Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Found the Siesta!!

Remember I told you I've been searching for a norwegian design icon from the 60s for some time? This Sunday it finally came home with me!! I put an ad on FINN (the norwegian equivalent to Craigs list) and finally got some response. The chair is in great shape, the leather has almost no wear at all. Can't believe how good this weekend has been, thrifting- wise.

The award- winning Siesta chair was designed by Ingmar Relling in 1965 for norwegian manufacturer Westnofa, and is still in production, although by another company. On their website you can see today's different models. Relling was the norwegian Wegner, a great designer from the Scandinavian design movement. You probably know that The Chair by Wegner was made famous by Kennedy in a tv debate, but did you know there are 16 Siesta chairs in The White House?

Over the years, the simple construction and design has remained the same, but the materiality, the thickness of the cushion and general detailing has changed with the trends. The one I was after, and has now found, is from the late 60s, I know this because we had it back home when I was a baby. It has a black leather cushion and the wood is palisander, typical for that era. I love the way the whole design concept lies in the simple construction. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm SO happy I found it!! The daybeds in the background are also norwegian 60s design, the same ones that we had in my toddler years, I'm a hopeless nostalgic...



This weekends' catch

After a bit of a dry spell as far as thrifting is concerned, things seem to be picking up a bit. This Saturday I found some great stuff at two of my local thrift stores. The first little beauties that caught my eye were these little Ultima Thule glasses, I think they're meant for schnaps. We don't drink a lot of that here, but especially the men in my family like some aquavit with their Christmas dinner, and these will be perfect. I absolutely LOVE this series by the great Tapio Wirkkala, and pick up everything I find. So far, I only have the dessert bowls and these two, but hopefully some pieces will turn up soon. The tumblers are high on my wish list, they look so amazing with water and ice cubes.

These are some lovely glass pieces. The one in the back to the left is a full two kilos! I have no idea about the origin of these three, but the bowl in the front is a typical scandinavian 60s design. The vase in the back to the right has a bit of a 70s vibe. Love the heavy base with the bubble!
The Rocket- vase is a swedish mid- century design from the 60s, by artist Inge Samuelson for Sea glasbruk. It came in various colors, this one is a smoky grey.
This Haldensleben vase may be my most handsome West german so far! I was so thrilled to find it, I think it's a gorgeous piece. It fits perfectly in my neutral- toned little collection, I'll definitly look for more pieces within this color range. (The other two are Scheurich)
Moving on to the second store, I was equally thrilled to find this gorgeous ceramic lamp. Isn't it great? I don't know who made it, but I'm pretty sure it's norwegian and made in the 60s. It has the most amazing red glaze, with hints of dark brown to accentuate the shape and some yellow close to the top. The shop owner pulled out a couple of Scheurich vases from the back just as I was leaving, saying she thought they might match my new lamp, and boy was she right!!! The red one has the Inka pattern, the beige one I haven't seen before. I was a bit sceptical at first of this one, but fell for the flower and how they look together.

Remember the green planter from a previous post? I found its companion in that same shop. They have THE most delicious green glaze, the images don't do them justice. I'm still curious about the origin of these and have to investigate some more.

Finally, a green Scheurich. I'm not quite sure if I'll keep this one. It might end up as a gift. After all, I'm not a reseller, so I have to start narrowing down what to collect and go for just what I'm after. Oh, but the temptations....

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gorgeous brutalist jewellry

Brutalism is mostly associated with architecture and the use of "beton brut", french for raw concrete. Just as much as brutalist architecture, I adore brutalist sculpture and jewellry. I think it's the abstract, unfamiliar and challenging shapes and textures that makes it so interesting. I always like art that makes me think, the more easily accessible, the less interesting... Have you seen the amazing jewellry og Guy Vidal? The Quebec native (1938 -) studied at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal and at the University of Bloomington, Indiana. Initially trained in sculpture and ceramics, he turned to jewellry in the mid- sixties. Alongside many nordic artists, he represents the late modernist movement of brutalism in the 60s and 70s.  Notice how these first pieces resemble miniature fragments of architecture?


Images are coutesy of these three amazing websites, check them out!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yesterday's finds

Thrifting has been kind of slow lately, not a lot around in my "hunting area" these days. My local Fretex  charity store has filled a lot of shelves with Christmas decorations, and they're neither vintage nor good looking, more in the trash category.... I can't stop myself wondering what goodies they might have in the back that won't come out until january.

Yesterday, i drove my son to a bandy cup in a city an hours drive from where I live. On the way back home the brakes shrieked as I suddenly noticed they have a Fretex store there too and it was one hour from closing time.

The shelves were more or less taken over by Christmas decorations there too, but I found a really cool planter and a glass vase. The planter weighs a ton, although it's not very big. It's handmade and signed. I don't recognize the signature, but I'm guessing it's something quite local. The city is known for a colony of artist that settled in an area of workshops and started a store there in the sixties.

The glass vase is from a line by norwegian manufaturer Magnor glassverk. They produced heaps of these in the sixties in different colors, so there's a lot of them around and you can get one for a reasonable price. Still, I think they're nice pieces, very simple and modern looking. The feature i like the most is the really heavy base of solid glass with the bubble inside. The one I found yesterday is clear, but I have a green and a brown one from earlier thrifting missions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Amazing norwegian modernism

This is gonna be a long one, please bear with me.... What I'm gonna show you today not only makes my heart beat faster, it makes it pound like crazy.

