Taking some inspiration from ancient Chinese wisdom and comparing to past experiences we take a look at what the Year of the Pig has to offer. How do we make sense of the Year of the Pig at The Empty Apartment? Here are 5 trends we are predicting for the new year and how to prepare for them if you are collecting art and design for your own home.
I’ve been following Louise Erhard’s work for several years now and I’m always so intrigued, not only with her artistic evolution but also, with the influences that have impacted her creativity. Her latest work, a series of erotic paintings, are product of research on mid-century color palettes, color block painting and abstract art.
Louise Erhard is a multidisciplinary artist, besides painting and drawings, she’s worked in photography, sculpture, and for the artistic form for which I learned about her work, collage. At an early age she learned to appreciate vintage finds. She grew up in her mother’s vintage clothing store and her father’s antique business. Her collage work includes many images taken from magazines from the 60s and 70s and today she still collects items from thrift stores and flea markets which contribute to her inspiration.
In her new series of paintings Louise Erhard plays on her past work, a common thread of themes combined with her passion for color theory and desire for a minimalist aesthetic. Playfulness, eroticism, and art history references beat like a pulse throughout each piece. Her upbringing in tropical South Florida and a nostalgia for the past are also reflected in her work. There is a sense of traditional conservatism built in her practice, however, mixed with contemporary sexual liberalism embraced in humor.
View more of Louise Erhard’s artworks available at The Empty Apartment here
“Always playing with physcological cause and effect, the color block nature of these works imply discovered narratives only after the viewer's eyes adjust, almost like a secret message.” - Louise Erhard
About Louise Erhard
Louise Erhard was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1985. She attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. Her artwork has been part of group exhibitions curated by Jane Hart at the Arts and Culture Center in Hollywood, FL and by Beth Rudin de Woody at Gavlak Gallery, in Palm Beach, FL. Louise Erhard’s work has been featured on Grey Area. She has collaborated with design brands such as Print All Over Me and produced marketing and clothing campaigns for apparel brands such as American Apparel. She currently lives and works in Palm Beach, FL.
Brimfield Flea Markets in Massachusets is America's oldest outdoor antique flea market. Like many of my design trips, Brimfield has been on my travel list for quite some time. The flea market only happens 3 times a year, so I had to mark my calendar to make sure I could plan in advance. May, July, or September were my options.
How do you begin to plan a visit to over twenty acres of antique stands? I had to start with logistics, where is Brimfield exactly, how do I get there and where would I stay? Just the thought of over 5,000 vendors makes me giddy and gives me major anxiety at the same time. Luckily there are some amazing online resources and veteran visitors willing to provide their knowledge to this newbie.
So far here are the resources I've been using.
and this app Brimfield Flea Finder
I try not to overwhelm myself with viewing the vendor lists and have decided to leave my finds up to chance, that's really the best way to conquer a flea market. You can't plan what you are going to find Rule #1.
Rule #2 make sure you know where to park. So far I've been told that by 8 am, parking lots are full so when they say it opens at sunrise, it's no joke. At 6 am doors will be opening to some of the fields. Over 30,000 visitors arrive in Brimfield and I'm hoping to be one of the first. My weather should be partly cloudy and sunny with 0% chance of rain. Apparently, Brimfield has a history of no rain, but you ever know. Always best to check and prepare for what you can, which leads to Rule #3 plan your packing.
When I visited the flea market in Paris for the first time it was impossible for me to know I'd end up falling in love with a vintage fur coat that took up most of the single suitcase I had with me. I considered wearing it on the flight but arriving in Miami, FL I'm pretty sure I would've raised some red flags walking through customs. To play it safe, by the end of my Paris trip, I had a new carry-on and an additional suitcase to check in - amateur move (palm to face emoji).
On this trip I am bringing an empty duffle bag with wheels that I'm packing inside my half-empty suitcase, a carry-on - empty, a shopping tote and my Mother! Yes, my Mother, the woman who taught me about Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps at Pizza Hut and dragged me to every estate sale growing up, is joining me on my journey to Brimfield. Her luggage is pretty empty too!
