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Monday, March 31, 2014

Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban (1957- ) is a Japanese architect who was just awarded the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The prestigious award honors a living architect whose work has contributed to humanity and the built environment. Ban was born in Tokyo and educated at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Southern California Institute of Architecture and Cooper Union's School of Architecture.

Although he is perhaps best known for his humanitarian work designing homes for victims of natural disasters, he has also designed numerous residential, commercial and civic structures.

His disaster relief structures make use of products that can easily be procured and then recycled when no longer needed. He first began to build homes for disaster victims from cardboard tubes in 1994 in Rwanda. A year later he designed the Paper Log Houses after the earthquake in Kobe, Japan. These houses had foundations of beer crates held in place by sandbags and had canvas roofs, which provided natural lighting.

His Aspen Art Museum is scheduled to open in August of this year.

From, and
All images from

Furniture House - Yamanashi, Japan

Crescent House - Shizuoka, Japan

Sagaponac House - Long Island, New York, USA

House Overlooking the Park - Tokyo, Japan

Tamedia Office Building - Zurich, Switzerland

Paper Log House - Kobe, Japan

Paper Log House - Bhuj, India

Post Hurricane House - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Aspen Art Museum - Aspen, Colorado, USA

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend thoughts: Mixology


Also, if you haven't voted for us in the Best of Big D contest, please do. Today's the last day! A million thanks if you've voted already.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Paul Frankl

Paul Frankl (1886-1958) was born in Vienna where he studied architecture before coming to the United States in 1914. He was one of the principal shapers of American modernism.

Soon after arriving in the U. S., he began designing stage sets for the Theater Guild, and shortly thereafter he began designing furniture with shapes reminiscent of the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. He called this series his Skyscraper furniture, and it is emblematic of the Art Deco period.

In the early 1920s  Frankl opened a shop in New York City, and his work included furniture, accessories, modern textiles, wallpaper and an interior design service. In addition to his Skyscraper line, he began to create furnishings with Asian influence which featured lacquer surfaces.

In 1928 he was co-founder of the American Designer's Gallery and in 1930 he founded the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen. He gave lectures on "The Skyscraper in Decoration" and wrote New Dimensions:  The Decorative Arts of Today (1928); Form and Re-Form (1930) and Space for Living: Creative Interior Decoration and Design. (1938)

In 1934 he moved to California, where he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and the University of Southern California. He opened a shop on Rodeo Drive which catered to the Hollywood elite, such as Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock and designed for the mass market into the 1950s.

Some of his best-known work include his early use of biomorphic designs and new materials such as cork. He is also known for his rattan outdoor furniture.

From,, and

Skyscraper cabinet

Biomorphic cork coffee table

Checkerboard step tables

Console table

Cork coffee table 

Cork side table

Cork and mahogany bench

Speed settee

Rattan setee

Rattan chair and ottoman

Friday, March 28, 2014

Voted yet?

Please lend our store your support by casing a vote for us in the D Magazine "Best of Big D" contest. We're one of the nominees for Best Vintage or Antique Furniture Store in Dallas. You can vote daily through March 30.

Upcycling with Formica

Lucy Turner is a young designer based in Cornwall county in England. She is gaining quite a name for herself upcycling discarded mid-century furniture by applying her laser-cut Formica marquetry designs. Her technique seems rather fitting, since Formica was introduced in the 1950s.

Turner shops charity stores rather than auctions, because she likes to think that the money she spends for furniture is going to good use. She admits that auctions are distracting, since she sees too many things she wants for her own home.

She has well-known clients such as John Lewis, The Old Cinema and Lane Crawford and has created pieces for hotels, cafes and private homes around the world. She sees her career moving in the direction of interior design.

While I lean strongly toward restoring rather than upcycling unless a pieces is beyond saving, I must say that her work is beautifully done. One of her pieces would look great in a kid's room or could provide a nice little note of whimsy in other parts of the house, if your taste ran in that direction. What do you think?


