L.A. at Home

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Category: Midcentury

Rapson rocker reissued by Loll in recycled plastic

Rapson rockersToby Rapson, son of midcentury architect Ralph Rapson, was working to put his father's classic designs back into production when he bumped into Loll designer and Chief Executive Greg Benson, whose company specializes in furniture made of recycled plastic. The meeting prompted Rapson to rethink his father's rocking chair as an eco-friendly outdoor rocker made from material.

GreenbeltLineSketches"It became a collaboration between us and Loll to translate the chairs Ralph Rapson drew [pictured at right], to a new innovative  project," Rapson-Inc. President Chris Reedy said.

Rapson-Inc. reissued the modern Rapid Rocker at the end of last year and partnered with retailer YLiving to reintroduce the Rapson Greenbelt line of chairs. The 1939 Greenbelt rocker, pictured on the left at the top of the post, is $1,845 and was originally designed for manufacturer Knoll.

Prototypes of the high-backed armless Rapson Rocker for Loll ($999), pictured at top right, and low-back Rapson lounge chair with arms ($1,099), pictured at the end of this post, were showcased last month at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York and will be on display at the Dwell on Design show in Los Angeles this weekend. As with all of Loll's designs, the pieces are made from 100% recycled plastic.

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Watercolor paintings based on Julius Shulman photos

Eames House Amy ParkIf the famed architectural photographs of Julius Shulman sketched a story about California, then New York artist Amy Park has added her own chapter, painting color into images that many of us have seen over and over again.

Park creates large-scale watercolors from architectural photographs, and Shulman's images of California homes and other buildings were inspiration for a show that opens Saturday at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.

“His photographs capture such an idyllic time in California,” Park said by phone from her studio. “The landscape, the light. It is magical for someone like me who grew up in the Midwest and now lives in New York.”

The painter, originally inspired by the documentary “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman,” did not work on site or even visit the buildings. She worked exclusively from Shulman's black-and-white photographs, on loan from the Getty Research Institute. Though Shulman’s archive does include color photography, Park chose black-and-white images as a challenge. The colors in her paintings of the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, for instance, are based on her recollection. 

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'Atomic Ranch Midcentury Interiors': Modern living with 'Mad' looks

Atomic Ranch: Midcentury InteriorsDuring a recent trip to San Diego, I drove by my childhood home in Point Loma. The low-lying 1956 ranch house still looked the same from the street. Were my hand prints still in the patio concrete? I also found myself wondering if the home’s period details inside remained. The lovely diamond pane windows with the stubborn hand cranks were gone. And surely the small kitchen with its funky brown appliances had been edited by now. But I hoped the wide brick and flagstone fireplace -- the one that could easily seat four and doubled as a stage for my sister and me -- was still there.

Atomic Ranch coverRetaining those classic ranch-house elements while adapting to modern living is precisely what Michelle Gringeri-Brown, editor of the quarterly Atomic Ranch magazine, tries to encourage through her new book, “Atomic Ranch Midcentury Interiors.”

“We try to point out the charm of original features,” Gringeri-Brown said in an interview. “We encourage homeowners to be cautious. Don't rush to gut the whole thing before you make interior design choices that can’t be undone. The period pieces often stand out as things to be appreciated.” 

Gringeri-Brown credits the popularity of “Mad Men” for fueling appreciation of ranch houses. A new generation is attracted to what she calls “retro cool.” Ranch houses also appeal to aging baby boomers who are wary of stairs. “Because ranches were built when property was cheaper, they tend to sprawl on one floor and have a larger yard,” the author said.

This is her second book on ranch houses with husband, photographer Jim Brown, and it highlights eight homes, from a tract house in Calistoga, Calif., to a split-level in Ohio. (That's a 1958 house in San Mateo, Calif., at the top of the post.) Homeowners share their remodeling stories, offer tips on projects such as windows and plumbing, and detail the design elements they have retained. In one case, homeowners found original metal kitchen cabinets in their garage. The book is filled with creative ideas as well as informative sidebars, floor plans, vintage photos and a list of nearly 200 resources.

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'Magic City': One of TV's best-designed shows?

"Magic City"
Reviews for the new Starz series “Magic City” have been mixed, but the critics seem to agree on one thing: The show looks stunning. Set in 1959 Miami Beach in the luxury Miramar Playa Hotel, "Magic City" looks like it was shot entirely on location in a period-perfect resort, but in fact its living rooms, bars and suites were built on a stage over nearly four months. The look is a mix of gold, glitz and glamour that betray the deals that go down after dark.

Production designer Carlos Barbosa and set decorator Scott Jacobson said they worked hard to stay true to the period in all aspects: the Midcentury Modern furniture, the television consoles that would have been appropriate for a new luxury hotel, even the typography on the matchbooks and signs.

