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Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Posted by marcolo (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 18, 12 at 20:02

Do not post your designs in this thread. A second thread will be posted for finished designs in a week.

What if...

Futuristic technology had been invented in Victorian England?

Nineteenth-century history actually took some of the roads not taken--like dirigible airlines?

The outlandish devices of Jules Verne were not only possible, but had actually been built?

How would people dress?

What would technology look like?

What would kitchens look like?





You can read all about steampunk online, as movement that encompasses fantasy literature, role-playing games, major exhibitions at the same venue where the New England Patriots play, a fine art movement, an interior design movement and more.

Most of all, you can read what steampunk is not. Steampunk is not vintage industrial, especially not when produced by mass-market merchandisers like Restoration Hardware.


"The acceleration of the present leaves many of us uncertain about the future and curious [about] a past that has informed our lives, but is little taught," said Martha Swetzoff, an independent filmmaker on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design who is directing a documentary on the subject. "Steampunk converses between past and present. "It also represents a "push back" against throw-away technologies, Swetzoff said, and a "culture hijacked by corporate interests.

Not really Steampunk--Nice, but Something else:

Steampunk, by a pretty successful steampunk artist.

Many steampunk art pieces, rooms and objects incorporate vintage industrial elements. But there is a heck of a difference between something that looks like the control room of an 1889 rocket ship, and something that looks like salvage from a 1919 decommissioned NYC subway station. The latter can definitely appear in a steampunk room, but is not the same thing.

This thread is designed for a discussion of steampunk. A new thread will be posted in a week to show your designs. If you want to know more about these threads, or how to create a mood board, look here.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Here is a link to an apartment decorated in steam punk. I would be surprised if the owner didn't lose money (though these days many are anyway). True steam punk is expensive unless you are an extreme DIYer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Steam punk apartment


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I like that stove. I always though induction and victorian stoves work well together, since wood burning stoves had a flat black surface with circles where pots go.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Can't believe I'm going to miss the steampunk thread! I'm out of the country for three weeks starting this Wednesday. But I will have access to the web, so at least I can watch. Can't wait.

I know we've over exposed this video already, but you really have to include it in the thread. It is just so fun.

Here is a link that might be useful: steampunk tutorial


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

One Shot Coffee in Philly has some good inspiration:

Here is a link that might be useful: AT post about One Shot


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

That apartment is insane. The coffee shop is a really great space.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Are the movie sets in "The Golden Compass" steampunk? Or really more art nouveau instead?

requisite dirigible shot:
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car
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air ship (very ''Mysterious Island'', to me)
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architecture
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Nothing kitchen specific but perhaps stylistically inspirational?

cheers


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I think there would already exist an electric current device that removes tarnish from silver. It could be a permanent drawer, made of aluminum, where you place sacrificial aluminum foil down from time to time. The aluminum takes the tarnish off the silver. Today, I have to wrap the item in garbage-ready aluminum foil, put it in salt water and give it a little jolt of electricity or leave it in the oven. It takes the tarnish off while leaving all the silver, but it's time consuming because you have to babysit the process.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Yes to all of the above! Steampunk to me combines the Victorian esthetic with futuristic, scientific, explorer, etc. elements. To that end, any home-made kitchen gadgets like davidro1 describes could work. Doesn't someone on GW have a bicycle-powered grain mill or blender? With the right treatments (brass, black, wood, red, etc.) it could come off as steampunk. While steampunk is indeed a look, it's more than decoration: The elements need to be functional as well as beautiful and curious. Pipes for shelf supports, pulleys that raise and lower a pot rack, a cookbook shelf that rolls away to reveal a secret pantry room, etc. Ok, now I need a secret pantry behind a bookshelf.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

To expand on what Marcolo tersely said above, good Steampunk has to be purpose driven. There might be a big brass steam engine powering overhead turbines with crankshafts leading to descending pot stirrers, a la Caractacus Potts, but it has to actually do something. The New York apt. is more like a hoarder's version of Steampunk and is all about flash rather than intention.

Real Steampunk has no gauges to nowhere.

Etching, inlay, embossing, finials, decorative caps, etc., can all be added for Victorian flourish, but the actual working bits need to serve a purpose. No Pottery Barn, here's a crusty old gear, let's put it on the wall and call ourselves cool.

Steampunk also allows for a certain amount of patina, more so in the post-Steampunk moves into Machine Age, but it tends to be cleaner and shinier than current tastes. Polished brass and shiny cast iron are highly desirable.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I can't wait to see this DAT. I had seen that induction range before -- so cool. The 1999 film "Wild, Wild West," starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline, had a lot of steampunk elements.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

This is going to be fun! Can't wait to see the design ideas.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

IMO: Steam Punk has it's limits. Things can get too strange too fast with too much.
How about some serious Art Deco base and Steam Punk trimmings?

(There's nothing wrong with a little Goth, until that 25th piercing. Then it's a bit too......)


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Dando, the Steampunk aesthetic follows the Victorians in the more is more idea of decorating. Art Deco is also late for the underpinnings. You'd be better off starting with William Morris crossed with gentlemen's club.

Or you could do Art Deco with Machine Age.


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off topic...removing silver tarnish using chemistry

O.t. to Davidro1, you can omit the electricity part of it. Dissolve some baking soda or baking soda laundry detergent in a plastic or enamel container in really hot water, put in some sheets of fresh aluminum foil OR use one of those aluminum multimetal pieces they sell at antique shows, then submerge silver items in such a way that the current generated by the chemistry and the metal items that touch one another causes the sulfur molecules to collect on the aluminum. No item will lose its silver if it sticks out of the water or it does not touch the aluminum or a silver item that is touching the aluminum.

