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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tapio Wirkkala: Works in wood

While I've never kept it a secret that I love the work of  Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala, I've usually mentioned in passing the pieces completely out of my price range and have focused instead on the ceramic work he did for Rosenthal, such as his Pollo vase and Kingfisher figure, both of which I'm proud to own.

However, the laminated birch bowls he designed during the 1950s are a joy to behold. They were produced by Soinne and Kni of Helsinki, being named by House Beautiful magazine as 1951's "most beautiful object," as well as winning a prestigious award at the 1954 Milan Triennale.

These exquisite bowls and trays often bring $4000-12,000 at auction, but in 2012 a 56" long version fetched €31,000 (approximately $35,000) at Quittenbaum.

From, and

Until I can afford one of these beautiful pieces, I will content myself with the next best thing: one of Wirkkala's porcelain leaf dishes for Rosenthal. That might be the perfect housewarming gift for myself when we move. - wohnfaumformer - ModernDesign20

Monday, February 23, 2015

House-buying saga: The search begins anew

Here are some of the houses we looked at over the weekend. They all had features we loved. Some had to be eliminated for having back yards that are too small for the boys to play or to build another MIL apartment.  Others had floor plans that wouldn't give us enough privacy till we build a new "nest," but several are still contenders.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

House-selling saga: We gotta get out of this place!

Our house is under contract, and closing has been slated for the end of this month.

We made an offer on the house I mentioned in a previous post. During the 10-day option period, we received an inspection report that contained some troublesome observations, so my SIL had appointments all week with workmen who weighed in on the seriousness of the problems.

Electrical, plumbing and roofing issues turned out to be minor. Not so with the HVAC and the foundation, which were going to be very costly to repair. To make things worse, we were told by representatives of both companies that the seller clearly attempted to hide the problems.

With only 24 hours till our option period was to end, it became apparent that the seller wasn't going to step up and make things right, so we withdrew our offer and started to look for another house. We were all disappointed, but we knew it was the right thing to do.

As it stands now, we will need to make some immediate decisions in order to have a place to stay in a week or so. Worst-case scenario is that we'll have to move into a hotel for a few days till we find a rental to live in while we continue the search for our perfect house. Not the way we wanted things to play out, but not the end of the world either. We have a very promising list of houses to look at next week and the option of a lease-back till March 10.

My daughter reminded all of us that we need to take the advice of Dory from Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming. And she's right. Things have a way of sorting themselves out if you just keep doing the next right thing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Help archive Harry

In 1960 Harry Bertoia accidentally struck a rod and was fascinated by the sound it made. From that time till his death in 1978, he experimented with tonal sculptures he called Sonambients. In a Pennsylvania Dutch fieldstone barn, he recorded more than 350 reels of tape and released eleven Sonambient LPs, the final creative masterworks of his lifetime.

The Harry Bertoia Foundation, Bertoia Studios and Important records currently have a Kickstarter project underway, hoping to fund the purchase of studio gear necessary to transfer the tape to electronic format.

I've contributed to the cause. If you're interested, you can get more information via the Kickstarter site.

Harry Bertoia and a few of his Sonambients

Here are a few of the gifts contributors can receive as a token of appreciation for their generosity.

Sonambient  tee

Sonambient poster

Bertoia Polaroid pack

50 Photos book (numbered edition of 500)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bulbfest 2014

Window box #1

Window box #2

Two window boxes. Exactly the same number of bulbs planted in each.

I'm guessing the squirrels threw a huge party one afternoon last fall and forgot to invite me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

House-selling saga: Spring flowers

Back in the fall, Grandsons #1 and #2 helped me plant several new varieties of iris, as well as literally hundreds of bulbs...crocus, daffodils and tulips. When we put our house on the market recently, the three of us were afraid that we'd move away before getting to see any blooms, but thanks to some unseasonably warm weather, the bulbs were tricked into thinking that spring is here, and new plants popped up everywhere.

