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Pick Six: Things I Didn't Know About the Design World Before This Summer
I asked my summer intern, Anna Levenshus, to write a guest blog this week. Anna will be a sophomore at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. She is studying art and architectural history, but this is her first brush with the design world, so I thought it might be interesting to see how she is navigating this uncharted territory. Here are six things she had not thought about before this summer:
1. Chairs That Look Like Art are Not Only for Decoration
Upon walking into the Weinberg Modern showroom, the diversity in seating was overwhelming. However, in the first few days of working here, I confined myself to the Jean Gillon leather and jacaranda sofa. It was comfortable, beautiful and didn't look too fragile to sit in comfortably. Over time, I began making my way around the different chairs and stools, losing my fear that something would break if I took a seat. I grew fond of the Edward Wormley lounge chair and the red and black Plycraft arm chairs, but ultimately, my new favorite became the large Alvin Lustig armchair. Still, I was curious about the Japanese modernist chair. With its slightly intimidating look and apparent delicacy, it just looked unsitable. One day I overcame my fear, sat in the chair and discovered, it actually is quite comfortable! I don't like it as much as the Alvin Lustig, but it's a runner up.
I, too, like the Japanese chair, which was made in the midcentury for Japanese usage. I suspect one is supposed to sit with a very straight posture or possible with crossed legs.
2. What "Patina" Means
Unlike new pieces of furniture, vintage items will usually have some wear and tear. I understood that describing the conditions were important, yet I had no idea that there were actually vocabulary words such as patina or hairline. Now that I know these words, I realize how much of my bedroom furniture has a nice patina to it.
Patina is better than hairline, but it can cover a variety of sins; for some dealers, it might mean I didn't feel like refinishing it.
3. My Favorite Book
With so many books to choose from, it seems that it would be hard to find a favorite. However, as I started exploring the works of various designers through the Weinberg Modern library, I found my favorite book: "The Complete Kagan." I like this book not only because Vladimir Kagan is one of my favorite designers, but also because of Kagan's colloquial narrative and inclusion of thousands of photographs you don't find anywhere else.
4. Who Robert Loughlin is
I had never heard of the outsider artist Robert Loughlin before this summer. When I first started, there was one Loughlin piece in the showroom: a strange depiction of a mans face with ripped pieces of newspaper glued on the wooden wine box that served as a canvas. I found the piece to be kind of strange and sort of unpleasant. I'll admit that I wasn't too fond of Loughlin in the beginning. Nevertheless, upon doing some research and studying four new Loughlin pieces that came in, I have grown a strong appreciation to the face that is always so similar yet so different in each of his pieces. I especially like the one shown here.
An ex-girlfriend of mine would not even allow the abovementioned piece in our apartment.
5. How Much There is to Learn
I had no idea how academic (yet fun) furniture investigation would be. The plethora of books neatly placed on a George Nelson Three Bay CSS System are all vital for research and are essential in understanding different designers and their unique style. Unlike browsing the internet, the collection of rare vintage books holds a different kind of legitimacy that makes reading them a profound experience. As soon as the summer began, I found myself doing all kinds of research on different eras and places that held importance in the design world. My research began with Lina Bo Bardi then branched out to Edward Wormley, California Design, and Vladimir Kagan.
This is a never-ending journey. Note, the internet didn't exist when I started researching design history, but has since become a valuable resource.
6. My Favorite Piece in the Showroom
Every couple of days I find I tend to like some pieces more than others, yet the pair of Kurt Versen lamps has remained my most-wished-for item. What makes them so striking is the beauty of their simplicity, the contrasts of shapes, and the combination of the aged birch with the cream colored shade. I always imagine them in a 1950's office, or on the set of "Mad Men."
"Mad Men" starts again next week, so who knows?