Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Paolo Buffa and Swank Lighting!

Though our featured Designer Influence yesterday, Paolo Buffa, was one of those Italian designers that we didn’t know a lot about, we could see clearly from his furniture designs that he was a man of enormous talent, and his architecture designs are often listed as contemporary architect inspiration. We picked an Italian pair of lamps to combine with a great Buffa piece.

Paolo Buffa’s Buffet for Marelli & Colico is an excellent example of his ability to respect the past’s great traditional details, but also embrace contemporary styles and look to the future. It features a 3 door design which gives it a supernaturally long feel. Lines are straight, and doors and other details are flush, making it an almost perfect rectangle. Straight, tapered and rounded legs give the piece a harsh, serious tone, but the color of the wood tone warms the whole piece up. The only real ornament comes from the marquetry inlay medallions in the center of the doors. It was made in Italy in the 1930s.

Why choose just one color as an accent in your home when you can choose them all! Seriously though, these Swank Lighting Colorful Italian Ceramic Lamps from the 1960s are amazing. Featuring a variety of six colors in stripes ranging in width and even a bit of a squiggle, the result is a festive mix of colors that comes off bright, cheery and exciting. We especially like that the colors swirl up the lamp rather than just vertical; we think it gives it more sophistication. Stepped Lucite disc bases complete this fabulous Mid-Century Modern look.

The only downside to Paolo Buffa’s body of work is that there wasn’t much that particularly stood out. Much of his work, like this great Buffet for Marelli & Colico, is simple, understated and lovely. That’s why we decided to choose a really exciting pair of Swank Lighting lamps to punch up this combination of items. The bold colors of the Swank Lighting lamps match the Buffet’s warm wood tones and they both make the other look better. The Buffet’s simple design helps tone down the bold colors of the lamps. It’s a win-win situation, especially for whoever owns these pieces together!

We know what you’re thinking. Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Simple and High Quality Designs of Paolo Buffa!

We’ve got another great Italian Mid-Century Designer that we had never heard of before to show you today, this time the talented Paolo Buffa. As usual, much of his life is an enigma to us (even as seasoned researchers) but that’s okay; there’s plenty to talk about with his amazing designs.

From Italy, Mr. Buffa was born at the turn of the century in 1903, a prime birth date for someone who would go on to create some pretty gorgeous Mid-Century Modern stuff. Though we don’t know a lot about his early years (okay—you caught us! We don’t know anything about his family life or his schooling), we do know he must have had a great respect for historical furniture designs and innovative new ideas and styles.

We say he must have had a great respect for historical styles and futuristic designs because we don’t know that we’ve ever come across someone whose work exhibits a brilliant mix of traditional, current (like Hollywood Regency) and future details.

Take for instance several of his great side board and credenza designs. The sleek, straight lines, warm wood material and simple hardware choices smack of Mid-Century Modernism. You can see similar attributes in desks, chairs and other case goods of his. But, you can also see a more traditional look in something like a pair of side tables that looks more like a traditional antique, or some pieces that still showcase a relic of antique design.

His many designs for wingback chairs are confusing to the eye: they are shaped perfectly between a traditional wingback chair looks like and what a futuristic wingback chair might look like. Somehow he manages to balance those two divergent ideas with material, pattern and color choices.

Also a pretty talented Italian architect in his time, Paolo Buffa isn’t the most well-known designer to come out of Mid-Century Italy, but his designs are just amazing enough to get him on our list of new “old” favorites. While his work might not be the most unique or stand out as completely unusual, he did design high-quality work that continues to inspire others.

We know what you’re thinking. Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Miles Redd!

You’re not going to find any shy, demure rooms in the online portfolio of interior designer Miles Redd. Raised in the South, there’s a certain dramatic, flamboyant flair that exudes from every corner of each space Redd has designed. But it’s not an annoying flamboyance; rather, sitting in a room designed by Redd is like being paid a visit by the loud and exciting Aunt who was on Broadway. We unabashedly love it all.

As you might imagine, bright colors, sumptuous textures and dramatic details summarize many of Redd’s interiors. The man certainly knows how to dial up the luxury. His clients surely are the kind who want a home that makes a statement, a home where when guests first arrive they gasp in surprise. The kind of home where, though comfort is no doubt achieved, it’s not the main thrust of the design theme. And yes, no doubt these sorts of spaces have colorfully described themes that carry throughout the entire house.

It’s not surprising to see a room wallpapered from floor to ceiling with big, bold black and white stripes in Redd’s portfolio. Giant Greek columns used as 6 foot tall plant stands are no stranger, either. A bed simply isn’t a bed unless it is topped with a large canopy, and pink isn’t an accent color to be used sparingly, it’s a wall color that coordinates with just about anything.

