Distinctive Excellence: The making of an icon

My first love. Mies van der Rohe . Barcelona Chair . 1948.

Iconic pieces hold value. Trends do not. I was attempting to explain this to my Brother-in-Law who is embarking on a fairly significant renovation, along with my sister, of their LES apartment. A lifelong resident of Manhattan, Andy has an appreciation for art – fine, film, not food per se, but most definitely the musical arts, and culture. His interest in pop, international, historic/ancient, make him a fairly typical New Yorker, which is to say, very well versed in a whole lot of things, that most people know nothing about. If I am being nice about it I’d say it is likely due to the fact that it doesn’t sit on their doorstep waiting to be consumed as it does in NYC.

Marcel Breuer . Cesca Chair . 1928 tubular steel frame provides flex and comfort.

With all this intellectual sophistication it’s not that he doesn’t know logically that if you purchase a Renoir it is not going to depreciate the moment you walk it out of the Christie’s Auction House – at least I hope that’s the way in which you’d find yourself acquiring it. Of course there are other ways. I prefer to inherit my art, but if I do, I want it to be any one of the most famous impressionists. They knew how to turn a swirl of paint into a pot of gold. I would happily inherit a Mies Van der Rohe, a Saarinen, an Eames, or a Platner right along with that piece of art, but here is where we two differ. I can tell that Andy is skeptical of my assertion that these iconic designer’s furnishings are of real value. “Why not simply get a knock off”? he asks.

Charles Eames . Lounge Chair . 1956. This is the definition of fitting like a glove.

All this got me thinking about what makes something move from a trend, to a classic, to iconic. What made this fashion of a time, fifties design move beyond the three year mark, into classic territory? Design excellence, detailing, simplicity and ingenuity combined. How did they turn a formed piece of fiberglass known for its toughness into a sensuous slide that you could sleep on for hours? The angular tilt of the Barcelona Chair is a piece of sculpture in its own right, its design – like that of a master artist, a showcase of understanding of the human form. The materials, the detailing, assembly and execution are why these pieces are revered, and why they hold their value.

Give me a bouquet of Tulips any day. Eero Saarinen . Tulip Chairs and Iconic Saarinen table. 1957.

I’m all about the high and low, but if you can afford one iconic piece instead of ten from Room & Board, I’d remind myself that I can only sit in one chair at a time, and if I had to choose one, I want it to be the very best.

Iced Tea, Tennis and Tag Sales

There’s something about summer that awakens an urge to clean out the garage, de-clutter, and make room for kids returning from college or summer guests.  As a habitual thrower awayer, I do not need a special time of year to engage in this activity.  I find immense pleasure in ridding myself of things – I suppose it’s a condition that sits entirely on the opposite side of the spectrum to a hoarder.  Of course it should be said that I typically replace the items I get rid of with something new.

Charles Eames was one cool cat – look for his stamp on the underside of the chair for authenticity if you find it at a yard sale, snap it up!  Similar available on Viyet.

I love a treasure hunt, and am not terribly disappointed when I come up empty handed.  I console myself with the knowledge that if I did indeed find an Eames Chair, or a fabulous mid-century modern sideboard I would need to give up something in order to make room for my purchase.  Having said that, don’t think for one hot second I would leave either behind, I wouldn’t think you knew me at all if you thought that I would even entertain such an outrageous idea.

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Eloise was Rather messy . I am not.

I am no Eloise of the famed Park Plaza Hotel.  I don’t think lampshades make good hats, and broken or chipped china cup does not make a good planter – in my opinion.  Eloise and I will just have to agree to disagree on this point.

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Knoll by Warren Platner Coffee Table.  Viyet $800. 

Mixing new and old pieces makes a home that much more interesting.  I surf sites like Chairish – which, by the way you can find my MOM Sputnik Chandelier posted for sale, and Viyet, and trust me when I tell you they have crush worthy consignment pieces, but they can be pricey.  For the committed bargain hunter, many of the pieces can be found at a yard or estate sale.  One must simply be prepared to dig through a lot of clutter to find it.

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Chairish – $3500.

If clutter isn’t on your agenda this weekend.  These are my Viyet and Chairish holiday weekend picks. 

Left:  Outdoor High Back Chair . $540.  Right Top:  Eero Saarinen for Knoll Tulip Table, $1699. Right Bottom:  Faux Bamboo Side Table $350.  all on Chairish.