Thursday, October 31, 2013

TBT: Halloween With Sopie Taeuber-Arp

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was married to Jean/Hans Arp. Both made major contributions to Dadaism, avant garde art, geometric abstraction, and modernism as a whole. For this week's Halloween edition of ThrowBack Thursday, here's an awesome photo of Sophie and [presumably] her sister Erika in Kachina costumes! [NB: it's unlikely the costumes in the photo were actually worn for the occasion of Halloween].

Sophie and Erika Taeuber in Zurich

I stole this photo from this great post about STA on Mondoblogo.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekly Thrift Report: We Bought A Zoo

Maybe it's more of a menagerie.

I found some Mexican ironwood carvings. I love this bear's eyes.

Turns out ironwood has been protected in Mexico since the early 90s, making these carvings more rare and more valuable as time goes on.

These are all pretty large, with the quail nearly 10" tall. This wood apparently sinks in water.

Speaking of tall, this brass doe sculpture is about a foot tall with beautiful detail. I think it's missing a mate. This would definitely sink in water.

Abelone shells are a dime a dozen in San Diego, but these two large shells are some of the nicest I've seen.

A Taylor & Ng recipe box. Check out our recent post on Taylor & Ng!

And a Christmas mug from Taylor & Ng. Only my second T&N mug ever!

I haven't identified any of this glassware, but I love them all and they look like some kind of retro-futurist dream structure together!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sergio Rodrigues In The Selby

Picking through The Selby on a Monday morning, I rediscovered this feature on Sergio Rodrigues from last year. Nothing like a little Brazilian design to get you through the beginning of the week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Firsts: Taylor & Ng

I used to pass by the ubiquitous mug miscellany section at thrift stores with barely a glance; assuming all generic-shaped illustrated coffee mugs to be of the same worthless ilk. I now know a little better and look forward to wading through the truly worthless and generic in search of the gems.

Among the gems to be found are vintage illustrated mugs by Taylor & Ng.

I found these three pieces this past week. The La Baleine mug is officially my first T&N.


History Lesson

Taylor & Ng was founded in San Francisco in1965 by Spaulding Taylor and Win Ng. Beginining with their signature quirky illustrated ceramics, the company expanded to include a wide range of housewares. Eventually, in addition to a wholesale business that brought their goods to stores everywhere, they opened their own department store, which closed in 1985. You can still buy goods from Taylor & Ng online.

I thought this story was straight-forward until I started reading about Win Ng's history. Ng was initially inspired to be a ceramicist, following in the non-functional abstract expressionist footsteps of Peter Voulkos. By the 70's Ng had multiple one-man shows around the world.

It's difficult to reconcile the obvious disparity between his initial artworks and the illustrated ceramics of T&N. The development of the company into purely functional home goods is nothing if not ironic.

Something of an explanation exists in that Ng continued to create fine art throughout his time with T&N. He left the business in 1981 to focus on fine art until is death from AIDS related complications in 1991 at the age of 55.

I guess if you're going to use an X-mas mug,  this would be a good way to go...

This is a recipe box. For all your recipes.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

TBT: Gram Parsons In Joshua Tree

In honor of a last-minute whirlwind (read: twelve short hours) camping trip Janel and I made to Joshua Tree last night to visit friends we haven't seen for years, here's a picture of Keith Richards and Gram Parsons in the park.

Parsons famously overdosed in the Joshua Tree Inn, and, legend has it, his body was stolen from the LAX tarmac by his manager and cremated in the park. I've yet to visit the shrine–maybe next trip.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weekly Thrift Report: Worth The Wait

A wine tasting trip To Temecula Valley Sunday afternoon, some hard-to-clean finds, and then a freelance baby shower invitation assignment held up this week's thrifting report. I took more pictures than usual to make up for it!

First up, the big reveal:

Yaaayyy, look at it all!
And now, in no particular order:

I picked up three of these beautiful Denby Cotswold dinner plates in great condition save for marks from prior use.
I found these two little tumblers with the most amazing geometric design.
A nice little Marimekko by Pfaltzgraff USA mug.
Janel spotted this peanut-shaped Melmac ColorFlyte platter by Branchell
I usually pass over Mikasa stuff, but this Sandstone serving tray designed by Bob Van Allen was the right price and too nice to leave behind.

This is a great medium-sized unsigned mixed-metal dish with a nice symmetrical organic shape.. We have others that are made in Mexico. This piece tested the limits of my DIY photo studio–can someone say "hotspots"?

Here's a detail shot of a big Nambé stainless steel candlestick. Check those sexy curves!

These Pyrex milk glass teacups with gold and gray bands at the rim look so good stacked.

