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Lamp-a-Licious

mid-century-lamps

There are few decor pieces that can add a huge amount of style in a relatively small size, but lamps are one of those items! Vintage lamps, particularly those from the mid century, range from the gaudy to the bizarre to the artistic and breathtaking. Mid century design can be credited with creating lamps that are now icons, like the infamous “Artichoke” lamp by Danish designer Poul Henningsen, or the topsy-turvy designs of the Majestic Lamp Company of New York. Much as we recognize an Eames lounge chair, a well designed vintage lamp can be just as iconic.Gorgeous sculptural solid walnut lamps, with beautiful detailing and original fiberglass shades! An exceptional pair! $250 / pair SOLD!

Here at the Fab Pad, we’ve had the opportunity to showcase a plethora of different vintage lamps. For myself, I’m particularly fond of sculpted ceramic lamps, the crazier the better! There are never two exactly the same, and the glazes are often colourful and textured, a visual feast for the eyes. I also have a secret affliction for the kitschy TV lamps of the 1950s, especially those featuring panthers and with a space for a planter.;)Fabulous ceramic TV lamp featuring that mid century icon, the mallard duck, complete with planter! Made in Van Nuys, California, early 1950s. $125

On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve had beautiful, simple Scandinavian teak lamps here as well. These pieces depend on the simplicity of their design and the richness of the teak wood to create striking, elegant pieces. Serving up a similar aesthetic, the ever-popular arc lamp also offers clean lines and good design, while still being functional.Fabulous yellow metal art lamp with swivel shade. An awesome statement piece! $175 SOLD!Back to kitsch again – we have the unmistakeably retro ceramic lamp with multi-tiered fiberglass shade. These beauties are getting harder and harder to find, particularly with their original fiberglass shades intact. Influenced by the space race, a new design genre was created which is now referred to as “atomic.” Perhaps no other piece of furniture exemplifies atomic better than the lamps of that time. With these lamps, designers let their imaginations run wild! Ceramic molds allowed shapes of all kinds, as well as colours befitting the atomic look, while the addition of chrome and brass pieces added the industrial edge needed to complete the atomic look. The results was lamps that resembled rockets, planets with orbiting moons, and of course, UFOs.Restored Miller ceramic lamp, made in 1953. Rewired, relaced shade, and fresh paint will ensure this piece lasts another 60 years! $125Finally, a well-chosen lamp can add just the right amount of retro to your decor. The variety is literally endless, so come by The Fab Pad and pick your favourite!

The Evolution of a Mid Century Sofa

099_mid-century-vancouverFor nearly a year, “Grover,” as this sofa is affectionately known, languished in my storage locker – propped against concrete walls, sandwiched between vintage art and teak table tops. Patiently, Grover waited for the day he would be restored to his original 1960s glory. Dear Grover, that day has come.:)

When I originally picked up this poor, beat to hell overly-loved sofa, I have to admit – I had no idea of it’s provenance. I only knew that I instantly loved it’s fabulous mid century styling – the low curved seat, the equally curvy back, the nubby little walnut arms – and I had to have it. It was only months later, upon closer examination and research, I realized it was a design of American furniture genius, Adrian Pearsall. This sofa was his model 2010-S, an incredibly rare piece he made for his Pennsylvania-based manufacturing company, Craft Associates. Possibly one of Pearsall’s most iconic and best-selling designs is the “gondola” sofa, of which there are several variations, all reflecting the innate long and tapered look of the Venetian boat. By contrast, for whatever reason the 2010-S was not a huge seller at it’s inception (according to my correspondence with Jim Pearsall, Adrian Pearsall’s son); and thus today, there are apparently no current examples of this model. Oddly, the matching chair known as the 1717-RC, evidently did quite well as there are plenty to be found online. Despite hours of Googling, I was unable to find any reference to the 2010-S, save for the original catalog page (shown below). Indeed, Grover was as rare as a snowstorm in the Sahara.

