Category: Products - AM Musings
 
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Two Versions of the Oxo Dustpan and Brush
I went to buy another Oxo dustpan and brush like the one at the left that I admire.  At the store, I found they didn't have the same model, but offered another larger version by the same manufacturer.  Compare the two.

The design of the left one is complete and integrated in every sense.  Ostensibly the right one should be equally good as they are very similar -- but they are not. The right one seems to have suffered  from middle age spread, the bloated dustpan shares little relationship with its brush.  The handle seems disjointed.  Gone is the matching hole in the handle of the dustpan and the brush that clearly announces the joining of the two.  The white extension of the brush handle on the right is visually isolated from the black handle and raises the question of where the handle ends.  This design asks questions rather than answers them.

Interesting how two ostensibly similar objects can be so different.  
 
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The selected Pine Street Handrail Bracket
Halliday & Baillie has solved my problem. I've been looking for a simple elegant handrail that attached seamlessly (at least visually) into the wall.  It also needed to attach to the handrail without obstructing the flow of the hand as it glides along the top and inside surface of the handrail.  So I've found the solution for the Pine Street handrail.   I should get them in about a week.
 
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San Francisco Main Library Handrail and Brackets
I'm continuing my examination of handrails and brackets. 

I wrote about missed opportunities of the San Francisco Main Library and the architect I. M. Pei in May 2011.  Since I'm always passing by the Main Library, I was there to pick up a couple of books on the 4th floor and went up the stairs.  I hadn't noticed these handrail brackets with the little rectangular box attachment to the wall before. 

This was an interesting detail as it looks to be specifically designed for this building with its high round atrium "lobby".  Beyond its simple geometric shape, I'm trying to discern how it fits into the overall design concept of the library.  Not everything needs to have "meaning" but I was just wondering . . .  

 
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Department of Public Health Entry Handrail
The Department of Public Health at 101 Grove Street is across the street from City Hall at the Civic Center.  A sturdy bronze handrail with a curved support bracket is attached to the granite exterior at the entry steps.
 
 
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Handrail at the Slow Club - San Francisco
Could it be that the Slow Club has been around for 20 years?  The industrial chic look that exploded on the scene during first dot-com bonanza was spear-headed by restaurants such as the Slow Club at 2501 Mariposa.  Bare concrete, steel, and wood, seasoned the space with a studied tough no fuss attitude.

It was noisy, crowded  and the food prepared in the exposed kitchen was good.  The bar at the back of the restaurant is connected to the main dining room by a ramp with these hand rails.  Handcrafted angular steel brackets hold up the wood handrail.  Notice where the bracket attaches to the wood handrail.  If you are truly gripping the handrail, your hand will hit the handrail.  This is the same problem with the handrail at the Bakar Fitness Center in San Francisco.  Contrast this with the curved handrail brackets at the  Brera Museum and at the Tivoli Garden's villa d'Este shown in an earlier blog.  Those Italians designers were really thinking!

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Slow Club
Twenty years later, the Slow Club looks the same and still contemporary -- others have caught up. Now it's less crowded, but the food is still consistently good. I'm always there for lunch, never for dinner.

 
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Brera Museum Handrail - Milan, Italy
 

Continuing my exploration of handrails, here is one at the Brera Museum in Milan.  Filled with important renaissance masterpieces, it is probably the most important museum in Milan.  This handrail bracket is fanciful and ornate in a good way.  
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Lamentation Over the Dead Christ Andrea Mantegna 1480
My personal favorite painting in the Brera is the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna c. 1480.  It show a complete mastery of foreshortening, perspective, and emotion.  A great masterpiece, it is only one of many in the museum.

 
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I'm still looking for a new handrail and handrail bracket for Pine Street.  In an attempt to find a wood handrail with a metal bracket that might be available in today's market, I looked at this handrail bracket at the UCSF Bakar Fitness Center in San Francisco's Mission Bay by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.   Simple and straight forward, the bracket has no curves and is consistent with the cubist forms of the building.  The warm wood tones and brass colored metal contrasts with the intense blue wall.  Intense contrasting colors cover all the walls of the center.  It's a legacy of Legorreta's time in the office of the master architectural colorist Luis Barragan.   

I've never seen a handrail bracket like this on the market and I'm thinking this is custom made.  I'll let you know when I find something for Pine Street.
 
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Villa d'Este handrail outside of Rome
 

On May 5, 2011, I wrote about how much I wanted to change the handrail in our Pine Street house.  One example I saw last year is giving me ideas about what I want to do.  This example here is at the 17th century Villa d'Este outside of Rome at the famous Tivoli Gardens.  It looks as if the bracket and the handrail are one seamless element without any interruption of flow.  In this case the one seamless element is metal so it is still cold to the touch.    

The attachment at the wall is hidden behind the plaster - simple and elegant. As much as I like this design, I still want to avoid the cold touch of metal.  Wood seems to be the logical response to this concern, but wood brackets would lack the strength and elegance of this metal solution.   

My solution would need a hard close-grained wood that is smooth and warm to the touch.  The bracket would be metal with a shape and elegance like this one.  Stay tuned as I explore the world of handrails.
 
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As I was putting away dishes one morning, I was admiring the Heath Ceramic bowls and cups that Chris bought.  Chris once took me to the Heath Ceramic factory outlet near the picturesque houseboats in Sausalito, where they are still made today.  They reflect a very California quality about them with their earthy colors and robust forms.  Today Heath Ceramics have new owners who carry on the same tradition and now they also make ceramic tiles.


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Green Chile Kitchen - San Francisco
Green Chile Kitchen a New Mexico inspired restaurant at McAllister and Baker Streets in San Francisco gets it. They use Heath Ceramics for their food service in their restaurant. It sets off the food beautifully. Green Chile Kitchen is informal, inexpensive, loud, sometimes crowded, and -- Chris loves their posole.

 
 
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John Ruskin, the  19th century English author, wrote that architecture had three essential elements, "Firmness, Commodity, and Delight".  It means firmness in terms of structural integrity, commodity in terms of function, and delight in being pleasing to the eye.  This Italian toilet has all three.

In this country, people are hesitant to mix modern elements in the midst of a historical environment.  The safe route is to restore it to look as thought it may have always been that way.  In Europe where historical elements are everywhere, they are much more confidant contrasting modern elements against the historical elements.  This public toilet stall has a translucent glass door, standard door hardware, and a simple protective door strike at the mosaic tile wall.  It's  unusually nice for a "public" toilet, more interestingly, it's located in a 17th century mansion, villa d'este at Tivoli Gardens - a world heritage site outside of Rome.  As you exit the toilet your back in the 17th century villa sharpening the contrast and appreciation for both.  

Having made use of the commodity aspects of this stall, I snapped this picture.