Article by Kghia Gherardi
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Lines that invite your eyes to follow them. Textures that tempt your fingers long to caress them. Pose balls expressing a wit – and a vocabulary — you wish you could find in your next date. Every piece designed to appeal, to attract, to invite. Maxwell Graf, the designer behind the new store Rustica , doesn’t simply seduce you with his furniture; he wants you to fall in love with it.
Walking through the main entrance of Rustica, you are immediately enveloped in the decadently red furniture of the Vegas Victorian Collection. The collection is like a woman in a Victorian ball gown Victorian ball gown. The fabric is rich velvet, the lines curve and nip in, and the textural details make me want to dig my fingers into the fabric tufts. But the colour! Oh, baby, the colour! It doesn’t belong on some Victorian aristocrat but rather a woman intent on some Vegas-style sin. (Click here for a larger image)
The feature that most attracts me to these pieces are the pose balls. Yes, you heard me correctly. Instead of the standard, floating balls, Graf shapes and integrates them into the furniture as pillows and accents. But even better are the labels he applies — moods rather than actions. When you choose the pose, you are saying something about your attitude. Instead of sit, relax and lounge, you scheme and sublimate. You can regret, languish and sulk, just like the heroine in a Victorian novel. The Vegas Victorian Collection entices you to sink in and join the drama.
Café du Blonde
The Café du Blonde Collection reminds me of Hollywood femme fatale — beautifully coiffed hair, sleek gowns, and gleaming accessories. This collection captures the same essence. The textures of the blonde wood are carefully applied, as you can see from the back of the chaise longue or in this bed. Black granite is a solid, durable contrast to the soft, honey shades. Chrome accents in the legs and handles curve and reflect light. They lead the eye, like fine jewellery draws attention to a women’s face. The collection consists of clean lines, sensuous curves, and golden softness and enduring strength.
Like all Graf’s furniture, Café du Blonde demonstrates the designer’s mastery of sculpted prims (which Graf has named “sprims” instead of “sculpties”). This leather chair is ten prims. Unlike older chair designs of similar prim count, Graf added curves and softness that were unattainable before sprims. As Graf says, “it’s not just about saving prims, so much, but about allowing you to do a bit more with it, more detail, more life — and not be a gazillion prims.” The sprims allow prim-conscious designers to move away from the harder edges of modern furniture into designs that actually look comfortable.
Graf’s newest collection, Ironoak, showcases another style, one he calls “elven/castle-ish.” This collection is still a work in progress, but the pieces I’ve seen so far make me long for my own castle or cabin in the woods. Rustic and comfortable, these pieces are substantial. Rough-hewn wood is embellished with twists of wrought iron, giving this rather masculine furniture collection a fantasy accent. Graf has added a snuggle script into this collection’s bed, a feature I adore because it creates an intimate space for couples. Plus, it is getting colder where I live, and I like the idea of snuggling in. Graf has clearly worked with and studied the real life equivalents of the materials he uses in-world. There is integrity in his textures and the constructions. Even his fantasy pieces are grounded in reality.
On the roof of Rustica are a group of, what Graf calls, “colour therapy environmental tents.” I’m glad he defined it, because for me, they are simply whimsical fun. My favourite tent takes me to another world — complete with craters and circling spaceships. Other tents are simply romantic retreats. All share Graf’s trademark attention to detail. If your RL room is dark, the colour form the lights inside the tent make your monitor give off the colour glow, blurring the boundary between the real and the virtual.
Rustica is peppered with pieces that don’t fit into these collections but also deserve attention. Roll-top desks and dual-sided bookcases. Doors and drawers scripted to open and close. There are pieces in progress – sofas with fold-out beds and others that look like vintage cars, martini glass tables, and broken-down recliners that look fit for the trash heap. All the pieces capture Graf’s whimsy and showcase a true artistic talent.
Also make sure you visit the Rustica blog to keep up with the newest releases.