Thursday, April 29, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: David Dalton

If you’re looking for interior design inspiration that is sophisticated, masculine, exciting and calming, then we have got the contemporary designer profile for you. David Dalton’s no stranger to the design scene—and his interior design portfolio is full of reasons why.

Peeking through Dalton’s great interior design photos on his website, we noticed a definite trend toward subdued interior furnishings. These are rooms where you can feel serenity and calmness, but they aren’t boring in the slightest, they feature plenty of bright colors and interesting layers of texture and pattern. They do have a certain level of masculinity that is expressed in strong lines and symmetry, but they aren’t “man caves” by any account; they make for the perfect room for any gender. The style definitely leans toward traditional, but definitely we saw some interesting details that had a bit of transitional, eclectic and modern twist.

David Dalton is more than qualified to be a talented designer and head of the firm David Dalton, Inc. Both a Los Angeles based designer and a television personality, Dalton also does a lot of work to spread his messages of design to others. He has been a member of the ASID board of directors, is involved with charitable organizations, show houses, fundraisers and even portfolio reviews for interior design students at a local college. All the while spreading his great wisdom and philosophies on design.

David Dalton, Inc. the company is a full service interior design firm that excels in residential projects, but also great-looking commercial projects as well. In existence since 1987, the company and all the great designers working for it have won tons of awards and acknowledgements. In 1998, the company and Dalton decided to get into the furniture design and manufacturing business, and now have a great portfolio of that for your own interior design project needs. You can find more information about the design firm or about the furniture lines they produce on the David Dalton website.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Conversation Starters!

We almost always have a theme for our weekly lists of the most recent 1stdibs items. Sometimes it's a group of five furniture pieces or accessories grouped by color, other times it's subject matter, or shape, or style. We've covered nearly all of them at one time or another. But sometimes what a group of items have in common is something much more abstract, something philosophical even. Such is the case with today's five pieces. They don't all have the same color, they're not all the same style and they certainly don't have the same shape, but, all these pieces do have something in common: they all make great conversational pieces in an interior!

1) Marcel Guillard Vase
This vase makes for a great conversational piece not necessarily for what it is---an Art Deco vase by Marcel Guillard with a copper craquelure luster glaze---but for what it could be. Doesn't this just look like some priceless Egyptian artifact? Or something else similarly mysterious? This piece would definitely have to come with a great story.
Price: $3,900
Leah Gordon

2) Wonderfully detailed cast iron lion's paw
The description of this piece says it's a lion's paw, and we guess we believe it, but it certainly had us staring at the photos with a perplexed look for a few minutes. And chances are any of your guests, once they've spotted this cast iron piece on table in your living room, will be a bit perplexed, too.
Price: $950
DHS Designs

3) 1980s Octopus Coffee Table by Henri Fernandez
Look at this thing! Not only functional as a coffee table, but the form and structure of this furniture piece is a gilt brass octopus-shaped base. And not just any octopus---it's an undulating, energetic and darn near angry one. Quite the thing to have in a living space to spark some questions.
Price: $10,081
Dealer: 1stdibs paris

4) Collection of Painted Human Heart Studies
Unless your heart surgeon, a wall filled with paintings of the human heart---and very anatomically correct ones at that---will elicit some wonder and confusion on the part of any guests to your home. And, it'll be a great starting off point for a conversation.
Price: $7,500
Urban Country

5) Sculptured wax head of Jesus
This one might be a bit tongue-and-cheek, and we certainly hope we don't offend anyone, but any religious iconography, and especially an odd one like a sculptured wax head, are bound to leave some guests questioning the piece.
Price: $4,500
George Subkoff Antiques

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, April 27, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Paul Evans and Swank Lighting, Again!

Many times when we present A Perfect Pair to you, we start out choosing a furniture piece from a recent designer influence post. Since this week’s designer influence was a glass maker, we actually started out perusing Swank Lighting’s newest lamp listings—and fell in love with a stunning pair. Then, we decided to dig back into our archives to pick a furniture piece from a favorite influential designer we’ve posted about before. There was one name that came to mind immediately upon seeing the pair of lamps we chose, and knew that there would be a perfect match.

