Monday, November 30, 2009

The Warm and Natural Designs of Russel Wright!

We kick-started our coverage of influential industrial designers with the incomparable Raymond Loewy, whose designs have touched all facets of life--from furniture, to interiors, to cars and even aviation. We bring you today the style of Russel Wright, another important and talented industrial designer who also heavily influenced American design.

Where Loewy was known for his cutting edge, sleek and futuristic designs, Wright’s style was more earthy, accessible and organic. Taking his cues from nature, his designs often featured curved and soft forms, and his color palettes were lifted straight from natural landscapes with hues like browns, creams, light blues and greens. Wright is most well-known for his contributions to dinnerware: his American Modern dinnerware collection, made from 1939-1959 by the Steubenville Pottery company, is considered the most popular ceramic dinnerware in history.

Unlike Loewy, Wright’s furniture designs were quite popular. He was responsible for creating several top-selling furniture lines, his most popular the Art Deco blond wooden furniture line he created for Conant-Ball company. He also created home décor accessories and even textiles. A strong believer that the table was the center of the home, he did a lot of work with dinnerware and ceramics, designing lines of Melmac melamine resin plastic dinnerware for the home, like his line “Residential,” which became quite popular. His accessible and practical designs have been credited with helping mainstream American families discover the modern style. Though he often designed using solid colors, he would occasionally foray into pattern, usually borrowing designs from the plant world.

Wright had a unique outlook and connection to American history--he came from an old American family that could trace lineage to two signers of the Declaration of Independence. These ties led to a strong sense of American loyalty and an understanding of American style. Getting art training early through the Art Academy of Cincinnati, he briefly studied law at Princeton University before succumbing to his talents and moving to New York City to do set design under Norman Del Geddes. It was after the theater he worked at closed that he began to foray into props and decorative objects, eventually moving into home décor accessories. After meeting and marrying his talented wife Mary, the two created Wright Accessories, a successful home décor design business. Though Wright passed away in 1976, his daughter Annie manages the still successful and active Wright Studios, proof that Wright’s style and legacy continues even today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Flickr Features: Modern Dining Rooms!

In honor of today being Thanksgiving, we combed through Flickr's archives to find some gorgeous modern, yet still warm, dining rooms to inspire. Whether you're staying home to host your own gathering or you are traveling to visit friends and family, we at Swank Lighting want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: An Assortment of Vibrant Colors!

In the past we've brought you many posts focusing on just one color of items from 1stdibs. Relaxing blues, calming greens and even dramatic black and white, just to name a few. And while we love the look that pops of one color bring to a space, there's something to be said for the drama that a piece sporting multiple colors can bring. We've gathered a few interesting pieces, furniture and accessories, that don't fit into any one color category:

1) Hand-Painted "Proust" Armchair by Alessandro Mendini
This 2009 piece is amazing! More like a painting than a piece of furniture, this handpainted chair incorporates a wide number of colors in a wonderful, eye-popping pattern that really catches the attention. We just love the feel this would bring to a space, though it is pricey!
Price: $41,938

2) Swedish Kilim
This Mid 20th Century Sweedish Kilim is described as "a Kilim with a modern twist." Already known as great way to bring exotic color into a space, we love that this textile does so in such a modern way!
Price: $3,500
Galerie Shabab

3) Three Vintage Board Games
What a fun and youthful way to bring in color to your space with these vintage board games. Used framed on a wall they'll not only sport a number of colors, they'll be a fun and interesting thing to have as wall decor, as well!
Price: $200
Pariscope Design

4) Washington Color Field Painting by Cynthia Bickley
This large color field painting from the 1960s is a great, simple and modern way to bring in color in the form of a traditional painting. Almost like a color sampling, this painting would go with a lot of different decor styles.
Price: $4,800
Darrell Dean Antiques

5) Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel
Two children's toys in one post, we know! But children's games and toys always have the most fun and vibrant colors, and this ferris wheel from the 1950s is no exception!
Price: contact dealer
T.C. Donobedian's

Don't forget to check out the rest of this week's listings from 1stdibs, where you can find more fabulous, one-of-a-kind show-stopping pieces, as well as a number of other great pieces!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Perfect Pair: Michael Yates' Omikoshi and Joe Cariati Lamps!

