Thursday, October 27, 2011

Found Warren MacArthur Chair

It is always fun to find something by a designer that you have not had before.  Lewis picked up a outdoor folding chair by Warren MacArthur.  It is in its original upholstery, which needs redoing, but considering that it is from the 1930's to 1940's it is in excellent shape. Lewis knew what he found, but alas I needed to be educated.

So after doing some studying here's what I found on Warren Macarthur.  He was born in Chicago 1885 to an affluent family.  His father was one of the first to have Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them, and to own a motor car.  He grew up a forward thinker.  He studied mechanical engineering at Cornell, where he graduated in 1908. He designed multiple lamps between 1911 and 1913.  He moved to California in 1929 to start a business designing metal furniture. His father encouraged and financially backed him. He came up with many innovative ideas concerning construction, lasting finishes, coloring aluminum, and outdoor fabrics. After his father/backer died he moved his company to Rome, New York.

While he was in Los Angeles he was highly accepted by the Hollywood Stars, many purchasing his furniture for their homes and patios.  This aided in boosting the popularity of his furniture.  We owe a lot to forward thinkers like Warren Macathur.

Friday, October 21, 2011

carla scarpa

Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) studied architecture but never took the required pro forma professional exam.  Because of this he always work in conjunction with a certified architect. 
This vase is one like we sold this one sold at Phillip Du Pruy auction for 17,500 English Pounds
Scarpa taught drawing and Interior Decoration at the Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia. He was a designer of Furniture and Glass (in Murano with Venini). He served as director of design for Venini from 1926-1947.

He designed the Brion-Vega Cemetery  as an extension to the family’s existing cemetery. He developed  geometric composition in concrete over a 10-year period completed in 1978 the year of his own death. As is suiting he is buried here in standing position in the manner of a  medieval knight.

The cemetery is in a L-shaped plot which comprises  a small chapel, the entrance hall, a small steel-and-wood pavilion on an island in the site’s water pond, the main tomb, and an open-air structure covering the graves.
the cemetery.  The island which the visitor cannot access seems to be a metaphor for the after life.Viewing this place is like no other.  It is both massive and majestic.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mastercraft Furniture

Brass Cabinet 1970's Mastercraft

There are some American Furniture Companies that produced finely made furniture in the mid 20th century.  Mastercraft was one of these.  Recently we picked up several signature pieces by Mastercraft.  A set of 6 dining chairs and a round pedestal dining table that extends to almost banquet size. What impresses us is the quality of their workmanship.  

Stunning Bernhard Rohne for Mastercraft coffee table clad in brass and Bernhard Rohne's acid etched banding. Beautiful high quality glass top.
I decided to try to find out a little more about Mastercraft and their designers.  William Doezema (1917 - 2009) designed for Mastercraft, Grand Rapids.   He founded Mastercraft in 1946 with his brother Charles and sold it  in 1974 to Baker Furniture.  John Widdicomb,  and Bernhard Rohne are also among the designers used by the Mastercraft Company. 

burled wood cabinet

Bernhard Rohne was born in 1944 east of Hannover Germany.  He emigrated in 1967 to Vancouver, British Columbia,Canada where he currently resides.  He is a sculptor as well as a furniture designer. John Widdicomb came from a family well into the furniture making and design trade.  He founded his own company, but designed for Mastercraft as well.
Black Lacquered Credenza Mastercraft 1970's

Mastercraft was known for their well designed and well crafted pieces using exotic woos such as Amboyna Burl,  Zebrano wood, as well as mahogany and native walnut often with incised brass details.  Designs by Rohne used  Acid-Etched brass detailing.
Four Mastercraft Chairs in Amboyna Burl

After doing my research, I now realize why Lewis was excited to find several pieces by Mastercraft at one time.  Unfortunately, even though they were purchased by the Baker Company, who were at the time was one of the finest American Furniture Companies, there is nothing produced today that compares.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Domus Magazine

Domus Magazine was founded by Gio Ponti, famous Italian Architect and multifaceted designer. It was published in both Italian and English.  It documented Italian design and architecture. It was established in 1928 and run by Ponti until 1940 when he left to run Lo Stilo.
An interior photo out of an old issue of Domus

Today it's reprints serve as a bible for  identifying the style of a particular age, from Art Deco, the Modern Movement, Functionalism and Postwar to Pop, Post-Modernism and Late Modern.  These are real treasures. It not only focused on the Italian, but gave credit to any new movement anywhere in the world in design or architecture.  It was a cronical of it's time.  A time capsule of design. The reprint is in twelve volumns edited by Peter and Charlotte Fiell and can be purchased at Amazon.

