19 September 2015

MID-CENTURY MODERN -- SWAN SONG?

Case study house -- the Stahl house in LA--
Could you live in a glass house?

Oh, Lord.  Mid-century Modern.  It was peculiar the first time around (think The Jetsons),  and it hasn't improved in the fifty-plus years since.  I am the first to espouse a "live and let live" attitude, but please, whoever Design Deity you are out there, don't ever try to foist this  trend off on the public again for yet a third iteration forty years down the road.  

MAD MEN came along at just the right time and reinforced the growing fervor.  I get it that it was important -- ONCE. Designers are now saying there is a trend away from it, and once again, it is becoming old hat.  Let's hope so. Fervently.


Gag me!

A derivative of this style has been dogging us for almost ten years now, and thank the good Lord, it looks like PRETTY is finally hitting the main stream again, taking over the road.  (Thank you Mario -- and your followers)  


From the Prince of Chintz, this is what PRETTY looks like to me!

Some of us have never deserted PRETTY while others have flirted with a bastardization of MCM, going for the edgy and the sleek, letting geometry rule, but at the end of the day -- most of MCM in a broad sense is seriously ugly (to me) because it is not homey and cozy or comfortable. PRETTY!  

There are a few notable exceptions.  These pieces have become classics which mix and blend with just about anything you can throw at them.  In fact, a really pretty room can come alive with the juxtaposition of one these pieces thrown into the mix.


These are:

(1) My personal MCM favorite is the Eero Saarinen tulip table
   
You may remember that I was having a hemorrhage to own this reproduction version last year.
Never got it.
Now it is not available.
The quote below is referring to another source,
not for this particular table.




There is an inherent practicality in the clean, flowing lines of the Rove Concepts Eero Saarinen Tulip Oval Table series. Not only beautiful, the tables feature single stem bases, which allow for greater ease of movement and increased legroom. The dismissal of traditional legs create a remarkably spacious experience. In addition to their practicality, these pieces feature genuine Carrara marble sourced exclusively from Carrara quarries in Italy. This marble is highly valuable due to its durability and beauty, which is why Michelangelo sculpted his masterpiece "David" from it. Highly adaptable to any interior, these tables are especially striking paired with the Saarinen Tulip Chairs. 

DETAILS & SPECS

Specifications: 
This premium Rove Concepts reproduction features:
  • Imported from the Carrara province of Tuscany, the white Carrara marble is considered the best in the world for its natural look and durability
  • Natural grey veining throughout - not solid white (Please see actual pictures above)
  • Solid stone table top is polished smooth and applied with a wax finish
  • Table top shape: OVAL
  • Assembly is required
  • True to the original, the edge is smooth and beveled on the underside
  • The base is made of cast aluminum and undergoes a 5-step powder coating process for a smooth finish that is resistant to chipping
  • Available with a white or black base
This item is not manufactured by or affiliated with the original designer(s) and associated parties.

STANDARD DIMENSIONS
67 in x 43.25 in x 28.75 in (Width x Depth x Height)
Additional Dimensions
79 in x 47.5 in x 28.75 in - (79" Size, White Cararra Marble Surface, Black Base Options)
79 in x 47.5 in x 28.75 in - (79" Size, White Cararra Marble Surface, White Base Options)
READ MORE

THE DESIGNER

Eero Saarinen

Eero Saarinen

To his detriment or benefit, Finnish American designer Eero Saarinen was famous for his flexible style. He believed that his clients were “co-creators,” which led him to adjust his approach to design according to what they wanted instead of strictly adhering to his aesthetic. Despite the criticism this led to, he remains one of the most well-known designers of the mid-century period. 
Saarinen’s architectural and product design style varied from pared-down, curving silhouettes to cold rationalism. His work was present from bomb disassembly manuals to Time magazine to countless editorials. 
He used his sculpture and architecture training to make some of the most recognizable modern pieces, such as the Tulip Table series. Saarinen was a leader of his time. 