The foil will go black and icky. Throw it out. Add more foil if needed. Do NOT move the foil against the silver items--it can scratch.

Works on silverplate as well as sterling. Might as well toss your jewelry into the stew pot if you're doing this.

Do NOT do this with old Sheffield silver that has hollow centers filled in with pitch or other substances to give them weight. Do NOT do this with any silver pieces that have wood parts, such as handles. Do NOT do this to any item which might not drain the liquid out of itself after the soaking.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I don't know that I still fully grasp this one as a design scheme.

I have read the books mentioned, The Golden Compass/The Subtle Knife, and the L. Frank Baum OZ series, which I feel was a contemporarily-written version of the alternate universe, and probably one of the first books with a developed robot-character. And, I have seen some of the movies, (various Jules Verne), and the post-apocalyptic alternate-tech MadMax series, and Brazil, etc.

So, I get the what if technology were different? part of it.

What this makes me think of in real terms are the families I knew when I was little that had Servel natural gas refrigerators or wall hung, cabinet-style GE refrigerators (electric, but different); or the Nutone food center and Central Vac in our house; or the Tappan Fabulous 400; and then people who have off-the-grid stuff now.

Things that were/are the same essential appliances that other people had, but approached differently.

When I look at Steampunk, particularly in kitchens, I got referred to Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum's sites from various other sites, and that was about it.

I am thinking, though, despite that by definition it has to be functional, a microwave that looks Victorian is a microwave that is doo-dadded with non-functional or not-necessary-for-function costuming; and the shape of the range is based upon a function that it no longer has, so the shape is not needed--it's set-dressing.

I am fine with that, but I think that the current movement tends to go counter to the accepted definition in that there is a lot of ornamentation that isn't related to current function.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I find Steampunk in home decor to be very much set dressing (and Steampunk in clothing to be very much costume). I mean, really, if you embrace Steampunk halfheartedly, you get the Restoration Hardware version. If you embrace it fully, your kitchen looks like it walked off the set of Wild Wild West, or some Jules Verne film adaptation.

If you stick a gear on it, and call it Steampunk (cue barber shop quartet), do the gears have to do something (and if so, does it have to be a useful something) or do they just have to look like the COULD do something? Regardless of the answer to that, I think that the message of the song is that the gears (or whatever) need to be integral to the design and not just tacked on as an afterthought.

I dunno, but I'm embracing the set dressing approach to Steampunk. Because, realistically, all we're doing is sticking images on a moodboard, so who the heck is going to know whether it really works or not?


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Palimpsest, I'm not entirely following what you're saying.

Steampunk itself is speculative fiction that combines a Verne world with modern technical goals. Sterling's The Difference Engine is probably the ne plus ultra of that with computers running on steam and gears. There actually were card run machines (jacquard looms) and lever run register systems (some of the early calculating machines) before the magnetic/electric computers of the Enniac era. The steam computers of The Difference Engine are actually possible.

Out of fictional Steampunk came a movement in decorative arts. It is akin to Art Nouveau or Art Deco in that it's more about the look and a change in the motives of visual decor than a technological change.

If one could (safely) make a microwave oven out of brass pipe fittings, that would be real Steampunk. As a decorative arts movement, like that lamp, there's more leeway. The function is overlaid with furbelows. Changing a touch pad to pushbuttons and the display to analog dials is probably as much Victorian tech as one could do to a microwave without making it dangerous. Covering it with studded leather makes the exterior fit in with the rest, visually.

If your point was that this is more about decoration than design when it comes to kitchens which by definition run on contemporary tech (and the occasional fossilized range), then I would agree, but so is the color yellow.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

But a "real" yellow microwave only has to be yellow to be real, and what I don't fully understand is that a microwave decorated as a steampunk microwave may not qualify as "real" steam punk by definitions that require function of the steampunk elements. The only argument about a yellow microwave would be if it is actually yellow, green or orange depending upon the shade and viewpoint.

Is steampunk a lifestyle movement, a decorative style, or both? the Punk movement tends to be a lifestyle movement. But while one could live in a fully accurately decorated Victorian house, very few people would embrace the full Victorian way of life.

As an aside, does anyone from Manhattan or who spent a lot of time in Manhattan remember the guys who lived in a Victorian house and wore genuine Victorian clothes (and smelled like they had the Victorian distrust of too many full baths?) I used to seem them at the Flea Markets, and now that most of them are gone, I haven't seen them.

My feeling is that it is, for most people, kind of like those who have embraced 50s rockabilly and drive finned cars or Harleys and have slicked back hair and a house full of Atomic Modern, but go to regular tech jobs or whatever where there is some leeway about appearance. So, a little bit more than a decorative movement but not a full lifestyle.


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Other parts of it.

The other aspect of this is that a yellow microwave is not suggestive of an alternate reality, and neither is a museum-like recreation of the past...Steampunk is an outgrowth of a fictional alternate existence where technology developed at a faster rate, during an earlier time, and skewed slightly in a different direction.

I just wanted to show this here, it's not Steampunk, it's a real car produced by a company between 1930-1940, but it is suggestive to me of a technology that developed earlier than the world was ready for it, and in some ways a direction that things may have gone in an alternate reality. It is the 1936 Stout Scarab, a car with a rear engine, and a long wheelbase with the driver positioned over the front wheels; one passenger door and sled mounted passenger seating with a table.

