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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Potato, potahto...

After my post about pronunciations of designer names and the confusion about the correct way to say Hans Wegner's surname caused by a certain video I watched, I tried to find contact information for Marianne Wegner Sørensen, who assumed leadership of her father's design studio in 1993. I was unable to find an email address or phone number for her, so I contacted the North American headquarters of Carl Hansen and Son. I will consider their answer the final word on the issue of pronouncing Hans Wegner's name, at least for purposes of the list in my post. I doubt that many of you spent the weekend sitting on the edge of your seat with bated breath, just waiting to hear this news, but for those who did...

My email to Carl Hansen and Son:

Please give me a definitive answer about the pronunciation of “Wegner.” I recently watched a video interview with Knud Erik Hansen, and he seemed to pronounce it several different ways.

I have heard it pronounced “VEG-ner,” “VIG-ner,” “VINE-er,” “WEG-ner” and “WIG-ner” and “WEE-ner.”  Please...what is correct?

Dana McGill-Perez

I received an almost immediate response from the company:

Hi Dana,

Thank you for your email. I can understand the confusion. When we refer to Hans J. Wegner outside of Denmark, we pronounce it phonetically as Veg-ner. In the Danish language, it is correctly pronounced Vee-ner.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Emily O’Gorman
Director of Operations
Carl Hansen & Son Inc.

Before moving from the Wegner topic for a while, some of you might be interested to know that  Marianne Wegner Sørensen trained as an architect and worked as her father's employee for 20 years before taking over leadership of the studio. She herself is a furniture designer. 

 Marianne Wegner Sørensen, daughter of Hans Wegner

Oval extension table by Marianne Wegner Sørensen's nice to have the Wegner ball of twine untangled. Now we can move on to "Hvidt." Is it VILTH or VEET?  At this point, does anyone care? Or should we just call the whole thing off?

Monday, May 30, 2011

More fat lava

It's a inexplicable phenomenon, but as soon as I learn about something, I start running into it everywhere. Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't even know that fat lava pottery existed. Then when we went to a furniture auction Thursday night, sitting atop a teak mid-century credenza were two really nice pieces of West German pottery.

By the time lots #206 and #207 came up for bidding, most of the mid-century crowd had gone home, and I was hoping none of the fancy-schmancy antique folks would be interested. Apparently that was the case. The first piece started really low, and although it got a couple of half-hearted bids, I ultimately won it at a very reasonable price.

I was able to get the second piece too...and at an even better price. I'm going to have to research the markings. I think they both might be Scheurich, but I could be wrong. After all, I'm a complete novice at identifying fat lava.


I think the new ewer it will be beautiful with this pot the SIL picked up recently at an estate sale. 

Fat lava planter by Bay

Sunday, May 29, 2011


The SIL has an opportunity to pick up a beautiful daybed for the store, and he asked for my opinion. I'm probably biased, because as a child growing up in a solidly middle-class family where you just had plain ol' beds that you had to make up before the school bus came, the idea of a daybed conjured up images of rich, glamorous women lolling about and eating bonbons. So, of course, I cast my vote for him to get it.

Naturally, my fascination with daybeds doesn't mean that one would sell in the store...unless others of you out there share my feelings about them. If you found an absolutely gorgeous daybed, would you have room for it in your house? Would you make room? I would, but don't let me influence you in any way.

While you're making up your mind, take a look at these gorgeous things.

Barcelona by Mies van der Rohe...probably the best-known MCM daybed

Bruno Mathsson daybed

Edward Wormley daybed

Eileen Gray daybed

Hans Wegner daybed

Jens Risom daybed

Peter Hvidt daybed

Thonet daybed
Update 6/1/11:

I included this image in my original post and incorrectly identified it as a Paul McCobb piece. Thanks to Jonathan Goldstein, whom I consider the ultimate authority on Paul McCobb design, I now know that the daybed was designed by Clifford Pascoe for Modernmasters. To learn more about this common misconception, take a look at a very well researched post on Jonathan's blog Planner, Perimeter, Predictor, Paul McCobb.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Update: Lucienne and Robin Day

Last September I posted about Lucienne Day, and in November I posted about her husband, Robin Day. The celebrated British couple is often compared with their American counterparts, Charles and Ray Eames. Lucienne's textile design and Robin's furniture design pioneered the modern aesthetic in post-war England. Both Lucienne and Robin Day died last year.

