Opening Day at Brimfield starts early! Part 2 of my trip tells you what I found and how I managed the challenge, till next time!
Mother's Day is right around the corner and we want to celebrate some of our favorite female designers. These women may not have been actual birthing mothers of children but were women who birthed ideas, forms, and function nonetheless, besides birthing a few children.
Ceci, a Mother of 2 shares with us her thoughts on what it means to be a Mother and the importance of these females designers who have marked design history with their motherly touch. Once again the English version is just below. Enjoy!
Madres del Diseño
La palabra madre es muy vasta y abarca una infinidad de significados. Con lo que más se le asocia es con el nacimiento. Dar vida o dar inicio a algo nuevo. Aquí en The Empty Apartment queremos celebrar a las Madres del Diseño. Mujeres que tuvieron una visón y la plasmaron dando vida a piezas mobiliarias que cambiaron para siempre la historia.
Estas mujeres se adelantaron a su tiempo. No solamente rompieron paradigmas sobre el lugar que ocupaba su género en la sociedad, sino que revolucionaron con metodologías vanguardistas. Utilizaron nuevos materiales y procesos, reescribieron con su ingenio las bases del diseño, y dieron vida a piezas icónicas de la era moderna.
Inquestionablemente, Ray Eames es la diseñadora mas emblemática de la historia moderna del diseño. En una época donde la igualdad de género era insuficiente, su esposo Charles dijo: ”Todo lo que yo puedo hacer, Ray lo hace mejor”.
Uno de nuestros diseños favoritos de Ray Eames es el Lounge Chair Wood (LCW) porque fue el pionero en la curva bidireccional creada a partir de contrachapado laminado (nunca antes visto en el mundo en ese momento).
El Eames Molded Plywood Elephant representa uno de los primeros ejemplos en los que aparece este animal majestuoso en la obra de Charles y Ray. Lo diseñaron a principios de la década de 1940 como una rama lúdica de sus experimentos de contrachapado moldeado.
na integrante destacada de la generación de diseñadores que creó el movimiento moderno danés de posguerra. Destacable, sobre todo, por ser una mujer en el mundo del diseño industrial dominado por los hombres, desde mediados de la década de 1940 creó, junto con su marido Jorgen numerosos objetos de diseño icónicos. En 1952, diseñaron una serie de artículos de mobiliario para niños (tenían tres hijas), un tema que volvería a surgir en la carrera de Nanna con la creación de Toadstool, una pieza de mobiliario que podría usarse como taburete y como mesa.
Los Ditzels ayudaron a hacer famosa a Dinamarca por su producción de accesorios innovadores, en particular muebles, interiores, cerámicas, textiles y joyas. Ninguna pieza expresó este espíritu más que su silla de mimbre de 1959, que, suspendida por una cadena del techo, aparecía con frecuencia en revistas de moda e interiores. Su forma resistente a la gravedad sugería un estilo de vida liberado, libre de ansiedades ligadas a la tierra, y fue adoptada por una generación idealista de jóvenes con estilo en la década de 1960.
La notable carrera de Maija Isola (1927-2001) como diseñadora textil comenzó en Printex, el antecesor de Marimekko, en 1949 y duró 38 años. Diseñó más de 500 patrones de tela, que cubren una gama increíblemente diversa de motivos y técnicas de diseño.
Mothers of Design
The word Mother is very vast and envelopes an affsinity of meanings. The meaning I relate to the most is with that of giving birth to. To give life or to begin something new. Here at The Empty Apartment we'd like to celebrate the Mother's of Design. Women who had a vision and gave life to design and furniture pieces that changed history forever.
These women were ahead of their time. Not only did they break with gender stereotypes within their societies, but they also were revolutionary with vanguard design methodology. They used new materials and proceses, rewriting, with their knowledge, the basics in design and gave life to iconic design pieces of the modern era.
Unquestionably, Ray Eames is the most emblematic female designer of the history of modern design. In an era when gender equality was insuficient, her husband Charles stated: "Everything that I can do, Ray does better".
One of our favorite designs by Ray Eames is the Lounge Chair Wood (LCW) it was a pioneer piece in curved plywood, never before seen up until then.
