Lets talk about prints. Whether large or small scale they are one of my favorite mediums to adorn my walls. I love how versatile prints are. From the purely graphic, to photography, to other art and mixed mediums. They also work well framed or simply hung from clips. Here is a roundup of my current (some longtime) favorites. Mixed-media print series, Dark Island, by Evan Hecox are his graphic and visual explorations of New York City recreated on vintage newspaper. The color palate is brilliant. I can’t get enough of what Print Club Boston is doing right now. The hand-pulled screen prints are simply stunning. How I still haven’t procured For Like Ever is insane, but it will be my next print. Catherine Ledner’s Wild Animals series combine two of my favorite things: patterns & animals. The results are quite the conversation pieces. Xochi Solis’ mixed media creations (arrows of carnations shown) are layered, colorful gems. Print love.
Buildings are physical representations of the social, economic, political, technological, and cultural climates of their eras of origin. Ultimately buildings represent our cultural heritage and our architectural history. However, mid-century modern era buildings are increasingly interpreted as antiquated architecture that is functionally obsolete and lacking use in today’s society. Our recent-past modern buildings are being labeled as “failed” or “useless” architecture. As a result, mid-century modern architecture is rapidly being demolished and replaced with newer sustainable structures believed to better represent our most current social and cultural ideals. Current architecture is believed to be far more aesthetically pleasing than their modern predecessors.
BFramed in the context of history, it can only follow that Brutalist buildings were going to be executed as formal monumental concrete structures that directly juxtapose (even challenge) their environments. But more often than not, the perspective of historic context is outnumbered by present aesthetic preference. For example, Prentice Women’s Hospital (Bertrand Goldberg) in Chicago, the Berkeley Art Museum (Mario Ciampi) in California, and several of Paul Rudolph’s brut beauties were technological and architectural triumphs of their time. However, the Brutalist buildings like other modern era buildings that rate low on the aesthetic-scale have been equally disregarded in their maintenance. The argument for demolition based on deficiencies caused by a lack of maintenance becomes all too convenient. The wide-spread demise of Brutalist civic and urban buildings is a demise of the ideologies behind the intent of the architecture and those housed within.
Aesthetics cannot be the pretext for significance or the preservation of architecture. Letting aesthetics judge value will strip our architectural history of some of the most influential and innovated examples of modern era architecture. In effect, we are killing, and ultimately denying claim to, a portion of our architectural history. There is value in the perspective of context and value in re-using and re-imagining modern era architecture. If aesthetic preference continues to get in the way, what use is there for the architect or an architectural legacy?
Brass is back. Forget those awful brass accents and finishes from the 1990s, because brass got a modern update (hello, no more lacquer) and is here to stay. Brass accents and finishes have an understated elegance and modernist aesthetic. It is strong, won’t rust, and has been reimagined into a variety of geometric forms. Brass also adds a natural pop of warmth to any space, and is a perfect complement to textiles. I love the versatility of brass. It can be used as a singular show stopping piece like side chairs done completely in brass. Or as accents like a task lamp and side table. Whether you are sublet or bold with your brass, this precious metal is here to stay.
New Furniture. Edited by Gerd Hatje.
"New Furniture was conceived as a series devoted to the survey of international furniture. The first volume contains 275 illustrations showing the best and most interesting designs of chairs, sofas, beds, tables, cabinets, shelves, office furniture, and nursery furniture by designers from fourteen countries. This wide scope makes it possible for the reader to compare different trends and to discern future developments." - Modernism 101
Pink has long been one of my favorite accent colors (flowers, art, textiles, the list goes on). I am especially drawn to vibrant fuchsias or the palest shades. Currently, the pale pink accents are taking over. I enjoy the versatility pale pink accents offer. From softening and contrasting metallics, to adding color punch to predominantly monochromatic spaces. For this round-up of pale pink accents I chose both large scale accents (hello beautiful area rug and modern rocking chair) to small vessels, candlesticks, pillows, and one of the most amazing stools. Click the arrows to have a look.
If there are two things I love most in interiors it is textiles (especially pillows) and chairs. The Womb Chair (1948) designed by Eero Saarinen combines my two favorites. Per Florence Knoll's request for "a chair that was like a basket full of pillows...something I could really curl up in." The Womb Chair was created.
Preservation of their natural surroundings and composition of natural (locally sourced too) materials set these timber residences above the rest. Located on the Vindö island in the Stockholm archipelago, Sweden is a wooden holiday retreat amongst dramatic topography. The materials are predominately related to local building traditions. It is a dynamic timber residence with a painted black exterior, with natural tones throughout the interior. A timber and glass residence located in The Netherlands, Villa V is semi-positioned within the slope of the hill in which it resides. Only natural materials were used for building composition, including a facade of Waxedwood sustainable timer and veneered plywood for the interior. A viennese boat house right at the waters edge composed of timber and copper, and meant to naturally weather and further complement each other over time. The facade appears to be a single cube when not in use. However, it is dramatically transformed when its doors open, exposing various internal compartments.
Richard Neutra (1892-1970) is one of the most influential mid-century modern architects. His architectural designs are marked by crisp geometric modernism. His residential feats were predominately built in California, including the Lovell House. The Lovelly House has a steel skeleton, which was a first for residential design in the United States, glass, and prefabricated elements. It is a premier example of residential modernism. The Lovell House is a Los Angele Historic-Cultural Monument.
Bring on the gold, lacquer, craftsmanship, and wood. These elements set the tone for these scene stealing chairs. The Eames side chair golden. Gold leaf, fiberglass, lacquered metal, design perfection. In the same vein, Hans Olsen chair in a lacquered teakwood with metallic cover. Both of these jewels of design, work well in multiples or as a single statement side chair. I want both of them. Rami Tareef created COD for Gaga & Design at imm Cologne 2013. The intricately woven synthetic sleeve is a beautiful juxtaposition to the rigid steel frame. The colors are muted, but his design is successfully bold. STEEL chair by Reinier de jong is a simple chair that highlights its natural components. Color and texture results from the materials used to create what becomes STEEL chair. Similarly, the reclaimed teak rocker from sobusobu uses reclaimed and natural components to create a show stopping rocker. It is more subdued than gold and lacquered design, but just as attention worthy in any space.
Mid-century modern Swiss graphic design is one of my favorite aesthetics of visual communication. Born in the 1950s and reaching its height in the 1970s, this style became known as the International Typographical Style. It is marked by an orderly structure with sans-serif typefaces. I personally am drawn to how the type itself becomes the essence of the design. The examples above showcase this and how Swiss graphic design is rational, bold, and harmonious whether in vivid color or a simple monochromatic palate.