April 21, 2012 · 11:38 am
I went to the Bellevue Art Museum on the last day of the George Nelson exhibit a few weeks ago. George Nelson was an industrial designer and one of the founders of American Modernism, a style I’m really fond of. It was exciting to see a floor in the museum dedicated to his work and filled with his creations.
I first learned about Nelson when I saw his Nelson bench in a Herman Miller catalog. I still want one of those–and as soon as I get a place with a hallway or front entry big enough for a bench, I will. His designs are simple, beautiful, and iconic.
Nelson argued that designers should make the world a better place. He believed that nature was already perfect and designers should follow the rules of nature to create pleasing designs. Staying true to his word, he designed many of the quintessential mid-century modern styles we know today, from starburst clocks to three-cornered “coconut” chairs.
Nelson introduced people to the concept of the family room and storage wall, forever changing how we lived in our homes.
But he did makes some decisions that he later regretted. While working with the Herman Miller furniture company, he came up with the idea for the office cubicle. It was hugely successful, but as Nelson later lamented, the cubical system “is definitely not a system which produces an environment gratifying for people in general. But it is admirable for planners looking for ways of cramming in a maximum number of bodies.” He was right. Herman Miller’s Action Office II line has sold over $5 billion worth of products. I’ll think of that next time I sit in my cubical.
Critics have pointed out that George Nelson tool credit for some of the designs that came out of his studio even though other designers created them. The marshmallow sofa is such an example.
Overall, the exhibit was fun. I learned a lot about the man, his designs, and the changes happening in post-war America.
Filed under Decor, Events
Tagged as architecture, Bellevue Art Museum, design, furniture, furniture design, George Nelson, mid-century, mid-century modern, Nelson bench, style
April 1, 2012 · 2:03 am
When I found out that this month’s theme post at Sophistique Noir was floral, I knew exactly what to write about. Last spring I participated in EBEW’s floral group post, and I wore florals in Florida, so I’m not against wearing pretty patterns. But I didn’t want to showcase another floral outfit. This time, I want to show you an amazing find: Purple and black bat-and-floral wallpaper!
When my group at work moved into a different building one of the first things I did was explore the area. I’m in a cube but there are a few offices in the building. In one of the swankier offices I found an entire wall of this amazing wallpaper. I don’t know whose space it used to be, but he or she sure knew how to decorate! I love how the office is currently a contractor bay and the paper remains.
I snapped photos and showed my friends my amazing find. I didn’t have a blog when I found this wallpaper but I’m happy to share the photos with you now. I did a web search for “bat wallpaper” and had page after page of desktop wallpaper links. I kept hitting dead ends until my colleague and friend Pleiades found the source: Flavor Paper.
Flavor Paper has a wallpaper section with amazing patterns. Some of my favorites are Flower Pedal, Flower of Love, City Park, and Iris. But nothing is better than Elysian Fields. I prefer the black and purple, but check out the other colors too. In fact, the colors change the look of the paper so much! It might seem obvious, but the same print in antique pink has a totally different effect.
I’d put this up on one wall of a home office or paper the entire bathroom! I think an oval mirror with a silver frame would pop against this background. I love that this paper is pretty with a dark side. Even the plants are dangerous!
What would you do with this paper? Do you have any others that you like?
October 27, 2011 · 6:26 am
Every fall, dozens of glassblowers from the Tacoma Glassblowing Studio create hundreds of glass pumpkins for a travelling show called the Northwest Glass Pumpkin Patch. Each handmade pumpkin is signed by the artist and is sold at various locations around the Puget Sound. I’d never been, and the show was coming to Bellevue, so I popped by the Northwest Arts Center and checked it out.
The exhibit consisted of only two small rooms, but they were packed with pumpkins. And people were picking them! Visitors had their baskets filled with glass orbs, which ranged from $35 for the wee ones to well into the hundreds for a basketball-sized one.
There were a lot of orange pumpkins, but to my surprise, there were other colors too. Something for everyone.
I watched a video about how the gourds are made. It’s a really neat process and it takes teamwork. Two glass blowers work together to heat the glass, blow the shape while spinning the orb, and intricately fashion a stem from a taffy-like string of hot glass. It’s amazing to think that the glass is so hot it turned to liquid.
The show hits two more cities before it ends, so if you’re in the area, check it out. I’ve heard about similar events in other areas. If picking hand-blown glass pumpkins sounds like a warmer, less muddy way to get in the Halloween spirit, go online and find a patch near you.
July 9, 2011 · 6:06 am
I like buying and making jewelry. Add to that equation, the fact that I rarely get rid of pieces and you would be correct in assuming I have quite the collection. I’ve recently started getting organized so I can use all my pieces and not forget about them. Here’s what I’ve done so far:
I displayed all my hook-back earrings on a picture frame with screen behind it. It’s really convenient, hangs on my bathroom wall, and looks nice too. You can have your very own by shopping at Sadie Sewbaggin’s Etsy page. She’s a friend of mine, so tell her I sent you.