Though we love many furniture designers equally, Paul Evans has always stood out from the crowd for us. His amazing work is always so futuristic and jaw-dropping. He worked in a number of different materials, but favored mirrored surfaces, metallics like brass and chrome and a type of wood called burled walnut wood. A Paul Evans for Directional Burled Walnut 4 Door Credenza is our pick for today. Long and narrow, we just love that the whole piece is like one large, curved oval. The two oval shapes on the front of the credenza open into 4 equal doors, and we just love that the piece is so streamlined and flushed flat—there are no doorknobs or hinges to get in the way. It has a shiny finish, but it’s also sort of neutral, too.

We know we wax poetic about a number of Swank Lighting lamps (can you blame us? They’re all so beautiful). But this particular pair is really taking our breath away. This Pair of Vintage Murano Table Lamps from A.V.E.M. are just so luminous because of the materials chosen; they’re like a gorgeous, glowing tribute to glass. From the 1950s, the lamps are a creamy vanilla color with copper inclusion details sprinkled throughout the entire base, creating warm and surprising glimmer and glam. The copper has patinated leaving green rings around the air pockets, giving an unexpected but amazing color palette to the whole lamp. Vertical stripes in the pattern elongate the already tall lamp, and the soft oval shape gives a wonderful curvy and feminine feel to the lamps. Placed atop hexagonal cut Lucite bases, they are a complete picture of perfection.

When we first saw these lamps, we tried them out with a few pieces of Evans that were glamorous and shiny themselves, but we soon saw that the result was overwhelming. We love these lamps so much, we wanted them to stand out with whatever furniture piece they were combined with. Both full of curves, the Swank Vintage Murano lamps go perfectly with Evans’ Burled Walnut 4-Door Credenza because they are both full of oval-shapes; there aren’t any sharp or harsh edges here. Though the lamps are shiny and eye-catching, they work well with the finish of the credenza in a number of ways. One, they all possess a wonderfully shiny luster. Secondly, the copper details in the lamps match the warm, walnut glow of the credenza’s wood material perfectly. Can’t you just see this combination in a fabulous room somewhere?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Fused Glass Art of Lori Linder

Today’s designer is more like an “up-and-coming designer” than a full blown design influence—at least yet, anyway. But we’re so in love with this local Texas glass artist and the technique she uses to mold her glass material we just had to share. Today we’re featuring the fused glass techniques of Lori Linder!

Fused glass, also sometimes known as warm glass or kiln glass, is basically the idea of objects made out of melting glass in a kiln. Of course, within the genre of fused glass, there are tons of techniques, but in Lori’s case, she makes each piece by arranging small, hand-cut pieces of glass (which she refers to as tesserae) onto larger pieces of solid glass to create a pattern. Once arranged the way she likes it, she heats it into a kiln to make one single form. After the pattern is set, she heats it again, but this time creating a shape or, in the glass world, letting it “slump” into shape. Though we happen to fancy Lori’s designs, she’s just one of many artists over the world who employ fused glass techniques to create art. Some other designers known for fused glass are: Jackie Beckman, Claudia Whitten, Melanie Rowe and Leslie Rowe-Israelson, Gloria Higueroa and more.

We first came across Lori’s fused glass creations on the Litmus Industries Facebook page, and we were struck by all the adorable patterns and colors we saw. Available in plates, platters, bowls, ashtrays, incense burners and candle holders, there was something for everyone. Maybe it’s just because we’re on a geometric design kick lately, but there was something so modern and trendy about Lori’s glass designs that we really think would work well in a number of different style interiors.

