS are wooden slats, placed on the outside and/or inside of the window. They have been used for centuries because of their practicality. They can allow light in or keep it at bay. What’s more the shutters, even when closed, have slats that move up and down (vertically) or from right to left (laterally), to further filter the amount of light.

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Shutters


Shut, shut, shutting out

SHUTTERS are wooden slats, placed on the outside and/or inside of the window. They have been used for centuries because of their practicality. They can allow light in or keep it at bay. What’s more the shutters, even when closed, have slats that move up and down (vertically) or from right to left (laterally), to further filter the amount of light.

townhouse shutters


it doesn’t stop with the light…

townhouse shutters


it doesn’t stop with the light…

Shutters on both the outside and inside of the home are intended to protect against the elements: cold, wind, rain and unwanted sunlight. Often these shutters have built-in recess pockets on the inside of the window frame so when they are folded back they are not seen and do not obscure our view.

Shutters are perfect in warm climates. They had been popular in the South, imported by European colonists who’d lived in other hot climates around the globe. Before the more recent advent of a/c, shutters allowed the breeze to circulate the air while simultaneously keeping the room shaded from the intense heat of the sun. How economical and conservation-minded! Can’t you picture Southern belles of either French or English descent lazily sipping a Mint Julep on their wide verandas, engulfed by their shutters and possibly a breeze from their ceiling fans?

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Older townhouses in NYC seem to have their shutters on the outside of the building and others, of a little later period, have them on the inside. Were the shutters placed on the lower floors to protect from potential intruders attempting to enter through a window? Or were they intended to keep out the wind and rain during stormy nights when heating from hearths? 

Miles Redd - the interior designer’s townhouse is located on a side street where Soho meets the West Village. I love the look of this original, seemingly untouched façade.


The closing of the inside lower shutters can keep people from peering in while the higher ones may be left open or have sheer curtains in front of them to allow light to stream in. In these NYC streets of townhouse upon townhouse that abut each another on either side, natural light is a rare commodity. Except for the top floor maid’s rooms where skylights may have recently been added, the only natural light is street side and a back room that faces the garden. All middle rooms, are sans natural light source.


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gauze + blockout


A few years back when I went shopping for shutters, I sadly found they now come only in a wide widths, the proportions of which are not as elegant as those made in my mother’s day - circa 60’s. Now because of the intricacy of making them with natural wood and needing to be custom fit, they have become SUPER C-O-S-T-L-Y.

gauze + blockout


A few years back when I went shopping for shutters, I sadly found they now come only in a wide widths, the proportions of which are not as elegant as those made in my mother’s day - circa 60’s. Now because of the intricacy of making them with natural wood and needing to be custom fit, they have become SUPER C-O-S-T-L-Y.

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I rediscovered this perfect marriage between soft and hard window treatment (with blackout shades behind) in my mother’s master bedroom while my daughter was trying on one of grandma’s wigs.

Shades on rollers are most often a synthetic material or of a “woven” plastic that allows some light in. There is also the blackout variety that blocks out any light. We can also find rollers in natural material such as rattan. 


Light creates shadow

on the curtains 

Shadow on the curtain

Shadow on the curtain

This combination of roller shades and gauze curtains at my studio during the height of the noon light. What a pleasant surprise to see the shadow of the window frame reflected onto the white window curtain – if only for a few fleeting moments. They looked like they were dancing in the breeze.

Matisse Museum Nice, France

Matisse Museum Nice, France


ORIENTING OURSELVES TO WHAT DIRECTION OUR WINDOWS FACE

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direction of light jiyu FLW, CW quotes


Where our windows are determines the amount of sunlight entering our room.

Of course, this will change from season to season and is dependent upon our forever changing weather conditions.

That’s why it is so important to become familiar with the light source of each room we inhabit. Do we live more with daylight or artificial night light? What kind of bulbs are we using: LED or incandescent?

When choosing colors for a room, they have to work with our different light conditions.

direction of light jiyu FLW, CW quotes


Where our windows are determines the amount of sunlight entering our room.

Of course, this will change from season to season and is dependent upon our forever changing weather conditions.

That’s why it is so important to become familiar with the light source of each room we inhabit. Do we live more with daylight or artificial night light? What kind of bulbs are we using: LED or incandescent?

When choosing colors for a room, they have to work with our different light conditions.

JIYU GAKUEN - a woman’s college in Tokyo designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  

The curtains are drawn in the photo to the right, whereas in the photo to the left curtains have been removed and the walls bathed in a soft yellow color . 


….whereas in rooms where there is an abundance of light such as in east and west facing rooms, the cooler colors of blue and green with varying shades of watery greens and silvery tones will contrast nicely with the positive yellow of the sunlight.”

