November 7, 2013

"Europeans are endlessly inventive when it comes to radiator design. Why are Americans lagging behind?"

Questions asked in a NYT article illustrated by 2 photographs: an atrocious, "creative" Euro design and a beautiful, classic American radiator.

A nice example of the misguided Europe-does-it-better meme.

And that atrocious Euro-radiators — "life-size animal sculptures... draped... in skins... a red deer, a ram and an arctic fox" — cost $7,700 to $11,600. And we're told they are electric, so it seems to me they correspond to what Americans would call a space heater. (If you're wondering about all that fur, I believe NYT is generally pro-fur, so this article may be an under-the-radar service to its fur advertisers.)

Also available from European designers are...
... dozens of conversation starters, radiators that resemble a forest grove, a paper clip, a garden hose that uncoils and snakes around a room, and even a wall-hung homage to an artistic masterpiece. Hotech, an Italian radiator company, has a collection with names like Chagall and Fabergé. Its David model is a beefy male torso.
Wall-hung. That's wall-hung. Don't let the the snaking hose and the beefy male torso cause you to misread. And we've all seen David naked, so form your own opinion.

Have I started a conversation yet? Well, do you have any "conversation starters" in the interior decoration of your house? What kind of conversations do they start? 

ADDED: There's also a slideshow, here, so you can see what the hose and the torso, etc. look like. I was using my imagination, and I'm sad to report that David has no discernible genitalia.

48 comments:

Firehand said...

"It's from EUROPE! where they've had socialized medicine and stuff for DECADES! It MUST be better than our stuff!"

Graham Powell said...

A hose, but no genitalia? Seems like a missed opportunity there.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "Well, do you have any "conversation starters" in the interior decoration of your house? What kind of conversations do they start?"

Would This Include My "Shed of Indeterminate Agony" or is That Not Considered Part of the House, Being That it Is Detached?

There is Also the "Basement of the Unspeakable" Where People Have Been Known to View the Vises and Clamps and Chains and Start Their Conversation with "Will I Be Allowed to Leave?"

I Think the Design Scheme is Very Ed Gein Post-Modern, Especially the Lampshades.

betamax3000 said...

Cement Floors in the Living Room with a Drain in the Middle? Sprong Ze in Paniek Op!

betamax3000 said...

"Europeans are endlessly inventive when it comes to Communism design. Why are Americans lagging behind?"

John Lynch said...

What is that? A dead sheep in my living room?

Bob Boyd said...

Don't know if this qualifies as home decoration, but I got up this morning to find my dog had thrown up on the rug.
The thing is, I saw a dog vomit in Europe once and guess what...

betamax3000 said...

"And we're told they are electric, so it seems to me they correspond to what Americans would call a space heater." Indeed, That is What Americans Would Call it; The NYTimes Would Not. Dot, Meet Dot.

Jim said...

That's a well-hung wall-hung radiator. Having traveled in France, the one thing we kick their asses on is Air Conditioning. If you have central air, then radiators are not so important.

EDH said...

"The defendant manufacturer knew or should have known that my client would eventually burn his genitals on a so-called 'sheep radiator'."

MattL said...

I've visited, but never lived in a home with radiators. Central heat and air FTW!

Does anyone put these things in new construction? Do Europeans have to replace older radiators? How much market penetration do these things have?

This could be just the Sputnik moment we need.

betamax3000 said...

"I'm sad to report that David has no discernible genitalia."

The David with Discernible Genitalia is Used on Trendy European Pasta Makers. Those Europeans, Always a Step Ahead.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "How much market penetration do these things have?

"I'm sad to report that David has no discernible genitalia."

betamax3000 said...

"I'm sad to report that David has no discernible genitalia" Will Be a Valid Response to Anything Althouse Posts Today, It Will Just Be a Matter of Retro-Fitting the Validity Apparatus.

EDH said...

David: "I'm a grower not a shower! Alright? Close the door, I feel a draft. Why isn't that damn European radiator working?"

Freder Frederson said...

Does anyone put these things in new construction? Do Europeans have to replace older radiators? How much market penetration do these things have?

I love how Althouse makes an ignorant statement and her fans just descend into further ignorance.

Radiant heat is much more efficient than forced air systems, although the upfront cost is higher. (and if you need air conditioning, you have to have a separate system). Almost all heating in Europe is radiant. Air conditioning is not as important in Europe because you only need it (at least in Northern Europe) a few days or weeks a year.

Althouse somehow sees a slideshow in the NYT showing extremely high end and expensive radiators, and somehow concludes that Europeans must be stupid to pay so much for radiators when of course they don't

rhhardin said...