Bermuda Flower sideboard

White Bird chest

Two-ti-frutti sideboard

Pineapple sideboard and hutch

Disco console

Flamingo chest

Dogstooth sideboard

Lovebirds sideboard
Palm Energy sideboard

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Concrete poetry

Last month, Jonathan Meades's documentary Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry aired on the BBC. A few days earlier, his A-Z of brutalism was featured on The Guardian.

Here are a few of his favorite examples of the architecture that was once maligned but is now enjoying renewed attention.


Habitat 67, Montreal, by Moshe Safdie
Photograph: UIG via Getty Images

Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth
Photograph: View Pictures/Rex

Sainte Bernadette church, Nevers
Photograph: arte dia/VIEW

Jonathan Meades in front of Skopje post office, Macedonia
Photograph: Francis Hanly/BBC

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Store news: Nominated for Best of Big D

For the first time, the store is one of the nominees for the best vintage or antique furniture stores in Dallas in the D Magazine Best of Big D contest for 2014. We're extremely pleased to have been nominated and would appreciate your support.

Voting runs till March 30, and you can vote everyday. To make that easy, I've added a button at the top of the right-hand navigation bar. The button looks like this (I know, it's huge, so I'm stating the obvious...but I want you to vote...and then vote again the next day!). Clicking on it will take you directly to the ballot:

On the ballot, you'll find us at Question #25:

We'd love to be this year's winner, so if you have the time, won't you take a couple of seconds each day through March 30 to stop by the blog, click on the button and cast a vote for us? We'd consider you worth of being nominated for The Best Blog Reader in the World if you did!

Dominique Imbert and Focus fireplaces

Dominique Imbert (1940- ) was born in Montpellier, France. Before receiving a doctorate in sociology at the Sorbonne and becoming a literature professor in a Paris secondary school, he was an ethnologist in Alaska and a chef in New York City.

He taught for four years but soon realized that he preferred working with metal, so in 1967 he set up a workshop in the south of France and began sculpting. After making a fireplace for his studio, he decided to start producing them commercially.

His company, Focus, has been designing and manufacturing steel fireplaces for 40 years and currently has over 60 models from which to choose. All their fireplaces are made in France at a small factory that employs only 80 people. The company has 28 distributors in France and 33 abroad, selling 3000 units annually.

In 2009, the Gyrofocus model received the Pulchra Award for being the "world's most beautiful object." Designed by Imbert in 1968, it was the first suspended, pivoting fireplace.

All images from







Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Grete Jalk...just for me

I almost never look at Craigslist anymore, but I am a member of a local group on Facebook that buys, sells and trades mid-century pieces...and also posts when a great Craigslist bargain is spotted.

Imagine my surprise this afternoon when I logged on to find that someone had posted to let the group know about this Grete Jalk bar cart/table she had seen on CL. When I texted the owner to see if it was still available, I fully expected to be too late, but she still had it. Picking it up required a three-hour round trip drive, but the seller was offering it at such a steal of a price that it was worth every mile.

The seller was a woman about my age who said she chats up prospective buyers, and if they say they're going to paint a piece, she won't sell it to them. Now that's real dedication to the restoration process!

This one isn't going to the store. I bought it just for me. Thanks again for the tip, Sarah!

Grete Jalk bar cart

Grete Jalk bar cart top rotated and opening

Grete Jalk bar cart open to use as a table

Monday, March 24, 2014

Greta Grossman home

Greta Grossman, designer of beautiful furniture, also designed houses in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas from 1949-1959. One of these was her own home in Beverly Hills. It was designed in 1948 and was originally 1500 square feet.

In 2009 the structure was expanded to 3171 square feet. Architect Tony Unruh worked with the owner to preserve the original Grossman aesthetic.

Here are several photos of the home. If you'd like to see more, check out the full Midcenturia article.