Sunday, April 20, 2014

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: Milo Baughman's suave modernist aesthetic

Milo Baughman’s sensuous and streamlined creations are 20th century classics. He maximized drama by using dazzling combinations of chrome, glass, sumptuous burled wood, snazzy contemporary textiles and glossy white lacquer. He once said, “I’m much more interested in the atmosphere of a space than in design as such. I used to go to Astaire and Rogers films twice — once to admire their incomparable dancing, the second time to admire the sets, which were so unashamedly moderne.”


I'm an unabashed Milo fan! If you are too, you might enjoy reading my recent article about his 

designs and philosophy, originally published in   

To read a full-length article about Milo Baughman, published in Modernism magazine, link here.

All photos courtesy of Thayer Coggin Furniture Co.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

EXHIBITION: Artist Textiles, from Picasso to Warhol [1940-1976]

Screen-printed rayon headsquare designed by Marcel Vertes 
for Wesley Simpson Custom Fabrics Inc., circa 1944.

At the London Fashion and Textile Museum
31 January – 17 May 2014
Comprising more than 200 rare pieces, many of which have not been on public display before, this exhibition traces the history of 20th century art through textile design. Highlights include work by Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, Raoul Dufy, Barbara Hepworth, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Ben Nicholson and Andy Warhol.

The exhibit features examples of key European and American art movements: Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art; as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Artist Textiles shows how ordinary people were able to engage with modern art in a personal way, through their clothing and home furnishings. 

On right, "Number, please?" 
  a silk scarf designed by Salvador Dalí


Henri Matisse design for Ascher, ‘Echarpe No. 1’, 1947. 
One of two coral-based designs, it was produced in a limited edition of 275.

Unattributed design from exhibition catalog

On left, printed cotton dress made from a textile designed by Graham Sutherland, c. 1949. Sutherland worked with diverse materials, from carpets in the 1940s  to silk scarves in the 1960s. Top right: ‘Spring Rain’, a furnishing textile from Schiffer Prints’ ‘Stimulus’ collection, 1949.  Lower right: Detail of ‘Flower Ballet’ a textile designed by Salvador Dali, circa 1947, printed by Wesley Simpson on their ‘Pebble Crêpe’ rayon, giving this design a further surreal aspect.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

JEWEL BOXES: Poseidon Undersea Resort

Poseidon Undersea Resort

L. Bruce Jones, an expert in all aspects of manned submersibles and tourist submarines (for the rich and the famous, of course) has designed this proposed hotel on an island in Fiji. It will be surrounded by 5000 acres of lagoon, and will include 550-square- foot underwater luxury suites.

Looks pretty dreamy, but I'm not sure I'd be up for fish staring at me at breakfast!
For more info about Futuristic concept hotels, link here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ODD BITS: Don Draper's digs

Which is more gorgeous --
the man or his apartment?

Don Draper's Manhattan apartment, late 60s decor
Dan Bishop, set designer



 For more info about the Mad Men influence on today's designers, link here
to an intriguing article in Stir magazine.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

EXHIBITION: Infinity Room comes to LA

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s ”Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” creates the mesmerizing appearance of endlessly sparkling space.  She achieves this effect by creating cubic rooms in which every surface, except the viewer and a small standing platform, is mirrored. Inside the room, hundreds of flashing, multi-colored LED lights make the observer feel as though s/he might be standing in a galaxy or a cloud of stardust. 

The installation -- which generated thousands of selfies -- was seen by overflow crowds at a gallery in Manhattan last 
fall. It's scheduled to come to Los Angeles soon, just in time for the opening of the new Broad Art Museum. 
Link here to read more details.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Modernist extravaganza in Albany, NY

It's a beautiful day in upstate New York, and I'm looking out my hotel room window at the sometimes maligned ("a fiasco", "Battlestar Galactica on the Hudson") sometimes acclaimed Empire State Plaza. This marble and steel extravaganza, the brainchild of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, was built between 1959 and 1976. It was designed by Wallace Harrison, architect of the United Nations complex and the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center (NYC). The cities of Brasillia, Versailles and Chandigarh were used as models for both scope and style.

Love it or hate it, it definitely makes a statement!

The Albany skyline --
Battlestar Galactica on the Hudson?

View across the reflecting pool

The Egg, a famed performance venue with 
virtually no straight lines or corners in its interior

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EXHIBITION: Elegance in an Age of Crisis (ended 4.19.14)

The museum at NY's Fashion Institute of Technology is currently featuring a collection of chic women's and men's fashions from the 1930s, including clothing worn by Fred Astaire and Katherine Hepburn in some of their most memorable film roles. "To be overdressed in the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression, was to be tone deaf and unfeeling. To be elegant was an expression of esprit de corps." (Wall St. Journal

Elegance in an Age of Crisis will run through April 19, 2014.

1934 evening gown by Augustabernard

Stellar 1930s men's fashion, 
including Classic Rubina Neopolitan silk jacket (left)
and shoes from Fred Astaire's extensive collection (bottom right)

Shigeru Ban's architecture for social change

Pompidou Center Satellite Museum in Metz, France
Its roof was inspired by a woven bamboo hat

Shigeru Ban, the Japanese architect whose fanciful but utilitarian designs employ paper tubes, plastic beer crates and other recycled, environmentally friendly materials, has been awarded this year's prestigious Pritzker Prize. Those in the know say that this is a sign of evolution in thinking of the Pritzker committee, away from rewarding costly art museum expansions and megaprojects toward acknowledging the efforts of architects whose work is geared to social concerns and environmentalism. (Among numerous other projects for disadvantaged people, he made homes out of shipping containers for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.)

Temporary modular home                                             "Cardboard Cathedral" 
                for tsunami victims                                      built in New Zealand after earthquake

“Whether you work for a private client or on a house for an earthquake victim, you’ve always got some problem to solve by design," he says. “We have a responsibility to work with people who have problems, because we have an opportunity to provide them with something beautiful and comfortable.”

Taschen Publishers books about Shigeru Ban

Ban Cover

For more information about Shigeru Ban, link here to a March 24, 2014 NY Times article.