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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Here; you're welcome.
http://youtu.be/TFCuE5rHbPA
Casey


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I don't know about others, but what I said was that the technology elements had to be real. Cawaps is more lenient, allowing the gears on the wall to have fictional functions. In my definition, which is culled from the early steampunks I used to hang with and peripherally be one of, gauges, gears, levers, pipes, whistles, etc., actually have to do something, even if it's not something one would often have them do. The extra flanges, arches, et al., in the lamp Marcolo posted in the first message, qualify as decorative. One might, theoretically, use cogs or gears instead in a similar lamp, but that's still Pottery Barn aesthetic of considering working bits to be decorative. A real Steampunk might say that it was a Steampunky lamp, but wouldn't think it was a very nice with teeth sticking out, and would consider it more trench art/folk art/hobo art than something lovely to put on an end table. If a Steampunk mechanism were to be put on the wall with all its guts showing in order to achieve its end, it would be all polished brass and have lovely chasing to gussy them up.

If you notice, the microwave in the kitchen Marcolo posted is just a black and stainless microwave that goes with the decor and doesn't even aspire to steampunkery. That's cool. That's making it a proper kitchen where you can zap popcorn, rather than set dressing trying to make everything fictional world appropriate. One could put push buttons and a dial on it, but it's not necessary. Sometimes a microwave is just a microwave.

Similarly, a yellow kitchen might have a white or stainless microwave and still be a real yellow kitchen.

Steampunk was a sub-genre of science fiction novels, and from there into movies, that, like other science fiction trends, had adherents creating elements in the real world. A lot of sci-fi enthusiasts are kind of nutty, and live in their imaginations more than most people (though rarely in their mothers' basements as the popular myth goes). They learn fictive languages, celebrate fictive holidays, and dress up in fictive garments to act out fictive characters. In the last they really aren't much different from Civil/Revolutionary War reenacters, SCA members, "pirates", or even, to a certain extent, some Contra Dancers who have period wear parties. The more extreme ones, however, have roll playing character groups that sit around in ordinary living rooms and pretend that they're on space missions.

Steampunk as a decorative/fashion movement came out of this. Slightly nutty guys discovering the fun they could have building things like that lever key computer, and getting into metal work and welding (I've only used an oxy torch on armature wire, but it's a lot of fun). Those who were artistically motivated created quality items and found markets for them outside of the original Steampunk world. Unlike, for instance, the guy I know who really got into resin sculpting in the '70's and was making a great living selling S.F. faux weaponry to enthusiasts. No outside market for that, the way there was for a really cool stand lamp.

The Steampunk aesthetic jibed well with the reuse/recycle/upcycle trend, and fits in well with all the industrial chic that has been the trend for the last fifteen years, working its way down from urban loft to cheap knock offs of Pottery Barn (yeah, I would guess the remainder bin is right around the corner for that one). Still, because it fit in with all that repurposed industrial and farm equipment, Steampunk artists found wider markets than they might have at another time (most Steampunk art has a useful element to it, such as lamps).

Steampunk clothes also go pretty well with both Goth and Pirate, so there were markets for the costumers too.

As I mentioned when we had the first Steampunk threads, there are now cheap, mass produced clothes and furnishings that are being sold under that word, whether it properly applies or not, because somewhere along the way Steampunk became just mainstream enough to be cool rather than weird. As soon as something is cool, they start making tens of thousands of units in China and it dies. Very soon Steampunk will be back in the hands of the original punks and continue on as far as their imagination is engaged. In another 30-40 years some young folks will discover it and adopt it for their own.

I remember seeing your Victorian guys on TV. I think the smell was the clothes, which wouldn't be launderable. :)

I pretty much agree with your last paragraph. The full on Steampunks (not necessarily the artists) are like your Atomic Agers. Most aren't that extreme. More like weekenders with funky home decor and rivets in their suspenders. :) It just depends on income level and how much income they want to devote to it and how innately nutty they are.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Palimpsest, those Scarab pictures are awesome!!! It looks original! If it's restored (other than the upholstery, which does look new), they did an amazing job. And you're quite right--there's nothing Steampunk about it at all.

Thank-you, Casey, for that oft-heard refrain (though I hadn't heard it set to music before). :)


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Despite disagreement about whether steampunk is decoration or lifestyle, I think one principle that keeps coming up is that the design should serve a function. It's part of maker culture. Another part of maker culture, and in my experience, a part of steampunk, is fun. The objects around us should be beautiful, functional and fun to both create and then to use. Sure, like all subcultures, some steampunkers can take themselves awfully seriously. I'm one of those people who has a straight job, I can rock a suit, and also have a couple of closets full of wigs and costumes. I don't live in my costumes, but I sure have fun in them now and again. Can't our kitchens have a little dress-up fun while also serving their function? Plus, couldn't we have the argument about decoration vs. lifestyle about ANY DAT theme? Do those of you who have "traditional" kitchens live a "traditional" lifestyle? Owners of those sleek modern kitchens only wear mid-century clothes? I've only seen a few owners of Shaker cabs live the Shaker lifestyle.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Just clarifying...

are stained glass pieces good or bad?

if something produces steam, such as a coffee machine or a teapot, is it especially desirable?

are clocks an iconic thing in this aesthetic?

can things be sprayed to look like "metal" in order to qualify for this exercise?
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Try this link--it gave me some ideas and I don't think it's been mentioned yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kelly's Kitchen Sink / A good link for some kitchen-related ideas


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Old Steampunk thread

Here's a discussion that's already older than I thought it was. When I first read it, it was my first encounter with the term "steampunk."

Here is a link that might be useful: old steampunk thread


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I think there are several big things that set steampunk design apart from the RH vintage industrial chic.

