Beautiful Toys by Charles & Ray Eames

Serious Fun

Taking inspiration from the humble cardboard box, Ray and Charles Eames created toys and furniture to spark the imagination of kids and adults alike. A central tenant of the design philosophy of Ray and Charles Eames was an embrace of play as an end in itself, the idea that creativity should be unconstrained and unburdened. While the couple will always be remembered for their contributions to furniture, design and cinema, it was their approach to experimentation, and their interest in seemingly tangential topics such as clowns, that inspired their seemingly endless sense of wonder and a constant drive towards exploration and improvement. As champions of those beliefs, it only goes to follow that they’d also be some of the world’s foremost toy designers.

Ray and Charles Eames took child’s play seriously. They invented playthings, furniture, and films to spark, but never limit, the young imagination. Given their own ideas of fun, these toys tended to emphasize composition, structure, and building, giving children the tools of their own adult trades in miniature (and giving some adults the chance to make like children again). Many of their designs embrace what kids and parents have long known: that the box an item comes in, especially if it’s a very large item, can be more exciting than the contents.

So it comes as no surprise that the Eameses improved the box itself, as a portfolio of photographs unearthed from the Herman Miller Archives reminds us. The humble cardboard box offers children their first chance to make space for themselves, whether that’s a race car, a robot, or a house, sprouting from the shipping container the Eames Office designed in 1951 for the Eames Storage Units (ESUs).

Printed in a colorful red and black design, and featuring the distinctive Herman Miller ‘M,’ the heavy cardboard carton, reinforced with wood splines, had only to be re-nailed to the bottom wood skid, after the furniture had been removed, to be made into a playhouse youngsters would love, reads text from a draft press release. A separate leaflet offers instructions on “How to Make a Playhouse,” but it should have been self-explanatory: dotted lines suggest locations for an entrance and a view out, as well as jaunty awnings.

In one fell swoop, the Eameses managed to combine adult and child fun, eliminate waste, and add excitement to the mundane process of delivery. The up arrows, as well as the deep V of the logo “M,” designed by Irving Harper for the company, suggest the possibility of upward expansion into a miniature townhouse or skyscraper, should a child or parent need more furniture.

The ESUs themselves were also a kind of demountable toy for grownups. Made of perforated steel extrusions with diagonal bracing, they could be configured as low credenzas or high bookshelves. Buyers could customize the interior arrangement, selecting plywood drawers or doors, and perforated metal or enameled Masonite filler panels. Owners could also take them apart and rearrange or add on, treating the furniture as a series of modular boxes‑ furniture as toy.

As adults designing playthings intended for children, the Eameses found more inspiration in boxes. The Toy, manufactured by Tigrett Enterprises in 1951, offered children the chance to make their own prefabricated structure, one more colorful and flexible than Carton City. The Eameses had first been in touch with Tigrett about manufacturing large, bright, paper-and-cardboard animal masks based on those they used for skits and photo shoots in the late 1940s. The Memphis-based company was run by the highly entrepreneurial John Burton Tigrett, who made his fortune selling the Glub-Glub duck and may have been looking for more patentable products. The masks never made it out of the prototype stage, but the simpler and more geometric Toy did.

The Toy combined thin wooden dowels, pipe cleaners, and a set of square and triangular stiffened-paper panels in green, yellow, blue, red, magenta, and black. Children could run the dowels through sleeves on the edges of the panels to strengthen them, and then attach these struts at the corners. Initially sold in a big, flat box via the Sears catalog, the Eameses soon redesigned this packaging as well, creating a far more elegant 30-inch hexagonal tube, into which all parts could be rolled and stored.

The first version of the Toy made spaces big enough for children to inhabit, like the cartons. The Little Toy, released in 1952, was scaled more like an architectural model, allowing children to radically reinterpret the dollhouse. (The office later prototyped a modern model house for Revell, but it never went into production.) The Little Toy boxes, which feature a grid of colorful rectangles and words, resemble the panelized arrangement of the Eames House façade and the ESUs, and all of these products, at their various scales, were being developed at the Eames Office within the same few years.

Charles Eames once said of the work done out of the Eames Office, “We work because it’s a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next.” The connection to the ESU cartons and The Toy is immediately apparent in the longest-lived of the modular, paper-based playthings to come out of the Eames Office, the House of Cards.

In the voiceover for “Toccata for Toy Trains,” Charles Eames says, “In a good old toy there is apt to be nothing self-conscious about the use of materials. What is wood is wood; what is tin is tin; and what is cast is beautifully cast.” He could have added, in reference to the couple’s own toys, what is cardboard is cardboard, and then talked about the qualities that make it an ideal building material: its strength, its low cost, its ability to withstand a judicious number of cuts and slots.

Why Magazine by Alexandra Lange

Beautiful Stahl House

Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing $37,500, further demonstrated Pierre Koenig’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass and concrete.