The Molded Plywood Elephant represents one of the first examples in which the Elephant appears in the design work of Charles and Ray Eames. They designed it in the early 1940s and it became part of playful line of design of molded plywood.
An integral member of a generation of Danish designers who formed part of a postwar modern movement in design. Noteworthy as a women in the world of industrial design dominated mostly by men. Since the mid 1940s Nanna Ditzel, together with her husband Jørgen designed numerous iconic design pieces. In 1952 they designed a series of furniture pieces for children. They had 3 daughters. A dedication to children's design would be reoccurring in Nanna's career. The creation of the Toadstool was a distinct piece which could be used as stool or as a table.
The Ditzels helped to make Denmark famous for it's innovative products in the areas of furniture, ceramics, textiles and even jewelry. No other piece withheld this innovative spirit more than the wicker hanging egg chair designed in 1959. Suspended by a chain from the ceiling it was popularly featured in fashion and interior design magazines. Its form resistant to gravity is suggestive to a free lifestyle, free of anxieties tied to the earth. The piece was adopted by an idealist youth generation of the 60s.
Maija Isola's noteworthy career as a textile designer began at Printex, the predecessor to Marimekko in 1949 and lasted 38 years. She designed over 500 fabric patterns which include and incredible range of design techniques and motives.
For more information check out the links we used to write this article.
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.
Design and Kids, another conversation with our teammate Ceci and few recommended products that have helped her day to day be beautiful and flow.
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:
Meet Ceci, our other team member here at The Empty Apartment, and read about her toy selection as a Mom of 2 and choice of materials. - Our first bilingual post for all our Hispanic readers. Que lo disfrusten!
A couple of years ago I learned that the George Nakashima complex, which includes his studio and home in New Hope, Pennsylvania was actually not that far from New York City. I travel to New York City all the time but the idea of renting a car and making the drive seemed to require a bit of planning. This required planning kept the item on my bucket list.
Let me share with you, just a few of the items on my design travel bucket list:
- Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright in Pittsburg
- Ville Savoye by Le Corbusier in France
- Villa E-1027 Cap Moderne in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
- The Glass House by Mies Van Der Rohe in New Canaan, Connecticut
- Miller House and Garden by Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard and Dan Kiley in Columbus, Indiana
- Georgia O'Keefe's home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico
I can't believe I had not made this trip sooner. The drive is beautiful, crossing bridges and arriving in the quaint town of New Hope was literally a breath of fresh air, far from the busy city we left behind. Immediately there's a sense of connection with nature and peacefulness upon arrival to the Nakashima studio. George Nakashima was a Japanese American Modernist furniture maker and his approach to design was heavily tied to nature.
The modernist Scandinavian design of the mid-century was very tied to nature in its use of woods and soft organic curves. However, Nakashima's work, as opposed to that of Finn Juhl or Alvar Aalto was much more in tune with the natural shape of the tree. The spirit of the tree, Nakashima believed, is to be enhanced by the woodworker. His mission was to tell the tree's story and give it a second life through furniture. Each piece of wood was carefully selected by Nakashima and its organic shape left predominantly untouched.
The Nakashima complex did not disappoint in this experience with nature and the conversation it withholds with the furniture on display. To my surprise, the studio space felt smaller than it appears in photographs. The light that enters is pristine. I noticed wooden dowels in the floorboards and the ceiling which immediately appears to be an asbestos popcorn ceiling, I learned later was replaced by a nontoxic material several decades ago. Both Kevin and Mira, George's children, were found on site during my visit. It was lovely to hear Kevin talk about Shikoku, the island in Japan where the Nakashima furniture is built, an island where both George Nakashima and Isamu Noguchi lived for some time during their lives (another location to add to the bucket list).
Many of George Nakashima's pieces are still in production, a few of his rug designs are available as well. Mira also designs furniture and produces custom pieces. Authentication and restoration are services provided at the Nakashima complex. Over the years many pieces in the style of George Nakashima have come up on the market, claiming to be originals. At the Nakashima studio, they call these pieces Nakashimoffs lol.
