Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Big, Sturdy Chairs!

We feature a lot of lithe, thin, small-scale furniture here on the Swank Lighting blog, mostly due to the nature of some of our favorite styles, like Mid-Century Modern and Hollywood Regency. But what if you're looking for a big and sturdy furniture piece? Of all the furniture types out there, we love when a chair is big and over-sized. Perfect for curling up with a good book or a good movie on the television, chairs are supposed to be substantial and comfortable. We've chosen five huge chairs from this week's newest 1stdibs listings. Let us know what you think!

1) Roma Chair by Marco Zanini
Well, we're not sure about the comfort of this giant chair, but it certainly is large. In case it isn't totally obvious, this chair's origin is Italian and from the minds of the design collective The Memphis Design Group.
Price: $7,500

2) Sponge Chair by Peter Traag
We LOVE this chair. It's such a fun, modern take on the leather side chair, don't you think? Though it does look to have a pretty firm structure, we also think that it could be pretty comfy, and it certainly is over-sized!
Price: $9,100

3) Marvelous Early 19th C. Settee
Okay you caught us! This is called a settee, or technically more of a love seat, but we think it still exhibits a lot of chair qualities! It also has that antique, vintage thing going for it.
Price: $8,850
Berns Fry Ltd.

4) Pair of low armchairs by Pierre Guarriche
This pair of Mid-Century Modern arm chairs from France are curvy, bulbous and full of cushions. They're not that huge individually, but as a pair they are something to be afraid of. We just think these would be so comfortable to sit in!
Price: $7,500
Pascal Boyer Gallery

5) Vronka Armchair by Sergio Rodrigues
This is another chair that's not the most huge piece of furniture ever, but does have a good scale to it, and all the natural wood details give it a nice heft.
Price: contact dealer

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, March 30, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Bold Blue and Robin's Egg Swank!

If you happened to catch the March issue of House Beautiful Magazine, you may have seen a gorgeous pair of Swank Lighting lamps in the Tobi Fairley article on page 71. If you gazed onto that pair with envy, well be envious no more: you can own your very own pair! But more importantly, if you purchase these lamps you’ll want to place them in a room where they can really shine. We took a page out of the House Beautiful article and we think you’ll like the results!

This Round Mirror with Blue Frame by Fontana Arte is absolutely stunning, jaw-dropping and bold. From Italy and made in the height of Mid-Century style, 1966, the mirror features a strong round shape. It’s a beveled round mirror set in a brass frame, that’s then surrounded by a concave glass frame that features a deep, rich blue color. The translucency of the blue glass really gives this piece a very ethereal-feeling; it’s like the mirror is almost hovering just away from the wall itself. An original Fontana Arte piece, you’ll love to have this mirror in your collection.

As mentioned, this gorgeous pair of lamps are like the ones featured in the Home Beautiful article, and they are Robins Egg Blue Barovier & Toso Murano Lamps from the heady and stylish 1950's. These lamps are stunning for a number of reasons. The color of the glass is a soft and subtle robin’s egg blue, with 24k gold details that surround the large controlled bubbles that make up the pattern of the glass, which is classy, surprising and intricate. And these lamps are hand blown! Set on a base that helps accentuate the gold details of the bubbles, the lamps make for perfect compositions.

So like we said, we took a page out of House Beautiful Magazine when we designed this perfect pair. Without giving too much away in case you haven’t read that particular issue—well it’s all about that fabulous color blue. So, the commonality between these two pieces was the color blue! What makes them work together rather than clash is the fact that the blue colors are so different; one is a strong, deep, bold blue while the other is a subtle, milky robin’s egg blue. Together, they share that commonality but also make the other piece stand out. And we like how the curves of the lamps match the curve of that mirror’s frame! What a perfect pair.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Futuristic Lighting of Fontana Arte!

Being a lighting company, we here at Swank Lighting take a particular interest in the affairs of other talented lighting companies, both new and old. That’s why we are breaking with tradition for the designer influence by bringing you not an individual designer—but a very influential lighting design company: Fontana Arte.

If I were to choose the most descriptive term to describe Fontana Arte’s overarching design theme, it would be: cutting edge. You can recognize a Fontana Arte light fixture almost immediately: the style, materials used and general aesthetic feel of the pieces come across quite strong. Though all of Fontana Arte’s fixtures were quite unique, there were some overlying characteristics. Many pieces feature sharp lines and edges, jagged shapes, translucent plastic and shiny metal. Many of the products produced by Fontana Arte were light fixtures like pendant lights and sconces, but they also dealt in mirrors and other home accessories occasionally.