(2)  The next item on my list of tolerables is the iconic Eames chair, the forerunner of the recliner, designed by Charles and Ray Eames.  Ray was the wife of Charles for those who don't know.




There was an important movement called the Bauhaus in Germany from 1919 till 1933.  MCM grew out of that.  If you know me, you know that I have always had a fetish for curvy French furniture, so this ultra-linear stuff leaves me pretty cold.  However, if you know anything about the "artistic discourse", if you want to get all hi-falutin about it, you understand that means that the next big thing is built upon the last big thing.
Would you put this Albini chair in your house?
I think it is butt-ugly, but it is another MCM icon.
Looks like if you don't sit very carefully, you might get hurt!

Eventually we always come back to the first thing -- what we now call the classics.  These pieces were once upon a time the "new thing", too. You know that old saying, "There is nothing new under the sun"? Somebody does actually come up with a new idea from time to time.  That is what is so fascinating about humankind -- just when you think they are all tapped out, you get a surprise.  To wit: the pieces we are talking about here. 

(3)  I also rather like the Bertoia chair, particularly for it's sculptural qualities.








http://www.knoll.com/product/bertoia-side-chair  

You can go here to read more about the Bauhaus if you like.  If you are not interested in design, you can take a pass, and that is OK, too.  However, if you do go look, you might learn a thing or two you didn't know.




When we moved from our last house over eight years ago, we left Sweet Husband's old student desk which looked exactly like this:  an MCM Kroehler piece where we kept the odd bits and bobs like screws and hinges, etc., down in the basement because it didn't "fit in" with anything upstairs any more.  He had several pieces of this yucky stuff, a matchy-matchy set, in his "guest room" at his apartment when I met him, and I relegated most of it to the Salvation Army when we got married.  (It was his furniture at his family home.  At least it wasn't as tacky as the "Cowboy Bob" furniture of my ex's childhood.)   

The desk somehow survived,  probably because he needed a desk, until we bought him a new one of a more classic design a few years later.   I mean -- after all -- you have to make concessions for love, right?  The buyers of our house said their son, who was eighteen at the time, loved the desk, was absolutely thrilled we were leaving it,  and he was going to use it.  Yay for him.


(4) The Parson's Table is another piece which has become a classic that transcends that MCM label.  


It was developed as a design challenge to students at the Parson's Paris by Jean Michel Frank who were supposed to come up with a form which could look fabulous and be functional regardless of it's finish.  Ikea, West Elm, Crate & Barrel among many others sell gazillions of them still today, and they always work, no matter where you put them.  This photo here illustrates it's use as a coffee table. 


as a console



It's design works just as flawlessly as a dining room table, end table and console table, as well as a desk.  


As a dining table from Crate & Barrel.
I like this steel and marble version.
These look particularly stunning when paired with curvy antique chairs!

From West Elm, this one could be a desk.
It appears to have drawers, but it could work as a dining table in a small space.

When I was a single chick, I used a Drexel tortoiseshell version for a coffee table, though it was meant to be an end table.  Square, about 30", it worked perfectly.  I built one once, a console, when I was in my mid-twenties, the first piece of furniture I ever built.  It was a little wobbly, but I got the proportions right even though I was flying by the seat of my pants.  I might add that I covered it with a wallpaper that was white and metallic gold, the white part being flocked like velvet!

(5)  The Barcelona Chair is the quintessential Miesian piece.  Comfy, clean-lined, fits in with everything.  



To me, the problem arises as with ANY STYLE when someone falls prey to every cliche in the book and uses all these items in one space.  There is a reason that these examples,  plus maybe a couple more that I am not as fond of, have survived for what will soon be a century for some.   They play well with others!

Maybe there is a larger lesson here, but that will be for another day.


