Alabama Sawyer’s Not So Secret Diary

1stdibs Aberdeen About Us AIA AK Jewelry AL Businesses AL.com alabama Alabama Sawyer alasaw Amanda Loper American Institute of Architects American Society of Interior Designers apps apps for nature lovers April ASID astronomy best of Biophilia Biophilic Design Birmingham Birmingham Businesses Birmingham Museum of Art Birmingham Organizations Birmingham Zoo blog board oil Boston botany Bromberg's Buffalo Rock built in shelving butcher blocks candles Captain America carbon carbon sequestration Christmas cider vinegar cities city city composting programs classic clever tips + tricks Cliff coasters cocktail cubes coffee shop compost compost pile composting composting programs concentration conference contest corner shelving creative writing Crying Indian PSA custom table height cutting board cutting board oil David Baker Architects decomposition Dering Hall differences in dish soap DIY Earth Earth Day Earth Overshoot Day Earthrise ECam and Co. eco friendly entertainment environmental environmental glossary environmental holiday Famous in AL favorites fixed bracket shelving floating shelving focus Fossil Fools Day fruit fly fruit fly trap gas tax gift gift guide glass recycling glossary Golden Rule Barbecue Goop Goop Exclusive goopGIFT green burial Gulf State Park Gulf State Park shipment Gumption handmade health benefits Hemlock Miyake Bench history of AL holiday holiday gift guide holidays how to how to guide how to polish wood furniture ice bucket instructional guide interior design Interior Designer International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict interview jar Keep America Beautiful kitchen knife holder Lanett Credenza Leigh Leigh Spencer link list longest running Made South magnolia MAKEbhm Michael Bruno Milwaukee mineral oil miyake miyake bench Montpelier movies municipal compost program NASA National Endangered Species Day National Recycling Day natural burial nature nature lovers New York Times news Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin oiling a cutting board orchard table Pale Blue Dot pallet pallet compost pile pecan PeeWee Herman personal story Petite Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin photography plants plastic wrap podcast pop up shop PSA public service announcement recycle recycling Red Mountain Park red oak Remodelista round sunrise table science shelving shipment Sloss Furnace smart phones soap software South Jordan Spiderman Spring Break 2019 sputnik table standard table height sustainable sweepstakes table height table top The Blue Marble The Boogie Tom Ford tray Trilogy Leather urban wood utensil holder walnut walnut wine rack WBHM weedkiller white oak white oak host stand Wide Plank on Legacy Base Wide Plank Table on Sunrise Base wine rack Wine X Wine Rack wood wood furniture wood furniture polish wood polish wood scented wooden cutting board Workshops Inc

Famous in AL: Sloss Furnace

May 15, 2019

Famous in AL: Sloss Furnace

Please note that “Famous in AL” is a series of blog posts on famous historical Alabama sites for the purpose of celebrating the culture and history found in our own state.


Let’s go back to 2008. Picture fifth grade me lying in bed with the chicken pox, instead of sitting on a school bus headed to Sloss Furnace for a field trip. So after courageously lying in bed for a week, I recovered and reluctantly went back to school. I distinctly remember the small iron square my teacher handed me, evidently my classmates teamed up to make a piece with my initials. Confused? Part of the guided tour at Sloss involves students making their own cast iron art.


Now 23 year old me has an excuse to actually go on a self guided tour through Sloss, which means no cast iron art unfortunately. What’s the excuse? Alabama Sawyer table bases are poured at Sloss Furnace. That’s the perfect excuse! But before that, here is a short blurb on the history of Sloss Furnaces:

History

"Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham, helping to promote railroad development in Jones Valley, Alabama and participating in the Pratt Coke and Coal Company, one of the new city's first manufacturers. In 1881 he formed his own company, the Sloss Furnace Company, and began construction of Birmingham's first blast furnace on 50 acres (202,000 m²) of land donated by the Elyton Land Company for industrial development. The engineer in charge of construction was Harry Hargreaves, a former student of English inventor Thomas Whitwell. The two Whitwell-type furnaces were 60 feet (18 m) tall and 18 feet (5.4 m) in diameter. The first blast was initiated in April 1882. The facility produced 24,000 tons of high quality iron during its first year of operation. Sloss iron won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition held in 1883 at Loiusville, Kentucky.