Thanks to my daughter's friend Rene's blog, I found out that the work of Lucienne and Robin Day will be exhibited until the end of June at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex. Although I don't have the money to hop a plane and attend the show myself, maybe some of you who live across the Atlantic will be able to go and tell us about it afterwards.

If, like me, you can't make the trip, you may have to be content with this excellent slideshow on the BBC site. Not only does it contain stunning images of the Days' work with narration by Simon Martin, the head of curatorial services at the gallery, but it also features music by Duke Ellington and Pink Floyd, Sir Adrian Boult conducting Brahms and The Byrds. It is a treat for the eyes and ears.

Here are a few more of my favorite designs by the Days, some of which you'll see in the slideshow.
Lapis by Lucienne Day
Herb Antony by Lucienne Day
Parkland by Lucienne Day
Springboard by Lucienne Day
Royal Festival Hall armchair by Robin Day
Fauteuil chair by Robin Day
Hillestack chair by Robin Day

Update to the update (6/25/11): A fellow blogger across the Atlantic did get to see the exhibit and posted pictures. I'm at the same time green with envy and appreciative of all the wonderful images in the post at chairsmith.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Furniture heaven

OK, I've died and been in furniture heaven two days in a row. First I found Evan Andersen's blog, and through it I found Ryan Mails, about whom I posted yesterday. I put you onto Evan's blog yesterday, but I didn't find his website till today. Now you get a second installment of handcrafted goodness.

Evan works in a variety of woods and makes beautiful custom cabinetry as well as extraordinary furniture. He has created some of the most unique pieces I've ever seen. I'm tempted to show you all of them, but I want to leave some surprises for your visit to his site.

Even though I usually focus on things mid-century modern, our store's tagline is "A century's worth of great design." When I find exceptional 21st century designers, especially when their pieces would be perfect in mid-century homes, I just have to share them with you. Feast your eyes.

Torque coffee table, black walnut and steel

Atarae bed, black walnut with maple slats

Cherry side table

Cherry bedside table

TV cabinet

Maple home office

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Simply beautiful

Not long ago, I found a very interesting blog called fiftyrings, written by woodworker Evan Andersen. It is devoted to mid-century and modern wood furniture and is filled with great images that I think you would enjoy. Recently Evan featured another woodworker named Ryan Mails on his blog. Ryan's website, Mails Wood Work, showcases some of the most beautiful handmade furniture I've seen. In addition to selling from his site, he has an Etsy shop.

Ryan Mails has a MA in Public History and has one of the most fascinating and readable profiles I've found on the Etsy site. His educational background in history and his research of 19th-century homes and early Southern furniture intensified an appreciation for and understanding of early handcrafting which had its start during his childhood. He comes from a long line of accomplished craftsmen. His grandfather was a woodworker and his uncle, a master carpenter. His father, a painter and architect, practiced in San Francisco and Seattle, and passed on his love of Modernist design to his son.

Ryan says of his own work:

And so, I too consider myself a student of my craft. I consider my workshop a place to explore, and my collection of early tools an archive. It is a good life, and I trust that it shows in my work.

See for yourself. I think you'll fall in love with the beautiful simplicity and expert craftsmanship of his modern design.

All images courtesy

Springboard table
Gull-Wing bench
Lebanon table
Floating desk
Coffee table
Gull-Wing stool
Welcome shelf

Invitation to collaborate on a pronunciation guide

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)

Mouille, Serge  (SAIRZH MOOY-yeh)

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

Risom, Jens (YENS REE-sum)

Rohde, Gilbert (GIL-bert RO-dee)

Rojle, Frem  (FREM ROIL)

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)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Fallingwater is probably Frank Lloyd Wright's best-known design, but I never tire of looking at pictures of it.


Built as a country getaway for Edgar Kaufmann, Sr., his wife Liliane and their son Edgar, Jr., over a 30-foot waterfall in the mountains southeast of Pittsburgh, it was a modern marvel that captivated the nation when it appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1938 and still has the same effect on us today, in spite of design problems that necessitated a major renovation in 2001.

