Saturday, May 28, 2016

EVENTS: Online auction of MAD MEN-orabilia starts June 1 !

Mad Men lovers take note: Everything from Don Draper's favorite neckties to his 1964 Imperial Crown Chrysler convertible -- not to mention Peggy Olson's typewriter and Pete Campbell's faux globe/booze delivery system -- will go on auction on Wednesday, June 1, at 12PM PST sharp, via More than 1500 props and costumes from the show will be on offer. Prices for smaller items are expected to start at around $100, but the sky's the limit for iconic items such as Joan Harris' red suede stilettos, Roger Sterling's Ray-Ban sunglasses, Don's orange office chairs and, of course, The Car.

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Sorry, ladies, the convertible does not include Don.

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Don at work, flirting with soon-to-be wife #2,
and a set of seductive orange Eames office chairs.

Above: Don Draper's Electric Dutchess BBQ 
"Take this BBQ home and grill something this summer like the man Don expects you to be. Item is in working condition."

Screenbid is considered one of the the world’s best sources for "certified authentic, screen-used Hollywood memorabilia and collectibles." The company joins forces with 
studios, producers, and directors to make available to the public objects 
that were used only onscreen or in production on a movie or television show. 
A certificate of authenticity from the studio accompanies each item.

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When Betty (Mrs. Draper #1) gained some weight, she employed every method known at the time -- including smoking like a chimney -- in order to lose it. The auction lot pictured above includes a Weight Watchers cookbook, a Diet-Rite cola bottle, a wheat sliced-bread wrapper, the book Glorious Eating for Weight Watchers, and a Sealtest low calorie ice cream box.

 Above: Pete's drink caddy/fake globe
Decorative objects used to hide alcohol and the glassware for serving 
it became all the rage during the Prohibition era.

Peggy's typewriter
 Seeing Peggy Olson's evolution from mousey secretary to strong,
creative  and feisty career woman was one of the greatest pleasures of
following Mad Men's seven-year run.

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Above: Don's cast iron skillet
Some of the most tender moments on Mad Men
centered around Don cooking for his children, especially Sally,
and sharing confidences over omelets or macaroni and cheese.

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For more info, link to
or the NY Times article How to Own a Piece of ‘Mad Men’

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DESTINATIONS: Chicago reveals plans for dramatic aerial cable car line

"Make no small plans." ... Daniel Burnham
Visionary urban designer and planner of the 
1883 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago

As a big fan of Chicago -- its stellar architecture, splendid art museums, Lake Michigan panorama, and Italian food (!) -- I am delighted to hear that the city is planning to build a downtown line of sleek aerial gondolas that will thread their way through its iconic highlights. "The Skyline", expected to be a striking and lucrative tourist attraction, will link the Navy Pier, the city's Lakefront and its Riverwalk, via the heart of downtown. (see map below)

Below: The envisioned sleek glass pods would serve both as 
viewing points for, and elements of, Chicago's much-celebrated architecture.

Business leader Lou Raizin, one of the main planners of this project, 
said at a recent City Club of Chicago meeting:

"The Skyline [project] is a prime example of how we can move Chicago from old guard to vanguard. We keep  coming back to the same question: What's our unique feature? Where's our Eiffel Tower? Where's our Big Ben? These ideas are our attempt to answer 
this question and are intended to start a conversation in the city about what we 
would like our reputation to be in the future ... We need to think iconic. 
We need to be bold."

Above: Artist's rendering of cable car line suspended alongside the river

 Raizin, along with his colleague Laurence Geller, sees potential for the cable car line to draw up to 1.4 million visitors annually to their cash-strapped city. 
"Tourism, " says Geller, is the best way of quickly impacting the city's revenues 
and improving the quality of life for our residents." It is estimated that the cable line 
would cost $250 million and would be paid for by a public-private partnership.

No date has been set for groundbreaking on this project, and there will
surely be many bureaucratic hoops to jump through, but I'm 
keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen within the decade!


