hans olsen’s bikini chair

bikini chair, hans olsen @ dosbananos.com

bikini chair, hans olsen @ dosbananos.com

this chair is a beautiful rare sculpture of wood and upholstery.  from the 50s or early 60s this is a masterpiece of design skill, with the compound bent wood and dramatic shape. the piece was expensive to build and few were made.  

the name makes me smile.  i wonder what shape of woman he had in mind when he came up with the shape.  or after it was designed, what woman and bikini did it evoke, and hence the name. either way, it reminds me of a visit to a gym or a walk on a beach.  a normal beach, mind.  your average neighborhood gym.  not the ones on tv where the beautiful slim selection is on show. come to florida and give the normal american world a glim.  the possible variations of women’s shapes is wider than you may think.  the abstract design world has plenty of models!

faux bamboo furniture in hollywood regency design

faux bamboo has been included in a lot of design styles: rococo, art deco, …and now hollywood regency.  for a touch of asian exotic, go with faux bamboo. 

Oriental Chinese style (20th Cent) faux bamboo altar console table with carved teak floral filigree apron

Oriental Chinese style (20th Cent) faux bamboo altar console table with carved teak floral filigree apron @ newel.com

 

faux bamboo chair

faux bamboo chair @ artcollector-usa

faux bamboo is a thought provoking combination of nature and man made materials and geometry. bamboo’s uniform growth pattern lends itself to manmade replication.  the embellishment has a pleasing aspect, but i find myself arguing with the fakeness of the result.  

faux bamboo mirror at art collector usa

faux bamboo mirror @ artcollector-usa

real bamboo tapers gently.  i miss the natural uneven dimensions.  and for me it is always a common building supply.  

i grew up in hong kong where bamboo scaffolding was a part of the always persistent culture of construction.  small chinese men fearlessly whipped that stuff together as they climbed the towering grids that wrapped the tall buildings.  sometimes it blew down a bit in typhoons, but it was cheap and easy to replace.  for me, bamboo evokes confidence and strength, but a normal everyday kind.   

bamboo scaffolding in HK

bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong

bamboo’s fast growth is amazing.  one botanical garden near my house walks you through a great variety of species, and the winding path through the unique dense forest is quite magical.  

bamboo at kanapaha botanical gardens, gainesville, florida

bamboo at kanapaha botanical gardens, gainesville, florida

bamboo

bamboo

i don’t have faux bamboo at my house.  i prefer cleaner simpler lines.  however, if you like the ornamented hollywood regency style, some bamboo look alike accents fit in wonderfully, with more polished symmetry than the original, and in all types of materials.  

Faux Bamboo (Italian 1940s) style gilt metal nest of 3 coffee tables with rectangular glass tops @ newel.com

Faux Bamboo (Italian 1940s) style gilt metal nest of 3 coffee tables with rectangular glass tops @ newel.com

panton’s unlikely chairs

last week i was calmly sitting on a swivel barstool when it decided to collapse. i had sat on this chair many days a week for years at a thrift store’s desk.  not that i sit much, but unnoticed this wood chair had succumbed to the florida heat and humidity so that when i did sit there this day, it gave out.  it was a strange feeling having the chair collapse under me, once so trusted.

so i come to the unlikely chairs of verner (or vernon?) panton, l’enfant terrible of danish furniture design. his designs have been described as innovative, provocative, sensational, visionary, and eccentric.  

vernon panton cone chair @ retrodecades.com

vernon panton cone chair @ retrodecades.com, a 1958 design

will it hold me?  maybe you are a small person and this question has never come up.  i am not particularly large, but i would not call myself small either.  i find myself eying this chair with suspicion.  impressed by the improbable design, i am not convinced of its strength. given the larger average proportions of people over the decades, i would be interested to know what weight the design holds.  

panton seems to have been escaping reality and weight, as others were in the 1960s.  

