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Saturday, January 31, 2015

House-selling saga: Being buyer-friendly

In my role as "ambiance manager" while our house is on the market, of course it's my job to keep the main house and my little house neat, clean and perfectly staged, but attention to several other details makes the place even more "showable."

Before potential buyers arrive, I make the rounds and turn on every overhead light and table lamp in both houses and open the blinds at an appealing angle. As soon as I'm finished with the lights, I spritz the rooms, making sure there's only a hint of scent in the air...pleasant without really being noticeable.  My longtime favorite home fragrance is Coriander and Olive Tree by Fruits & Passion. It's been a staple at my house for almost a decade because of its clean, aromatic and slightly woody scent.  On chilly days, I turn on the gas fireplace and make sure a nice blaze welcomes guests as they walk into the living room.

The last thing I do is make sure the Cathrineholm bowl on the kitchen counter is full of an assortment of yummy Lindt chocolate truffles. (That's another reason for taking the boys to their other grandparents' house. Grandson #1 loves the white chocolate ones,  so it's hard to keep his hand out of that bowl when he's here!)

Cucina Coriander and Olive Tree by Fruit & Passion - Cucina

It's going to be cold and rainy today...perfect for a fire.

Going broke on Lindors
This was full to the brim two showings ago!

While we're on the subject, would it be too rude for me to say that I wish potential buyers would make a little more effort to be seller-friendly? I don't prescribe to the notion that "the customer is always right." I went on a mini-rant the other day about all the candy wrappers I've had to pick up from our yard. I also find it strange that people frequently rearrange things on our shelves and tables. I'll come home to find vases and plants moved closer together or farther apart, as if someone has attempted to "correct" a grouping of accessories. I know people want to look in closets and drawers to assess space, but I'm not sure that handling personal belongings falls in the same category. Am I wrong?

Friday, January 30, 2015

House-selling saga: Planning ahead

Having a house for sale is not for the faint of heart. First, there's the problem of keeping your house perfectly clean and presentable at a moment's notice.  With two young sons, my daughter and SIL solved that problem by staging the main house perfectly and then bunking with his parents while the house is on the market.

I, on the other hand, am living in my little house out back...which means I'm sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and dusting constantly, as well as turning on all the lights and refilling the candy bowl in the main house first thing every morning. I'm also leaving home constantly, sometimes for large chunks of time. For example, there were three showings scheduled yesterday, starting at 11 a.m. The last one was supposed to be from 3:30-4:30. I had been away from home almost all day, and my daughter needed to pick some things up after work, but when we got to the house at 5:00, people were still there. And they were still there till well after 6:00. That's fine when the house is vacant. Not so much when it's occupied.

We agreed to show the property with no advanced notice, meaning someone driving by the house could call the number on the sign and be walking through in a matter of minutes. That's good for selling, but it's not always so easy on the seller. I had finally settled in at 6:55 and was about to order take-out when I got a text. Another showing at 7:15.  These days I do laundry and take a shower after 10 p.m. I even have to schedule bathroom breaks around house showings.

But who am I to complain?  Now I have all the time in the world, while I'm sitting in the grocery store parking lot (my new home-away-from-home when there's a prospective buyer looking through my closets), to plan all the things I want to do to a new place.

My parking lot hang-out

And my stake-out down the street,
if I don't feel averse to being a bit of a creeper

Once a time-sucker, now a time-filler

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Exhibition of post-war Hungarian ceramics

Although my personal collection of pottery is made up primarily of West German and Italian pieces, I'm fascinated by the work of ceramists all over the world, so when I received this press release today, I wanted to share it, especially since so many readers of this blog are from the UK.