I'm excited to find out what we'll discover. There are so many online resources these days for searching for art and design, ebay, Etsy, Chairish and 1st dibs are just a few but none can compete with the experience of speaking directly to a vendor at the flea market. I'm hoping to learn a thing or two and engage in some great conversations, which is Rule #4 and the most important rule in flea market shopping, ask questions!! Most Vintage Dealers are extremely passionate about their inventory and love to share their knowledge.
Coffee Tables, dining tables, side tables and nightstands are all great opportunities to display the personal items that we collect. I personally love coffee tables and large ones, for displays since typically they are in an area of entertainment and gathering, and a focal point for the room.
Budgets here can be as large or a small as you like, the key is to find pieces that speak to you, your travels, your hobbies, items that have a personal meaning.
When working on decorating projects I like to start by restaging table displays with personal items found around the house, many times it's simply a matter of reorganizing and placing items in a new way. I'll ask clients about their favorite decorative pieces. Favorite books are such a great item to decorate with and usually, these are tucked away on a library shelf.
Bowls and trays are great to have on a table, they catch keys, pocket change, matchboxes from your favorite bar, restaurant or hotel. I love looking for bowls and trays at flea markets, in small curated home stores, or purchased directly from local artists. A mix of colors and materials make for a nice display.
Small plants like miniature orchids or succulents also work well on tabletops. Plants add life to any room and it is proven plants improve our wellbeing. Check out The Sill for recommendations on small plants for all types of lighting. The Sill delivers plants already potted for you.
Candles and candle holders make for great sculptural items. Find scents that are relaxing and set a mood, it'll add to who you are and the personal space you are creating.
Have fun with mixing and matching your items, change up your display often and discover new items that bring you joy.
Here are some online sites we really like for tabletop items:
1. You don't need as much furniture as you think you do, just more interesting pieces.
Who says you need the couch or that chair to fill up that corner?
2. Collect what you love, it will inspire you to be more creative.
Taking a life lesson from designer Alexander Girard we could all be more creative daily.
3. Don't be afraid of color, it adds emotion to a home.
Monet, Barragan, Le Corbusier and Frida Kahlo all knew a thing or 2 about living passionately.
4. If it doesn't matter get rid of it, free your space.
We consume way more then we need, items with no real meaning or purpose.
5. Travel and support independent creatives, your collected treasures will tell your journey.
A home to reflect the stories of those who live there, a collected space, unique and individual.
Christmas, it's seriously right around the corner. The smell of cider and apple pie, the scent of advent candles and wreaths. Quality time with family. Comfort & warmth, everything silver & gold. Whichever way you celebrate Christmas, this holiday is marked by many with a slowed-down, switched-off lifestyle. Hopefully, your work emails go unread, your social feeds take a break, you lay off the Instagram-a-thon and FB posts. It’s time to disconnect, slow down and hopefully recharge.
The Danish have a word ‘hygge’ that's pretty awesome to reflect on in this state of being. Pronounced hue-guh, this slight verbal entity carries a lot of weight. Hygge captures this feeling of coziness, contentment and a comfortable vibe of well-being that comes with the simple things in life, like love, laughter and a glass of wine. The Dutch also have a word - gezellig - that captures similar sentiments in the Netherlands. It translates to quality and comfort.
Denmark Christmas Traditions
I've never spent Christmas in Denmark and I was recently told that it was a must-see, so I looked into how the Danes do it. Here are some items and traditions that I found. I think I can get into the Danish spirit from afar with a little Christmas hygge of my own.
The Advent Wreath - the advent wreath symbolizes the holidays in Denmark. Four candles sit atop the wreath, marking four Sundays until December 24th. Made with sprigs, berries, cones, and ribbons, the wreath is a wonderful holiday tradition.
The Advent Candle - here’s another Danish tradition to mark down the days until Christmas. The candle has 24 markings on it, signifying the length of the candle to burn one day at a time. Every night at supper, families light the candle for the one day marked. Children often blow out the candle before it reaches the next date.
Christmas decorations - The Danish national colors of red and white highlight the home decorations in festive ways. The Danish Christmas tree stands above all, majestic in its history and with items like tinsel, garland, paper hearts and twinkling lights adorning it.
