DESIGNED LIVING

William Haines: Halcyon Days of Hollywood

Designer William “Billy” Haines (1900-1973) was a classic renaissance man. Beginning his career as an actor in the early days of Hollywood, Haines with his boy-next-door good looks, starred in many films both silent and sound, becoming the number-one box office star of 1930. After leaving the film industry in 1936, he opened an antique store and went on to become one of Hollywood’s premier decorators, working friends and acquaintances from his influential circle of celebrities and bon vivants.

Haines was known for his interest in how people truly live, not just decorating for snob appeal. He and his team of designers created sleek, classic pieces that were low profile, functional yet elegant. His best friend and client Betsy Bloomingdale stated, “he designed all of my pieces low to the floor. That way people were grander, not the furniture.” In a bold move for the time, he dared to create an all-white living room, then took a 360 and generously splashed bright, brilliant colors through the home of Carole Lombard.

Haines designed interiors for the home of Ronald and Nancy Reagan while he was governor of California. In a prized commission, he was chosen as the interior designer (along with Ted Graber) for Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s estate, Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. This spectacular mid-century modern estate designed by architect A. Quincy Jones was known for its pink roof and has been frequented throughout the years by both political leaders and celebrities alike.

William Haines Malibu Chair and Ottoman

Capturing the essence of California living, The Malibu Chair and Ottoman originally designed in 1950, is the perfect pairing for quintessential outdoor elegance. The powder-coated steel frame is upholstered in a white rayon blend, can be used indoors or out, and has been re-issued through williamhaines.com.

william billy haines sofa

This stunning statement piece, known as The Valentine Sofa, showcases Haines’ mastery of sleek, sexy, functional design. This sofa with a low tufted seat and leather-wrapped arm either in right or left orientation was first introduced in 1950 and lucky for us is currently still in production through williamhaines.com.  

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MARCO ZANUSO: PLUSH PIECES OF JOY

Italian architect and designer, Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) born in Milan, was one of the postwar designers shaping the international idea of “good design.” After receiving his degree in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, he began his career as an architect, designer and city planner. Additionally, Zanuso was editor-in-chief of Domus magazine, the preeminent publication on architecture and design founded by Gio Ponti in 1928, from 1947-1949. As one of the leaders in the Italian Modern Movement he was a pioneer in furniture design, working with metal tubing and creating a new joining mechanism that allowed a fabric seat to be suspended from a tubular steel frame.

In the late 1940s, Zanuso began collaborating with Arflex, an Italian manufacturing company, to create a furniture collection using a newly developed polyurethane foam and elastic tape. It was for Arflex, he designed a series of pieces that would become icons of the modernist movement, among them, the Lady Armchair (1951) and the Sleep-o-matic sofa (1954). Between 1957-1959, Zanuso began collaborating with German industrial designer Richard Saper. It was with Saper, he created work devoted to the relationship of the user to the object. Together they pioneered a new aesthetic known as techno-functionalism, designing objects such as the Grillo telephone (1966) and the Brionvega (1962), the first fully-transistor television. These pieces were characterized by bright colors, synthetic materials and sculptural shapes. Zanuso’s work can be found in museums throughout the world including MoMA, the Met and the Triennale in Milan.

Marco Zanuso “Lady” lounge chair

One of Zanuso’s iconic pieces, the “Lady” lounge chair (1951), was the first armchair to incorporate expanded polyurethane and foam rubber. The armchair showcased a new system of springing, while the slender brass, slim-line legs suspend the body of the chair in an animated fashion.

Marco Zanuso “Sleep-o-matic” sofa

Forward thinking Zanuso designed this “Sleep-o-matic” sofa (1954) for Arflex with an internal metal mechanism that can easily be opened to become a sofa bed. Tubular metal structure with foam rubber padding.

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ARTFUL TILE FOR A CHARACTER FILLED HOME

Los Angeles’ character-filled classic homes are the perfect place to introduce handmade art tiles into the design mix. Motawi Tileworks, based in Ann Arbor Michigan, specializes in Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and Midcentury Modern aesthetics – in addition to being licensed to produce tile based on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. These colorful, hand-glazed tile, are created using the centuries-old Cuenca technique, in which glazes are carefully filled into the basins created by raised lines on the surface of the tile. Imagine a fireplace in a Los Feliz Tudor or Hancock Park Craftsman accented with one of the botanical or animal tile designs below. A Silver Lake Midcentury Modern kitchen with a graphic tile backsplash, or an Angelino Heights Victorian bathroom with a pedestal sink and tile clad walls, simply superb! motawi.com/

handmade art tiles

This bold botanical Arts and Crafts design would look right at home in a Craftsman bungalow or classic Victorian era property. Available in three colorways, blue, red and orange.

Influenced by classic patterns of Midcentury design, the Hourglass tile comes in Citrus, China Blue, Stone and Avocado. Makes the perfect kitchen backsplash border accent.

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Colorfully Chic Concrete Basins and Sinks

Utilizing the robust material, concrete, which combines the organic characteristics of natural stone with the ability to be cast in a variety of shapes and sizes – Kast’s founder Tim Bayes has been working with this distinctive “liquid stone” for more than 20 years. Kast’s range of customizable concrete basins are colorful showstoppers anywhere they are used. Manufactured just a couple of miles from UK’s famous Sherwood Forest, the factory is also home to a research and development facility where pigments, admixtures and casting processes are explored and fine-tuned. Suitable for the most discerning client, these beautiful basins can be used in historic or contemporary environments where the creative craft of custom design is celebrated. These basins are expertly created by experienced craftspeople and can be delivered throughout the world in a matter of days.  https://kastconcretebasins.com/

These concrete basins are expertly created by experienced craftspeople

Elm Mini in Ember |  The vivid hue of this compact basin adds pop to any powder room or bath. Suitable for wall or surface mounting, it is sure to steal the show where ever it is showcased.

Luna in White | Stunning semi-circular wall or surface mounted basin with a refined fluted edge that would make any pastry chef proud. Pair it with a black or gunmetal tap and greet each morning with a smile.

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Cees Braakman: Aesthetically Functional

Dutch designer Cees Braakman (1917-1995), born in Utrecht is best known for the strong influence he had on furniture design in the Netherlands. Beginning his career at the age of 17, he began working for the furniture manufacturer UMS Pastoe. At the time, his father was the company’s head draftsman and manager. Inspired by the work coming from the Herman Miller Company by Charles and Ray Eames, and by their technical approach to design. Braakman came to the United States to learn more about the process, eventually heading back to his country eager to work with a new material, bent plywood.

While at Pastoe, Cees Braakman developed several lines of popular furniture, clean, elegant lines and a wonderful sense of proportion highlighted his work. Braakman placed particular attention on his modular storage solutions, launching in 1955, these Made-to-Measure cabinets, constructed of a variety of woods, some of which were to be assembled by the end-user, earned him a silver medal at the 1957 Triennale in Milan. He would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps, taking on the role of manager at Pastoe until 1978.              

Mid-Century Chair c.1950s, Model FM08 for Pastoe, boasts a shell covered in black vinyl, perfectly perched over four elegant, yet spider-like black steel legs. With comfort in mind, Braakman added two loose cushions to the design.

Classic cabinet from his “Japanese Series,” manufactured by Pastoe in the 1960s. The cabinet is made of teak, with one white laminated door on a black steel base. The black inset handles make a strong design statement and are a highly recognizable element from this series.

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