the first one-piece molded plastic chair, the panton chair, 1960

the first one-piece molded plastic chair, the panton chair, 1960

phantasy landscape, verner panton, 1970, at the visiona 2 exhibit, cologne design fair

phantasy landscape, verner panton, 1970, at the visiona 2 exhibit, cologne design fair

marcus miller explains panton’s well known fantasy landscape: “This soft, undulating womb of an environment, composed of upholstered foam panels, virtually dispenses with gravity. Leisure-seekers would recline across any number of organic protrusions built into modules that paid little or no attention to conventional coordinates like up or down. Panton’s immersive environments and futuristic designs of the 60s gave flesh to the dream of a blissful world free of constraints.” Marcus Miller

the phrase l’enfant terrible, literally the terrible child, refers to a successful avant garde, unorthodox person.  it also carries the meaning of a shockingly candid child embarrassing his elders with his comments and ideas.   i do find panton’s dismissal of constraints shocking, but the wild abandon has it’s attractions… can’t get the falling chair out of my mind, though…

dosbananos.com has several vintage panton pieces available this week.

vintage cone chairs, denmark @ dosbananos.com

vintage cone chairs, denmark @ dosbananos.com

vintage heart cone chair @ dosbananos.com

vintage heart cone chair @ dosbananos.com

george nakashima and burlwood furniture design

it strikes me as an anomaly that we should highly prize furniture made with burlwood.  george nakashima, american architect turned furniture maker, was famous for his inclusion of this type of wood in his designs.  

burls (brit. burs or burrs) are malignant abnormalities that form on some trees when they have been under some unusual stress from disease.

burr on an old scottish black poplar

burr on an old scottish black poplar

burr on a larch tree in scotland

burr on a larch tree in scotland

not the graceful elven tree forms forms we expect.  they remind you of the hunchback of notre dame.  yet when sliced or carefully detached from the normal wood (this takes a lot of work and care because of the twisted, hardened nature of the burl) the veneer, the table tops, or the naturally sculpted forms that emerge are rare treasures.  

burlwood bench @ artcollector-usa

burlwood bench @ artcollector-usa

burlwood bench @ artcollector-usa

burlwood bench @ artcollector-usa

nakashima dining table

burlwood and glass end table @ TSandCompany

burlwood and glass end table @ TSandCompany

cabinet, george nakishima, @ treadwaygallery.com

cabinet, george nakishima, @ treadwaygallery.com

why is this not the case with people?  we shun abnormal people.  we stare at and then pull back from people with scars or injuries.  we do not relish visits to hospitals and nursing homes.  our tv screens are filled with the beautifully perfect people only.  our tv news anchors are the ken and barbie dolls we love.  

yet my experience is that there is a deep strength and beauty in the hearts of the not normal.  i would rather their company than many more outwardly perfect people i know.  nakashima had a soft heart for the suffering.  i suspect he had suffered himself at some points in his life.  maybe this explains his long successful work with not normal wood.

jens risom, living and working past 92!

i plan to live into my 90s and be productive and useful in some way until i die. you think about these things when you are nearing 50…  

if you need inspiration to set yourself such a goal, read an article about furniture designer jens risom at dwr’s design notes.  in my hunt for decent design websites, dwr, design within reach is so far my favorite.  they offer some thoughtful substance, not just bits of waffle and a picture or two. 

2008, jens risom (age 92), with dwr design studio, originally designed in 1949 for the caribe hilton hotel in puerto rico.

2008, jens risom (age 92), with dwr design studio, originally designed in 1949 for the caribe hilton hotel in puerto rico.

dwr worked with risom in 2008 to remake a 1949 chair and ottoman, and a bench.  what an opportunity, to be able to tap into all those years of hard work and wisdom. they used different materials and techniques, but risom has always been interested  in efficient production and exceptional accessible design.  he worked with this dwr team to do the same thing again.  

my granny lived into her 90s.  i remember her, her smile and the twinkle in her eyes well.  my goal is a distinct possibility….

vladimir kagan furniture design and the lounge search

a torrential down pour moved through florida early this morning.  i have an outdoor lounge chair search on, and vladimir kagan’s set strikes me on this soggy day as almost perfect.  no damp cloth seats or moldy wood to deal with when our sun returns.   

vladimir kagan chairs and table @ dosbananos.com

vladimir kagan chairs and table @ dosbananos.com

 but on a dry day, this one would be wonderful

multi position aluminum frame lounge chair @ vladimirkagan.com

multi position aluminum frame lounge chair @ vladimirkagan.com

kagan’s simple lines and sweeping curves are most elegant

contour high backed lounge chair, walnut frame @ vladimirkagan.com

contour high backed lounge chair, walnut frame @ vladimirkagan.com

kagan has some cubist designs i am not so crazy about, but his use of plexiglass and contours combined is interesting

erica chaise @ vladimirkagan.com

erica chaise @ vladimirkagan.com

 

 here we go, for a super lazy florida day!

