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  • Donald Judd: Minimalism's Square Roots

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    donald judd artwork

    You've probably seen the artwork. Clean, stainless steel boxes, stacked one atop the other, lined across the floor or cantilevered from the museum wall. The first time you saw them you asked what they meant. The second time you asked why? The third time you probably just smiled and accepted it.

    That's a common reaction to the work of American artist Donald Judd (1928-1994).

    donald judd sfmoma

    Not everyone gets him. Not everyone loves him. Yet his contribution to international Minimalism is second to none.

    Judd aspired to create work devoid of compositional hirearchy. More simply put, he created art in which no one single thing catches your eye. It's strikingly egalitarian, and while his artwork has clearly influenced modern art, the principles of his work can also be felt in buildings, desk lamps and furniture designs. Notice the simply stacked squares of this lamp:

    modern steel desk lamps

    Amarillo Silver Accent Table Lamp

    It is this beautiful, understated quality of line that defines Judd's work, and it creeps up time and again, whether in his ink-on-paper prints or his site specific installations.   

    Donald Judd artwork on paper

    public art donald judd

    What Judd's art lacks in color or pizzazz is made up for in elegant simplicity. It's this conceptual basis that informs much of today's most celebrated products, from the iPhone to modern furniture designs like these glass nesting tables.

    glass nesting tables

    Silhouette Set of 3 Glass and Chrome Nesting Accent Tables

    And this is the true beauty of Minimalism - the ability for an object or image to convey more by saying less. What holds true for artwork also holds true for a piece of modern furniture or contemporary architecture.

    Donald Judd didn't just master this concept as an artist. He helped define it through his life's work. 

    Images: The Gorgeous Daily, June Joon JaxxPrinted Editions, Waymarking

  • Design in Style: Mid Century Modern Round-Up

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    mid century modern architecture

    We talk a lot here about Mid-century Modern, posting  a lot of cool images on our Facebook page too. But what does it take to achieve this look? What are the elements, besides super cool architecture? Let's dive in...

    To give you the simple definition, Mid-Century Modern is just that...mid-century. It describes the period from 1933 to 1965 and the developments in architectural, interior, product and graphic design that took place during that time. Today, we enjoy pieces from that time, some authentic while others are inspired-by pieces.

    1. Arteriors Macay Pendant, 2. Zuo Terracotta Leatherette Sofa, 3. Mesh Dining Chair, 4. Wilco Dining Table, 5. Basque Steel Arc Floor Lamp, 6. Zuo Heywood Bench

    Function was important in mid-century designs, with an emphasis placed specifically on targeting the needs of the average American family. Each of these pieces above function perfectly without being bulky and using unnecessary space. They're currently the most widely used pieces when designing a modern home, demonstrating that classics persevere. You can design an entire home using Mid-Century Modern furniture and accessories or you can just sprinkle them in as modern accents.

    mid century modern

    This living room (above) is furnished in authentic Mid-Century Modern style, right down to the Barcelona chair and wood floors. Architectural materials add character and can go a long way toward creating your design aesthetic.

    mid century modern furniture

    The relative of the Barcelona chair is the bench (above). This space nails Mid-Century Modern style on the head, while also maintaining a good mix of materials.

    mid century modern dining room

    Pairing modern items together, but mixing materials (above) is important and helps your home look collected rather than staged. A cute cat helps too.

    Designing your home or apartment with your own modern style is fun, but knowing a little about the history of modern design is even more fun!

    Image: House Plans, HouzzSF Girl by Bay

  • It's a Floating Lake House

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    modern lake house 

    Many memories are made vacationing at a lake in the summertime, and often times they are too good to ever stop experiencing. Becca and Doug Worpie feel this exact way about the rugged coast of Georgian Bay where they've made a trip to every year of their life. The environment is rough and unpredictable, but "this place is my heaven" says Becca.

    So, building a summer home here was their dream, but not as simple as one may expect. When they ventured out and stumbled upon the U-shaped island with a three acre piece of rock in Pointe au Baril, they also found two decrepit cottages and a boat house. They knew there was a lot of work ahead, but they also knew there was something extremely special about it.  

    modern boat dock

    This wasn't the type of  job you could hand your contractor sketches for, they had to get much more creative than that. So the couple called upon architects Michael Meredith and his partner Hilary Sample of MOS, a young interdisciplinary practice (then) based in Toronto to take on this project. They proposed a series of buildings that formed a "necklace" around the island; the main cottage and a series of smaller cabins that could house all the overnight guests that wanted to invite in the summertime With multiple cabins, modern outdoor path lighting would be great to help navigate from cabin to cabin at nighttime.

    modern sliding glass doors

    When building the final structure they wanted to build not just something on the water, but in the water. So they designed a two story building supported by massive pontoons that was fabricated off site and floated back into place. A modest boathouse now sits inside the cove and has become the family's main summer headquarters. The boat slip and sauna are down below, while upstairs there are two bedrooms, an office, gallery, and of course incredible views.

     modern bridge

    The bridges branches off from the second story and connects the main house to the other cabins.

    modern graphic artwork  

    Although the exterior of the house is clad in untreated cedar allowing it to weather naturally, the interior is a very modern and clean.  The floors and ceiling are treated with Douglas Fir to give you a very warm and cozy feeling in the space.  Modern wishbone chairs surround the mid-century dining table. The art is bold and colorful, creating a very playful vibe in the space.  

    modern kitchenette

    The modern kitchen is neutral in tone, but the clean modern lines really make a statement. You can tell each and every detail was planned out.

    wood ceiling

    The stunning view is picture perfect.  You could sit and stare or go outside and play, either one would be quite pleasurable.  