In 1886 Sloss retired and sold the company to a group of investors who reorganized it in 1899 as the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company. The group regularly utilized forced mainly African-American convict-laborers that were purchased in collusion with local sheriffs in a system called peonage. Sheriffs would arrest mainly African-American men under often bogus charges of “vagrancy” and the Sloss company would purchase these men and work them as slaves. This allowed slavery to continue after the Civil War and amassed great wealth for Sloss.

New blowers were installed in 1902, new boilers in 1906 and 1914 and the furnaces completely rebuilt with modern equipment between 1927 and 1929. In 1909 James Pickering Dovel had become the superintendent of construction. For the next 21 years, Sloss was Dovel's workshop for invention. He developed gas cleaning equipment, modified the design of the furnaces, and improved the linings of the furnaces. In all, some 17 patents are credited to Dovel. Sloss's No. 2 Furnace, rebuilt in 1927, included many of these inventions, earning Dovel and Sloss a national reputation for innovation. Through this aggressive campaign of modernization and expansion, including furnace and mining and quarrying operations all around Jefferson County, Sloss-Sheffield became the second largest seller of pig-iron in the district and among the largest in the world. During this period the company built 48 small cottages for black workers near the downtown furnace — a community that became known as "Sloss Quarters" or just "the quarters".

In 1952, the Sloss Furnaces were acquired by the U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, and sold nearly two decades later in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corp. The Birmingham area had been suffering from a serious air pollution problem during the 1950s and 1960s due to the iron and steel industry there, and Federal legislation such as the U.S. Clean Air Act encouraged the closure of older and out-of-date smelting works. Also, by the early 1960s, higher-yielding brown ores from other regions were feeding the blast furnaces.

The Jim Walter company closed the furnaces two years later, and then donated the property to the Alabama State Fair Authority for possible development as a museum of industry. The authority determined that redevelopment was not feasible and made plans to demolish the furnaces. Local preservationists formed the Sloss Furnace Association to lobby for preservation of this site, which is of central importance to the history of Birmingham. In 1976, the site was documented for the Historic American Engineering Record and its historic significance was detailed in a study commissioned by the city. Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond issue in 1977 to preserve the site. This money went towards stabilization of the main structures and the construction of a visitors' center and the establishment of a metal arts program. The Sloss Furnaces site became a National Historic Landmark in 1981, and opened to the public as the nation's first and only 20th century blast furnace site preserved as a museum on Labor Day weekend, 1983.

In February 2009 Sloss became the new home of the SLSF 4018 steam locomotive, which was relocated from Birmingham's Fair Park." (Source: Sloss Furnaces Wikipedia)

Self Guided Tour

Now that you know all of that history, I bet you're interested in actually going there. So without further ado, here are some of the pictures I took during my self guided tour at Sloss. Construction prevented me from taking the normal tour path, so I got to see some pretty interesting stuff.

Be sure to follow @sloss_furnaces and @slossmetalarts on Instagram! 

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What Is ... Carbon Sequestration?

May 08, 2019

What Is ... Carbon Sequestration?

What is carbon sequestration?

"the long-term storage of carbon in plantssoils, geologic formations, and the ocean. Carbon sequestration occurs both naturally and as a result of anthropogenic activities and typically refers to the storage of carbon that has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas. In response to growing concerns about climate change resulting from increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, considerable interest has been drawn to the possibility of increasing the rate of carbon sequestration through changes in land use and forestry and also through geoengineering techniques such as carbon capture and storage." (Source: Carbon Sequestration | Encyclopedia Britannica)

Solid wood furniture, and trees in general tend to store carbon very well in. In fact, "An important function of trees and forests both within and outside of urban areas is carbon sequestration. Nowak and Crane (2002) have estimated that urban trees in the U.S. hold about 774 million tons of carbon ... the importance of tree biomass carbon in urban areas is expected to increase over the coming decades, because the urbanized area is expected to increase notably in the U.S. (Nowak and Walton 2005)." (Source: Carbon Sequestration In Solid Wood Products From Urban Forests | Dovetail Partners Inc.)

As you may very well know, Alabama Sawyer gets a large percent of wood from the urban forests of Alabama. The exciting part of this is that use of urban wood helps diminish the harmful effect of the buildup of greenhouse gases through long term carbon sequestration. 

