Tuesday, November 20, 2018

CELEBRATIONS: Contemporary Chanukah menorahs

There is an endless variety of contemporary menorahs available these days, 
in shops and online. With Chanukah 2018 coming soonI decided to revisit  
Mad for Mod's 2015 posting about this design phenomenon.

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 Skyline menorah, designed by Jonathan Adler
    This now-classic piece of Judaica is included 
  in several prestigious design museum collections.

One of the things I like best about being Jewish is the fact that decorative arts are so interwoven into our traditions, both at home and in public spaces. This is an outgrowth of the ethic known in Hebrew as Hiddur Mitzvah, which translates roughly as "the beautification of a commandment." Judaica in silver and gold, wood, glass and earthenware abounds in the form of candlesticks, wine goblets, tzedakah (charity) boxes, mezzuzot (door post prayer boxes), seder plates, spice boxes, and -- of course -- menorahs, which are traditionally placed in windows, to illuminate and affirm miracles for all.

You don't have to be Jewish to love these designs!

                  Flexus menorah (above)
          This menorah can be configured any way you like,
            and the candle holders can be used individually
                                 throughout the year.
                  Available through the MOMA Design Store

City Lights glass menorah (above)
Carmageddon (below)
 both by Shardz

Stanley Saitowitz architectural menorah

 Clear glass geometric menorah

  Column Menorah from Crate & Barrel

              Beaded traditional menorah by Jillery
This menorah matches my Sabbath candlesticks and wine goblet.

 Musician menorah
Shoshi Art Glass of Israel

                                                                                           Water blossom menorah
According to Jewish lore, the ancient temple menorah was made of golden almond-blossom-shaped cups. This modern take on that design inspiration sets a ring of almond blossoms in a shallow pool of water. The pool reflects the candlelight, and also provides a safe way for the candles to sizzle out as they burn down. 

        Lotus menorah by Michael Aram
       Available from ModernTribe.com

and a 
"Save the Elephants"menorah
by Jonathan Adler

The possibilities are infinite ...

Posting originally published 12/20/15

Monday, September 3, 2018

HIGH STYLE: Swanky TWA hotel to open at JFK airport in 2019

Remember paper tickets?

And fancy dinners, served
by cheerful flight attendants?

TWA, the airline which opened at the dawn of the Jet Age in 1962, and faded into history just months after 9/11, will reopen to much fanfare in 2019. This airline, however, will not comprise a fleet of planes, but a retro hotel fitted out with the most minute of authentic-looking details. 

Architectural Digest wrote "The TWA Hotel in Eero Saarinen's JFK Airport Terminal Will Transport You Right Back to 1962", the Associated Press swooned "Hotel at Iconic TWA Terminal Will Evoke Glamour of Jet Age" and the often lighthearted NY Daily News opined "JFK Becomes 'Real Destination with swanky Upgrade Project'."

The centerpiece of the terrazzo-tiled bathroom is a custom Hollywood 
vanity with bubble lights inspired by Philip Johnson.

Oh boy -- more little soaps and lotions for my collection!

What's with this hotel, that promises us teleportation, glamour and swank? The developers, according to a TWA spokesperson, are "reigniting the magic of Eero Saarinen’s landmarked 1962 TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, restoring and reimagining it as a first-class hotel."  Every detail has been tested for authenticity, utility and mid-mod esthetic, including art, glassware, towels, robes and slippers. (My favorite decorative detail is the rotary phones that will be placed in each room.)

The reception desk in the TWA Lounge is designed as a step back 
 into the 1960s, when the original terminal was opened. (Sadly,
Saarinen died a year before the building's completion). 

An imaginary departures lounge

What Jet Age-inspired hotel room would be complete without its own 
fully stocked martini bar? For more pictures of
room interiors, visit

“Friendly Skies: The Art of High Altitude Travel” 
 Flight attendants' costumes from the 1940s through the 1960s will be exhibited 
 at the Peekaboo Gallery in Old Pasadena, CA August 18th, 2018 through September 23rd.  

Original-era travel posters, signage and other artwork will surround 
large-scale airport display models and other extraordinary artifacts. Also on
display will be an unrivaled quantity of stewardess and pilot gear from 
PAN AM, Braniff, TWA, United, Eastern, British Airways, and 
even the Soviet Airline, AEROFLOT.  