Press Release
Forma Hungarica
Post-war Hungarian Ceramics from the Graham Cooley Collection
Kings Lynn Arts Centre 2nd May –20th June 2015
29 King St, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 1HA. Phone: 01553 779095

Design behind the Iron Curtain is a fascinating area of research. From 1945 to 1990 many great artists developed their work in isolation from the West. Interestingly, this also meant isolation from what we might call "accepted history," because most of these great practitioners have not recently been written about or exhibited. Rediscovery and reassessment is an essential part of progress in historical analysis. It is also the most enjoyable part of piecing together information about a new collection of historical objects.

The parallels between Hungarian ceramics and Czech glass are very strong. Exporting from the Comecon* countries was highly co-ordinated and controlled. Designer glass came from Czechoslovakia and designer ceramics from Hungary. There were accepted artists who could sell their work through the arts and crafts company “Iparművészeti Vállalat” or the state organised "Artex," and those promoted by the State were prolific in their time. The names of most of these artists have disappeared over time, so I hope that this exhibition will bring their work the exposure that it deserves.

The exhibition, a world first in this area, will feature over 40 objects from the Graham Cooley Collection. Gorka Geza (the great establishment figure) and Gorka Livia (his rebellious daughter, excluded from the academy) will be in the Fermoy Gallery. The main exhibition will be in the Shakespeare Barn, and period literature will be in the Red Barn. The exhibition catalog published by King's Lynn Arts Centre, with text commissioned by Peter Langh of the 567 Gallery in Budapest will be the first publication on the subject in English.

This marks the 5th fruitful collaboration between the collector and King's Lynn Arts Centre, and the exhibition promises to be both captivating and informative.

The main exhibition features the work of the following notable ceramic artists:

Gádor István | Gorka Géza | Kovács Margit | Gorka Lívia | Garányi József | Török János | Garányiné Staindl Katalin| Illés Sándor | Benkő Ilona | Janáky Viktor | Csekovszky Árpád | Bod Éva | Várdeák Ildikó | Hadamcsik Mária | Papp János | Pál Ferenc | Ferenczy Kati | Eschenbach Jenő

*Comecon, byname of Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), also called (from 1991) Organization for International Economic Cooperation, established in January 1949 to facilitate and coordinate the economic development of the eastern European countries belonging to the Soviet bloc

Monday, January 26, 2015

House-selling saga: Moving and shaking

So much for dialing my posting back a few notches. Almost immediately after announcing that I wouldn't be posting daily anymore, things on my little patch of Blogworld came to a grinding halt...but for a legitimate reason: We decided to sell our house.

We found a 1950 split-level that suits our needs perfectly. It has 5 bedrooms and 3 baths covering almost 3000 square feet. The lower level includes a huge master suite and a 2-bedroom/1 bath mother-in-law's suite with its own living room. The upper level has the original hardwood floors and tons of closets. And did I mention clerestory windows and tongue and groove ceilings? The owners liked our offer, but they wanted to see our house under contract before accepting.

Trouble was, our house wasn't ready to put on the market. We thought our house was in good shape until we started to look at it through a potential buyer's eyes. We realized that we hadn't really paid attention to the tiny imperfections that needed touch-up paint. We had procrastinated about calling someone to replace a cracked window pane. We needed a new front porch light.

The insanity began. We started running around like a bunch of crazy people trying to meet even crazier deadlines so we could start showing...appointments with the glass repairman, the real estate photographer, and a "curb appeal" guy. And, of course, we made countless trips to Lowe's and Home Depot.

We had accumulated a bunch of really useful kitchen gadgets that were out on the counters in both houses. The real estate agent told us they'd look like clutter during a walk-through, so they had to go. We had to pack 6 bins full of kids' toys for storage to eliminate that clutter and hide all the riding toys in the back yard. And then there was the bathroom closet in the main house. We took the door off months ago and put it at the curb, planning to rip off the trim and sheet rock the opening, creating open shelves, but it never got done till now. (And by now I mean still having a fan blowing on the wet paint 5 minutes before the first person came to view the house.)

In the end, though, we got it all done, and it looked good. So good, in fact, that the first real estate agent who saw it couldn't believe we wanted to sell. More space, we told her. Clearly she hasn't seen our rambunctious 4- and 5-year-olds who need more room to play.