Stahl-Landscape1-The image is instantly familiar; the house, all dramatic angles, concrete, steel and glass, perched indelibly above Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s lights resembling a circuit board below it. Inside, two women sit, stylish and relaxed, talking casually behind the monumental floor to ceiling glass walls. One of the world’s most iconic photographs, Julius Schulman’s Case Study 22 beautifully captures the optimism of 1950s Los Angeles, and the striking beauty of architect Pierre Koenig’s masterpiece, Stahl House. The classic L shaped pavilion, cantilevered above Hollywood on Woods Drive, was built in 1959 after being adopted into the Case Study Program, an experimental residential design initiative that commissioned architects to create model homes in the wake of the 1950s housing boom. Stahl House, also known as No. 22, was the wild one, conjured up by the man who purchased the plot of land at 1635 Woods Drive in 1954 for $13,500 and sealed the deal with a handshake. C H ‘Buck’ Stahl was a dreamer, who, along with his wife Carlotta, set about finding the right person to bring his vision for an innovative and thoroughly modern home to life.

Stahl-portrait1-chairstahl_portrait2-pool.jpgBuck was a former professional footballer who worked as a graphic designer and sign painter. He spent his first few years as a landowner hauling broken blocks of concrete to the site in attempt to improve its precarious foundation. He and Carlotta ferried their finds, load by load, back to Woods Drive in the back of Buck’s Cadillac, hopeful the reinforcements would prevent the land from sliding. Buck’s dreams for the house began to take shape over the following two years, and eventually, he made a model of the future Stahl House. His grand designs, however, were promptly rejected by several notable architects.

Stahl-Landscape2-view.jpgCarlotta recalled Buck continually telling prospective architects “I don’t care how you do it, there’s not going to be any walls in this wing.” Until they hired Pierre Koenig in 1957, an ambitious young architect determined to build on a site nobody would touch, it seemed unlikely the house would ever exist. Pierre described the process of building Stahl House as “trying to solve a problem – the client had champagne tastes and a beer budget.” He was interested in working with steel, and despite being warned away from it by his architecture instructors, possessed great aptitude for it. He’d experimented with a number of exposed glass and steel homes before he created Case Study 21, or The Bailey House in 1958 and 1959, and his skill for designing functional spaces with simplicity of form, abundant natural light, and elegant lines would eventually make him a master of modernism. Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing 37,500 USD, further demonstrated Pierre’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass, and concrete. The project put him on the map as an architect with an incredible eye for balance, symmetry, and restraint. The 2,040 m² house was, as Buck insisted, built without walls in the main wing to allow for sweeping 270º views. Three sides of the building were made of plate glass, unheard of in the late 1950s, and deemed dangerous by engineers and architects. This design feature required Pierre to source the largest pieces of glass available for residential use at the time. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, polished concrete floors, and a very famous swimming pool (a fixture in countless films and fashion editorials) Stahl House was an immediate mid century icon.

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Although there has been some dispute over Buck’s influence on the design in the years since he died in 2005 and Pierre Koenig’s death in 2004, some experts who have seen Buck’s original model agree that his concept informed the direction the Stahl House would finally take.

“I dismissed it as typical owner hubris at the time,” architect and writer Joseph Giovannini told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “The gesture of the house cantilevering over the side of the hill into the distant view is clearly here in this model. But it is Pierre’s skill that elevated the idea into a masterpiece. This is one of the rare cases it seems that there is a shared authorship.”

Today, Stahl House is still owned by the Stahl family. Though it remains a magnet for film crews and photographers the world over, for Bruce Stahl, Buck and Carlotta’s son, who grew up there with his siblings, it was simply part of a typical, happy childhood. “We were a blue collar family living in a white collar house,” he said. “Nobody famous ever lived here.”

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Credits: Lucy Brook
Photos: Rick Poon

Beautiful Kitchen Design

I am loving this little kitchen with dark grey and black cabinets. Love the sleek new black stainless steel, fingerprint-resistant appliances with a rich, matter look.

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The great thing about black and dark grey is how dramatic it is, and how it helps make everything else around it pop. And adding black appliances to the mix gives things a seriously seamless look!

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Check out Whirlpool’s newest line of black appliances here

 

Beautiful Textiles

Swedish brand HIMLA has launched a unique collaboration with interior
stylist and photographer Daniella Witte, and the imagery she has created
is stunning. Representing Scandinavian Simplicity, most of HIMLA’S products
made from linen, but they also work with other natural materials like wool,
silk and cotton.

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Using textiles from the range, Daniella has created a relaxed interior with
natural colors and a simple aesthetic. Beautiful stone floors are softened
with sheer linen curtains and a warm layering of textiles that carry through
to every room in the home. These include soft rugs underfoot in the living
room, scattered cushions on the sofa and a lovely layering of tablecloth and
napkins on the dining table. Bathed in light, the bedroom is my favorite.
Read more about this inspiring collaboration here. Love the stone floor!

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Styling and photography by Daniella Witte for Himla via TDC

Beautiful Renovated Home

This beautiful Copenhagen apartment was featured in
Elle Decoration South Africa earlier this year.
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Located in the Frederiksberg, the couple renovated the once run-down
apartment themselves. Restoring the original architectural detailing,
they have introduced new contemporary additions to provide a strong
yet understated contrast. The couple have also incorporated their own
stories and heritage. Justine’s South African roots can be seen in details
such as the fabrics and lithographs created by artists such as her aunt,
South African artist Deborah Bell.