Beam me up, Vladimir!

The hotel features
  • 512 ultra-quiet hotel rooms with exhilarating views of JFK’s runways and the iconic TWA Flight Center
  • 50,000 square feet of meeting space that can hold 1,400 people
  • 6 restaurants and 8 bars
  • 10,000-square-foot rooftop observation deck with pool
  • State of the art 10,000-square-foot fitness facility with yoga, spinning and other amenities
  • Museum devoted to the Jet Age, TWA and the midcentury modern design movement
  • And more ...  

"At TWA, we tried to design a building in which the architecture itself would express the drama and excitement of travel. In a way, this is man’s desire to conquer gravity.” – Eero Saarinen

 ~ oOo~  

Monday, August 20, 2018

MAD FOR MOD reaches 100,000 page views!


When I started writing this blog, I mainly did it as a way
to remind myself of upcoming events and special exhibitions in
the design world. It has slowly grown from being my personal calendar to
a resource for design lovers all over the world.
As of yesterday, I had 100,000 page views!

I've written about pink flamingos, 
the role of costume design in establishing character,
New Yorker cartoons, mid-mod gingerbread houses (see above),
skyscrapers, Chihuly glass, the color pink, and much, much more.

Do you have a favorite posting or two? Please comment 
in the grey box under the word "labels", at the bottom of each posting.
Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win a
beautiful newly-published photography book about American jazz,
photos by Arthur Elgart.

~ oOo ~

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

POSTWAR STYLE: Costume as a character in "A Place to Call Home"

  • first posted 2/27/18; reposted 7/18/18
If you're missing the costume dramas that kept us entertained during 
the last decade or so -- I'm thinking of Mad Men or Miss Fisher's
          Murder Mysteries or Downton Abbey -- you might find your 
             heart's desire in A Place to Call Home,
       "Australia's little series that could."  (Sydney Morning Herald)

This series makes a meal out of period fashion and design from the 1950s, 
treating it as a quintessential character in the show. Sweet shirtwaist dresses,
twirly A-line skirts, padded shoulders, "twin sets" (a matching shell sweater 
and long-sleeved cardigan ensemble, often worn with pearls
and single-breasted coats abound as the choices for women.
For men, dapper hats (think Don Draper's classic fedora) worn with comfortably fitting full-cut, slightly drape-y suits are what's in. The prevailing design  
ethos of the era was being able to take virtually any man’s body type 
and make it look good through proper tailoring.

Below: Actor Brett Climo is perfectly appointed and
appropriately slouchy here as George Bligh, a wealthy landowner 
from Inverness with a heart of gold.

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Above: vindictive, conniving villianess Regina Bligh (Jenny Baird),
 dressed to kill, in rich mauve and jet black. She
reminds me of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. 

 Regina was toned way down
 by three years of repentance in a psychiatric hospital. 
If you're an aficionado of the show,
you'll have noticed the dramatic change in her costumes
from bright, spotlight-grabbing primary colors to 
neutral, wishy washy ones.

Costume director Lisa Meagher
 says that she puts Regina (Jenni Baird) in florals 
when the character is "trying to be nice".

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Sara Nordman, just off the boat, arriving in Australia

I've always put the show's heroine Sara (played by Marta Dusseldorp) 
above fashion, due to her history as a Holocaust survivor and her wise  
down-to-earthness. Below are a couple of her looks.

Is Sarah's lovely sweater/jumper an argyle pattern or not?
See comments section (below) to read a lively debate about this subject!

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Below: Abby Earl as Anna Poletti,
trying (unsuccessfully) to be happy as farmer Gino's wife. 

But no ...

She's much happier being Anna Bligh,
bestselling author and elegant glamour girl.

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Anna's formerly secret parents, bohemian Carolyn and 
Dr. Jack Duncan (Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall)  -- a married couple
in real life -- strike a stylish Bonnie and Clyde pose.

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Family matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (played by Australian film icon Noni 
Hazlehurst) starts off in the series as a judgemental, intimidating character, 
but life experience forces her to see her homophobia and anti-Semitism for
the ugly traits they are. As her attitudes soften, so
does her wardrobe. 

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Where's season 6, Lizzie?

~ oOo ~

Seasons 1-5 can be watched on Acorn.tv
Season 6 is currently beginning production. 
Update: Season 6 has completed production, and
will be aired in fall 2018.