Here are a few photos from the listing. (There are some issues with color on the real estate site, but my toned-down versions here accurately reflect what wall color looks like in the living room and kitchen. We're hoping our agent will have the problem corrected soon.) The shots of the main house will be new to most of you, although many of you will recognize my Modernist Nest, aka secondary suite/guest house/mother-in-law suite.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that the house will sell quickly...before the seller of the other house gets a better offer.

Main house

Guest house

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frankoma ashtrays and snack stands

A reader emailed me yesterday asking about his Frankoma smoking stand. He had seen a photo on a very early post from 2010...when I had only been blogging for a little over a month, in fact...that showed the stand to have a magazine rack, which his does not have, making him wonder if his was on a "married" stand.

I was fascinated by his question, and in searching for an answer, I found them with and without magazine racks, so apparently they were sold both ways.

Frankoma smoking stand in prairie green - Debra Taylor

Frankoma smoking stand/magazine rack

Over the past few years, I've found that some people love Frankoma pottery, while others find it a little too traditional. Generally, though, no one can resist the charm of the stand. It's classic mid-century. Take a look at some other examples I ran across.

This one is called the Serva-Tray with magazine rack. It was the 1955 Ceramic Award Winner in the Hess Bros. National Contest for Versatility in Design and Use. Frankoma produced it from 1955 through 1964. I wouldn't mind having one of these by my favorite chair.

Serva-Tray in prairie green

Serva-Tray in desert gold

Serva-Tray in turquoise - Bead Booty

Serving trays on stands - Bead Booty

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dialing it back a few notches

Video may have killed the radio star, but Instagram is taking a toll on bloggers.

Since September 6, 2010, I have posted daily about modernist design...with the exception of a brief hiatus when my house was being built. Coming up with something new every day may be a snap for the big-time blogs that employ a staff of writers, but at Mid2Mod, it's just me, and posting daily can be quite time-consuming, especially if research is involved.

It's been a great run, with almost 1600 posts, over 700 followers, and more than 4 million page hits. At the height of this blog's viewing history, 5,000-10,000 page views were being logged each day. However, the popularity of Instagram has reduced those views by half, so I've decided to cut back my posts to a couple a week. If something really inspires me, I'll post more.

I hope you'll stick around as a regular reader. I'm not leaving. I'm just opting for a more relaxed pace.
Uploaded by fritz5173 on Jan 16, 2008

Friday, January 9, 2015

Festivo finds

I've bought a number of Timo Sarpaneva Festivo candleholders to sell in the store, but until recently, I didn't have any of my own. Right before Christmas, I picked up a 2-ring and a 3-ring to display with glass Christmas trees. I liked the way they looked on my credenza so much that I decided I needed several more.

Yesterday on Ebay, I picked up three more...a 1-ring, another 2-ring, and a 4-ring. I was lucky enough to get all three for less than most stores ask for a single 1-ring, so I was pretty pleased with my bargain, especially since I've read on a couple of retail sites that Iittala has stopped exporting their candleholders to the United States. I guess that means I'll be searching Ebay and Etsy for the larger ones to complete my collection. I'd at least like to get a 5-ring and a 6-ring before they get hard to find.

My bargain Festivo candleholders

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pronunciation guide redux

Back in May of 2011, I posted a pronunciation guide for the names of several mid-century designers, manufacturers and architects that frequently give people problems. Since that time, I've included a link to the original post whenever I've written about a person or a company whose name I thought might be difficult to pronounce. (I've even slipped in a few modern designers here and there that I believe will eventually join the ranks of iconic 20th century designers.)  Over the years, the list has grown substantially. Some of you were around for the 2011 post but haven't seen the list recently. For many of you, the list will be new. In honor of the recent 100+-name milestone, I thought I'd repost it today and see if it answers some of your questions...or if you have any suggestions for names to add.


