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Possibly The Most Unusual Mid Century Dining Set You Might Ever See

mid-century-vintage-willett-trans-east-dining-setOnce upon a time (1934), in a land far, far away (Louisville, Kentucky) a man with the whimsical name of Consider H. Willett founded the Willett Furniture company. Consider’s goal was to create quality furniture using fine materials – and create he did! By the 1940′s Willett Furniture was the largest manufacturer of cherry and maple furniture in the United States. They were highly successful at the time, and became known for their more traditional pieces which often featured turned “rope” like detailing. In the mid-1950′s, they produced some more modern, simple pieces, as exemplified in their Trans-East line.

The Trans-East incorporated Oriental style, Scandinavian influences, and just a little bit of Shaker. It is this combination of styles, pulled off so successfully, that makes this furniture line exceptional. Whoever was responsible for this design was, in my opinion, a genius – challenged with designing furniture using a little from so many styles could have been disastrous, but instead, they came up with a marvel of furniture engineering.

Each piece is made completely out of solid cherry wood, and since Consider was a stickler for details, each piece was hand-sanded no less than 7 times, and waxed with their unique patented finish 5 times. One piece of furniture could take 6 weeks to make, and at the height of their popularity Willett’s customers were waiting up to a year for their furniture orders. Take a look through the photos I’ve posted here and you’ll see why – the detail and attention to design is everywhere!willett-trans-east-dining-set-vintage

Each chair strut and leg has an added “cap” carved out, and the spindles taper more thickly at the bottom, rather than in the middle. The front legs are splayed, where as the back legs are not. The seats are carved and shaped in consideration of both aesthetics and comfort (and they are indeed amazingly comfortable!) The spindles are set in a curved arrangement, so as to better mold to the back. And finally, the back rail has the neatest up-turn at the ends, highly indicative of that Asian influence.

The table has it’s own special features too. Being a gate-leg style with two wings, it boasts a total of 8 thick legs, which are embellished with brass at the top and interestingly tapered outwards towards the bottom – looking at them I am strongly reminded of the temple gates in Tokyo. While the table had the option to add a leaf in the middle, my research has indicated that when sold as a set, the table was included as is, with the four chairs (one with arms and three without). A leaf and additional chairs were apparently optional extras.willett-trans-east-table

In case you couldn’t already tell, I am beyond excited to have here at The Fab Pad a full dining set from Willett’s Trans-East line! I have hand-waxed it myself using Antiquax (refinishing these pieces is a no-no because of the original patented finish that was applied) and it is now so shiny that the wood has almost a 3-D quality (Consider would be proud, I think)! It is a highly unusual set, and I doubt I will ever see another one – they are not terribly common in the United States, and probably as rare as a Sasquatch in Canada. Everyone who has seen this set has admired it for it’s beauty, now it just needs the perfect home to show it off! Come and check it out during store hours – it’s here and available for $1295 for the set.

CarolMarch 22, 2014 - 4:22 pm

Can you please tell me the dimensions of table?

TheFabPad3480March 22, 2014 - 4:54 pm

Hi Carol! The table is 28″W (with gate legs closed and wings down) x 44″D x 29″H. Each wing is 22″W, so with one up, the table is 50″W, with both up, it is 72″W. Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

Glamourous, Glorious, Glass!

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Oh how I LOVE mid century vintage glass!!

From Murano to Holmegaard to Chalet, I have yet to find a piece I didn’t enjoy or appreciate. Mid century art glass appeals to me above all others, likely due to the organically-influenced style evident in almost every piece. This style came about partially because glass-blowing in itself is an organic process, and also because biomorphic shapes were turning up everywhere in the mid century, in kitchen gadgets, lamps, furniture, and more. Add a vibrant retro colour to the glass and you have a true piece of art.

A good part of the intrigue with vintage art glass is identifying it! Many pieces are not marked, and cannot often be identified with complete accuracy on visual inspection only. However, there are distinctive looks to various regions which are a great place to start in the identification process.

