Chicago || The Monadnock

The Monadnock was conceived primarily as a business centre; in fact, upon its completion, it was the world’s largest office building. Architects Burnham & Root designed the north half (built 1891); Holabird & Roche designed the south half (built 1893). Names that are becoming strangely familiar, by now.

The ground floor is purely commercial; a café, a restaurant, various retail shops, a ”shoe hospital”, every single one of them oozing old-school elegance. I am sure their interior design, unique yet totally coordinated, is a prerequisite and constitutes a lengthy clause in their leasing contract.

Whatever the cause, the result is the most atmospheric commercial gallery I have ever encountered.

November 2nd, 2017

Chicago || The Rookery & the Frank Lloyd Wright effect

The Rookery was designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root, heads of one of Chicago’s most famous architectural companies of the 19th century and, like most of Chicago’s early skyscrapers, it was built to last.

A sturdy structure with a red brick facade, elaborately adorned with elements reminiscent of Moorish architecture and Mr. Root’s open-mouthed crows (or rooks) to which – no, the building does not owe its name*, cast-iron columns and mosaics, upon its completion in 1888 it was considered Burnham and Root’s masterpiece; today, it is the oldest standing high-rise and one of the most recognisable buildings in Chicago.

But it wasn’t the famous rooks, nor the cast-iron columns and mosaics, original parts of which were uncovered during renovation and were left open for comparison that had brought us here; it was what lay inside that we eager to see.

I mean, of course, the central light court with its glass ceiling, two-storey lobby, magnificent spiral staircase, and the unmistakable touch of Mr Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect in charge of the building’s first major renovation in 1905-1907. Although Mr. Wright made some very important changes like, for instance, dressing the original copper-plated ironwork in white marble with gold patterns, he generally respected the original design. The result is an airy, modern interior that breathes, so much different from the heavy art-deco lobbies of other historical buildings in Chicago.

And it is absolutely stunning.

*The Rookery was built on the site of an initial Water Tower later turned into the City Hall. It seems that the building has been called a “rookery” due to the nickname of the former City Hall that had crows on its walls and crooked politicians inside it (according to our guide).

While you can wander about the ground floor freely, the upper level is only open to guided tours. Check for info on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust website, or in their brick and mortar office/shop, on-site.

November 2nd, 2017

All that Jazz

Delectable, capricious and very very Stylish. American taste with a strong European touch. Flapperdom reigning supreme.

Muse With Violin Screen, 1930. Designed by Paul Fehér. Manufactured by Rose Iron Works Collections, LLC. Wrought iron, brass; silver and gold plating, featuring a stylized figure of entertainer Josephine Baker
_
Daybed (USA), 1933–1935. Designed by Frederick Kiesler, commissioned for a domestic interior by textile designer Marguerita Mergentime. Birch-faced plywood, tulip poplar, nickel-plated steel
Peacock Side Chair, 1921–22. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Oak, leatherette upholstery
Gift Kodak Camera And Box. Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague. Manufactured by Eastman Kodak Company. Leather-covered metal, chrome-plated and enameled metal, glass (camera); lacquered cedar, chrome-plated and enameled metal (case)
Chanin Building Pair Of Gates (detail). Designed by René Paul Chambellan. Wrought iron, bronze
Skyscraper Bookcase Desk, ca. 1928. Designed by Paul T. Frankl. California redwood and black laquer || Armchair from the International Exposition of Art and Industry 1928. Designed by Walter von Nessen. Aluminium, brass, leather
Evening Dress And Underslip, 1926. Designed by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Blue silk chiffon with applied blue ombré silk fringe
Boucheron Brooch, 1925. Diamonds, platinum, carved lapis, onyx, coral, jade
Cocktail Bar Perfume Presentation. Designed by Jean Patou. Manufactured by Brosse Glassworks. Presentation case: burlwood; four larger flacons: molded glass; seven smaller flacons: molded glass, metal.  This bar-form set held a selection of liquor bottle–like perfume bottles entitled “Bittersweet,” “Sweet,” “Dry” and “Angostura no. 1” through “Angostura no. 7” that equated the sensuality of perfume with drinking in a not-so-subtle reference to the illicit cocktail culture during American prohibition. The empty bottle entitled “My Own” was provided to encourage the owner to mix and match her own scent. In 1928 Patou installed a women-only cocktail bar in his Paris boutique for clients, many American, to enjoy while making final decisions on garments and waiting for fittings and alterations.
Actaeon, 1925. Designed by Paul Manship. Gilt bronze. This work captures a climactic moment of transformation, as Actaeon has just been hit by Diana’s arrow, which is turning him into a stag.
Chandelier, ca. 1925. Designed by William Hunt Diederich. Cut steel and wrought iron

