Tag Archives: mid century classics

A Tour of the Historic TWA Flight Center

The TWA Flight Center was designed to capture  the spirit of flight.  Completed in 1962, this bird is undoubtedly the most famous architectural work of Eero Saarinen.  Composed of four thin-shell concrete lobes and fully supported by only four piers.  The main lobby’s soaring, swooping walls and sculptural staircases stretch onward until they reach the cavernous ceiling, the beginning becoming its end and the end becoming its beginning again.   Theres no doubt when you see this building that you know it is special, which is why the city of New York designated both the interiors and exteriors a historic landmark in 1994 and has spent 20 million to restore it so far.

“All the curves, all the spaces and elements right down to the shape of the signs, display boards, railings and check-in desks were to be of a matching nature. We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.”—Eero Saarinen, 1959 from Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. p250

The terminal was in use until 2001, changing hands throughout the years to American Airlines and now Jet Blue. Restoration of the “head house” is now mostly complete and the building is opened up for public and private tours a few times a year.  Hudson and I were fortunate to attend a very intimate tour sponsored by Archtober and AIA last week.  I have over 50 blog worthy photos, its been hard to narrow it down to the very best but here it goes!

I had built up Hudson’s excitement by telling him that we were going to see a building that looks like a spaceship.  He only heard “spaceship” and was very excited to go.  Saarinen did not disappoint this two-year old.  Hudson’s favorite spot was in the sunken red lounge, that is until he discovered the red tubes.  We entered our tour at the original main entrance, unlike the UHNY tour where Jet Blue opens terminal 5 for visitors to enter through the tubes, so unfortunately I could not let Hudson run down them like he wanted too via Catch Me If You Can style.

Hudson modeling for Banana Republic’s fall/winter ads

The upstairs lounge portions of the head house are not restored yet.  Most of my pictures are cringe worthy, so I’m going to spare you the disgust.  Sometime during the during the 80’s and 90’s it was someones grand idea to remodel the lounges with cherry and brass.  Really.  I have also come across photos from the 90’s that show very unsympathetic alterations to the building’s character, such as floor to ceiling drapery on the 30 foot wing windows, ramps over the grand stair entrance and the sunken lounge was leveled!  I don’t know if the photos I’m including are of original lounge furniture and details but they aren’t far off from the feeling that Saarinen used in the rest of the building.  I enjoyed looking for construction elements that we are not allowed to do in American anymore because of our strict building codes.  Besides there only being stairs to the second level, there were other non accessible areas like entry to the back of the grand information desk and narrow doors

I had to rush through the second floors, running out of time and Hudson out of patience (he was really distraught about not being able to run down the red tubes) but I got some great shots of the first floor from up there.

But my favorite photos to take are always of the details, so here’s for all you detail oriented designers!

I also caught two great photos on my way out, these are exterior shots at the front of the building.

As an interior designer I was ecstatic to come across the survey drawings for the restorations by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, here are 2 of my favorite sheets from the set.

I hope that the restoration continues for the TWA Flight Center and I plan on returning to any tour that I hear about, it is truly an amazon building to visit.

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Toddler By Design – part two

 

I love modern childrens’ furniture.  Its a trend in juvenile products that has caught on like wildfire.  But the funny thing is, most of the popular modern pieces are reissued mid-century designs.  Something fabulous and unforgettable was happening in the 50’s.   My second child Hudson is my modern child,  I happily splurge on designer furniture for him that is a fraction of the size and cost as the originals.   My inner child lives vicariously on those indulgences without sacrificing my adult decor style.  I’ve already featured my son’s bedrooms as he progress from Nursery to Toddler, and along with a toddler comes (lots of) toys and play spaces.  Here is how I live happily with ours.

Part 2 – Play Area

While his bed and dresser are in the bedroom, Hudson’s toy box, table and chairs are in the living room.  He drags all the toys out there anyway so I decided not to squeeze them into the shared bedroom.  There’s a funny little family story about how I’ve been on the hunt for a coffee table for a few years.  With transitions in our life, moves and changes in spaces, I finally thought I was ready to pick something.  Then Hudson needed a play table and pouf!  I gained a “coffee table”, at least is looks good in my living room!

