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TO PINE FOR PINE
a.k.a. For pine nuts who love it knotty
IN THIS ISSUE:
Pine to pine for; including an unusual amount of NEW stuff (maintaining a majority of OLD)
A theory on GOOD TASTE vs BAD TASTE, including Design’s leading communist
1 x pine-paneled home; 1 x pine DIY chair that sells for thousands
This week’s issue is the “UNHINGED VERSION” of an opinion piece that we had the privilege to write for FOR SCALE pals SIGHT UNSEEN. Feel free to compare and contrast by reading the S/U version HERE. (A.K.A. Unhinged = More swearing, more tangents, and more of a focus on the UNNEW)
We are strong advocates of the the UNNEW, a.k.a. “secondhand”, “vintage”, possibly even “antique” – and yet, we must, must begin this ODE TO PINE with a very new, very historic PINE MOMENT. A mirror with a secret.
We are by no means design historians, and yet we feel absolutely certain the story of pine begins in FEBRUARY 2023, at a tiny but mighty design gallery on Sunset Boulevard, in the display of a simple Ikea’s-greatest-hits vibe mirror by the outstanding and radical designers behind L.A. Door.
Everything pine before this was simply Preamble – and, what a fucking glorious preamble. So glorious, we will indulge the preamble for an entire newsletter – especially because this preamble is of (mainly) not new stuff (a.k.a. Where we thrive).
HOW DID WE GET HERE? A top-of-mind history of pine
Pine is, without a doubt, life. As we might understand from its role in individual and industrial history:
Pine is the childhood bedroom set
Pine is the facilitator of IKEA’s Design-Industrial Complex, its effort at a great democratic project, and its current ‘sustainability’ persona
Pine is Enzo Mari’s beautiful if totally failed attempted at DIY Revolution furniture (images to follow)
Pine is the Best of Scandinavia (and probably Europe), despite all of the many blonde, knotless woods that suffocate Design Within Reach
And, what exactly makes pine so ubiquitous, so wonderful, so sexy?:
“GOOD” TASTE vs. “BAD” TASTE, and PINE’S REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL
Pine has enjoyed a kind of ever-presence (in the Western world, at least) – with us through many moments, at many stages of life, and thus to it we owe a debt of gratitude.
It’s current resurgence is wildly misjudged as a “nineties revival” – absurd! As if pine had gone anywhere? (Or like, why isn’t this a “1970’s” revival? Or an “1870s” revival?)
We suggest, pine is actually a lens through which we can view social stratification and the foolish notion of “good taste”. And, there are some interesting/sexy revolutionaries in this story.
CULTURAL THEORY MOMENT
We at FOR SCALE are strict Bourdieu-ians. As in PIERRE BOURDIEU, “Taste” Daddy, who wrote about taste as a “social weapon” that is used to demarcate high and low, etc. He, as we, think that to accept the idea of “good taste” and “bad taste” is, like, symbolic violence or whatever.
Please stick with us – we promise this gets inspiring and cute.
PINE of course, like any wood, has varying qualities (the knottier it is the lower the quality, basically). And yet, pine is ultimately pine, and some people who make Rich Pine also love its knots - so, truly an aesthetic thing. Like, we’re not talking Carrera marble here.
PINE: RICH AND CHEAP
Pine exists as cheap and f*ck-up-able, in the case of IKEA (stain it, paint it, let it be raw!), and it exists as a successful material for some of the brainiest and near-perfect High Brow designers in human history: i.e. Charlotte Perriand.
Let’s take a look:
1. RICH PINE
Auction-fodder pine that was designed for some very “Postcard” hotels of the 1950s, 60s and ‘70s, e.g the deliciously chunky Vallarta collection for the Camino Real, by Luis Barragán disciple Ricardo Legorreta; or the stuff Charlotte Perriand did for Les Arcs hotel in France (a notoriously “high-brow” country). In other words: Legacy Pine
We can also see pine its plywood form looking sexy, which is wholly NOT upscale as a material.
Here is the home of Diantha Lebenzon (honestly, not totally sure what her deal is), which was redesigned by the architects "Famously-Canadian Frank Gehry” and later by someone else.
2. SHOULD-BE CHEAP PINE
We honestly talk so much of IKEA (and already have), and so we’ll give that a rest here. But of course that IKEA is Cheap “starter pine” goes without saying. (ASIDE: IKEA’s forestry manager’s favorite current item is this.)
But here we want to speak on Legendary Communist ENZO MARI. (We’re going to deep dive on him someday soon.)
Essentially, Enzo was into having people make furniture themselves (in a very proto-IKEA fashion), and created a ton of super designs based on easily available, ergo CHEAP AS FUCK, cuts of
In the 1970s he did this “Autoprogettazione” stuff (a.k.a. “self-made”), below, which was truly and honestly meant to subvert capitalism:
The irony is – and this is the ‘taste’/class weaponization of it all – the standout chair from this (attempted) movement, the Sedia 1 (a.k.a Chair 1), is a mega favorite of the Design Class…
… And so old Sedia 1s (and other Autop. stuff) sell for THOUSANDS Which is ridiculous. You’re meant to make it. And in 2010, Finnish brand Artek (fancy) put the Sedia 1 “into production” (again, you’re meant to just pop by the local whatever-a-wood-depot-is-called) and sold it for lots. (And ENZO WAS IN ON IT! Sad!)
THE THEORY: THE TASTE MATRIX
To wrap on this thought:
Pine is a weapon of the Design Class, because something can even be designed / intended to be cheap and mass (i.e. Mari’s communist project) and yet the Design Class / we totally gaslight broader society into considering it Expensive and Limited.
CONCLUSION: In any case, we praise pine. We still believe it has revolutionary potential. A Sedia 1 in every home!
OKAY BUT FINE, here’s some good top-tier Old IKEA in the Pinesphere:
You probably know this one.
EXCELLENT PINE CURRENTLY ON SALE:
And, though new, we honestly couldn’t let you go without being sure that you knew of VAARNII. The number of vowels in their name let you know that they are – surprise, surprise (given it is pine) – from FINLAND. (Or, in their words, “BRUTALLY FINNISH.”)
They are a new, strictly PINE-ONLY BRAND that we totally admire. SOME EXAMPLES:
BRINGING US BACK TO L.A. DOOR:
Now we must return to L.A. Door and their pine mirror, which was -as a reminder – on show at Marta (the gallery) in February.
Because all of this Preamble Pine that we’ve been talking about here is straight-up, head-on, regular-ass pine. Even the fancy stuff. But L.A. Door gives all of that both a deep curtsy and a middle finger. Their simple mirror frame is made from pine, and yet they commissioned artist Daniel Payavis to hand-paint additional knots – so-called “faux-bois knots” – where there couldn’t logically be, i.e. over seams, etc. To make pine an even pinier representation of itself, as it were.
A VERY GOOD CONVERSATION STARTER: ask your dinner party guests to figure out what’s fucked up about the mirror.
L.A. Door reminds us that pine is not just a tree, not just a “material,” but, dear readers, it’s a fucking verb, too. “To pine for” is excruciating desire. But, here is a verb insofar as poor Daniel was made to literally pine for them.
The result is so much pining, including our pining for this mirror, figuratively.
And, before we go, just for fun, some of L.A. Door stress testing some furniture, which we call “ACROBATIC CRAFTSMANSHIP”.
Until next week,
LOVE AND GOOD LUCK
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