March 2, 2010

Your House, My Haus, BAUHAUS

The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently closed it’s astonishing show Bauhaus: Workshops for Modernity. That’s the bad news.  The good news, is that among the 400 pieces featured were a number of styles that are still being manufactured, and still going strong in the home furnishings market. So you can add a little Bauhaus to Your-House, and I recommend that you do! Anything from this school of design will look just as fresh in another twenty, thirty or fifty years, as it does today.

The Bauhaus German school for modern art and design existed for a mere 14 years (1919-1933).  Yet in that brief time it’s students and instructors  revolutionized the world of design, bringing it out of the Victorian period and irrevocably into the modern era.

It’s a testament to the foresight and aesthetic of the designers of the Bauhaus movement that ninety years later, our 21st century eye still reads the pieces as very modern, and not at all dated or old fashioned. In fact, almost everything in design that we think of as modern today, springs directly from this incredibly creative, prolific, influential period.
nesting tables josef albers 1926-27

The Nesting Tables above, by Josef Albers 1926-27 are available through the MoMA shop.

The lighting pieces below are all original Bauhaus designs.  The ceiling fixtures to the right and center are Marianne Brandt designs. The one in the center is available through The weighted pendant lamp is available through   The table lamp, designed by Wagenfeld and Junker, is available from the MoMA Store.

bauhaus table  marianne brandt 1926marianne-brandt-hmb-25-pendant-lamp_tu

Don’t be afraid to mix modern classics from the Bauhaus period with classics from earlier periods.  This cabriole leg table from Kravet works beautifully with the Eames Molded Plastic Chair, because they both share many of the same elegant timeless qualities: clean lines, beautiful curves.  I would do six of the Eames Chairs  around this table. The table is available through Gaita Interiors.  The Eames Chair is available through the MoMA shop.

kravet cabriole leg tableEames molded plastic rocker


This white chaise by Eames with it’s floating organic form is very incredibly current looking, and as good as adding a piece of sculpture to your home. It’s hard to believe that it was conceived over sixty years ago! It’s available through the MoMa Store
Eames La Chaise 1948
Below is a period photo of Marcel Breuer with his ubiquitous design, the Wassily Chair.

The chair is manufactured by Hermann Miller, and is available through Gaita Interiors.
marcel-breuer-Wassily-Chair-marcel breuer

August 21, 2009

Étagère vs. Bookcase

Why use an étagère as opposed to a bookcase? Though a bookcase can be beautifully crafted, and aesthetically pleasing, it was made to store lots of heavy books. An étagère exists to be pretty, and to serve for lighter duty storage and display. However, its lighter, more decorative appearance can give it the versatility to be used in ways that a bookcase cannot.  This is why interior designers love them. Because of its open construction, an etagere will appear to take up less space than a similarly sized bookcase.

Old Word Beauty Here is a classic, quintessential étagère in the Louis Philippe style. I can’t think of a room that couldn’t benefit from a piece like this. In a dining room, it would offer display and an extra serving surface. In a bedroom, you could put one on either side of the bed for a combo night table/bookcase. In a living room too, a pair of these on either side of a sofa or fireplace hearth would be both beautiful and practical. In a kitchen, it would provide a surface for a laptop, and lots of room for cookbooks and colorful ceramics. Bathroom?-towels and toiletries of course!

stanley 503-11-18(For product information on all furniture pieces shown, click on photo for link)

This particular piece,(above) is from Stanley, the Louis Louis Collection, and I must say, they cover this category better than any of the other large manufacturers out there. I would blend this into a dining room with an antique Louise Philippe sideboard, or with its clean lines,introduce it into a modern setting for a touch of old world warmth.

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Campaign Etagere available through Gaita Interiors $675.00 campaigneCampaign Etagere (center) available through Gaita Interiors $675.00.


Every style of furniture, has it’s version of the étagère. Above are some examples of Campaign style pieces, new and antique.  Below are English Regency.



english country antiques 1stdibskentshire 1820 $12,000STA1240_l


Asian Influence I want to personally thank the French for introducing the world to Chinoisere, and the love of all things Asian in the decorative arts and home furnishings. MERCI BEAUCOUP! This area has taken on so many iterations, and influences over the centuries that it would be impossible to trace all of them. Here are some nice examples to represent a few of the styles that are out there.


Lindsey Harper does a great job with this charming “a bit of Paris in New York” living room. She uses a pair of vintage chrome faux bamboo étagères against a mirrored wall to excellent effect. The storage capacity in a small space is great too!  Click on the photo to see the whole story from StyleBeat.

meridianPair Japanese Etagerespagoda etagere
Here are a few of my favorite things: étagères- modern, traditional, plain and ornate, all Asian by design.

ist dibs greenwhich oriental pagoda25410948
Silver Mica Etagere (above center) available though Gaita Interiors $1400.00.
The Painted Look It’s not only for cottages! Some are sweet, some are sophisticated. Again my hat’s off to Stanley. The red painted étagère below, (sweet for sure!) is available in 14 colors! That’s really going above and beyond the call of duty. Don’t forget, you can paint your own! You can find an old piece that’s seen better days, and save it form the land fill with a quart of paint and some elbow grease. Or you can buy an unfinished piece, like the campaign style one below.

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jonathan adler

continuim etagere stanley


revivla home and $170

Go Mod, Baby! Can’t forget the ever growing and strengthening modern movement. What a relief to be designing in a time when blending furniture styles is a given. The old rules of sticking with one look or period are long gone, and good riddance! It’s so much more fun to mix it up! This room by Eric Cohler is an elegant example of the modern and traditional, blended seamlessly. (Click on photo for the full story from Veranda)  The gold leaf finish on the modern étagères lend them the formality to suit their surroundings.

GOLDMODERNCHARLESTONHOMEslkdjfowieflskhgofjsihfoihlskhfslf;sf;sipksfpsieupsihfpsih global views stackable bbokcasecontinuim metaltreku boodcase $1500 per unit
Stackable Bookcase-walnut and ivory (above left) available through Gaita Interiors $2600.00
revival bibliotecacasr aluminum and clear glass lampsplus

richard shapiro studiologilded iron etagere

I started with a classic old world Louis Philippe étagère. Perhaps this piece from Richard Shapiro Studiolo is the quintessential modern étagère. The lines are clean, the function, versatile. Did you notice the tiny chow foot detail? The gold leaf-over-iron finish has enough glitz to serve in a formal setting with antiques. Yet the construction would allow heavy duty storage for books and media equipment in a family room. There’s space for family photos, plants, collectibles, art and of course books, all of the things that personalize your home, and reflect your interior design personality and lifestyle.. This is a piece that does what an étagère can do best: It becomes what you make it!

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