First, steampunk mechanics may not function, but they are not obviously functionless. RH puts a rusty old gear on a clock and calls it steampunk. The gear doesn't even look like part of the clock; it's just a gewgaw. I've been to a few steampunk art exhibits (Boston is now, oddly, a hotbed of steampunkery) and I'd have to say most of the pieces are fictive machines. They either purport to do something normal in a completely overwrought, almost Rube-Goldbergesque way, or they purport to do something completely fantastical, like retint your aura or teleport you. Either way, you can almost believe that all the parts are actually necessary, according to some imaginary law of physics or technological limitation. As an example, look at that lamp I posted. It is either pretending to be a different device entirely, such as a plasma generator, which we use as a lamp; or it is saying that a lamp is actually an incredibly elaborate piece of technology. It is not saying, I put some stuff on a lamp.

Second thing is, steampunk really isn't that into the whole rust thing. In fact, it comes from almost the opposite perspective. Steampunk artists and craftspeople are fascinated by the way that Victorians carefully ornamented even the most mundane objects, such as boiler doors or train parts, and they bring that kind of pretty detail to their own creations. The RH rust thing takes things that were completely utilitarian and utterly without ornament, and then presents them to us as cool or hip or pretty or whatever. Totally different, even though, as I said, some of the vintage industrial stuff can find its way into steampunk design.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

While clicking about, I came across these modified modern appliances--camouflaged to give an old-fashionedness of some sort. Get out your checkbook...Elmira Stoveworks. It takes a while to realize that there are hot spots on the kitchen photo--or use the links just above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elmira StoveWorks


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B&W photos of turn of century kitchens

Here's a website with old-style plumbing items for sale. Go to the bottom of this page for some photos of circa 1900 actual kitchens. Very informative!

Most interesting to me is the woodstove hood. Do you think there was electricity in this or was it merely a capturing device with an outside vent hole?

Here is a link that might be useful: Old kitchens at bottom of page--keep scrolling!


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Movie of Pre-Earthquake San Francisco Powered by Electricity, Gas

I adore this 1905 video, which was made by mounting a movie camera on the front of a trolley car. Most fasciating thing is the incredible lack of regulation of people in space--note the prankster kids, newsboys, shopping ladies, men in bowlers, and drays that venture next to the trolleys.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pre-Earthquake San Francisco Powered by Electricity, Gasolene, and Horses


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Florantha asked:

are stained glass pieces good or bad?

Neutral. No reason not to use them if they'll look good in the design. No reason to add them just to do so. Leaded windows are pre-Victorian, Tiffany style are post. Color is good. As in any design, they should be motivated by the overall scheme.

if something produces steam, such as a coffee machine or a teapot, is it especially desirable?

Only if the steam is being used as an alternative to electricity for driving a motor. That's the point of steam in Steampunk. However, coffeemakers and teapots are especially desirable in kitchens. I have two coffeemakers, three kettles, and half a dozen teapots in my kitchen, and they're pretty much for company. I do use one kettle. :) OTOH, you might choose one of those big brass or copper or both steam driven Italian pressure coffee machines, which, like Palimpsest's car, aren't Steampunk in themselves, but would look great in a Steampunky room.

are clocks an iconic thing in this aesthetic?

Dials are. Not clocks, per se, but if there is a clock for telling time it should have a face. It should also be ornate.

can things be sprayed to look like "metal" in order to qualify for this exercise?

Hm...depends. Faux isn't really the point, but if you wanted to put a brass finish on your microwave, for instance, to make it match, why not? Metal in itself isn't what it's all about. It doesn't make something Steampunk. Still, you have to make things coordinate, so it's not out of the question. Spraying a wooden pear metallic just makes it an ugly wooden pear.

Marcolo,

The kind of exhibit you're talking about is to show Steampunk Art, not authentic Steampunk objects. That is, perhaps the kind of art a Steampunk would decorate with.

I kind of disagree with you on the lamp: I think it says, "This is a beautiful lamp." A Chinese vase lamp isn't pretending to be a flower holder. I suppose, actually, it could be construed as saying a lamp is an intricate piece of ceramic work, but then a turned wood lamp is saying it's a piece of woodwork, etc. I really think that lamp bases are just lamp bases, whether they're kitschy wooden fish, or exquisite cast iron. They serve to raise the bulb off of the table or floor in a decorative manner. In my opinion, a lamp is just a lamp, and purely decorative. :) So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think the lamp is saying fanciful plasma generators are interesting and nice looking so we're going to have something that looks like one to hold the light bulb.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Just thinking about how Palimpsest was talking about current tech, and Florantha was talking about sinks...

The look of it isn't Steampunk, but the way The Galley sink works totally fits with the way Steampunks think. :)


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I think requiring that your alternate technology actually work is too high a standard. This is science fiction after all. If it looks like it works by alternative technology, but really works by normal modern means, that's great. If it looks like it could work but is unfortunately broken right now, I think that's ok too. If the doodads have no indentifiable purpose, that's where you run into trouble.

The big problem in a kitchen is that beyond the Victorian aesthetic, once you start talking about kitchen technology we're really limited by what exists. Nobody is going to build a dishwasher with an external copper boiler, and even to make a non functioning copper boiler look like it's part of dishwasher is really difficult.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I think there are several big things that set steampunk design apart from the RH vintage industrial chic.