But why is using urban wood so important in all of this? Well, when urban trees come down, they typically become a waste removal problem. In the forest, a tree coming down isn't much a problem since released carbon just goes back into the carbon cycle. In an urban setting, however, released carbon from a downed tree doesn't really go back into the carbon cycle in the same way. This is especially true if the tree goes to rot in a landfill. Thus, making solid wood furniture from urban wood is a great way to ensure that the wood continues to store that carbon in the long term.   

Sources Cited

Selin, Noelle Eckley. “Carbon Sequestration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/technology/carbon-sequestration.

Bratkovich, Steve, and Sam Sherrill. “Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests.” Dovetail Report: Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests, Dovetail Partners Inc., 19 July 2011, www.dovetailinc.org/reports/Carbon+Sequestration+in+Wood+Products%2C+Urban+Forests_n258?prefix=%2Freports.

“The Carbon Cycle.” The Carbon Cycle | UCAR Center for Science Education, 2007, scied.ucar.edu/carbon-cycle.

Hardin, LeJean, and Jaime Payne. “Schematic Showing Both Terrestrial and Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Biomass or Fossil Fuel Power Station.” Wikipedia Commons, 10 July 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_sequestration-2009-10-07.svg.

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Standard Table Heights

May 01, 2019

Standard Table Heights

There are standard table top heights, then there are custom table heights. The height of a custom table will vary depending on table function, user height, chair height, and several other factors. This blog post aims to explore how you might pick a custom table height - and then give a list of standard table heights. 

How Do I Measure Table Height?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's discuss how to measure table height in the first place. According to a Parotas blog post, "Standard table height measurements are taken from the floor to the top of the table or counter. This means you need to consider a lower chair height if you have a thick table top or overhanging counter." (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")

Chair Height

Speaking of chairs, we'd advise a table height that allows for adequate leg room and space to slide the chair underneath the table. Generally, chair heights range from 17-19 inches. We recommend at least 10 inches between chair seat and table top. These discussions should beg the question, 'how do I measure the height of a chair?'

According to the Parotas blog post, "Standard chair heights are measured from the chair legs to the top of the seat surface. You do not include the height of the chair back or armrests in your measurements, unless you plan to slide chairs fully under the table or counter. If you are choosing chairs with armrests, allow around 7 inches (18cm) between the armrest and the underside of your table" (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")

Elbow space is another important consideration that's very similar to the need for adequate leg room. No one likes using a table that's too tall to rest your elbows on. On the other hand, no one likes jamming their legs under a table because it's way too small. 

User Height

This is a pretty big consideration honestly. How tall or short are the users? If the users are really tall, consider a taller than average table top. The same goes for shorter users, who may require a shorter than average table height. These questions should definitely factor into the process of picking a table height. 

Basically, planning is your best friend when it comes to choosing a custom table height.

Standard Table Top Heights

That said, here are the standard heights of dining tables, counters, coffee tables, and bar tables. Big thanks to Leigh for making the graphics! (Please note: each of the pieces you see below is an Alabama Sawyer table. Find one on our website.)

Wide Plank on Legacy Base | Alabama Sawyer

Lanett Credenza | Alabama Sawyer

Orchard Table in Red Oak | Alabama Sawyer

Wide Plank Table on Sunrise Base | Alabama Sawyer

 

SOURCES

“Empty Table.” PublicDomainPictures.net, www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=271485&picture=empty-table.

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Why is it hard to recycle glass in AL?

April 29, 2019

Why is it hard to recycle glass in AL?

Why is it so difficult to find places in Alabama that will recycle glass? I’m definitely not the first person to ask. On the r/Birmingham subreddit, one user asks, “Every recycling plant in Birmingham that I've heard of doesn't seem to accept glass for some reason. I think it's simply because they don't have enough room for it?” A few comments pointed out the high expense associated with glass recycling, all for a non existent market. Similarly, The Alabama Environmental Council writes, “Glass is very difficult to recycle in Alabama due to a lack of end-users and processors.

Alabama Environmental Council | Glass 

That raises the question, where can I recycle glass in Alabama? Thankfully, The Alabama Environmental Council has the answers you need. Well, maybe not all the answers. None of this really addresses why Alabama lacks a good glass recycling program, and why some cities like Santa Monica have excellent glass recycling programs. Speaking of Santa Monica’s glass recycling program, it’s awesome. Seriously. Read more about SM’s recycling collection program, and consider how you could start your own glass recycling business.  