I love the pattern on this large heavy Rosenthal serving tray. I haven't identified it yet, but it's similar to designs for Rosenthal by Raymond Loewy. UPDATE 10/25/13: Its the Silvana pattern by Raymond Loewy for Rosenthal.

We love coupés, and had to pick up a set of four with this etching of a stag.

We received this burlwood turned bowl with some skull-like knots as a donation. Janel found the wizardy blue-tinted quartz cluster.
I almost forgot this set of seven turned brass candlesticks Janel found. Don't they look great together?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When I Move To Los Angeles

I read this article in the New York Times T Magazine blog about the Trousdale Estates area of Los Angeles, just to the north of Beverly Hills, and I thought, "ooh, those places look nice."

Then I went on Google Maps and started creeping around the neighborhoods. I even found some of the places!

I found Courtney Cox's house!
Here's Elvis's place, and more modern pictures here (It's actually really really nice).

An hour later I emerged from the rabbit hole, having tried unsuccessfully to track down Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's place, which was recently owned by Kelly Wearstler, whom I can't seem to escape this week.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures, and maybe join me in fantasizing about living in the hills and canyons above LA for a while.

TBT: Tapio Wirkkala

Because he always looked so boss with a pipe. More.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trip Report: Salk Institute For Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

Living in San Diego, it's easy to bemoan the lack of meaningful contemporary art, design, culture, etc. Galleries are full of hideous rich-people-with-no-taste monstrosities, the MCASD is unconscionably tiny, bands touring the southwest seem only to make the side trip from LA 50% of the time, and forget about it if Coachella is near fore or aft.

As easy as hating San Diego can be, I decided I'd put a little more effort into finding something to like about the place (you know, besides the beautiful weather, the beaches, the desert, the mountains, the proximity to tons of other great places...). So here's the first in a new series wherein Janel and I make field trips to significant locations in and around our fair city.

I went with an obvious choice for our first trip: The Salk Institute, designed by Louis Kahn and built in 1965. Many articles already exist describing the history, context, importance, and details of the institute, so I won't bother trying.

I took lots of pictures though, with a real camera nonetheless[!]

A view of the western end, from a cliff, across a canyon, with the Pacific Ocean to my back. The center courtyard has a tent in the center for an event that was to be that evening. The effect of the symmetrical northern and southern wings flanking the central plaza, forming a "facade to the sky" would presumably be more striking with A) no tent B) no ugly new UCSD construction in the background C) a better camera lens D) all of the above.

A view from the road of the west end of the north wing. Nice lawn!

Details: note the travertine and beautiful intrinsically designed seating.

True story: we ran into an acquaintance who is employed by the Salk Institute; she said they are not allowed to drink red wine anywhere inside or out where there is travertine flooring. Here's a detail of the red wine-friendly gala flooring.

More gala-friendly additions. Maybe they went a little overboard...

Beautiful expanses of raw unfinished concrete; unadorned but for a beautiful patina.

Travertine, travertine, every where, nor any drop of wine

If you liked the travertine, you're going to love the teak!

A view of the northern wing from the plaza. Four stories are above ground with two more hidden below.

The northern wing again, with the ocean-facing windows in view.

I love the look of weatherd teak.

Check out that mildew!

Here's some ground level teak that looks like it's been refinished recently. It provides a beautiful accent to the concrete and travertine.

This wood was impeccable, perhaps due to its shelter from the elements.

There's a series of terraced pools at the western-most end. Also, there is a line of water running the length of the plaza, but the ugly tent covered it.

Another fatality of the gala: this pool should have water flowing into it. Alas, it was not to be.

Note these beautiful carved travertine seats that look anything but comfortable. Note the ugly additional seating in the background that looks comfortable if nothing else.

More travertine; on the way out.

A parting shot. Nice lawn!
The Salk Institute sits atop my favorite beach in San Diego (and, perhaps anywhere), Black's Beach. Surrounded by sandstone cliffs, Black's is accessible by several means, though most technically off-limits but unguarded. Additionally, Black's is tacitly a nude beach in spite of multiple signs saying nudity is not allowed. Any given weekend day you will find an entire nudist colony's worth of naturalists on the shore below. Any other day, you will find creepy older gentlemen wandering the beach alone au naturel.

The cliffs are technically off-limits, and, indeed, are unstable, killing tourists now and again who fall victim to rockfall while sitting too close to the base.

The bluff atop which the Institute sits is also home to a gliderport, facilitating the launching and landing of paragliders and hang gliders. There's even a rough landing strip for sailplanes.

Oh, and there's this place. That canyon running below this epically well-positioned house leads from the Salk Institute directly down to the beach via an adventurous, but well tended and oft-used path.
There are free daily architectural tours of the Insitute at 11:45 A.M. You can reserve a spot online.

For better history and architectural analysis of the Salk Institute and Louis Kahn, check out these links: