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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lucite grapes and lavabos

A couple of decorator items were de rigueur in middle class mid-century homes, at least all the ones I remember. One was a cluster of Lucite grapes on a driftwood stem. The other was an inexplicable nod to more traditional styling: the lavabo, consisting of a wall-mounted water tank with spigot and bowl, usually non-working and used as a wall pocket for artificial flowers or fruit.

While the Lucite grapes were rather modern in appearance, with their exaggerated size and leafless stems, the lavabos definitely were not. No matter how sleek and low-slung a home's sofa, chairs and coffee table, the curlicued planter, reminiscent of ornate French or Italian design, somehow crept into the entryway.

Today we'd call it eclectic. Back then, it was merely incongruous. - KaeidoscopeModern - EuroFair

If I were ever tempted to revisit the lavabo, I might consider one like this atypical Italian ceramic set, with its stylized leaves and fruit. I would fill it with herbs and hang it on an exterior wall or fence. - lookonmytreasures

Monday, November 16, 2015

Horns of Plenty

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, here's a look back at the cornucopia, also known as the horn of plenty, which was a popular mid-century design element. While frequently seen as a vase or candy dish made of ceramic or glass, wire and rattan were also popular materials for larger fruit bowls. It was often found in the jewelry box as well, filled with pearls or multi-colored rhinestones.

Blenko cornucopia

Wire horn of plenty

Val St. Lambert cornucopia - antiquarianhome

Wire cornucopia

Black ceramic cornucopia - PlaceMichel

Vintage pin

Vintage pin - PennyPaperCompany

For a modern twist on an old favorite, I like this succulent-filled cornucopia I saw today on Making Lemonade.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Avant-Garde Costumes from the 1920s

In 1920s Hamburg, Germany, a couple of young dancers named Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt created a series of Expressionistic costumes that resemble retro robots, Bauhaus knights, and other fantastical creatures. Photographs of the dancers in costume taken by Minya Diez-Dührkoop in 1924 became part of the public domain this month.

Twenty full-body costumes were created for performances between 1919 and 1924, all accompanied by avant-garde music, usually composed by Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt.

The costumes themselves are held by the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe's Sammlung Moderne galleries, which plans to have the entire collection searchable online with high-resolution images. The costumes were acquired in 1924 and were left to gather dust, possibly because of the fact that the couple had recently died a sad and shocking death. Both in their 20s and in financial ruin, Schulz shot Holdt and then turned the gun on herself. Both died from their wounds.

The costumes, made of a creative mix of fabric, silver gelatin paper, cardboard, papier-mâché, plaster, leather, and other found objects, were discovered in their boxes in the 1980s. In 2012 MKG hosted a performance that reanimated the costumes, which you can see in the video below.


Photo by Minya Diez-Dührkoop

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Modboxes

In May of 2014 I posted about Greg Kelly's Modboxes. At that time, he had a Kickstarter campaign going, hoping to raise money to produce mid-century style mailboxes. That campaign was a success, and he now has a small company with over 1000 happy customers. I recently received an email from Kelly letting me know that he's launched another fundraiser on Kickstarter so he can expand his business to include the production of wall-mounted mailboxes.

The boxes will be sleek and modern. Better still, they're mix-and-match. The interior section of the box can be removed so you can change colors anytime you'd like. Kelly's plan is to offer 12 colors, giving customers 144 possible color combinations.

According to the information on Kickstarter, colors include white, black, lime green, light blue, bone white, aged copper (light green), an anodized aluminum effect, and the original five curbside Eichler Exterior Accent Colors (Turquoise, Sunflower, Pumpkin, Eucalyptus, and Paprika).

I'm a believer in supporting the entrepreneurial spirit through Kickstarter, and I'll definitely be donating to this particular campaign, because I want one of those wall-mounted mailboxes for myself!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I want...desperately

It's not often that something stops me dead in my tracks, but these shelves did. All my prized West German and Italian ceramic pieces are still packed away, and I miss them terribly, so I'm sure that's one reason I'm susceptible to shelf photos. The other reason is obvious. They're simply gorgeous.

Modern Kitchen by Seattle Architects & Building Designers Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects

We still don't know when we're going to move...or where...but I will have someone build these shelves for me wherever we go.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Constantin Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) was a Romanian-born artist who is considered the pioneer of modern abstract sculpture. In his native country, he studied at the Craiova School of Arts and Crafts, as well as the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. Then in 1903 he set out on foot for Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1905-1907.

He was influenced by Rodin, but in 1907 he was commissioned to create a funeral monument for a rich landowner. The result was The Prayer, a work which marked the beginning of his process of drastically simplifying his figures almost to the point of abstraction.

He was an avid wood carver, often executing his works in wood before using marble or bronze. Many of his wood carvings reflect his interest in African art and Romanian folk art.

In 1913, his works at the Armory Show in New York attracted international attention, resulting in the creation of loyal collectors around the globe, even though critics worldwide attacked his work as too radical.

In 1920, his sculpture entitled Princess X created a scandal. The police forced him to remove the work from the gallery, because they contended it led to phallic interpretation. In 1926, his Bird in Flight was confiscated by U. S. Customs on the way to a showing at the Brummer Gallery in New York. It was so abstract that officials did not believe it was art. He was accused of attempting to introduce an industrial part clandestinely into the United States.  He sued U. S. Customs and won a two-year court battle in 1928.

Brancusi died in Paris in 1957. He bequeathed his studio and its contents to the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. His influence can clearly be seen in the works of mid-century pieces such as the forms in Eva Zeisel's Town and Country collection, the shapes of Architectural Pottery.

From and

The Prayer

Princess X

Une Muse

Bird in Space


Sleeping Muse

The Kiss

Endless Column

Table of Silence

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Our house: Bedrooms and bathrooms

A few days ago, I posted photos of most of our house, with the exception of the bedrooms and bathrooms. I promised to show the rest soon with minimal procrastination, and to my own surprise, I'm keeping that promise to you now.

My daughter's bedroom

One of the things I love most about having shutters...
the play of light on the ceiling

Master bath

My bedroom...until we find a place with a separate apartment

A glimpse of the boys' bedroom
through our jack-and-jill bathroom
(I didn't feel like picking Lego pieces
out of the carpet for a full-room shot.)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Moving on

My son-in-law will soon be closing the doors of Mid2Mod for good. The decision was bittersweet, but he has decided it's time to move on. He will be pursuing a career in real estate...hoping to specialize in mid-century homes eventually.

A sincere thank you goes out to all the customers and all the readers of this blog who have so faithfully supported and encouraged his endeavor. Even though the store will be gone, I will continue the blog. Taking us full circle, here are some of my favorite photos from the first store on Exposition.

Almost ready

Opening day

Blenko, Blendo and the ol' shag rug

The green plush Pearsall sofa we called Oscar the Couch
(and a photobomb by the shag rug again)

Richard Schultz daybed for Knoll

Braun stereo by Herbert Hirsch

Otagiri Mercantile coffee set

Jo Niemeyer signed prints

Sunday, October 4, 2015 of our house

Grandson #1 had a birthday party last weekend, so we finally had to stop procrastinating and get the last of our projects done around the house. You should have seen us scurrying around at the last minute trying to get everything finished. (We were going to rip out the granite, but that project got put on hold indefinitely when circumstances changed.)

The bedrooms and bathrooms are finished too, but I'll save those photos for a later post.  Soon, I promise. No more putting things off. (She says for at least the 10 millionth time in her life.)

And a scene from the birthday party that provided the necessary impetus for getting finished...