Introducing the Contessa Chandelier

I do not usually post about the lighting I work with, even though I am regularly bowled over by its beauty and craft. Today, however, I want to share a special tie I have to the latest addition to Remains Lighting family.

The Contessa Chandelier is based on one of Tony Duquette’s originals that drapes the winding staircase of the Casa Contessa. The home of Hutton Wilkinson, the Casa Contessa is snug up against Dawnridge, Duquette’s own old seat in the hills above Los Angeles. With Duquette’s start in Hollywood a recognized pedigree, he could very well be considered part of LA’s royal lineage.

When Remains was developing the Contessa I had the delightful task of documenting the original chandelier. With pencil and sketch pad and ruler I was left to myself in the twisting spiral staircase. The walls are decorated in watery canal scenes, and the top landing houses an impressive library. Two adorable dogs held guard of the landing. I was regularly pulled away from my task into another decorative moment in the Casa: from the blackamoor-face door pulls to the clashed angles of a monumental deco sconce in the bath, to rows of design volumes on the landing.

Anyone who’s paid court at the Duquette estate knows what a fantasia it is. To see the newly minted Contessa Chandelier by Remains is like seeing royalty descending the stairs to be received. I hope you enjoy the glimpse of her.

-Valerie Thomas

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Simon Pearce Glassblowing Workshop

The Simon Pearce workshop in Windsor, VT allows visitors to view the ongoing work of the glassblowing shop. Because of the glass furnaces, this shop doesn’t need heat in the winter. We visited in July…

Even though it was a Saturday, there were two gentlemen nevertheless at their craft. They were making Christmas tree objects d’art. I don’t believe they were tree ornaments for actually hanging on a tree. The two worked in tandem as the material needs to be worked and heated through multiple trips to the furnace, rolling, pinching, pulling, heating and reheating.

We strolled along the catwalk to get a good view of the works. You can see the carts of scrap glass “cullet” and the huge hopper for remelting material. There is a board of traditional glassmaker’s tools mounted on the wall. These are, with no discernible changes, the same tools used in production in this shop.

This is an unusual shop in my experience as most glass production, other than art “studio” glass, has moved from the USA to Asia. There are very few true factories producing high quality, well-designed glassware domestically. Simon Pearce is one of those.

-David Calligeros

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The ICAA New York Chapter Presents Arne Maynard

I am very happy to announce the formation of a new, New York chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, of which I have been named president.

The ICAA has grown dramatically in scope as well as in geography and recognized the need for a chapter presence right here where it started, to serve our growing community of designers, artists, architects, patrons, and other fellow travelers.

The ICAA is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and allied arts through education, publication, and advocacy. The Institute, and it’s 16 national chapters, offers a wide variety of lectures, events, and educational programs.

Although this chapter is still in formation and will be working closely with the national office as we plan our growth, we have already begun to assemble a robust calendar of events and classes.

Please join us at the Century Club on April 8th for our inaugural New York Chapter event, a lecture by renowned garden designer, Arne Maynard. He will share his passion for seeking out quality and individuality in the unique gardens he creates for his clients.

-David Calligeros

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Architectural Digest Greenroom at the Oscars

Remains Lighting is thrilled to be part of the Architectural Digest Greenroom at the Oscars designed by Los Angeles based Commune Design and Julianne Moore.

Inspired by the classic midcentury homes of Mulholland Drive, Commune has installed a light-filled, modernist Greenroom that exemplifies Southern California indoor-outdoor chic. The room also nods to iconic designs of the 1950s and 60s.

Several handcrafted lamps and lighting fixtures will be featured in the room including a chandelier and sconces from the soon to be released Commune for Remains Lighting line. Stay tuned…

ArchDigest Greenroom at the Oscars featuring fixtures by Commune for Remains Lighting.

Chandelier by Commune for Remains Lighting in the ArchDigest Greenroom at the Oscars.

ArchDigest Greenroom at the Oscars featuring fixtures by Commune for Remains Lighting.

Table Lamp by Commune for Remains Lighting in the ArchDigest Greenroom at the Oscars.

ArchDigest Greenroom at the Oscars featuring fixtures by Commune for Remains Lighting.

