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Inspiring Icons

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Inspiring Icons / Blossom Dearie

Left: Image from Flora Photographer,  Warwick Orme, Floranova , beautiful images you can purchase prints of. Right: The amazing later portrait by  Bruce Weber  of Blossom. 

Left: Image from Flora Photographer, Warwick Orme, Floranova, beautiful images you can purchase prints of. Right: The amazing later portrait by Bruce Weber of Blossom. 

Glasses by  Moscot , Bird Illustration by  Andrew Lyons for Strong  

Glasses by Moscot, Bird Illustration by Andrew Lyons for Strong 

Glasses by  Moscot , Bird Illustration by  Andrew Lyons for Strong  

Glasses by Moscot, Bird Illustration by Andrew Lyons for Strong 

Images largely from  Ist dibs  

Images largely from Ist dibs 

Blossom Dearie’s dreamy and delicate voice first captured my attention as a child, It might have been my mother who introduced me as she had a taste for jazz and with access as a child to the jazz section at the local library where you could also borrow music, I also from a young age developed this same desire to bury deep into the libraries jazz collection. Blossom Dearie first struck me with her actual birth name, which is just so beautiful and really captured the spirit of her voice, which I have to say is like no other. There is a very simple but sensual, honest and jazzy spring like sound to her voice, some may say it’s girly and shrill but it was way cleverer than that.

 

On all the album covers I saw as a child, Blossom was sporting a pair of 1950’s cats eye glasses and she was dressed in that 1950’s style which looked very prim and proper but also kinda chic in a school mistress way, My other obsession was watching old movies on a Sunday afternoon so I’d seen lot’s of evidence in this style of fashion from old Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield (except maybe they showed a bit more cleavage?)  As a child I was obsessed with 1950’s America, A friend of my parents had given me a pile of 1950’s Life Magazines and I poured over every page. I’d wear converse sneakers, stove pipe my trousers and wear my hair in a quiff, like an extra out of Happy Days. I think my Dad thought I was slightly mad, I was almost mimicking his own childhood when it authentically happened the first time around.   

 

Based in New York almost entirely her whole life with some time spent in Paris in the 1950’s, She was a regular at the New York supper clubs in the 1960’s and settling down in an apartment in Greenwich Village till she died in 2009 at age 84. She performed almost right up until her passing largely at the now closed Danny’s Skylight Room.

 

It is in this apartment I believe a shot was photographed for her Daffodil Records 1977 double album “Winchester in Apple Blossom Time” The 1970’s had changed her look quite radically and she almost looked younger with her flowing blond hair in those days then she did early in her career, maybe it’s because she had lost the signature glasses but she evoked the spirit if that time in her interior which has always fascinated me. In the 1970’s a more Bohemian look was the rage and Blossom had decorated the space with global nods, rattan baskets filled with ostrich eggs on a entirely glass coffee table, potted plants, galleries of Indian and tribal art, Raw blocks of wood as side tables. It’s decorated in an understated simple way but rich with character, not unlike her amazing voice itself.

 

Bruce Weber shot the classic shot of Blossom at the piano with an oversized poodle and it could have been one of her last shots. It’s actually quite difficult to find shots or a lot of information about Blossom, She was by nature extremely independent person who zealously guarded her privacy. New Yorks Times writer, Stephan Holden said it best “An interpretive minimalist with caviar taste in songs and musicians, she was a genre unto herself. Rarely raising her sly, kittenish voice, Ms. Dearie confided song lyrics in a playful style below whose surface layers of insinuation lurked”

Please check out Blossom's work. This article is designed for this blog only. All images are credited where possible, Please advise if any images need further credits or details. 

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Inspiring Icons/ Harry Bertoia

Left: Diamond chair in yellow with cover, Right: Harry in his studio

Left: Diamond chair in yellow with cover, Right: Harry in his studio

Harry in his studio with one of his famous sound sculptures 

Harry in his studio with one of his famous sound sculptures 

Left: Willow sound sculpture, 1970, Right; Detail of sculpture

Left: Willow sound sculpture, 1970, Right; Detail of sculpture

Courtesy of Knoll, Harry Bertoia posters 

Courtesy of Knoll, Harry Bertoia posters 

Left: Cornet Sculpture, 1964, Image courtesy of Sotherbys, Right: The famous Diamond chairs for Knoll

Left: Cornet Sculpture, 1964, Image courtesy of Sotherbys, Right: The famous Diamond chairs for Knoll

Left: Image courtesy of Knoll, Right: Sculpture 

Left: Image courtesy of Knoll, Right: Sculpture 

Right: Sculpture, Left: On display in Knoll showroom, 1950's

Right: Sculpture, Left: On display in Knoll showroom, 1950's

Here at SMH, Inc we have always been in love with these chairs, They are quite simply beautiful pieces of sculpture in their own right. That was what Harry Bertoia was all about! A sculptor at heart. Bertoia was born in 1915, in the small village of San Lorenzo, Friuli, Italy until age 15. He and his father went to Detroit, USA. Bertoia stayed in Michigan to attend Cass Technical School, a public school with a special program for talented students in arts and sciences. Later, a one-year scholarship to the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts allowed him to study painting and drawing.

 

Harry Bertoia opened his own metal workshop at Cranbrook where he taught jewelry design and metal work. In 1946 he moved to California to help fellow Cranbrook alumnus Charles Eames develop methods of laminating and bending plywood. His contribution to that process of developing the Eames famous chairs was extremely valuable but often not recognized as well as it should have been. After that period he spent 2 years in San Diego where he worked on a project involving human engineering, This is where he began making metal sculptures after hours.