Photography was not permitted inside the studio but I've included some images here from the world wide web. A photograph will never provide the complete experiential knowledge of what the studio space or location feels like, a visit is highly recommended for any architecture and design lover. These intimate quarters are inspirational, they transport you to Japan.
Besides the studio, another structure on the complex is the residential quarters. The residential quarter is a small apartment with a kitchen tucked away behind sliding doors, a meditation room carpeted with tatami mats and a custom tiled bathroom which included the names of George Nakashima's children and grandchildren within the design. The apartment is completely furnished with Nakashima furniture.
To learn more about visiting the George Nakashima Studio visit the website here or read more about Nakashima and his work by clicking on these links used for this article:
A side project I work on Florida Modernism + Design, how it began and the latest post on the blog on the Lido Beach Casino in Sarasota.
“It is very important to take into account the way a chair’s appearance combines with the person who sits in it. Some chairs look like crutches. And I don't like them at all.” - Nanna Ditzel
Nanna Ditzel has been called by many the Queen of Danish Design, she was passionate about her craft and her designs stood out among her male contemporaries. Read more about her life and find out what makes her work so special.
We know plants add life and color to any room. Sure they may be a bit of maintenance for our busy lives but they really don't have to be. We love companies like The Sill that not only delivery plants to your home but also teach you about maintenance and light levels! Plants can set a tone and make a space more welcoming. In chinese culture bonsáis are known for their healing attributes and we agree, think of plants as a great ally for all around good home vibes.
Of course we wouldn't recommend just any pots or planters. You could easily damage wooden floors or stain a rug if plants are placed directly above your surface so plan your display carefully. Planters will also define your style. One of our recent finds from Norway is a custom oak planter measuring almost 10 ft long with beautiful brass details. Find the Wood Indoor Planter on theemptyapartment.com in our Finds page.
A few highlights from this year's visit to the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.
Timeless clean lines, textiles in neutral tones such as pine green and wall colors in Red Ochre and Prussian blue were seen throughout. Japanese influences are strong in Loic Bard's wooden pieces. Sigurd Ressell's Falcon chair gets a make over for today's production. Luca Nichetto's new chair for Fogia has an incredible craftsmanship and quality upholstery. Details in leather and cane are all time favorites. Norven's children's furniture grows with children giving sustainability a new meaning. Källemo chairs by Mats Theselius are my all time favorite in cognac leather. Other favorite booths were by Established & Sons, & tradition, Menu and Frama.
I arrived by the end of Stockholm Design Week to catch the last day of "A Quiet Reflection" a curated exhibition hosted by My Residence bookazine which also coincided with the launch of My Residence bookazine Issue 2.
The exhibition, located in the former Mexican Embassy in Östermalm featured an interior design by Annaleena Leino, a Swedish interior stylist and designer, in collaboration with Japanese furniture manufacturer Ariake. Other carefully selected design items on display included furniture by Norm Architects, Westberg Lighting, Staffan Holm Studio furniture, accessories by Frama/ Dry Studios and design objects by Jenny Nordberg.
I caught the exhibition at night which made the space cozy and seductive with its dim lighting. A quiet reflection it was as I walked through the unfinished architectural space. The walls were untreated and floorboards unfinished. The design pieces worked well in the rustic space, the majority were made of natural materials dark or lightly stained woods, ceramics in neutral colors, cement pedestals and black steel.
See more images (daytime images) for the event on the Residence Magazine website here
A feature from Dezeen.com can be found here
If you’re looking to add a piece of timeless, mid-century Danish design to your collection, France & Søn is one of those names that should be on your radar.
The company, France & Søn was the vision of Charles W. France, a British businessman and Eric Daverkosen, a Danish cabinet maker. The two men were the original founders and started what would be one of the most popular mass manufacturing furniture companies whose quality stands the test of time today.
First started in 1948, the business name was changed to France & Søn when Daverkson left the business and France’s son, Julian France, joined the company in 1957. The company got its start manufacturing mattresses, but that quickly changed as France & Søn worked with popular designers and created quality furniture with an aesthetic that so defined the time.
