This 1950s ranch-style home in Sherman Oaks was completely renovated for Foofighter’s bassist Nate Mendel. This Mid Century Modern, was one of my favourites on the Dwell Home Tours. The home had an eclectic, tasteful decorating style with hits of colour throughout. Although the house has a new two-story studio guesthouse addition, from the street-side point of view the house sits low and unassuming. A wood-clad box demarcates the entrance. A hedge of Japanese blueberry provides privacy on the street side, “where a translucent gate opens onto a splashing fountain, and a bridge to the front door spans a sunken bed of succulents in lieu of a pond” (from Garden Design, read more).
Polished concrete floors ground the interior along with warm wood accents, while huge windows and sliding glass panels offer great views of the entire Los Angeles Valley, with a backdrop of the Verdugo and San Gabriel mountains beyond. According to the Architects, Scrafano and Gus Duffy Architects, the muted accents of a gray palette provide relief from the brilliant Los Angeles sun. The client’s desire for environmental sustainability influenced all material choices, construction practices, solar technologies as well as lighting and water fixtures (from Scrafano Architects website). The project is a collaboration between Scrafano Architect, Gus Duffy Architects and Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture.
The bits and pieces:
All photographs have been taken by me unless noted on the individual photos.
Bruce Nassbaum, in his book Creative Intelligence, talks about the new ‘maker movement’ that is happening. He talks about how Generation Y has seen the negative effects of globalization and ‘throwing your lot in with a big corporation that has no loyalty to you’. Craft, is popular again, as we can see from on-line commerce sites like Etsy. Individuals can now put out their own music, make their own movies, and sell their home-made goods in a variety of ways. This is making.
We all have a need to create things, and we want real, tangible, authentic goods. HGTV television has shown us we can make through DIY projects. We recognize that organic or locally produced foods are better, and we love when our table is made from found materials. We are moving towards a climate of what I call, ‘local is the new black.’ In other words, GoLocal is the new Global. By buying recycled or used items (and locally made items with no transportation costs) we can realize some of the savings that were only to be had by exploiting underpaid foreign workers in unregulated environments.
Granville Island Markets, Vancouver.
My husband’s theory on two key contributors to the decline of Rome, (and comparable to our own experience) and relevant to mention, are:
Mercenaries doing the work of Romans so the ‘locals’ forgot how to make, and therefore, became lazy, relying completely on others expertise.
Decline in technical innovation – how do you innovate when you stop designing and making?
A lovely new shop, called Gild & Co, has opened my neighbourhood. The store is where ‘Modern meets Vintage’. As a collector of vintage goodies I have a real soft spot for what proprietor Bonnie is trying to do.
Bonnie explains her philosophy:
“Each piece at Gild & Co. carries a unique story; where it came from, how we found it, and why we brought it into the store. Our collection of inspired modern furnishings and embellishments is rounded out with revamped vintage gems, fusing classic forms with modern inspiration.”
She breathes new life into furniture that was manufactured at a time when high quality was the norm. With our tendency to over-consume, and when so many of the products of western culture ends up in landfills, it is exciting to know that buying vintage reduces the need to manufacture new furniture and harvest new materials. It is the ultimate in recycling because there is something very nostalgic, evocative and connective in rediscovering the classic artifacts of our shared past.
My friend Bette bought these beautiful Mid-Century Modern Chairs from Gild & Co to go with her new L-shaped sofa in a relatively small room. The chairs are the perfect scale, and are so comfortable and well made. It goes without saying, that it’s likely no one else will have these chairs! They are originals!
Beyond the great collection of furniture and embellishments, Bonnie is doing something for the vitality of our neighbourhood. It is not an easy neighbourhood in which to run a business. I have seen many businesses come and go, but as a designer and collector of modern furniture and cool stuff, I really want Gild & Co to be successful.
So please go out and support the local businesses that keep our cities vibrant!
An internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953, Ray Kappe‘s much awarded and published work is considered to be an extension of the early Southern California master architects: Wright, Schindler, Neutra, and Harwell Hamilton Harris.
Some good advice In the words of Ray Kappe:
“I’ve always sought out the edges, the views, and a feeling
“I was once asked what I think are the ten most important principles that helped make me a successful architect, planner, and educator…
(1) Think positively, not negatively.
(2) Accept structure but know that it is to be questioned and broken when necessary.
(3) Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent. Do not accept the status quo.
(4) Know yourself and keep your work consistent with who you are and how you think.
(5) Maintain good moral and social values.
(6) Be humble, honest, compassionate, and egalitarian.
(7) Have conviction about your work.
(8) Be open and say yes to most ideas and requests. The good ones will be valuable, the bad ones will cease to exist.
(9) Allow employees and fellow workers freedom and the ability to work to their strengths. Avoid hierarchy.
(10) Money should be the residual of work, not the goal. But do not compromise your worth.”
Martha Stewart on a “Winnipeg Chair’, from Design Exchange
My husband, Graham, and I have always had an affinity for chair collecting. Over the years we have found and gone through many chairs. Usually we think we will recover them but often we don’t. Eventually we give them away or ‘store’ them in friends’ cabins. Graham found this chair at our local ‘Sellution’ consignment store. He was immediately drawn to its design. We did some research and found out it had a name and a very interesting history.
The ‘Winnipeg Chair’, also known as, the Canadian Coconut Chair, was designed by an Architect by the name of A.J. Donahue. A.J. studied at Harvard with Marcel Breuer in the 1940s and explored techniques of bent wood furniture construction. After Harvard, Donahue settled in Winnipeg to teach architecture. Donahue developed his lounge chair, according to Rachel Gottlieb’s book Design in Canada (Design Exchange, 2001), in the late 1940’s in his basement with the assistance of his students. Donahue only produced about 200 examples of the chairs and we happen to have one of them.
The Winnipeg chair bears some resemblance to George Nelson’s Coconut chair—which actually wasn’t introduced until much later, in 1955. According to Tim Borys, founder of the new furniture company HutJ, which is reissuing the Winnipeg chair, “That’s a classic Canadian story. Here’s a great design that gets swept under the rug and then it gets knocked off five years later,” Borys says, before remembering his Canadian manners. “I’ll be careful where I push that story. I don’t want to offend anyone.”