Connect

Latest Post

The End of an Era Is Here

04/05/2015

The highly anticipated seventh season of Mad Men kicks off tonight and we will be watching as Don Draper and company draw us back into to their mid-century machinations in a way we will miss dearly when they are gone. We will be releasing some exciting new mid-century modern products at High Point Market in a few weeks so we asked design writer Saxon Henry to give us her take on a few of the offerings through the lens of the era, and she didn’t disappoint!

Don Draper Reads Frank O'Hara

Here’s her riff on how a popular dramatic series, the New York School poets and a pair of our products coalesced to put her in a mid-century mood:

No one does the quizzical silent treatment better than Don Draper, especially when he’s stewing about the myriad mistakes he’s made in his life. Case in point is his fascination with Frank O’Hara’s book of poems Meditations in an Emergency. As he’s thumbing through it during an early season of the show, his deliberate voice is parsing out these lines:

“Now I am quietly waiting for

the catastrophe of my personality

to seem beautiful again,

and interesting, and modern.”

He’s reading from the poem “Mayakovsky,” which first appeared in print in 1957, the choice for this drama one of many brilliant moves the television series’ creator Matthew Weiner has made during the show’s storied history. That’s because Draper’s odyssey superbly depicts the experimentation and chaos of 1960s New York City, as does O’Hara’s story and poetry, and the work and lives of the artists he gathered around him even before he was an executive at the Museum of Modern Art.

:

The poem Don is reading pays homage to Vladimir Mayakovsky, a Russian Futurist whose work O’Hara held in high esteem. The theme is spot-on in its tone given that the “catastrophe” of O’Hara’s and Draper’s personalities make them both model citizens of their time—a sliver of history that stirs up a cocktail of images signifying a new American age replete with its own art and literary royalty, which was dubbed the New York School.

Accompanying this caldron of creativity at the time were the intersecting worlds of design and architecture—Bauhaus and Scandinavian sensibilities intermingled with European Modernism and a surge in American ingenuity to create a watershed moment for new thinking. A handful of the brightest stars during this time were Florence Knoll, Georg Jensen, Hans Wegner, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray and Charles Eames, Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and George Nelson, to name a scant few.

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen lighting up

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen dishing on design at Cranbrook.

The Mad Men production team, led by Weiner, got this part right, too, tapping furnishings by some of these visionaries for the backdrops that allowed this period drama to resonate to its core. One episode during the same season in which Don reads O’Hara’s poetry finds Betty Draper reclining on a Barcelona chaise during psychotherapy, her neck gingerly placed on the black leather bolster to maintain her perfect coif. In creating such a sophisticated representation of the era in design, Weiner’s team enticed an entirely new audience toward the mid-century modern aesthetic, overreaching those of us who live, breathe, eat and sleep design heritage.

The Moorgate Multi Pendant by Currey and Company

Currey & Company’s Moorsgate Multi Pendant with six lights, made of wrought iron and recycled glass.

When I noticed that Currey & Company was chief among the savvy manufacturers who’ve realized the style is now a solid fixture on the scene, I was not surprised; and the new products they will unveil at High Point Market in a few weeks sets the fashionable mid-century modern bar high. I was particularly taken by the lighting I saw as creative director Cecil Adams showed me the new collections.

The two light fixtures I tapped to illustrate this post exemplify one of the most fascinating things about the era from a design perspective: by the early 60s, the coexistence of disparate expressions were on the radars of enlightened American style-setters.

Both paired-down simplicity and elegant ornateness had made their way into the marketplace. The ultimate in traditional craftsmanship suddenly existed side-by-side with the height of experimentation. And handcrafted genuineness gave up some of its territory to machined leanness.