Teakwood was the most popular material used by France & Søn with details in leather, cane and fabric. According to MCM-Interiors, who specialize in buying and selling mid-century furniture, the Danish company was the largest importer of teak lumber from Thailand for many years when production was at its peak. France & Søn became synonymous with not only mass production but also with the best quality.
The manufacturing company France & Søn soared in popularity working with a number of notable Danish designers including Arne Vodder, Grete Jalk, Finn Juhl, and Ole Wanscher among others. Their designs were sleek, minimalist and became a staple to many homes in Scandinavia and abroad, representing the Golden Era of Danish design in the mid 20th century. Collecting a piece produced by France & Søn is owning a piece of Danish design history.
France & Søn furniture is still highly sought after today by collectors and vintage design enthusiasts. If you are looking to add a touch of vintage Danish design to your home, the search is not impossible. Many pieces bearing the France & Søn label are still widely available today. The France & Søn makers tag is easily identified with two F’s mirroring each other, one on top of the other. Earlier pieces under the original name France & Daverkosen bear the signature F and D in a small circle as the identifying tag. Some pieces carry both tags representing the transition phase of the companies.
Here at The Empty Apartment we carefully inspect and research pieces looking for those classic historic works by France & Søn. Visit our Finds page for pieces by France & Søn or for a custom vintage search send us a message.
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!
Alvar Aalto was a master of Modernist architecture, well known for his embodiment of the International Style during the 1930s. Born in Finland in 1898, Aalto is known today for his clean lines, use of indigenous material, and humanistic sensibility. He brought a feeling of comfort and warmth to Modernist design, which had been criticized for its starkness and hard, unwelcoming lines.
In his architecture practice, Aalto developed a strong personal style early in his career. His expressive designs were known for integrating the regional environment into his clean, white designs through the use of warm natural woods, skylights, and organic, undulating contemporary forms. Alvar Aalto was celebrated for his attention to detail, and ability to integrate the building into the natural setting. He also brought a Humanist outlook into the design, so that his buildings have an organic and engaging feeling that is inviting and comfortable. Some of his most significant buildings are the Baker House at M.I.T., Paimio Sanatorium in Paimio, Finland, and Stephanuskirche in Wolfsburg, Germany. Alvar Aalto exemplifies 20th Century Scandinavian design through his 200-plus projects.
In addition to his architectural career, Alvar Aalto created some of the most iconic designs in interior decorating. Aalto experimented with innovations like the use of bent plywood in furniture design, and he was the first to make use of the cantilever in chair designs. He also designed lighting and decorative accents like the classic Savoy vase, which is still popular in home decor. The Savoy vase is an organically-shaped, simple form that echos the shapes found in flowers, branches, and leaves.
The elegant 60 stool is a familiar form that most of us have seen, perhaps without even knowing that it was designed by a Finnish architect in 1932. The 60 stool has a versatile design with three legs and a round seat. This stunning marriage of form and function can serve a variety of uses. The fact that they are stackable makes them an easy and convenient option for extra seating. You can save space by stacking them when they're not in use. Alvar Aalto's 60 stool also makes a beautiful side table or stand.
Photography by Estefania Grigio
Stool 60 and Chair 65 available via The Empty Apartment
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.
We begin moving out of our parent's home, perhaps. A search for a new abode, a place to call home. Sometimes with roommates, in a different city, with a budget in mind. What we are to find, we have no idea. Best to keep expectations at a low, the energy of adventure is high. The experience of moving might be stressful for some, exciting for others. We all want to feel that sense of security and comfort in a home. The possibilities of how this happens might be endless. Finding a new home whether purchasing or renting becomes a new chapter in our life.
The Empty Apartment is always going back to this initial experience of walking through an empty space and listening to the architecture that is already speaking a monologue. The monologue is the history of the location, the purpose of the building, the architectural details that perhaps have been hidden, removed or destroyed over time. How do we turn these monologues into conversations when we move into the space and make it our home?