Strong drinks - For the unprepared, the mulled Christmas wine or the strong Danish beers might be the right addition to a Danish Christmas. Warm liquor on a cold winter night in Denmark will certainly be needed!
Hygge as Lifestyle
An article in The New Yorker notes that hygge is synonymous with winter in Denmark, and with it is the necessities of candles, wooly slippers, soft blankets, a hot fire, and contented feelings. I think Hygge can also be in the Summertime, basking under the sun with your feet in the river off a dock with a glass of wine. Hygge has transcended mere feelings of Christmas comfort to become a lifestyle term and the Danes know how to do it well!
I won't be back in Scandinavia until 2018 but I have my holiday wreath of eucalyptus, pine, and pampas grass from House of Lilac up on my door and am planning some cozy candlelit dinner parties with friends before the year is over. Gearing up for 2018!
There are lots of real estate investors buying up properties in Miami, renovating them and flipping them for a pretty penny. For a buyer, having to remodel a home might be cumbersome but there are a few issues with the renovation jobs you typically come across in Miami.
A. Renovations are typically done in the cheapest possible way, cheap tiles, cheap cabinets, mostly Ikea that won't last more than a few years, or that fake wooden flooring that echoes under your shoes, which is just horrible and not long lasting.
B. These real estate investors don't usually have the historic appreciation nor the aesthetic sensibility to know what to preserve nor know how to enhance the architectural details that actually make the house charming and unique in the first place.
Last weekend I did a house tour with my friend and realtor Estefania Grigio from The Good Egg to the historic home above, located in the neighborhood of Coconut Grove in Miami. It was a rare find. From her list of homes built in the 40s and 50s this one actually had most of its original features such as bathrooms, flooring, and archways. I pointed out a few minor decorating tips that even though cosmetic, would really enhance the original features of the home. As a homeowner and my mission with The Empty Apartment is to share ways in which a home can be personalized through collected items and story telling. Architecture plays a large role in the way we perceive and live in space so it would only make sense that we personalize the architecture or better yet choose a space that we can really make our own. A kitchen or bathrooms that are already remodeled like so many others, out of cheap materials doesn't seem appealing to me. A much less expensive home waiting to receive a personal touch could be a rewarding project for a place to truly call home.
I recently met art historian, curator, and art consultant Tami Katz-Freiman here in Miami. I was excited to be introduced to her not only because is she the former Chief Curator of the Haifa Museum of Art in Haifa, Israel, she was also appointed to curate the Israeli Pavilion in the 57th International Art Exhibition (this year, 2017). I haven't met too many Venice Biennale pavilion curators and as one of the most, if not the most prestigious art event in the world I was interested in hearing her speak more about the experience. We exchanged information and upon reviewing the many essays she has written for exhibition catalogs on her website, I came across one that really spoke to me. “Collecting is a Form of Uprooting – An Encounter between Self and Object” a catalog essay for the exhibition Shelf Life co-curated with Rotem Ruff, featured at the Haifa Museum of Art from February to July in 2010.
I'm constantly talking about collecting as opposed to just purchasing on The Empty Apartment. I think the idea of collecting holds a heavier weight, value, and meaning to the object at hand whether it be an artwork, furniture art, whatever you decide to bring into your home. I've hosted panel conversations with art dealers, interior designers, and antique dealers to get different perspectives on the idea of collecting and using the home as a space to collect hence why I find this essay by Tami Katz-Freiman so interesting. In this case a perspective from artists in the practice of conceptual art in the general context collecting.