To watch a dreamy video of an imagined tour on the Skyline, link here.

Monday, May 9, 2016

DESTINATIONS: Mid-Mod interior design extravaganza coming to Paris, May 19-22


Ooo-la-la! Les Puces du Design, a visual feast of mid-century modern creations  encompassing furniture, ceramics, vintage fashion and lighting, will be coming to the City of Lights on May 19, running through the 22nd. The festival is noted for being the largest European market exclusively dedicated to post-war design; in keeping with its mission of showcasing democratic values and an avant-garde sensibility, 
it is free and open to the public.

Les Puces du Design is a singular event, in that it combines
chic presentation with a cheeky flea market ambiance.  One hundred
exhibitors from all over Europe will attend, and everything from 
Eames chairs to pocket-sized tchotchkes will be on offer. 

Ceramics will be featured at this spring's festival.
As their prices are usually lower than those of furniture or lighting, 
these items make a good first acquisition for a new collector.
Above: Set ©Camille Bachelerie

Above and right:
Samples wares from the
upcoming designfest.

If you're thinking of sprucing up your home office,
you might find inspiration in Roger Sterling's boozy lair from
Mad Men. (below) Remember rotary phones?

This year, the Puces du Design will settle into Bercy Village,
a section of Paris known for its specialty shops, the
French Cinematheque and the Parc de Bercy. 

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 Quel malheur ...
We should have bought that sofa ...

... or at least this Eiffel Tower floor lamp ...


Saturday, May 7, 2016

CELEBRATIONS: Happy 100th to the ever-stylish Jens Risom!


Copenhagen-born designer Jens Risom, last of the iconic mid-century Modernists still living, turns 100 on May 8, 2016. Risom left Denmark at the age of 23 and settled in New York to make his way as a cosmopolitan designer in America. He is the man who brought sleek, comfortable and functional Scandinavian style to the fore in the US, extending his reach beyond home furnishings to decor for offices, hospitals and libraries -- even to the Oval Office, where LBJ used a favorite of the designer's swiveling desk chairs for many years.  

What a pleasure to celebrate the birthday of this design giant, rather than to be writing a commemorative piece about him!

Happy Birthday, Jens!

A video interview with Jens Risom can be seen here.

Below: In 1961, Playboy magazine assembled many of the most famed 
designers of the era for a spread about the future of "manly-man decor."
From left: George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, 
Chaarles Eames, and Jens Risom. Photo via Co. Design. 

Below are photos of some of Risom's most popular designs.
Design Within Reach (, which has studios all over the US, is re-issuing
some of these, in celebration of Risom's landmark birthday.

 The Risom Lounge Chair (1941) is considered "the most casual high end lounge chair 
of its time." Using woven cotton webbing with beech and maple, this iconic set
has become the definition of modern casual living. 

Jens Risom Walnut Executive Desk with polished chrome hardware
(c. 1960)

 I just realized that my writing desk is a
(low budget) replica of this beautiful piece, 
down to the placement of the locks and shapes of the drawer handles.

Tandem Seat and Table Unit
Risom was a huge fan of built-ins. This seating unit allows for handy
storage of reading materials in the middle, while leaving
a small tabletop free for a coffee cup or cocktail glass.

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At the age of 100, Risom is still actively pursuing his career, and his home 
is well furnished with his popular creations. Above: An array of his 
utilitarian and stylish cabinets, with whimsical multicolored paneling. 

Below: A workstation in his office keeps a multitude of tools and papers organized 
both vertically and horizontally. Ephemera from the early days of his 
Jens Risom Design company decorate the wall.

Link here to see a short Wall Street Journal-produced video about 
Jen Risom's influence on and philosophy of mid-century modern design.
(Yes, Mad Men is mentioned!)