Photographs are courtesy of Roger Davies/Architectural Digest.

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Museum of American Precision (Continued)

Whew. Now, here’s the stuff: The Museum of American Precision has the very first Bridgeport vertical milling machine #0001. It’s in its standard grey and blue, the paint is beautifully crazed from age. The machine, which dates from 1938 is almost indistinguishable in its running gear and general shape from the same machines you can buy new today.

There are also two beautiful turret lathes (among several more they have). A green one made by Lamson Goodnow and Co in 1861 is perhaps the oldest embodiment of the modern turret lathe in the world.

A larger lathe in black paint with nickel details is from 1891.

One of the oldest tools in the museum is the lathe which uses granite for its bed. What machine cut that piece of granite so it was flat?

From the standpoint of sheer aesthetic pleasure, the horizontal mill by Brown and Sharpe, a company still making precision measuring equipment, is my favorite. If you told me it came from Bell Labs or NASA in the 1970s I’d believe you. It dates to 1865.

If I could have one machine tool shoe-horned into my basement, it would be the 3-in-1 machine built in 1941 under a contract for the Navy who needed compact, multi-purpose machines for repairs on board Destroyer class ships. With a lathe on the right, a drill press at front, and a mill with an indexing head on the left I could tinker to my heart’s content… mmm metally goodness.

At the center of the exhibition floor, there’s a set of old machines under power, run by staff. If you ask, they will make you a brass keepsake or two. We walked away with a gear keychain and a pair of doll-house wine glasses. (Mouse over the images below to read the captions).

-David Calligeros

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Museum of American Precision

With great subterfuge and possibly some outright lies, I got Alix through the doors of the Museum of American Precision. This pulsing heart of luddite nerd-dom is in an old mill building in Windsor Vermont where machine tools were engineered and built over the past almost-200 years. There are several collections here but as my interest is in the history of metalworking, their unparalleled group of antique lathes, milling machines, and related tools sang my siren song.

The collection here has examples of machines going back to the early nineteenth century. Some of these machines are outwardly primitive but all are clearly recognizable and exhibit the major forms and concepts still in use in the most sophisticated of today’s tools. I love the puzzle of tracing back improvements to mechanical devices because it leads to pointed and difficult questions of a chicken-vs-egg nature as well as questions about the nature of “natural” vs artificial.

If a prerequisite for making flat surfaces is a truly flat surface or the prerequisite for making precise, repeatable objects a regularly pitched thread, how did the first flat surface or regular screw thread get made? How did we standardize measurements?

On a more philosophical tack, I see the development of tools in a big branched, but connected history from a sharp stick to an iron cooking pot to a pilot-less airplane. In each innovative step we commonly don’t see a stark deviation from “natural” but we very often end up at “clearly artificial”. Where’s the dividing line? That’s all without even adding the layer of value judgment that often comes with either natural or artificial.

-David Calligeros

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Brooklyn Made Certification

Made in Brooklyn

Remains is proud to be awarded Brooklyn-Made Certification by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The Brooklyn-Made Certification program was created with the help of NYU’s Wagner Capstone Program Graduate students last year to promote businesses based in and/or manufacturing in Brooklyn. All design and production of Remains’ custom and made-to-order lighting fixtures takes place in Remains’ own LEED Gold certified factory in Bushwick. The Brooklyn-Made program uses a points-based scoring system as well as an independent advisory board to evaluate potential candidates. Factors taken into consideration include the location of design, development, and product assembly as well as the number of employees located in Brooklyn. In addition to the factory, Remains’ also maintains two Manhattan showrooms as well as showrooms in Greenwich, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London.

The below appeared in last week’s issue of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s I+M Bulletin. For more information, visit brooklynmade.nyc

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Manufacturer’s (Hannover) Trust Building

In 1918 Manufacturers Trust bought the Northwest corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. I can’t believe these bronze doorways are that early. They seem to date to a renovation in the early 1930s to my eye. I love the references to masonry and the textile-like chevrons and swirls. I wonder if there’s any specific iconographic meaning behind the placid faces of the classical figures. Unfortunately these were under scaffolding when I recently walked by. Here is a less-obscured image from a great website that catalogs vintage signage on the West side.

-David Calligeros

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