 

outdoor chaise, 1960s @ architonic.com

outdoor chaise, tubular steel, 1960s @ architonic.com

bold surreal josef frank fabric and furniture design

a designer savy friend is incorporating panels of josef frank’s wallpaper into her new home in florida.  frank’s dramatic designs are clean, crisp and full of color.  my friend is expecting a new baby.  perhaps she feels there should be more perk in the child’s upbringing.  or maybe she is freaking out from her move to florida from europe and this is a coping mechanism…..

Svenskt Tenn at Strandvägen in Stockholm

Svenskt Tenn at Strandvägen in Stockholm displays Frank's furniture and random design style.

frank’s designs come from vienna in the 1920s and then sweden from the 1930s on.  they are remarkable given their time and place.  while the severe minimalist bauhaus designers were becoming vogue, frank and his partners rejected those restrictions but still advanced in a modern direction of their own, adapting various 1800s styles and forms, european and asian.   

vegetable tree, josef frank

vegetable tree, josef frank

 

dixieland, josef frank

dixieland, josef frank

 

Gröna fåglar, cotton

Gröna fåglar, josef frank

 

catleya, josef frank

catleya, josef frank

 

teheran, black, josef frank

teheran, black, josef frank (he made a lot of patterns with an alternate white background)

 

US tree, josef frank

US tree, josef frank

“Mix old and new, colors and forms. Things that you like will all the same melt into a quiet unity. The home does not have to be planned in detail, not artful, just linked together by parts that its occupants enjoy and love.”

Josef Frank (1885-1967)

easy chair 568, josef frank, 1936

easy chair 568, josef frank, 1936

 

easy chair, 336, josef frank

easy chair, 336, josef frank

 

Sofa 968, josef frank

Sofa 968, josef frank

 

chair, josef frank

chair, josef frank

you can see this ‘chuck a whole bunch of unlikely things together’ philosophy in the fabric dsigns themselves.  personally, i do not see it all melting into a quiet unity.  although there are some more mellow designs in their inventory (see many more samples and info about frank at  Svenskt Tenn ) i cannot conceive of an inclusion of his fabrics on chairs or walls in my home without creating a loud disunity.  

fran, where is your sense of adventure?, you might ask. (and i have been asked many times…) sorry, maybe i am a bit dull, but i find the surreal aspects of his designs unsettling.  surrealism  has a disorienting, hallucinatory dreamlike quality.  like reading ‘alice in wonderland’ as a child, or singing along to ‘the yellow submarine’ as a teenager.  wow, strange but cool ideas. then later, when you are a mother reading ‘alice’ to your children, you are relieved to discover that lewis carroll was on drugs when he wrote the book, and so were the beatles much of the time.  ah, you say to yourself, that explains it.  not that you trash alice and the beatles, but they become less marvelous.  

i am not accusing my friend of being on drugs because she likes josef frank’s designs.  i cannot find any evidence that frank was on drugs.  he did live in disorienting times, though.  vienna was a dynamic crossroad of culture and history during his early training.  radical crossroad upbringings can be disorienting.

i wonder what his viennese jewish family suffered while frank and his wife took refuge in sweden from the nazis.  maybe to frank the world was surreal. understandable.   

for myself i need to hold on to truth and real ordered uncluttered design.  i find this settling in an unsettled world.   

but maybe i am looking at this the wrong way.  frank and his partner, estrid ericson, loved life, family, pets, and the ability to rearrange furniture and furnishings often.  they liked to incorporate new things and a variety of styles in one room, as if it had been thrown together by accident.  perhaps i am confusing accidentalism with surrealism.  even so, i find neither very calming….

you should have more color in your life, though, fran, my friends say…..  just spare me from too much pink…

Gösta Glase)

Josef Frank and Estrid Ericson admire Josef Frank’s "Primavera" pattern. (Photo: Gösta Glase)