The exhibition Shelf Life featured a group of artist's approach to analyzing the aesthetic and psychological complexity of what it means to collect and represent it through their artwork. The essay went beyond just featuring the ideas of the exhibition but also dove into the historical complexities in the meaning of collecting and quoted some of the great writers and philosophers of our time on collecting. Here is an excerpt from the essay:
The philosopher Jean Baudrillard argued that the purchase of an
old piece of furniture, for instance, is akin to
purchasing a piece of heritance. Such an object,
according to Baudrillard, ”is not useless or
poorly decorative but plays a special role within
a system, it is a sign of the time.“ 1
Susan Sontag similarly related to the magical power of objects,
which seemingly enables one to experience life
during other historical periods; she described
the world of collectors as authenticating ”the
existence of other worlds, energies, domains,
epochs, different from the one in which they live.“2
The history of the act of collecting as well as defining parameters for what a collection is and who a collector is, is also highlighted throughout the text as an important component to the exhibition's purpose as noted in this excerpt:
The question of what defines an accumulation
of objects as a ”collection“ is essential to a
discussion of ”ShelfLife.“ Gideon Ofrat aptly
defined the difference between accumulating
and collecting by noting that the owners of
numerous houses or diamonds are not collectors.
Even the gallery owner whose storage space is
crowded with artworks is not an art collector. 3
Whether collecting is an obsession or disease or a casual past time, there is no doubt that during the act, the beholder is contributing to the collected item with an additional value. This added value is what I believe makes the art or furniture unique and special to that particular home and becomes part of a context. The exhibition Shelf Life took place 7 years ago, however, the topic on collecting and the exhibition's complexity is extremely relevant. The essay written by Tami Katz-Freiman is a great collection of perspectives on the subject. To read the complete essay and learn about the exhibition Shelf Life please visit the link here and to learn more about Tami Katz-Freiman visit her website here.
1 Jean Baudrillard quoted by Olivier Coron, ”The Collector and His Passion,“ in Flowers of Our Lives )exh. cat.(, Torun ́, Poland: Znaki Czasu, 2008, p. 66.
2 Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover, New York: Anchor Books, 1993, p. 82
3 Gideon Ofrat, ”Collect or Die,“ in Washington Crosses the Jordan, Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 2008, p. 120 [Hebrew]
Many thanks to the author, Tami Katz-Freiman for permission to feature this essay.
When I first moved to New York City I had literally no idea what I was getting myself into. I had a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C on the job front. The housing front was a different story. I crashed with a friend out in Brooklyn for a couple weeks while I hunted for an apartment on Craigslist. I looked at everything. It was February in 2005, it was snowing hard and may I add I was moving from Costa Rica and found myself standing in the snow in soaking wet Puma sneakers, yeah it was an overall adjustment, to say the least, but I was very determined to make NYC my home.
I went to see a 2 bedroom apartment in Murray Hill. When I met the girl that was moving out she told me she was also looking for a roommate for the apartment she was moving into, a 3 bedroom apartment in Gramercy. We got along and I went to see this other apartment the next day. Yes, I was moving in with complete strangers found on Craigslist but I trust my gut when it comes to two things people and collecting.
The apartment I would later move into had black and white linoleum floors, exposed brick, a fireplace and a private and very dangerous rooftop. It was totally charming. My room was towards the back, roughly 8ft x 8ft with a small window with natural light. For what I could afford this was the jackpot. I would also inherit a small dresser left by the previous tenant. A full-size bed would fit snugly between the wall and the open closet that was a shelf and a rod sunken in the exposed brick. I ordered the mattress and box frame over the phone and had it delivered the next day in classic New York style through 1-800- mattress. There were 3 options soft, medium or hard. There was just enough room to shimmy out of bed between the mattress and the hanging clothes. My basics were taken care of.
The rest of the apartment decor was amazing. One of my roommates, Francis was a photo stylist at Home & Garden Magazine. She could have been a founding leader of the shabby chic movement. Her bedroom could have been on an inspiration board for Anthropology branding had Pinterest existed back in 2005. She had collected and displayed throughout the apartment beautiful vases, empty antique frames, and had a great collection of home entertaining books that I spent hours going through. The how-to floral arrangement and table setting placement books had beautiful photography one more charming than the next. A few months of living with Francis and I had learned a thing or two on styling and found out where to find some good antiques in the city.
My room was small but I knew if I could find a large mirror to place above the dresser I could make the space feel larger so, on one of my visits to the flea markets in Hell's Kitchen, I scored an antique mirror with a gold frame. The mirror had a lovely bevel to it and the gold frame was slightly chipped in all the right places. For $20 from its original $25 price (I pulled out just the one 20 dollar bill and told the white lie it was all I had) I was very happy with my find. Of course, after carrying it for a few blocks, I ended up spending the $5 on a cab ride to get home with it, it was simply too heavy to carry any further. The mirror would reflect the natural light that came in through my window very nicely. Along with a purple vase that had been included in a floral delivery from my then boyfriend and a hanging plant for $6 from K-mart, my little room felt cozy.
