Friday, March 1, 2013

Changing technology in interiors

Recently while checking out a new project, I came across a forgotten relic in an unused corner of a building.  The structure has had many uses over the decades and somewhere during the passage of time, an old hanging oil lamp was converted to electricity.  Rather than dispose of the old 'technology' despite its dated appearance and missing parts the light fixture was re-purposed. Will it survive another 150 years; only time will tell! But what will happen to the light fixtures we install today in 150 years, let alone tv cabling and wiring. I can attest to personally removing about a mile of exposed telephone wires from my current apartment!


Magnaverde said...

I've never been much into the whole "re-purposing" thing--my aesthetically formative years were spent in a hardscrabble small town where toilets-turned-planters, bathtubs-turned-religious-shrines & plastic-bread-wrappers-turned-braided-rugs were common, which pretty much turned me off that kind of thing forever--but because this lantern's conversion is (in theory) reversible, it's perfectly acceptable, or, at least, it would be, with a better choice of lamp. Personally, I would go with a clear glass, not Soft White. Also, a dimmer. But the overall honesty of the approach is right: it's still a lantern.

For a while, I had a dainty 19th Century French porcelain-over-cast-iron coal stove in the shop, and it was a beauty, with a scallop-patterned openwork cylinder and a lacy domed top. The inner sheet-metal cylinder that held the burning coals was gone, and people kept asking me what else it could be used, for but my plan was to keep its original function by simply changing its source of heat from coal to a modern quartz heater of the appropriate size installed behind its filigreed doors, so that when people walked in our door from a brutal Chicago winter, the warmth would be right there at hand, not blowing from a vent way up near the ceiling. As it turned out, the thing sold before cold weather ever set in, but if I get another one, that's exactly what I'll be doing.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Grand, I think this is a much more utilitarian thing - this area of the building is just used as storage now - i'm just glad it wasn't a fluorescent light fixture! I imagine this was installed when the building was built -when electricity reached the area (Georgetown) they just ran it into the existing fixtures. As this area of the building has never been remodeled it has just remained!

Windlost said...

The pace of change seems to be accelerating (or perhaps I am decelerating). I was just looking at my iphone the other day thinking how old and dated it will look in 5 years and how odd that is. My old blackberry looks ancient.

I even find some interior design elements look so dated to me and I've only been earnestly following this field for 6 years. It is amazing how fast our minds tire...

Happy weekend!

Divine Theatre said...

I would have liked to been privy to the conversation when they decided to rewire this! I'm guessing there was Irish brogue involved!



Daniel Shigo said...

We also have gotten rid of our landline, though have 'ported' the number into one of our cellphones since it was originally had the pre-fix 'Trafalgar-4". New uses for old technology? I have at least 4 lamps that were vases or oil lamps, and like to think they will outlast halogen lights in the ceiling!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I'm glad this lamp was saved, though I personally would not want to live with it. I can easily imagine that it came to this country with an immigrant, but from where? Greece, Sardinia, Turkey?

Things That Inspire said...

I enjoyed reading the comments here as much as the post!

We really struggled with the whole idea of longevity of the house we were building, in the building materials, what we really wanted to invest in versus what we were ok not spending as much on. We concluded that the foundational elements of the house (the foundation, the materials used on the exterior and the roof, things we didn't want to touch for many years) were important.

Technology, though, was not so easy. Things are changing so much on that front - even things we decided on 2 years ago are now somewhat outdated, or rather can be done with an app versus expensive systems and wiring. We decided to fully wire for future possibilities, but use a relatively old fashioned switch system (there is something satisfying to us about a simple switch)and control system as a sort of 'wait and see' (plus, we didn't want to spend 100k on something that would probably soon be outdated or at the very least very high maintenance).

The one thing we pondered extensively was how much LED lighting to put in the house. We felt LED was the way to go, although even 2 or 3 years ago it was more uncertain. We concluded that what was coming in the near and far future would be able to retrofit with the current technology. We did put a few CREE LED recessed lights in places like the laundry room, the kids closets, the excercise room. We got resistance from our designer because they are bigger cans than what she preferred. I wish we had done more - they were expensive, but they really don't look too bad. The 4" versions were prohibitively expensive when we were doing it, and even the 6" were pretty expensive.

Anyway, it's interesting to see how people in the past dealt with their updates - we are still updating in different ways in the 21st century!

- Holly