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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ćmielów Pottery

Once more, I've stumbled upon something interesting, quite by accident. I was looking through an auction catalog online, and I found a Ćmielów tea set.

The factory was started in Poland in 1790, and until the 1920s it was under the ownership of dukes and princes. From 1946-1951 the factory was under state supervision. It was during the 1950s that Ćmielów began to gain international recognition.

What the company calls its "Happy Period" (1956-1965) was marked by works by artists such as Henryk Jędrasiak, Mieczysław Naruszewicz, Hanna Orthwien, Lubomir Tomaszewski. Work from this period was presented at the Leipzig Fair, New York, Chicago and the Second Polish Industrial Exhibition in Moscow, as well as the Polish Exhibition of Glass and Ceramics in Berlin. The pieces were a great success in galleries around the world, including New York, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and other European capitals.

Over the years, the primary focus of the factory has been figurines, then tableware, and back to figurines again. At some point during the fascinating history of this factory, marked by fires, political upheaval, decline and reorganization, this wonderful modern tea set was produced.

From and

UPDATE: Alas, someone loved this set more than I did. I thought I had a good shot at it, because it was the only modern lot at an auction of very ornate European items, but I was quickly outbid. I had decided I would pay $50 for it, but it went for $110, and I just didn't love it that much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps

Be ready to stock up on the soon-to-be-released Pioneers of American Industrial Design "forever stamps," scheduled to go on sale in July, according to the following press release from the US Postal Service:

The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamp pane honors 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers. Encompassing everything from furniture and electric kitchen appliances to corporate office buildings and passenger trains, the work of these designers helped shape the look of everyday life in the 20th century. The stamps go on sale in July.

Industrial design is the study and creation of products whose appearance, function, and construction have been optimized for human use. It emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1920s but really took hold during the Depression. Faced with decreasing sales, manufacturers turned to industrial designers to give their products a modern look that would appeal to consumers. Characterized by horizontal lines and rounded, wind-resistant shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. They evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired.

Consumer interest in modern design continued to increase after World War II, when machines allowed corporations to mass produce vacuums, hair dryers, toasters, and other consumer goods at low cost. Industrial designers helped lower costs further by exploiting inexpensive new materials like plastic, vinyl, chrome, aluminum, and plywood, which responded well to advances in manufacturing such as the use of molds and stamping. Affordable prices and growing prosperity nationwide helped drive popular demand.

Even as streamlining gave way to new looks in the 1960s, the groundbreaking work of industrial designers continued to transform the look of homes and offices across the country. Today, industrial design remains an integral component of American manufacturing and business, as well as daily life.

Frederick Hurten Rhead
Frederick Hurten Rhead helped pioneer the design of mass-produced ceramic tableware for the home. He is best remembered for the sleek Fiesta® line (shown on the stamp) introduced by The Homer Laughlin China Company in 1936.

Walter Dorwin Teague
Known as the “dean of industrial design,” Walter Dorwin Teague believed that good artistic design fit both form and function into a single aesthetic package. During his career-long collaboration with Eastman Kodak Company, he designed several popular cameras, including the 1934 “Baby Brownie” (shown on the stamp).

Norman Bel Geddes
A founding member of the American Society of Industrial Designers, Norman Bel Geddes was a noted champion of streamlining. “Speed is the cry of our era,” he once said, “and greater speed one of the goals of tomorrow.” The author of highly influential books on design and urban planning, Bel Geddes created visionary new looks for cars, trains, planes, buildings, even entire cities.

Raymond Loewy
Raymond Loewy arguably did more to define the look of modern America than perhaps any other industrial designer. Loewy created the distinctive look of Air Force One and worked with NASA on the interiors of America’s first space station, Skylab. In 1971, he created the logo for the newly formed U.S. Postal Service, and his designs have appeared on several postage stamps.

Donald Deskey
Donald Deskey is best known for the lavish Art Deco interiors he designed in 1932 for Radio City Music Hall in New York City. However, he was also one of America’s most innovative industrial designers. A founding member of the American Society of Industrial Designers, Deskey was instrumental in winning public acceptance for modern design.

Gilbert Rohde
Gilbert Rohde was one of the most influential and innovative furniture designers in the U.S. His designs for Herman Miller in the 1930s and 1940s were based on simplicity and practicality and marked the beginning of modern design at the company.

Greta von Nessen
Greta von Nessen specialized solely in lighting, and none of her designs is better known than the “Anywhere” lamp (shown on the stamp). Introduced in 1951, the lamp featured a tubular aluminum base and an adjustable shade made of enameled metal. This and several other of von Nessen’s lamps have been featured in industrial design exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art.

