Find of the Week: the Roku & its Little Friend
The Roku is a brilliant little device, just about the size of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that allows you to stream data directly through your TV. We just bought a Roku this week and can now watch what seems like a million shows through Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and more. Having rid ourselves of Cable long ago, the entertainment sweet spot is ours: we are no longer held hostage to the endless mind-numbing chatter of commercial television without being consigned to life in an Amish-esque household, making shadow puppets on Friday nights to amuse ourselves. But even more fascinating is what accompanies the Roku: a remote control so small and streamlined that one would be hard pressed to identify it as a remote control. First of all, it lacks the surplus of buttons that are usually associated with a remote. Secondly, to use it is an intuitive experience, which is unlike using any remote control I’ve ever encountered. Say, for instance, you want to make your way to options on the right side of the screen. Usually, you have to hit a Down button and then a Menu button (but not the Enter button, not just yet), then a Forward button — or is it a Back button? — on an on until you’re thoroughly confused, the screen is a field of fuzzy snow with something like “Channel 278” in the corner, and you’ve resorted to randomly hitting buttons until you call in the troops — usually an 11-year-old — to come rescue you and restore the screen to a recognizable image. Meanwhile you’ve missed half the show you wanted to watch and all the ice has melted in your drink. The remote control is the very thing that is supposed to make using the TV set and all the extras like DVD players easy, but somehow it just manages to make some of us angry. But not the Roku’s remote — if you want to make your way to the right of the screen you just hit the “Right” button. There is a total of 12 buttons — 12! As opposed to an average of 105 on a typical remote. The only problem with the Roku is that it will make watching stuff way too easy, and the last thing we need to be doing this summer is sitting on the couch appreciating the beauty of our remote control.
One of these things is not like the other: the Roku remote control
More information: The Roku website.
Projects: New Chinoiserie For A New Era
Sick of Chinoiserie yet? It may be everywhere these days, but if you are sick of it, brace yoursef, as it has been around for a long time and looks like it will be here longer still. When I read about interiors, I see the term chinoiserie applied to everything from lamps to wallpapers to decorative boxes. What gives? I ask myself, in the manner of someone who speaks in 1950s slang. Well, unlike someone from the 1950s, I have the great gift of looking for answers using Wikipedia. And here, my equally lazy and uneducated friends, is the answer to your chinoiserie puzzlement:
Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying “Chinese-esque”, refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences.It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquerlike materials and decoration. Chinoiserie is a mixture of Eastern and Western stylistic elements for both the decoration and shape.
I love certain aspects of east-west hybrid design. And chinoiserie panels and wallpapers are one of them. The ubiquitous Buddha heads? Not quite as much. Especially as they’re usually owned by materialistic high blood-pressure types. But that’s a post for another day (I feel a Trend Alert coming on…). Besides, I don’t think Western design is served by taking Asian motifs too literally, which is why the de Gournay-style decorative wallpapers are so timeless — they interpret the Asian stylized approach to nature through European sensibilities. The best of both worlds.
All this to say that I am taking chinoiserie one step further — or backwards, depending on your perspective — by a new item I’m adding to the shop this week. Chinoiserie chalkboard panels. I can practically hear your disgust. But really, interpreting the vaunted chinoiserie elements through the eyes of an ironic hipster (whose Chinese Mecca is Brooklyn, to mix my cultural references) seems just about right for this place and time, combining the current craze for the low-tech joys of drawing on a chalkboard with the ancient art of decorative painting.
Chinoiserie is goin' downtown when we get done with it! photo: whiteaisleweddings.com