Who, me? Mispronounce a designer name??? Never!!!

I've lost count of how many times I've heard or read, "Someone ought to compile a pronunciation guide for mid-century designer names." In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've said so myself. I don't know why there aren't several floating around the Internet, but if there are, I certainly haven't found them...and, trust me, I've looked.

A few months ago, I started compiling a list. Let me say immediately that this list is not exhaustive, nor is it authoritative. It most certainly is not meant to be prescriptive. I have gathered the pronunciations from video interviews with museum curators, university professors, people who have worked directly with or for the designers, representatives of factories where the designer's furniture was or is still made, as well as relatives of the designers. I've found other pronunciations in forum discussions and sites that offer pronunciations by native speakers. I have emailed universities and corporate offices and museums. Still, I'm sure the list contains inaccuracies, and I welcome corrections and additions. If you have researched a name and can document where you found it pronounced, by all means, let me know. (I wish I had documented my sources as I went along. At some point, I will go back and find them again.)

Once more, let me stress that this is only a first draft, and a very short one at that, containing names I researched as I posted here about a designer or as we had a designer piece in the store. Many more names need to be added. And it's conceivable that a totally authoritative list may prove almost impossible to compile. I was watching a video interview recently with Knud Erik Hansen of Carl Hansen and Son, a company that has produced Hans Wegner chairs since 1949. Erik Hansen should know how to say Wegner's name, right? In the course of the brief interview, he pronounced the name "WIG-ner," "WEE-ner" and "WEG-ner," while the interviewer, at various times, pronounced the name "VIG-ner," "VEG-ner" and "WEG-ner." And then there are those who insist it's "VINE-er."

In addition to a sharing of information, I hope this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion of many topics. For instance, there are two distinct camps on the issue of "Americanizing" the names of designers from another country. Some say it is perfectly acceptable, even preferable, to pronounce names such as Georg Jensen's as "George Jensen" with a soft G and a J, instead of "GYOR YEN-sen" with a hard G and a Y sound. They say it comes across as pretentious to use the native language pronunciation. The other camp says that a name, if possible, should be pronounced as the designer would have introduced himself or herself and that it's arrogant to think that making a name sound American is somehow preferable. This is one of many discussions that could yield some interesting opinions. (Another topic that readily comes to mind is why I chose not to use the International Phonetic Alphabet in my pronunciation guide, even though I did a semester's worth of college classwork on the IPA. However, the long and short of it is that I was simply too lazy, so that discussion would be over fairly quickly.)

All that said, here's a start....good or bad. At least now we won't have to bemoan the fact that no one has made an attempt. I hope you will collaborate with me in compiling a much longer and more accurate list...and that we won't take ourselves too seriously while doing it. After all, the earth won't spin off its axis if we get some of them wrong.


Aalto, Alvar (AHL-var AHL-toe)

Aarnio, Eero (AIR-o AHR-nee-o)

Arström, Folke (FOLK-eh AR-strahm)

Auböck, Carl (KARL OH-bach)

Bagni, Alvino (al-VEE-no BAH-nee)

Balazs, Howard (HOW-ard BAHL-ahsh)

Barovier, Ercole (air-co-LAY bah RO-vee-ay)

Baughman, Milo (MY-low BOFF-man) Per email from Brigham Young University and

Bauhaus (BOW-hows) The vowels in both syllables rhyme with "wow."