His design choices can’t take all the credit, it seems Redd is lucky enough to find clients with exquisite tastes in architecture, for the homes he decorates usually have strong traditional bones with delightfully charming architectural details; a great starting place for Redd’s animated designs. This is not to say that every room Redd decorates looks like the set of a movie; we see plenty of subdued and simple spaces in his portfolio. You could say he knows when to let the eye take a visual break.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Miles Redd exhibits that underlying je ne sais quois that only Southern designers possess. We’re not implying that Southern designers are better than other designers, but they certainly have a knack for making a house a home. He went to school for film in New York, but found himself more interested in set design. That’s when he started working for an antiques dealer named John Rosselli.

He was later hired by the famed Bunny Williams decorator, where he was a great shopper and design assistant. After some travel and casually decorating his friends’ apartment in Manhattan, Redd opened his own design office in 1998 in Noho. He set the bar early for being able to design in a number of different styles, making him an asset to many potential clients. He’s had the pleasure of working on projects all over the country, and his work has found fans in magazines like New York Magazine, Vogue, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, House & Garden, W, and Country Life. In 2003, Redd was named creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home. Check out more images on his online portfolio.

We know what you’re thinking. Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Joe Nahem

For today's Contemporary Designer Influence we decided to go with a designer known more for his quiet simplicity and warm modernism. New York interior designer Joe Nahem sure gets what client’s want; his work exudes a certain urban cool that not everyone can pull off.

We first have to give Nahem props for an awesome website. Viewing the various photos of his past projects is made a snap and fun by a neat rolling-over-the-photo and enlarging effect. His work certainly doesn’t need a cool online feature to make it stand out, though; we’re enamored with all of his projects, which range from Park Avenue lofts to beach houses to townhouses.

The first thing we noticed was just how different each project came out; he really grasps how to make each client’s home specific to them, and not just push his own style onto someone’s home. Each house, duplex or apartment has a specific tone and theme that carries throughout each room in a sophisticated and interesting way.

Spaces are just lovely. There are rooms where texture and softness is treasured, with lots of cushions and soft wall colors and flowers and more. There are masculine rooms where architectural details win out. We love that he seems to be an expert at any time period or style—we saw Art Nouveau-inspired spaces, Mid-Century Modern spaces and more.

From New York City, Nahem went to the prestigious Parsons School of Design both in New York and in Paris. He had the opportunity to study under talented designers like Joe D’Urso and John Saladino. He eventually founded, with his late partner Tom Fox, the firm Fox-Nahem. As soon as they paired up, their work was recognized for its freshness by The New York Times.

The press and accolades didn’t stop with The New York Times; the firm’s projects have made it into Elle Décor, House Beautiful, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, New York Magazine, Interior Design, Hamptons Magazine, Robb Report and more. Having recently completed projects like Park Avenue duplexes, Hamptons’ beach houses and a number or residences in states like Florida, Pennsylvania and California, Nahem doesn’t show signs of stopping. You can find more information about him and his inspiring work on his website.

Love what you see in this post but want more? Like fun perfect pairs, designer influence profiles and profiles of contemporary designers? Thank goodness for you we’ve got a Facebook page and tweet a lot; you can keep up with everything Swank Lighting does.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Animal Elements!

This isn't the first time we've had an animal-themed post on the Swank Lighting blog. We can't help it; we love animals! But there's more to including animal elements in your home than just aesthetics. Like some ancient totem, animal imagery can imbue your space with the characteristics of said animals. Infusing your interiors with these animal elements is a great way to not only make your room look good, but feel good, too. Maybe you and your guests would even start to exhibit these animalistic qualities after awhile--so make sure you pick good animals.

1) Ox Weathervane
It's no surprise many sayings exist involving that mighty work animal, the ox. "Strong like an ox" is probably the most familiar one, and seeing this great representation, you can see where someone might notice that oxen are incredibly strong animals. Incorporate this into a room for strength.
Price: $135,000
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques

2) Eagle with wings spread
We all have goals, dreams and ambitions, and could use a little help with achieving them sometimes. Why not exhibit a soaring eagle in a room for the visual representation of soaring to achieve one's dreams.
Price: $9,000
The Federalist Antiques

3) Carved Limestone Prowling Tiger
Quiet. Strong. Sleek. Deadly. There are many words to describe this noble creature, the tiger. He is, after all, the King of the Jungle. Be the king of your own jungle when you display this tiger statue in your space.
Price: $8,600
The Elemental Garden

4) Pair of Brass Patinated Parrots
Though parrots aren't the first animals you might consider to place in your home to imbue it with some sort of animal-y spirit, think about these birds for a moment. They are smart (can learn our language practically!), social and mate for life. What wouldn't you want to have in common with a parrot?
Price: $14,000

5) Pair of Nickel Plated Great Danes
There's no other animal more loyal than a dog, and this regal breed, the Great Dane, has long been treasured for its look and its companionship. Stress those own great characteristics with yourself with these lovely sculptural reminders you can place in your home.
Price: $7,800

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 items! Also: please visit our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Borsani and Swank!

