Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An empty canvas. Not.

At first sight, an empty studio flat perfectly adequate for my needs. A main room of about 25 square metres, plenty of light coming in and a small balcony as well. I've always quite enjoyed the challenge of dealing with restricted space..

But then my gaze turned, to fall upon this... Well, my first thought was that this gargantuan piece of cabinetmaker's craftsmanship was a deal-breaker, not something I could live with.

However the flat is perfectly situated, convenient for shopping, transport and the all-important nearby watering hole... The brown thing, called a Schrank in German, could be hidden behind curtains, perhaps? But why did the flat owner insist on it remaining on the premises?

Okay, the curtains will be the answer. And I found the answer to my question, too. This item of furniture had been the owner's first purchase when taking on the apartment in 1977. For sentimental reasons it was therefore unthinkable that Schröder der Schrank (my naming, nobody else's) should be cruelly evicted!

And although Schröder will be invisible when the curtains have been put up, he'll retain his usefulness. I shall sweep the curtain aside at night and lower from behind the two doors at the left a Murphy bed. The two doors at the right open onto a generous wardrobe. The middle section, well, for the moment it allows me to work on my laptop but even later the storage space will be useful. And, yes, the shelves with glass doors do have concealed lighting!

Now... are you as curious as I am about the otigins of the term Murphy bed? According to Wiki...

William L. Murphy applied for a patent for the Murphy bed on April 1, 1916, and was granted Design Patent D49,273 . Murphy started the Murphy Wall Bed Company and began production in San Francisco . In January 1990, the company changed its name to the "Murphy Bed Co. Inc."

These beds make appearances in movies as they lend themselves to slapstick humour in which people are trapped when the bed folds into the upright position, carrying the person on the bed inside. For example, in Stanley Kramers's famous comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the smarmy Otto Meyer (Phil Silvers) gets thrown from the fire truck ladder, through a window and onto a Murphy bed, which promptly retracts into the wall. In Mel Brooks' Silent Movie a hotel's neon sign advertises "Murphy Beds — Charming to the Unsophisticated". Modern Murphy beds utilize a counterbalance system making it near impossible to get trapped.

In 1989 an appellate court held that the term "Murphy bed" is no longer entitled to trademark cover because a substantial majority of the public perceive the term as a generic term for a bed that folds into a wall rather than the specific model made by the Murphy Bed Co.

Murphy beds are now commonly in use in hotels as a second bed for families that have more than four people and cannot fit into one hotel room otherwise. While less frequently used in today's homes, Murphy beds can still be found in areas with limited square footage, such as mobile homes and apartments. Since the late 1900s, Murphy Beds have been incorporated into modular cabinetry with glass, mirrors, lighting, or additional units for entertainment storage or computer centers. These whole room designs has now made murphy beds into a luxury item — perfect for daily use or for guest rooms.

Comforting to know that Schröder can deliver such interesting cultural references, non?

1 comment:

Keefieboy said...

The flat looks cool. I never knew those things were called 'Murphy' beds, but yeah, that wall of brown does kinda dominate. Paint it? Wrap it in something?