Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cranked-up Comfort -- can you get any more mainstream than this?

My in-laws pointed me to the article "Cranked-up comfort" in the Houston Chronicle this weekend:

We’ll take our wood unvarnished, finished only by time and years of hard use. We’ll take our metal unpolished, its strength trumping shine. Giant gears of metal or wood become wall art or table tops. Factory carts roll into family rooms as coffee tables.

The look wears many names — industrial chic, rough luxe, Belgian modern — for the rugged materials that pair with refined natural materials such as linen and leather on comfy, inviting sofas and chairs.

It's about mass retailers and designers adopting what we call steampunk:

Sarah Kammlah of Fredericksburg, a designer with the Carol Hicks Bolton collection for E.J. Victor (, calls her twist on the look “steam punk.” “It’s like you took Matrix and Age of Innocence and mashed them together.” Her recipe for a post-industrial look: mix one part Victorian, one part industrial and a twist of punk.

(If you call it that, you must be reading this blog, right? So dish, Sarah Kammlah, and send us some pictures!)


Sonja Nelson said...

I don't so much have an issue with elements of industrial and/or steampunk going rogue... I mean mainstream. I would love nothing more then a return to adults living and behaving like adults rather than children.

I read the article you posted and then looked through the Restoration Hardware galleries. There is some very fine pieces I wouldn't mind owning if I was rich. However, all the gallery photographs lacked soul because the items photographed lacked a lot of personal, DIY touches.

The Steampunk aesthetic can't be all or nothing in regards to DIY culture. I fancy myself a budding steampunk'd Martha Stewart with an overwhelming preference to make my own stuff or have people I know make it for me if necessary. However, if I can't make it or find vintage or antique, I wouldn't hesitate to buy new. If I need a chair, I can go on principle and wait a year for the perfect piece even if that means sitting on the floor, or I can just go and buy a chair.

The only thing that did make me angry about the article was the lady claiming in an off-hand way that she thought up the name "steam punk". Perhaps I'm reading too much into it but she comes off as dishonest and disingenuous.

Art Donovan said...


You hit the nail right on the rusty 'ol head here, Sonja.


sarah kammlah said...

Ouch! Mainstream ...painful word seeing that I spent half my life in a skate/punk subculture and I spewed that term to every suit and tie I came across...oh the irony.

In a market saturated with "fast food furniture", cookie cutter design and mega lifestyle machines, I wanted to create something that spoke to me and my fascination with all things vintage, mechanical,and had some soul.
I do a lot of handwork and incorporate buckles/hinges/watch cogs...things I find beautiful.My intentions were to create furniture that was outside of the box and reflected my taste.

In this industry I am perceived as odd, strange and well...there is overall sense of "not one of us"...kind of like high school only times it by a million.(atleast you could get a hall pass and leave if someone criticized you in art class!)
I'm o.k. with that, I've always been one of the outer fringe dwellers anyways. The world would be a better place with more of us being o.k. with that.
Anyways, I hope you see the honesty of my work as something that reflects the beauty of steam punk, not as catch phrase or fad.
The article quote made me cringe as well....sounds forced and formulated, that was not my intention.

-Sarah Kammlah
Kammlah.Thayer Collection

sarah kammlah said...

p.s. For what it's worth-

Sonja- I never claimed to come up with the name "Steam Punk"....I described the movement in great length. Fashion, design, etc. to the writer.
Writers choose to write what they want to not and not always what they are told. Believe me, I am not that arrogant to try to claim that title...I would be a fool.

Art Donovan said...


"Steampunk" is one word, not two :)

sarah kammlah said...

Oops! My bad! :)

sarah kammlah said...

Oops my bad.:)


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