If it's electric, anything that uses electricity is as efficient.

Leave the TV on. Leave the lights on.

A watt consumed becomes a watt of heat regardless of the device, and might as well do something useful before turning to heat.

Excepting light that goes out the window and such things, a tiny percentage as watts go.

rhhardin said...

I had a 1kw transmitter as a kid, so probably a lot of watts escaped up the antenna. They're heating the galaxy today.

Robert Cook said...

The faux-sheepdog (or whatever it was supposed to be) and the faux-David were hideous; most of the rest were handsome and a few quite beautiful.

rhhardin said...

Probably cosmologists are underestimating the age of the universe because of it.

MattL said...

I love how Althouse makes an ignorant statement and her fans just descend into further ignorance.

"Descend into further ignorance." What does that mean? I mean, I admitted to being ignorant of heating systems in Europe. Does asking follow up questions make me more or less ignorant?

Another thought about radiators is that they take up extra space (central heating/air usually gets stuck under a stair well or some other out of the way place). So in addition to requiring extra systems.

Radiant heat is much more efficient than forced air systems...

Does that include heat pumps? I imagine those aren't much use in a Wisconsin winter, but I don't have those. My house has a heat pump with a backup electric resistance style heat generator for when it's too cold. And the heat pump works for heating and cooling.

Am I still descending into ignorance?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Freder Frederson,

Air conditioning is not as important in Europe because you only need it (at least in Northern Europe) a few days or weeks a year.

A lot of Europe is not "Northern Europe," and the "air conditioning is not as important" bit would come as news to the nearly 15,000 elderly French who died in 2003 while their children and grandchildren were waiting out the heat wave at the beach.

Freder Frederson said...

Another thought about radiators is that they take up extra space

Unless of course you have a floor heating system.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

rhhardin is right: An incandescent light bulb is a small radiator, and if your home is well-insulated, light bulbs contribute to heating it as well as providing useful light. A fact mostly forgotten by people who hate incandescent bulbs.

Edward Lunny said...

Okay, so they're overgrown and over expensive towel warmers. Seems a bit expensive as a way to heat your living space. New and different does not mean better or more efficient.
If the radiators in your hydronic heating system aren't visually appealing, update them and retain the existing system efficiency. Cast iron radiators work, what more could you ask ? If radiators aren't satisfactory or esthetically acceptable convert to an underfloor system.
" I love how Althouse makes an ignorant statement and her fans just descend into further ignorance. " But, of course, every utterance from the big eared buffoon and/or his steno pool and sycophants is worthy of being carved in stone. Bite me twit.

Howard said...

When you become so insecure regarding any admiration of European lifestyle, you might as well call yourself Canadian.

southcentralpa said...

the fact that I originally read that one part "WELL-hung" certainly got a conversation started ...

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm a grower not a shower!"

I propose "I'm a shower" as a good name for a Euro-designed, penis-shaped shower head.

Ann Althouse said...

"Air conditioning is not as important in Europe because you only need it (at least in Northern Europe) a few days or weeks a year."

Freder's Euro-fawning overcomes his awareness of global warming.

Sam L. said...

Ah, steam heat! Are steam-heat systems still made? Do new houses have them? I'm guessing that there's essentially no market for these in the US, and cast iron does not wear out.

Sam L. said...

I worked in an office that had steam heat. This was in the old days when smoking was allowed. I smelled of it when I went home.

Mike said...

I like to mock European exceptionalism as much as anyone, but aside from the sheep and the torso I thought those pieces looked pretty cool. Of course, a lot of IKEA stuff looks cool, too, until it starts falling apart on you.

William said...

Warmth trumps aesthetics every time. DaVinci did his best work in a small room sitting by the fire.

Joe said...

RE: Radiant Floor Systems

I've talked to several people who've had such a thing. To a person, they hated it. Their feet would get uncomfortably warm while their heads would be cold, plus it would take a relatively long time to heat up a room (which is also a problem with radiators, but not as severe.)

In the house I grew up in, we had hot water radiant heaters on the baseboards. Except for the pinging sounds the system sometimes made when heating or cooling, it was very quiet and overall very nice.

Sigivald said...

Outside of the hell that is NYC, what American has a "radiator" (outside of their car, naturally, which the Enlightened European Masses normally don't have at all)?

Ah, the Times.

Endlessly parochial and rarely aware of it.

Ralph Hyatt said...

They illustrated the story with a picture of an American radiator captioned "what New Yorkers have to live with."

The radiator probably dates from the 40's or earlier and is, of course, beautiful.

FullMoon said...

In the house I grew up in, we had hot water radiant heaters on the baseboards. Except for the pinging sounds the system sometimes made when heating or cooling, it was very quiet and overall very nice.

