“There are Lots of Things You Can Do on Your Own”
This is not really the place for a discussion on marriage, but those who follow me on Facebook know that I have been very happily married for 34 years now. Ours is a different marriage than most, in that we are best friends, and eager collaborators. We love nothing better than sitting down and working out the ways in which one of us needs to proceed with a project. And that has always been the rub; it’s a private collaboration in support of one. She has always done very well in the world of business, whereas my primary interests are in the arts, but we sometimes find ourselves wondering where we might have gone, given the rapport we have, had we been blessed with similar aptitudes and talents. What kind of family business might we have put together? I bring that up, though, because the subject of today’s blog is just such a team.
Danenberg Design in Palo Alto, California is owned and operated by Dan and Lanny Danenberg, and together they have collaborated in some of the more remarkable kitchen designs I have yet seen. One of the artifacts that most fascinates me is the actual desk used by Charles Dickens, because when you look at it, you find yourself thinking about the many remarkable characters and stories that flowed from it. I had a similar reaction on seeing a picture of the courtyard of the condominium where the Danenbergs own what is their seventh home (they’re quick to point out it’s been one at a time!), a loft that is their favorite because of the setting and the fact that it enables them to work even more closely together than has heretofore been the case. They have separate work stations to work independently and plenty of room for when they come together, as they frequently do with plans, enthusiasm, and some of the more innovative concepts now being created in the field of kitchen and bath designs.
One of the more difficult things to answer, I suppose, is “where do you get your ideas?” When I asked that of Lanny, she told me that she and her husband have always loved Italian design for its simplicity and clean lines. Also, they lived and worked in Hawaii for over sixteen years where they had many Japanese clients, which, in turn, influenced the designs they now employ in their work. Dan was born in Rio de Janeiro and the two of them met at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where Dan was earning his architectural degree and Lanny her B.A. in Education. Since then they have traveled through Europe, South America, and Japan, and worked, as I said for a long time in Hawaii.
Over the years, Dan worked as assistant head of the Interiors Dept. at Architects Hawaii in Honolulu and later worked for a graphics design firm and a commercial interior design firm in Denver when they lived there. Lanny had a business in Hawaii as a manufacturers’ representative, where she worked with designers and architects and read blueprints for years. When they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, they finally realized a dream and joined forces to have one business.
Everyone comes to things from a different perspective, and this is especially true in the area of interior designs, because it is always a tightrope. Those who care to denigrate this sort of work dismiss it as simply rearranging the furniture, but really , there is quite a bit that goes into it from knowledge of fabrics and colors and furniture trends to how one part of the room affects another, and proportions and aesthetics and I don’t know what all. And just to make the cheese more binding, as it were, so much of what is done with that kind of work is really an intangible, which is to say there are no hard and fast rules involved in it. It’s like pacing a story. You cannot define it in the abstract because every story is different and requires something different in the way of pacing. But a story not paced well falls quickly falls apart. The same is true of interior designs. They need an intangible that is often hard to define.
I bring that up, though, because when you transfer these difficulties to kitchen designs, the problems tend to compound themselves. The thing with a kitchen is that it is a practical room, which means that one’s flight of fancy must always be firmly rooted in functionality. What that has come to mean, though, is that a lot of kitchen designers just play around a bit with colors and materials, but the end result is fairly soulless, at least for my tastes. What I most want to see in a kitchen is something different, something I’ve not seen before, but something, too, that is imminently practical, because for a kitchen, more than any other room in the home, form must follow function.
It’s quite a dance at times, satisfying those many requirements, but that brings me back to Danenberg Design. With their varied backgrounds, Dan and Lanny have come together and formed what every logician will tell you cannot exist, a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. Tomorrow, I will show you their work, but for today I would just like to say that the song writer was correct. It takes two to tango.
Leave a Reply