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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Magic 8 Ball, will I find out who designed this bench?

It is decidedly so.

And the Magic 8 Ball turned out to be right again. For over a year, we have eyed a fantastic bench at a mid-century shop in another state, but the dealer wasn't willing to sell it, because he was sure it was a designer piece. He was determined to hang onto the bench until he got more information on it, rather than underprice it.

We were in his shop on a picking trip a while back and learned that the mystery had been solved. The bench is a Martin Borenstein design for Croyden Furniture Inc. It's part of the Challenge series he created for the company. Naturally, we were so excited about finding the answer to our long-standing question that we forgot to take a picture of our friend's bench, which has been recovered in the colorful velvet fabric called Caravan by Jack Lenor Larsen (see ottoman in yesterday's post), but here is a photo of a similar bench.

Bench for the Challenge series by Martin Borenstein for Croyden
sultana.1stdibs.com

The Challenge series included a sofa with attached end tables and built-in lighting in several variations. It was designed in 1952.

Croyden Challenge group
antiqueandmodern.com
Challenge sofa
r20thcentury.com
Original ad for the Challenge series
rocketcentury.com

As for our buying the bench...Well, since finding out what it is, he's put a pricetag on it that's sky high. Now the question is, "Magic 8 Ball, will he ever lower the price?" 

Reply hazy. Try again.

12 comments:

  1. LOL. I love my Magic 8 Ball. And that ad is divine. I would have guessed the 70s for that bench, so don't ask me about design, stick with the 8 Ball.

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    1. I was surprised to find out it was designed in the early 50s too. I agree that it looks like it could have come out of the 70s. Maybe I do need to consult the Magic 8 Ball more often. :)

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  2. the ad is so yum!! this bench has a regency/deco kind of leg married to clean lines...nice!

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    1. I agree...interesting contrast, isn't it?

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  3. I love solved mysteries like this! Keep them coming!

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    1. Isn't it exciting when you finally uncover information about a piece? I love the detective work that goes with this business.

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  4. Hi Dana...

    I saw some of your newest pieces and they are fabulicious!!! If I ever get to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I am definitely going to visit your shop and hopefully bring something back with me.

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    1. That would be great! Keep checking back, because my SIL just called to tell me about all the new pieces he's picked up that I haven't seen yet. And he's not even finished taking pictures of the Brasilia yet! I'm so excited!

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  5. I came real close to bidding on the Challenge sofa that Rocket Century has in their "shop". It was at a big estate auction (the one I got the danish trundle daybed at!) and I don't think that the bidding went crazy on it at all because it was just too much of a "challenge" to haul. I didn't bid at all once I saw how massive it was. The upholstery was bad as well. Again...to much of a "challenge". It was / is pretty cool though!

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    1. Yes, some pieces you just have to pass on. I can imagine that sofa being a bear to haul. And we're a lot pickier about what we buy these days than when we first got into the business. We might have a rare designer piece refinished, and we'll sometimes have pieces recovered for purely aesthetic reasons, but if a piece is rough, we generally leave it behind.

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  6. Yes, Dana, we were the ones who were lucky enough to get the winning bid on one of these fantastic sofas. I showed the finished product, after re-conditioning the walnut, polishing the legs and replacing the tube bulbs on the three fiberglass tube lights that are different then any of them shown. It really is a fantastic piece and we are holding off on having it re-upholsterd because it is such a personal choice. We will work with a client on having this done their way.
    The trick to this very long sofa is that it has a center hinge allowing it to completely fold in half after you pop out the sofa piece. It really is amazing. Mr. Modtomic and I joked about how it really was a weird shame that it ended up a castoff in the family's dark basement. They had to have paid a considerable amount of money for it new, because they were custom ordered. You can now see the finished product in beautiful condition which will be amazing with new upholstery in our online store. http://www.rocketcentury.com/Store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=14&idproduct=433

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    1. Just gorgeous! You really hit the jackpot on that piece!

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