Monday

Eames Lounge Chair

The chair that, in my opinion, best defines the forward thinking of mid century design is the Eames lounge chair.  Basically, whenever you sit in a comfortable chair nowadays, you can thank Ray and Charles Eames and the work they did to develop the 670 Lounge, and 671 Ottoman.

I have always, and still, want one but my pocket book doesn't allow for it quite yet so for the last couple years I have used my Plycraft knock off to watch tv in, listen to records, sleep, etc.  I am not a supporter of knock offs as a replacement to the original but they do have their place.  For example, the Plycraft chair was a re-designed version which had features not found on an original like the reclining/rocking base.  It was also much less expensive, and although its price is reflected in it's overall construction quality, the fact that it is put together with screws rather than heat bonded rubber shock mounts makes repairing it much less expensive than a real Herman Miller chair.  There are people who say that the Plycraft chair is more comfortable than the real one, but I am not willing to facilitate that debate.

Our chair looks like E.T.
One day while searching craigslist, I came upon an add that featured two "retro bentwood chairs" among other things at a garage sale.  In the photo was a Plycraft chair, and what appeared to be a real lounge chair in a light tan color.  I went to the sale, offered $75 for it, and brought it home.  Although it is not real, it is much closer in appearence to the real one and will make a nice replacement to the Plycraft chair. This one has metal hardware made by Middleton Mfg. Co., and the wood shells are made by Davis Wood Products.  I am still researching to find out the age, and company who sold these because as you can see it is very close in proportion to a real one.

Last night I began the process of cleaning it all up.  I will post photos of that process, but I have taken all of wood shells off, stripped, sanded, and stained them and they look much better.  The seats are real leather, so I am actually going to dye them black with a process used for dying auto upholstery and if I screw it up I will just have them re-upholstered by a professional.   Stay tuned...

Wednesday

Why I like old stuff.

I figured it out, and I didn't even have to pay for a counseling session to do it.

The short answer, and the one I give most people is that things were made with a much higher standard of quality, and that many of the things that i gravitate towards were even hand made, giving them an energy that new things lack.  But there is a much deeper reason, one that goes all the way back to my childhood, and that may even be true for the lovely people who read this blog.

I was having lunch with friends when the topic of antiques came up.  It was everyone else's opinion that people who collect things are simply holding onto junk that should have been thrown away long ago.  Except my house of course, and added that my stuff is different because it is cool.  Anyways, after a little more conversation I realized that they don't like old things because they grew up around antiques that they weren't allowed to touch, and that much of it was junk and not functional.  The whole moderne movement came from this very problem of too much fuss, not enough function.

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of tv.  I was also pretty close to my parents and the things that they did or said had a lot of influence on me.  My dad in particular grew up watching television while, I presume, his parents went out on the town and to parties.  Subsequently as a kid I found myself watching tv with him a lot, and with cable tv and specifically "Nick at Nite", I watched most of the shows that he watched as a kid; The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, Leave it to Beaver, and Gilligans Island were among my favorites.  Added to this interesting mix of shows that came in different shades of gray, were the commercials.  Before showing real commercials, they would often show a commercial from the era of whatever show you were watching to add to the atmosphere I suppose.

I was also influenced by print media from a whole other era, I inherited national geographic magazines from a neighbor once and I would spend my time in my room reading them and because they were a current events type publication, what i read would be in a non-historic context.  I learned a lot about specific eras in a non-kitschy way and at a young age so to me it was perfectly normal to grow up liking those things.  I would also spend a lot of time at my great grandmothers house (which you can read about here ) immersed in a 1950s world.

In 7th grade I did a book report on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and did a hanging mobile (influenced by Calder I suppose) about communism to go along with it.  My teacher acted impressed but probably thought my parents dropped me as a baby.  I got an A.

A lot of my friends find it strange that I am so drawn to the mid century era, and specifically the 1960s, so much so that perhaps I border on insane to them.  Well, maybe but when you consider that I grew up doing and seeing a lot of the same things that my dad did having actually grown up in the 60s it makes sense.  I like other things too, from other eras, I love many many old things but the mid century era makes me feel at home and comfortable.  Having a house that is period correct feels right, and allows it to function better.  My wife and I live a perhaps slower life than other 25 year olds, but we enjoy it.

Monday

It's always something....

I mentioned a creative project that I am starting, and that I would 'reveal' it on here.  Well, the project had just begun and relied heavily on the use of a camera and my camera was recently stolen.

We were getting ready to leave the house on Saturday morning, only find that the back window of our car had been broken and I immediately knew why.  For the prior week, I had been using my camera frequently and I had left it in my car.  Fearing it being stolen but too lazy to bring it inside, I had placed it under the driver seat.  Apparently at some point, it slid out from under the seat where it could be seen (so no, I am not one of those people who just left it sitting on the seat).  It wasn't a terribly expensive camera or anything, just a Nikon L100, but I had gotten it setup the way I like it and I was used to shooting with it and now I have to start over.  The moral of the story is, don't leave valuables in your car.

In other news, we recently took a trip to McMinville to visit the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon which was really fun.  You pay $10 for a guided tour, and then you can wander around the home afterwards, which we did.  It was designed in 1957, but wasn't built until 1963 due to cost. It was a very interesting tour and it sparked an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright as being a bit of a playboy and quite controversial, as opposed to my view before which was of a quiet frail old man. Oh and the best part, I was able to borrow a camera for the trip so at least I got a few pictures.
Here Amber shows off the doors that close at a 90 degree angle.  This picture also shows how low the ceilings are.  Mr. Wright was short, and said that anything above 6 feet was wasted space.
I love the gallery hallway.  This is taken from an upstairs bedroom looking down the hallway to the opposite bedroom. Mr. Wright did not like hallways, but when required he made use of it as a gallery and offered a lot of storage.
 We also went to the Evergreen Air Museum and had a good time, although their tactics for making money are a little annoying.  You pay $20 per person to get into the museum which is a marvel in size, as it houses the Spruce Goose, and then you wander around and look at the planes.  You can walk right up to many of them, but if you want to look inside of a B-29 bomber, you have to pay $10.  You can step inside of the Spruce Goose and marvel at it's interior, but if you want see the cockpit you have to pay $50 per person for the chance.  I just found it a little tacky that they don't just charge you for all of the extras at the front.  

 I was able to snap a picture of this MiG 17 for free!  That grey thing in the background that looks like a wall is actually a portion of the side of the Spruce Goose.  It effing huge.

This a Soviet satellite, with styling cues from 60s era Disneyland?

And a missle!