"Magic City"“It was such a fascinating time both socially and politically, especially in Miami,” Barbosa said. “There was the Jewish Mafia. Sinatra. Castro took over that year. Later the Kennedys would visit.” And there was one architect in particular who captured the glamour at that time: Morris Lapidus.

The production designer said he took inspiration from the Miami Modernist architecture -- or MiMo -- of Lapidus, who designed several Miami Beach hotels including the Foutainebleau, Deauville and Eden Roc.

"Magic City"Like Lapidus, the production team mixed styles -- including Modernist, classical and baroque -- to create the Miramar Playa's distinctive interiors. To save money, the production made much of the furniture rather than tracked down period pieces. “In order to achieve that look today, in that scale, many things were not available,” Jacobson said. “And even if they were, it would be too cost prohibitive. It’s easier to design what you want and select the textiles that are right.”

Nothing was leased from a prop house. Jacobson, who is based in Miami, said he scoured Florida antique shops, EBay and the Brimfield antique market in Massachusetts. "Estate sales were a gold mine for me," he said. "There were several where I walked in in the morning, took a look and told them, 'I'll buy everything.' " Keep reading for a closer look at some of the residential environments, as well as the back story to the bar pictured at top ...

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Midcentury fans 'Mad' for Don Draper's new pad

"Mad Men" set, Don Draper home
Woe to the design team behind “Mad Men,” whose ravenous fans mercilessly scour the period decor in every episode. Is that a 1967 chair in a 1966 scene? Is that refrigerator color really right for the times? Design-savvy viewers have been all too happy to point out potential goofs as well as must-haves. The first obsession was Don Draper's new Manhattan home, an Upper East Side spread complete with serious bachelor pad trappings.

Fan sites and decorating blogs are filled with Season 5 analysis, to varying degrees of sophistication. Casa Sugar loaded 17 photos onto its site with scintillating, insightful commentary such as, “A glass-topped, metal-base coffee table holds a variety of party snacks,” and, “Don's sectional sofa is covered with a variety of pleated, multihued circular pillows.”

But on her Mirror Mirror blog, Seattle design junkie Paola Thomas astutely spotted classic Midcentury enamel bowls by Norwegian manufacturer Cathrineholm. On Apartment Therapy, one reader asking about Don's blue swag light elicited more than 20 comments from readers speculating where they too could buy the look. (Answer: EBay, $595 for a pair of similar lamps in white.)

If you missed the original post, check out David A. Keeps' L.A. at Home interview with set decorator Claudette Didul, who can give more enlightening details about how she shopped like a "Mad" man -- and pieced together Don's look with finds from EBay, Etsy and Craigslist, as well as stores in Long Beach, Pasadena and North Hollywood.


The baby's room on "Bones"

"Smash" homes steal the show

Real homes: California design profiles

-- Craig Nakano

Photo: Don Draper's new apartment. Credit: AMC

Neutra lamp auction part of effort to fix Silver Lake landmark

LAMA-Neutra-Prototype-Lamp-May12-3 copy
Four pieces of wood, some glass, a light bulb and wire. Do I hear $20,000? That’s the low estimate floated for a 1942 prototype lamp by Richard Neutra to be sold by Los Angeles Modern Auctions on May 6. The value, the auction house said, stems from the piece’s rarity: Only one other like it is known to exist.

Designed for Neutra’s parents’ house in Westwood, the lamp now belongs to Raymond Neutra, son of the iconic L.A. architect, who is donating proceeds toward the renovation of the Neutra VDL home and studio in Silver Lake. Robert Alexander, interim director of the landmark house, said the next phase involves reconstruction of the main roof by the L.A. firm Marmol Radziner, with hopes of eventually reviving Richard Neutra’s original vision: a rooftop reflecting pool with a surface that visually melds with the Silver Lake reservoir in the distance.

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'Mad Men': The story behind Don Draper's new digs

"Mad Men" Don Draper apartment"Mad Men" returned after its long hiatus Sunday, earning record ratings and a host of Midcentury Modern design fans newly obsessed with Don Draper's new Manhattan home. It's June 1966, and though Draper (played by Jon Hamm) might be a newlywed, he's traded in his dreary digs from last season for an Upper East Side spread complete with serious bachelor pad trappings.

Don Draper's apartmentApartment 17-B, right, set decorator Claudette Didul said, is "in a high-rise that feels like it was built in 1960 with a white-carpeted sunken living room and a fascinating fireplace and a Case Study-style kitchen with two pass through windows."

It also sports walnut cabinetry with a built-in television set and one of those new-fangled-for-the-time push-button phones. 

Didul said Draper's love of sleek modern lines and high-tech gadgetry and manly appointments (leather lounge chair, countertop cocktail bar with a drum-shaped ice bucket) is contrasted with his new wife Megan's youthful taste and love of color. 

