Welcome to Mad for Mod!


Welcome to Mad for Mod!

My blog highlights trends in jazzy modernist design -- from soap to sofas, buildings to bags -- and is my way of staying in touch with the worldwide community of 20th century design aficionados. Notes about museum exhibitions and design festivals, book reviews, remembrances, features on objects of desire, and occasional oddball items will appear on no set schedule. Please visit often to find new surprises!
Enjoy  ~ ° ° ° ~  Judy

Friday, April 12, 2019

HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY: The Bauhaus!

"The mind is like an umbrella. It is most useful when open. 
Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for 
everyone in a civilized society."
                                                                        Walter Gropius

Today Google Doodles (along with the
entire Modernist design world) celebrates the 100th anniversary
of the opening of the Bauhaus School of applied
arts, architecture and design. 

Spearheaded by famed German architect Walter Gropius,
the school opened on April 12, 1919 in Weimar, Germany; 
it later moved to Dessau (1932) and briefly to Berlin, 
where reactionary political movements
forced it to close.

Bauhaus came into being during a period of liberal upheaval following Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the establishment of the Weimar Republic, which prompted radical artistic experimentation. Gropius’ vision was for a school uniting all branches of the arts under one roof, incorporating 
architecture and graphics.

 Gropius House
Lincoln, Massachusetts

Gropius designed this as his family home when he came to teach 
architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
It is open to visitors; for details see

• Precepts of Bauhaus 

Less is more: form follows function
Lack of fussy ornamentation
Harmony of design and function
Intelligent use of resources, with a zero-waste ideal in mind

Always classic, always new.

~ oOo ~

A great place to see Bauhaus architecture is
Tel Aviv's White City. Tel Aviv, built about 100 years ago by
architects and designers who had fled the Nazis, has been designated
a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. (The Nazis
had deemed Modernism to be "decadent, intellectual Jewish trash.)

 The exiled architects arrived in Israel just as the establishment and construction of modern Tel Aviv was taking place; thus the Bauhaus (or "International") 
style found full expression there. Nearly all of Tel Aviv's White City 
was built during the years spanning the late 1920s through the mid-1950s. 

For more information about touring the White City,
check out my article in PRIME magazine

~ oOo ~

Thursday, January 31, 2019

DESTINATIONS: V & A opens its first-ever design museum in Scotland

A gallery of Scottish design

The design world has been waiting to see what Japanese starchitect 
Kengo Kuma would create on the banks of the River Tay
for the Victoria & Albert's brand new purpose-built
design venue. It's the first V & A exhibition space of any kind 
outside of London, and opened in the fall of 2018.

Kuma commented: "The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together 
nature and architecture, and to create a new living room for the city."
The new venue is part of a £1 billion renovation of the city's waterfront.

~ oOo ~

The boat-shaped building is especially stunning at night,
bobbling gently in the harbor.

Highlights include the Scottish Design Galleries, featuring 300 exhibits drawn 
from the V&A’s collections of Scottish design and fashion, and from museums 
and private collections across Scotland and the world.

~ oOo ~

“At the center of these galleries stands the magnificent Charles Rennie 
Mackintosh Oak Room meticulously restored, conserved and reconstructed,” according to the museum. “Visitors will be able to experience once again Mackintosh’s extraordinary talent in designing this room, 
lost to view for nearly 50 years.”

Drawing of the Oak Room in the 
Ingram Street Tea Rooms in 1935
(rendering by Sir Hugh Casson)

Detail of Oak Tea Room staircase

~ oOo ~

The museum’s programming opens with “Ocean Liners: Speed and Style,” organized by the V&A and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibition will explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. It is showing from now through
Sunday Feb. 24.

                             Normandie Ship 1935 Print

Above: Two-piece yellow wool jersey bathing suit 
by Finnigans Ltd., London 1937-39.

 Above: Silk georgette and glass beaded ‘Salambo’ dress, 1925.

"From Brunel’s 1859 steamship, the Great Eastern, to the launch of the QE2 in 1969, Ocean Liners is the first exhibition to fully explore the design and cultural impact of ocean liners on an international scale, focusing on their promotion, engineering, interior design, as well as the lifestyle on board."

Link here for information about the ocean liners exhibition

~ oOo ~

Dundee -- it's not just for marmalade any more!

Many of us know the city of Dundee, Scotland as the
world capital of marmalade, invented there in 1790.
Now, the market for the "bracingly ripe and bitter shards of peel 
and zest" is quickly diminishing; eighty per cent of the stuff 
is sold to consumers aged over 45.

~ oOo ~
What is to be done to reinvent the city, to
proclaim a new, modern, image?
Why, build a brand new, jazzy design museum, of course.

The ocean liner lifestyle on display 

With more than 2,500 single-cut, circular-cut 
and rose-cut diamonds, 
this tiara features a pair of ‘en tremblant’ wings 
that sway slightly when worn.

~ oOo ~

A gobsmacked visitor to the new V & A Design Museum.
Opening hours daily 10AM to 5PM
 It's free!

 "Marmalade Skies" by Phil Wassell

~ oOo ~ 



Monday, January 28, 2019

VIBRANT OCEANIC COLOR: Pantone's selection for 2019

~ oOo ~

What do the colors below all have in common?

Yes, they are color guru Pantone's declaration of the dominant hues for textiles,
accessories, dishware, bedspreads -- you name it -- for the past decade!

And this winter, they have brought us ...

ta da ... 

Living Coral ...

                  • VIVIFYING!

... a cheerful salmon-peachy-creamsicle-y color.

It's an "animating and life-affirming coral hue" with a golden undertone 
"that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge", and sometimes lures goldfish.

Check out some Living Coral fashion items below

This Marc Jacobs model (spring 2019 collection)
is about to be devoured by a cocooning coral reef.

Fashion vignette

A digression: thoughts on Pantone and the royals ...

Diana could pull these colors off ...

While the current crop of young royals likes to dress in harmony
with each other ...

For a pictorial study of how Pantone came to choose
Living Coral as 2019's favorite color, see this link.
(NY Times, 12/5/18)

(Looks like a Roz Chast drawing to me!)

~ oOo ~

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.” 
                                                                          John Ruskin

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.

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °

 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~