Scandinavian glass tends very much towards the free-form, biomorphic style. Colours range all over the map – there are pieces in solid, bright colours, as well as clear pieces with colour added (see the green and purple striped vase, upper left – quite likely a Kosta piece by artist Vicke Lindstrand). I particularly love the bold blue asymmetrical bowl, by artist Per Lutken for Holmegaard (first in the third row above) – this piece is so simple, but the asymmetry adds an intrigue and elevates the glass to a new artistic level. Bonus points: this bowl appears in Don and Megan Draper’s apartment in the “Mad Men” TV show – look for it near their front door planter box!

I also have a weakeness for Italian glass, particularly Murano bowls and glass goblets. I’m not sure what it was with Italian glass makers and goblets, but 90% of the time, a fancy vintage glass goblet will have come to you courtesy of Italian artisans. One of my favourites so far is the trio of ocean blue glass goblets (above in the bottom row, right corner). The colour on these pieces is difficult to describe, and is best appreciated in person. I love the twisted stems and the ripple through the cup – it looks exactly like flowing water (again, that organic influence!) I am also quite taken by vintage Murano pieces, particularly those incorporating a bit of sparkle! This “sparkle” is usually one of two materials, either aventurine or goldstone. Aventurine is naturally occurring, whereas goldstone was created in the 1600′s (thanks Wikipedia!)

Not to be outdone by the Scandinavians or Italians, many glass delights were also created in Canada, America, Czechoslovakia, and beyond. Chalet, a popular brand in Canada, tends keep it simple with free-form shapes in solid colours and without additional embellishments. American glass borrows from all types of art glass, ranging from ornate to basic. And Czech glass often invokes cut glass details, adding hard-edged depth to otherwise curvy pieces.

I have an awesome selection of mid century vintage art glass here at the Fab Pad – add to your collection, or pick one up as a gift for someone special! Your perfect piece is waiting…:)

Holiday Weekend Sale!

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jenn bealFebruary 9, 2014 - 5:16 pm

Hi there!

I’m very interested in your walnut credenza. I believe you have it listed as a 3 drawer. Is it still available, and if so what are the dimensions?

I live in Bellingham, WA, I would love to come up and take a look at it!

Thank you,

Jennifer

TheFabPad3480February 14, 2014 - 5:47 am

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for your interest in the credenza! Unfortunately it did sell a couple weeks ago, but please do keep an eye on our website for similar pieces in the future! :)

Vintage Industrial Office

001_mid-century-vintage-industrialI sure do love my themes, so when a classic tanker desk came my way, I couldn’t resist doing a vintage industrial office setup! The desk really is the key to this display – consisting of a full metal construction with a clean design, it is indeed an icon of the machine age. I completed this display with a vintage Smith Corona typewriter, awesome art deco styled tin canisters (perfect for pens, pencils, and post-it notes), old industrial fans, thermoses, a lunch box, and classic desk lamp. And let’s not forget the amazing Doerner Faultless orange vinyl chair with tanker styling – fabulous! Also adding to the display is a fantastic industrial metal trolley¬† in a striking shade of emerald green, as well as mid century splatter art reminiscent of Jackson Pollock. Last but most certainly not least, a triptych of 1960′s lithographs from the Stedelijik Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the original pieces from 1964. These are in excellent condition and have been framed with museum-grade mats and UV glass – spectacular!002_mid-century-vintage-industrial003_mid-century-vintage-industrial004_mid-century-vintage-industrial005_mid-century-vintage-industrial006_mid-century-vintage-industrial007_mid-century-vintage-industrial008_mid-century-vintage-industrial009_mid-century-vintage-industrial010_mid-century-vintage-industrial011_mid-century-vintage-industrial012_mid-century-vintage-industrial013_mid-century-vintage-industrial014_mid-century-vintage-industrial015_mid-century-vintage-industrial016_mid-century-vintage-industrial017_mid-century-vintage-industrial018_mid-century-vintage-industrial019_mid-century-vintage-industrial020_mid-century-vintage-industrial