At age 22 real artwork was not in the budget and posters were still acceptable in my mind, which shouldn't be once you actually live in an apartment and not a college dorm. I was at the Met one day and was mesmerized by a poster of a Richard Avedon portrait of Marilyn Monroe in the gift shop. I remember thinking it was quite expensive, like $65 or something. I'm not really the Marilyn Monroe fan type girl but the black and white portrait is quite sober and melancholy. Looking back, this poster would be the second of several female portraits I would collect later in the future. The first was a poster of Drowning Girl or I Don't Care I'd Rather Sink by Roy Lichtenstein. I didn't really plan to collect portraits but I think in a very personal way I have seen parts of myself reflected in these women, one way or another and collected them in the moment. Prints, paintings, photography and collage make up the art forms in my collection these days.
I was devastated when I learned Francis was moving out and we'd be left without her collected treasures. To my relief, she left us a gold bar cart she had found one day on a nearby corner on her way back from work. She also left us a wreath in the shape of a star that had white lights on it that when lit was super cozy, a cheap find from Pier 1 that hung above the bar cart. But now we needed a couch.
My building on the corner of 22nd and 3rd was far from the sky-rise that is in that location these days. Back then it was a small, 3 story walk-up that housed 2 apartments and a BBQ restaurant that supplied the apartments with the occasional mouse. Delivery for the couch wasn't bad, I was able to find a pull-out that had been recently dropped off at the nearest Salvation Army. For $300 it was in excellent condition. It had the smell of a new hotel and the color was army green, a color I love still to this day and pick out often. Against the black and white flooring, the couch looked amazing, it was also very comfy.
When Francis moved out, my other roommate Melissa was able to negotiate with our landlord to repaint the room she was moving into (Francis's old room) and the kitchen. For the kitchen, we agreed upon a peacock blue/ Asian turquoise that was airy with our white cabinets and black and white floor. I was able to find a little butcher block cart at the tiny local hardware store just a few blocks away and wheeled it home one afternoon. It cost me $40 and I remember I sold it for $60 on Craigslist later, I also made a profit on my couch when I moved out of the city, a good couple hundred bucks too.
Among the several part-time jobs and internships that I had at the time, one of them was at an arts publication located on Broadway near Canal St. in Soho. During one lunch break, I discovered the Pearl River Mart, a Chinese-American department store of Asian housewares, decor, and apparel. It was massive and a NY institution for all things Asian (it has since closed and I believe it's in the process of relocating to Tribeca). Growing up my Mother always had Asian decorative objects around the house. My first memory of anything Asian was a doll my parents brought back to me from a trip to Singapore. The doll's name was Lin-Lin which later became my nickname at home. Spending a few minutes to peruse authentic ceramic soy sauce dishes and tea sets in an Asian market makes perfect sense to me. This place was like walking into heaven. Hanging above me were many colorful paper lanterns. For $16 I had found the perfect accessory to our newly painted kitchen. The bright red Koi fish on the lantern popped against the turquoise, bringing life to the little kitchen room.
It really doesn't take much money to put together a thoughtfully collected home. Even though I don't have any of these pieces in my current home, I remember them dearly and haven't changed my personal style all that much. I still enjoy flea markets, bargains and flipping through home entertaining books. I use Asian decor sparingly throughout and place lights on dimmers to create cozy spaces at night. Large mirrors are always a good way to make a small space larger and add more light to a room. Plants always bring life to a home. Moss or army green is a great neutral color used in any fabric. Collect artwork that speaks to you personally even if you don't understand why you like it, whatever your budget is. The more you collect the more you'll get to know yourself. Resell items whenever you can, making a profit is even better. Mice are best caught with the sticky pads. Have fun collecting your home!
PS. This post was written after binge watching Girls and having flashbacks to my own 20s life in NYC. I wouldn't change any of it.
The Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York is not your typical artist exhibition. The show focuses on the identity of the artist through personal items collected and made. One example is her clothing. O'Keeffe learned how to sew at a young age and she was able to create an identity through the dresses she made and her fashion choices which were strongly correlated with her location. Clothes for New York City were mostly black and more layers. Materials for the clothes she used in the desert in Santa Fe were looser. Later in her career when she bought clothes they reflect a particular style that integrates her persona with nature. Dresses by Marimekko and traditional Japanese kimonos can be found among her collection.
Lots of portraits were taken of Georgia O'Keeffe not only by Alfred Stieglitz but by many others who visited her in her home. She wasn't shy in front of the camera and she became part of the landscape, she was part of her home and she became a focal point in the art form of photography. As documentation, it's also interesting to see how these photographs have captured her lifestyle as a Modern woman in tune with the furniture design at the moment. We can appreciate design pieces purchased from Knoll. Designs by Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia can be found throughout her home, these pieces were quite modern for her rustic abode in the desert.
A true artist is a person who is constantly creating, searching for inspiration, living their life becomes art. Georgia O'Keeffe drew inspiration from nature and collected objects that inspired her work and her decor. She lived a simple material life but a complex one in ideologies. The exhibition is a portrait of her essence and life as a creative. I highly recommend if you have a chance to visit. For more information on the exhibition at the Brooklyn Art Museum click here or purchase the catalog here.
Also, check out the Pinterest Board called Artist's Homes for more images on Georgia O'Keeffe's home and other homes of artists that represent their creative identities. These spaces are most inspirational in creating a personalized home.
My first in-person encounter with Josef Frank's work was only last year, during a trip to Stockholm. I had previously seen a small number of his textile designs in print, enough to be able to recognize the iconic patterns and use of color but wasn't too familiar with the story behind the Austrian/Swedish designer's work.
A Norwegian interior designer friend of mine had told me not to miss a visit to Svenskt Tenn upon my visit to Stockholm. I had no idea what she was talking about and googled the home decor store to immediately recognize the lively fabrics. Upon further research, I also learned about the Millesgarden in Stockholm and their permanent display of Josef Frank's work in the so called Anne's House, on the lower terrace. Another site of interest to visit.
The so-called Anti-Design Designer's story is an interesting one. His work touches on classical influences from the Greek and Romans, Egyptian wall coverings and Southern Italian folk art. Josef Frank is most popular as a Swedish textile designer who was originally Austrian, later nationalized Swedish. He immigrated to Sweden before WWII, as an adult with his wife. His career began as an architect, however once he began working for Svenskt Tenn he dedicated his creative forces to furniture and textiles, abandoning architecture. A Modernist who's work isn't easy to classify, it stands out when grouped with his contemporaries.
His philosophy is one of comfortable, practical and uplifting design. A home should not be a work of art to be remained intact, but a flexible place where one lives. The style of his furniture is traditional with a focus on accents such as upholstery, decorative cushions, and throws. Although his popular textiles date between the 1930s to the 1940s his work feels contemporary still, due to his pluralist and not exclusive approach to design. Timeless is the design that can blend into any interior setting.
This Exotic Butterfly print fabric is a special reproduction from an original drawing by Josef Frank produced by Schumacher 1889. The pattern is signature Frank style whimsical and welcoming. This lounge chair is a vintage refurbish by The Empty Apartment and one of a kind. Available now to collect here.
I am very excited to be presenting on The Empty Apartment the Miranda Lounge Chair, a contemporary collectible option with the characteristics of a vintage classic.
The Miranda Lounge Chair is the first in a series of hand-carved and assembled sculptural furniture made out of Florida Keystone by stone mason and designer Andrew Johnson. The Johnson family history in the masonry business led Andrew to re-purpose the material he is so familiar with in a new direction, towards that of outdoor furniture.
Florida Keystone is a marine limestone sourced in the Florida Keys, a building material commonly known for its use in garden walls and walkways in South Florida. The stone is composed of fossilized layers of calcium carbonate and coral polyps creating organic patterns of coral and shell within the stone.
