Tag Archives: mid-century

Homeward Bound

new home

I finally got a house!

I’d been looking for a place on and off for over a year–I had a failed offer this past spring–and finally, I got a cool little house. It’s a three bedroom rambler with a double garage, a family room, and a great backyard for Frankie. Mr. Jean of all Trades loves it too. He’s already set up the garage so he can work on his car.

This was a one-owner home, build in 1961–that’s a long time to live in the same place! Now we have it. As my colleague, Kim, said, it’s a great place to go “all Mad-Men crazy in.” You can count on a few mid-century modern interior design posts in the near future.

The acquisition stage of home ownership is proving to be pricy: inspections, appraisals, closing costs, down payment, movers, appliances–the list goes on. So sadly, clothes purchases have been at the bottom of my list.

My offer was accepted just before I went to Boston, so I had my last hurrah there. I’ll post my Boston purchases, and then you’ll see me remix my wardrobe until the house is in order. Don’t worry though–I haven’t even showcased all of my existing clothes on this blog, so things won’t get stale. And I’ll be hosting a clothing exchange when I get settled in. Where there’s a fashion will, there’s a way.


Filed under Architecture

George Nelson Exhibit at the BAM

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.

Nelson sign

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 benches

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.

storage wall in Life magazine

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.

place setting

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

Swinging 60’s Panton S Chairs

“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.panton chair

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.

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Filed under Decor

A Tulip Table for Spring

If you’ve ever been to (or seen) Gateway Arch in St. Louis, then you know a little bit about Eero Saarinen. He was a Finnish-American architect and industrial designer—and he designed the arch that makes St. Louis so recognizable.

This past August would have been Saarinen’s 100th birthday and I decided that I’d pay homage to his wonderful Mid-Century Modern style and spring for a Tulip table. I’m finally doing that.

Tulip table at Lexington Modern

My reasons for choosing this style are two-fold. First, I love the simple elegance of the pedestal base. And I’ve always loved how round tables encourage closeness—not necessarily in the physical proximity to one’s fellow diners, but in the angle in which people are seated. Sitting at 90 degree angles seems odd. Remove the corners, and everyone is in a circle. It makes sense.

Second, I have a blind cat. Alice gets around the condo perfectly fine. She learned the lay of the land very quickly and never bumps into walls or furniture. She can even plan a jump from the floor to the bed from three feet away. She must count the steps from the door to the spot where she takes off. I don’t know her strategy but it’s flawless—well, except for those damn table legs! Between the table and four chairs, she’s got 20 legs to navigate around (16 of which change their position with each push of the chairs). It’s a lot to ask.

I was thinking that fewer legs would make Alice’s life a lot more predictable when I read a quote Saarinen gave in 1956 to Time magazine: He said he was designing a collection to “clear up the slum of legs in the U.S. home.”

That resonated with me. I have a slum of legs in my dining room! I’d been trying to justify replacing a perfectly usable glass and aluminum table and aluminum and microfiber chairs. So with Alice’s vision (or lack thereof) as my excuse, and Saarinen’s quote as my inspiration, I began my research.

Knoll manufactures the Tulip table. You can buy it at Design Within Reach and Room & Board among other places. Unfortunately, I have Knoll taste on an Ikea budget. Then I found a few companies that make reproductions. I chose Lexington Modern because they had the combination of table top and base that I needed. I ordered a marble top (I was afraid the wood or fiberglass tops would get scratched by Alice’s claws (yes, she manages to navigate to the tops or tables; apparently all cats, including those who can’t see how high up they are, love heights).

The matching Tulip chairs are terrific. But because I went with the black base, I decided to go with black chairs: specifically, the Panton chairs by Verner Panton. They don’t have “legs” so the slum won’t creep into my dining room. Panton is another great Mid-Century Modern designer, and I’ll write about him in another post.

My table is, as they say, in the mail. I’ll share pictures and thoughts about it when it arrives.

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Filed under Architecture, Decor