First, steampunk mechanics may not function, but they are not obviously functionless. RH puts a rusty old gear on a clock and calls it steampunk. The gear doesn't even look like part of the clock; it's just a gewgaw. I've been to a few steampunk art exhibits (Boston is now, oddly, a hotbed of steampunkery) and I'd have to say most of the pieces are fictive machines. They either purport to do something normal in a completely overwrought, almost Rube-Goldbergesque way, or they purport to do something completely fantastical, like retint your aura or teleport you. Either way, you can almost believe that all the parts are actually necessary, according to some imaginary law of physics or technological limitation. As an example, look at that lamp I posted. It is either pretending to be a different device entirely, such as a plasma generator, which we use as a lamp; or it is saying that a lamp is actually an incredibly elaborate piece of technology. It is not saying, I put some stuff on a lamp.

Second thing is, steampunk really isn't that into the whole rust thing. In fact, it comes from almost the opposite perspective. Steampunk artists and craftspeople are fascinated by the way that Victorians carefully ornamented even the most mundane objects, such as boiler doors or train parts, and they bring that kind of pretty detail to their own creations. The RH rust thing takes things that were completely utilitarian and utterly without ornament, and then presents them to us as cool or hip or pretty or whatever. Totally different, even though, as I said, some of the vintage industrial stuff can find its way into steampunk design.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

May not be steampunk exactly, but I wish I had the space where this table/rack would make sense. Too small for a dining table for crowds (although a dining table that could be folded away would be great) and too big for my kitchen space.

Here is a link that might be useful: table/rack


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Gregincal, you have a point, but a real Steampunk would make a copper boiler system--if not as part of a newly invented dishwasher system (which, unlike a microwave, is within the technical abilities of a tinkerer), then as the source of hot water for the whole kitchen or house.

The question, as I see it, though this is Marcolo's assignment, isn't so much what would a Steampunk do, but how a Steampunk chic kitchen would look, sticking to the Steampunk aesthetic, rather than the RH/PB faux to false versions upon which the name gets slapped.

If you look at the example Marcolo posted in the first message, the appliances are just appliances that work like appliances. The colors and trim have been chosen to fit in with the overall Steampunk design, but they have not been adorned with false gears and dials. I don't know if the copper boiler in that one is functional (I hope so), and I don't know whether the ovens work or are just a decorative platform for the Miele cooktop, but the dials are part of the old piece, and if they no longer work that wouldn't detract from its beauty as a bureau. Adding dials to an AGA, OTOH, would be superfluous.

What carries the Steampunk chic aesthetic in that kitchen, beyond the actual boiler, and the repurposed antiques are the finishes. The whorls and flutes of the stools and the filigree of the brackets, the richness of the wood island, the texture and color of the cabinets that have a kind of raw steel vibe while being perfectly normal cabinets. Note the giallo granite island top. In this context, it carries the aesthetic along, even though it is one of the most common looks of current kitchens.

This is where design comes in to support a feeling which is really created by a couple of standout pieces. And there are no pasted on gears. :) It doesn't have to be full on Steampunk, or totally fake, to be Steampunk chic.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Chesters house, I admire that piece a great deal. Have never seen anything like it. It's a work table at 4 a.m. when the baker goes to work and a display rack at 8 when the shop opens. It folds to the side of the room when the apprentice mops up before the place closes for the night. Looking at the legs and mechanical works is very instructive. The table is as lightweight and as sturdy as possible at the same time.
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I've been thinking a lot about these steampunk leads and the idea of using them somehow in a kitchen. For a while I get really excited--I've been thinking about it since the DAT was announced. But the closer I get to actually working out designs, the more alienated I become from the general premise. These kitchens are to have the steampunk aura yet need to be a functional modern kitchen, yes? So are we pretending that the house is coal and/or steam-heated and that the electricity is not installed and that Victoria is on the throne? Or are we nibbling at 3rd and 4th quarter 19th century concepts as quirky items to include in a kitchen peopled by cooks wearing t-shirts and flip flops? Is the idea of camouflaging modern technology a virtue or a joke in this aesthetic mode? (see the Elmira Stove Works link above for a camouflaged microwave, for instance).

I started an Olioboard for the steampunk challenge. One day I put in a nicely restored nickle-trim-encrusted woodstove. The next day I deleted it and put in this, which is a real-life Amish-made U.L. listed woodstove with modern sensibilities and a massive page of online documentation of its virtues.

So which is the better choice for the Steampunk DAT? I gravitated toward the latter, although not as cute as the nickle-decorated ones but it represents a theme that seems to be aspect of Steampunk...the "if they'd-a had it, they woulda used it" if I understand Steampunk correctly. And it definitely represents the theme of taking the existing Victorian technology and pushing its boundaries.

I've been to many historic recreations and historic sites. One of the most awesome was a real-life operating water-powered saw, I think at the Genessee Village in upstate New York. Seeing how the sawblade worked up and down and how the ratchet gear hunched the board forward was an eyeopener. [Or was it at King's Landing in New Brunswick or at Old Sturbridge Village in Mass. or the Henry Ford museum at Dearborn? Doesn't matter.] I've also marveled at amazing water-turned turbines that ran cabinet shops, milling equipment, and much more. Leather belts looped from the turbine rod at ceiling to the equipment on the floor. (Probably buffalo leather.) Have also looked at the Lowell Mill site in Mass. and wondered at the incredible cotton cloth factory, also run by water and I assume later by steam. These 19th century technologies were all used successfully, given sufficient human labor to keep them operating but they weren't steampunk I don't think. My point here is that we could choose any kind of power source and mockup a way to run it in a modern kitchen--a dog-trot or a turbine to run your mixer, for example, but I don't think that is what steampunk is all about. Without all that wrought iron and other metals and all those overly decorated machine parts and some blather about Jules Verne faraway places, is there any steampunk? And vice versa...is 1870s hardware and gaslight repros and a copper fire extinguisher sufficient to qualify? What about one of those carbon tetrachloride filled glass balls that people mistakenly thought could put out a woodstove fire, the ones that used to be mounted alongside woodstoves yet in my childhood and are now absolutely illegal and need a bomb squad to dispose of them--steampunk or not?

