Friday, August 3, 2007

accanto/next to

A few days before the beginning of August, the cicadas pick up their song. The sound hails the true essence of summer for us: heat, haze, ripe berry fruit, the Herculean effort to keep up with what grows in the garden, the lazy urge to take a nap in the afternoon in the shade. Our lazy urge is tempered by Caleb's arrival home with the fruits of our latest endeavor.

Caleb had gone to a metal fabricator with whom we have long worked. Melanson's is on the edge of the industrial section of Rutland and we have had a variety of pieces made there, all of our own design: the bar top for the restaurant, kitchen counter tops, a dish draining system for the kitchen at work. This new project was a new kind of piece for us: two bedside tables. We've been re-designing our bedroom and after we found the bed in Montreal, the lamps at Crate and Barrel, the mirror from a designer in San Francisco, Kenneth Wingard, we went on the hunt for the bedside tables. After looking at several catalogs and in several shops and on-line, we opted to design our own. The inspiration is versatility, and in the end we want the table to be able to work a variety of ways. With this design a desire that had been brewing for some time comes more fully into focus: our hope to take a stab at launching a furniture line and design studio--an effort that we see dovetailing organically with our work at the restaurant.

Only the frames for the tables were made in Rutland. We opted not to have the chrome finish for the prototype. We pull them out of Caleb's car in all their metallic glory and immediately get to work on the table tops. With straight edges, and speed square, and table saw, the plywood core is cut to size, then we set to covering them with a faux ostrich skin that we found in Montreal and with which we upholstered the banquette at the restaurant. We discuss, and perhaps argue, about the best way to adhere the the tops to the frames: pins, no-slip pads, nothing at all. Collaboration is not always a snap.

But we've been collaborating a long time. The way forward is to experiment. We think of different materials for tabletops like wood, glass, opaque plexi. Then of course, there is the name. Caleb seizes on accanto uno, or "next to, one" in Italian. I add "no.1" so it becomes accanto no. 1. The name may change, the table may change, but for now, on a hot summer night with windows thrown open wide, we are just pleased to see them in their steel frames and upholstered tops nestled next to our bed.

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