Archive | June, 2011

goose barnacle, rodger stevens and wire dog decor

23 Jun

We have two super-creative neighbors, who happen to be sister and brother.   Sister Marissa is a jewelry designer who sells her beautiful wares in a shop around the corner from our apartment.  (Every mom within a three-block radius of State Street seems to be sporting Marissa’s beautiful initial pendants; to me, they’re the modern version of those boy/girl shapes our own mothers used to sport).  And brother David recently transformed a creaky, tumble-down storefront on Atlantic Avenue into a beautiful wood-hewn tribute to the best in no-fuss but gorgeous, solidly made, durable menswear (In fact, the stuff is perfect for the way my husband shops; unlike me, he spends a lot on one piece then proceeds to wear it (out) every day – so it had better be made to last).  But Goose Barnacle isn’t just a clothes shop, it’s also a place for David to show off pieces of art that match his hand-crafted aesthetic.

That’s why I smile when I walk by his store window nearly every morning:

front window, goose barnacle

I was reminded of his wire display while browsing one of my other favorite shops in New York (this time, near work).  If you’re not familiar with Mxyplyzyk, you should be.  Of course, there are more of these MOMA-store-inspired tchotchke shops popping up all over the place, but Mxyplyzyk (look it up) was an originator of the scene.  And it’s one of those design-centric shops that seems to always keep its inventory new and fresh, no matter how often you visit (it’s been there for as long as I can remember).

wall of dogs, mxyplyzyk

For those of you who are slightly bored by the Wallcandy-Blik-decal overload of the past few years, but don’t have a lot of space to feature big posters or the patience for wallpaper, these fabulous metal dogs are full of personality and only $65 each.

french bulldog? closeup

It’s funny to find something so similar to something you walk by every day, so I thought I’d try and learn a bit more about David’s colleague and collaborator for Goose Barnacle.

Turns out this guy is a pretty big deal!  His name is Rodger Stevens and his work has been featured all over the place -from private residences of the rich and famous to some really gorgeous retail locations around the US.

driftwood/wire, barney's, scottsdale, arizona

He calls his work “shadow-casting metal narrative pieces” – to me, that’s one fascinating thing about this work.  Whether mounted against a wall, hanging from a ceiling, or standing on its own, these thin sculptures end up occupying more territory and feeling ‘fuller’ than you think they would at first glace.   Here’s a video of his technique, courtesy of David’s website on behalf of Stevens.

Untitled from Goose Barnacle on Vimeo.

Which takes me back to the dogs.  I bet they’re probably imitations of his work (an impression based solely on price point) but if it builds an appreciation for three-dimensional sculpture and the place it can have in a kids’ room, to me, that’s pretty cool.

Check out more about Rodger Stevens here.  Could be a nice option if you’re looking for some new art in the rest of your home too.


vintage hamilton cosco high chairs

21 Jun

cosco high chair, mikeyboy2020, ebay

I’ve been putting together images of mid-century and vintage-inspired high chairs for a future post. And in my searches, I came across this Cosco “Comfort Line” high chair being sold by “Mikeyboy2020” of Cincinnati on Ebay this week.  But there are only four days left for this auction, and was hoping someone might find it as interesting as I have.  In fact, this is the only vintage Cosco of its kind that I’ve found so far.  Apart from a chip on the footrest and the (Very Important) need to attach a new seatbelt strap, the chair is in pretty fantastic shape.  I figure that with shipping, you’ll pay a little less than $200 for it.

It’s much easier (and cheaper) to find the folding metal chairs similar to the one below (which is in great shape and also available on Ebay), although you might find the chrome needing a touch of polish and the seat requiring a brave scrubbing.

cosco folding chair, thevillagepeddler, ebay

It’s definitely very different from the powder-coated-and-animal-print-vinyl versions we’re used to today.  There’s something super cool about the late 60s/early 70s version of Cosco’s eponymous line.   My interest was piqued after learning that Fionn’s favorite chair is actually of the same generation of awesome designs to come out of the Hamilton Manufacturing Corporation of Columbus, Indiana.

cosco booster chair

Or if you’re looking for a booster seat, it’s pretty easy to find Fionn’s chair (as discovered by Grandma on Ebay and mentioned above).  I actually had no idea that it WAS a booster seat, and an adjustable one at that.  Compare these simple, beautiful designs to today’s existing contraptions, and it’s like comparing an Eames lounger to a Bob’s Furniture recliner.

