Sunday, July 15, 2007

You never know when LOVE will strike

I love rummaging the antique market for something I never knew I had to have. I scan the market with my small bit of cash and the hope that I can strike up a deal. It is a risky proposition since I may find an amazing piece only to discover it is completely out of my price range. Even though I may get my heart broken I continue to search the markets for inspiration. I learn more from the knowledgeable dealers than I could ever get from a book.

My latest discovery is a 8 piece demitasse which includes a coffee pot, sugar bowl, creamer, six cups and saucers. There are two extra saucers which means this set has lost two cups. The coffee pot has a slight chip in the spout. The dishes are stamped with Rosenthal, Studio Line, and Germany. The pot, sugar bowl, creamer and cups have glazed interiors with a matte exterior of etched flowers which remind me of Wedgwood. I was stopped in my tracks when I came upon this imperfect set. Since I made it home with my discovery I have begun my search to find out more about this beautiful set.

Although I have not been able to locate a photo of this exact set I do believe it was designed by Bjørn Wiinblad the Danish artist, designer, and painter. There are various examples of his work for Rosenthal's Studio Line collection. It seems that Jonathan Adler is a fan of Wiinblad too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


This past week Marketplace ran a story concerning when a brand goes national it often loses the uniqueness that made it wonderful in the first place. The story spotlighted, Sprinkles, the cupcake boutique in Beverly Hills that is now in Newport Beach, Dallas, Pheonix and possibly coming to a location near you.

The story asserted Sprinkles success comes from a combination of nostalgia and design. People love to eat the cupcake because it reminds them of their childhood, but they flock to the Sprinkles store and pay $3.25 for a cupcake for the experience. The Beverly Hills store is the winner of the 2006 AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Awards: Jury Prize and People's Choice Award. It is not surprising that this well thought out store would win these accolades. Take a look inside at the blond cabinets, concrete floors, the Bertoia bent metal side chairs that match the storefront, and the use of light to create a clean, minimalist display. The cupcakes are identified by color ID tags which are essentially colorful combinations of the pop art icon, the target. On the back wall the colored targets can be deciphered by the eye appealing color ID chart. Once selections are made the cupcakes are presented in little gift boxes to enjoy now or later. It is a truly well thought out design from store down to the smallest details in the cupcake.

Hopefully Sprinkles will take the Marketplace story to heart and not over expand or sell out their design concept to make profits. The story alluded to the Krispy Kreme expansion debacle a few years ago. Sprinkles needs to take their expansion with precision and remain true to the elements that keep people flocking to their stores. It is the experience more than anything that keeps people coming back for more.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

One's trash is anothers treasure

I have heard the stories from many about how they found this amazing vintage piece that would go for thousands on Ebay thrown on the side of the road. I have also heard about those lucky ones hitting a thrift store just as some choice pieces of Franciscan Starburst dishes were put out on the floor. These stories have always kept me going hoping one day such luck might happen upon me. Sadly I have never had such luck.

Although I have experienced this a few times with my significant other. He is an avid record collector and he has happened upon a mint 45 here and there that were considered to be the Lochness Monster of the vinly world (often talked about with great glee, but no one with real personal contact with the actual rarity).

This past week he made another great find. On our way back from the grocery store he spotted the iconic DCM chair tossed into a heap of household remnants. As we passed the pile he yelled to "stop the car" and "back up." He jumped out of the car and rescued the DCM from the trash with a huge smile of victory. It has a small imperfection that will need to be fixed where the shock mount has become dislodged, but this we can hopefully repair easily.

The chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames after they experimented with molded plywood to make leg splints for the United States Navy during World War II. The couple’s innovations with plywood led them to develop the DCM chair designed to fit the natural shape of the human body seated. The Herman Miller Company has been producing the chair since 1946 with natural, face veneers and polished chrome-plated 4-leg base. It is an icon of the Eames collaboration and a happy addition to our home. One person’s trash is our fantastic treasure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Design Done Right

I used to buy the magazine Wallpaper*. It was fun to jet set with the editorials to beautiful places and think of staying at the uber designed hotels or wear those perfect clothes on a personal jet. It was an enjoyable farce. I bought the magazine to ogle with the editors while we both knew it was not very possible in the real world. The problem was that as time went on it seemed the edtors were making a joke at the readers expense. Issue after issue the spreads became more over the top and the joke got out of hand. I even began to wonder if they even like well designed things or they just like pretending to like them. So I stopped buying Wallpaper*.

I am excited the creator of Wallpaper* has started a new magazine called Monocle. I am very impressed by the cleverly named magazine that seems to be extremely well thought out. The design of the website is minimal with just five sections A, B, C, D, and E (Affairs, Business, Culture, Design, and Edit). It blows my mind when I see design that is perfectly simple because it is so rare. There are elements of of the website design, photos and the videos that remind me of Powers of Ten and other designs by Charles and Ray Eames.

