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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Giveaway winner to be chosen at midnight

Just a reminder that I will choose a winner of the spun aluminum giveaway tonight at midnight my time (CDT). If selected, you will win either a vintage spun aluminum uplight (priced at $100 in store) or a Russel Wright reissue spun aluminum cactus pot (priced at $125 by HKDesigns).

If you are not a Google follower of the blog and would like to be eligible for the giveaway, it's not too late!

In the Google Followers box to the right of this post, click on Join this site. Once you have set up a Google account, click Follow publicly. Then leave a comment saying which price you like best, and you're done.

Here are the prizes:

Vintage spun aluminum uplight
HK Design Russel Wright reissue cactus pot

Gearing up for a Blenko bonanza

My SIL just picked up a few new pieces of Blenko, shown on the bottom shelf of the photo below. That's just the tip of the iceberg though. Just in time for the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which starts next Friday, he's made arrangements to bring in anywhere from 100-200 pieces of Blenko on consignment from a local collector.

Being the extreme Blenko lover that I am, I was over the moon when he told me, so not only am I trying to figure out how we're going to display that much glass, I'm also trying to figure out how much of it I can bring home with me.

Stay tuned for the answers to both...

Mostly Blenko...but where will we put 200 more pieces???

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bruno Mathsson

Bruno Mathsson
Bruno Mathsson (1907-1988) was born in Värnamo, Sweden. His father was Karl Mathsson, a fifth generation master cabinetmaker, from whom he began learning the craft at an early age.

In 1929 he had an opportunity to begin borrowing books and magazines from the Röhsska Arts and Crafts Museum in Gothenburg. Curator Gustaf Munthe soon was sending boxes of books to him by train, and Mathsson educated himself by studying them.

In 1930 he won a scholarship and an opportunity to go to Stockholm to an exhibition that lauched the Swedish functionalist movement. It was at this time that he began to move away from the tradition designs of his father's workshop and develop a design style of his own.

Early in 1936 Munthe gave Mathsson the opportunity to have a one-man show, and its success marked the recognition of Mathsson as an important Swedish designer. A year later he was represented at the Paris Expo and won a Grand Prix for his Paris daybed. In attendance was Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., manager of the design department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two years later he ordered chairs from Mathsson for the museum.

During 1948-1949 Mathsson and his wife Karin visited the United States, and he was introduced by Kaufmann to some of the country's foremost architects. He returned to Sweden and began building his famous glass houses.

In the 1960s Mathsson and Piet Hein designed the Super-Elliptical and Super-Circle tables with Spanlegs. Some of his other famous designs are the Pernilla chair, the Eva chair and the Jetson chair.

Paris daybed
Book crib
Folding table
Pernilla 3 lounge
Minister chair
Eva side chair
Super-Elliptical table, designed with Piet Hein
Folding table
Jetson chair

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Augusto Bozzi

I don't usually hit a wall when looking for biographical information on a designer, even if I just find just a sentence or two. Augusto Bozzi's life story has turned out to be far more elusive than most. So far, I haven't turned up a word about him, nor have I found a single photograph of the man.

Nevertheless, I have found enough images of his work to know that I love his designs, with their clean lines and skinny steel legs. If you know anything about Bozzi, please share!

Kosmos settee for Saporiti
Ariston chairs
Dining chairs
Kosmos chair
Lounge chair

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google Doodles...gotta love 'em

It's a little past midnight as I write this post, and the March 27 Google Doodle honoring of the 126th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has gone on to the Big Google Doodle Archive in the Sky. It was the subject of a number of blog entries yesterday, but I believe that it...along with other Google Doodles of interest to mid-century mavens...deserves one more look.

Mies van der Rohe Doodle

Usually Google Doodles involving mid-century design/culture take me by surprise. Even though I do many biographical posts, remembering birthdays is not my strong suit. To be honest, I do well to remember the birthdays of my immediate family. So, no, I'm not waiting with bated breath to see what Google is going to come up with in honor of the next designer's birthday. 

Instead, what alerts me is unusual activity on my blog. Yesterday when I woke up and did the obligatory check of email and the blog, I found that I had received almost 2,000 hits since going to bed a few hours earlier. The final tally for the day was over 6,000 hits. 