The conversation gets rich when we bring in our Grandmother's lounge chair, that dining table gifted from our neighbor who was moving out that fits everyone who comes over, and that wallpaper we fell in love with on a whim but had to go back to the store to buy more as we clearly didn't know how to calculate wallpaper in the first place. The experience of building a home begins with Architecture. Space will dictate the movement and flow of habitual interaction. It is our process to collect the items that will speak about our journey and how we interact with space. The home is only made once we have left our imprint on it.
"Architecture is exposed to life. If its body is sensitive enough, it can assume a quality that bears witness to past life" - architect Peter Zumthor.
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.
If I was a magazine I'd have to be a double issue right now. The months of May & June were just one giant international design fest on my calendar. From NYCxDesign which caught me visiting the city a few times to catch some of the spread out events of TEFAF, ICFF & Sight Unseen Offsite to 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen and I tied in that trip with picking up some inventory in Helsinki.
Working and traveling is my specialty so let's also tie in the couple amazing interior decorating/ editing projects I'm currently working on. The search for the perfect collection of items is really what I live for so it makes sense to always be on the lookout for ideal pieces for my clients.
So where do I start? I could possibly write a whole volume if I focused on every amazing new designer, furniture launch or exhibition I saw. If you really want to see all the vintage finds and new discoveries I make follow along on Instagram @the_empty_apartment or on Facebook to get more design news and information on young designers and projects happening. Here, I'll mention a few design launches that personally moved me for reasons being that the end goal of design should be to improve or inspire us to be happier, live better and cherish more our personal space. So here we go:
I'm going to mention again the collection by Studio Snng only because I found the design quite impactful and the designer, Shengning Zhang, was so eloquent in explaining the inspirations behind his creation. Getting designers to talk about the thought process behind creating a piece and the inspirations seem hard to come by these days. Most designers are creating with cost effectiveness and manufacturing processes in mind before actual functionality or purpose. The Boro wall display is a modular system that can easily grow by adding on additional pieces. The same unit piece can be a hanging rack or flipped over to be a shelf. The Wedge Shelf is also modular and can be added on horizontally or vertically. It does not require screws or additional hardware, the piece is held together by wooden pieces that lock into place like a puzzle. The Miro table has a center compartment hidden under a simple wooden slab that serves for storage. Check out www.studiosnng.com for more collection pieces and projects.
TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) is a game changer for the landscape of design fairs in NYC. The quality of the exhibitors and condition of vintage pieces is unparallel. The fair which establishes itself as a bi-annual show in the city of New York is originally from Maastricht, Netherlands and has been running since 1988. The Spring edition of the fair in NYC focuses on artifacts from the 1920s to the present and featured many galleries that would have otherwise participated at Collective Design, another collectible design fair exhibiting later the same month. TEFAF also turned out to be somewhat of a competition for Frieze Art Fair. Even though contemporary art and design are complementary markets it seems the terrible rains in NYC in May made for fewer people to visit Frieze on Randall Island and the Park Armory became attractive entertainment for a rainy day, not to mention Frieze closing a whole day due to the rains- but that's event gossip. Even if you are not on the acquisitions committee for a museum, TEFAF is worth the visit for sheer admiration. These dealers are leaders in their field and visiting them is an opportunity to gain some historical design knowledge. Learn more about TEFAF here
The 1.41 Flax Chair comes as a collaboration between designer Christien Meindertsma & Enkev for Label/Breed. Meindertsma graduated from Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2003, she has been studying the production life of flax as a material from which linseed oil, linen, and rope have their origins. Enkev is the leading processor of natural fibers since 1982 in The Netherlands. Together they have created a heat-pressed chair that combines the natural fibers of wool and flax with strong bio-plastic fibers. The material is quite unique, aesthetically it's simple, and beautiful in its honesty. This chair won the Dutch Design Award in 2016 and has been purchased by the Vitra Design Museum. It is not yet available on the market but we can only hope these will be the next mass produced chair for its little environmental impact. Per-ordering is available here
Lindsey Adelman's studio space was exciting to see on the list of exhibitions to visit during NYCxDesign. The exhibition was not only light fixtures by Adelman but also fixtures by Adelman's studio design director Karl Zhan and Australian designer Mary Wallis. On the floor a landscape of cushions by the textile company Print All Over Me. Lindsey Adelman was one of the many female designers whose work were featured during NYCxDesign. Group exhibitions of all women designers were rightfully recognized by the press. I'm highlighting Lindsey Adelman here because I believe she has come the farthest in terms of market recognition and yet her work is still not mass produced or enjoyed in a larger public scale. Perhaps this is not what Adelman wants for her work, I am unaware of her intentions but I think it would be interesting to see more design that was designed by women in public and commercial spaces as part of our every day in the U.S.. The example that comes to mind is when you arrive at the Copenhagen train station and the chairs used at McDonald's are the Trinidad chair by Nanna Ditzel designed in 1993. I believe this is when you know equality runs deep. Of course, it needs to make sense design wise, but one can only hope this is where we are headed. On that note...