 

SOURCES

Reddit | Where to recycle glass?

MaxPixel.net | Recycling Bottle Jars Bottles Recycle Glass

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Clever Eco Hints for Coffee Shops

April 08, 2019

Clever Eco Hints for Coffee Shops

My boss recently visited the The Red Cat Coffee House, and was so impressed by their clever use of uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers, she requested I write a blog post pertaining to different eco-friendly hints for coffee shops. Here are some of the tips I came across:  

 Uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers: Well, what were you expecting? Of course I'm going to include the example that prompted this blog post to be written. And c'mon. If you haven't been to The Red Cat, go ahead. Treat yourself. Another option if you don't want to use uncooked spaghetti is reusable metal spoons. 

 Go Green: This might seem obvious, but you can boost sales by "going green" since there is a large consumer base that loves that type of thing. Ensure your coffee is organic, fair trade, and shade grown. What does shade grown have to do with it? Shade grown coffee just means that the coffee was grown in the shade of nearby plants and trees. This method of raising coffee promotes a healthy ecosystem.

Flickr: "Sustainability poster- Fair trade"

 Offer discounts: Give customers that bring in their own mugs a discount so you don't use as many disposable cups that will eventually be sent to a landfill. Or don't use disposable cups at all, just have reusable cups and mugs.

There are plenty of other eco- friendly tips and tricks you can use to make your coffee shop sustainable. Read about them here

SOURCES

Greener Ideal: "How to Make Your Coffee Shop More Sustainable"

The Red Cat

Pixabay: Spaghetti 

Wikipedia Commons: "A small cup of coffee"

Flickr: "Sustainability poster- Fair trade"

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Leigh and Velma's Spring Break (2019)

April 02, 2019

Leigh and Velma's Spring Break (2019)

I am heading through the Smokey Mountains from Asheville, NC with my daughter, Velma, who is in the back seat. Pink’s cover of “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman pipes through the speakers, interspersed with Siri chiming out directions. “Continue on I-40 West towards Canton.” 

 

We gain elevation. Static takes over the airwaves, so I turn off the music. The expertise of a previous chapter of my life, five years of driving mountain roads in Colorado, kicks in. The continuous line of freight trucks is prohibited from using the left lane, so it leaves me a private highway, but there is no shoulder. Each completed rolling turn reveals another.

 

I recall the past few days of our Mother Daughter Spring Break. We toured the opulence of the Biltmore Estate, a 250-room home built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. The diverse craft employed to build the 52 fireplaces alone are impressive. The Downton Abbey servant quarters deserve an Instagram takeover of @thingsorganizedneatly. The gardens are firmly in the realm of @accidentallywesanderson. We ate well and enjoyed our hotel stay, complete with in-lobby dog adoptions and West Coast Swing lessons. 

 

Highlights in Asheville included visiting Lexington Glassworks right off the main drag. The space could be our template for an artisan manufacturing space and gallery in Birmingham, complete with craft demonstrations. I met Connie from East Fork Pottery, the up and coming Heath of the East. The brief visit gave me a chance to connect for a moment with another female business owner. She also works with her husband. She is also an Angeleno living in the South. The business is growing, producing high quality craft in the US. Their new 70,000 SF space and they are already too small.

 

At the exact same time, in the very same region, Cliff and our son, Scout, are embarking on a four day trek on a section of the Appalachian Trail. Every year, 4500 “through hikers” leave their conventional lives behind and spend the better half of a year hiking 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. I fantasize what it would be like to check out for six months and only think about one foot in front of the other and preparing my next meal. Going to bed at sunset.

 

As I drive, my mind ruminates between two choices. Lean in. Ask for what we need to grow Alabama Sawyer. Or Pack up and Check out. 

 

The road straightens out. Farms appear with tall red barns and grass fed live stock from Central Casting. We pass Bush’s Beans plant on the right. Who knew? We enter Pigeon Forge and meet up with our friends at Dolly Parton’s Dream More resort and ride the tram to the park. Yes, it’s called the “Dream More.”

 

Perhaps you have heard the metaphor that starting a business is like building a plane, while it is taking off. Our first ride is Wild Eagle, a “wing coaster”. Riders sit on either side of the track with nothing above or below, while it climbs, inverts and swoops.

 

We loaded in. I tested Velma’s and my protection at least three times. Then, I prepared for the climb, kept my eyes open and got ready to soar like an eagle.