Lori Linder is a part of the design team known as Litmus Industries, which is also comprised of Lori’s husband Tony Linder and their partner Christian Klein. As a design and fabrication studio, they work on a number of projects ranging in scale and material used, working with such media as wood, metal, and yes—glass. The Pfau Collection, Lori’s collection of fused glass home items (and soon to be garden items) is available online and on their etsy page. For more information about fused glass in general, check out

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Summer Thornton

There are a lot of great contemporary designers out there; it’s true. And, we’ve even covered a few of them, like Sherrill Canet and Tobi Fairley. But while many designers can make a house look great, few can infuse rooms with the sort of fun, energy and excitement like Summer Thornton can. We’re in love with all the designs of hers we’ve seen, and think her portfolio would provide endless hours of inspiration for those homeowners looking to give their interiors a dose of fun!

Scrolling the photos on Thornton’s website, you’ll start to notice a theme that runs through all of her spaces she’s designed, quirky details that take a room from just “there” to out of this world. Perhaps it’s a leopard skin print upholstered chair, or animal statuettes, or an oversized black and white poster. She obviously excels at knowing just what the client wants (or else she wouldn’t be so successful and popular) but it seems that she also excels at pinpointing just what her client’s unique quirks and personality are, and then bringing that into the interior space.

She commands a strong understanding of color theory, and how to evoke emotions and feelings by pairing colors that might not always be seen on the same palette together. Her abilities to mix patterns and textures are also high-quality; rooms never seem contrived or “too made up.” The mixture of colors, pattern and texture always seem sophisticated and fun. Also, her spaces always look like they could be lived in—not like it’s just some museum. Unlike some designers, she also believes in keeping spaces fresh, and so provides clients with seasonal looks in their interiors.

After studying both art and business in college, Thornton discovered early her love of ceramics, and became quite good at that sculptural art before she left school. Obviously possessing a keen eye for design, she has since worked on projects all over the country, most notably high-rises, historic homes and even mansions. And, we don’t want to give it all away, but she even shares some great, simple and easy advice for your interiors on her website. Give her a look!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: The Classics!

Every Monday on the Swank Lighting blog you can count on getting to read the story of a famous designer and see photos of their great work. We do this for entertainment, sure, but also for education. Not only impressive at dinner parties, knowing the design greats by heart can be massively useful when thrift shopping or visiting garage sales. You never know when you might stumble upon an original Eames piece---and knowing what it's worth will either get you a great deal or save you a ton of money. We've covered a number of famous designers---can you remember them all? From today's newest 1stdibs listings we've spotted a number of recognizable pieces. Time to quiz yourself!

1) Dunbar Settee
Not as famous as other contemporary designers, this furniture designer more than held his own among the bigger names, and the proof is in this gorgeous tufted leasther couch with the sculpted back. This piece would bring immediate style to a room. The designer...Edward Wormley!
Price: $14,000
Dealer: Converso

2) Extendable Dining Table for Singer & Sons
Designed in 1953 and made in Italy for Singer & Sons are your first three hints as to who the designer of this good-looking table with the sleek profile and tapered legs is. Need more help? This designer didn't just create furniture---he contributed much to the world of design and even design publications. It's Gio Ponti!
Price: $9,750
Dealer: 20th Century Interiors

3) Frenchman's Cove Round Table
The price on this table proves that its designer was prized for his skill and high-quality craftsmanship, and his style is very recognizable: natural woods, sturdy shapes and simple, clean lines. Give up? George Nakashima
Price: $38,000
Dealer: Wyeth

4) Early Edition Egg Chair
This is a pretty recognizable shape, but many people often mistake the designer for someone else (even us, sometimes). Though it's been created in many materials over the years, we love it when it's done in leather. Ready to guess the designer: Arne Jacobsen.
Price: contact dealer
Dealer: Galerie Half

5) Brazilian Rosewood Tulip Dining Table
Another incredibly recognizable piece, as well as one that has often been imitated. This designer, along with the rest of his design-talented family have also made huge contributions to sweeping modern architecture. It's the fun-to-say Eero Saarinen.
Price: $5,800
Dealer: Collage 20th Century Classics

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, April 20, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Eva Zeisel's Coffee Table and Murano Bedside Lamps!

