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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Serge Mouille

Serge Mouille (1922-1988) was born in Paris to a policeman and a seamstress. They were disappointed when he decided, at age 13, to enter the School of Applied Arts silver workshop. He was such a gifted student of metallurgy and silversmithing that began teaching at age 25. After receiving his degree, he apprenticed under Gabriel Lacroix and then started his own workshop.

In 1953 Mouille introduced a lighting design, the iconic Three-Arm Floor Lamp. The design was the result of his expertise with metals, as well as his knowledge of musculature and skeletons, making the lamp both minimal and organic in form.

In 1956, gallery owner Steph Simon began showing Mouille's work alongside pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Isamu Noguchi, and Jean Prouvé. Having learned of Mouille's work, Hollywood star Henry Fonda literally turned up on the designer's doorstep and refused to leave unless he could have a lamp. Even though the designer did not know who Mr. Fonda was, he relented, and the actor then owned the first Mouille lamp to hit U.S. shores.

In 1962, Mouille introduced his Colonnes Collection, columns of fluorescent light which were not well received. In fact, a potential partnership with Knoll fell through as a result of Florence Knoll's opposition to the design, and Mouille stopped designing lights, returning the the School of Applied Arts to teach silversmithing and to design jewelry.

All images from

Three-Arm Floor Lamp

Three-Arm Ceiling Lamp

Curved-Arm Rotating Sconce

Saturn Sconce

Snail Ceiling Lamp

Signal Floor Lamp

Totem Floor Lamp

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Adult coloring books for your modernist inner child

My daughter recently gave me an adult coloring book, and I was instantly hooked.

I began to look for modern designs to color and found that there is quite a selection out there. Fellow blogger Jenn Ski offers three books in her Etsy store: Mid-Century Modern Patterns, Mid-Century Modern Mania, and Mid-Century Modern Animals. I have a couple of Jenn's prints on my walls, so naturally I had to order one of her coloring books.

On Amazon, I found Martini Madness: Mid-Century Modern Adult Coloring Book by Lynnda Rakos, Visual Poetry: Modern and Funky Patterns by Nona Meyers, Coloring Zen for the Stressed Out Modernist by Jennifer Zimmerman, the Alexander Girard Coloring Book, and several modern art and tattoo design books. That was just a casual search. Apparently, there are enough books out there to keep us modernists busy for months.

If you haven't already tried adult coloring books, you should. They're incredibly relaxing...and just as much fun as the coloring books of your childhood. Only cooler.

As an interesting aside, a few days before I received my first coloring book, I had found a set of Stabilo Pen 68 markers given to my parents over 30 years ago by their beloved exchange student when they visited him after he returned to Germany and took a tour of his family's factory. The pens had been packed away for decades but still worked as well as a new set. How's that for astounding product quality? I treated myself to a larger set, and now I can express myself in 50 colors.

All images from

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sandy Chilewich

Sandy Chilewich (1951- ) was born in New York and is a top textile designer. She didn't study art or design. In fact, in her early 20s, she thought she might like to be a psychologist, but she really didn't like school, so she dropped out.

At the age of 27, she and an art teacher friend in her building were buying cloth shoes in Chinatown, which they bleached and dyed bright colors. They called them HUE shoes and started by offering them to friends, and then they decided to show them to Vogue, who gave them a two-page spread. Asked what else they had to offer, they started dying white cotton stockings. Thus, she and Kathy Moskal started the legwear company HUE in 1978, which they sold in 1994.

After launching her own design studio in 1997, she introduced the RayBowl and RayTray, which featured a metal frame covered with stretch netting and a simple mechanism to hold the fabric in a concave plane. These were awarded utility patents and numerous awards. Following the success of that design, she created a completely new material she called Plynyl and began to manufacture floor mats, placemats, and totes. Her career was solidified when she won the coveted Editor's Award at the 2001 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).

Today, with husband/business partner Joe Sultan, she manages Chilewich | Sultan LLC. Their collection has been expanded to include new textures, colors and products, including woodgrain vinyl prints, striped patterns, asymmetrical placemats and floormats, and even iPhone cases.

Chilewich continues to define how people dress their tables and cover their floors.

From,,, and



Table runner

Table runner and mats


Woodgrain floor mat

Pet mats

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fun with rocks

You're probably thinking I need to make more friends if my main source of fun is rocks, but my social life isn't quite as bad as it sounds.

I ran across some crafty ideas on Pinterest, and my grandsons wanted to try them. River rocks, both painted and unpainted, make simple and interesting accessories in a modern home. To paint them, all you need is a small brush for the large surfaces, some inexpensive acrylic paint, a paint pen for the fine detail work, some large river rocks, and your imagination. (Luckily, all we had to do was grab some rocks from the front of our house and rummage through my craft supplies.)

You don't have to come up with an elaborate design. Just pick up a brush or a pen and doodle. They don't have to be perfect. That's what makes them fun!

The boys chose these designs for their mom's bedroom.

Here's a close-up of the ones shown in the atrium post

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lucia DeRespinis

Lucia DeRespinis (1927- ) became an industrial designer in the 1950s when the field was dominated by men.

When she entered the Pratt Institute, she was one of only 3 women in a class of 63. She graduated in 1952 after studying under Rowena Redd Kostellow and Eva Zeisel and went to work for George Nelson, where she says she "designed everything from rugs to tableware to exhibits and trade shows to graphics to restaurants to interiors."

After about a year and a half at the Nelson office, she began to work on clocks with Irving Harper. DeRespinis designed four notable clocks: the Turbine, the Spindle, Model 2237, and the Eye. DeRespinis intended for the Eye clock to be hung horizontally, but Vitra Design Museum offers a vertical orientation and calls it the Lyre.

She later worked freelance, most notably designing the pink and orange Dunkin' Donuts logo for Sandgren & Murtha, Minners & Co. She currently teaches at the Pratt Institute.

From and

Model 2237

Turbine clock

Spindle clock

Eye clock

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Beautiful day in the neighborhood

Well, not exactly my neighborhood, but nearby. While this gorgeous home is five blocks away from our house, it is officially in the exclusive Westover Hills neighborhood. Driving across the imaginary boundary from our neighborhood to theirs means leaving behind $300-500K homes and entering into the world of multi-million dollar real estate.

It was built in 1959 and has 4740 square feet, including 3 bedrooms, 5 full baths, and 2 half baths. It was last listed at $1,799,500 and has a current estimated value of $2,136,494. The home features travertine floors throughout, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lush multi-tiered backyard. The master bedroom has its own den, and the chef's kitchen has Carrera countertops and top of the line appliances.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Anni Albers

Anni Albers (1899-1994) (born Annelise Fleischmann) was a German textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker. She grew up in an affluent home and had studied art as a child, but she was expected to live a traditional domestic life as her mother had done. She rebelled and chose to pursue an education in art at the Bauhaus, where she became a student in 1922.

There she enrolled in the weaving workshop and began to experiment with new materials. Embracing modernism, she used straight lines and bold colors to create wall hangings.

She met her husband, famed artist Josef Albers, at the Bauhaus shortly after she enrolled, and the couple was married in 1925. When the school was forced to close in 1933, the couple emigrated to the United States, where they both took teaching positions at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

In 1950 the Alberses moved to Connecticut, in order for Josef to accept the position of chairman of the Department of Design at Yale University. In 1951, Anni began her three-decades long collaboration with Knoll Textiles. Her designs have had a lasting effect in the field of textile design.

From and
All images from

Albers at the loom

Josef and Anni Albers




In Orbit

La Luz

Red Meander

Open Letter

Six Prayers

Under Way