  


  






  






     


16 September 2015

A BLOGGING MILESTONE



I am about to hit eight years, all told, with the blogging experience.  That practically makes me a fossil in the blogging world.  I have actually had several blogs over these eight years, all of which I have deleted as I got bored with them.  This blog is with this post hitting 500 posts which is another milestone of sorts.   Who knew there was so much to say about mostly nothing?  


I have ranted, reported, opined, editorialized, praised, poked fun at and even excoriated from time to time.  My sarcasm has gotten me in trouble occasionally, too.  I never could seem to make a blog that fit into a nice neat little niche, where people go there for that specific experience.  Therefore, I suppose my blog is a reflection of it's writer, unfocused, and that reflection is supposed to be the object of the game, or so I have read.  I have learned the hard way not to hit the "publish" button right away if I have written anything that might be considered controversial.  

Many of you who have read my blogs over the years probably have a pretty good idea of me.  Some who only occasionally read may not, or don't care one way or the other.  That's OK, too.  The blogging format in and of itself really just provides me with a place to express myself with words that some people actually read plus I get to exhibit my unprofessional photos.  

I have written several books, only one of which was published so far.  But, you never know...  Short stories are a good exercise in writing, and I still write those, too.  However, I am fairly lazy, and I have stopped beating the bushes for an agent.  Once upon a time, I thought I had found one, but she turned out to be a dud.  Who knows, maybe I will have another go at it one of these days.  

When people say, "Well, aren't you a little too old for worrying about things like that any more?" my answer is NO!  And I am not worried about it, either.  The husband always says, "Worrying is a useless emotion."  As my mother used to say, "I am just going to live till I die."  Grandma Moses was pretty old when she took up painting, not that I am aiming to become another Grandma Moses with my splashing paint.  My point here is that keeping oneself interested and engaged and as active as possible is the best thing we can do for ourselves as we move into what some idiot called "The Golden Years."  About the only "gold" I have seen so far is the amount that I shell out for Medicare, it's Part D for prescriptions and my Plan F Supplement (Medigap).   

My blogs have all been what I call a "Slice of Life" style -- they reflect what is going on with me at the time.  At least, they reflect what is suitable for public consumption.  I like to travel when we feel like it, but the husband and I are both homebodies.  Keeping up with the news and current events is something of an obsession, although there are times when it is necessary to dial it back because it can get horribly depressing.  

You have probably gathered that I am a fairly domestic little creature, and that the home keeping arts and all the various facets of making a nice home are near and dear to my heart.  I love to read, I must write, and I enjoy all things "artsy".  I also used to love acting and making music.  I have always enjoyed having what people call "hobbies" -- or just my little pastimes -- because I had to entertain myself as a child and old habits die hard.  A subject will catch my interest, and I pursue it until I am tired of it.  

I am not athletic in the least, and in fact, I am a klutz with two left feet.  I do get into exercise off and on, and now I am into it again upon the suggestion of my doctor.  It is very frustrating that my body doesn't cooperate with me as easily as it once did, refusing to bend and stretch quite as far as I want it to.  I am sure it will improve, because there are people in their later 80's in these Silver Sneakers classes at the Y who certainly put me to shame!

As long as I do continue with this blog, you can probably expect the unexpected -- that is to say, you never know what you might find here from day to day.  Sometimes it will be painting or decorating or renovation projects.  Other times it might be food (although I don't think I have posted any in quite a while, come to think of it).  Occasionally I might talk fashion and beauty.  You just never know, do you?  I don't either.

So -- I hope you will continue showing up as long as I do to see what's new with me, because I do love your comments and visiting with you.  


  







13 September 2015

PROUD PEACOCKS

Yesterday we took off to Montgomery on a mission! 




The day before, Friday, we were out and about just because it was a pretty day, and we went out to lunch and hit a few shops at the Summit.  I mentioned that I wanted to look in Pier 1 to see if I could find a couple more of the Fallish napkins I had already bought.  Just as we were about to leave, Sweet Husband stopped in his tracks and said, "Isn't this one of those chairs you have been looking for?"  Sure enough, there sat a big beautiful white peacock chair in all it's glory.  I had not realized Pier 1 had put this back into their inventory.