We monitored their progress daily, aware that the tentative closing date on the house is drawing near. First we saw the tips of plants peeking above the dirt, then tiny leaves emerging, and finally buds forming and maturing. Sunday night we had freezing rain and woke up yesterday to find ice temporarily hindering the opening of the first flower, but later in the day we had a glorious bloom, and, by the looks of things, we'll see several more before we go.

Even though we're leaving them behind for someone else to enjoy, we've had the pleasure of seeing at least part of our hard work pay off.

February 8

February 10

February 14

February 15

Later February 15

February 16

Later February 16

 Even a few later-blooming tulips are beginning to come out.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Olivetti Underwood Studio 45

Several weeks ago, we won an Ebay auction for this Olivetti Underwood Studio 45 typewriter. We've been so preoccupied with real estate goings-on that we haven't ordered a new ribbon for it, but as soon as we do, it will be in the store.

To see if I could get some information about it, I searched my friend Ton's blog I dream lo-tech and was delighted to find out that it has a bit more of a pedigree than I expected. Seems it was a creation, like the well-known red Valentine, of famed Italian designer Ettore Sottsass.

Our Olivetti Underwood Studio 45 typewriter by Ettore Sottsass

Alternate view of Studio 45

Emblem signifying Olivetti's purchase of controlling interest in Underwood in 1959,
the merger being completed in 1963

Serial number, indicating this machine was made in 1969.

Print ad of Duke Ellington with Studio 45

The Sottsass Valentine, realeased on February 14, 1969

Friday, February 13, 2015

Another fabulous Eichler for sale in Walnut Creek, California

Another Eichler home has been listed in the Rancho San Miguel neighborhood of Walnut Creek, California. The mid-century beauty has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths and is located on a large lot in a cul-de-sac. The 2,037 square foot house features post and beam architecture with vaulted ceilings, skylights and soaring glass walls, globe pendant lights throughout, radiant wall heating, a large sun room and a park-like back yard. It is listed at $850,000.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

California Modernists: Solo exhibitions by Chris Turnham and Loris Lora

Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, has announced an upcoming art exhibition that is something many of you will want to attend. Illustrator and printmaker Chris Turnham will launch his new silk screens, while illustrator Loris Lora will exhibit paintings from her new Leporello-bound book Eventually Everything Connects. The show will celebrate California Modernism, from Eames to Disney.

February 21 through March 1
Opening Reception is February 21, from 7:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m.
210 East Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801

Square House

LAX by Chris Turnham

Close-up from Eventually Everything Connects

Eventually Everything Connects

Sunday, February 8, 2015

House-selling saga: New bedroom planning...marathon style

I was kept busy for several days staging the main house for showing. I had to re-decorate around the front door that is orange on the inside. Quite a few of my stored pieces were put into service, as my daughter and SIL hadn't gotten around to changing out their previous blue, gray and red color scheme. They're a lot more relaxed about things like that than I am and were waiting for a rug they liked to go on sale. I may have mentioned that they tease me about being obsessive-compulsive when it comes to decorating, which may or may not be true, but with the house about to go on the market, they were more than willing to turn me loose inside their home. 

I'm happy to report that negotiations...both selling and buying...are now well underway, giving me time to move forward with plans for a new place. Although a great deal of love and effort went into the planning of my little Modernist Nest, I'm always ready for change and the challenge that goes with it. Naturally, I'm shopping, pinning and creating mood boards around the clock, just like I did before.

Here are a couple of directions I'm going with ideas for a new bedroom. I love the colors in the first bedspread, but perhaps the pattern is a bit "little girlish" for a 66-year-old woman. I want the room to look modern but not boho/trendy, which will be on the way out soon enough, if it isn't already. 

I also love the serene, more sophisticated look of the neutrals. And maybe serene is what a bedroom is supposed to be. My kitchen plans don't include a lot of bright color, so I wonder if that is heralding a toning down of my surroundings. I wonder, too, if I'd quickly get bored.

Be honest. Which do you like better?



Maybe some pops of color would keep me from tiring of the neutrals. But then am I right back to a colorful bedroom? More things to ponder at 2 a.m. Alas, it's sounding more and more like OCD.