Modernist Designers Series / Clara Porset

Our featured designer for February played a strong role in expanding modernist design beyond Europe. After being exiled from her native country, she adopted a new home and forever changed the way it would see design. We had the privilege of seeing her work in person on a recent trip to Mexico City!

If you missed January’s designer, read here.

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Clara Porset (1895-1981)
Mexico (born in Cuba)
Designer

Clara Porset is credited for revolutionizing modern design in Mexico, though she didn’t start there.

Born in Cuba to a wealthy family, Porset studied at Columbia University’s School of Fine Arts, the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, as well as the Sorbonne, the Louvre, and Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

The latter is where she met Josef Albers, the former Bauhaus designer and educator famous for introducing color theory to modern design. Porset’s time with Albers would largely influence the modern forms of her future designs.

In the early 1930s, Porset attempted to return to Cuba to teach and design, but her support of the Cuban resistance led to political exile. She finally landed in Mexico, where she would spend the rest of her career and life.

Totonaca Suite, Low Chair, 1959  (   source   )

Totonaca Suite, Low Chair, 1959 (source)

To her great credit, Porset embraced Mexico’s culture and fused it with her work. She traveled around the country, soaking up its craft traditions, art, and culture. When she designed furniture, she kept the existing forms and edited out the ornate details, creating a simplified, modern take on tradition.

Her most famous designs were her new interpretations of Mexico’s butaque chair, a low, curving lounge chair with history dating back to Spanish rule.

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1940s  (   source   )

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1940s (source)

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1950  (   source   )

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1950 (source)

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1950s  (   source   )

Butaque Lounge Chair, 1950s (source)

Porset won many design awards within Mexico and received recognition from MoMA’s Organic Design for Home Furnishing contest in 1940. Several renowned architects of the age embraced her work as well, including Luis Barragán. Porset worked with Barragán personally to furnish his own home and many of his architectural projects. We’ll be sharing photos of their collaboration on the blog in the future, so stay tuned!

Porset’s lasting contribution to modern design was not only to spread it to Mexico, but also to give it a new flavor, one representative of the Mexican people themselves.


More Modern Designs by Clara Porset

Totonaca Suite, 3-Seat Sofa, 1959  (   source   )

Totonaca Suite, 3-Seat Sofa, 1959 (source)

High Armchairs  (   source   )

High Armchairs (source)

Woven Rush Folding Screen, 1950s  (   source   )

Woven Rush Folding Screen, 1950s (source)

Chairs in mahogany and cotton, 1950s  (   source   )

Chairs in mahogany and cotton, 1950s (source)

DM Nacional Desk, 1950s  (   source   )

DM Nacional Desk, 1950s (source)

Lounge chairs, 1950s  (   source   )

Lounge chairs, 1950s (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in March…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Before + After / Ayesha Curry's Homemade Pop-Up Shop

Homemade Pop-Up Shop Window.jpg

In case you haven’t heard, we had the incredible opportunity of designing Ayesha Curry’s Homemade Pop-Up Shop in Oakland’s Jack London Square! Ayesha recently relaunched her Homemade brand, and the pop-up shop was a way for her fans to experience her brand and products in real-life. We had a blast creating a retail space that embodied her vision!

You can visit the store throughout the month of February at 423 Water St, but in case you can’t make it in-person, here’s some before and after photos to show you what we accomplished in TWO WEEKS start to finish. Big thanks to partner Cost Plus World Market who provided all of the furnishings!

BEFORE: Sad white walls

BEFORE: Sad white walls

AFTER: Never underestimate the power of paint to transform!

AFTER: Never underestimate the power of paint to transform!

BEFORE: Blue walls left over from the previous tenant

BEFORE: Blue walls left over from the previous tenant

AFTER: Beautifully styled shelving and tabletops to show-off the wares

AFTER: Beautifully styled shelving and tabletops to show-off the wares

BEFORE: Depressing ceiling tiles

BEFORE: Depressing ceiling tiles

AFTER: No one’s looking at the ceiling tiles when there’s a bedroom scene this beautiful

AFTER: No one’s looking at the ceiling tiles when there’s a bedroom scene this beautiful

BEFORE: A depressing, poorly lit space

BEFORE: A depressing, poorly lit space

AFTER: A peaceful retreat while shopping

AFTER: A peaceful retreat while shopping

Looking for more? Read the short Q&A with Ayesha herself in the Rue Magazine feature.

What do you love most about this retail space transformation? Share with us in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Gio Ponti

Can you believe it’s been nearly 70-80 years since the Modernist movement started? It was around the 1940s that designers and architects first embraced this style, but it wasn’t called “modernism” just yet.

Design’s shift toward clean lines, minimalism, and natural materiality took hold in interiors, furniture, ceramics, and architecture. Although each designer had his or her own unique approach, these were the features that characterized modern design over the following thirty years.

This year, we’re sharing twelve of the top masters behind this major movement — one for every month of 2019. First up:

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Giovanni (Gio) Ponti (1891-1979)
Italy
Architect, Designer, Artist

Gio Ponti was born in Milan in the late 1800s and is credited as being the most influential Italian designer of his time. Although he studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, his professional career began as the artistic director of the ceramics company, Richard Ginori.

There, his initial work was influenced by classicism until 1925, when he transitioned to the Art Deco and Modernist styles.