Russel Wright
Specializing in household products, Russel Wright revolutionized the way we live at home. He designed at a time when growing numbers of Americans were shedding the prim conventions of the early 20th century in favor of simple and informal practicality. During his career, Wright created affordable modern furniture and tableware characterized by minimal but elegant forms.

Henry Dreyfuss
Considered by many to be the first designer to apply ergonomics systematically to product design, Henry Dreyfuss considered the user to be the center and focus of his industrial design work. During a career that lasted more than 40 years, he designed products that touched all corners of American life, from household appliances like clocks, sewing machines, and vacuum cleaners to tractors and even the comfortable interiors of trains and planes.

Peter Müller-Munk
Peter Müller-Munk is best remembered for the “Normandie” pitcher featured on the stamp. Introduced by the Revere Copper and Brass Company in 1935, the mass-produced pitcher was made of chromium-plated brass, an alternative to silverware that was affordable and easier to care for.

Dave Chapman
Honored by the Industrial Designers Society of America for his “vigorous sponsorship and backing of design research and high standards of industrial design education,” Dave Chapman is probably most known for his innovative and award-winning designs for classroom furniture. He also designed household appliances like refrigerators, hairdryers, radios, and electric heaters. Shown at the first exhibition of the American Society of Industrial Designers in 1947, Chapman’s streamlined sewing machines (shown on the stamp) featured a chrome grille that evoked the sleek look of contemporary automobiles.

Eliot Noyes
Eliot Noyes bridged the gap between business and art, transforming the industrial design profession into more than just a commercial venture. Rather than continue the practice of changing a product’s design every year, Noyes persuaded his corporate clients to adopt long-lasting design principles instead. He is best remembered for his long working relationship with IBM, for whom he designed buildings, interiors, and a range of office equipment, like the iconic 1961 “Selectric” typewriter pictured on the stamp. He also helped IBM and other companies develop a distinct and consistent identity.
Art director Derry Noyes selected objects designed by 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers to feature on this colorful pane of self-adhesive stamps. The selvage features a photograph of the “Airflow” fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Denis Farley photographed the fan for The Macdonald Stewart Foundation. Each stamp includes the designer’s name, the type of object, and the year or years when the object was created. The pane’s verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.


Many of you no doubt enjoyed the 2008 Eames stamps as much as I did. These new stamps should be just as much fun to use and/or collect.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Caltempo Fish Fin

Caltempo was a line made by Cleminson Pottery of El Monte, California. George and Betty Cleminson started the business in their home in 1941 and became so successful that they eventually expanded to a modern plant with over 150 workers. They produced dinnerware, kitchen items, serveware, vases and plaques. Cleminson pottery was usually produced in distinctive glaze colors...berry red, dusty pink, blues and greens, with a touch of gray. The pieces are almost always marked. The company continued production until 1963, when it was forced to close because it couldn't compete with foreign imports.

My daughter picked up this Caltempo Fish Fin triple tidbit server at an estate sale in East Texas over the weekend. It's a lovely fish scale pattern in pale pink, blue and gray. The pink glaze is very thick, giving the piece a nice textured look.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Philippe Starck explains why he designs

Philippe Starck is profoundly philosophical...and this monologue about why he designs. Enjoy!
Uploaded by TEDtalksDirector on Dec 4, 2007

Pronunciation Guide

In the store: Philippe Starck chairs

Philippe Starck (1949- ) was born in Paris and attended the École Nissim de Camondo there. In 1969 he became art director for Pierre Cardin. In the 1970s he began to design interiors for bars and clubs. In 1982 his career got a boost when he was chosen by French president François Mitterand to refurbish his apartments in the Elysée Palace. In 1984 he gained worldwide fame designing for Café Costes in Paris.

In 1985 he established the furniture-making firm XO with Gerard Mialet. Some of his most popular pieces of furniture are the Costes chair, the Von Vogelsang chair and the Lord Yo chair, all for Driade, as well as the W. W. Stool for Vitra, the Prince Aha stool and the Ghost chair, both for Kartell.

Starck has also designed all sorts of housewares, from toothbrushes to toilet brushes. Two of his most famous designs are the Juicy Salif lemon squeeqer and the Hot Bertaa kettle.

When Philippe Starck was given the 2004 Lucky Strike Designer Award by the Raymond Loewy Foundation for his life's work, the jury justified their choice as follows: "Philippe Starck is probably the most unusual, quirkiest, and most exciting designer of the past twenty years and is likely to be for decades to come."