Since we profiled the fabulous Dale Chihuly, master glass artist, yesterday we thought for today’s perfect pair we’d go with someone a little more local. Austin woodworker Michael Yates creates gorgeous Japanese-inspired furniture with exquisite detail, known for not using any nails or screws in his work—just great Japanese joinery techniques. We’ve chosen one of his pieces of furniture and paired it with some Swank Lighting lamps!

Yates’ Omikoshi is unique because it’s actually a line of stackable furniture pieces. Shown in these photos are three separate units which can be rearranged based on the owner’s needs. The piece is even offered with a tall stand or a low stand, allowing for any number of configurations. The piece is a great mix of modern and ancient, both having sleek lines and stunning details known in Japanese design. Featuring Yates’ signature style of intricate joinery techniques, you’ll love this piece for as much as it looks as how it’s put together.

We profile Joe Cariati lamps a lot on the blog; we can’t help it—they’re beautiful! This pair of Swank Lighting Joe Cariati contemporary hand blown glass lamps are in the Barovier and Toso style of three stacked balls. Simple yet interesting, we love their height and the fun silhouette they would create against a wall. Our favorite part, though? The color! Available in this soft, subtle mint frost green they’re the perfect way to add a little color, without taking away from other pieces in a room!

Together, Yates’ Omikoshi and Cariati’s contemporary lamps making a smashing couple. The soft hues of the wood of the Omikoshi are complemented perfectly with the equally soft colors of the lamps. The three sections of the Omikoshi are mirrored with the three stacked balls of the lamp! Rather than take away from each other, these pieces really enhance one another’s best features!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bold and Colorful Glass Art of Dale Chihuly!

While we’ve been bringing you some of the best past and contemporary influences in the worlds of architecture and interior, furniture and industrial design, we’re getting back to the basics and bringing you a stunning and supremely talented glass artist. Dale Chihuly’s body of work is so varied and wide-ranging it’s hard to classify, but there’s no doubt of his influence on the field of glass art, and really, art in general.

Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941, his school background is diverse and impressive: he enrolled at the College of the Puget Sound in 1959, later transferring to the University of Washington at Seattle where he graduated in 1965 with a degree in interior design. His life changing moment came in 1964, however, when he was introduced to the art of glass. Being introduced to blowing glass, he continued with his education, receiving a Master of Science in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studied glass in Venice on a Fulbright Fellowship and then went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. Obviously not one to slow down, he helped establish a glass program at RISD and went on to start his own school, the Pilchuck Glass School.

As a teacher and an early artist, Chihuly first began to grab attention with his glass work on a number of temporary glass art pieces, as well as for his reputation for collaboration with artists of other media. He encouraged his students to approach glass from unorthodox perspectives, and this often produced important revelations in the glass world. Chihuly was very interested in glass as a form of sculpture and he focused often on that most ancient of accessories, the vessel. Through sculpture and his vessels he explores color, shape, pattern and form. Often described as not having the most complex of blowing techniques, Chihuly allowed glass to find its own shape and he used minimal tools.

He’s created numerous series throughout the year, among them “Baskets”, featuring translucent orbs in bowl-shapes, “Persians”, with lots of wavy colored lines throughout the glass, and our personal favorite, “Sea Forms”, gorgeous, jellyfish-like shapes. Chihuly is also known for his inspiring large-scale installations, like large glass “floats” in water, glass forests and flowers, and even homage to Italian glass with “Chihuly Over Venice.”

To honestly sum up all of Chihuly’s work in one article would be futile—the man’s work has been prolific, and he continues to teach and create even until today. Though car and surfing accidents have left him unable to do the work himself, Chihuly currently guides and directs a team of fellow artisans and is still leaving his imprint on the world of glass.