Sunday, May 1, 2016

EXHIBITIONS: Roz Chast's "Cartoon Memoirs" delights at the Museum of the City of New York (through 10/9)

Subway Sofa 
A large-scale mural created specially for the MCNY exhibition
All images ©Roz Chast, unless otherwise noted

Dear readers,
This hilarious and stellar Roz Chast show was featured at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA in the fall of 2015. I loved it, and blogged about it, and was delighted to hear that it is now on exhibit (through October 9, 2016) at the Museum of the City of New York -- another favorite venue of mine. If you missed it in the countryside, please see it in the city! 

Bonus: Roz will appear at the museum on Friday, May 6 at 7PM, speaking about her prolific career. If you can't make it, you can see a video of her 2015 talk at the Norman Rockwell Museum here.


There are some artists who move us with their wisdom and unique perspective, and others who amuse us with their wit. Some uplift us with their humanity, or perplex us with their inscrutability. It's the rare artist who succeeds in doing all of these at once. One of them is New Yorker cartoonist and author Roz Chast, whose prolific output is currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York. Cartoon Memoirs is simply a "mustn't miss" show. We could all use some laughs right about now!

Above: Roz Chast at book signing, following 
a most entertaining talk about her life & career
NRM, Stockbridge Mass., July 9, 2015
Photo by Michael Schonbach

Below is the first Roz Chast cartoon I ever saw, 
published in her 1984 book Parallel Universes
I knew from that moment that I had found a kindred spirit.

Chast brought her first submission, a portfolio of sixty 
drawings, to the New Yorker in 1978. Much to her surprise, Little Things 
was chosen for publication by the cartoons editor. (Some regular readers 
were appalled, and one inquired whether the magazine owed money to Chast's family!)

Over the years, Chast's cartoons have become one of the most beloved features of the magazine. Some of her favorite subjects are greeting cards, book jackets, UFO's, 
gizmos, room interiors, creepy medical conditions, tombstones, 
and -- of course -- family dysfunction.

Her images are filled with a barely controlled hysteria that seamlessly mixes
madcap humor and all-too-relatable anxiety in equal measure. What fun it is to 
wander through a museum and hear peals of laughter 
coming from all the rooms of an art exhibition!

The exhibition also includes some of Chast's hooked rugs and Ukrainian Easter eggs, 
(pysanky), with which she says she was "obsessed" for a couple of years.

Hello, 2015
hand-hooked rug, wool, burlap

Some awfully cute pysanky

"With their brilliant colors, rendered smooth and glossy by a polyurethane topcoat, Ms. Chast's eggs are extraordinarily lovely -- glorious jewel-toned objects whose aesthetic 
lies somewhere between Fabergé and Dr. Seuss."
... NY Times, November 2004

Chast's first New Yorker cover, above, was published in 1986.
She sees it as a "family tree" of ice cream. (Her father thought it 
portrayed a doctor pointing out foods that should never, ever be eaten.)


She has penned more than 1000 drawings and numerous covers for the New Yorker over the past thirty years. Above left is a representation of her hand painted pysanky collection. Above right: some fantastical seed packets.

And ... ta da ... The Book!

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast's graphic memoir of growing up in Brooklyn as the only child of hypochondriac, affection-withholding parents, and eventually caring for them during their declining years, is an instant classic. Among many, many awards and accolades, the book was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014. 

The full contents of Can't We Talk ... are displayed at the MCNY's exhibition. 
You can read the NY Times book review here.
The Guardian's review is here.

"The Wheel of Doom", a major laugh-getter at the exhibition,
was originally rejected by the New Yorker for publication in the magazine.
Chast spoke briefly about the rejection that cartoonists - even famous ones - must endure.
"If there's ANYTHING else you can do for a living besides this," she jokes, "DO IT!"

During the first weekend of April 2016, Roz Chast took up residence on the museum's third floor
to create "Subway Sofa," a painting that welcomes visitors to her exhibition. 

"Featuring the cramped comfort of NYC apartments and the horrors of subway 
commuting, it's the perfect foray into a show that highlights 
the absurdities of NYC life in hilarious cartoons."

See video of the artist at work here.

That's all, folks!

~ oOo ~