Canapé Gondole, ca. 1925. Designed by Marcel Coard. Carved indian rosewood, indian rosewood-veneered wood, brass, and linen velvet
Temple Dress, Mer Ka Ba Collection, 2013. Designed by threeASFOUR in collaboration with Bradley Rothenberg. Laser-cut bonded silk organza, nylon power mesh underdress
_
Trans… Armchair, 2007. Designed by Fernando Campana. Wicker, iron, found objects (plastic, rubber) Commissioned from the designers by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum The designers created this chair from a collection of discarded objects
_

From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017.

Paired with contemporary objects of laser-cut technology: modern, streamlined and still very stylish. I just wish we had a little bit more of that Jazz in our lives.

July 30th, 2017

Stop. Study Time!

Drawing, Design for Musaphonic Clock Radio in Blue, 1958. Richard Arbib (1917-1995) for General Electric Company (Schenectady, New York)
Drawing, Design for Musaphonic Clock Radio on Legs in Green, 1958. Richard Arbib (1917-1995) for General Electric Company (Schenectady, New York)
The Kem (Karl Emanuel Martin) Weber Group Sideboard and Chair, 1928-29. Sage green painted wood (sideboard); painted wood, synthetic leather (chair). AD-65 Radio designed 1932 by Wells Wintemute Coates , manufactured 1934 by E.K. Cole Ltd.
Desk, ca. 1933. Designed by Paul T. Frankl. Table Lamp, 1933. Designed by Gilbert Rohde. Poster, Philips, ca. 1928. Designed by Louis Christiaan Kalff for Philips

 

From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017

July 30th, 2017

My imaginary wish list

Sometime ago I mentioned how much I enjoy wandering about the period rooms at the Metropolitan, so painstakingly reconstructed by the museum curators that they compete in authenticity and splendour with the original ones. Today, let’s go for another walk to see some of the objects high on my imaginary wish list (and a couple of no-nos).

The pianoforte:Pianoforte, New York City, 1810-15
Patented by John Geib and Son. Case attributed to the workshop of Duncan Phyfe (1768-1844). Mahogany, rosewood, satinwood, ivory, gilded gesso, brass with white pine, maple, ash


The Square Piano (when more is too much – too complicated for my wish list, yet very impressive woodwork): Square Piano
Robert Nunns and John Clark (active 1833-58)
New York City, 1853
Rosewood, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell

{Lavish decoration and opulent materials distinguish this extraordinary piano…. Its immense scale and excessive decoration make it quite unlike the small and economical upright pianos that became fixtures of middle-class parlours in the second half of the nineteenth century.}


The Four Seasons cabinet: Cabinet
Herter Brothers (active 1864-1906)
New York City, ca. 1869
Rosewood, maple ebonized wood, porcelain plaques, oil on panel, brass

{This rich and imposing cabinet is from a ten-piece parlour suite made by Herter Brothers in 1869 for Jay Gould’s house on Fifth Avenue. Incorporating a design vocabulary taken from the architecture of the day, it is a tour de force of cabinetmaking, combining sophisticated marquetry, assured carving and delicately modeled ceramic plaques depicting the Four Seasons.}