For all my studs (and other post-back earrings), I found this display rack on eBay. Yes, it’s probably for a retail display, but it works for personal use too.
I didn’t get fancy with my necklaces. I simply hammered a few nails into the wall at various heights and display them that way.
My loose pendants are in this beautiful wooden box that my friend Tom made. He made it! Isn’t that crazy? When it comes to woodworking, I’m all thumbs, but at least I still have them!
I’m still devising a plan for my bracelets and rings. I might buy a retail bracelet display that I saw at a craft store. It’s all velvety and elegant. I’d like to make a ring pillow but I don’t exactly know how. Any ideas? Maybe I’ll ask Tom.
July 7, 2011 · 6:31 am
Have I mentioned how much I like Mid-Century Modern furniture? Yeah, I know I have. I recently bought a reproduction Tulip Table and Panton S Chairs to match. Until now, I haven’t written about my reproduction Barcelona Chair. Piece by piece, my place is getting Modernized.
The Barcelona chair was designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect. He created the chair for the International Expo being held in Spain that year. It’s still every bit as modern now as it was then. Pure designing genius. Mies van der Rohe eventually sold the rights to Knoll; the Barcelona Chair can be purchased through them—for about $4000.
The biggest challenge for me (other than finding a reasonably priced source) was finding a non-leather version of the chair. Even if I had four grand to fork over on a chair, the real deal is cowhide. Not very vegan. After much research, I found a manufactured in China who will make the chair in leather or polyurethane. The price was reasonable (shipping almost doubled the cost, but the grand total was still under $500).
I had to take a big gamble: Send a money order to an unknown company halfway around the world. Lucky for me, the people at Pretty Stores were responsive and helpful. About six weeks later, the chair arrived at my front door.
I can’t believe how comfortable this chair is. Since it’s not a “comfy-looking” overstuffed style, I wondered about it. I’ve read entire books cover to cover in one sitting—in this chair. The quality is great. It’s constructed of a one-piece steel frame with PU cushions. I’ve had the chair for a year now and it’s sturdy and stable and the cover hasn’t cracked or stretched.
If you ever decide to order from Pretty Stores, going in with friends and buying several pieces at once significantly lowers the freight charges. They have a ton of furniture—tables and chairs especially—so buying all at one time is smart.
Another time, I’ll write about the Picasso on the wall above the chair and the painting above the fireplace.
July 6, 2011 · 6:04 am
My first cable-knit pillow sold on Etsy so I decided to make a few more. I bought some cable-knit sweaters at Goodwill and washed them. So far, I’ve completed one. The others will be ready soon.
First, I flipped the sweater inside out, measured and marked a square the size of my pillow form (I bought a pillow casing at a craft store), and sewed it on three sides. Then I cut it and turned it right-side out. I used the sweater’s original finishing at the waist as my fourth side. I slipped the casing inside the cover and sewed it shut with two non-functioning brass buttons. If that sounds like too much work, you can just buy this one.
After I cut apart the sweater, the remnants looked rather appealing. I tried it on and whaddaya know. It’s bold, it’s unconventional, but it’s stylish.
By a weird coincidence, unbeknownst to me until I was surfing around blogs a couple of days ago, I found a DIY project showing how to make such a cropped sweater. And the idea originally came from Preen, a London-based design label often described as evocative and sexual. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all. Well, except that when I wear this, I want to say (in a Dieter from Sprockets voice) “I turned this sweater into a pillow but the sleeves still work.” That’s a bit crazy.
June 25, 2011 · 1:33 am
A while back, I wrote about the Tulip table and Panton chairs I ordered online. I promised to write about them when they arrived, and I haven’t forgotten.
I love the pieces! I ordered the table from Lexington Modern and the chairs from Pretty Stores because they have great reproductions at decent prices. The chairs are sturdy, durable, and haven’t scratched. They wipe clean and would be a great outdoors as well. I wouldn’t leave them outside to get mossy or sun bleached, but they’re a great temporary outdoor seating alternative. Best of all, these are comfortable chairs. And if you can call a chair sexy, well this would be it.
The table is great too. It was well packed and easy to assemble. I chose a marble top in case the wood veneer easily scratched. I have four chairs, but I set this up using only three so you can see the table pedestal more easily.
My only complaint—and it’s my own lack of foresight—is that I ordered the 36″ diameter table, not a larger size. With a small top, and a large base, sitting close to the table means my feet rest on the base. It’s not horrible, but if you buy a Tulip table, go for a 40″ diameter or larger size. I was afraid of ordering too big a table for my small dining area, but an extra few inches wouldn’t have mattered.