I noticed the Clearance tag and leapt in for a closer look -- from $449 to $199!!!  I snatched the tag off so fast it would make your head spin and handed it over to the woman at the register.  "Do you have any more -- I need two!"



She said, "We don't, but I will see if someone else does."  Sure enough, the Montgomery store had one.  She called.  I instructed her to make sure it was in perfect condition.  They assured her it was.  I bought that one on the spot, too, and they put my name on it.  I said, "We'll come get it tomorrow."



So yesterday we navigated our way to Montgomery through heavy traffic while dodging big trucks, getting slowed once by a bad wreck along about the Shelby County/Chilton County line.  There must have been a dozen fire and rescue and police vehicles, red and blue lights flashing, on the shoulder of the road.  I said a prayer as we inched our way past, but I could see part of a car turned on it's side way over in the woods and several people sitting on the grass just off the road surrounded by medical personal.  

We reiterated that we would indeed take the back roads home and just enjoy the beautiful day.  Interstate highways make me a nervous wreck, especially I-65. Naturally, there was a big flat-bed eighteen wheeler involved in this disaster.



We easily found the Pier 1 store off I-85N, and collected the chair.  Sweet Husband's expression was priceless when the sweet lady (the store manager) asked, "Do you want to pull up around back or just tote it through the store?"  He stammered, "Uh, t..."  hesitating over an Alabama word we don't hear too much, at least in Birmingham, any more.  My mother used to say "tote" it when she meant "carry" it, but I guess the word is still alive and well in the vernacular.  So he toted it through the store to the Jeep while I looked around.  





Then I spied these pheasants, so they came home with us, too, along with another green cushion on clearance for 7.98.  I already had it's mate on the back porch from a couple of years ago.



We popped into The Texas Roadhouse for a bacon cheeseburger, which was really delicious, and then headed back.  We took the interstate back as far as  Clanton, and got off at the Durbin Farm Market, because I was still hoping to find a few peaches. No luck on the peaches, but I bought a large sack of rattlesnake pole beans.  I am going to snap, string and blanch them after a while, and then put most of them in the freezer.  Since we had passed many fields of cotton looking just about ready for picking, I was also hoping to find some cotton stalks to decorate with.  




I asked the really cute little girl who rang up my beans if they had any or if she knew where I could get some.  She said, "Well when my mom wants to decorate with some cotton, she just goes out in the field and cuts her some.  I don't know of anybody around here who sells it."  I bit my lip.  Since I am fresh out of a cotton field of my very own, I guess I'll have to keep looking.


the afore-mentioned napkins

From that point, we followed Highway 31 back to Birmingham, including a detour though Clanton itself.  The local color and scenery is always refreshing.  In one little settlement we drove through, there was a small cluster of houses and mobile homes.  One of the trailers had an extension built out on one end which looked to be constructed of unpainted plywood.  On the facing elevation was featured, I swear to heaven, the front portion of a very old red cab of a big rig truck!  The hood and fenders as well as the windshield (the picture window I presume) was inset right into the plywood!  It was original, I'll give them that.


Anthro's
I wanted these chairs for a Summer look for the living room, and had hoped to find a pair so that I could put them in when we got done with our redo a few weeks earlier.  


Urban's

However, Anthropologie, Lili Pulitzer, even Urban Outfitters  -- they all wanted as much or more than a custom upholstered chair would cost!  The quality might be a little higher, I don't really know, but I did know I wasn't going to put out $1500 each for these things.  
Lily's

Summer is almost gone (but certainly not entirely gone for us here in Alabama) so I put them in there anyway.  They may go away when the weather gets chilly, but that will be a while.  


I used to have a pair just like these --
been sorry ever since they are gone.
For several years I have been searching for another pair,
and finally I found them.