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Bringing in a number of delicate heirlooms, Jonas’s Danish upbringing
is also evident. Featuring natural materials such as wood and stone, the
home showcases the pair’s attention to detail and the interaction between
origins, functionality and aesthetics. The end result a beautiful!

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Images 1-5 Styling Marie Monrad Graunbøl / Photography by Mikkel Tjellesen via Elle Decoration.  Last image via justinebell.com

Beautiful Kid Spaces

How to crate a beautiful, cool, functional space for kids.

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September is almost here and that can only mean one thing: back-to-school time! But homework doesn’t have to be boring – and neither does your child’s desk. Whether it’s for homework, drawing, coloring or simply chilling with a favorite book, study spaces can be both functional AND fun.

Here’s how:

1. Choose an area that works within the room

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Image sourced from Van Staeyen

Placing a table along the length of the room (as pictured above) makes an area that may otherwise not be used for anything, useful – especially in a loft or attic room like this one. It’s light and bright, thanks to the window and the cheerful sunshine yellow and white, with plenty of desktop space for every activity you can think of! Don’t forget alcoves, unused corners, underneath loft beds, and even cupboards – they can make perfect study zones too!

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Image sourced from The Land of Nod

2. Hang a shelf

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Image sourced from Estiloescandinavo

If you don’t have a lot of space, consider hanging a wall-mounted shelf instead. Simple and smart, yet effective as well. If it’s next to a wall, even better – hang some extra storage for all those arty bits and pieces and to help keep everything tidy and organized. And don’t forget all that extra space underneath the desk. Stack some storage boxes, bins or baskets to stash away all the mess when work and play is over.

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Image sourced from En Suus

3. Choose a colored chair or stool

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Image sourced from Saarkeloves on Instagram

These Ikea steps look amazing painted in bright colors and used as stools. Love how the drawers divide up the two areas whilst serving as functional desktop legs, not to mention brilliant storage for paper, pens, crayons and books.

Likewise, these sweet vintage chairs in this kids’ room (below) add a pop of bright color whilst being perfectly in keeping with the style of the room:

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Image sourced from Coosje 

4. Decorate!

Colored paint, wallpaper, wall stickers and wall art all help to add color and character to the walls, giving the study area its own identity. This simple yet creative two-tone ‘mountain’ design on the wall, which defines the corner and separates it out from the rest of the room:

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Image sourced from Wildones

How cool is this grey and white cloud wallpaper for the alcove surrounding the desk?

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5. Add a peg board

A simple pegboard above the desk is decorative, functional as storage and the perfect solution for displaying their creative masterpieces:

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Image sourced from Aimee Weaver
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Image sourced from Pretty Life Girls 
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Image sourced from Petit and Small

So, whether it’s for a 2, 12 or 22-year-old, you can keep the study space both fun and functional by adding elements such as a bright chair or stool, a colorful shelf or pegboard or a decorative wall feature through paint, wallpaper or wall art. And let’s face it – when you have kids, there is plenty of wall art to display.

For more ideas visit petitandsmall.com

Beautiful Pink House

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The Pink House, otherwise known as The Spear House, is one of the best known and most photographed residences in Miami, Florida. It is a quintessential symbol of modernism and sits at the edge of Biscayne Bay in the older Miami suburb of Miami Shores, is intended as an urban house within a suburban context. Rigorously conceived as a study in different planes, the house is painted give shades of pink, ranging from deep near-red to pale pink, which heighten the illusionistic perspective of the house and define the series of planes. Pink was chosen because it seemed to be the most tropical of all colors and at the time was rarely used. Many factors make the house interesting bit its controversy has all the intrigue. designed by Laurinda Spear and Bernardo Fort-Bescia of Arquitectonica for Spears’ parents in 1976, it’s a series of planes and framed views designed to maximize East/West breezes.

The Pink House, Miami Shores, Florida, 7800

Although the house was initially conceived as an object standing on its own, the west façade, facing the city, is scaled down; its dimensions diminish to relate to other houses on the street in an almost mathematical cadence. The east façade, designed for long-distance viewing from Miami Beach and the bay, is scaled so that it looms large. The approach is through a tropical grove — almost a tunnel– which opens to a geometric landscape with palm trees spaced regularly in a carpet of pavers.

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The house has a precise sequence: the façade, the courtyard, and then the rooms, each framing a different view of the bay. The house encloses a swimming pool, which, along with the living areas, is the piano, one level above ground. The house in narrow — only 18 feet wide — to capture the bay breezes and daylight as well. The Spear House is more rigorously mathematical than Arquitectonica’s later work, yet in many ways it is seminal, establishing a number of paths of inquiry that the firm has pursued consistently, including color and cadence.

The Pink House, Miami Shores, Florida, 7800

Its color statement received a lot of attention in the late 1970s when it was built.
Neighbors were disturbed by the 5 shades of pink, which were chosen to reflect
the tropical climate and were rarely used at the time. Ultimately a grove of trees
were planted to shield the house from the street.

The Pink House, Miami Shores, Florida, 7800

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Original sketch

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