Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Kne Kash" - the Bamboo Concept

The other day I visited the showroom of a bamboo products' firm named "Kne Kash". It's a  spacious place located near a railway station and some other commercial businesses. The structure used to be a barn, one of a series of  seven (7) barns with pyramidal roof shape, close to the train area -  the Mamgurot (Barns) area. 

It was rather dim inside. I suppose the very high  concrete ceiling and the special light fixtures, have something to do with it.  

The concept in this showroom is different from that in their flag store situated in another region. The emphasis here is on bamboo and straw as living materials in the hands of architects. Customers come in with their house plan, and get here professional advice as to the best way to use bamboo and straw in their home design.

I love bamboo in all its forms: furniture, fences, flooring, panels, decoration items, textiles. How could one not love it? Bamboo is natural, ecological, flexible, light-weight, and practical. Its simplicity is also its beauty.

Bamboo is usually associated with far-east countries. This strong plant grows there, and the local people make good use of it. Indeed, I've seen over the years some beautiful bamboo furniture pieces  made in Vietnam, India, Philippines, China etc... 

The problem is that in my neck of the woods bamboo products are quite expensive, since they are imported and mostly hand made. Besides, there has been a rise in the number of environmental buyers;  and if that's not enough,  people that used to buy bamboo furniture for outdoors mainly , have discovered its charm for the indoors too. As the demand increases, and the supply is sometimes short, prices go up.

There is a little sign at the entrance/exit  of the store which says: 'Bamboo - the wood of the future'. Why of the future?  If you ask me, its' future as wood is already here and now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

From Grexit (almost) to Brexit (perhaps)

I didn't give much thought to the European Union (after all, I live in Asia, LOL) until the first significant crisis occurred - the Greek crisis, featuring a young, charismatic, greek PM (Alexis Tzipras) and a piquant story of how Greece , allegedly, cheated to enter the Union.

The crisis is only partially over, and there are speculative rumours that Greece is considering selling some of its beautiful islands, to cover its debts to the Union and to the IMF (international monetary fund).

And now, the referendum in Great Britain (on 23 june 2016), to decide whether the country stays in or out of the Union, has drawn a lot of attention;  especially  after the recent tragic event of a young MP being shot dead in the street. 

Personally, I'm not much in favor of a union of states or a federation of states.  I just don't think it could work. Each state, nation, has its own rhytm of life and cultural tradition. It should be let to live at its own pace and capability.  If it wants change, that should come from within, from an inner effort, not from external factors' pressure.

EC headquarters -Place Shumann, Bruxelles

However, once established, this partnership of states cannot go back without causing  a political and economical  'earthquake'. In Bruxelles (the headquarters of the European Union) they've tried hard to prevent it in the Greek crisis, and they're trying to prevent it now with Britain.

For years, the EU institutions have practically been  'playing God' to bring 28 european nations under a common denominator; a lot of funds have been invested in the econonomically weaker, southern european countries.  So far, not very successfully. 

Grande Place, Bruxelles

All bad things, both in the life of the individum and in the life of a nation, stem , in my humble opinion, from our attempts to play God (change mentalities, abilities, ways of life of other people) , and from our wrong belief that money ( pouring more and more funds) can achieve it all.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Of Stores and Scents

Sometimes you walk into a store and you're hit by some specific smell that might make you feel, even after a few moments,  quite unwell. It happened to me once while in a Home Center store (the red sign in the above picture is in hebrew).

Home Center ( as well as other home chains, like Ace)  sell , among other things, wall/ wood paints. Even though the cans of paint are tightly sealed, still there's some  paint odor in the air. I don't really know why. 

paint cans

Well, a few minutes in that aisle and I felt as if I was about to faint. I left the store quickly, sat outside on a bench, and took some deep breaths for 5-6 minutes until I felt better. I didn't re-enter the store; it was a small  branch of Home Center located within an urban mall.
(Big chains and supermarkets usually have spacious, well air- conditioned stores on the outskirts of the town;  smaller, crowded branches in the center of the town).

paint stuff

In the above case , the smell was closely associated with certain merchandise sold in the store.

In other cases ( fashion stores ,book stores etc..) it is the owner that wants a "signature" scent in his shop: citrus, musk, cinnamon, wood,  you name it...and he'll diffuse the fragrance through air conditioning vents or some other method.

In the majority of cases, the retailers who have discovered what is known as the fifth sense (smell) use it as a marketing tool to lure in customers, just as they use background music and various smart displays of goods. . That's OK, but  the problem is that "one man's aroma is another man's stench" and it could drive customers away.

Anyhow, people who think they are sensitive to smells, might, whenever possible, prefer entering bigger, well ventilated places to smaller, scented places.