Various covers from the magazine Domus

 These volumns have influenced and are still influencing architects and designers today, as well as students of architecture.  There is a real estate magazine produced in the U. S. that uses the name Domus.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Perks of Being on 1stDibs

We were hesitant about taking the plunge two years ago and going BIG  TIME with a site on 1stDibs.  Could we afford the charges?  Would we do OK?  All sorts off questions came to mine.  All our insecurities raised their ugly heads and made us doubt.  But then the only way one gets something done is to go ahead and try.

We had been on another national site.  We had made expenses and even done well.  We had sold to designers such as Kelly Wearstler and Micheal Smith, when he was working on the White House, also to Oparah's designer, Nate Berkus.   So why not try a bigger and better site.

December two years ago we took the plunge and signed up for and started listing on 1stDibs.  From the very first we began to do well selling well.  This was not without it's perils.   Shipping has been a real learning curve.  What to use more importantly what not to use. All and all 1stDibs has been great.  The really fun part comes when you sell things to designers and clients all round the world.  For a moment you can connect to important people and for a while we can live vicariously .  Producers, Famous Designers, and even a Princess are among our clients.  Who knows who will want what, but because of our site we are able sell world wide, even in a small town off the Chesapeake Bay. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ode to Catie

Catie Lake and Brian
Catie first visited us in the shop with her family.  I noticed that she was a pretty girl, whose walk was a little off.  I thought maybe that she had a birth defect.  Then Lewis dated her sister, and we got to know the family.  It was then that we heard Catie's story.  This was not a birth defect or something she could work through, but a devastating debilitating disease.  We watched as she declined.  We witnessed her marvelous attitude.  She always smiled.  She was in love, and in love with life.  She had found her soul mate and the love of her life Brian, who had himself over come odds.  Even though she continue to worsen her smile was always quick to come.  Catie died recently.  We are all sadden by her passing. Please visit the Mindlink site.

If it moves you please donate to help others like Catie.  Your donations will also help with research for a cure  for Parkinsons Disease.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall is in the air...time to think about Decorating

A mixture of style makes for an interesting home
Fred Comer, of Comer & Co, was just visiting in the shop and we began discussing the difference in people's decorating habits, according to where they live.  Living in Virginia we have noticed that in certain areas there is a reluctance to change. In the more metropolitan areas the taste becomes more diverse.  Where people have come together from different ethic back grounds, there seems to develop an openest to experimenting with both colors and design.  Rules are broken and expanded.  Life becomes more and more exciting.
French Early Modernist Chairs 1940's

I've never been one much for following rules when it came to decorating.  To begin with I was forced to decorate with whatever we could afford.  There was a lot of, " would you like this," "Why yes thank you."  Things from the attic or hand me downs from relatives.  Most early married people start out that way.
Italian Deco Dresser 1940's

Today, however a lot of young people marry later, and have more money with which to work .  Some couples both work.  They have developed their taste. They can afford to be picky.  The period that seems to be the most popular is the Deco and Early Modernist.  The designs of this era are easy to mix with other periods.  The best looking interiors are those that are eclectic, drawing from all sorts of diverse sources.
1950's Modernist "wheat shaft tables"

The Deco and Early Modernist Furniture were made with a cleanest of design and with uncompromising quality that compares with find pieces of an earlier time.
Painting 1960's by Charles Sibley

My best advise is to buy one good piece at a time.  Good design never goes out of style.  Get the best that you can an build up slowly.  The good American, Italian and French designs from the 1930's and 1940's will continue to build in value.  They are good investments now for the future.
1940's green Murano lamps

All of the pieces that we have shown above can be used together in a room.


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