 

“They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy

They can say, they can say I've lost my mind

I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy

We can live in a world that we design”

-----

by Leigh Spencer

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Our 5 Most Popular Species of Wood

April 01, 2019

Our 5 Most Popular Species of Wood

Walnut

The dark brown wood is strong with a handsome grain and polishes easily. Rich, flavorful nuts taste delicious fresh and retain their flavor and texture during cooking. They belong to the same family as hickories and pecans. 

Walnut trees are monoecious, meaning they can self-pollinate. However, walnut groves are best for nut production. It's no wonder that walnut is one of our most in demand species of wood, just look at some of the walnut products we offer:

 

Small Walnut Breakfast in Bed Tray | Alabama Sawyer

Small Walnut Breakfast in Bed Tray | Alabama Sawyer

 

Walnut Utensil Holder | Alabama Sawyer

Walnut Utensil Holder | Alabama Sawyer

 

Live Edge Walnut Knife Holder | Alabama Sawyer

Live Edge Walnut Knife Holder | Alabama Sawyer

 

Magnolia

Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the magnolia tree belongs to the Magnoliaceae family. This type of tree isn't just old, it's ancient. It appeared before bees did and many Magnolia trees are known to survive for 100+ years.

Mississippi and Louisiana share the Magnolia as the official state flower. Speaking of which, Magnolia flowers can be pink, green, white, purple, or yellow. Here are a couple Magnolia products we offer:

 

Petite Noaway Compost Bin in Magnolia with White Oil | Alabama Sawyer Petite Noaway Compost Bin in Magnolia with Blue Oil | Alabama Sawyer

Petite Magnolia Noaway Compost Bins with White Oil (left) and Blue Oil (right) | Alabama Sawyer

 

Both Sizes of Breakfast in Bed Trays | Alabama Sawyer

Large and Small Breakfast in Bed Trays in Magnolia | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak

Also known by its Latin name Quercus alba, some white oak trees have lived up to 450 years. Despite the name 'white oak', these trees usually don't have white bark since they are instead named for the color of the finished wood. White oaks have certain characteristics that make it resistant to water and rot. These characteristics make it ideal to be used to make wine and whiskey barrels that resist leakage.

It is used in construction, shipbuilding, architecture, and more. White Oak has also been used extensively to build Japanese martial arts weaponry due to its density and strength. It's no wonder that White Oak is such a popular species of wood. Here are some of our White Oak products:

 

WineX Wine Rack

White Oak WineX Wine Rack | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak Ice Bucket

White Oak Ice Bucket | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak Round Sunrise Table | Alabama Sawyer

White Oak Round Sunrise Table | Alabama Sawyer

 

Pecan

The name “Pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack. It is a species of Hickory, native to Mexico and the Southern United States. Pecans are not actually considered a nut, but instead are a fruit surrounded by a husk with a stone pit in the center, which is the part you eat. The state tree of Texas, it can live to be anywhere between 300 - 1000 years old. See some of our Pecan pieces below:

 

Pecan Table Top | Alabama Sawyer

Pecan Table Top | Alabama Sawyer

 

Pecan Counter Top

Pecan Counter Top | Alabama Sawyer

 

Red Oak

Also known as Spanish Oak, its name comes from the red hairs on its twigs. Southern Red Oak is a durable shade tree which reaches 60 to 80 feet high. See some of our gorgeous Red Oak products below:

 

Red Oak Orchard Table | Alabama Sawyer

Red Oak Orchard Table | Alabama Sawyer

 

Red Oak Miyake Bench | Alabama Sawyer

Red Oak Miyake Bench | Alabama Sawyer

 

Sources & Further Reading

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April 01, 2019

The Old 280 Boogie

As an Alabama business, we love promoting and discussing some of the best Alabama has to offer. In fact, the Old 280 Boogie is one of those businesses that we love promoting.


What is The Boogie?


The Old 280 Boogie is a concert and multicultural event that takes place annually along, you guessed it, highway 280. According to the Old 280 Boogie event website,


The annual Spring ‘Old 280’ Boogie started 18 years ago on the one year anniversary of state Highway 280 opening-up and routing around our little town. This one-day spring gathering is set on the creative grounds of Standard Deluxe Inc. renowned for its cool and hospitable Southern ambiance.”