Bertoia, Harry (HARE-ee ber-TOY-ya) 

Boeri, Cini  (CHEE-nee bo-ED-ee)

Bojesen, Kay (KY bo-EH-zhen)

Borsani, Osvaldo (ōs-VAHL-do bore-sah-nee)

Bouroullec, Ronan and Erwan (ro-NAHN and air-WAHN BOO-roo-lek)

Bozzi, Augusto (ow-GOOS-toe BOT-zi)

Braun - (BROWN) Per interview with Dieter Rams

Breuer, Marcel (mar-SELL BROY-er)

Briard, Georges (ZHORZH bree-ARD)

Buffa, Paolo (POW-lo BU-fah)

Caldas, Jose Zanine (zjos-EH ZAH-nee-nee KAHL-dahs)

Capron, Roger (ro-ZHAY cap-RONE)

Castiglioni, Achille (a-KEE-lay cas-tee-lee-O-nee)

Ćmielów - (ch-MEL-oof)

Coggin, Thayer (THAY-er KOG-in) The person and the company, per phone call to company

Colombo, Joe (JOE co-LOME-bo)

Day, Lucienne (LU-see-en DAY)

Ditzel, Nanna (NAN-uh DEET-zl)

Eames, Charles and Ray (EEMS)

Franck, Kaj (KY FRAHNK)

Frey, Albert (AL-bert FRAY)

Gropius, Walter (WAL-ter GRO-pee-us)

Halabala, Jindřich (YIN-jee HAH-luh-BAH-luh)

Henningsen, Poul (POLE HEHN-ing-sehn)

Hundevad, Poul (POLE HOON-da-vahd)

Husted, Wayne (WANE HUE-sted)

Hvidt, Peter (PE-ter VILTH) Recently, I heard a native Danish speaker say VEET.

Jacobsen, Arne (AR-nee YAK-ob-sen)

Jalk, Grete (GRAY-tuh YELK)

Jensen, Georg (GYOR YEN-sen)

Jeré , C. (a copyrighted pseudonym formed by combining the names of Jerry Fels and Curtis (Kurt) Freiler of Artisan House, undoubtedly to create the illusion of having a French designer on staff) (SEE Zhair-AY)

Jongerius, Hella  (heh-la yon-HEER-ee-us)

Juhl, Finn (FIN YOOL)

Kagan, Vladimir (VLAD-uh-meer KAY-gan)

Kåge, Wilhelm (VIL-helm KOr-guh)

Kahn, Louis (LOO-ee KAHN)

Kaipiaisen, Birger (BEER-yer KY-pee-i-sen)

Karasz, Mariska (mah-REESH-kah KAHD-ahs)

Kjaerholm Poul (POLE CARE-holm)

Klint, Kaare (KORE-ah KLINT)

Koenig, Pierre (PEE-air KONE-ig)

Kristiansen, Kai (KY kris-tee-AYN-sen)

Kroehler - (KRAY-ler)

Kvadrat - kva-DRAHT (The "k" is pronounced by Danish speakers, and the "kv" blend is very slight. Most English speakers will probably opt for "kah-DRAHT.)

LeCorbusier (LUH car-BOO-see-yay)

Liebes, Dorothy (DOR-o-thee LEEBS)

Loos, Adolf (A-dolf LORS)

Maharam (mah-HARE-um)

Matégot, Mathieu  (mat-tyoo mat-tay-GO)

Mathsson, Bruno (BRU-no MAT-son)

Mogensen, Borge (BUR MO-en-sen)

Neutra, Richard (RICH-ard NOY-tra)

Noguchi, Isamu (ee-SAH-moo no-GOO-chee)

Norell, Arne (AR-nee NORE-el)

Palmquist, Sven (SVEN palm-KEEST)

Panton, Verner (VAIR-ner PAN-tun)

Pearsall, Adrian (A-dree-an PEER-sall)

Pei, I. M. (I. M. PAY)

Piva, Paolo (POW-lo PEE-va)

Poli, Flavio (FLAH-vee-o PO-lee)

Ponti, Gio (JAH POWN-tee)

Probber, Harvey (HAR-vee PRO-ber)

Quistgaard, Jens (YENS QUIST-a-gar) Per video interview with Jens Quistgaard. He answered the phone, and that's how he said his last name.

