Posts tagged mirrored furniture
Brutalism and Paul Evans

The Brutalism style was really popular in the 1960s and 1970s but was first coined as the French “béton brut”  – Le Corbusier’s definition of his favorite material and the term was made popular by architecture critic Reyner Banham in the 1950s and 1960s. Today is due in part to 1970s-inspired fashion trends in films like “American Hustle”and disco dance music. Brutalism is hard edges jagged shapes rough surfaces patinad burned finishes, asymmetrical designs, spikey silhouettes, and metallic colors. In the production the term means that the welding and torch cutting are carried out in a “brutal manner” -- meaning  the creftsperson performs his or her basic action on the piece in a given moment does not tamper with it afterward leaving the art piece raw, and, scrappy. To carry out this, the artist needs a thorough knowledge of what action is about to be taken, how to perform that action, steady hands, and most importantly, a ZenLike attitude towards the process. Today we're seeing Brutalist furniture emerge through a lot of pieces that can blend into a lot of design styles. The look is popular with Kelly Wearstler, Johathan Adler and Blackman Cruz, and is common in lighting wall sculptures and concrete pieces but you can find a variety of vintage and contemporary consoles, sideboards, and armoires that exhibit characteristics.The master of Brutalism was Paul Evans (1931 – 1987). Famous for his contributions to the American Craft movement of the 1960s, his metal furnnishings make him apart from the world of design. He was not easily categorized, Evans was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and spent his early childhood in New Hope, Pennsylvania his father was head of a Quaker school’s English department and his mother was, a painter. He eventually attended Cranbrook Academy near Detroit, Michigan, and afterwards demonstrated metalworking techniques at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. In 1950 Evans set up business in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he experimented in phases. He collaborated with his friend Philip Powell on pieces of furniture, combining gnarly wood forms with gilding metal filigree this led to covering cabinets with raw metal knobs starburst forms and surfaces. Evans was able to tread  fine line his work being“stunningly beautiful, stunningly ugly, stunningly tacky, and stunningly sophisticated qualities, which one almost never encounters. His pieces are characterised by his esthetics: verdigris wavy forge perforated geometric fishscaled. Says gallery director Tara ,Evans career has a really interesting trajectory, from very craft-based in the 50s to very flashy in the 60s and 80s”. Although his patrons were intellectual, the market for furniture eventually cooled. Evans discarded much of his archive, but collectors rescue works from trash piles. Today has seen a major resurgence in Evans’ work resulting in high prices, inclusion in world famous collections and even a movie about of his life. Evans passed away in 1987 at 55.Paul Evans at work “Wavy Front” cabinet, 1971 by Paul Evans     

Evans’ armoire of welded and etched aluminum


Other notable practitioners of Brutalism include the American artist(s) Curtis Jere (Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels), known for  wall art, Silas Seandel, and Tom Greene, known for torch-cut multi-tiered chandeliers with stalacatite points, scrap lanterns and burnished cubist pendant.Mirror by Curtis Jere Brutalist interior by Carlo ScarpaBrutalist architecture was from 1951 to 1975, having descended from the modern architecture movement of the early 20th century, resulting in rough somber post-apocalyptic concrete fortresses of raw unrefined materials designed to project a sense of strength like those created by Le Corbusier Merril W. Baird, A. Quincy Jones and others. The terms also applicable to wood carving sculptures of different materials with a raw rebellious and awkward look to them. Brutalism remains one of design's most difficult styles to date, yet still manages to look new because of its highly expressive forms and an element of unrefined. “Habitat”, Expo 67, Montreal, Quebec, constructed of prefabricated formsan example of Brutalism architecture 