In retrospect, design was everywhere and a certain political newcomer was rallying behind its cause as she shopped for contemporary art for her important new home. Given it was the most powerful house in the country, even the bohemian poets and artists took notice, as Brad Gooch notes in his biography City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara. “A particular fascination in the new politics […] for O’Hara and his friends—as for most of America—was the thirty-one-year-old first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy,” he wrote. “She appeared just a few weeks after the inauguration in his [O’Hara’s] poem ‘Who is William Walton?’ inspired by news of the first lady’s visit to the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.”

The Aphrodite Chandelier by Currey & Company

Aphrodite chandelier with 14 lights made of light antique mirror and wrought iron in a gold Granello finish.

Walton was a contemporary artist, journalist and close friend of the Kennedy family, as well as an advisor to the First Lady, aiding her with the redecoration of the White House. He had suggested the gallery as a perfect choice because it was widely known as hotbed for cutting-edge contemporary art in a city lauded for the most avant-garde art anywhere.

This is a perfect example of how worlds collided during this time—making life challenging culturally when civil rights and gay rights took explosive turns—and expansive creatively when censorship gave way to poets and artists being able to express themselves even in the edgy terms O’Hara and company now personify.

But tradition wasn’t about to forfeit its hold. Consider the fact that Henry Francis du Pont also advised the First Lady on her White House makeover. Can you imagine two satellites of influence farther apart than the American collector and horticulturist, and the contemporary artist who escorted Jackie Kennedy into that art gallery? I certainly can’t.

And if you’ve ever doubted why the First Lady represents such an arbiter of taste still, consider that she had the vision to gather around her such an eclectic group of advisers.

This made her an early example of the nonconforming female influencer that ushered design toward the personal reflection of our very selves it is today. I, for one, would like to thank her!

New York School poet Frank O'Hara

Frank O’Hara, photographed in 1965 by Mario Schifano.

Ironically, Frank O’Hara never lived in posh digs but his influence on those who did was substantial. His life was bohemian to the core: even after his star had risen at MoMA, his typewriter was always on his kitchen table and unwashed dishes filled his sink.

But he didn’t need the table for meals because his powerful position put him first on everyone’s guest list. In fact, it was di rigueur for hosts and hostesses to handwrite on their invitations, “Frank will be there!”—a tactic that drew some of the world’s wealthiest collectors and most popular artists to the city’s fashionable gatherings.

By the early 60s, O’Hara was traveling the world organizing collections for the Museum, visiting and spending time with artists whose names we have come to know as contemporary and pop art’s early movers and shakers, many of them owing him a debt of gratitude for their spot on the roster.

His incongruous legacy as a globetrotting, bow-tied art-world idol AND the creator of poetry so gritty it would inspire Weiner to use it to portray a New York City ad man’s disintegrating life has kept the mystique surrounding O’Hara’s legacy in tact during the past nearly five decades since his death.

It also makes him marvelously modern, an aspiration he penned in “Mayakovsky.” And no doubt, Draper is of this poet’s tribe because O’Hara’s life held a similar tone of upheaval until his early death at the age of 40 on a Fire Island beach in 1966. The writers and painters who mourned him had become the new establishment through their sheer bravado. By daring to force a departure from the status quo, they created a new style that forever changed art and literature’s landscapes. Following suit, design’s big names made news thanks to visionaries like Florence Knoll and Herman Miller, both keen to produce furniture by the new guard.

Winterthur Zara Torchieres

Zara torchières, in Currey & Company’s Winterthur Collection. Photography by Mali Azima; art direction/styling by Thea Beasley; image courtesy Currey & Company.

By paying close attention to heritage of all eras when producing new collections, Currey & Company is one of the manufacturers serving its customers well. Think of the fact that the new products being released soon not only call to mind the glory days of Mad Men but also include designs inspired by du Pont’s renowned Winterthur Collection and other stylistic periods. This is the level of thoughtfulness it takes to leave a legacy, a concept that every visionary mentioned in this post nailed so brilliantly whether they were cognizant of it or not.

