reGeneration 38 Renwick St. (betw. Canal & Spring Sts.), 741-2102 [www.regenerationfurniture.com](http://www.regenerationfurniture.com)
Full House 38 Renwick St., 4th fl. (betw. Canal & Spring Sts.), 646-486-4151
When my friend Taylor's new couch was finally delivered, he faced a quandary. The upholstered behemoth didn't fit through his apartment door. So Taylor did what any New Yorker handy with a power saw would do?he cut the legs off. But even given the surgery, the couch just barely squeezed through the doorway.
Therein lies the curse of shopping for furniture in Manhattan?those oversize Shabby Chic dreams come crashing down in the face of the reality of 400-square-foot apartments and the punishing angles of steep staircases and tight doorways.
So when Mike and I finally upgrade from our selection of Early Castoff?everything in our apartment was once owned by a friend?we're going to shoot for Mid-Century Vintage instead. We'll find it at reGeneration, a vintage furniture store on the edge of Tribeca, near the Holland Tunnel, behind a graveyard of abandoned hotdog carts. But don't let the skank get to you. reGeneration specializes in small-scale furnishings from the 1950s, stocking designs from Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen as well as the mandatory Charles and Ray Eames classics. They also carry custom-built platform beds and furnishings that display the same clean lines and simple esthetic of their designer merchandise.
For months, Mike and I visited a white wool Florence Knoll couch, which is displayed prominently in the store's front room. The couch was a favorite of glossy magazine art directors, but we wanted it because it was streamlined and subtle?and, from the looks of it at least, narrow enough to fit through even the most straitened opening. At $2500, it was also affordable, a bargain-basement discount.
reGeneration's casually dressed sales staff displays none of that snottiness endemic to cultish design emporiums, and allows you to explore the establishment's three floors in peace. I found a signature Eames office chair and ottoman for $1000, plastic and stainless steel Gucci light fixtures (which looked like very cool lightboxes) for $500 and glass and chrome rectangular coffee tables in the $750 range. In the 1950s, designers like Florence Knoll and the Eameses were commissioned by corporate giants like IBM to design office furniture, and their work has an appealing sturdiness to it. Their fabrics are nubby and almost rough?there's none of that soft cushioning or velour upholstery popular in current furniture. It's easy to imagine the pieces lasting another 50 years.
If you like your furniture new instead of vintage, a custom couch will run you $3200 plus the cost of fabric and upwards. It will take approximately six to eight weeks to have it built, but you'll know that when it arrives, a powersaw won't be necessary.
If you're in the area, visit Full House, another good furniture showroom in the same building. There you'll find original Saarinen "Womb" sofas and plastic tulip chairs, as well as the rare Alvar Aalto dining table. Krenit bowls from the 1950s?real collectibles?sell for $175.
Unfortunately, back at reGeneration, "our" couch is gone. Sold. So we've transferred our affections to the small brown settee that's taken its place. A 1951 Florence Knoll, it's priced at $3500. We're optimistic. This time, there are two available.
Melissa de la Cruz
Byte Me High-Tech Lowbrow by George Tabb
Harman/Kardon CDR 2 Dual-Deck CD Player/Recorder $549.95
Capitol Electronics 120 Duane St. (betw. Church St. & B'way), 212-608-3720
"What a rack," I say to Wendy as she and I visit our friends, Jeff and Lisa.
"George," Wendy moans, "cut it out."
"I'm talking about their stereo system," I tell her, staring at their turntable, tuner, dual cassette deck, DVD player and four huge-ass speakers?and at their newest piece of equipment, the Harman/Kardon CDR 2 Dual-Deck CD Player/Recorder.
"Oh," says Wendy.
"Ya like my setup?" asks Jeff as I stare in amazement at the amount of audio gear he and Lisa have fit into their candle-filled apartment.
"Dude," I say, "It's awesome. But all those components. Doesn't it get confusing wiring it all together?"
"Naw," says Jeff as he does a huge bonghit, holds it and exhales.
Jeff is the kind of guy who's into that kind of stuff. Stereo components and shit, I mean. He's the dude who goes and buys the best tuner, the best turntable, etc. He's like my stepfather Nick when it comes to that. Nick, like Jeff, can tell me how many watts per channel his stereo system delivers, the difference in sound between brands like Pioneer and Kenwood, and all that other techno-crap that went out with 70s muscle cars and pre-breast-implant porn.
As Jeff does another hit from his bong, I ask him about the dual CD deck made by Harman/Kardon.
"Dude," he explains, "it's the most rad thing. You know I'm really into house and all. Now I can do my own mixes."
I ask him what he's talking about, and he explains the machine's wonders. It turns out this dual-deck CD player is also a burner. Meaning, you can record CDs on the damn thing. Well, CDRs, anyway. That means you can copy your CDs onto other CDs, or make compilations. Like Jeff does. What's kickass about the Harman/Kardon is that it's the world's first machine with 4X capability. That means it takes one quarter the time to burn (copy) a CD or song. Much like high-speed dubbing for cassettes. So, let's say you want to copy an hourlong CD. It will only take you 15 minutes with this baby.
Also, the unit has hookups for external sources, both analog and digital, and we all know what that means. It means you can copy record albums, cassettes, DATs or whatever onto CDs.
Why is this exciting? Well, for me, it means I can take all those old band demos and singles lying around and make an album. Hell, for the price of burnable CDs these days, I could actually sell the things for cheap and bypass record labels altogether. It also means I can take all those fucking 45s I have and put them on CDs, so I don't have to get up every time a song ends. I'm lazy.
When I told Nick about Jeff's machine, he sort of scoffed.
"George," he said, "I have a CD burner for my computer. You can do the same thing with my machine. And you can even burn games and stuff."
I explained to him that, with his machine, I had to use his powerful PC, which might tell me those three dreaded words: Abort, Retry and Fail. Plus, he didn't know how to hook tape players and turntables up to his computer.
Reluctantly, he agreed.
Another cool feature of the Harman/ Kardon CDR2 is the one that lets you utilize playback on both trays at once, letting you be the mixmaster of any party. Also, you can record on CD-RW discs. These are like digital cassette tapes?you can record over and over on them.
The most important feature on this machine, however, is the record-level controls. By simply tweaking a couple of knobs here and there, you can basically make all your songs play back on your compilation CD at the same level. You don't have to jump up every time your volume changes.
And I don't like jumping. I'm lazy. At least that's what everyone tells me.
Now and again in this space, George Tabb reviews some new high-tech product. Send tips, product news, etc. to [firstname.lastname@example.org](%3Ca%20href%3D%22mailto:email@example.com%22%3E).