Today is a glorious day for the back porch, not HOT (but it will be hot again), the kind of day you think about when that line in the liturgy comes up in the Book of Common Prayer (1928 version):  "This is the day the Lord hath made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  



I am linking up this post to Kelly and her group for Share Your Style today.   I am also linking up to Finding Silver Pennies for the Sunday party.
  



08 September 2015

DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

The difference between a couch and a sofa?  I refer you to a humorous take on the subject today over at Apartment Therapy.  From the piece:


An NPR article by Linton Weeks called "The Deep-Seated Meaning Of The American Sofa" features a great quote by Benjamin Parzybok, author of the novel Couch:
"The couch is the thrash-able object at the center of a well-used living room, upon whose back toddlers straddle, whose cushions teenager become permanent fixtures, and which, at the end of the day, after the children are in bed, a couple might relax with a short glass of bourbon.
"A sofa, on the other hand, sits under a trimly hung painting and lives in a house in which traffic passes it by. It would be white, of course, or another color begging for stain. And most people living at the house of a sofa would be forbidden to sit upon it at one time or another."


Now -- when you stop giggling -- here is my take on the matter.  I was taught in design school to call it a "sofa", that "couch" was an uneducated term because it really meant a piece to lie down on.  (The article also mentions this.)  True, the word does come from the French word coucher which does mean to lie down.  (Remember "Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?"  back in the days of Disco?)  It always brings up for me a mental image of a fainting couch with Cleopatra reclining with the pool boy feeding her grapes while another fans her.

You will probably laugh at this, especially my younger readers, but many people called it a divan back in the day.  When I was a small child, back in Paleolithic times, we had a dark red velvet monster in our living room which was referred to as the "divanette".  Of course, with our Alabama pronunciations, it came out "dav-a-nat" -- which I probably called such a piece till I was at least ten years old.  When I was maybe five, we got a new set with matching chairs in a fashionable pale gray textural fabric, which was thereafter called "the Living Room Suit" -- that's right, not "suite" but "suit" -- like a man's suit.  Haha!

You always knew we were funny down here in the Deep South, didn't you?

The referenced article suggests that designers call it a sofa so that they can charge you more.  ;>P  I shouldn't be at all surprised...  The piece goes on to talk about the differences between a loveseat and a settee.  Generally speaking, for those who don't plan to look it up, a loveseat is cushier that a settee, which often has a higher back and seat than a loveseat, too.  

Here endeth the lesson!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Today my copy of the new Eddie Ross book MODERN MIX arrived in the mail!  I will be on the back porch the rest of the afternoon if you need me.  I enjoyed a gentle summer rain earlier, and it does look like there might be another one a'coming.












07 September 2015

A COUPLE OF LITTLE TECHNICALITIES


Recently I have been having some issues commenting on some of your blogs.  I can't be the only one, so I decided to bring it up here.  



On Google Blogger blogs, some of them require a reader to be "logged in"  to your Google account first before you can leave a comment.  Don't know if mine is doing that, but I would like you to tell me if you run into that.  There is no warning beforehand, though, so you sit and you write a nice little comment on something you just enjoyed reading, and then it tells you that you have to "Sign In" to proceed.  So you enter your Google password, and it takes you back to the comment box.  Lo and behold, it is empty!  That comment you just painstakingly wrote has vaporized.

A similar thing happens on some of the Wordpress blogs.  You write the comment, then the three lines pop up, sometimes with your info already filled in if you regularly read that blog.  The problem is, even though you have checked the box for WP to remember you the last time you changed it, the info you are seeing now may be old or wrong, like directing a reader back to a blog that no longer exists.  So you try to change it again.  Some of them will let you change it, and then it will be stored.  Others will not.  You have to do it every time, then before it is accepted, you first have to log in to Wordpress.  The problem there is that sometimes your WP password is accepted, and sometimes it is not.  I have just changed mine again for the umpteenth time again this morning.