The Étagère in Rococo Revival style: Alexander Roux (active 1843-86)
New York City, ca. 1855
Rosewood, chestnut, poplar, bird’s-eye maple veneer


A Girl’s best friend (not just diamonds): Necklace with Pendant, ca. 1910
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Tiffany and Company
Moonstones, Montana sapphires, platinum


The Gilded Kennel (with the mark of Marie-Antoinette, no less): Kennel
Gilded beech and pine. Signed by Claude Sené (1724-1792): stamped with the mark of Marie-Antoinette’s garde-meuble. French, ca. 1775-80


The Copper Lamp: Dirk Van Erp (1859-1933)
San Francisco, California, ca. 1912-15
Copper base, mica and copper shade


The dressing room (gown included): Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room
New York City, 1881-82
George A. Schastey & Co. (1873-97)

{In 1881, Arabella Worsham then-mistress of railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington, hired the cabinetmaking and decorating Firm George A. Schastey & Co. to create a series of distinctive artistic interiors for her townhouse at 4 West 54th Street. The resulting decor, including that found in this dressing room, was the height of cosmopolitan style in the early 1880s and emblematic of Worsham’s quest to fashion her identity as a wealthy, prominent woman of taste.}


The octagon table:Probably New York City, about 1860
Walnut, marble


The Richard and Gloria Manney Greek Revival Parlour:

The Richard and Gloria Manney John Henry Belter Rococo Revival Parlour:

The Working Girl’s table:Worktable
Salem, Massachusetts, 1800-1810
Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ivory with white pine, maple

{Worktables were one of few gender-specific pieces of furniture used in the home. Women relied on them for storing sewing supplies and for conducting correspondence, as such tables often contained a hinged writing surface in a drawer.}


The Richmond Room, 1810-11:

The yellow chairs and the sleek Federal era sofa:Side Chairs
Attributed to the workshop of John Finlay (1777-1851) and Hugh Finlay (1781-1830)
Baltimore, ca. 1815-25
Maple with painted and gilded decoration

{Originally part of a large set, these brilliantly conceived and handsomely executed chairs derive their broad, deeply curved crest tablets and sweeping rear stiles from the ancient Greek klismos form.}

Center Table
Labeled by Anthony G. Quervelle (1789-1856)
Philadelphia, ca. 1830
Mahogany, marble and brass with painted decoration

The Art Nouveau mantelpiece: Attributed to Jean-Désiré Muller (French, 1877–1952)
Glazed stoneware, ca. 1900

The Minimal-Tidy-Closet-I-will-Never-Have-But-Always-Dream-Of:  Sara Berman’s Closet

{The meticulously organized, modest closet in which Sara Berman (1920–2004)—an immigrant who traveled from Belarus to Palestine to New York—kept her all-white apparel and accessories both contained her life and revealed it. Inspired by the beauty and meaning of Berman’s closet, the artists Maira and Alex Kalman (who are also Berman’s daughter and grandson) have recreated the closet and its contents as an art installation.

This exhibition represents Berman’s life from 1982 to 2004, when she lived by herself in a small apartment in Greenwich Village. In her closet Berman lovingly organized her shoes, clothes, linens, beauty products, luggage, and other necessities. Although the clothing is of various tints—including cream, ivory, and ecru—it gives the impression of being all white.}

And, finally, his made-to-order Little Red Hood’s cloak:Child’s cloak
American, 180s
Wool and silk

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

July 2nd, 2017

Through the ceiling

wp20160906_111129

Attending a briefing at the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber is a remarkable event but same could be said about the chamber itself, dressed floor-to-ceiling in carefully restored elements true to the original designs of Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl.

I think I would be forgiven for getting under the spell of these colourful, beautiful yet practical, retro-futuristic ceiling fixtures for a moment, before going back to work?

September 6th, 2016