Southeast terrace
Close-up of opening over the falls

The multimedia presentations on the official Fallingwater site include architectural tour, a seasonal tour and looks at Fallingwater furniture and sculpture are just a few of the features included on the site. A Serendipitous Synergy: The Story of Fallingwater provides text and images that give a fascinating look at the clients, the architect and the construction of this spectacular home.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If money were no object

While sitting around the shop yesterday, my SIL and I played one of those "what if" games...about what pieces of furniture we'd have in our own homes if money were no object. I was surprised to find out that it would be tough to make decisions if I actually had the money in my hand and could buy anything I wanted.

We agreed that we'd have to have a Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair. It's kinda like the Holy Grail of chairs for us (although I openly pine for one of his Ox chairs, as well as a Saarinen Womb chair and a Juhl Chieftain). Since we were talking about pricing yesterday, I asked him what he'd sell a Papa Bear for if he got his hands on one. He looked at me like I had suddenly lost my mind, and said, "Sell it? You think I'd sell it?"

Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair

We both insisted that we'd have to have a group of George Nelson lamps hanging somewhere in our houses. My SIL wanted some dramatic Danish floor lamps too, while I wanted a large Poul Henningsen PH-5 lamp hanging somewhere...and a Sarfatti or a Geller or a Thurston on my desk...and, of course, a Noguchi Akari light or two somewhere. See what I mean? Narrowing it down gets harder and harder as you try to figure out exactly where you'd put the pieces in your home and which ones you'd use together in groupings. So much to choose little space.

George Nelson bubble lamps
Poul Henningsen PH-5

Gerald Thurston tripod lamp

Noguchi Akari lights

When it came to choosing our all-time favorite sofas, it was even more difficult. We realized that that we love so many sofas, it's impossible to pick just one. My SIL is a real admirer of Finn Juhl, but there's something about the drama of Paul Evans that fascinates him. (I told him I'd be afraid to sit on a Paul Evans sofa. The term "Brutalist" conjures up images of being bitten on the posterior by some wild, metal creature, although the one he chose was fairly tame by Evans's standards.)

Finn Juhl sofa
Paul Evans sofa

I immediately thought of a Florence Knoll sofa, but I'm not crazy about the metal legs. OK, maybe a Wegner or a Grete Jalk. But in the end, I was true to my real love, the wonderful Mr. Risom.

Florence Knoll sofa
Hans Wegner sofa
Grete Jalk sofa
Jens Risom sofa

By the time I finished weighing the pros and cons of all my favorite sofas, the SIL had changed his mind. He decided to go for comfort, and since he's decided that the Adrian Pearsall gondola we have is the best thing he's ever stretched out on, that was his final choice.

Adrian Pearsall gondola sofa

Dining room furniture was a bit of a challenge too. We tossed around the ideas of a Platner set or a Noguchi Cyclone table but decided we'd rather have the smaller rocking stools. There were several Scandinavian sets my SIL liked, so he really couldn't make up his mind. I finally decided that the only thing I'd give up my Drexel Profile set for is a Brasilia Cathedral table in mint condition, with the glass in the center without a scratch and the ceramic bowl without a chip (which is so rare I couldn't even find a good picture of one). Oh, and did I mention that the fabric would have to be the original bird pattern without a spot? Otherwise, I'd hang on to what I have.

Noguchi rocking stools

Warren Platner dining set

Credenzas were a little easier. My SIL decided again to go for the drama with Paul Evans, while I decided that I'd keep my Jens Risom credenza, if only for sentimental reasons, even if money were no object. It was my first really nice designer piece, and I doubt that I'll ever let it go.

Paul Evans credenza
My Jens Risom credenza

So what would your dream home have in it?  Trust me, this isn't as easy as it sounds.

Update: 5/4/2014...Three years later - Looking back at this early post was a real eye-opener. In the years since I wrote it, pieces that seemed almost impossible to attain when we first went into business have come and gone. We've sold several Papa Bear chairs, as well as dining sets and sideboards by Hans Wegner. We've had Nelson bubble lights, Noguchi cyclone tables and rocking stools and tables by Warren Platner. We've sold many Adrian Pearsall chairs and sofas and tables, as well as quite a few Paul Evans pieces. We had a Grete Jalk sofa in turquoise that was just like the orange one, and we have a Knoll sofa in the store now.

The Henningsen and Thurston lamps have remained elusive. They're still on our list of things to find, along with many items we've added along the way. I'm sure if we played "what if" today, the thing on our lists might include quite a few new pieces.

I still have my Jens Risom credenza and John van Koert china cabinet, but I've moved on and sold the dining set. Things change...but that's what makes life exciting.