Pro Tip / All About Tadelakt

Current tadelakt inspiration courtesy of the Wandsworth House, London.

Current tadelakt inspiration courtesy of the Wandsworth House, London.

Tadelakt has been steadily gaining popularity in the design world in recent years, but what exactly is this wall finish all about? While relatively unknown in the United States, tadelakt has been used in Moroccan architecture for centuries, and is perhaps most well-known for its presence in traditional hammam baths. This wall finish is favored now for its natural materials and organic look, and is most commonly used in showers or baths.

Made from limestone and olive soap, this durable material is simple to maintain and offers a luxurious, textured finish. Tadelakt is a perfect alternative to tiles in the bathroom, as it is naturally mildew and mold resistant, and its smooth application means no grout lines. We love that this material is free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and requires no special maintenance. Also, since the pH is very basic, insects are repelled by tadelakt.

Tadelakt as backsplash in kitchen designed by Leigh Herzig (  image source  )

Tadelakt as backsplash in kitchen designed by Leigh Herzig (image source)

Given its properties, tadelakt is a great choice for kitchen backsplashes as well as fireplace surrounds. For a slightly less expensive alternative, one may use lime plaster, tadelakt’s cousin, which forgoes the extra waterproofing steps.

Tadelakt fireplace surround from Elizabeth Roberts Architecture (  image source  )

Tadelakt fireplace surround from Elizabeth Roberts Architecture (image source)

We recently visited Color Atelier here in San Francisco to learn about the process of tadelakt application. Applied over plywood and waterproofing, the application process can be lengthy at 4-5 days to install a standard shower and 30 days to fully cure. A wax or sealant is applied at the end to complete the process. The final outcome is a smooth, resilient surface with a look and feel that will stand the test of time; tadelakt does not fade. Costs are comparable to mid-range tile and stone installations. While highly resistant to cracking, if tadelakt is sufficiently damaged, it cannot be spot repaired and must be replaced.

A variety of colors and finishes for tadelakt and lime plaster at Color Atelier in San Francisco

A variety of colors and finishes for tadelakt and lime plaster at Color Atelier in San Francisco

If you want to achieve a similar look in dry areas of the house without the cost, lime paint or lime plaster can create a comparable finish. These are not recommended for the bathroom as they lack the water-resistant qualities of tadelakt, however they offer a similarly rich texture to elevate your space.


Modernist Designers Series / Eva Zeisel

This month, we’re introducing a Hungarian-American designer whose incredible 105-year life took her through several countries, a World War, and into the history books of modern design.

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Eva Zeisel (1906-2011)
United States (born in Hungary)
Designer, Ceramicist

Though born to a wealthy Hungarian Jewish family, Eva Zeisel ignored the leisurely callings of her status and immersed herself in the laborious role of ceramicist’s apprentice.

After graduating as a journeyman, Zeisel spent several years in Germany, designing modern-inspired ceramic dinnerware, vases, and tea sets. In 1935, she moved to Soviet Russia to assume the role of director of the Soviet china and glass industry.

In 1937, a series of events paused her work. First, she was falsely accused of plotting to assassinate Joseph Stalin and was imprisoned for 16 months in Russia. Then, when she was finally released and deported to Vienna, the Nazis invaded; she and her husband fled to the U.S.

The couple arrived in New York, and Zeisel’s career took off over the following years. She taught at the Pratt Institute, created a ceramics line for Sears, and was commissioned to create a line of modern ceramics for the Museum of Modern Art.

Town and Country Salt and Pepper Shakers, MoMA, 1945 ( source )

Town and Country Salt and Pepper Shakers, MoMA, 1945 (source)

Hallcraft/Tomorrow’s Classic Sauce Boat with Ladle, MoMA, 1949-50 ( source )

Hallcraft/Tomorrow’s Classic Sauce Boat with Ladle, MoMA, 1949-50 (source)

In her more than 75-year career, Zeisel was famous for pushing boundaries. Although her ceramics included the clean lines and simplicity of modernism, she challenged these limitations with designs inspired by nature, the human form, relationships, and her own playful approach to life.

That Zeisel’s pieces were featured in the Museum of Modern Art and mass produced for the general public is a tribute to her skill in creating beautiful and functional designs.

More Modern Designs by Eva Zeisel

Large Biomorphic Silver Platter designed for Nambé, 1952 ( source )

Large Biomorphic Silver Platter designed for Nambé, 1952 (source)

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Tea Pot, German Modernist, 1929 ( source )

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Tea Pot, German Modernist, 1929 (source)

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Coffee Set, German Modernist, 1929 ( source )

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Coffee Set, German Modernist, 1929 (source)

Serving set designed for KleinReid, 1999 ( source )

Serving set designed for KleinReid, 1999 (source)

Pitchers, 1946-1960 ( source )

Pitchers, 1946-1960 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in June…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Poul Kjærholm

This month’s modern designer hails from Denmark, a country famous for producing many of the biggest names in the Modernist movement.

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Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980)
Denmark
Designer

Poul Kjærholm is most known for bringing the use of steel into modern design, but surprisingly, his career started as a carpenter’s apprentice. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that Kjærholm studied under renowned designer Hans Wegner and Jørn Utzon (an industrial designer) at Copenhagen’s School of Arts and Crafts.