As an architect I never stop being amazed by modernism. I can't think of any other era as groundbreaking as modernism, when the whole concept of living and how we percieve our surroundings were so profoundly reinvented. Imagine how brave these architects were, even today it's often hard to convince clients to have an open mind.

Today, lots of houses copy the style of the houses from this great era, but in my opinion, seem to copy the aesthetics but leave out the invention and meaning. The mid- century architects, that we all love and admire, wouldn't want us to copy what they did, but to keep on reinventing. We should be inspired by the bravery rather than the style, keep on preserving modernist buildings as great examples of the extremes the architects  went to to contribute to the evolution of the field of architecture.


We have one of these great examples in Oslo. Planetveien 12 (12, Planet lane, even the adress points to the innovative space age ideas of the time) was designed by one of our greatest modernist architects, Arne Korsmo, as a home for himself and his wife Grete Prytz Kittelsen. You may recognize her name, she is the lady behind the iconic lotus design for Cathrineholm that we all know and cherish. She was a great artist and designer whose beautiful objects can be found throughout the house, as well as the work by their close friend, great modernist artist Gunnar S. Gundersen. The house is an example of the modernist idea of the "gesamtkunstwerk" (the complete work of art, Bauhaus), the merging of different art forms, like architecture, furniture, objects and art.
Korsmo made a great contribution to the Scandinavian Design movement and introduced the field of indusrial design in Norway. He is well known for his elegent tableware. His intention was always to design both the exterior and interior of his houses, and often the furniture and tableware too, just like his nordic colleagues Arne Jacobsen and Alvar Aalto did.

The house is one of three (originally) identical houses in a row. Korsmo and Prytz Kittelsen lived in the middle of the three. The houses have received a lot of international attention. Not only did they introduce the international principles for glass and steel architecture in Norway (as seen in, amongst others, Mies van der Rohe's great buildings), they were also a manifest for a new, modern and flexible way of living.

In collaboration with his colleague Christian Nordberg- Schulz, Korsmo designed the three modernist "experiments", as they called them, where they explored new ways of living. Korsmo's home was by far the most radical. Togethet with his wife he cfreated a home that reflected modern life with it's floating boundaries between work and leisure as well a s the public and the private.

The street facade is made of translucent Thermolux panels. This was very unusual at the time and is very rarely seen even today. On the sheltered garden side, the house is extremely, and in 1954, shockingly transparent.

Planetveien 12 is an experiment with standard elements and modules, much like the house of Korsmo and Prytz Kittelsen's american friends, Charles and Ray Eames. The house was inspired by both the Case study project (if you don't already know it, google it- these houses are as groundbreaking as they are gorgeous) and japanese architecture. It was a product of Korsmo's ideas of an organic and flexible way of living, the home mecano, as he called it. His home is on a list of twelve buildings which are considered the most important buildings of post- war Norway. It managed to put norwegian modernism on the world map and inspired the structuralism of the sixties.

The interior from 1954 is kept in it's original condition. Both the exterior and the interior has been protected by law after Prytz Kittelsen died two years ago. She very much contributed to how the house turned out, it was her home and workplace for more than fifty years.

To Korsmo and Prytz Kittelsen, a home was just as much a place to work as to relax and entertain. Planetveien 12 was a flexible home that answered to the modern individual's need for relaxation, work and social life. The stair to the second floorhad an engine and could be lifted when more floor space was needed for dancing and the stairs down to the basement could be hidden away. The main space, which is an untraditional combination of living room, workspace and entertaining area, has a large seating arrangement that consists of 100 square cushions that runs along the walls and can be transformed into an amphitheatre for performances. The white panels over the fireplace can be turned to become blackboards for creative spells and there is storage behind every surface. One of the living room walls is made of tall panels that can be reversed to give the objects on display another background color. Legendary silver and enamel pieces by Prytz Kittelsen are on the shelves.

The rest of the house was equally flexible. The arrangement of plywood modules in the kitchen could easily transform the space from informal everyday kitchen to dining area or workspace. I used to think the surfaces were made of teak veneer, but they're actually mahogany. The beds upstairs could be folded away to extend the floor space. 

The creative couple were friends with Utzon and Aalto, who visited the house regularly. It is said that Prytz Kittelsen was such a great hostess that Aalto always insisted on being seated next to her. Prytz Kittelsen got the "work home" she wanted. She had her workshop in the basement, where her lovely portrait was taken by Vogue in 1961. The large oven for her enamelware is still there. This is where she designed all the enamel objects, silverware and jewellry that made her one of Norways greatest post- war designers. She divorced Korsmo, who died in the late sixties, but continued living in the home they created until she passed away two years ago.

Prytz Kittelsen never stopped loving the house with all the objects the couple filled it with. "I have always loved it here at the edge of the woods, I've cherished every day I can just be here. The light, the colors, the rooms, I never tire of it."
In her last will, Prytz Kittelsen wanted the house to be lived in, instead of becoming a museum. It was sold after her death. The house is protected by law, which means that no alterations of the exterior or interior can be made, this also applies to the furniture. I'm really envious with the couple who bought it, I hope they love it as much as I do... 
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