With this new-found knowledge of Grover’s provenance, I was even more inspired to restore this exceptional piece in a way that might make Adrian Pearsall proud. I took the sofa to my upholsterers extraordinaire, Brighouse Upholstery in Richmond – they’ve been in business since the days when this sofa was just a twinkle in Pearsall’s eye, and the fine craft of upholstery has been passed down through the family ever since. Thinking they had seen everything, when I delivered Grover I was amused that his derelict state was still able to elicit a chuckle from the brother/sister duo who run the shop. They certainly had their work cut out for them.

Below you can see a couple of photos showing the various stages of Grover’s resurrection. The curved frame (which I was told would be extremely expensive and difficult to construct today), was built in a sandwich style to hold the webbing in place. After 50+ years of exposure to air and probably pot smoke (hey, it was the ’60s, after all), the original webbing had sagged completely and become about as crispy as a potato chip. The foam had begun to disintegrate, and of course the fuzzy fabric showed that many derrieres had sat upon Grover over the decades. Possibly most heinous of all, the original walnut legs with casters had been replaced with ghastly block legs, reminiscent in shape to a country outhouse – and similarly coloured.

And so, the work began! Grover was stripped of his moldy old skin, dusty innards, and brittle entrails, and bit by bit, was made anew. You can see in the photos below one of the most important stages, replacing the webbing. This isn’t just any old webbing, this is the primo stuff – Pirelli rubber (yes, the tire manufacturer). Next came high quality foam, and what I’m guessing were hundreds, probably thousands of upholstery staples, followed by the brand new freshy-fresh upholstery fabric (which I spent entirely too much time selecting). Grover’s T-Rex-like stubby walnut arms were detached from their wood dowels for refinishing, and vintage wood was sourced to create new legs closer to the originals.

Finally, it all came together: the arms were re-attached, as were the legs. It was at this point we decided to make a slight change to the original design and forgo the caster wheels on the legs. In the 1960s, this was certainly practical – wheels made it easy for Betty Draper-esque housewives to move these beasts around for vacuuming the carpet, which graced nearly every room of the typical 1960s home. However, today many households have opted for hardwood or laminate, so casters are no longer necessary and probably even a bit dangerous. So plain legs it was! The requisite six tufted buttons were also added to the seat, and with that, the transformation was nearly complete.

Lastly – the toss cushions. Yet another fabric decision, but fortunately this one was easy. Brighouse Upholstery, having been around since the ’60s and having an especially thrifty matriarch in charge, have a wonderful stock of *new* vintage material. From this selection I chose a funky flowered print in coordinating tones to the sofa, combined with retro chocolate brown and burnt orange. The pillows now have two sides: one with the groovy retro print, the other with the matching sofa fabric.

This evolution has been an interesting and fun process, as well as a fascinating insight into the construction and craftsmanship of mid century furniture. Sometimes I like to imagine what Pearsall was thinking when he designed this piece: was he inspired by the curves of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, where he designed and built his own home? Or maybe, as a trained architect, his inspiration came from the grand gothic arches of old Penn Station in his native New York? Whatever it was, his brilliant creativity lead to some of the best designs of the mid century, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to restore this amazing piece and present it in my store.

If you would like to purchase this sofa and have your very own Pearsall, it is available for $3195. It measures 86″L x 37″D x 29″H.

The original Craft Associates catalog page showing the 2010-S sofa.

The original Craft Associates catalog page showing the 2010-S sofa.

 

Poor Grover in his derelict state. :(

Poor Grover in his derelict state. :(

 

Not pretty.

Not pretty.

 

The stuff of mid century nightmares.

The stuff of mid century nightmares.

 

The top is done!

The top is done!

 

That fabulous Pirelli webbing!

That fabulous Pirelli webbing!

 

Almost there! No arms, no legs, no button tufts, and no pillows - but the worst is over, yay!

Almost there! No arms, no legs, no button tufts, and no pillows – but the worst is over, yay!

 

Finally finished! Grover is all settled in at his new (temporary) home at The Fab Pad!

Finally finished! Grover is all settled in at his new (temporary) home at The Fab Pad!

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RosalindaJuly 30, 2014 - 8:37 pm

This is incredible. Great eye!

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.

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