My life is currently dominated by all things mid-century modern.
Although not particularly original, (I am simply riding on a popular wave along with millions of other design conscious individuals) however I do feel my interest in it is deepening and evolving. Having long been a big Bauhaus devotee and drawn to both Josef and Anni Albers (for obvious reasons), I also was lucky enough to have lunch once with Lucienne and Robin Day whilst a student at Central Saint Martins in the early 1990’s, thus the mid-century modern seed was planted in my life some time ago. What these designers all have in common is a strong sense of craftsmanship. Add the unsurpassable Charles and Ray Eames into the mix and WHAM BAM WOLLOP you have a portfolio of extraordinary, timeless, masterpieces of design not to mention the remarkable synchronicity that the female parts of these duo’s are all textile designers and the male parts all furniture designers. Intriguing that textiles somehow acted as a pivot or cornerstone to these mid-century icons?
The above names have all become quite synonymous with the movement, almost mainstream and everyday yet there are many other participants and more layers of interest as I’m discovering.
Last year, while looking for a present for a good friend I came across a book called:
HAND CRAFTED MODERN by the photographer Leslie Williamson. A completely mesmerizing book and now one of my most treasured possessions. A project she worked on for some time, setting herself a series of restrictions such as only natural light and only houses that had remained as their inhabitant had intended, the book is an elegant series of exquisite photographs she has taken of spaces belonging to a number of mid-century designers. Although there are a few quite well-known names such as Walter Gropius and Eames it is the lesser known people who really caught my imagination. But the really important thing here is the word CRAFTED. These images bring new meaning to the idea of the hand-made home, the breath-taking attention to detail; a close up of a hand-carved door knob, a row of Eva Zeisels pottery tools. Naturally lit creative living spaces left as intended, houses full of unique, personal, daring objects; the complete antithesis of our modern-day obsession with generic design and keeping up with the neighbours.
One of the best discoveries for me has been the furniture designer Vladimir Kagan…. a post on him to follow.
This book is a complete joy.