Hudson’s play area may intrude on our living room space, but I’m happy with the modern childrens’ furniture that I get to add to my collection.  Like little works of art, the Eames Elephant and Panton Junior chairs are not just pleasing on my eye, their colorful, sculptural and nearly indestructible construction are perfect for my son’s rambunctious pretend play. And like all of our polypropylene furniture, they clean up like brand new with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser.

Modern childrens’ furniture isn’t cheap.  You have to appreciate that you are paying for the design to justify buying it.  I’m a big advocate of buying licensed design products, I don’t buy knockoffs, its sorta a professional courtesy.   That doesn’t mean that I think there aren’t great designs out there without a big name designer name attached to it.  Target and Ikea are excellent companies cranking out modern and on trend products.  Hudson’s toy box is from Ikea and his table is from Target and they all look perfect together.  We also pick up more expensive items one at a time.  Obviously the pink Panton Junior chair is Macy’s, so we’ve had it for a few years.  Hudson got the orange one for christmas and the elephant for his birthday.

My kidos love building blocks, this natural wood set from Melissa and Doug, sits out in a wire basket (from Moon River Chattel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) ready to be made into an architecural masterpiece on a whim.

So there are “toy box people” and there are “cubby box people”.  I was once a “cubby box mom”, all of Macy’s toys were housed in cute little pink wooden boxes that sat on a shelving unit.  I would stress over the collections being separated properly and spend way to much time organizing it all.  I got over that and LOVE throwing all of Hudson’s  toys in the toy box now.  But it doesn’t mean that its completely an unorganized mess.  The majority of the childrens’ bedroom closet is shelving designated for board games, playsets and a few cubbies. And within the toy box, I came up with a solution to keep collections like cars, puzzle pieces, block sets & Schleich animals grouped for easy play.  I reuse the cloth pull string bags that sheets and other home items are packaged in for a few of those popular toys…..and then I toss them in the toy box, done!

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Toddler By Design – part one

Preschool of Art rendering by Nikki Berry

Just shy of 10 years ago there was a major shift in my personal design style.  After beginning design school and absorbing knowledge of design theory like a sponge, I had a gravitational pull toward modern design, especially design that spoke of a child’s delight.  My design school projects always leaned toward fanciful and whimsy, my biggest dream was to design interiors for Disney.  As I developed my senior thesis on symbolism and a child’s built environment I was inspired by Post Modernism, Maria Montessori and the grand idea that arose to create Kindergarden for children.  I would have benefited significantly to have seen the MOMA’s latest exhibition: Century of the Child, as scraping together resources for my thesis research was tough.   But my intelllectual design voice was understood and my senior project that bloomed from it was a gorgeous, modern Preschool of Art.  It was 2005 and the boom of modern children’s product had not yet taken off.  But with sources like Design Within Reach’s children’s store JAX, The MOMA store, Kido, Modernseed and Vitra my modern preschool was well furnished and flowed with symbolic references that would appeal to the child in all of us.  Little did the jury panel know, I was really just nesting for my next child.

Part 1 – Bedroom

My daughter Macy, now 10 years old, is an old soul.  Her style has always been more traditional.  She might have been a Victorian they way she likes to collect tchotchkes. So when my design style changed to modern I used the birth of my second child Hudson, now 2.5, as a reason to buy all the reissued mid-century childrens’ furniture and toys that I really wanted for myself. Giraud, Eames, Panton, Nelson and new comers Stark, Ouef, & Dwell Studio are high on my radar for Modern children’s design.  All of their products work in harmony in a home like mine where I collect mid century  and modern furniture and color is always welcome.  Where form is the priority and the history behind a piece always the price tag.  Items like the Panton Jr chairs and Eames Elephant will never be packed up and stored away when my children are older.  They are pieces of art to me.

I’d like to share how my toddler design collection is coming along.  I have already shared Hudson’s Nursery HERE.  Its a big hit on Pinterest and one of my most popular posts.  He and Macy share a room in our Brooklyn apartment, these pictures are only of his spaces.

Hudson’s side of the bedroom is in transition right now, its sort of an in-between phase for him.  While he’s done with a “nursery look”, the main components of his room aren’t ready to be replaced yet.  His Ouef Sparrow crib will soon convert to a toddler bed and he will continue with grey, green and aqua colors but I have changed out some smaller details to update his Nursery into Toddler room.  Later on I have I have ideas for a navy and orange room with bunk beds for his young boy bedroom.