 

In 1950, at the invitation of Hans and Florence Knoll of Knoll, Inc. Harry moved to eastern Pennsylvania with his growing family. The Bertoia Diamond chair series was introduced in 1952 by Knoll. Bertoia also designed all the jigs for the production of the items. Harry set up shop in Bally in an old leaky garage building. The chair became part of the “modern” furniture movement of the 1950s. In the span of a couple of years, Bertoia completed several chair designs for Knoll.

 

In 1960, Harry Bertoia started the exploration of tonal sculptures. The "tonal", or sounding sculpture, is the art that is most often associated with Harry Bertoia. Their sizes vary from a few inches all the way up to 20 plus feet. Harry loved music and spent endless hours experimenting and finding new sounds to incorporate into Sonambient, the auditory and visual environment created by the tonals.

 

Bertoia spent the next 25 years of his life experimenting with light, sound and volume through sculptures, paintings and architectural installations.

 

All images are credited where possible, Most courtesy of Knoll. These layouts are for inspirational purposes on this blog only. Let us know if further credit is needed. 

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Inspiring Icons/ Aldo Rossi

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    Left: Portrait Of Aldo Rossi, Right: Alessi La Conica Coffee pot, 1980-83

Left: Portrait Of Aldo Rossi, Right: Alessi La Conica Coffee pot, 1980-83

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   Left: Il Cinco Kettle, Right: Sketches of the La Conica Coffee pot for Alessi

Left: Il Cinco Kettle, Right: Sketches of the La Conica Coffee pot for Alessi

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   Left: Painting bt Aldo Rossi, Right La Conica Coffee pot for Alessi

Left: Painting bt Aldo Rossi, Right La Conica Coffee pot for Alessi

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   Left and Right: Sketches for Aldo Rossi's projects

Left and Right: Sketches for Aldo Rossi's projects

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    Painting/ Illustration to represent The Monument to the Resistance for Cuneo, 1962

Painting/ Illustration to represent The Monument to the Resistance for Cuneo, 1962

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   The unfinished San Cataldo Cemetery, Italy, 1971  

The unfinished San Cataldo Cemetery, Italy, 1971  

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    Left: Covered walkway at The San Cataldo Cemetery, Italy, 1971, Right: Aldo Rossi’s painting in inspiration for the cemetery

Left: Covered walkway at The San Cataldo Cemetery, Italy, 1971, Right: Aldo Rossi’s painting in inspiration for the cemetery

More of Aldo Rossi's amazing sketches for his projects  

More of Aldo Rossi's amazing sketches for his projects  

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    Left: Sketch, Right Aldo Rossi in his office, 1980’s

Left: Sketch, Right Aldo Rossi in his office, 1980’s

When you look at Aldo Rossi’s work, His product design through to his architecture, you see a passion for heritage but a nod to the future that is distinctly his own. Born in Milan (1931-1997), he is considered by many to be the greatest Italian architect of the second half of the 20th century. His notoriety comes from the fact that it was he who accomplished the unusual feat of achieving international recognition in four distinct areas: theory, drawing, architecture and product design

 

His espresso maker La Cupola, designed for Alessi came out in 1988 and is what drew us to really notice his work, Having needed a espresso maker on our travels, we discovered this classic coffee pot and was inspired by it’s dome like lid and whimsical nature at Chicago’s Eataly. It was from there we felt the need to explore further work and what we unearthed was a body of work, which is breathtaking. In particular his sketches for his projects are artworks in themselves and really capture a spirit and dynamism that is mirrored in the final product. 

 

The amazing thing about his work is that even though he seemed to be pigeon holed a post modernist, he truly was his own entity. He once said, "I cannot be Postmodern, as I have never been Modern," His body of work is enormous but buildings worth mentioning that are worth checking out are San Cataldo Cemetery, Monte Amiata Housing, Teatro Carlo Felice, Teatro La Fenice, Bonnefantenmuseum and The Gallaratese Housing, Milan. To go in depth about these would require a much more involved post, if interested read more about them here.  

 

When Rossi was awarded the Pritzer Prize in 1990, the jury said: "Rossi has been able to follow the lessons of classical architecture without copying them; his buildings carry echoes from the past in their use of forms that have a universal, haunting quality."

"His work is at once bold and ordinary, original without being novel, refreshingly simple in appearance but extremely complex in content and meaning," they added. "In a period of diverse styles and influences, Aldo Rossi has eschewed the fashionable and popular to create an architecture singularly his own."

 

He sadly died in an automobile accident in 1997 at the age of 66

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Inspiring Icons/ Ruth Asawa

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Inspiring Icons/ Ruth Asawa

Here at SMH, INC we have always been fascinated by the work of American Japanese artist Ruth Asawa whose work came into prominence in the 1950’s with her famous wire sculptures. Asawa experimented with crocheted wire sculptures of abstract forms that appear as three-dimensional line drawings

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Inspiring Icons / Paul McCobb

Paul McCobb is one of those influential designers that seem to have slipped under the radar. Most people in design circles in the States know and admire his work and he is highly collectible but unlike some of the other design superstars like George Nelson, Florence Knoll and The Eames of that era, Paul McCobb seems to have gained slightly less attention.

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Inspiring Icon / Massimo Vignelli

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Inspiring Icon / Massimo Vignelli

When you live in New York as I do, you see the influence of Massimo Vignelli everywhere from shopping bags to the subway. Coming up to a year's anniversary of his death in May at the age of 83, I think we should never forget the layer and strength of design that he bought to the industry as a whole.

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