Had you heard of the great Mid-Century designs of Osvaldo Borsani before our profile on him yesterday? If you did, then you no doubt recognized what a fabulously talented furniture designer he was. If you are like us and were unfamiliar with him before yesterday, then you probably got to be pleasantly surprised right alongside of us. We chose one of his most important pieces for today’s Perfect Pair, and combined it with an ultra-special Swank Lighting pair of lamps!

What can be more classical than Osvaldo Borsani’s P40 Lounge Chair? It’s practically the poster child for the Mid-Century. Featuring an oh-so-slick profile, this lounge chair is at once casual and serious. With four sections, the chair looks like you could bend it into many different iterations, and it just so happens you can: this chair articulates to over 30 different seating and reclining positions. It’s not just function that makes this seat fabulous: we’re in love with the buttery and creamy yellow upholstery that is on the cushions. It makes for a perfect contrast with the dark black of the frame.

When we first laid eyes on Swank Lighting’s Vintage Double Hourglass Murano Lamps from the 1960s, we knew we wanted to save them for a particularly special Perfect Pair. They are so gorgeous and feature an out-of-this-world shape. You can really feel the mod, 1960s feel they have going on; their profile is reminiscent of a really hip and retro fabric pattern. Their color is another fabulous selling point, described as somewhere between Lilac and Grape Kool-Aid; we just think it’s a perfect color to infuse some purple fun into an interior.

So, you can probably guess at the obvious reasons we put these lamps and this lounge chair together. They both feature recognizable designs for their time period, which happen to overlap! Both are super cool with Mid-Century and mod details, and the outline of their shape is stunning in its complexity and simplicity. While you might not immediately put these sorts of colors together, we think the fun combination of a buttery yellow and an Easter egg lilac makes for a pop art-feeling, bold and bright color palette. It would be a fun thing to add to any vignette in any space!

Love what you see in this post but want more? Like fun perfect pairs, designer influence profiles and profiles of contemporary designers? Thank goodness for you we’ve got a Facebook page and tweet a lot; you can keep up with everything Swank Lighting does.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Modern and Subtle Designs of Osvaldo Borsani

We’re so delighted when we can still be surprised by discovering a Mid-Century Modern designer we never knew about. Having been in the design field for years, we’ve certainly had the pleasure of experiencing many talented designers’ work. The fact that we had not come across the Italian designer, Osvaldo Borsani, before means we have a lot of enthusiasm for him today!

There’s something very delicate and graceful to every piece in Borsani’s body of furniture work. Definitely recognizable as coming to fruition during the high points of modernism and Mid-Century Modernism, there’s a curiously perfect balance between straight lines and curves in his pieces. Whereas furniture can sometimes fall in either the masculine or feminine camps, there’s something refreshingly gender neutral about his designs.

We’ll get to the bigger reasons why he’s most well-known today in a bit, but we really want to focus on his furniture more for a moment. Seating is sleek, comfortable and surprisingly functional (sometimes with movable parts). Tables are sturdy, but also demure, with legs that just barely look strong enough to hold up the top. Lighting is stylish, but also sort of simplistic.

Born in Milan in 1911, Borsani’s family ran a furniture business. This gave Borsani a lot of experience visualizing furniture designs early on. While still a student, a project he presented in 1933 garnered a lot of attention. He then started doing work with interiors, continuing in this field for a couple of decades. In the early 1950s, Borsani realized that there was a lot to be made creatively and lucratively in the furniture business, and turned his attention that way. He presented his design for the Butterfly Lounge seat D70 at the 10th Triennale in 1954, and his place in the hearts and minds of Italian design lovers was set in stone. The Butterfly lounge seat D70 and his piece the Chaise Lounge P40 have gone on to become symbols of Italian design

In later years, Borsani really gained attention with his office system designs, like for the ENI headquarters in Milan and his Graphis office system. And in the 1970s he turned his focus on the Centro Progetti tecno, a laboratory of sorts where designers could work on projects ranging from products to furniture to architecture. Many big name designers came through those halls, like Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Gae Aulenti, Emilio Ambasz, Ricardo Bofill, Jean Michelle Wilmotte and the artists Francois and Frederic Morellet, Jeffrey Steele, Getullio Alviani, Carlo Mo.

Though Osvaldo Borsani died in 1985, his designs live on, as does his legacy of promoting great design. You can read more about him and his work on his still active website.

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.