I recently read the book Now I Sit Me Down, from Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History by Witold Rybczynski. The book was a very entertaining history of the chair and highlighted the chair as the design piece that truly reflects not only aesthetic taste in a society but also socioeconomic status, and cultural beliefs. A number of anthropological studies can be made through a single chair. The exhibition The Danish Chair, an International Affair reminded me very much of this book in format. The exhibition focuses not solely on what Danish design is but how Danish designers applied their perspectives on designs of historical chairs such as the Windsor chairs, the folding chair and stool, the Shaker chair, and many others. The collection in the exhibition of interpretations by classic Danish designers is a beautiful account of the focus on materiality and quality in production. It's not about reinventing the wheel but making it better and even striving for perfection.
Of all the design talks I went to during 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen I found the Frama Studio Apartment talk with founder Niels Strøyer Christophersen to be the most organic and sincere. Not speaking about industrial production restraints or manufacturer/designer relationships like other Danish brands, Niels Strøyer Christophersen focused on the experience of finding a space and experimenting with materials and the history of the building during the remodeling process of the apartment. He retrofitted the building to his needs and created products that were not available on the market that satisfied with purpose and aesthetic. While he admits he is not a designer his aesthetic vision and focus has launched a brand that revolves around a concept and lifestyle. There is a deep respect for historic architecture and Danish design history in the Frama brand and I find this very refreshing. So many of the products on the market are void of ideas or essence and too manufactured lacking craftmanship. It's important for a younger generation to be looking back in history in order to find and exalt ideas in new products. For more on Frama click here
Another inspiring living space was the home of architect and designer Alvar Aalto in Helsinki, Finland. You can buy a single ticket to visit both his home and studio which are walking distance from each other. I highly recommend this if you travel to Helsinki. Homes to me are the most personal of all spaces so I'm just going to mention Aalto's home for now. The outside is very nondescript from the main street and upon entry, you are immediately forced to select an entry way into the living room, the kitchen hall, the staircase leading upstairs or the now reception area of the museum which previously was the entryway to the office spaces. Aalto initiated his design firm in his home and also entertained many guests, so these areas in his home are well segmented. Throughout Aalto's home and in his designs you can feel that he is vigorously looking forward to creating a Modern life. His designs from the 1930s and 40s are deeply rooted in a spirit of innovation. Aalto was interested and inspired by nature/ natural light, Modern Art and reinventing an already existing technology such as bentwood to produce more efficient and long lasting designs. The personally collected items also reflect much of his interests and inspirations. A passion for Japanese culture showcased in the Japanese paper weaving ottoman and tatami mats used as wall coverings. Collected art gifted by friends and books on Italy and the Mediterranean contribute to creating the portrait of this influential designer.
Finding the right vintage pieces can certainly be a process depending on how much of a collectible you'd like to find. The condition, rarity, and history are all contributing factors. Even if a particular piece is still in production, there can be slight production variations throughout the years that can make the same item unique and more valuable among others of the same kind. At whatever level you'd like to purchase vintage furniture what's important is starting with an appreciation for a piece that has a history and purchase designs that you find interesting and inspiring. While building your collection whether it be contemporary or vintage design pieces, your home should tell the story of who you are, your ideas and influences. Create the space you need and as unique as you are.