The Miranda Lounge Chair is the perfect combination of a classic outdoor furniture style (that of the Adirondack) and the re-purposing of a traditional local material.
Depth 28in (71.12 cm) x Width 28.5in (72.39 cm) x Height 35in (88.9 cm)
Seat Height 18in (45.72 cm)
Delivery estimate 4 - 6 weeks
For inquiries and orders please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I personally have been obsessed with Japanese aesthetics since I can remember. When I was in college I remember learning about the Asian influence in European visual arts and how popular the "exotic" themes became at the turn of the century. I loved the outfitting of French ladies in Japanese clothing with stylized artifacts to recreate a setting. My Impressionist Art professor Willy Montero would say the significant influence of the Uu-key-yo-e is essential to understanding the whole period. The Ukiyo-e also known as the Japanese wood block, pretty much circulated as a post card of Japanese imagery. Artists such as James McNeill Whistler to Vincent Van Gogh to Edward Manet had all seen and studied Japanese aesthetic through such memorabilia.
In studying design it's interesting to see here too the strength of Japanese influence. French designer and architect Charlotte Perriand was very inspired by Japanese proportions and the use of the tatami mat as a standard measure, Charles and Ray Eames were influenced with their low living lifestyle series of chairs and tables. Anyways, I digress to reach the point that in many cultures around the world, Japanese aesthetics, have been extremely influential. This influence has resonated particularly in my other aesthetic favorite: Scandinavian design.
I always thought I simply enjoyed both Japanese and Scandinavian design just the same due to their clean line, use of natural materials, mute color tones and inspiration in nature. It's so much more than that and dates even further back than mid twentieth century design. The exhibition Japanomania finally sheds lots of light on a whole era of Japanese influence in the Nordic countries. The survey of art and artifacts carefully depicts inspirations in the fields of painting, textile, ceramics and furniture dating from 1875 to 1918. An era that developed right after the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867 from which Japonisme began to spread. It is said that there has been no other influence in European visual arts that is as encompassing nor as long lasting as Japonisme.
The exhibition was co-curated by the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo. It will also travel to Copenhagen in 2017. It's quite shocking to know that never before had these influences been researched beyond the individual artist cases. The exhibition is an impressive overall picture of the times. It's such a privilege for this traveling exhibition to be available for the Nords. For those who can't see the show personally, the exhibition catalog in English contains images on all the contents of the show and more so. It is available through Yale University Press and I highly recommend for any design obsessed.
I am very excited to be finally collecting my thoughts in this journal on my recent trip to Scandinavia. I will start in Oslo, where my trip began September 1st and will go through some of the amazing venues, the art and design that I saw and the lovely creative people who I met. If you follow along the future many posts I'll share what the month of traveling around Norway, Sweden and Denmark had in store for me. I began my trip with an unexpected invitation to visit the Henie Onstad Kunstcenter just outside Oslo and well worth the trip.
I am always curious to learn about how people begin collecting art, what their first piece was and what they continued looking for. This was not the case with the Henie Onstad Kunstcenter. What lured me first to the art center was its architecture, then of course its art but really the architecture. The venue is a beautiful testament to Norwegian architecture of the 1960s and I'd like to say almost an omen of what was to become a legacy of modern architecture in Norway. In my humble opinion Norwegian architecture firms are leading the path for modern architecture around the world. The National Tourist Route is a perfect example of this but I'll talk about that later.
Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad were very forward thinking when it came to collecting art and their vision for the art center. The center was designed by (at the time) young architects Jon Eikvar and Svein Erik Engebretsen who were chosen from an architecture competition hosted in 1962. The art center began construction in 1966 and opened its doors in 1968 as a location for interdisciplinary activities and permanent home for the art collection.
The Popcorn chair produced in 1968 was a design exclusively for the Henie Onstad Art Center. A Norwegian design by artisan, industrial and furniture designer Sven Ivar Dysthe. Only 300 of these chairs were manufactured. Made out of a molded shell of fiberglass and chrome steel legs, the stackable chair has become a collectors item with only few remaining on the market. A reproduction can be found today at the art center. This new version is made out of plastic but it's not as charming as the textured fiberglass if you ask me.