We brought you the curvy and long-lasting designs of industrial designer Eva Zeisel yesterday. And though she was known for her small-scale home accessories, like table top ceramic pieces, she did dabble with furniture. We’ve chosen a favorite piece of furniture that is quite new, and mixed it with a pair of Swank Lighting lamps that are a bit older, with surprising effects.

The Eva Zeisel Coffee Table was designed in 1993 and originally attended to soften up the plain old boring look of the office, but has since found a home in living rooms and all sorts of other spaces. The opposing wood frame of the base is at once organic and feminine, featuring curves yet pointed edges. The dark or honey-colored wood is strong and bold, and really grabs the eye’s attention. The graphic shape of the base also makes for striking contrasts between softer edged furniture pieces, like chairs or sofas.

We’re in love with these Classic Bedside Murano Lamps from the 1940's, and it’s due to the unique shape and color. According to Swank Lighting, such lamps were commonly used on bedside tables or vanity tables in the 1940s. We think the shape is just wonderful, a sort of curvy square, but according to Swank this color is what so rare—they call it Paul Newman blue! The glass is very thick, very heavy and ridged with a great texture that complements the icy blueness. There are also silver flakes sprinkled throughout the glass to give it even more glam. The lamps are complemented perfectly by the Lucite bases.

We toyed with the idea of going with a really simple pair of lamps for this Perfect Pair—after all, much of Zeisel’s body of work featured simple, curved ceramic pieces, but we also feel like much of her work is flexible. Meaning, it can work with a lot of different styles. The coffee table has a lot of femininity to it, and so do the lamps. The icy blue of the lamps goes well with the honey or dark colored wood of the table, and the shiny lamps fit well next to the glass table top. Though you probably wouldn’t put a pair of lamps on top of a coffee table, we sure think these three pieces would look smashing together in the same room.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Curvy and Sensuous Designs of Eva Zeisel

While some people might be looking forward to retirement—the golden years where one doesn’t have to work any longer—that arrangement doesn’t work for those who have found and lived their passions their whole lives, like the industrial designer Eva Zeisel. Now over 100 years of age, Zeisel is known for working well into her 90s, still producing great work. We just love her style and think it deserves a mention!

Known mostly for her ceramic work, she’s also worked in a number of furniture designs and other home accessories. She did most of her schooling at a time when Bauhaus’ aesthetic reigned, where straight lines and bold colors were the norm. Zeisel’s ceramic and pottery designs more resemble the curves of the human body—very soft, very sensuous. Working in ceramic, furniture, metal and glass, she always created her projects in sets that related to one another or other objects. And many of her designs even “nested” together to create multi-piece, modern designs. Good-looking, but also space saving.

Originally from Hungary, Zeisel was born Eva Striker. Her early career saw her as a designer for the Schramberger Majolikafabrik in the Black Forest region of Germany. There she spent years working on designs for tea sets, vases, inkwell and other small house designs. Her early work did reflect a very Bauhaus-esque appearance, but she soon grew into her own, successful aesthetic. She was briefly imprisoned due to war, but eventually made her way to the United States, where she continued to find success with her ceramic and furniture designs.

Once in the U.S she actually started designing for pretty large-sized companies like General Mills, Rosenthal China, Castelton China and more. Zeisel was also proud to share her knowledge, and eventually became a professor of industrial design at the Pratt Institute in New York. In a stunning career highlight, in 1946, she had a one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

As you could imagine, trying to fit an entire lifetime of work into one article isn’t easy; Zeisel’s body of work is huge, and much of it is still available today. We found a wonderful article on If It’s Hip, It’s Here that really does a great job of going in-depth into her life’s work, and you can of course learn about her on her website. And if you think she’s done at her age, she’s not: Eva released two designs in 2010: the Eva Zeisel Lounge Chair (featured in the February 2010 issue of O Magazine) and Eva Zeisel Salt & Pepper Shakers (April 2010 issues of O Magazine).