Mid-Century Mod!

Mid-Century Mod!

I’m delighted to share my vibrant mid-century modern design that I created for teNeues Stationery NYC this year. They’ve turned my colourful paper collage into a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, a set of 8 pens in a charming, illustrated box, and a book of gorgeous wrapping paper sheets.

My love of elegant mid-century designs made this a dream job, as I could combine the brilliance of the many designers I so admire with my tiny paper creations, all drawn from the many iconic designs of the period. Furniture, lighting, ceramics, architecture, textiles and graphic design; I had a plethora of wonderful designs to choose from.

Having worked with the Eames Office previously (I created two wonderful jigsaw puzzles with Ravensburger for them, here and here), I was well acquainted with the extraordinary work of the legendary American artists/designers Ray and Charles Eames. One of their many molded plywood chairs was an essential ingredient to my collage, as was the revolutionary design for their house (Case Study House #8). I set about making teeny paper models (a side elevation of this extraordinary house, and the molded plywood DCM chair) as my starting point of MCM designers.

And how could I not include some joyous inspiration from polymath designer Alexander Girard? An extraordinary and prolific architect/designer, he created furniture, graphics and textiles which permeated the design world with its color and wit. I was inspired by his charming wooden figures, all with their own little quirks and bright colors. The tricky bit was choosing just a few, as he created so many! And a curlicued arrow design of his snuck in, too, just for fun.

Lighting design was groundbreaking during the mid-century period, using new materials of the time to create playful but highly functional lighting solutions never imagined before then. Norwegian designer Birger Dahl’s 1954 ‘Dokka Pendant Light’ and Danish designer Jo Hammerborg’s 1963 ‘Orient Pendant Light’ were two outstanding examples of MCM style.

Swedish designer Stig Lindberg gets a shout-out with his Berså patterned jug, and Norway’s Cathrineholm ‘Lotus’ motif enamelware bowl makes an appearance too (and I have one of their bowls on my desk, not only to inspire, but to elegantly hold my art supplies).

American designer George Nelson had to be included, with his playful ‘Ball Clock’. That was a fun challenge to build (with Styrofoam, toothpicks and paint).

Finnish designer Eero Saarinen’s revolutionary ‘Tulip Chair’ of 1957 has a starring role in the collage, as does Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s two iconic pieces of MCM furniture: his magnificent ‘Swan’ and ‘Egg’ chairs.

For pattern designs, I had to make some hard choices, with just a few favorites making the final cut. Using the designs of UK-established French designer Lucienne Day (with her outstanding ‘Calyx’ design), I created a few patterns inspired by her amazing work. Textile designs by Marian Mahler and Terence Conrad also sparked me to create tiny swatches inspired by their MCM designs (with my sneaky signature being incorporated into one of the designs; a little wave to my treasure-hunting puzzle fans).

American sculptor Alexander Calder’s stunning and very original painted steel mobiles, which changed the dialogue of mid-century sculpture, was an essential artist of the time to include in this panoply of incredible, groundbreaking art and design. 

I carefully created all my tiny models with paper, cardboard, paint, Styrofoam and wood to make the colorful design elements, and then built up layers of color on small paper-constructed plinths, with which to highlight each of these fabulous MCM elements, trying to make the composition as colorful and as playful as that design era evoked, and with lots of bold, vibrant color that I love so much.

 This joyous, happy collage was a labor of love to create, and I love the three beautiful products they’ve created with it. Thanks TeNeues, and I look forward to the next collaboration with you!

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