In these years, Ponti coined “forma finita,” his theory that a design is complete when nothing can be added or taken away. You can see evidence of this concept in his furniture lines, where vestiges of Art Deco’s geometric forms pave the way for modern simplicity. The resulting creative “lightness” of design is uniquely Ponti.

His other notable accomplishments include founding the still-circulating architecture and design magazine Domus in 1928, as well as designing the iconic Pirelli Tower in Milan. He is still widely revered in the industry today — we saw his work on exhibit in Paris just last November!

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Superleggera chair design for Cassina, 1957

Superleggera chair design for Cassina, 1957

Bureau Giordano Chiesa, 1953

Bureau Giordano Chiesa, 1953

Console collaboration, Gio Ponti and Paolo de Poli, 1942

Console collaboration, Gio Ponti and Paolo de Poli, 1942

Ocean Liner Armchair, Heritage Collection, 1951

Ocean Liner Armchair, Heritage Collection, 1951

Dezza armchair, 1965  (   source   )

Dezza armchair, 1965 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in February…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modernist designer in the comments below!

Before + After / Mission Bay Penthouse

What would you do when confronted with a nondescript white box of a condo? For our MIssion Bay Penthouse project, we transformed said condo with bold color and pattern! It’s amazing how wallpaper and paint can completely change a space and imbue personality. Read on for a few dramatic before and afters and make sure to check out the link at the bottom for all the photos from this project!

BEFORE: The living room

BEFORE: The living room

AFTER: We kept the walls white in the living room due to the plentiful sunlight, and brought in color through the furnishings.

AFTER: We kept the walls white in the living room due to the plentiful sunlight, and brought in color through the furnishings.

The only walls kept white in the condo were in the living room and kitchen! The dark entry is painted in burgundy and transitions into this bright living space filled with natural sunlight. The colorful theme is found in the furnishings instead.

BEFORE: the master bedroom

BEFORE: the master bedroom

AFTER: Blues and grays create a calm and peaceful retreat in the master bedroom.

AFTER: Blues and grays create a calm and peaceful retreat in the master bedroom.

The master bedroom is a peaceful retreat with its blue and gray color theme, and subtle yet dramatic hand-painted wallpaper. We love how the painted and wallpapered walls make the room feel bigger than before when the room had white walls.

BEFORE: The guest bedroom

BEFORE: The guest bedroom

AFTER: We created a moody guest bedroom with Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paint and a patterned wallpaper.

AFTER: We created a moody guest bedroom with Farrow & Ball Hague Blue paint and a patterned wallpaper.

Our client’s favorite room is possibly this moody guest bedroom with elephant motif wallpaper. The contrast of the blue and yellow makes the furnishings pop, and this is a great example of how dark colors don’t make rooms feel depressing or small!

Learn more about the project in the recent Domino Magazine feature!

Which room transformation was your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!

Pro Tip / Paris for Design Lovers

Hot on the heels of our Thanksgiving trip to Paris, we bring you our guide to Paris for design lovers! Here we feature some of our favorite places in Paris - some more well-known, others lesser known - but all places full of inspiration.

Exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo

Exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo

PALAIS DE TOKYO

If you’re someone who doesn’t “get” contemporary art, this is THE contemporary art museum for you. Palais de Tokyo hosts some of the most interesting and beautiful contemporary art exhibits that at times cross disciplines into nature, science, and social commentary. Case in point - currently on view is “ON AIR” by the Argentinian artist Tomås Saraceno which explores human and non-human ecosystems and interdepencies in haunting, poetic ways. The exhibit begins with a large dark room with spot-lit intricate spider webs that make you stop and wonder, goes into space and particles, and ends with an interactive audio and physical installation that encourages play.

Monsieur Bleu

Monsieur Bleu

MONSIEUR BLEU

While you’re at Palais de Tokyo, you might as well stop by the delicious and stunningly luxurious yet understated Monsieur Bleu. Designed by the French architect and interior designer Joseph Dirand (one of our favorites), the restaurant is a beautiful experience from the service to the food to the interiors. You won’t find many tourists here either. Reservations are recommended.

Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment

Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment

LE CORBUSIER’S STUDIO-APARTMENT

For any architecture enthusiast, Le Corbusier’s Studio-Apartment is a must-see and located just west of central Paris near Bois De Boulogne. While Le Corbusier is a major figure in modern architecture, he actually started out as a painter and continued to paint throughout his life. His studio-apartment, where he lived for over 30 years, is fascinating as a work in progress where he experimented with painting, furniture, and architecture. Reservations required.

Merci

Merci

MERCI

While Colette, the original retail concept store, is no longer with us, there is still Merci, located in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. This charming lifestyle shop is approachable and unpretentious, selling everything from charcoal soap to Marni to used books. The best part? 100 percent of the profits go to a charitable foundation dedicated to helping women and children in Madagascar, but you’d never know it because they keep it on the down low.

The modern & contemporary wing at Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The modern & contemporary wing at Musée des Arts Décoratifs

MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS

An often overlooked museum whose primary location is right next to the Tuileries Garden and Louvre Museum, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is dedicated to beautiful, useful things throughout history. We love their exhibits on furniture and fashion design, and currently on view is an exhaustive retrospective of the influential 20th century architect and designer Gio Ponti - the first held in France.

These are just five of our current favorite spots in Paris. We’d love to hear where you go for inspiration - share with us in the comments below!