Friday, January 29, 2010

HAUS Music

A reader (THE reader, perhaps?) recently requested some posts of a more personal nature. In response, I thought about an incident that brought me to the subject of music. The soundtrack of my childhood was equal parts hippie, W.A.S.P., and Stuff White People Like. We listened to Enya, Crobsy Stills & Nash (plus Young when we were older), Debussy accompanied by a quietly sobbing insane piano teacher (R.I.P Marilyn), Fleetwood Mac, Vivaldi, early Van Morrison (Astral Weeks was on repeat for months), the soundtrack to Out of Africa (also played on piano with said sobbing teacher), and I recall a particular Yanni song that my best friend and I would play on cue each time we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge (fingers crossed that a ray of sunlight would pierce the heavy fog on cue, as well). Said friend would also make me "scat sing" on cue, a la Basia. I'll do it for you, if you ask. I've always been open to humiliation.

Our lives were a little strange; WE were a little strange. We spent our allowances at ethnic food restaurants. We biked long distances to buy French pastries and eat them under trees. We snuck out of the house at night to buy hot chocolate and look at the stars. We poured vegetable oil into our baths believing it to be an excellent moisturizer. Someone's mother nearly suffered a concussion the next morning.

BUT, of all our strange and beautiful habits, our long and moody love affair with pianist George Winston might be the strangest. I know every bizarre note by heart. So when the friend's parents had a big anniversary not long ago and Winston was in concert, it was natural to buy tickets as a nod to our history. I'll admit he was weirder and more obtuse than I remembered. My husband didn't like it. I'm not sure I even liked it. But when another companion criticized my choice of concerts, my husband defended it. Later I asked him why he had done that, since he didn't even like the music. He answered, "I don't have to like everything, but I tried something new and I feel like a better person for having seen him."

And that's what I love about you, my dear.

Modern madonna of the Mid West

Not everyone will agree with me, but I consider this painting to be among my top three acquisitions since I've been in this business. I wrote in the auction details that "I love how her neutral expression complicates her relationship to the artist; is she mother, lover, wife?" It's interesting how you can decode a painting using nearly the same techniques as decoding a piece of writing. I think my observations are pretty much lost on the Ebay audience, although I'm sure there are some legitimate collectors who care about such details.

Stylistically, my first instinct was "Andrew Wyeth-meets-Alex Katz". Wyeth with his somber and bleak, yet warmly pro-female portraits of Helga, and Alex Katz with his trademark large central figure with mere hints of the outer environment. Oh-did you not know that I spent two semesters as an Art History major? (Just enough knowledge to make me annoying) I'll never regret it.

This painting is really good. It pulls you in and compels you to look. And the closer you are, the better the technique. It does not fall apart upon examination. This chick's for real, yo. From a famous gallery in Kansas City, it traveled with the gallerist here to San Diego. I think it's interesting that she kept it. I think maybe it's her and her lover painted it, and instead of trying to sell it for him she hid it in the back of the gallery or placed an outrageously high price on it, sort of like I'm doing now, to prevent it's sale.

Side note: Andrew Wyeth died earlier this month, along with J.D. Salinger, the great novelist. What an amazing body of work they've left behind.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recliner is not a dirty word least in Scandinavia, that is. Far from the ugly mauve velour grips of La-Z-Boy (the name alone suggests poor grooming and other disgusting habits), the recliner can flourish in it's sculpture-like simplicity.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Eero Saarinen inspiration and more good design for children

I love this lounge and ottoman set-a sort of cross between Saarinen's Womb and Organic chairs. Simple, curvaceous, and a little Space Age but warmed up by the nubby-textured cream fabric. And since my mind always seems to veer off onto the subject of design for children, this elephant toy/sculpture is a lost goodie by Ray and Charles Eames, designed way back in 1945 if you can believe it. They had children, which I think really informed their desire to produce simple, solid, and affordable good design. Parents are such smart people. Crazed innovators, really. Because we have to be.
And just because I can, I'll create my own little nursery design on the spot, with a Stokke crib and my favorite Scandinavian textile designer Josef Frank's "Green Birds" print from 1944. Wow, just noticed the connection between all these designs. I guess we could call this nursery "Post War Optimism".