Mid-century Modern products by Currey & Company

Mid-century modern standouts from Currey & Company include the Babylon Table Lamp, the Hookah Table and the Gilles Chair. Photography by Mali Azima; art direction/styling by Thea Beasley; image courtesy Currey & Company.

Text of The End of an Era Is Here © Saxon Henry and Currey & Company, all rights reserved. The fact this was a sponsored post in no way swayed the opinions contained within it because I would not have chosen to write about these products had their aesthetic attributes not resonated with me.

+ LEAVE A REPLY

03/31/2015

Spring Loaded: New Products From Currey & Company Echo Spring’s Hottest Fashion Trends

The Spring market is a few weeks away and we just couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peek into some of our favorite NEW items! We love how the styles found on the runways in Paris and Milan pair so well with these new items… Pleasing geometry and bright colors, patterns and prints have become just […]

+ SEE MORE

02/10/2015

Golden Rule: Brass Fixtures From Currey & Company

Currey & Company’s collection of brass fixtures highlights the timeless appeal of this excellent material with an up-to-date look and hand-crafted details. Made from high quality solid brass, these items feature both machine made and hand-crafted parts that are expertly fitted together and finished in a vintage antique wash. Our brass items are designed to […]

+ SEE MORE

02/03/2015

A Fine Romance: Valentine’s Day Inspiration From Currey & Company

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we couldn’t resist putting together a pretty palette of blush and burgundy to celebrate this season of romance! Whether your style is traditional, simple or seductive, you’ll fall in love with one (if not several!) of our dazzling products. Show your home some love and shop our collection today! www.curreyandcompany.com 1. Paradise […]

+ SEE MORE

01/27/2015

Office Attire: New Design Suite at Currey & Company’s Atlanta Office

Over the past summer, the Currey & Company home office underwent a major renovation which included the addition of two conference rooms, an expanded multi-use classroom, a photo studio and an upgraded design suite for our merchandising and design teams. After much planning, we were able to build a collaborative work space outfitted with a large conference […]

+ SEE MORE

01/20/2015

Dream Weaver: Currey & Company’s Line of Woolen Rugs

Inspired by historical and tribal designs, Currey & Company rugs are knot tied by hand of high quality wool blend. Subtle colorations are created with Swiss dyes and meticulous craftsmanship ensures that our ethically produced rugs will last for decades. Cecil Adams, Creative Director, provides guidance and expertise in the creation and expansion of this collection. Cecil adds: “Traditional […]

+ SEE MORE

01/15/2015

Sunny Disposition: Palm Beach Chic Style by Designers David Ecton & Lance Jackson of Parker Kennedy Living

Now that we’re in the throes of winter, we could all use something bright and colorful to bring some warmth to these gray days. Enter two of our favorite interior designers, David Ecton and Lance Jackson of Parker Kennedy Living. We talked with them about their unique take on a quintessentially cheerful style: Palm Beach Chic. C&C: […]

+ SEE MORE

12/23/2014

Happy Holidays from Currey & Company!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas full of joy and peace and a happy and prosperous New Year, from all of us at Currey & Company!  (source)

+ SEE MORE

12/09/2014

A Human Touch: Thoughts on Craftsmanship in Home Furnishings by Brownlee Currey

Written by Brownlee Currey You know that new thing that just arrived? That lamp, chandelier, or vase which was just unpacked? There is something you may not be considering: someone, more likely than not, made it by hand. This is true of so many things that we buy: clothing, shoes, jewelry, and most home furnishings. […]

+ SEE MORE

12/04/2014

Seating Plan: Currey & Company’s Collection of Custom Upholstery Furniture

Currey & Company is pleased to offer an exquisite line of custom upholstered accent furniture to our customers. With 19 premium hand rubbed finishes, 50 hand carved frames and a carefully selected collection of 59 fine fabric and leather choices, we’ve opened the door to designers to provide their clients a custom look that reflects […]

+ SEE MORE