The boogie will be held Saturday April 19th, and honestly, the lineup looks awesome featuring Cedric Burnside, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Ben Sollee & Friends, Liz Brasher, The Pine Hill Haints, and Young Valley. Bands from previous years include Alabama Shakes, Jason Isbell, Lonnie Holley Band, Heath Green & the Makeshifters, and so many more!


But it’s not just Alabama Sawyer that thinks the Old 280 Boogie is great, Garden & Gun had great things to say about it too, “Part music festival, part yard-party, this BYOB event draws fans twice a year to tiny Waverly. Also called the Waverly Boogie, its spring installment has been going strong for seventeen years, and organizer Scott Peek added the Fall Boogie in 2012. Music runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with as many as six bands.”


So what are you waiting for? Go to their website and buy a ticket! 


SOURCES & FURTHER READING


This Is Alabama | Southern hospitality and one heck of a party in Waverly, Alabama


Garden & Gun | Your Guide to Summer Music Fests

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5 Birmingham Associations & Organizations We Love

March 26, 2019

5 Birmingham Associations & Organizations We Love

1) If you've never listened to 90.3 WBHM, then you're really missing out. They deliver high quality news broadcasting on topics ranging from the arts to science & technology. We love supporting them, even if that support goes out in the form of simply tuning in and paying attention. But we also like to give them money, and you should too.


 

2) According to its description on Google, Red Mountain Park is a "1,500-acre park with 15 miles of scenic trails, historic mines, zip lines, tree house & a dog park." Speaking of hiking, there's nothing better than hiking a Red Mountain trail with loved ones. For me "loved ones" refers to my framed picture of Frances McDormand bench pressing a grizzly bear.

 

Red Mountain Park Trail Map

 

3) The first time I visited the Birmingham Zoo, I got to bottle feed a koala. Then I got pooped on by some birds at the Aviary. Needless to say it was the best day of my life. On a completely different note, Alabama Sawyer has made a bunch of different stools for the Birmingham Zoo, so be sure to check them out the next time you visit!

 

Birmingham Zoo

 

4) The Birmingham Museum of Art is a great place to visit if you get the chanceI know I know. You might hate museums because you think they're boring. That was my position on museums before I ever visited one, the BMA being the first. Honestly, they've had some pretty great exhibits and pieces on display over the years. And I'm not just saying that because they've exhibited some of our furniture before. No, I've liked visiting the BMA long before I started working here. 

 

 

5) Here is a description of Workshops, Inc. taken directly from their website, "Workshops, Inc. provides outsourcing solutions for local businesses. All outsourced handwork is completed by people with disabilities and other barriers to employment who are striving for their highest vocational potential." We've worked with Workshops, Inc. in the past, and would love to work with them again. 

 

 

Sources & Further Reading

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5 Classic Birmingham Businesses

February 25, 2019

5 Classic Birmingham Businesses

Alabama Sawyer is practically a toddler compared to some of the more classic Birmingham businesses. In their honor, here are some of our favorite companies that have been in Birmingham for quite some time.


  1. Trilogy Leather: a leather repair & craft shop established in the 70’s by Sam Sicola and brothers Tony + Salvatore Pardi. They offer a wide variety of products from crocodile + gator hide belts to handbags and briefcases. According to their website, “the name Trilogy was chosen to signify the 3 of them.”

Sam, Tony, and Salvatore - image taken from the Trilogy Leather website


  1. Buffalo Rock Co.: Founded in 1901 by the Lee family as an independent Pepsi bottler, Buffalo Rock even created its own grape flavored beverage in the early 80’s called Grapico. According to their website, “The mission of the Buffalo Rock Company is to be the premier provider of beverages and food products. We have 10 divisions inclusive of 2,100 employee-partners who are committed to this mission.”

Image take from Buffalo Rock’s website


  1. Bromberg & Co. Jewelers: This family owned jewelers founded by Frederick Bromberg has been around since 1836, and has been providing its customers with the highest attention to detail in jewelry making ever since.

  1. Davis Architects: Founded in 1912, Davis Architects is the oldest still running architectural firm in Alabama. They even employed the first registered female architect in the state. According to their website, they prefer to take a client centered approach to architecture. Some of their work includes the Birmingham Crossplex, the College of Health Sciences at Samford University, the Center for the Arts at Montevallo University, ect... One of their quotes? “Every problem has a solution. As optimistic as it may sound, it is the driving force behind our work. Great design starts here.”