"I imagine she might've dragged Don through Bloomingdale's to see the model rooms," Didul said. 

The set decorator also took inspiration from two books by 1960s bestselling interior design author Betty Pepis and "Decoration U.S.A.," a 1965 collaboration between Jose Wilson and Arthur Leaman. "The colors of the rooms and furnishings are so vibrant in those books they almost make your teeth rattle," Didul said. 

MM_MY_513_0112_0274The kitchen has rich blue and blazing coral cabinets exhibiting "happiness and hopefulness," Didul said. "The pastels of the 1950s are giving way to brighter and earthier tones." She spotted the brown 1964 Frigidaire in a vintage copy of the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine. "It's my favorite appliance in the whole show."

Keep reading to see Don's dining and living room and a list of Didul's shopping sources ...

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Pedro E. Guerrero: Frank Lloyd Wright's photographer, in focus

Pedro E. Guerrero left Arizona in the 1930s to escape bigotry and to become an artist in Los Angeles. But years later, upon seeing photography of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, he headed back to Arizona. His destination: Taliesin West, Wright's school near Scottsdale, where he sought to meet the master. He did more than meet Wright. He began a relationship that would last until Wright's death in 1959.

Pedro-GuerreroWith no formal training, Guerrero went on to serve as Wright's primary photographer, documenting not only the architecture but also the architect. That body of work forms the backbone of “Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographs of Modern Life,” billed as the first in-depth retrospective for a man who also captured the designs of Alexander Calder, Marcel Breuer and Philip Johnson.

Emily Bills, director of the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University and co-curator of the exhibit, said the goal was to show how Guerrero, right, built a career in parallel to photographers such as Shulman but with less fame.

“He was similarly prolific, influencing how midcentury architecture was represented and understood,” Bills said.

We asked the curator to elaborate on Guerrero's significance and talk about some of her favorite photos in the show.

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Farrow & Ball color consultants: Paint regrets, begone

Farrow and Ball paint
If you've ever felt like you've spent too much time and money testing wall colors -- or repainting rooms that just didn't look right -- you may be happy to know that Farrow & Ball is launching in-home color consultations here starting at $200. A Farrow & Ball color consultant begins with an analysis of the architectural detailing and lighting of up to four rooms, then reviews the client's favorite colors during a one-hour meeting. The consultant devises color schemes from the company's 132 shades with suggested paint finishes for exteriors and interiors, as well as options from the Farrow & Ball wallpaper collection. The room pictured in the lead photo is painted in Pointing Estate Emulsion with the cupboards in Teresa's Green Estate Eggshell.

 After the consultation, clients receive a color fan deck and written specifications including the quantities of paint required to complete each room. Sessions can be scheduled through Farrow & Ball showrooms or by calling (888) 511-1121. The program is being offered through showrooms in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington.

Farrow & Ball's Los Angeles color consultant Cindy Saenz gave us a sampling of the service by answering our email posing some common questions:

52_PrOrange_Lnge_1343RPS_ 004What colors are trending?

Colors that tend to be most popular in Los Angeles right now are cooler grays such as Cornforth White or Pavilion Gray and warmer grays such as Elephant's Breath or Hardwick White. Additionally, we find that most people like to introduce accent colors in the woodwork such as cabinets, bookshelves or furniture pieces using colors like Hague Blue, London Clay and Down Pipe.

[Pictured here, a room painted in a gray called Railings.]

What colors look best in small rooms or dark rooms?

Lighter cooler tones such as Strong White, Blackened or Cornforth White help to make a space feel open and airy. Darker, warmer tones such as Charleston Gray or London Clay make a space feel more intimate and cozy.

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Pasadena home tour highlights USC connections

Buff, Straub & Hensman's Thomson House

Home tour season is officially upon us, and one of the more compelling events on the calendar is Sunday. The event is titled "American Modern: USC Style and Beyond," and it's organized by the preservation group Pasadena Heritage. The tour highlights the work of graduates and teachers of USC's School of Architecture. Stops include the post-and-beam Thomson House by Buff, Straub & Hensman; the DeSteiguer House, designed by Harwell Hamilton Harris in 1936 and moved to its current location by Leland Evison in 1951; and a Park Planned home designed by Modernist great Gregory Ain in 1947-48 in neighboring Altadena. Homes are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $40 to $42. Tours start at the will-call desk at 651 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena; (626) 441-6333; www.pasadenaheritage.org.


LC1 sling profileIconic sling chair remade for outdoors

Hardwood floor planks throw some curves

Handpainted wood tiles with San Simeon style

-- Lisa Boone

Photo: Thomson House. Source: Pasadena Heritage


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