Steampunk appears to be a mindset, a mania, and a blend of historicity and exotic nostalgia--with rules that make admission to the club awfully difficult.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Queen woodburning cook stove -- modern or steampunk?


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

florantha, we're just discussing steampunk as a concept, not posting the criteria by which your submission will be graded! As plllog said, it's just about designing a steampunk chic kitchen. Do what you want, and have fun! We always discuss why people made certain choices, so that's no different from any other assignment.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Rube Goldberg-esque anti-Steampunk (?)

A couple years back, when I was getting ready to put my condo on the market, I needed a railing for the landing. There was none, and being able to fall almost ten feet does not appeal to buyers (or visitors).

My carpenter gave me the number of an artist friend who worked in metal, and subsequently I looked at his website.

His current work consisted of a couple of lamps, one of which was self-uprighting, but to turn it on, you had to tip it over...and as it continued to the full upright position, it would shut off.

The second was even more conceptual, because it was really only safe seen on videotape. Lighting the bulb set off a chain of events culminating in a hammer that would swing and break the bulb.

I ended up going with a boring company that made porch railings (and was probably more $)

Probably because I didn't want a railing that gave way for a second but kept you from falling at the end, he accepted the project but then actually wasn't too interested in doing it in a particular timeframe.

I will try to get the website.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

I think the first steam punker was DaVinci. Have his books of illustrations and the man created everything and anything which moved, worked for use, etc.

Chester...love that table. I would think it does say steam punk. Would love to be able to afford it.

Years ago when I worked in NASA during the first space event, they had huge areas with items taken from the original warehouses. Sure missed some great deals on that one.

There is a TV show called Warehouse 13 with many designed working items we are sharing. My favorite is the computer keyboard which is designed like an old typewriter keyboard. You can buy one, someone must have come across it while working on their set. http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/06/first-look-steampunk-gadgets-go-wild-in-warehouse-13/

Here is a link to Steampunk 101, a description of what was and is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Steampunk?


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Yes, we should've made reruns of Warehouse 13 part of the assignment.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

LOL! Yes, all the gizmos on Warehouse 13 are functional within the constraints of their bizarre world. They're a little more junky/rusty than iconic Steampunk, but the pieces are supposed to be old, so battered and rusty fits the story. Generally, there is no distressing in authentic Steampunk. Notice how the copper and brass old items work in a world with normal, current computers, TVs, etc. They have a video communicator, but I think that's for facetime conversation filmshots, rather than the ubiquitous phone to ear/talking to nobody with bluetooth thing. Plus, the devices look cool and remind the viewers that this is an alternate reality.

When you're looking at movies and TV, just like when we pick apart the non-functional designs of the MW too high to reach, or the island too small for the number of stools, it's important to take into consideration which design cues were taken for the design's sake, and which have a story or filming function that make them different than they'd be in the real world.

OT: Since we're talking about SyFy channel, did any of you see Being Human last night? The house in Sally's dream? It was decorated in grays that gave it a black and white film look, but I think they were (and, if not, could easily have been) real finishes rather than shot in/edited to be black and white. It would make sense to do it for real because there were a lot of color people in the environment for part of it. It was kind of gorgeous. Kind of freaky too, but really interesting. Excellent design.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Yes, I noticed. I could fill an entirely 150 post thread in Conversations about last night's Being Human, but I won't.

I will say the use of purple, and what purple means, is now a hot topic of major blogosphere debate. I think people are missing that the all B&W with color mimicked dream attention, where things really only have clarity and detail if you are looking at them.

I'd like to see some kitchens or other rooms done like that but they're rare IRL.


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Um....what purple means is that it has been really in for the last couple of years and there's a lot of off the rack clothing in purple? And it's not blood color, which is used for actual blood so much on the show, but it still implies the color of the living? Or did you just mean that they didn't get the B&W dream (also ghostly plane, and the color of Sally's usual attire) vs. purple clothed flesh toned "live" people that they're supposed to be (along with their live--but dead, since they've been cut--flowers)? (DUH!) The only part I didn't get, about the purple, was the fascia, and I just assumed that that was just to reflect that the "living" purple clad people lived there. That there was "life" in the house.

Notice, I'm carefully not commenting on the actual gray design since you're disinclined to run it to a whole thread, and I had no intention of taking your DAT thread permanently off topic. Okay, one comment which might be applicable to exercises. I loved the white faucet that blended into the white counter. Stainless would have been too obtrusive for that flattened, BW look, even though it is gray by nature.


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There was an episode on HGTV (don't remember the show) where the entire house was black white and gray, and the daughter wanted a pink room. But when there were no people in the shot, it literally looked like black and white photography(and 1988). The mom even wore black white and gray preferentially and had black hair.


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Maybe the next DAT can be design for Gorey?


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Dunno. This one sounds like it could get pretty gory.


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I've been looking around the net at Steampunk definitions/visuals/fashion and have come to the conclusion that many resemble sexual fetishes using invented Victorianisms.


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jterrilynn, I noticed that some of the clothing resembled BDSM/fetish-gear, to me...

But I think the Victorian era had a certain amount of this on it's own. Look up the Victorian treatment for female "hysteria"-the word comes from the same root as hysterectomy.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Authentic Steampunk wear ranges from many caped, tweed driving coats and colorful waistcoats for the men and mobcaps and pinneys for the women, to leather overalls a la the boilermaker.