To say that Fontana Arte light fixtures look like they’re from the future is not a facetious statement: the cutting edge designs really do look like they could be from a home (or even space ship!) of the future. What makes this idea so unique is that the company is actually quite old. It was started in 1932 by architect Gio Ponti in Italy to be a leader in the advancement of glass manufacturing and design, and they actually dabbled quite strongly in art stain glass in the beginning, being responsible for glass in the Duomo of Milan and the Cathedral of Brasilia. Ponti, being the brilliant design mind that he is, soon realized the potential for these materials as fashionable items in décor, and soon home décor items were being manufactured by Fontana Arte. Over the years, the company has had big name designers work for them, like Pietro Chiesa, Gae Aulenti, Pierluigi Cerri, Piero Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Vittorio Gregotti, Ettore Sottsass, Umberto Riva, Alvaro Siza and Renzo Piano.

The fact that this company’s work has remained so popular and spawned so many imitators is proof that it has had a long-reaching influence on not only the world of light fixture and lamp design, but of interior design in general.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Design Blog Profile: Delight by Design

It’s time to infuse some glamour back into the Swank Lighting blog! Though we love bringing our favorite design blogs of all different types and kinds, we have to admit: we have soft spot for those design blogs whose main job in life is to just expose the underlying glamour, fabulousness and shimmer to life. And boy does Delight by Design deliver!

The blog is created by Blair Friedeman, who resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and who is a local style and fashion icon. So, it seemed natural that she should start a blog, if only to help share her own fabulous ideas on life and design. As she describes is, the blog was started to “serve as an outlet for my daily musings on how to live a simply stylish life.” On her blog that receives over a 1,000 visits a day, she presents ideas, advice and tips on how to make a glamorous and classy interior space in your own home.

What we love the most about this blog is the type of glamour shown. Definitely interiors featured on Delight by Design are luxurious, but they’re also soft, simple and accessible. They are interiors that people could legitimately call and use like a home; not just look like it’s some sort of magazine shoot. You’ll find ideas on not only how to really make your home look like the photos on the blog, but also how to “cheat” it a bit: she gives great tips on how to style your space affordably to look like these glamorous inspirational spaces.

And it’s not just interior spaces that Friedeman riffs on—she’s got a lot of fun fashion ideas as well. And, if we may point out, we love how her fashion sense matches are interior design sense so well. On her simply laid out and graphically and aesthetically-pleasing website you’ll find big color photographs, sensible text and not a lot of other “stuff.” We love it.

So check out Delight by Design for some simple and stylish ideas on how to glamorize your home today!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Room Dividers!

You ever notice that many new construction homes feature wide open, expansive and large spaces? Like instead of an entry way, living room and dining room, you have now what's called a "great room." This has many advantages. It's wide open, so you feel the wonderful large space feel. Unfortunately, sometimes you just need a cozier space than a giant room will afford you. That's where the room divider comes in. Available in as many styles and sizes as the imagination can dream up, we were delighted to find such a large selection in the newest 1stdibs listings this week. We picked our 5 favorites:

1) Hollywood Regency Wood Room Divider
Okay so maybe this divider wouldn't exactly give you a lot of privacy, but it certainly would do the trick of visually dividing a space. And with a lot of style and personality to boot!
Price: $3900

2) Soli e Luni Screen by Piero and Barnaba Fornasetti
What a striking addition to a space! This screen would do a good job of visually giving a space some definition while also adding a strong punch of bold color.
Price: $18,500

3) 18th Century English Chinese Style Painted Leather Screen
A screen divider like this just isn't used to divide a room into two spaces, it's used to elevate the level of eloquence and style in a room. Such a piece can certainly be functional, but also serves as just a wonderful piece of art.
Price: contact dealer
Ann Madonia antiques

4) Empire Style Walnut Three Panel Screen
While a bit plain, this three paneled screen would certainly get the job of dividing a big space into two spaces done, and it would so so with some traditional elegance.
Price: $2,500
Clark Graves Antiques

5) Bavaria Screen by Studio Job
Okay we just think this piece is great. What sort of space it would go in we're not sure. But look at all those colors! And those jolly illustrations! Sure it's sort of corny but it's also sort of wonderful.
Price: contact dealer

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!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Doug, Ed and Swank Lighting!