All the comments I have tried to leave some of you have just disappeared.  Sometimes I get frustrated and send you an email and let you know, sometimes I don't especially if I don't have time to reconstruct what I just wrote you in the vaporized comment.  You may get a private email from me soon if you have one of these blogs, telling you that yours is one that I am having trouble with.

If you notice that I am not leaving you comments, and you know that I regularly read your blog, that is why.  Just thought I would mention it.  I am now off to check my settings to make sure this is not happening on mine because I don't want to miss anything you might want to write to me.



04 September 2015

KICKING OFF THE LABOR DAY WEEKEND

Just another day in Paradise, folks!  


Lots of pretty in this magazine I picked up yesterday.
I remember a lot of these interiors from times gone by.

The husband last night invited me to go out for brunch today at Big Bad Breakfast, so how could I refuse?  He tried out the Big Bad BLT that I had last time, and I got the Big Bad Quesadilla with a crawfish filling with tomatoes and lime creme.  Quite delicious!  If I were trying to do it at home, I have one change I would make, and that is to use corn tortillas instead of the flour.  I had another one of their wonderful iced coffees which will probably keep me bouncing around half the night.  Sweet Husband ordered OJ -- and they actually SQUOZE it!  It was incredible.  

After that, we toured Wal-Mart (which is close by) for the first time in a few years.  (I would go there more often just for the entertainment value if they treated their employees better and bought more American goods.)  

He found a replacement alarm clock which looks very retro although it is battery operated.  The man has an obsession with clocks and watches, and he always must be able to look at a clock to see the time.  Otherwise, he becomes totally rattle-brained.  We both got a couple of workout items.  His fit -- haven't tried mine on yet.  



I got some of those sprayed on exercise pants with Day-Glo skulls on a black background.  Who says just because I am getting older I can't have fun?

I also got a ball like the one we use in our classes at the Y.  I am going to doll it up with some sharpies, of course, to make it more fun.  


I added some more padding to the seat today, too.

This afternoon I worked on that estate sale chair I got a while back.  It is so blooming hot in the garage!!!  Hot as the proverbial Five Hundred Hells outside...  It probably will be till the end of September.  I decided that I may bring in the chair and work in the kitchen tomorrow.  It is coming right along, and it is going to be a fun little addition to the LR.  Plus, it is comfy.


My good buddy Jenna made me this frame for my birthday --
very cool, isn't it?  I am trying to find a photo of us toasting each other
 to print out and put in it.

Labor Day always seems to be about ACTUALLY LABORING around here.  I got out my paint (again) to work on the bedroom armoire.  We will see if I actually get the can open this weekend.  I need to hit the farmer's market in the early morning to replenish tomatoes and okra, etc.  I got some swell little eggplants week before last which were very well-received around here.  Just peel, slice, salt, pat dry in a half hour, dip in egg, then Panko and fry them up in your big black skillet.  Slurp!

The husband helped out a neighbor this afternoon who was unloading a great big drafting table with a light on it that goes up and down.  He has an art-related staff position with the company that publishes some of your favorite Southern lifestyle magazines.  It seems that the buildings have been sold to the adjacent university, and things are getting smaller and smaller over there.  I asked if there were any more available, and he said only to employees.  Drat.  



I am reading a book that I am really enjoying called WE ARE WATER by Wally Lamb.  When I finish it, I will tell you if you might want to read it or not. I have a feeling that most of my serious reader friends will enjoy it, too.  You might remember Wally Lamb was "discovered" by Oprah years ago when her book club was a big thing.  I believe he taught writing, unless I am remembering wrong.  He also wrote THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED, SHE'S COME UNDONE, I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE and WISHIN' AND HOPIN'.  I have read all the others except the last one.

Got big plans for the weekend?  As usual, we are laying low.  Probably LABOR, as I said before, and grill out a couple more times.  Whatever you do, stay safe.  And anyway, it is not Fall yet in Alabama, not for a while.  There's still at least about six more weeks of Summer left if we run true to form.  That cool snap was a fluke.





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