In the years that followed, Kjærholm designed chairs and tables for E. Kold Christensen and Fritz Hansen, and he earned several design awards along the way. He once said that his design philosophy came, not from expressing his own personality, but from expressing the personality of the materials.

By combining natural materials like wood and leather with his characteristic touch of steel piping, he created some of the most innovative furniture designs of the era. The PK22 and PK24 lounge chair designs are his most famous.

PK22 lounge chair, 1960 ( source )

PK22 lounge chair, 1960 (source)

PK24 lounge chair ( source )

PK24 lounge chair (source)

In addition to furniture design, Kjærholm also spent many years teaching at his alma mater, the Royal Danish Academy of Arts, and the Design Institute. Nevertheless, he continued to design chairs until his death in 1980.

More Modern Designs from Poul Kjærholm

PK9 Chair ( source )

PK9 Chair (source)

PK61 Coffee Table in Steel and Glass E. Kold Christensen Denmark ( source )

PK61 Coffee Table in Steel and Glass E. Kold Christensen Denmark (source)

PK71 Nesting tables for E. Kold Christensen ( source )

PK71 Nesting tables for E. Kold Christensen (source)

PK11 chair design for E. Kold Christensen, 1957 ( source )

PK11 chair design for E. Kold Christensen, 1957 (source)

“Holscher” chair with welded steel tube frame ( source )

“Holscher” chair with welded steel tube frame (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in May…

In the meantime, tell us about your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Before + After / Sunnyvale Scandinavian

Transformations don’t get more dramatic than this! While our clients had owned their Sunnyvale ranch for almost a decade, very little had been updated since the house was built in the 70s. Being avid cooks, the most important updated needed for the clients was improving the kitchen layout and organization. The clients wanted a fresh Scandinavian-inspired look and feel, and we delivered a solid foundation on which to continue building their home piece by piece.

For this project, we pushed out an exterior wall to make room for a new and larger kitchen, removed a wall in the dining room to open up the layout, replaced the flooring, and refreshed the paint and lighting throughout.

BEFORE: A tiny, cramped kitchen

BEFORE: A tiny, cramped kitchen

AFTER: A spacious, well-organized kitchen designed for two cooks

AFTER: A spacious, well-organized kitchen designed for two cooks

BEFORE: Not enough storage and counter space

BEFORE: Not enough storage and counter space

AFTER: Optimized storage and spacious counters for prep work

AFTER: Optimized storage and spacious counters for prep work

BEFORE: A characterless office

BEFORE: A characterless office

AFTER: Color and a cozy reading nook added to the office

AFTER: Color and a cozy reading nook added to the office

Learn how you can create a Scandinavian-inspired kitchen through our recent feature in Rue Magazine.

What’s your favorite part of this renovation? Share with us in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Jacques Adnet

For our third modernist designer to know, we’re taking you into the heart of French art, culture, and history: Paris.

If you missed February’s featured designer, read here!

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Jacques Adnet (1900-1984)
France
Architect, Designer

Jacques Adnet and his twin brother, Jean, received their artistic education at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1916.

Following graduation, the twins founded their own design firm, Jean & Jacques Adnet, where they would work together for the next four years.

During this period, Adnet’s work was largely inspired by the popular Art Deco style of the early era. He used it to update traditional furniture in new ways and placed heavy emphasis on materials like leather, metals, mirror, and woods.

In 1928, the brothers’ paths took different directions when Jacques Adnet accepted a directorship at the design firm La Compagnie des Arts Français. It was here that his style began to shift towards the work he is most famous for…

He continued to use luxurious materials and to reinvent traditional forms, but he began to embrace the svelte lines and shapes of modernist design.

Campaign chair and ottoman, 1940s  (   source   )

Campaign chair and ottoman, 1940s (source)

Lounge chairs, 1950  (   source   )

Lounge chairs, 1950 (source)

Coffee table with mirror, 1930s  (   source   )

Coffee table with mirror, 1930s (source)

His unique modern style continued into the 1940s, when Hermès commissioned Adnet for nearly a decade’s worth of furniture designs. Adnet’s most famous pieces include the leather mirror, Circulaire, and his table lamp, Quadro VII, which was produced in Italy.

Circulaire, round leather mirrors, 1950  (   source   )

Circulaire, round leather mirrors, 1950 (source)

Quadro VII Lamp, 1929  (   source   )

Quadro VII Lamp, 1929 (source)

Adnet also renovated and designed several high-profile interiors in the 1940s and 50s, including French President Vincent Auriol’s private apartments, Paris’s UNESCO headquarters, and several luxury ocean liners.

When La Compagnie des Arts Français closed in 1959, he resumed his work as an art school director.

More Modern Designs by Jacques Adnet

Hand-stitched leather lounge chairs, 1950s-1960s  (   source   )

Hand-stitched leather lounge chairs, 1950s-1960s (source)

Leather magazine holder designed for Hermès  (   source   )

Leather magazine holder designed for Hermès (source)

Stitched leather desk, 1950s  (   source   )

Stitched leather desk, 1950s (source)

Leather table, 1950s  (   source   )

Leather table, 1950s (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in April…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!