Recalling what Candace Wheeler had to say,

“In a room with little natural light warm colors in the curtains; golds, oranges, yellows or reds, will give an effect of more natural light and make the room seem less gloomy.…these thin yellow silk curtains cross each other so the whole window-space radiates yellow light.


COLOR CHOICES

The choices are either to blend the color of the curtain material with the wall color making it (a shade) lighter or (a tint) darker than the walls. What fun to contrast the under gauze in an analogous color - remembering for a low lit room to use a warm color to bring a little sunshine in and conversely for a warmly lit room, bringing down the warmth factor with a cooler color.


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stretched fabric above us


stretched fabric overhead

stretched fabric above us


stretched fabric overhead

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Curtains on the ceiling


Barcelona Exhibit

The MET - NYC

A scaled model of a building and its enclosure showing a retractable roof made of cloth (a precursor to our Roman Shades) that employs a pulley mechanism to keep the harsh rays of a high noon Barcelona sun at bay.

Curtains on the ceiling


Barcelona Exhibit

The MET - NYC

A scaled model of a building and its enclosure showing a retractable roof made of cloth (a precursor to our Roman Shades) that employs a pulley mechanism to keep the harsh rays of a high noon Barcelona sun at bay.

Horst Berger  spent his career working  fabric  into his architectural and engineering feats. His  tensile roofs  have their structural details exposed. (Denver International Airport)

Horst Berger spent his career working fabric into his architectural and engineering feats. His tensile roofs have their structural details exposed. (Denver International Airport)

material on the ceiling


Russell Wright, the architect and well known for his mid-century ceramics, stretched burlap under a recessed light box placed on the ceiling.

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Mica + Holland+Sherry


HOLDING THE SPACE TOGETHER WITH TEXTILES

Mica + Holland+Sherry


HOLDING THE SPACE TOGETHER WITH TEXTILES

MICA ERTEGEN– is one designer who is keenly aware of textiles and the story they tell. Although Romanian in origin, she lived with her husband in Turkey.

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Dressing up is all about adding color and pattern to the human form. That’s exactly what HOLLAND AND SHERRY do with drapery. Theyhave some of the most beautiful curtain material - embellishing their material with borders of appliqué embroidery in contrasting threads with ‘to die for’ motifs that look like they are dancing up and down the panels. I was told that the designer Nicolas Chambeyron who previously worked for the couturier Christian Dior designed their embroideries. And what a great job he did!

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applique origins


But before Holland and Sherry there was Soutache embroidery

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I can see where the inspiration for their appliqué technique comes from, with its origins in French 16thC passemetaerie…think tassels. And even before its origins stemming from blanket fringe and camel rugs. With their appliqué Holland and Sherry combined architectural and Turkish motifs to hit their stride.

applique origins


But before Holland and Sherry there was Soutache embroidery

-

I can see where the inspiration for their appliqué technique comes from, with its origins in French 16thC passemetaerie…think tassels. And even before its origins stemming from blanket fringe and camel rugs. With their appliqué Holland and Sherry combined architectural and Turkish motifs to hit their stride.

layering the layers 50's fab


LAYERING THE LAYERS

layering the layers 50's fab


LAYERING THE LAYERS

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50’s FABRIC 

had its own aesthetic - bridging new techniques in screen printing with contemporary geometric design... by overlaying simple geometry to create a 3rd layer. While alternating colors keep the eye moving, the secret is keeping the geometry and colors simple so our brain doesn’t fry.

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Taliesin Curtain


Check out the curtains behind this self-portrait Inge Morath took of herself in 1958.

 


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3Form + Shoji


fabric is sandwiched between new age plexi

3Form

3Form + Shoji


fabric is sandwiched between new age plexi

3Form

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In traditional Japanese culture curtains did not exist. Instead they used sliding wooden screens and paper to separate house from garden, room from room and windows from the outside world. In the mid-20C this concept influenced Western culture and taught us that it’s alright not to have layers of fabric on our windows. In the United States we’ve integrated the interior décor of other cultures: Japanese shoji (paper and wood), sea grass wall coverings from Southeast Asia as well as sisal and rattan shades. We’ve come to welcome these alternative materials that don’t use yardage to embellish. Something generations before consumed when they were concerned with keeping the warmth contained. 


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Russell Wright


RUSSELL WRIGHT

pressed plexi

+

natural materials

Russell Wright


RUSSELL WRIGHT

pressed plexi

+

natural materials

Well before Knoll picked up on the idea, 3Form translucent panels played on this marriage of hard and soft materials. But this translucency actually got its experimental start with the incomparable Russell Wright (move over Knoll’s Suzanne Tick + 3Form). On my recent visit to his private residence in Manitoba, this earliest practitioner, Russell Wright, revealed his playful spirit. I was struck by his layering of plastics and natural materials - butterflies, ferns, leaves and in the 50’s using eco friendly discarded paper rolls. The light creates stacked layers of translucency.