A highlight at the Henie Onstad Art Center is the permanent installation of the Kurt Schwitters collection. Collages, paintings and a replica of his log cabin from the island of Hjertoya are on display. Schwitters was known to call his art Merz, to separate his work from the Dada movement. Merz was more of an idea than the object itself and it entailed the use of everyday objects and adding an artistic value to them. The Merzbau or Merz/construction were called the altered interiors of the spaces he lived in which he turned into art installations. There are Merzbau known in Hannover, Lysaker and at Ambleside in England.
Many thanks to Milena and Gunhild from HOK for the tour!
Some of the best designers understood that a home is a living, breathing vessel that is constantly growing with our life changes, our habits and it too ages over time and requires up keep. Building a home is always a work in progress, that goes for furnishing and decorating as well. I’ve been in my current apartment for 3 years now and I still have items on the home projects to-do list. I’d like to redo the closets in my bedroom and I have a guest room that never really got a lot of love since I moved in. Ideally, it would be more of an office space than a guest room. Right now it’s not a great version of either. These sort of home projects are not urgent but I would be more comfortable knowing my guests can feel at home in my office space. It would be efficient and productive to have my office materials in one place instead of spread out around my house. It would be lovely to step into a closet that inspires me to get ready in the morning as the best version of myself. These projects are not the end goal but a means to an end.
Most people have these sort of home projects on their to-do list and they get put off because they take time and effort. Instead of thinking about why they are doing these projects they think about the work the project requires. You think you don’t have the time, but wouldn’t you spend more time at the table if you had those comfortable dining chairs or read more if you had better lighting? Think about the why? and don’t loose sight of the end goal for these projects.
Procrastination is not entirely bad. I have found sometimes the best creative decisions have been made when I mull over it for days, even weeks. Don’t be disappointed if on the first weekend of your sofa hunt you don’t find the perfect one if you are a perfectionist and need it now. In fact I would be scared to see what you found if you did end up finding your sofa, just like that, without any research, planning or much thought. The important thing is that as life gets busy you do not forget about your search, but stay actively conscious about it.
It’s in that health magazine that you might find the wall color and chair you were looking for. The travel website that had an image of a great Moroccan coffee table. Save these images! Either ripping them out -old school, creating a Pinterest board or photo album on your phone. These images will help you create your style. In an era when our attention span is minimal and we express ourselves best with emojis, we’ll be able to understand our taste visually when we go back to our saved selection. Don’t feel guilty if you realized it’s been a few months without a dresser but you have a pile of clippings of options you like. That only means you are one step closer to finding the perfect one. Take your time. Please don't take your time if it's been 11 months since your move and you still have boxes lying around. That toilet is certainly not going to fix itself and yes, you should've started recycling your trash like yesteryear.
Good things take time, it's the same to find the perfect vintage side tables.
Here are some tools that can help you save your visual finds:
SCREEN SHOT (on computer: shift + command +4) (on iphone: button + off button)
IPHONE CAMERA ALBUM
Don't know who sells an item? Bring it into Pinterest and search similar. It's like face recognition for similar items on Pinterest and trust me it seems like everything has already been pinned.
Still feeling guilty you haven't bought throw pillows? Click here for a great article that might inspire you to think differently. Then be proactive and let me help you!
While the Olympics are front and center right now, The Empty Apartment is taking a close look at some of the great art and design that has come out of this lush, Amazonian country.
Side note: If you haven’t already started following The Empty Apartment on Facebook it’s where you will get daily information on collecting, styles and what to look for so check it out.
During the Olympics I have featured (via Facebook) furniture pieces to collect, architecture to drool over, art and design inspired by social issues such as waste and poverty and how avant garde Brazilian’s notion of Modernity was in the mid-century.
It’s a beautiful culture that has integrated European influences and environmental surroundings to create timeless aesthetics. The use of organic materials such as leather, dark woods and bringing the outside vegetation into our interior spaces is a great juxtaposition to the bright colors used in textiles and pigments. The conceptual reuse of materials seems to be quite significant for the Brazilian creative as well.
So where can we find Brazilian Art & Design to collect? Here are some places to look. Start collecting!