And, lastly, the Cosco chair I hesitate to feature, because I kind of want it for my own.

cosco rocker, eames forever, ebay

Same as the booster, but a rocking chair, here on Ebay.  HOW COOL IS THIS.   So if you visit the link, and find it sold,  here’s the tip I’ll share with you:  Antiques > Periods & Styles > Mid-Century Modernism.  Always worth a browse.

mattel modern mid-century doll furniture

9 Jun

Mattel Modern boxes, courtesy Rosies Too and You

I have a son.  And unlike the famous Jenna (J.Crew) whose son famously had his photo snapped while receiving a bright pink pedicure, Fionn is just as well-defined by his dislike of pink and the prospect of having his toes touched at all.  This is a short (and probably non-PC) way of saying that there’s probably very little chance of him – anytime soon – enjoying this amazing dollhouse furniture I just discovered by the Mattel company, manufactured in 1958 and sometimes available on Etsy and Ebay.

Vintage breakfront, courtesy The Toy Box

This amazing toy furniture was developed in 1958, a year before the launch of Barbie. But I’m sure Barbie would have loved it.  You can see from the top image that this was a limited collection (and a premium one at that, being called “Mattel Modern” from the get-go).  The Scandinavian influence is apparent, and it pleases me to no end to learn that a mainstream toy company would have created what us KidRobot fans nowadays call ‘limited edition exclusives’ which may not have appealed to all doll-house-furnishing consumers at the time.

Mid-century dresser, courtesy The Toy Box

Chairs and table, courtesy The Toy Box

As with most niche mid-century modern furniture fashions, Mattel Modern has inspired a Flickr collection.  You must visit these images, if just to see the intense care paid to maintain and reupholster(!) some of these pieces.

Sofa box, courtesy Rosies Too and You

Even the packaging is fantastic.
As of today, I found pieces (as represented by the photos above) at the Rosie Too and You shop on Ebay and the Toy Box (in Texas) on Etsy.  Pieces range from $15 to over $100, but compared to those silly Vitra collector’s chairs, it’s quite a deal.  Keep an eye on them – at time of posting many of the pieces were already sold, but they seem to be popping up quite often.

Any additonal detail to add on the origin of these designs?  Anyone out there who’s furnished a mid-century dollhouse?  Please write!

warhol’s harper’s bazaar years

7 Jun

Harpers spread, May 1958

Andy Warhol, as you may know, got his big break at Harper’s Bazaar Magazine.

A few months ago, I went to a meeting hosted in the Hearst Tower in Manhattan (the new home to magazines like Bazaar and its friends).   And while tripping over my feet staring at the art on the walls outside our conference room (“a Chuck Close is just hanging there…!”) I happened upon an exhibition catalog written on behalf of, and recognizing, Andy’s time at the magazine.   Sadly, I missed the actual show and the accompanying party, but it sounded like fun.

Shoes, Harpers, March 1956

Makeup, Harpers, July 1956

Between 1951 and 1964, Warhol created tons of illustrations and art-directed a handful of spreads for the fashion magazine.   And back then, people didn’t keep original artwork – so the only evidence of this work that exists comes from the pages of vintage magazines themselves.  I’ve taken the liberty of scanning some spreads (above) from the catalog to share the amazing visual style he displayed early on in his career.   As Charlie Shieps, author of the catalog, described, “His drawing had an idiosyncratic style and visual impact in print that appealed to art directors both for their whimsy and linear elan.”  So, in other words, he got work because it appealed to his bosses. An entrepreneur in action.

And just as it’s always fascinating to read earlier novels from a writer you’ve just discovered, or listen to back catalog discs from a new band, it’s equally rich to see how Warhol’s work for the magazine was the initial proving ground for his photo-booth portraits, his experimentation with technique (rubber-stamped reproductions as the precursor to silkscreening), and his liberal ‘borrowing’ of source materials.

But what I found most interesting about the whole thing was how strongly I found myself attracted to this work, despite not having much of an emotional ‘feeling’ for Warhol in general.  (Art history majors would probably tell me that’s the point…)  I’ve written about him once before, but never found a reason to mention his own work as a beautiful and decorative option for a bedroom or living room.   So I stand corrected.

The posters are available at, here on Amazon,  or at  They’re from the same time period as his magazine work – roughly 1956-1958.   You can find cats, shoes, (DVF-logo) lips, among other things.  They’re a great way to introduce one of our great artists to your kids without having to travel the well-worn Marilyn/soup can route (they’ll find it  on their own soon enough).   Skipping back a few years from an artist’s famous period is always fascinating… if you’re ever seeking inspiration, it can help you make some interesting discoveries.

Lastly, here’s a great article by Tama Janowitz on why people miss Andy Warhol.