Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Ábaton modular home

I'm a sucker for small, prefab homes. This one, the ÁPH80 Portable Home from the Spanish firm Ábaton, is nifty.

It's a high-spec, all-in-one unit that can be plunked down most anywhere.

The outside is covered in concrete board, designed so it can be closed up tight. Perfect for a winter climate!

The photos are sumptuous, and well worth a click through.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Shaker wood stove

I spotted this one recently. It's by Wittus, and it's their Shaker model.

I like the lightness of the legs. Most of the units I've put on the blog over the years are more square, and this one seems less heavy.

It's still not really practical to have a fireplace, at least not until we spend a lot of cold-weather time out at the house. That doesn't stop me from looking, though.

PS. Happy Birthday, Grant!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

New Sofa Covers

Thanks once again to an article in Dwell, I've found Bemz, a company with a brilliantly simple product.

Simply put, Bemz produces custom slip covers for IKEA couches, including discontinued models. This is a cost-effective way to renew an old sofa, or to add color at low cost.

Here is our stuga's Karlstad sofa in one of their crazy-bold patterns. Don't worry, this is just for illustrative purposes. Sooz wouldn't let me do anything like this!

Instead of the whole couch, though, it might be easy to take our footstool and make it a feature piece. For example, here it is in a funky Marimekko print.

Even a high-quality fabric like this costs only $159. Simpler colours and patterns are as low as $59. It would be easy to carry a slipcover (or two) out to the island. Changing out our footstool every so often would make a significant difference to the interior of our house. Perhaps a bright yellow during the darker months? A floral pattern for the spring? It's fun to think about.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Courtesy of the nice people at Dwell once again is a slide show on one of my favourite subjects: plyscrapers.

There's a growing trend of constructing larger buildings from wood, instead of the much more common concrete and steel. The environmental impact of concrete is significant; it's estimated that 5% of global carbon emissions are from the cement industry alone.

New technologies, such as cross-laminated timber, allow sustainably grown wood to be made into building elements suitable for tall buildings. The wood used in a 20 story building would capture about 3000 tons of carbon. In contrast, a typical concrete structure would expend around 1300 tons. That's a big swing!

Such tall building has so far been outside of the USA. The Guardian has a great report on big timber structures going up in Canada and New Zealand, for example.

Sweden is also involved, of course. Radio Sweden recently covered the growth in tall timber construction. PM Stefan Löfven visited wood apartment buildings in Sundbyberg just last week. A quarter of all new construction in the city of Växjö is in timber, with the intent to double that in five years. The fact almost all of the wood used comes from sustainable Swedish forests is a bonus.

Things are moving in America, too. The US Government has announced a Tall Wood Building Competition. The time for submissions has recently closed, and winners will be announced in the coming months. I'll be sure to report back here on the contest.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Måns Zelmerlöw is the Melodifestival champion!

It was Måns in a landslide. He won handily in the votes of both the international jury and the Swedish public. We watched it live online, and I even voted, through my Swedish iPhone.

I thought Måns would do well, although I thought Eric Saade was the bigger favorite. Turns out I was wrong.

Now on to Vienna on May 23rd!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A new type of artificial light

Thanks to the Urbanist website, I've read about a new type of artificial light. CoeLux has developed a LED-based skylight that is indistinguishable from sunlight. The secret is mimicking, for the first time, the atmospheric processes that make the sky blue.

This video centers on bringing sunlight to interiors and basements of large buildings. Just as the elevator allowed skyscrapers to become taller, an artificial sunlight could allow buildings to be designed differently, with more use of basements and interior rooms lit this way.

I think there's another application: for Scandinavians living through long, dark, cloudy winters. It would be a godsend to flip a switch and have a sunny skylight in the middle of January!

UPDATE: Wired magazine now has a good article on the CoeLux as well.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Melodifestival: Helsingborg

As suspected, not much happened in tonight's show. I really don't see any of the winning acts tempting the voters next week.

More interestingly, the final order of next week's final was announced. My favorite (and I suspect, SVT's favorite, too) Eric Saade goes 10th out of 12 acts. That's a great place to be in. My other faves, JTR, and Måns Zelmerlöw, are 2nd and 6th in the running order. Nothing is changing my mind from naming Eric as the winner-in-waiting.

In other news, the UK has finally announced their winner. No vote, no contest, just a presentation:

I'm not sure what to make of this. Downton Abbey meets the Art of Noise? I got nothing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

An interesting line of furniture

Thanks to those nice people at Dwell, I found a nice furniture set from the Swedish company Hans K.

I like the flexibility provided in the table sizes, finishes, and colors.

Out current table and chairs are an IKEA Saarinen knockoff and a set of (now-discontinued) Gilbert chairs.

If and when we were to upgrade our indoor furniture, this is exactly what I'd like to have!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Melodifestival: Örebro

The last semi-final was held in Örebro last night, and I think it was the best show yet. All of the acts were good (well, almost all), and I wouldn't be surprised to see the winner come from this group.

One of SVT's stars, Måns Zelmerlöw, went to the final with an interestingly-staged song, "Heroes." The chorus is catchy, which always counts for a lot in Eurovision. Måns is also just the right age to appeal to a wide demographic, i.e. both Sooz and Camille think he's cute.

My pick for the night was boy band JTR, with "Building It Up." Boy bands are hot these days, and their song has a great refrain. I can imagine hearing this on the Skägårds radio this summer.

Next week is the second chance round, which pits the also-rans from the past four shows against each other for two spots in the Stockholm final. I don't plan to pay much attention to that show; I'm convinced the winner will be between Erik, Måns, and JTR this year.