Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ModernGear Home: What's new in Mid-Century Modern

Lovers of Mid-Century Modern know how difficult it can be to make sense of original, reproduction, and licensed reproduction (and outright knock-off) when you're talking about home furnishings by names like Eames, Noguchi, Panton, van der Rohe, Nelson, and the like.

This is something ModernGear TV Husband and I discuss at length when looking for new pieces, as we are absolutely nuts over this design. When looking at Eames sidechairs for our dining table, we had debated for a long time about whether it was better to try to find the original fiberglass chairs on ebay, through dealers, or in an estate sale. After looking this way for months and months and still having our bums fall asleep over dinner on the same rickety old wood chairs we had bought years before, we decided on four Eames licensed reproduction sidechairs from Design Within Reach and Room and Board (neither place had all of the colours we wanted so we split our order between the two).
The only pic I can find at the moment, chairs on the table for washing the floor.

These are Herman Miller plastic (propylene) reissues of the original Eames design of 1948...exact in every way but for the material of the seat, as the original was fiberglass.

If you are already an aficionado of the design that came out of this prolific era or if you are curious about it, web sites like The Mid-Century Modernist and Apartment Therapy, and books are a great way to get inspired and educated. There are enough titles on this subject to fill a library, but a few that will get you started on the path are:
Mid-Century Modern: Interiors, Furniture, Design Details, $19.77
Modern Retro: Living With Mid-century Modern Style, $43.23
Modernism Reborn: Mid-Century American Houses, $26.37
Case Study Houses: 1945-1966: The California Impetus, $9.99

George Nelson is known as one of the founders, along with Charles and Ray Eames, of American Modernism. His best-known pieces today are his clocks,
Nelson Bubble Clock $315
his benches,
Nelson Platform Bench $699-$849
and his ubiquitous bubble lamps...
Nelson Ball Pendant Lamp $300
Nelson Saucer Lamp $239
Nelson Cigar Lamp $239

Mid-Century Modern lovers rejoice! You might have thought that new developments in the design you're crazy about ended in the mid-60s, and if you're a purist you'd be right. If you don't mind squinting a little, then this is for you.

Los Angeles-based company Modernica acquired the rights to the George Nelson bubble lamps in 1989, and has been the official manufacturer and distributor of the authorized reproductions for 12 years. The new development is that they've just introduced a lampshade inspired by the originals.

To be true, this shade is not an original George Nelson and so some Mid-Century Modern purists might turn their noses up at it, but it's Modernica's reinterpretation of Nelson's lights, and I think it's interesting.

You can buy the lampshade to grace whatever traditional base you might choose, starting at $225.
George Nelson once said "The simple joy of taking an idea into one's own hands and giving it proper form, that's exciting.” I can only think he'd approve of this new homage to his original vision.

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