Hollywood Regency: Reaching for the Stars

The term “Hollywood Regency”, originating in the 1920s with larger-than-life personality designer Dorothy Draper (see January, 2018 blog), have no shortage of adopters and admirers. Becoming popular with the masses after the wind-down of the Great Depression, its going strong and its unbridled glamour has evolved in each coming decade. The enduring popularity of the style is its mix-in to other styles as Mid Century Modernism and brutalism.Named for the movies of Southern California, Hollywood Regency, is sometimes known as Regency Moderne, is typified by opulence a bold use of color, dark and light contrasts mirrors lush textures, glass and metallic accents, and luscious curve. The details are sumptuous its intent is to bring in to mind the glamorous estates of early Hollywood celebrities such as Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Greta Garboe. During the “Golden Age” of filmmaking, producers tried to complement their larger-than-life stars with larger-than-life sets which carried over into interior decorating. As Rochelle summed it up: “Hollywood Regency is glitz and glamour covered in lacquer, chrome, and mirrored finishes. Every detail is meant to say luxury and there is always the feeling that people should look good sitting in the design— particularly if they are wearing satin bathrobes sipping a cocktail.Low-slung furniture in traditional forms contrasts with luxury-detailed accessories in the contrast mix. Key elements such as tufted sofas and modern Greek and Egyptian influenced silhouettes and furniture styles are plenty. Executed by a mix of bold statement pieces and delicate accents, Hollywood Regency combined fancy fabrics and finishes with traditional architectural elements. Think of the balance between positive and negative space on a canvas  a concept becomes clear. Art Deco touches, lacquered finishes (shinier the better!!), mirror furniture, Jewel Tones, animal skins in cheetah, snakeskin and zebra, and black and white elements of the Hollywood Regency palette. Fabrics with glamorous textures channel the movie stars of the 1940s velvet suede chenille fur silk and satin. Think of a designer gown worn by Rita Hayworth at the Oscars and you’re a little way . When you think of Hollywood Regency, you think of drama. World travel, was picking up in popularity as the style took off so collected world treasures became in the mix too, including palm fronds gilded bamboo and Chinoisarie.

The sunburst mirror is a ubiquitous element in the Hollywood Regency repertoire


Greek Key Chest


Designers who have made this style part of their repertoire include the architect Paul R. Williams, Dorothy Draper, David Hicks, Kelly Wearstler and Billy Haines. Haines, one of the most important designers of the style, was originally an aspiring Hollywood actor. After winning a “New Faces” talent contest sponsored by Samuel Goldwyn, he came to Hollywood and appeared in more than 50 films before he was eventually ousted from the studios due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality and enter into a sham marriage. It was his friendships with Hollywood starlets, among them Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson--who were impressed with his taste in design-- that launched him into popularity as a decorator for the elite; many of his furniture designs are still much loved today. His work was characterized by oversized sculptures, bold colorways, deeply tufted seating, rich textiles and over-the-top feminine touches. One of Haines’ greatest contributions to twentieth century design was moving away from stiff and traditional earlier trends into a more playful aesthetic. 

Los Angeles living room designed by Billy Haines


Dorothy Draper pushed the boundaries of the style, incorporating classic architectural elements with massive scale, bold patterns and the unabashed use of color. The popularity of her Greenbrier Hotel project made a household name and helped the esthetic.He spent his early years on the East Coast fostering interest in pottery. He studied semioticks and art history at Brown University, he began teaching classes at Mud Sweat and Tears in new york . Armed with sample of pots he made, he called Barney’s received his first order and became a potter. He became inspired by South American textiles and added them along with pillows and throws to his inventory that he opened in 1998 now 30 stores Nation Wide. In 2004 he got some commissions for interiors including the remodel of the Parker Palm Springs Hotel and Spa. His aesthetic owes a lot to a hollywood regency style.

Parker Palm Springs Hotel interior with a nod to Hollywood Regency, by Jonathan Adler


Paul Williams was a noted Los Angeles architect of African descent who represents the quintessential American rags-to-riches story. Shortly after his family moved to LA from Memphis his father died and then his mother separated from his sibling, he was placed into a foster home, and his new mother took a interest in her son’s development. Discouraged by a teacher at Polytechnic High School from pursuing a career he persisted and while training worked for several Los Angeles design firms eventually obtaining his building contractor’s certification in 1915 and his state certification in 1921. Earning accolades from employers he opened his own practice and became first Africanamerican member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. His practice grew to designing large homes in the Hancock Park, Flintridge and Windsor Square and his interior decoration became part of practice, garnering him commissions to design homes for Lucy and Desi, the Paleys, Jeniffer Jones and Frank Sinatra. His sought-after aesthetic made him an important contributor to what became known as the hollywood regency.

Hollywood style in red, Toluca Lake, California; Interior by Paul Williams


Although it has evolved far beyond its LA roots, Hollywood Regency’s enduring and intriguing allure remains timeless, and endures as an ode to the drama and glamour of its origins.