I'm a little slow on the uptake, so I was puzzled until I started reading posts from my favorite fellow bloggers. After seeing several nods to the Google Doodle, the reason for the spike in hits was clear. This has happened a couple of times before...first when the Alexander Calder Doodle appeared, causing an incredible 17,000+ spike of my blog hits, and again the day the Marimekko Doodles ran, with a much smaller but still noticeable spike.

Calder 113th Birthday Doodle
Marimekko First Day of Spring Doodle
Marimekko First Day of Fall Doodle

Don't get me wrong. I'm not all about the numbers. The Google Doodles have an intrinsic coolness that can't be denied.  Take, for instance, the interactive Doodles. You can watch a clip of I Love Lucy on the Doodle commemorating Lucille Ball's 100th birthday. Or you can record a tune on the Les Paul Doodle celebrating the guitar virtuoso's 96th birthday. Or you can even play PAC-MAN on the Doodle honoring the game's 30th anniversary.

But let's be honest. In the blogosphere, as well as in other social media, we love anything that drives traffic to our sites...and Google Doodles definitely do that. That makes them extra cool in my book.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the store: Storage, lights and chairs

My SIL, daughter and the boys made a quick trip to Houston a little over a week ago to pick up a Danish  wall unit found on Craigslist. While there, they got a large burl wood and black leather shelf  (and a chrome chandelier which you'll see when we get it cleaned up).

We finally got a couple of lights hung that had been stored since the move...a George Nelson saucer and another beautiful white pendant similar to the artichoke style I showed you the other day. As you might have guessed, the artichoke sold immediately. So did the wall unit.

Danish wall unit - Sold before I could get this post published! 
Close-up of wall unit
Burl wood and black leather shelf
Nelson saucer light
Pendant light off
Penant light on
Swedish lounge chairs
Close-up of the fabric used on the Swedish chairs

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back in the day: Bluebonnet season

One of my fondest memories of my early childhood in the 1950s is of springtime in East Texas when the bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, buttercups and other wildflowers would pop up in the fields and along the roadsides. We lived 15 miles from my grandparents and took State Highway 67 through the country to visit them. Every year, at the first sighting of a thick carpet of blue, I'd beg my dad to stop the car so I could play in the flowers. He would always pick a bouquet of red Indian paintbrushes for me, and I'd feel as if I were in a magical place.

Larry Urqhart - Bluebonnet Field At Dusk (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)

Today it is something of a Texas tradition to take family photographs in the bluebonnet fields during the brief few weeks of their duration. My daughter and SIL took the boys out over the weekend to let them play in the flowers...and managed to snap a few photos for Grammo.

I hope that, fifty years from now, the boys have the same fond memories of playing in the bluebonnets with their parents that I have of those beautiful spring days with my mother and father.

Jennifer and Joe with Grayson and Holden
Jenn and the boys with the Dallas skyline in the background

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Top 5 Covet List

Pippa at Ouch Flower came up with a great idea for making new friends and pooling our readership. She challenged her readers to synchronize their watches and simultaneously post a Top 5 Covet List at 7 p.m. Melbourne, Australia time. Her rules were simple: money no object, sourcing no short, an I Dream of Jeannie-type wish. So I present to and old friends alike...the list of mid-century designs that make me brazenly break the Tenth Commandment and covet not only my neighbor's house, but also quite a number of his accessories.

Number 5
Set of 3 Tapio Wirkkala Pollo vases...including the large one in all its 10.5" glory

Number 4
Ralph Rapson hair-on-hide Greenbelt rocker

Number 3
A full set of Towle Contour flatware by John van Koert

Number 2
Adrian Pearsall corner sofa

A Joseph Eichler home with a beautifully landscaped atrium
to put it all in

Check out these other blogs:

Pippa @ Ouch Flower

Stacey @ Poppet Designs

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Update: Giovanni de Simone

In September of 2011, I wrote a post about Giovanni de Simone. In writing the post, I had consulted several sources, all of which had similar information about his life and work.

