Monday, May 31, 2010

The Fantastical and Unique Designs of John Dickinson!

When we choose the subject matter for our Monday Designer Influence post, we always try to choose those designers who have made a big impact on the world of design. Who are well-known, and whose designs are either still used or emulated. Though the designs of John Dickinson aren’t in every Mid-Century Modern house today, his work was quite important, if only for the fact that it helped people take design less seriously!

Dickinson is most well known for his fantastical, yet still functional, designs of furniture and accessories. He was not loved by all (in fact, quite his work is reminiscent of The Memphis Group’s designs in terms of not exactly appealing to everyone). Though all of his designs are varied, he used many similar elements in his work that helps make him stand apart, like African motifs, animal legs and body parts, metal used in interesting ways and even sometimes human bone motifs. He designed things to look good, but he also designed furniture pieces to shock the senses sometimes.

Some of his most favorite elements to work with in his furniture designs weren’t textures, colors or other obvious things, but rather scale, shape and finish. He would often gain inspiration from historical styles and designs, but then convert them to a modern style by playing with the scale. This would often give his furniture a casual feel, as well. And of course, he would often make creations that were unique and never seen before, like tables with metal skirts, animal leg chairs and mixing and matching of other unusual materials like galvanized metal or faux bamboo.

His most famous and most recognizable piece is without doubt the African Table. Made of white plaster, it’s an organically-shaped piece with not a lot of details. It has a curvy top that slowly bleeds into three legs that are actually in the shape of legs and feet. Not quite human, and not quite animal, the feet on this table—and the table as a whole—grab the attention and make you wonder.

Born in Berkeley, California, Dickinson did his design studies at the esteemed Parsons School of Design, and soon began work creating displays for a local department store in New York City. Eventually returning to California, this time San Francisco, he soon started doing design, delighting clients who enjoyed his off-hand and tongue-and-cheek approach to design. He was a hot designer from the 1960’s – 1980’s, and though he passed away in the 1980’s, and though his work isn’t for everyone, he has many loyal followers who keep his work in use and the prices high!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Victoria Hagan!

It’s Thursday, which means we’ve got a great contemporary interior designer who is shaping, forming and transforming interiors into some of the most beautiful spaces enjoyed today. As you may have noticed we don’t just profile anyone; only the best and brightest in this field so that you may find inspiration for your own interior spaces. Today’s designer is Victoria Hagan.

With one look you can see immediately both what it is that ties all of Hagan’s interiors together and what makes her famous: her sleek, clean and fresh style. Spanning everything from traditional, modern and even transitional, her rooms don’t all look the same, but they definitely share strong characteristics, like no fussiness, a huge amount of comfort, great textures, lots of light, wide openness explored, lots of neutrals and more.

As with all greats designers, she of course excels at transforming a formally empty space into just what the client needs/wants, and it seems clear that her clients treasure comfy and sophisticated rooms that feel full yet wide open, comfortable yet formal enough for a nice party. Her rooms look like the sort of spaces celebrities and dignitaries would want, but she also works for regular folks.

If you’re looking for a designer who has a list of accolades, you’ve got one with Hagan. She’s frequently featured in publications like Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Elle Décor, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, House Beautiful and more. A graduate of the highly acclaimed Parsons School of Design, she’s even on the board of governors there. Having made many interior design top 100 lists, she’s also been inducted into Interior Design hall of fame. She also travels around the world giving talks on the profession, and is often featured/quoted in design books. Skim her beautiful photos of interiors she’s designed on her website for inspiration!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Summertime blue!

It's been awhile since we organized one of our weekly 1stdibs newest items round-ups around a color. Well, we've done it today; all today's favorite picks feature a decidedly bright blue. Why blue? Well for one, it's a fabulous color. And two, with summer hot on spring's heels, it seems we've been seeing a lot of it as we look up to the sky or look over a clear, aqua-marine colored lake. All these pieces we chose feature a great blue, but also are sort of simple pieces, allowing the color to steal the show.

1) Table Bleue by Yves Klein
We love the energy and movement of this large coffee table. A large, glass square filled with International Klein Blue (IKB) pigment, this piece is modern, but also resists being static by being filled with such an interesting material.
Price: $20,500

2) Pair of Modernistic Floor Lamps
This pair of modernistic floor lamps are a great example of how just a hint of a bold color can make for an incredible look. The shape of the lamp, a smooth orb on a thin pole is the perfect receptacle for a cool, modern turquoise blue.
Price: $6,800
Antiques and Modern Design

3) Italian Curved Sofa
This sensually curved couch is made all the more modern and sexy by the addition of sleek, modern blue mohair upholstery. Made in the 1950s, you just can't contain the Mid-Modern style of this piece of furniture, and it makes it even more bold due to the color.
Price: $9,400
Phillip Thomas

4) Pair of Milo Baughman blue mohair and chrome lounge chairs
What can we say, we just can't stay away from Milo Baughman's designs. The curves, partnered with sleek lines and Mid-Century stylings, create an amazing pair of chairs that are also upholstered in gorgeous blue mohair. These would no doubt look great with the blue Italian Curved Sofa!
Price: $5,500
Thomas Hayes Gallery

5) Gerd Bogelund Royal Copenhagen Lamp
In case you don't want to invest in a bold blue piece that's as large as a sofa or as imposing as floor lamps, you can always go for a small-scale table lamp, like this great one. Sure it's small, but when the light is on, it'll spotlight the great blue color of its base!
Price: $1,400
Artful Dodger Inc.

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, May 25, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Hans Olsen and Swank Lighting!