Rams, Dieter - (DEE-ter RAHMS)

Risley, John (RIZ-lee) (short i) Per email from Wesleyan University

Rohde, Gilbert (GIL-bert RO-dee)

Risom, Jens (YENS REE-sum)

Ruscha, Ed (ED roo-SHAY)

Saarinen, Eliel (AY-lee-el SAHR-e-nen)

Saarinen, Eero (AIR-o SAHR-e-nen)

Sarfatti, Gino (JEE-no sar-FOT-ee)

Sarpaneva, Pentti (PEN-tee SAR-puh-nev-a)

Sarpaneva, Timo (TEE-mo SAR-puh-nev-a)

Sauze, Max (MAX SOZE)

Seibel, Ben (BEN sy-BELL)

Simmulson, Mari (ma-REE SIM-ul-son)

Sognot, Louis (loo-EE sone-YO)

Stam, Mart (MART STAHM)

Starck, Philippe (Fil-EEP STARK)

Thonet (TAWN-at)

Toikka, Oiva (OY-va TOY-ka)

Van der Rohe, Mies (MEES VAN der ROE)

Van Koert, John (JON von KOORT)

Vautrin, Line (LEEN vo-TRAWHN)

Vignelli, Massimo (MAHS-ee-mo veen-YELL-ee)

Volther, Poul (POLE VAHL-tah)

Wegner, Hans (HANS VEG-ner) Per an email from Carl Hansen and Son

Wikkelsø, Illum (il-LUM vi-KEL-so)

Wirkkala, Tapio (TAH-pee-o VEER-ka-la)

Wormley, Edward (ED-ward WORM-lee) The first syllable of the last name is pronounced with a long O (wōrm), rather than the O in "earthworm."

Wyzenbeek Method (WI-zen-beek) The first syllable rhymes with "my," and the last syllable rhymes with "week," per email from Bill Schap, whose company manufactures Wyzenbeek machines.

Zeisel, Eva (A-va ZY-suhl)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Modern jewelry: Betty Cooke

Betty Cooke (1924- ) is an American jewelry designer. She received a degree in fine art from Johns Hopkins University and also studied at the Maryland Institute of Art, where the taught a course called "Design and Materials" for several years after graduating.

During her early college years at Johns Hopkins, she had apprenticed with a local jeweler whose designs were very dainty and floral. She taught Cooke to solder, but Cooke's modern designs were all her own.

In the 1940s, Cooke packed up a box of her jewelry and made a trip across the United States, trying to persuade retailers to carry her work. Along the way she stopped by the Walker Art Center, which was putting together a show. They included several of her pieces in their 1948 Good Design show, which helped launch her career.

Over the years, Cooke's work has been seen on the fashion runway, included in State Department tours overseas, has been acquired for collections of prestigious museums, and has won numerous prizes and awards, most notably the De Beers Diamond Today awards in 1979 and 1981.

Cooke has also collaborated with her architect husband, William Steinmetz.

From and

Gold and jade ring

Silver bird brooch - Zuburbia

Gold and lapis bead ring

Silver and quartz neck ring

Silver and wood brooch

Silver and brass brooch

Silver and plexiglass brooch

Gold ring

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Louis Sognot

Louis Sognot (1892-1969) was a French designer and educator. He studied at the Ecole Bernard Palissy after his military service and went on to teach at the Ecole Boulle in 1926, and later at the Technical College of Duperré Street. In 1938 he became a professor at the School of Applied Arts in Industry, and in 1947 he became workshop teacher-leader at the National School of Arts and artistic director at the School of the Central Union of Decorative Arts.

In 1919 he joined Atelier Primavera Great Spring Stores and was there in a leadership position until 1939. With Le Corbusier , Charlotte Perriand , Pierre Jeanneret and René Herbst , he presented The House of the Young Man at the World Expo 1935 in Brussels.

During the 1950s and 1960s, his modern designs in wood, metal, leather and rattan won a number of awards.



Metal and leather chairs

Coffee table

Coffee table

Slipper chairs

Slipper chairs and ottoman

Rattan floor lamp