What is shown as "Steampunk" clothes commercially now, are not so much clothes that fit into the Steampunk imagination of what the world looks like (think Sherlock Holmes flick from any era), as clothes that are designed to look like Steampunkanalia. So, leather straps, rivets, etc. The same stuff you'll be putting into your kitchens. :) That is, how to dress like a Steampunk lamp, rather than how to dress like a Steampunk. And considering the confluence of Goth and Fetish wear, it's no wonder this stuff is popular. I've even seen (women's) garments that were sort of dominatrix-pirate that were called Steampunk.

Palimpsest, which treatment are you talking about? The one where doctors provided manual relief?


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Oh pal yes, I have seen vid's on the physicians tools to treat female hysteria of that time (scary).
Is it me or does there seem to be two camps on steampunk visuals? One camp seems to have sexual undertones and the other is mostly described above.


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me again

Sorry Plllog, I guess I was writing as you were posting. Yes I think pal is talking about the manual zaping?


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Love this thread! There's an Italian designer of unfitted kitchens, Maggi Massimo, that makes pieces (including stoves) that would be perfect for this. It's not the most user-friendly site, so be sure to click through to see several of the setups.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maggi Massimo kitchens


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The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction by Rachel Maines is an interesting read. (Really. Who knew that the vibrator was the 5th appliance to be electrified? The whole historical misunderstanding and marginalization of women's sexuality is really interesting.) And the illustrations of vintage devices make it not entirely off topic vis-a-vis Steampunk (although totally off topic for kitchens).


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cawaps, totally off topic on kitchens... unless...we used vibrating counter chairs lol.


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Oh my. Like a palimpsest itself, you just never know what you're going to learn too much about when you dip back into GW.

All I know is -- I had never heard of this term before spending a day on an old, parked ocean liner in Long Beach, CA, infested with the most utterly bizarre folks wandering about clad in ludicrous, disingenuously anachronistic gear.

Mostly what it seemed to me, in keeping with cawaps' observation, was an excuse for marrying sex and self-aggrandisement. That said, I'm perfectly willing to believe these were not the most stellar exemplars of the movement, or further that there might have been more to it all than met the eye. But what did meet my eye was just commercial silliness. Akin to this, which is just to my mind retrograde Victoria's secret sexuality as an excuse to reach their hand toward that bulge in your pocket representing ... your wallet. (With a patina of violence for good measure, of course).


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Exactly...an outward suppression but inner??? However, from what I have seen as Steampunk kitchen examples a lot more could be said by using fashion as inspiration. I think these kitchens desire to me more. I just haven't a clue yet how to go about it yet.


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Mizin...was completely intrigued with the link you posted. "Hard Country" threw me off though. Yes, the site is a tough one to navigate. But I am really interested in this artist and who she is working with to create her designs. Apparently she has been doing this for around 4 years.

Her kitchen layouts are so off for being functional. Wonder if this is Denmark in itself, rather than her layouts. I don't even want to know what the prices are. She is considered an artist and appears at a lot of showings.


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jterriynn, the steampunk fashion stuff definitely has a sexual edginess. As for the steampunk decorating stuff, I've decided that it's not for me.
____
I really did try to take up this challenge but I've given up. Just thought I'd record a little of my journey and why I am going to quit. Surely a better thinker than I am will conjure a fabulous kitchen from the ashes of my fabulous ideas.

First, I looked hard at the Metropole subway entrance and tried to channel it into a design. Didn't get anywhere. Without a grand high ceiling and skylight, this aesthetic is tough. Sure, I could have invented a high-ceilinged room with amazing glass and spidery separations between glass, but that's an architectural feature of the house or apartment that would be the impetus, not the muse itself.

So then I got to thinking about Madame Curie and her cohort--now there were visionary scientists of the period! I asked my DH what he can recall of the huge science classroom that he worked in for roughly 30 years, in a c. 1900 building. He says "Hard maple floors. Oak cabinets--a whole wall of them. Long lab tables with a few sinks and bunsen burners. Tall curved faucets. Tall windows and window shades (the latter were removed when they got tacky looking. Not sure when this equipment was installed." I started working on a Marie Curie's lab theme for the kitchen olioboard--canisters lettered in that art nouveau Metropolitan typeface (see photo above) with "radium" and "pitchblende" stenciled on them and gaslight fixtures in ceiling and a steam radiator painted in an outlandish color but decided the whole thing was not worth my time. This was reinforced when I located a photo of Curie's lab, which made me recall that she had been allocated space in a "shed" outside of the physics dept, a silly woman working outside the mainstream. How's this for a setting for real-life science fiction?

To quote her: "Its glass roof did not afford complete shelter against rain; the heat was suffocating in summer, and the bitter cold of winter was only a little lessened by the iron stove, except in its immediate vicinity. There was no question of obtaining the needed proper apparatus in common use by chemists. We simply had some old pine-wood tables with furnaces and gas burners. We had to use the adjoining yard for those of our chemical operations that involved producing irritating gases; even then the gas often filled our shed. With this equipment we entered on our exhausting work." All this just made me mad on behalf of Curie and did nothing for my peaceful kitchen. Besides, she was working with radium so the radioactivity might be hard on the family life and the cuisine.

Here's another Curie laboratory image, I would assume for her later work== perhaps inspiring for another GW'er?


a 40 x 30 print of this can be had for $200

Gotta admit: Science and cooking aren't in the same department. In fact, people make fun of modern "operating room" white kitchens--they are antimatter for a relaxing, gentle room.