The space is sparse, but I like that look. A bouquet of flowers on the table will brighten things up. I added a retro-style clock on the wall. It’s from Chiasso. The framed photo of the Space Needle is actually a 1960s Jazz album cover. I liked the photo and it matched the period of the rest of the room.
After changing everything in the room, my old chandelier looked out of place so I bought a simple black dome-shaped ceiling lamp from Ikea and swapped it out. I love my dining room now and I’m actually using it (as opposed to sitting on the sofa and eating dinner in front of the TV like I used to do).
April 18, 2011 · 10:22 pm
“Welcome to my space-age bachelor pad.”
That’s how I plan to welcome guests to my home as soon as I get my Panton S chairs. A couple of months ago I wrote about the Tulip table I ordered, and how I needed a coordinating set of chairs. The table is fantastic! The chairs, as they say, are in the mail.
I chose the Panton S chairs for a few reasons. First, they don’t have “legs” so my blind cat will have fewer obstacles to navigate. Second, the chairs are plastic (well, technically polypropylene). They’re going to be really easy to clean, are stackable, and will function as indoor/outdoor seating, depending on the season. Finally, they’re sexy!
I love the sleek, fluid design and the almost sculptural look of them. I don’t have any plastic furniture in my home, but I think these chairs will add just the right amount of Swingin’ 60’s feel and help me create an eclectic vibe in my dining room.
So just who was the genius behind the chair? Verner Panton. He’s one of Denmark’s most influential designers. He worked with bright-colored plastics and created a futuristic style of furniture in the 60’s and 70’s. He designed the Panton S chair in 1960, making it four years older than the Tulip table. A May-December romance? Nah, I consider both items Mid-Century Modern pieces.
Reproductions of the Panton S chairs are available at Lexington Modern, the same place I ordered my Tulip table. However, I ordered my chairs from Pretty Stores. They have reasonable prices, high-quality reproductions, and the shipping was fast and professional. You can read about another experience I had with Pretty Stores in my post about my Barcelona chair.
As soon as I get the chairs, I’ll share pictures of my new dining room.
April 3, 2011 · 6:14 pm
I’m not making this up. Today is National Tweed Day. Now, I’m not a stodgy old professor so I don’t have any tweed jackets with patches on the elbows. But I do have a pair of thrifted tweed shorts. So in the spirit of old fabrics and old things, I wore my tweed shorts to Pacific Galleries, an antique mall in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.
Shirt: Ann Taylor (thrifted)
Shorts: Old Navy (thrifted)
Shoes: Frye (clothing exchange)
Necklace: Mary Kay
Possibly the best part of this outfit is that it cost a total of $59. I’m forever indebted to my friend, Angie, for bringing these great Frye shoes to a clothing exchange. And since the shorts were $4, I took a chance on them. I might not otherwise try this look, but the cost was low enough. Turns out I do like it and I will wear some combination of shorts and tights again.
Oh, and the antique mall: It was huge. 22,000 square feet of everything under the sun. Estate jewelry, old signs, books, and lamps. Mid-Century furniture, Nineteenth Century art. You name it, they’ve got it. My favorite was a sad little figurine sitting on a chamber pot, clutching her gut. Judging by the cork in her head, she doubles as some sort of vessel or chalice. Perhaps filled with a remedy for what ails you. I can’t make this stuff up.
But I can make up a poem! And to celebrate National Poetry month, I have. I’m sorry, in advance, that’s it’s in such poor taste and so poorly executed:
by Jean White
Whether from food or by drink,
Or a bug from a friend,
When gut rot afflicts you,
Seems it just won’t end.
But remember the pain,
Will eventually stop.
First grab a bucket
or sit on the pot.
March 6, 2011 · 9:02 pm
I went to Goodwill this past weekend and got inspired. In addition to the Windows 7 skirt I fashioned from a gigantic men’s t-shirt, I made a cable-knit pillow from a sweater.
Here’s how I did it: Fearing the knit would unravel if I cut the fabric first, I flipped the sweater inside out, measured and marked a 14″ x 14″ section (of the front and back of the sweater and sewed it on three sides. Then I cut it and turned it right-side out. I used the sweater’s original finishing at the waist as my fourth side.
I bought a pillow form, slipped inside the casing, and sewed it shut with three non-functioning buttons. Well, I guess they function as closures for the pillow. They don’t function as buttons because I didn’t add buttonholes (who am I Martha Stewart?).
If absolutely necessary, I can always cut the buttons off and remove the stuffing, but both the pillow and casing are washable so, when needed, I can just throw the whole thing in the machine. That is, if you don’t buy it first. I added the pillow to my Esty shop, just in case someone finds it easier to buy this one instead of making one from scratch.
As always, I give this project an E for easy (I wouldn’t have it any other way).