Don't worry, we'll have Wednesday's 1stdibs picks post for this week up soon enough today, but we wanted to take a minute to mark a momentous month. March was an important time here at Swank Lighting. Both Ed and Doug had birthdays, and it also marked Swank Lighting's 5th birthday!

This amazing lamp cake was given to them by Ed's Aunt Ruth, baked by the fabulous Creative Confections by Betty Weber:
"Doug and I both have birthdays in March and my dear Aunt Ruth had a surprise birthday cake for us when we went to dinner at her favorite restaurant in Pensacola... look at these pics... isn't that great? We both felt it was the most special thing anyone has ever done for us. Also this month is Swank Lighting's 5th birthday..."

So Happy Birthday to the founders of Swank Lighting and the business itself. May there be many, many more years of gorgeous Murano glass lamps!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Breuer Tube Chairs and Murano Glass Lamps!

The designer influence of yesterday was a classic and influential Mid-Century designer, architect and furniture designer who not only created a number of long-lasting designs that have withstood the test of time, but also who taught a whole generation of other influential architects and designers. We picked a fun set of Swank Lighting lamps to pair with an unusual set of Marcel Breuer-designed chairs, and we rather like the result!

Known for pioneering the furniture design of tubular steel furniture, Breuer is most famous for the Wassily Chair, a mesh of steel tubes and cowhide strips for a seat and back. This pair of chairs, known as Breuer B33 leather side chairs, was designed in 1925. We just love the simplicity of these chairs, from the cantilever design, to the thin yet sturdy tube structure, to the just-what’s-needed leather straps for a seat and back. We even love the camel-colored neutral leather that the straps are made out of. Our favorite part has to be the lattice detail to the back of the chair.

These "Murano Cacti" Vintage Murano Table Lamps are a particular favorite of all those at Swank Lighting. Made in the 1960s, these lamps not only have a delightful and rare translucent deep green color, they have the wildest shape! Featuring a pinched glass motif, bubbles in the glass, and even handles, we’ve never seen such a unique set of lamps. Nicknamed “cacti” lamps due to their resemblance to the plant, we just love how groovy they are!

Last week was the height of Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest interactive, film and music festival, and we were reminded over and over again of the cool, modern style of Austin. When we placed this photo of these chairs next to the photo of these cacti lamps, we knew we had a match made in Texas Modern heaven! Both sleek and full of Mid-Century details but also with just a hint of Texas twang, we just love the look that this combination promotes. Don’t you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Tubular and Sleek Designs of Marcel Breuer

It’s time to bring the designer influence series back to some of the most important, classic, Mid-Century Modern designers of our time. One designer, architect and furniture designer that is quite recognizable, both for furniture and architecture is Marcel Breuer. You might not be familiar with all of his work, but you’ll definitely recognize a piece or two of his the most—many of his have become some of the most important designs in this century!

His most famous furniture piece by far is the Wassily Chair, which he designed in 1925 after finding inspiration from his own metal bicyle’s curvy frame. If you’ve never seen the Wassily Chair, it’s a heady mix of tubular steel in a modern, boxy chair shape, combined with cowhide strips of upholstery to create a seat and back for support. It’s surprisingly comfortable, aesthetically masculine and takes its place as one of the most important pieces of furniture in our history.

Because of the Wassily Chair and other designs, Breuer became a pioneer of tubular steel-designed furniture, though he later worked with innovative wood materials in his furniture design. Having studied and taught at the famous German school the Bauhaus in the 1920s, he established himself early on as a good teacher, as well. In the 1930s Breuer moved to London to escape Nazi Germany. He later moved to the United States, working in architecture and teaching at Harvard. He worked on many residential projects until the 1950s when he moved back to Europe to work on larger projects, like the famous Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in the early 1960s. Other buildings he’s worked on are the UNESCO headquarters, Saint John's Abbey Church and the AT Tower in Cleveland, Ohio.

Other notable furniture pieces he created was Slatted chairs, Laccio Tables, a folding Wassily chair, Cesca Chair & Armchair, Thornet Typist’s Desk and more. He passed away in 1981 after a full, long life contributing to many creative forms like architecture, design and furniture design. Though his work wasn’t as flashy as other contemporary designers, his designs are important and classic.