Then I tried to work up wallpaper based on Steiglitz's photo of a train yard...plenty of steam there! But I couldn't find a source of a blown-up version of the photo and I became afraid that the photo would be taken as being about trains--not a peaceful kitchen for me either!

Then there's Joe Stella, a painter of 1920s who did numerous Brooklyn Bridge stylized paintings. I messed with his arches and colors. But this got me nowhere either.

The truth: TNT explosiveness and edgy are not me and decorating with a steampunk science muse doesn't connect me to any worthwhile kitchen design. Sorry to be cranky, but I'm done here I think. I know it's fun but not the fun I can really enjoy. I look forward to somebody else's fun stuff on the postings Steampunk thread. Have fun stormin' the castle, visionaries!

Here is a link that might be useful: Marie Curie lab poster from All Posters


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Florantha, thanks for sharing your thought process, even if it didn't go anywhere. I found it was easier to put most of my energy into designing a Victorian kichen and less worrying about the Steampunk part of it.


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This thread will help define steampunk. How cool- when people do a search, your designs and ideas will pop up.

What I love about steampunk is that the boundaries are still wide open. You don't have to 'reinterpret' it like you do with Hollywood Regency, for instance.

I also love the sense of history and play, which is lacking in some aesthetics. The barely concealed and simmering sexuality is just icing on the cake- the Victorian period, as Michel Foucault pointed out, demanded constant discussion about sexuality, despite its facade of repression.

This is an aesthetic for the non-conformist, because there is little to conform to. It requires inventiveness, Jules Verne style. It can be anachronistic, but that's the point. It also appeals to the child in us. Who doesn't want a house under the sea or on the moon or in an underground cave when they are small? What happens to us when we get old and safe? White cabinets and subway tile. The ability to use five different ornate designs in one room is also somewhat childlike in my view: the Victorians were so unabashedly romantic about Beauty.

My background is in aesthetic theory, not design, which I have zero training in, but I am so tempted to try to put something together for this. Kris Kuksi is steampunk in my book- he creates highly ornate sculptures that are stunningly beautiful, full of playfulness and a sense of uneasiness.

Renee

Here is a link that might be useful: Kris Kuksi sculptures


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Similar to Florantha's process, this is why I couldn't really do a Victorian kitchen--we've done Victorian, and either one or the other parts of steampunk contributes to the fiction: either that it is Victorian, or that it is modern technology--so I ended up with something that was not very Victorian at all.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Whew! I appreciate the frankness of others who are disquieted and/or thwarted by this challenge. Thanks Palimpsest, Boxer (on the other thread), and Cawaps.


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For convenience's sake, I'm linking to the thread where designs are posted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Steampunk Designs Posted Here


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I'm having a hard time because to me Steampunk is butt ugly. I think to free my mind up I'm going to pretend that I'm designing a Steampunk kitchen for a lesbian couple in a he said she said way. Not sure I can pull it off but I'll give it a shot.


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This is my first time trying this, and I want to thank all of you for introducing me to Olioboard and for entertaining me so much in the past. I love Jules Verne! so I had to try my hand at this. No design experience (obviously!) and my taste is pretty odd, so steampunk is right up my alley.

Here's the backstory:
Alethia and Todd met at at Star Trek convention and found out they were both graduate students at Cal Tech. While touring a 19th century ship on a date, they discovered a shared love of steampunk, and after a lenghty courtship involving much attendance at costume parties, Todd finally screwed up the courage take to bended knee and ask Alethia to be his wife.

Alethia dropped out of school to run her thriving Silicone Valley startup software business which produces an app that transforms the ipad into a yoodad. One touch shifts money from a person's trust fund to their charity or cause of choice and instantaneously advertises the donation to Facebook, Google+, and a new social networking site started by Todd called Trustyoo. You've read about them in the Wall Street Journal.

They have no children and this is their first home together. The sky's the limit on their kitchen/dining room remodel. Neither knows which is the business end of a frying pan, although Alethia once made cupcakes decorated to look like certain body parts.

They live in San Marino, CA, and asked their designer to give them a kitchen/dining area using Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea as inspiration. The rest of the house is eclectic, including a secret room behind a bookcase in the library and a room full of vintage NASA paraphernalia. When a wall-sized aquarium was nixed by local building codes, they settled for a smaller version framed by a porthole in the dining room.


Photobucket

The kitchen has shaker style cabinets with leaded glass uppers painted in Benjamin Moore Deep Green Sea. The ceiling is Hathaway Gold. They used Carlisle Antique Wide Plank Flooring in honey oak throughout.

The stove is a woodburning range cooker which also heats water, but the pizza delivery number is right by the phone and there's a microwave in the butler's pantry.

They chose the plain black Whirlpool Gold Star dishwasher and bottom freezer refrigerator. The sink and counters are soapstone and the faucet is brass "Metropolitan" from Elements of Design. The backsplash is Castlemetal's aged copper clover insert.

In the dining room, they have Graham and Brown "Desire" teal wallpaper and several ornately framed original marine life prints. A "Peking Emerald" Aubusson rug in teal and Victorian oak table and chairs from Christie's along with a curiosity cabinet stocked with sea oddities.

The lighting includes two ship's lamps in copper and brass over the kitchen peninsula and a large pulley lamp over the dining room table. Green glass wire insulators and copper tubing make up the chandelier in the kitchen.

It's not the Nautilus, but it's home.


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RE: Design Around This #17: Steampunk

Ooops. Wrong thread. I'll link to it.
Renee


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