Hudson’s Oliver the Owl nursery was inspired by the Dwell Studio Owl bedding. So now that his bumper and matching quilt are phased out I could work in the sheeting from the Dwell Studio collection.  We’ve also begun picking up softgoods, like the navy Star Wars pillow by Pottery Barn Kids, that we know will transition to his young boy bedroom.

We adore maps, especially the NYC MTA maps, making them art for the room was an easy addition. I just completed this awesome DIY wallcovering on the closet doors in the childrens’ room.  Look for a post on that soon.

Since I added plenty of map graphics in the room we replaced the framed vintage subway map with a circus letterpress print we pick up on a trip home to Nashville from the legendary Hatch Show Print.

We love books!  We started collection our favorite childhood classics even before we had children.  The wide window sills in the bedroom make for an easy book shelf and I used an Ikea Lack wall shelf that we no longer used as a color pop and platform to display the books.  The canvas art is my creation along with the Arctic Friends painting.  The Blue Brooklyn Brownstones illustration is from Claudia Pearson.

Im not done yet!  Check back in later for the second part of Hudson’s toddler spaces: the play area.

 

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An Eames Elephant for Hudson

Purdy Matter on one of the original 1945 plywood Eames Elephant

I’ve been in love with designs from Charles & Ray Eames since I learned about them in design school and to celebrate my graduation my husband gave me my first piece of their iconic furniture, the LCW.  Since design school, each time I get a chance to “need” a new piece of furniture I always pick out mid-century modern classics.   My history of furniture teacher said that furniture is the best investment you can make, so that could be my excuse or it’s just that I have an obsession with that era and with chairs in particular.  As Hudson’s second birthday was approaching on February 4th we were at a loss about what to get him. We felt that we over did it at Christmas and he didn’t need nor did we have any room in the toy box for more toys…..but I always have room for a new piece of furniture :)  So we decided that it was now or never, he was the perfect age to play with an Eames Elephant and if we didn’t get it now then it would not really be a toy for him later.  I just adore this little elephant and just as the rest of my mid-century lovelies Im really into learning about the history of its design.  Unfortunately doing just web research I can’t find much info on the origin of the 1945 design.  I had hoped to find a drawing or a picture of the Eameses with one of the original two prototypes.  Im sure that in a real book somewhere is all the info I want so ill be on the look out for that, until then I have a bit of history to share and I also have found some great new pictures of how people are having fun with the reproductions of this precious pachyderm.

The only known original Eames Elephant is safe in the hands of the Eames family

The plywood elephant was among a menagerie of plywood animals that the Eames designed around 1945, the same time they were designing and experimenting with splints and chairs.  But none of the creatures – elephant, frog, seal, bear and horse – ever moved beyond the concept stage.  Their fabrication was too challenging to be mass-produced with compound curves and tight angles. Two elephant prototypes were made and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art from 1945-46 and the only surviving elephant is safe in the hands of the Eames family.  To celebrate the 100th birthday of Charles Eames in 2007, Vitra decided to master the art of producing the plywood elephant and released limited edition plywood elephants, 1000 each in natural and red stained maple.

source – kandpreadme.blogspot.com

Hive modern still has a limited edition plywood elephant for sale see it HERE!

source – moderity.se

The response was overwhelmingly received and all 2000 copies sold out immediately at $1900 each!   Since the cost and limited production made for an instant collectors item, Vitra decided to develop a second series of elephants made from plastic in 2009.  A nod to the fact that the Eameses were the first to use plastic in furniture in the 1950’s and also making this new series affordable to buy for the intended user – a child!  Current pricing of the elephant is $290 and comes in red, ice-gray, white, lime and pink.  You can find them stocked and ready to ship online in stores like DWR, Hive Modern, All Modern, Modern Seed and Design Public.

Vitra Eames Elephants

This brochure for the new elephants is FANTASTIC, besides being made by a graphic design student, it has the flat pattern of the two components for constructing mini paper elephants.  So its marketed for kids but I’m thinking of all the other things I could make like….a fondant cake topper, swoon!

see the brochure HERE

If  you are a furniture lover or design professional without a child, don’t let that deter you from adding this beautiful sculptural piece to your home, it looks like a “stool” to the adult crowd or consider the Vitra miniature in either Red or Natural plywood for $185 as a book shelf decoration.

