The ancient tradition of the wood carving of Chinese screens is a lost art. For thousands of years, incredible artists would carve gorgeous screens that became an integral part of a typical Chinese home’s architecture. The fascination of this beautiful element of Chinese culture, coupled with the clean and modern design sensibility of Europe presented the immediate design challenge. In addi- tion to these two very prominent design perspectives, was the added challenge of incorporating the casual and practical nature of California living, all of which came from the owner’s eclectic roots, which was the foundation of the design criteria of this master bed frame.
Because of the three distinct design roots presented in the challenge for the bed design, it was determined that the bed must make a statement and carry the presence of a sculptural object that still carried necessary functionality. There are a variety of activities that people do in a bed; sleep, read books, take care of their children, enjoy their morning coffee, make love, relax and unwind from the day. I approached the design structure for the bed as if it was almost a living space on its own, a place to hang out and enjoy life.
Starting from the perspective of functionality, we chose to create the structure of the bed frame that would exist as a stand-alone piece in the room, with no need for flanking nightstands. Creating a large border around the perimeter, as well as ensuring the depth on the top of the headboard, gave the bed a practical feel by having a place by which the users could set a book, lamp or morning coffee. The lower flanking panels of the bed frame’s design had many openings in the wood, giving good air circulation.
With such an impressive structure, it was necessary to equalize it by developing a pattern that gave tribute to the ancient Chinese world, while balancing a pattern of very distinct geometric shapes that hailed to the European minimalism. The pattern reflected in the panels of the bed, achieved this balance with exactly 3,000 holes drilled from both sides of the wood, creating the modern rep- resentation of a Chinese floor screen pattern. The precision in which these holes were carved, spoke directly to the pain-staking process of old world artists. In order to capture the pattern per- fectly, the wood-carving of the holes had to line up exactly and be drilled so precisely in position and depth to achieve such an elaborately simple look.
Walnut was selected as it hails from the mid-century modern era, so popular in California’s birth of cool movement, yet very prevalent in Danish furniture. This type of wood yields warm, expressive grain patterns that give the bed a personable feel. Each piece of wood was hand selected and chosen for the type of personality found in the grain. The headboard, the most dramatic piece of the bed, is one piece of solid walnut that reflects large sweeping grains of striking character.