fabric photo from Remodelista

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Enzo Mari, toys as art, children as consumers, and subliminal healthfood messages

I mentioned in my first posting here that one of my "loves" is legitimate furniture and art in children's rooms. To clarify, I don't mean that you need an Eames La Chaise and an original Rothko hanging in the nursery (although I am now imagining such a nursery and it's faaabulous). But, when and why did "kid's furniture" start to mean "toxic plastic crap that won't last a year"? If anyone needs something solid, something sturdy, well-made, tactile, and visually pleasing, it's the little ones with such rapidly developing senses.
So, what I was trying to express is this: kids should have real things-real literature, real food, real music, and real furniture. And art. Enzo Mari got this. The Italian industrial designer/artist/craftsman wore many artistic hats. If you already know of him, you may associate him with his very iconic La Pera and La Mela graphic art prints. Bright, simple, appealing, and subversively pro-fruit, they make for extremely child-friendly art.
But his most notable and most collectable design was a set of 16 wooden animals (called Sedici Animali, designed for and made by Danese), carved to be individual works of sculpture art, and to interlock in innumerable ways. I recently had the great fortune and pleasure of obtaining an original circa 1972 set. It took three of us adults an hour to put the entire puzzle together, and we were literally squealing like children at each new find ("the pig!! the crocodile fits with the pig!!). Appealing across all age-groups, endlessly entertaining, and an iconic piece of art/design history. And really, really real.


Friday, January 22, 2010

DANISH MODERN Slat bench/coffee table/daybed

The workhorse of the Danish Modern furniture world. With cushions as a daybed, as a window seat, in the foyer of restaurant or creative office space, at the foot of your bed piled high with stacks of DWELL magazines, as a coffee table. This exceptional mahogany version is much longer than more common pieces. Click here for details.


Not your grandma's Thonet chair

We are all familiar with the ubiquitous Thonet cafe chairs, but during the 1960s and 70s the company did some radical experimenting, applying their bentwood techniques to chrome and ply. This is an extremely rare Mid Century Thonet lounge chair in black leather, with a fantastic sculptural bent-ply frame. Ergonomic enough for the office, but you'll want it out where everyone can see it!


Every Room Needs a Little....

...a little shine, a little glam, a little Mid Century Lucite. An original Charles Hollis Jones piece from a Palm Springs estate, circa 1970, available in (no longer available). I love how this piece almost has a Greek key motif, making it very different from the usual suspects (contemporary knock-offs from CB2, for example). Massively thick and substantial.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Room of One's Own

I won't be the first or the last to post under Virginia Woolf's stunningly articulate title. All blogging, designing, and decorating is a means of carving out our own space, our own smaller world-within-a-world, and festooning it brightly with the beauty we find.
Imagine your room-a living museum curated with personal significance to bring joy and pleasure.
I hope you'll find something you love. Here are some of the things, visual and otherwise, that currently inspire me:

1920s English button-tufted linen armchairs
Peter Dunham fig leaf fabric
vintage suzanis (handmade by a community of women upon the birth of a daughter)
the industrial beauty of Knoll, with it's brightly colored wools and cheeky collaborations
threadbare Persian rugs
feminist poetry
the unduplicated smell of smoke and cold stone in Paris
T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings..everything, everything, everything
the simplicity and iconic style of Paul McCobb pieces
a well-travelled room (nearly as interesting as a well-travelled person!)
the Bertoia "Bird" chair-sexy, comical, original
geometric hand-printed fabric on antique furniture
French press
significant furniture and art in children's rooms
Moorish patterns
Finn Juhl
Borge Mogensen


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