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Photoset: From Gym Mat to Ottoman

How an Old Romanian Gym Mat Found in Paris Became the Perfect Colorado Ottoman

-The Golden Triangle

You never know what you’re going to find in the markets of Paris. Back in 2008 we were hunting for furniture when we spotted a stack of old,worn leather mats –the kind gymnasts used before they switched to foam andvinyl.

The dealer said “Romania, Bulgaria”, opening his hands and shrugging his shoulders in that universal “that’s all I know” expression we see so often. We bought them. They were amazing to look at and there was something alluring about them being Romanian – the Olympic connection, perhaps? Originally, we thought they’d make cool headboards but their weight ruled that out. So they sat in our back room for 3 years…

The idea of making them into giant ottomans actually came from a customer –indirectly. She had a house in Aspen and wanted a big, casual coffee table for her great room; a place to enjoy a fire and a glass of wine with her family. Our Chinese daybeds were too refined. Our British Colonial tables were too traditional, and our Indian daybeds overpowered the space –they’re very big.

The ottoman idea came to me when I spotted an old Chinese column (saved from an old house) tucked in the corner of our warehouse. The column was Fir Wood, just like mountain trees in Colorado. It was round, like the corners on the gym mat. It had a worn, friendly surface and voila: The “Colorado Ottoman” was born, at least in concept. The old wood and leather just seemed to belong together.

Our workshop worked out the details and fabricated the perfect platform for the heavy leather slabs. Finding a new use for something old (and seemingly use-less) is very gratifying. We could save a lot of trees of we worked harder to re-use the wood we already have. Beyond the joy of reclamation, there’s the matter of uniqueness, which we all innately crave. Is it possible that Nadia Comaneci dismounted on this very mat as she trained for the 1972 Olympics? We certainly can’t prove that she didn’t!


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