Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good Shape

This is a desk I made for Odile, my neighbor in Paris. She wanted something "efficace, fonctionnel, et jolie": efficient, functional, and pretty. It also had to accommodate the fact that she is left handed. Because she is the director of restoration at the Louvre, I put a lot of time and attention into sanding and varnishing the single piece of wood. It is 44mm plywood with Okoumé veneer on top, just one big shape to fit in the alcove between an old marble fireplace and the slanted wall of a top-floor apartment.

Our apartment building is a classic Haussmann from 1907 (the architect's name and the date of construction are engraved on the outside): not very old at all by European standards, but from a very crazy time in the city's history. Napolean III had the whole city of Paris renovated between 1852 and 1870, with construction continuing into the early 20th century. The Seine prefect, Georges-Eugene Haussmann presided over everything from architectural style, to urban planning, to shuffling the city's map to create large, efficient (then) boulevards. The palacial air of the city, the cafe culture at big intersections, and neighborhood feeling in each of the city's 20 arrondissments are largely due to the Haussmann renovations. It was fun to anchor one of my own pieces in a building with that kind of history.

7 coats of water-based polyurethane varnish, with much sanding in between coats. It's not my ideal finish, for eco minded reasons. Aside from that, it is resilient, pretty, and workable.

Odile is happy with her desk from all I can tell. In related news, she is Jacques Dutronc's cousin and visits him and Francoise often.

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