California Dreaming – MCM Style

I finally got to Los Angeles County Museum of Art‘s show – California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” which is running through June 3, 2012. It’s a relatively small exhibit, but then I compare it with my memory of a show they had around 10 years ago. That one involved the political and economic climate of California from the 20’s through the mid-century and included urban sprawl and the sexual revolution. The show took up one whole building, and then some, as I recall.

This show includes more than 300 objects, graphics, and textiles, many originating from the engineering and research of the use of raw materials that were geared for use in the second World War. After the war, those materials were used for consumers as America dropped the restrictions on materials such as rubber and petroleum and tried to feed the consumption of an increasing population. Was consumerism a product of less restriction and new ideas, or visa-verse?

The fun thing for me was seeing products that I grew up with behind glass and seen as somewhat of a relic of an earlier time. Barbie and Ken, the Polaroid Swinger camera (that my family had) and this salt, pepper and sugar shaker.

Besides nostalgia, there was the confirmation of why I enjoy MCM and try to integrate it into my surroundings now. I’m not the type who would buy something just because it came from the mid-century. I certainly don’t want to live in a house that looks like it came straight out of a 50’s issue of “Better Homes and Gardens.” I would rather live in a house that Eichler built or the one the Eames lived in (with far less “momentos” or what my mom would call “dust catchers”).

A. Quincy Jones and Fredrick E. Emmons sofa and table

Here’s a sofa my parents never would have bought, but I think it’s pretty cool. I love the “floating” couch look. Throw on an afghan (the crocheted kind) and it would fit right into my childhood.



Eames film coming soon.

This will be a must see for those of us who are enamored with modern design. Eames: The Architect and The Painter will be opening in LA and NY November 18th and then air December 19th on the PBS American Masters series.

According to the preview and a review here it will be focusing on the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames working in their studio in Venice, CA.

Should have taken woodshop…

I keep an eye out for sleek, simple, modern, decorative pieces to share here and sometimes I have to stop and wonder. Why didn’t I think of that? And if I had, could I have charged THAT much for it?

This ran across my screen from A simple plywood box with a light bulb in it. STACKS:LAMPS is a limited edition creation from designer Dino Sanchez. The wood is a beautiful plywood (yes it can be pretty) and a bare 25W bulb in the middle.

They look like a woodshop 101 project, yet the teacher may think it’s too simple:

“Look teach’, we make it a limited edition, come up with a cool designer name and charge $185 for the little ones. Sell it on sleek looking website and we’ll have enough money for a new table saw in no time!”

Seriously, if you really like this and decide to build one, let me know! I’ll post your pictures, directions, space on; whatever. I want to see it done and find out how difficult it was. IS Fabulous

I have a subscription to a fab… wait; let’s not overuse that word – umm… wonderful shopping site full of; uhhh, amazing deals on modern furnishings, gadgets, magazines and books. It’s featured in an article in Forbes about the company and how it got started. Take a look here. has daily “flash sales” on items that are off-beat, classic modern, and just plain fun. One of the co-owners used to work at Design Within Reach and Dwell magazine. I happen to know their support is fabu.., I mean, helpful. I highly recommend, but it requires a free subscription signup and an invite from someone who is already a subscriber. I will invite anyone who expresses an interest by contacting me since I think it is well worth it and a great source of inspiration and cool, modern, FABULOUS items.

above: Cofounders Jason Goldberg (L) and Bradford Shellhammer (R) at their Manhattan office.

photo credit to Forbes magazine

It’s a Numi

I love Kohler products. We just bought new Kohler toilets. Unfortunately, we did not wait long enough. At the Dwell show I was lucky enough to see several working models of Kohler’s new, advanced toilet: The Numi.

A toilet so advanced the brochure is 24 pages long but only contains one page of specifications and 6 paragraphs describing it’s unmatched design and the precise positioning of the personal cleansing wand. See it in action:

The brochure is filled with beautiful shots of this bored, young, model, couple that must have mistaken their new toilet for a modern side table and placed it in their totally glassed in living room with a view, as you can see in the video. Some pages don’t even show the toilet; just the couple there, bored, admiring each other’s beauty – totally unaware that their living room has a toilet/bidet in it. Maybe they think it’s the new stereo system.

When was the last time your toilet had ambient lighting, or even a heated seat? Not to mention that the “automatic articulation” of the seat keeps the lid interior “discreetly out of view.” Yes, it closes itself; and opens via a motion detector! If you need more control besides the motion detector there is a remote on the wall mount. I noticed there’s a mulitple user setting. How can it tell whether to lift just the lid or the seat too?

This toilet will wash and dry you and keep your feet warm. Entertain you and deodorize, well… you. Actually, the toilet bowl – with the use of an air filter.

Kohler is really pulling out the marketing dollars on this judging by the brochure. I have to think a $6,400 toilet with an input jack for an MP3 player during these economic times could be a hard sell. I mean; come on, no iPod jack? And just where am I supposed to put my iPad?

I can’t see spending that kind of money on this, but I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a toilet. I cringed to spend $250 and then shocked to learn the seat wasn’t included.

None the less, this was one of the highlights for me at the show and I got a really cool canvas grocery bag out of it with “numi” in light print on the side. I really was torn in what to write about here. The marketing or the toilet? So I’ll say this: I congratulate the marketing company that had to make a toilet look sexy and Kohler for making a sexy toilet.

Dwelling on dwell

Looking over what can be done with left over wooden beams. 

Since last Saturday, when I attended Dwell on Design, I’ve been stealing moments to go over the information I gathered and the pictures I took. There was so much to take in and yet things missing.

This is the 3rd year I’ve attended this annual event. The first time was during the economic boom. There were three pre-fab home companies with actual “samples” of their homes set up in the convention center. Not to mention the other pre-fab, construction, and development companies who had booths there from all across the country. During that event one company rep gave my husband and I a binder full of color specs of their huge “flat pack” homes after showing, what I considered, lukewarm interest. A year later, I felt bad putting it all in the recycle bin. It must have cost $15 a piece to print those up!

This year there was only one small pre-fab set up from pieceHomes with all the bells and whistles – minus a bathroom door (I guess that would be an upgrade). No – wait, there was one other; and it had a bathroom and shower door.

Roughing it with 2 TVs.

The Airstream displayed was the 27 foot model with wood floors, 2 flat screens, separate shower and toilet (in the RV world, in this size class – that’s sweet), and leather upholstery. All that for about what our first home cost 20 years ago.

The presentations going on during the day were split on either side of the venue. One stage held talks on “Sustainability” and the other for “Design Innovation.” Of course, I was more interested in the design presentations, particularly one called “The Collectors.” Sam Kaufman of Sam Kaufman Gallery was the most interesting since he focused on mid-century pieces and what makes a good collection/collector.

Overall, the show downplayed the excesses and focused on the use of smaller spaces and sustainable lifestyle. Well, except for this –

More to come…

The toilet you've been waiting for!