Dr. Sonderbar chair for XO
Costes chair for Driade
Volage sofa
Prive' lounge
Magic Hole armchair
Lord Yo chair
W. W. Stool for Vitra
Monsiegneur sofa
Prince Aha stool
Ghost chair
Mr. Impossible chair
Juicy Salif  lemon squeezer
Hot Bertaa kettle
Von Vogelsang stacking armchair for Driade...the latest addition to our store

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Phillip Lloyd Powell

Phillip Lloyd Powell (1919-2008) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He studied engineering at Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) before being drafted. During World War II he served as a weather forecaster for the Army Air Corps and was stationed in England.

After the war, he settled in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He bought a book on building houses and then constructed his own home.  In 1953 he opened a showroom in New Hope and sold Herman Miller furniture and Noguchi lamps.

My SIL discovered Powell's designs and told me about him. My first reaction was, "Wow, that's like a cross between Nakashima and Paul Evans." 

Much to my delight, I found that I was right on the money; he knew both men well. George Nakashima was a neighbor and was the person who encouraged Powell to start designing his own furniture, while Paul Evans was his protégé. In the mid-1950s, a 20-year-old Paul Evans came into Powell's shop and admired his work. Powell, 14 years Evans's senior, became his mentor. They shared a studio and worked together for roughly ten years, during which time they collaborated on furniture and accessories. (Powell shared an anecdote about taking the young Evans to Sears to buy tools. Evans was denied credit, so Powell had to get friends to donate tools so Evans could work.)

It is clear that Nakashima's work had a strong influence on some of his pieces, and he and Evans shared a love for metal and wood designs. However, other pieces have Powell's own unique sense of modernism...a sort of undulating, streamlined organic beauty that is his alone.

Powell's work is known for its beautiful hand carving and for its unique detail. Often his cabinets will open to reveal an interior of silver leaf or fine fabric. Sometimes he incorporated found objects or artwork into his pieces. For a more in-depth look at the man and his work, I found John Gehri Zerrer's site quite worth a look.

From and

Table, in collaboration with Paul Evans



Table lamp

Walnut and slate side tables



Cabinet, with steel and gold leaf

Coffee table

Marble side tables

Sofa with marble table

Powell at his New Hope home

This photo inspires a sense of wonder at Powell's magical silo home with the breathtaking door and spiral staircase he built by hand. However, it likewise evokes a bit of sadness, as Powell fell to his death from that staircase coming home late one night during a rainstorm in 2008. He was almost 90 years old at the time and had, from all accounts, lived a full and joyful life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Update on my update: Robin and Lucienne Day

A blog friend across the Atlantic actually got to attend the Robin and Lucienne Day Pallant House Gallery exhibit I posted about recently. I am simultaneously green with envy and thrilled that someone has reported back to us about seeing it firsthand. Check out the photos on the chairsmith blog.

Roselane Pottery

Roselane Pottery was started in 1938 in the home of William and Georgia Fields. In the beginning, the couple produced figurines for local florists, but by the early 1940s, they had expanded their business and had built a factory to manufacture figurines for the retail market.

The company added small candle holders, wall pockets and modernistic animals on wooden bases, such as the cat in yesterday's post. Later in the 40s, their Chinese Modern line added vases and bowls to the products already manufactured by the Roselane factory.

Possibly their most popular line was the Aqua Marine line, which they produced from 1945 until 1952. It featured stylized fish against an aqua or pink background. There was apparently a Marine line that preceded it.

William Fields died in 1973, and the company was sold to Prather Engineering, who moved the operation to Long Beach. The company closed in 1977.


Chinese Modern pedestal bowl - LuckySevenVintage

Aqua Marine bowl - metrocollecto

Aqua Marine cruets & shaker - ionesattic

Aqua Marine plate - ionesattic

Roselane horse - CityGirlAntiques

Roselane deer - VandeCraftCeramics

Friday, June 24, 2011

For the animal lover

Mid-century consumers seemed to have an affinity for animals, and many designers of the day made it possible for them to incorporate that theme into their surroundings. From the iconic poodle skirt to the Eames house bird, animals showed up everywhere...wall plaques, trivets, figurines, textiles, glass pieces and more.  Popular animals were Siamese cats, fish and owls. Italian pottery makers also favored horses, rams and bulls.

Here are a few examples of stylized animal decor that graced mid-century homes, as well as some from my own home.

Arthur Umanoff bull for Raymor
Roselane cat
Dansk bear
Roe,  unknown maker
Teak hedgehog, unknown maker

Eames elephant

Blenko cat by Wayne Husted

Raymor ram

Eames house bird

California Pottery Jaru owls
My horse design Castor Cooper pewter vase

My McCoy Unipet bowl

My small pewter dishes with horse handles