Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Archive for March 2011

Robin and Lucienne Day – Design and the Modern Interior

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The most celebrated British designer couple left us last year. A fitting tribute to their creative genius, Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, the Days’ home town will feature an exhibition of their design opening 26 March. And good news, Lesley’s Jackson’s reference on the Days, Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Contemporary Design is being reedited on the occasion. You can buy it here.

Robin Day, London, 1997|Photograph by Anne-Katrin Purkiss

Robin Day, 41 Chair for Hille & Co., 1962

Robin Day, 41 Chair, 1962, Manufactured by S. Hille & Co. Ltd.|Courtesy of Target Gallery, London

Lucienne Day – Apex for Heal Fabrics, 1967

Lucienne Day, Apex, 1967, Manufactured by Heal Fabrics, Screen-printed cotton|Courtesy of the collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III


Written by Alvar and I

March 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Designers, Exhibition

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Le Corbusier’s Indian masterpiece Chandigarh is stripped for parts

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Chandigarh’s furniture again. A recent article in The Guardian reports the campaign led by Manmohan Nath Sharma, to preserve the capital of Punjab and Haryana and prevent the “removal” of artifacts, including furniture from the numerous public buildings. Sharma was the first assistant of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and later took over as chief architect of the city. A petition to support this effort can be signed here.

It’s true that emulating the success of dealers with salvaged Prouvé furniture from Africa and elsewhere, many of Chandigarh’s furniture, most of it designed by Jeanneret, have surfaced on the market. The forthcoming Philips de Pury & Company sale being the latest example. Atelier also reminds us of this Wallpaper* piece from about 2 years ago.

Some will view this as the market enabling the salvage of beautiful pieces of furniture that would otherwise be lost forever, others will see it as plundering of universal patrimony by unscrupulous merchants. In the absence of facts, hard to tell which is right. The case of Chandigarh is however specific in that there is the need to preserve the whole integrity of the place, its architecture and artifacts (including furniture).

Since there is an effort to draw the attention of Indian and international authorities to the preservation of Chandigarh, we believe this should be supported. Philips de Pury and others can make their profits on what is already and legitimately on the market.

Written by Alvar and I

March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

From our 50’s couch

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1. Shopping for vintage on Ebay or Craigslist is a bad idea. (Not that we never took chances – but this should have cost us). A reminder, courtesy of The NYT.

2. Polish modern via Wallpaper*.

3. Phillips de Pury catalogs via Issuu; check the 7th April auction.

Written by Alvar and I

March 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

Spanish Modern – Fase Lamps

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So it would seem that Fase desk lamps are not very well liked in Spain. They are mementos of Franco’s rule when they adorned the desk of civil servants. Well, this will not be the first time that good design and totalitarianism went hand in hand. But we digress here, this is the topic of another (long) post.

We picked a President model (above) in Brussels a good ten years ago, unaware of its origin, but immediately swayed by the bold cantilevered looks, the superb build quality and the very 1950s alliance of rosewood and dark metal. This was well before we found the desk that would go with it…

Fase table lamp  by $(designerName) for sale at Deconet

Lamps with rosewood were probably reserved for the top brass of the administration and executive desks…

futuristic table lamp by Fase

Interest in Fase lamps seems to be picking up, judging by the current availability of models on sale on the vintage scene both in and outside Europe.


Where is Spanish vintage design? ask BCNDesign. Fase offer a rare example of Spanish modern

Fase Desk Lamp

Fase produced until the 70s. Below what is probably a late model. Very elegant.

Less sure about this one. Looks like an old lady with the tag dangling from the neck. A sous-President model, but still the strong Fase look.

Written by Alvar and I

March 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Lamps

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James Zemaitis, Sotheby’s @ Big Think

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The man behind the Mark McDonald sale collects… glass insulators. See his interview on Big Think, 1st Dibs’ Eye on design feature, and an older profile on the NYT. Interesting throughout.

Written by Alvar and I

March 7, 2011 at 2:35 am

Posted in Auction

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From our 50’s couch – McDonald edition

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A collector’s dream: the immodestly titled Mark McDonald sale at Sotheby’s on 10 March, already featured on the ever interesting MONDOBLOGOThe North Elevation and Mid-Century Modern Interiors. Really great and instructive to see the beautiful pieces assembled  by a collector ahead of his time. Particularly nice to find a couple Nana Ditzel piece too, including this beautiful modular seating system below: pretty stiff competition for our very own 50’s couch!

Check also the Aalto Chair No. 31, a favorite around this blog. The estimate is pretty low: something wrong with it?

Let’s dream a bit of future blog posts written on this delightful desk by Charlotte Perriand. A similar table was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2004 for $7,200.

Finally check out the Anatomy of a Sale videos about the McDonald auction.

Written by Alvar and I

March 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Gerrit and Wim

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Love of clean lines in their genes and both adhered to identical principles. Such as furniture should not stand in the way of space in a room. Obviously and understandably the younger of Rietveld’s sons found great inspiration in the creations of his father.

Gerrit Rietveld was indubitably the greatest innovator, but where the son probably outdid his father is in succeeding in designing furniture for true mass-production, something also that his father strove for. Whereas Gerrit’s production was mostly made out of wood, Wim’s designs were of metal. Perhaps Rietveld senior was too ahead of its time’s production techniques: a steel prototype of the Zig-zag Chair did not work out so it ended up – nicely – made out of wood. Wim also contributed to prove that the De Stijl primary colors pallet that his father popularized for furniture will never go out of fashion…

Check out a nice sample of Wim Rietveld works at Modernfindings and also Amsterdam Modern, which inspired this post. And don’t miss this feature on Gerrit Rietveld produced by PHAIDON with an interview of Ida van Zijl the curator of the Rietveld’s Universe exhibition.

Written by Alvar and I

March 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm