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The Look for Less: The classic Raindrops by C. Jere and the Leaf Cluster from West Elm

November 30, 2010 |  9:33 am


"The Look for Less" usually features original designs and dead-ringer imitations. This time, however, it illustrates how one look -- in this case, a 1970s metal sculpture -- seems to be echoed in a new, low-cost piece of wall art. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, a firm called Artisan House, which had factories in the San Fernando Valley, released decorative metal pieces signed C. Jere (a not-entirely-logical combination of the founders' names, Jerry Fels and Kurt Freiler). They were popular at the time and sold through Raymor, a Manhattan showroom that specialized in modern design and Italian imports.

But the post-Modernist and minimalist design movements of the 1980s and 1990s sent many of these spangly pieces to thrift shops, discarded as out-of-date kitsch. Some of the C. Jere designs regained their luster during the more recent Midcentury Modern and Hollywood Regency revivals.

Leaf cluster wall art In the November issue of Elle Decor, writer Mitchell Owens traced the history of C. Jere, saying that the '60s and '70s pieces "are attracting the admiration of leading dealers in vintage chic." The Raindrops sculpture above was cited as C. Jere's best-known design.

Signed originals cost $5,000 and up on the design website 1stdibs. Jonathan Adler sells new reproductions of Raindrops made by Artisan House for $1,650. 

The reemergence of C. Jere wall decor has not gone unnoticed. West Elm gives it a rustic spin with its Leaf Cluster, right.

Keep reading to see how the two pieces stack up ... 

Raindrops copy

The C. Jere reproduction above, $1,650 through Jonathan Adler's online shop, is made from a multitude of brass discs, each patinated to create reflective surfaces and then mounted in a free-form constellation that casts layers of shadows. It's 5.5 feet long.

By contrast, the West Elm Leaf Cluster piece below has a matte industrial finish that looks more like scrap metal than jewel-like raindrops. It's just under 2 feet in diameter, but at $99, you could arrange three of them in an off-kilter way to imitate the size and shape of the original. At that price, you could even glam it up with some metallic paint.

Leaf cluster wall art

-- David A. Keeps

"The Look for Less" appears here every other Tuesday, alternating with "Set Pieces." Bookmark the blog and check back for future installments.

Photo credits: Jonathan Adler and West Elm


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