    Adding modern benches to any space with a view allows you to take it all in at every angle.   

    Zuo Heywood Single Natural Bench  

    stone fireplace

    The fireplace facade is clad with local granite and allows the bold colors of the artwork to just bounce right off of it. The playful edge comes through once again and reminds you that this place is for having fun with family and friends.   


    modern wood bathtub

    The iroko wood modern bathtub is the perfect element for connecting the interior with nature. Custom designed concrete tiles create texture and contrast to the natural wood elements of the space. After a long day of fun in the sun, i couldn't think of a better way to relax than soaking in the tub and thinking back about all the childhood memories and all the new ones created each day.  

    Whether you're at your own lake house of not, I truly hope you all are enjoying your summer and creating many memories that are sure to last a lifetime. 

    Images: Dwell

  • JF Chen: A Love For Eames

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    Highland showroom warehouse

    As you know, here at ESL we are modern design enthusiasts, which is usually what we like to talk about. However, today we're going to acknowledge someone who enjoys going back in time to truly understand today's favorite modern elements. JF Chen is a curator of antiques with showroom locations in Los Angeles. Chen is not shy to say, his general collecting parameters include an unrelenting addiction to mid-century modern Danish. His collections are endless and his knowledge of what defines a classic is not to be rivaled.

    He greets architects, designers, celebrities and design aficionados daily, helping them find what they're looking for, but making sure to stay out of designing their projects. He explains in an interview " I don't know how to sell, but I sure know how to buy".

    Collecting Eames, the JF Chen Collection

    Chen has recently published a book, "Collecting Eames" (above) surveying the iconic modern designs of Charles and Ray Eames. Upon debut of the book, he also held an exhibit at his showroom. I am, of course, very sad I did not know about this sooner. 

    The Eames chair he decided to use on the cover of his book is one of most rare Eames chairs in existence. Recently sold for low six figures, it was a prototype high-back armchair designed by the Eameses and Eero Saarinen in 1940-1941 for the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition.

    JF Chen

    This business is a family affair, Chen seen here (above) with his wife and two daughters. Like in any industry, the more you love what you do, the better you are at it. However, with Chen the saying might also be the more you love Eames, the more you collect.

    Eiffel Tower base

    It's important to develop your own aesthetic and favorite products, whether they are modern or a combination of different styles. But sometimes it's also fun to know where those designs came from and truly understand their form and function.

    To learn about another Eames lover, be sure to check out this video with Ice Cube.

    Images: 1stt Dibs, Exl Deal, Architecture Digest

  • Iris Apfel: Style + Design Icon

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    bohemian eclectic style

    "Taste you can learn, but style is charisma"- Iris Apfel

    Iris Apfel, an interior designer, business woman, and fashion icon is still as charismatic and stylish today and she was in her youth. "I'm a geriatric starlet, my dear, don't you know" explains Iris.  At the age of 83, 13 years into retirement, is when she actually became a celebrity. In 2005 the Metroplitan Museum in New York had an exhibition featuring Apfel's style. What was truly amazing about this exhibition was not only the clothes, but the way the she wore each piece. Each outfit was put together like a work of art and with such style.

    At the age of 90, believe it or not, she is even more famous today than 7 years ago. She has a ridiculously successful line of makeup at MAC, an accessory line, a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes named after her, and so much more. She's a true style icon. Take a look at how her personal fashion style can be interpreted from an interior design perspective, which is how she got her start. The rooms are as eccentric on the inside as she is on the out!

    midcentury gold chandelier
    The layers of gold, brown, and charcoal gray silk taffeta in this Lanvin gown, circa 1985, are as sculptural as the gold chandelier in this room. Adding gold accessories to your space can feel both elegant and eclectic.

     jewel tone pillows

    This deep jewel tone silk-taffeta Nina Ricci evening dress, designed by Gérard Pipart (circa-1985), belong in this sitting room. The colors of the painting and rug, along with the bold deep hues of the pillows combine to create a bohemian eclectic space as rich in color as the dress. Colorful pillows can bring a lot of energy into any room and is a great way to accessorize!

     modern graphic art 
    The hot pink blouse blossoms and flows like the dye on this stylish comforter. The necklace makes a bold and dynamic statement and pretty pairing in color, much like the painting above the bed . The bold black in the art and in the pillows create contrast and a strong grounding element for the colorful decor. Playful, sophisticated, and whimsical define both the room and the outfit.     

     black and white tartan plaid

    Tartan plaid and a furry friend, that's why these two go hand in hand! Sophisticated and casual is what makes this outfit and this room so lovely.  

     sculptural necklace

    And of course Iris Apfel has her own jewelry line as well! We can't help but notice, her sculptural White Bone Necklace resembles the form of our White Flower Ceiling Light! Her jewelry collection is "Natural, eclectic and fun". You can channel a little bit of Apfel's energy by wearing any of the pieces from her collection or designing your space with color and lots of personality! 

    Cheers to hoping that we all can have a small dose of Iris Apfel in us when we're 90. She is a true style icon in every sense of the term.  

    Images: Architectural Digest, Architectural DigestRue Magazine, HomesteadDesigns2Wear

July, 2012