Image taken from the Davis Architect website


  1. Golden Rule Barbecue: Opened in 1891, Golden Rule is the oldest continuously running restaurant in the state of Alabama.

Image taken directly from Golden Rule’s website


There are a lot that I didn’t mention here, so take a look at this AL.com article that I drew from to learn more about some of the longest running businesses in Alabama.


Sources

AL.com article: “These Alabama businesses have operated 100 years or more”

Buffalo Rock Company Wikipedia article: “Buffalo Rock”

Trilogy Leather website

Buffalo Rock “About Us” website

Bromberg’s Website

Tommy Daspit photography website

Golden Rule Barbecue “About” page

Golden Rule Barbecue website

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Interior Design Considerations that Facilitate Focus

January 25, 2019

Interior Design Considerations that Facilitate Focus

First thing's first. Let's talk about the psychology of color, specifically the colors that tend to facilitate focus & concentration. Green tends to promote concentration and focus while also playing into aspects of biophilic design. Blue is incredibly calming, which means using it in your office or home would promote calm and aid concentration.

Read more about color psychology here. Now, on to actual design elements. One important consideration is space. Do you want the area to be more open to encourage collaborative discussion, or closed off to ensure individual work gets done?

According to InteriorArchitects.com - in open office spaces "employees experience more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation." Clearly there is a need for balance between collaboration and individual work that promotes concentration and productivity. Consider creating "focus areas" - places where people can work independently, and make the rest of the space more open to encourage collaboration and effective group work. 

Another possibility is to set up the space similar to a library layout, that is, long conference tables (see image below) that serve as collaborative meeting spaces, (but don't have to if an employee would prefer to work individually.)

Live Edge Claro Walnut Conference Table With AV Equipment Installed

Alabama Sawyer Furniture

There are a ton of different ways to approach the maximization of concentration and focus in interior design elements, and these are just a few, so be sure to check out our sources and further reading section!

Sources & Further Reading

Source: Curbed

Source: Focus on Focus | Interior Architect 

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Biophilic Design

January 14, 2019

Biophilic Design

The biophilia hypothesis ... suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature"

That’s all well and good, but how does biophilia relate to interior design? After all, the title of this blog suggests there’s a type of design related to biophilia. There is, and it’s called biophilic design. The idea is to reconnect people with nature through various design elements:

"Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with little drawbacks."

Let's break that definition down a little, and discuss what is meant by direct and indirect nature.

Direct nature- Simply put, direct nature refers to potential physical contact with some sort of natural feature. This can mean taking advantage of natural lighting with skylights, or having a small fountain where people can sit and listen to the calming sounds of moving water.

Moving water as a biophilic design element

The stream, plant life, and natural lighting are all examples of direct nature here

Although it may sound odd at first, finding a way to use animals to evoke nature can be achieved through aquariums and gardens. Obviously there are a ton of other ways in which nature can be directly evoked in biophilic design, read about those ways here.

Indirect nature- The use of indirect nature is much less involved than direct nature. To have an indirect experience of nature, there need only by contact with images/ depictions of nature. A beach painting over the fireplace, wood furniture, use of earth tones are all examples of indirect nature. Read more about indirect nature here.

Both the plant & the wooden table base would be considered use of indirect nature

To elaborate, indirect nature can involve the use of wooden furniture. Another reason to use wood furniture is the health benefits. That's right, different materials can actually be more harmful than others, especially in furniture where the user is constantly making contact with its surface.

Wood, however, tends to have less toxins than other materials, so you really don't have to worry about that. A piece of wood furniture that would really tie a biophilia inspired room together would be one of our Alabama Sawyer Lanett Credenza's (see image below.)

Lanett Credenza in Elm Veneer

Basically, if you're interested in biophilic design, wood furniture is one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into the room. So go ahead, take a look at some of our other pieces as well - and consider this: all our wood comes from the urban forests of Alabama. 

 
Sources & Further Reading
Feature image, tree buildings: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/964194

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Five Excellent Interior Design Blogs

December 21, 2018

Five Excellent Interior Design Blogs

Remodelista


The name of the website says it all. A trendy interior design blog that will provide you with all the latest tips and tricks you’ll need to remodel your house. The homepage has several useful links, some of which are labeled, “Remodeling 101”, “Get Inspired”, “Design Travel”, and more for your reading pleasure. Not to mention the sleek and minimal web design. Image taken from Remodelista’s website.