Vitra miniture

With the release of the 2007 Limited Edition elephant, Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Charles Eames and director of Eames Office and Chairman of the Eames Foundation, produced a film ” A Gathering of Elephants” to stir excitement for these beloved creations:

Hudson loves to trumpet along with the elephants and move to the african drum beat, its a great little film!

Then, just this january a second elephant film was released, “Elephant Safaris – in to the Wilds

Im excited to share that this film was brought to my attention by a tweet from Eames Demetrios himself!

Its only been a few years since the release of the new elephant and I’ve searched around to see how its being used and displayed.

Check out this playroom at the new London Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse!!

At the Vitra Design Muesum (what are Bleu and Pinky doing there?  wink wink)

I found several Flickr pictures that show this outdoor “elephant pin” from the Basel Vitra Design Museum.  They must be rearranged daily, each picture had them doing different things.   It makes the little guys seem to really have a playful personality seeing them “running around” this pin.

Singapore: Saturday In Design via How We Create

In Hong Kong, an auction of artistic re-designs of the elephants for  the ‘Ambassadors of Design’ via Alive Not Dead

And of course my own contribution to the bank of elephant images

Hudson and the Eameses

Nose to Nose with his pet elephant

This little elephant is so much fun to photograph, I can’t wait until a warm spring day when we can take him outside and take more pictures!  Hudson already loves playing with him, since the back is sloped he likes to run his cars off of it like a slide and once I caught him trying to climb through its backside, that would have been a good picture!

Eames Elephant in Ice Gray

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Chairs 101

Entanglement of Chairs by James Nizam

 

 source

I am working on my new design series called Chairs 101.  I am crazy about chairs, my obsession started in design school and was awarded at my graduation when my husband gave me my first designer chair, the Eames LCW.  Since then I have added a few others and will be excited to show off my collection as well as other important chairs during this series!

Why do I love designer chairs?  There are several reasons, one is that out of all the many ways that a person can collect important pieces in design, whether it be a work of art or a whole house, one little chair is by far one of the most affordable and obtainable.   A splurge on a single chair doesn’t require much space or special installation to make a whole room feel styled and complete. 

The other reasons for my love are deeper in design theory thoughts.   The evolution of chair design has always paralleled the development of architectural styles and eras. During the last century chair designs have had a lasting impact on furniture design because of their innovative materials and the advance in construction technologies.  A multitude of chairs have been designed simply because of the fact that there is no idea form for a chair and that there can be many solutions to perform its function.  When I study a chair I see so much: a sculpture, a voice, a time period.  The mood it can create and its purpose in social society are all part of the package, wrapped up on four little legs and using only 2 square feet of floor space!  It’s a compact design that makes a serious impact in the design world.

Modern Chair Eye Exam from Blue Art Studio

 

source

A chair can be a beautiful work of art that is well designed, studied, and written about.  It can become a celebrated icon. Some of the most iconic chairs have emotional persuasion that speak as loudly as well noted architecture and are often designed by architectural masterminds.   I run across designer chairs in department store displays, hotels, restaurants, advertisements and magazine spreads.   When I find one in person I take my picture in it ( I told you I was obsessed)!  There are many products that feature designer chairs like pillows, posters, coasters and miniatures, they are an easy way to bring a piece of a icon into your home or office. I dont collect the miniatures myself, I’d rather save up for the full size chair and I also have no problem obtaining just one of each, who says that you have to have a matching set?

The Bible of Designer Chairs

source

One of my required books in design school was the bible of chairs: 1000 Chairs by Charlotte and Peter Feill.  I will be referring to it myself while writing my posts to get my facts straight.  (Dont worry, Im not going to talk about all 1000!)  I will be writing about not just the history and importance of the chairs but showing you some of the places designer chairs are used and some of the products that celebrate their form.  In my series I intend to share the worlds most influential and celebrated chairs with you.  If you aren’t a design-ish person, you will be surprised at how many chairs you can recognize but have never known the story behind. 

In the tradition of a blog series I will be making these posts on Fridays so check them out as you wind down for the weekend.

Cheers! Nikki

Tune into class next week to learn about: Eames LCW and LCM chair

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