Without a doubt the best heating system.Central heat circulates fine dust particles, is sometimes noisy, and will constantly cycle off and on.

Wall heaters and radiators heat the space around them much more than the rest of the house.

I am curious as to the energy cost of wall baseboard heat, as a large capacity boiler is needed to keep the circulating water hot.

William R. Hamblen said...

I once tossed my cookies onto a finned baseboard radiator. It was difficult to clean.

Sofa King said...

Radiant heat is much more efficient than forced air systems, although the upfront cost is higher. (and if you need air conditioning, you have to have a separate system).

I doubt that very much. Modern forced-air systems 90%+ efficient. If you are talking about total system efficiency rather than fuel-energy efficiency, then steam heat that comes from a central steam system (i.e., a steam plant, not a home steam generator) is most efficient, true. But this article is not about steam radiators but electric radiators. Here you must account for all the inefficiencies of generating electricity (typically by burning fuel), transmitting the electricity, and converting it back into heat. Piped gas wins this easily.

Frankly I am shocked that you of all people would consider yourself knowledgeable about energy efficiency!

Ann Althouse said...

"To a person, they hated it. Their feet would get uncomfortably warm while their heads would be cold, plus it would take a relatively long time to heat up a room (which is also a problem with radiators, but not as severe.)"

I would love to have my feet warm and my head cold. That's good for breathing, good for avoiding sinusitis.

As for the slowness, what is the problem? Who starts with it completely cold and tries to warm it up? Set the thermostat!

We had radiant heat in the floor of my childhood home in the 1950s. We all loved it.

Here in Madison, we have hot water heat (radiators) in the old part of the house and forced air in the newer half. I dislike the forced air because of the dryness and the noise, but it is needed for central air conditioning.

chrisnavin.com said...

When my grandpa was a kid, they built fires next to the lean-to. You fought for a spot close enough for warmth but far enough away from the smoke. You rotated front to back as you occasionally roused from sleep and made sure you and yours were safe.

Who needs these fancy f**kin' European fires?

Gramps would ask this often as we grandkids balled the yellowed pages of the NY Times in our soiled hands, oblivious to distant howlings.

We hunched transfixed as the writings of Paul Krugman curled into smoke, proud of our new, eco-sensitive, modern fires. Collective fires! Social-democratic fires!

Fires of equality!

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Here in Madison, we have hot water heat (radiators) in the old part of the house and forced air in the newer half. I dislike the forced air because of the dryness and the noise, but it is needed for central air conditioning."

I grew up in a house with radiators and can attest that hey provide heat without drying out the air. In fact, they act as moisturizers, or at least ours did with occasional blasts of steam escaping from the pressure relieve valves.

What they were not, was safe for young children. It was very easy for rough housing children to get burnt.

My wife and I visited Iceland recently and they use geothermal technology to heat their homes.

In practice this means they pump hot water up from volcanos where it is at 2000 or so degrees and pump it to homes and businesses via pipes without worrying about it losing heat cause at 2000 degrees you want it to cool down a little.

Ralph Hyatt said...

at 2000 degrees or so the water is, of course, super-heated steam.

madAsHell said...

hot water radiant heaters on the baseboards

I love the system in my house. Ting, ting, ting...and the house is warm.

Of course, if I lived south of the 45th parallel, then I might want to have some kind of A/C.

YoungHegelian said...

The house my wife & I rented near downtown Silver Spring in our much younger days had steam radiators for heat.

Our cat loved to drape herself over the hot radiator & she would just cook herself. We thought we'd come home from work one day & just find a puddle of kitty fat on the floor.

Well, one day dear kitty barfed up her dinner all over the radiator. We tried to clean it as best as we could, but there were too many nooks & crannies where we couldn't get the fried & dried cat food out. The house smelled like roasting cat food for the next week.

Marc said...

Quite by chance (was viewing a video of a restorer as she did her work on a panel of a mediaeval altarpiece), I looked at another video in series and ecco! the first of the featured designer's pieces is... a radiator. Begins at 1:09. "An over-the-top Baroque radiator."

http://www.arttube.nl/nl/video/Boijmans/DP_Joris_Laarman

Kirk Parker said...

Firehand,

"It's from EUROPE! ... It MUST be better than our stuff!"

Interestingly, once when we lived in Africa a German colleague passed on an old Quelle catalog to us. Hardly a page went by without something or other being billed as the "lastest XYZ from America!!!!". The grass is greener regardless of which direction you're facing, I guess.

John Nowak said...

I think Sigivald has the right of it.

Offhand, I don't recall even seeing a radiator since I lived in France.