Two days ago, I noticed a comment on the post that was signed "his wife Eliana de Simone." The writer of the comment stated that much of the information from those initial sources was incorrect. She said that Giovanni de Simone was never a student of Pablo Picasso and that the factory closed in 1992, one year after de Simone's death, not 15 years later. She pointed out that the factory at that time employed more than 100 people. She went on to explain that none of the designers employed by the factory achieved the same level of proficiency as did de Simone and his daughters, so they could not sign their sketches.

I emailed Susanna de Simone, daughter of Giovanni and Eliana de Simone, for additional verification of the facts in the comment, and I received an email yesterday from Massimo Allegra at her studio, confirming that "the information of Eliana de Simone is exact."

I am always honored and thrilled to hear directly from family members who can share information about famous artists or designers that might otherwise be lost...or distorted by the repeated passing on of misinformation on the web. I am indebted to both Eliana de Simone and the studio of Susanna de Simone for setting the record straight and offering us an insight into Giovanni de Simone that we might never have had otherwise.

For more information, go to the Giovanni de Simone blog. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Update on the A. Quincy Jones house in Fort Worth

In a recent post, I wrote of the possible demolition of a spectacular A. Quincy Jones house in Fort Worth, Texas. The house was originally listed for $1.25 million by owner Amon Carter III, and he had turned down several offers, saying they were too far below his asking price. The prospective buyers, as well as
preservationists, had determined that repairs to the house would run from $500,000 to $1,000,000, as the owner has let the house sit unoccupied since 2008.

When I posted about the house, he had turned down an offer for $625,00 and seemed inclined to tear down the house and simply sell the land.

Today I was searching online for mid-century homes for sale in my area and ran across a new listing for the A. Quincy Jones home at 4167 Charron Lane. The asking price has been lowered to $699,000, making it far more likely that someone will buy the home and restore it to its original beauty. It's not saved from the wrecking ball yet...but with some luck and a willing buyer, perhaps it still has a chance.

Fuller House

Surprising succulent DIY

For over a year, my posts about plants for mid-century living have remained in the Popular Posts list. Among the ones I have recommended, succulents are probably the easiest to care for. However, several people have asked me what to do if they don't have enough of a green thumb to keep even the lowest maintenance plants alive.

I don't usually do DIY posts, but I thought I'd share a solution for those readers that won't break the bank. Crate and Barrel has a very realistic artificial aloe planter (12"L x 5"W x 8"H) for $44.95, but I put a few together that are only slightly smaller for around $5 each.

Crate and Barrel - $44.95

Here's what I used:
  • Planters of varying sizes in a matte white (I got mine from the 99 Cents Only store.)
  • Bag of decorative river pebbles (99 Cents Only store again)
  • White craft glue (like Elmer's)
  • Packing peanuts (A block of floral styrofoam would probably work better, but I had just received a package and had peanuts on hand that I could use free.)
  • Mini artificial succulents, approximately 2.5-4" in diameter (I got my  3-to-a-stem plants on sale at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft, although they can be purchased online. The best online source I've found is Quality Silk Plants, but they're a little more expensive.)
First, I put the packing peanuts in a bowl and added the craft glue, stirring till they were completely coated before pouring them to within about 1/2" of the rim of a planter with no drainage hole. (If your planter has a drainage hole, you can place tape over it or line the bottom of the planter with foil so no glue seeps out.)

Next, I did the same thing with the pebbles, making sure they were completely covered with glue. Then I poured them on top of the peanuts, arranging them till none of the peanuts showed. (The glue will dry clear.)

Finally, I coated the bottom leaves and the stem of the artificial succulent with glue and then inserted the stem through the pebbles into the styrofoam and let the glue dry thoroughly.

My DIY inexpensive succulent dishes
Interestingly enough, artificial plants and flowers are authentic to the mid-century period. Brightly colored plastic flowers were very common in the 1950s and 1960s, and I've noticed plastic, sometimes flocked,  making a comeback in the "permanent botanicals" trade, as many people today have become tired of the silk flowers that became so popular during the 1980s and 1990s.

I originally made these to sell when we had an antique mall booth and liked them so well that I made a set to go on the windowsills in my kitchen. I have live plants throughout my house, and these look so real that it's impossible to tell the difference.