Hans Olsen was a brilliant man with lots of secrets. Okay, he was a brilliant man, but the “lots of secrets” part isn’t quite accurate—there just isn’t a lot of information about him out there. That doesn’t stop us from loving the amazing Mid-Century Modern furniture design he created over a few decades. Though he’s most famous for his fabulously round dining tables, we’re choosing one of his more softer pieces to pair with some Swank Lighting lamps today.

Hans Olsen’s Rosewood & Leather Sofa is an excellent example of the sort of upholstered work that Olsen was known for. Though it might appear to be like any standard Mid-Century Modern piece of furniture from that time period, it was Olsen’s dedication to quality and detail that really makes this sofa stand out. Featuring clean lines, this sofa comes in exotic Brazilian rosewood with black graining, and is shown off quite nicely with the sofa’s flared arms. The upholstery is a creamy camel-color with French seams, with down-filled back cushions. It’s good-looking and comfortable.

Swank Lighting’s Seguso Classic Murano Lamps in Claret on Acrylic are fabulous lights. Made in the 1950s, they were created by the famous Archimede Seguso. The color of these lamps is quite interesting: sometimes appearing brown, sometimes with a bit of purple hue to it. The shape to the lamps are curvy and classic, and they rest upon modern Lucite bases. Our favorite parts are the controlled bubbles that run throughout the glass, giving the lamps a neat appearance of texture.

We chose this Olsen sofa and Swank Lighting lamps because we wanted to create a natural-feeling, monochrome palette vignette. The combination of these three elements works because of their many similarities, including natural and neutral tones, curves (like with the cushions of the sofa and the body of the lamp) and the slight organic/natural feel both the sofa and lamps exude. Together they make a great pair!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The ingenious and Mid-Century Style of Hans Olsen!

Sometimes we come across a piece of furniture that knocks us off our feet, and it’s from there that we begin the research it takes to put together an educational post for our loyal blog readers to enjoy. Occasionally, we come across furniture we like but can’t find enough information on the designer to write a post about. Well, we found a piece of furniture so fabulous that even though there’s not a lot written about the designer, we still have to share it with you. Today’s designer influence is Scandinavian designer Hans Olsen.

The weird thing about Hans Olsen is that many people are familiar with him. He created very specific pieces of work that are highly sought after (more on that later) but there’s just not a lot of information about his life or background. Here’s what we do know: he’s from Scandinavia. He designed fabulous Mid-Century Modern furniture on the same level of skill and talent as other Mid-Century Modern designers at that time. He designed primarily during the time period of the 1950s-1970s. He worked a lot with teak wood and rosewood, also some upholstery, especially black and camel-colored leather. We know he also collaborated often with the Danish furniture manufacturer Frem Rojle.

He created chairs, dining tables, dining chairs, stools, side chairs and more. All of his designs feature the hallmark characteristics of Mid-Century Modern design: sleek shapes, highly-functional and in the colors of the era. However, many of Olsen’s work also had a heightened natural and organic-feel to it, with sleek lines and smooth curves intersecting to create interesting and contrasting elements.

Now, we said earlier that Hans Olsen isn’t a stranger to many Mid-Century Modern design enthusiasts, even if they don’t know a lot about him, and it’s because of his fabulous dining table designs. He is famous for having created a genius and time-saving design for the dining table. Featuring a round wood table usually made out of teak, he creating dining chairs that tucked directly into the frame of the table—creating a seamless aesthetic that didn’t take up any extra space when not in use. Even his dining chairs were a brilliant idea: three-legged and very triangular, this dining set is highly sought after today, and one can see why!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Thom Filicia

When it comes to the most famous contemporary interior designers working today, it sometimes feels like there are the ones that toil away tirelessly behind the scenes and then the ones who always seem to be in the public eye. We’re not one to say which kind of designer is better, but we can say with certainty that the ones who are somehow able to do both are ultra-impressive and can be learned from. Thom Filicia makes that list.

Every good designer out there doesn’t have just one “distinct” look that sets them apart; after all, when you are a designer you design for the client, not for yourself. That being said, you can often see common threads that flow through some designer’s portfolios. Some designers have a thing for neutrals, others handle texture really well. Why are we telling you this? To explain that Filicia isn’t just someone without a common thread—he blows other designers’ portfolio’s out of the water with the variety and flexibility of his designs.

Clicking through the TONS of gorgeous interior room photographs on Filicia’s website, you can see that no two rooms even come close to looking alike. There are living rooms with lots of color and others with monotone palettes. There are rooms full of soft, earthy naturals and spaces with sleek, modern lines. All types of styles, all types of colors, all types of materials: Filicia works with them all. And, works with them rather stunningly, as every one of the photos from his site shows layered, sophisticated and gosh-darn interesting rooms. Places that you would want to spend your day in.

Remember when we mentioned that he was great not just at working hard behind the scenes, but being well-known, too? Well, that’s an understatement. It would take at least another five posts to fit all the things he’s been awarded, been in or done, but we’ll try to highlight some stuff for you: He’s been one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 Designers and House & Garden’s Top 50 Tastemakers, he’s won an Emmy, and he’s appeared on Oprah, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and even the View. He’s the host of Dress My Nest. He’s been one of Barbara Walters’ “Top 10 Most Fascinating People.” His interiors have regularly been shown in Elle Décor Magazine, House Beautiful, The New York Times and more. And of course, the role that perhaps first started him off in fame, his role as the design guru on that smash hit, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

Of course, Filicia can’t take all the credit, his firm Thom Filicia Inc, founded in 1998, employs a host of talented people, and have helped grow the Filicia empire into what it is today: a design firm for residential, commercial and special projects for celebrities and regular folks, as well as a huge receptacle for inspiration. Just spend some time on his website and you’ll see why!