Cannot wait to see the upcoming exhibition "Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion" at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. As you know, I have a deep respect and interest in Japanese design, and this particularly show was co-organized by two amazing institutions: the Kyoto Costume Institute and the Barbican Art Gallery. In the exhibitions, dresses by such designers as Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo (whose dresses I used to wear in the late 80s), and Yohji Yamamoto, just to name a few of those radicals who have challenged conventional ideas of beauty and traditional fashion since the 80s.
Today's session in the program Collecting Design was devoted to French design of the 60s and 70s, when stainless steel became almost a national material for French design. It was a material that suggested the spirit of the moment and the futuristic aesthetics that this generation of designers sought to achieve. Stainless steel furniture meant for the high end of the market and was luxurious, created by such designers as Maria Pergay and Guy de Rougemount who created “artistic” furniture, where function was secondary to form. They were not industrial designers and did not seek to having their work mass-produced, but rather envisioned exclusive objects that were technically sophisticated for spectacular interiors. They survived wartime and were filled with enthusiasm for renewal.
I love fashion and have a strong interest in fashion history. My absolute favorite designer of all times is Cistóbal Balenciaga. Not the House of Balenciage now owned by Kering, but the Spanish couturier. His creation of femininity through ultra modern, unique shapes were his trademarks. He opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937, and had introduced the tradition of Spanish dress to the Parisian Couture territory, demonstrating how much greater the modern cagreat modern can be when based on nationalistic flavor.
Hosting Liz O'Brien in my class tonight was a rewarding joy. We discussed collecting French design of the space-age and focused on the work of such designers as Maria Pergay, Pierre Cardin, Antoine Philippon, Jacqueline Lecoq, and Philippe Hiquily.
American Standard, the company that produces bathroom fixtures and tiles, and which is based in New Jersey, has a long and complex history. It all began when Theodor Ahrens, an immigrant from Germany who owned a brass business in Baltimore, established a company for plumbing and pipe fitting in 1865. The company had its high-days during the golden age of American advertising industry, the age of Mad Men, when it advertised its product for the growing American suburb. These advertisements of the colorful products demonstrate the taste of Middle America in the mid-century.
One of the more poetic interiors at any American Museum is the fireplace and doorway from the library of the Curtis and Nellie Lee Bok House in Radnor, Pennsylvania. The father of the Furniture Studio Movement, Wharton Esherick crafted and carved this ensemble in 1936. Considered as one of his finest early work, its angular design was inspired by German Expressionism and Czech Cubism. The spectacular corkscrew-like spiral staircase that Esherick did for the same house, is a part of the collection of the Wolfsonian today. While the bottom step forms a circle, the top step forms a triangle and the steps intermediate progressively from the bottom to top step.
Francis W. Little was one of the more notable patrons of Frank Lloyd Wright. For the house he designed for the Littles in Peoria, IL, the architect did one of his more characteristic chairs, which he later used in various variations in other commissions. The Currier Museum of Art, which owns the Isadore J. and Lucille Zimmerman House in Manchester, New Hampshire has recently acquired a variation of that chair, which Frank Lloyd Wright made in 1902-3. The Museum has unveiled the chair in celebrating of the reopening of the Zimmerman House, where FLW did aspects of design from the architecture through the interiors, furniture and to the gardens.
What I love about Primavera Gallery's booths in the various fairs, is the showcase of unexpected, unique objects by typically unknown craftsmen/designers. I loved the glass-top table by French designer/architect Francois Thevenin that the gallery is presenting at the Haughton International Fair. Thevenin has worked primarily in metal and wood since the 60s, creating expressive and intuitive forms, achieved by hand-forged labor-intensive processes.