Remodelista Screen Capture

 

Amber Interiors


Taken directly from the Amber Interiors website: “Amber Interiors Design Studio is a full-service interior design firm based in Los Angeles, California, founded by Amber Lewis. We serve clients worldwide with services ranging from interior design, interior architecture to furniture design.” If you take a look at some of their projects, you’ll see some lovely interiors. Image taken directly from Amber Interiors website.

Amber Interiors Website

 

Coco Kelley


This lifestyle blog has a bunch of different sections dedicated to interiors, travel, entertainment, and DIY. Their slogan? “LIFE IS IN THE DETAILS. STYLE ACCORDINGLY.” According to their website, Coco Kelley was, “Founded by Cassandra LaValle, Coco Kelley is a lifestyle brand devoted to fresh takes on the classics.” Image taken directly from the CocoKelley website.

Coco Kelley Website

 

EyeSwoon


EyeSwoon is one of those blogs that gives a range of knowledge on a variety of topics like food, design, and living. The easy to navigate page layout + web design are just a bonus when you consider how attractive the site really is. According to their website EyeSwoon is, ”Your destination for creativity, inspired by a passion for great food, entertaining & design and dedicated to lovers of beauty everywhere. Come swoon with me as I cook & create, showing you the simple tips and tricks that make every day swoon-worthy.” Image taken from the EyeSwoon website.

EyeSwoon Website

 

Apartment 34


Like several other blogs on this list, Apartment 34 covers multiple areas including decor, fashion, beauty, travel, ect… According to their “About” page, “Apartment 34 offers inspiring tips and ideas for an intentional approach to modern living. We share sophisticated décor, style, cooking, travel, entertaining – all the good stuff that helps elevate daily life.” Image taken from the Apartment 34 website.

Apartment 42 Website


SOURCES:

MYDOMAINE blog: https://www.mydomaine.com/decorating-blogs

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Famous in AL: Alabama Theatre

December 17, 2018

Famous in AL: Alabama Theatre

Please note that “Famous in AL” is a series of blog posts on famous historical Alabama sites for the purpose of celebrating all of the culture and history that can be found in our own state.

Downtown Birmingham Alabama is home to the famous Alabama Theatre which hosts events ranging from movie screenings to concerts and much more. With beautiful architecture and décor; it won 2011's, "Building of the Year Award from the Alabama Architectural Foundation" ("About the Alabama".) To illustrate the Alabama Theatre’s importance to Birmingham, here is a brief history of the theatre:


Constructed in 1927 as a way to showcase Paramount movies, it was primarily used as a theatre for the following 55 years. Exceptions to this were The Miss Alabama Pageant and the Mickey Mouse Club, first held at the AL Theatre in 1933. MMC sponsored several different charity campaigns for the needy and closed down ten years after staring up. Additionally, the Alabama Theatre hosted the Miss Alabama Pageant from the mid 30's to the 60's. When Birmingham declined in the 60's and 70's, the Alabama underwent multiple changes in ownership. It had to be shut down a few times during that period, but was eventually bought by Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. in 1987 after a fundraiser saved it from ruin. In 1998 the theatre underwent major renovation/ restoration, and now looks like what we know it as today: ("About the Alabama".)

 

 

According to its website, the Alabama Theatre's 1998 renovation transformed it from its, "faded grandeur to a sparkling 1927 look with all the gold leaf paint either replaced or cleaned. In addition to the restoration, new carpet was installed in the ladies lounge and new drapes were installed on the stage and organ chambers" ("About the Alabama".) Since the theatre was built in the 20's, it’s home to a famous organ used during silent film screenings. The Mighty Wurlitzer (a fancy type of organ) is a famous relic, and according to the Alabama Theatre's website, the reason the building was spared from destruction. Interestingly enough, the organ is nick named Big Bertha ("About the Alabama".) Without Big Bertha the Alabama would have been demolished since the realtors, "refused to sell it separately. Undeterred, the group [Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.] continued to find support and ultimately raised enough funds to purchase not just the organ but the entire facility" ("About the Alabama".)

 

 

It’s a spectacular place, and if you’ve never been, I’d suggest you visit at least once in your life. Pictures really don't do it justice.


https://alabamatheatre.com/about-the-alabama/

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