The cover story for each section of the magazine has a video to accompany the piece. Take for instance the D section (Design) is about how the Sprinkles stores were designed. I wish other magazines would think about adding videos to their website similar to Monocle. I know many have added blogging, but I think a voice in the form of a podcast or video could really add dimension to many magazines. On a side note, I heard a few months back that Atlanta will have a Sprinkles shop soon. As much as the price tag for these little cakes can be frieghtening I know I will be in line opening day just to be inside this wonderfully designed shop from the cakes to the store. Not that you ever had to twist my arm to enjoy a cupcake. I would love to try their holiday cupcake for St. Patrick's day made with Baileys Irish creme. I am psyched to see it all come to together in this little shop.

I will have to add a subscription to Monocle and a cupcake from Sprinkles to my must have list. Maybe even enjoy them together!

Monday, April 16, 2007

For the LOVE of Teak

I have a small obsession with teak. I didn't realize how much I was drawn to teak until I started to notice the theme popping up all around my home. I love the warmth that eminates from this material that looks even more powerful contrasted by cool colors. Teak is synonymous with Danish Modern of the 1950's and 1960's mid-century furniture. It is a sturdy material with a real presence. The material can add a sleek, modern touch to any room.

The teak color scheme may be popular in vintage furniture, but conglomerates in the mass market still have not caught on. You can always find the the same old mahogany, espresso, blonde, white, or black color selections. Oh teak may show up in patio furniture, but for the most part it is not available in the mass market productions. West Elm did recently start offering a color selection similar to teak called acorn in a few items. For the most part teak is still more widely available in vintage furniture which can add the uniqueness to your home hard to find in today's market of same, same, and same!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Palm Springs Modernism Week

The seventh annual Modernism week is going on right now in Palm Springs California (Feb. 16-25). The recent edition of Palm Springs Life is focused on Modernism. In 2006, Palm Springs was deemed one of dozen distinctive destinations in the United States for the high concentration of mid-century architecture by the National Trust of Historic Preservation. Thanks to these preservation efforts buildings still stand today by such great architects as William Cody, Albert Frey, John Lautner, Richard Neutra, Rudolf Schindler, Donald Wexler, and E. Stewart Williams. To find More information on the communities preservation efforts and modern buildings take a look at the Palm Springs Modern Committee Website. (photo from the book Albert Frey, Architect by Joseph Rosa)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nature in Extreme Close-up

There is unexpected beauty in things all around us. The black and white photos by Karl Blossfeldt are an excellent example of the abstract beauty found in nature. His photos of plants in extreme close-up are breathtaking and displayed the organic beauty of nature with his artful composition. Blossfeldt had the talent to capture the layers of texture often missed by the naked eye. A catalog of Blossfeldt's photos are available in the books Art Forms in the Plant World: 120 full page photographs and Natural Art Forms. His prints can also be viewed in a compilation by Taschen publishers. If you want original prints the antique botanical print dealer, Panteek, is just one resource offering Blossfeldt prints.

Displaying Karl Blossfeldt’s botanical photos in a series on a wall would add power to his prints and a wonderful visual detail to any room. Investing in some frames and these books are the only cost to adding an artful display to a room. Of course, you may be able to do this one better by taking your own photos of nature or other things in extreme close-up. The digital age has made it extremely possible for you to be your own artist. When a house guest asks you about the artist you can tell them a little about the photos and your influence from Karl Blossfeldt.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cork, Cork Everywhere!!

When you mention the word "cork" a wine stopper may be the first thing that springs to mind. There are many other wonderful uses for cork including lamps, lampshades, bowls, floors, and paper to name a few.

Years ago I walked into, Belvedere, a local designer shop of twentieth century furniture with a twist. The owner and designer, Julia Carr-Bayler, has an innate ability to apply new elements to her finds that enhance the items. Carr-Bayler's exhibited her design eye with a pair of teak lamps beautifully accented by cork shades. These breathtaking shades were thinly shaved slices of cork that elegantly displayed the grain of the wood. It turned out the shades were out of my price range, but I have since been captivated by the use of cork as a design element. Next time you are looking to incoporate something different into your decorating think cork.

(Cork circle table lamp shown above is from the Murray Feiss Geo Collection)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A modern home in Atlanta

A modern Atlanta home that seems to be, at the very least, influenced by John Lautner and Eero Saarinen. This home is even more breathtaking in person with the cascading roof, waterfalls, and an endless pool. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be on the inside or even better yet to wake up each morning in this home. It is a real dream come true. This architecture brings a smile to my face and butterflies in my stomach every time I pass it.