My client has moved into an exquisite property in the Coto De Caza estates adjacent to Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, CA. Their new home has a 5000 sq ft home, a 1000 sq ft pool house, and a 1200 sq ft horse barn with a classic wood saloon complete with swinging cowboy doors. They have plans to do a complete overhaul on the barn, so I've designed a barn expansion for them which will almost double the size, but I'll cover that design in an upcoming blog post.
On their property they have a vinyard with 285 infant grape vines (80% cabernet, 10% merlot, 10% malbec), and below their house they have a 2200 bottle wine cellar and a front room rigged for making and fermenting wine. There are cabinets next to a large wood/iron wine press adjacent to a couple sinks for the wine making process ... but there is no good place to sit and enjoy the wine. Being major wine connoisseurs, my client wants to install some type of seating for tasting wine and entertaining guests in this unique wine room. Here is a photo of the space (the sink is to the right and the wine press and cabinets are behind the camera):
The design problem was that they wanted seating, but also needed storage for all sorts of stuff (wine glasses, fermentation equipment, bottling equipment, etc). After presenting a couple furniture ideas, the client quickly shot down the ideas noting that it needs to be more "built-in". Like a bench that doubles as cabinets ...
I initially was disapointed because I am not a cabinet maker, nor did I really want to design cabinets, but like all enriching client interactions, I decided to put my frustration into positive energy and try to solve the design problem.
The wine press is made of wood slats and black/grey iron, much like a wine barrel. It looks a bit like this press, excluding the red:
I decided to use this beautiful wood/iron motif as the inspiration for the materials and the style. Here is what I came up with:
Made up of wooden slats visually connected with black iron strips, this piece represents the essence of traditional wine making. Traditional barrels are made of oak, so oak will probably be the initial material choice, however I'll be lobbying for mahogany.
The rounded ends minimize knee smashing and provide simple cabinet shelves which open outward for glasses and wine accessories. The seating is made up of trunk-style storage which opens from the top, because the clients are almost 60 years old and they don't need to be getting on their hands and knees to look into the cabinets (once I explained this to them, they quickly agreed). Bulky legs give the bench seating a bit of separation without compromising comfort. They also indicate separation points between the storage spaces.
A short, rustic, leather lumbar support lines the wall and terminates at the bottom of the window sill so the window can still open for fresh air. The corner is garnished with a wine barrel which is gutted to create a shelf for glasses. 3 tables will be custom made out of iron bases and the tops of wine barrels for a thematically festive way to enjoy drinks with friends. These tables should have a small footprint and allow people to cross their legs and move comfortably within the space.
The leather back has a small amount of padding and is lined on the top with large black metal rivets to give a timeless, almost medieval aesthetic to go with the bulky iron work.
The client's response was "WE LOVE IT!! DON'T CHANGE A THING!!!" ... Not bad for the first iteration.
We will probably have cabinet makers work on the wood work and iron trim and contract a furniture manufacturer to produce the leather and cushion work ... we'll see.
UPDATE: see more images of the final product here.