Posts Tagged ‘perfect’

one perfect thing

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

my leonard chair

What is it? It’s a modernist’s vision of the ideal child’s chair, that much is obvious. What’s not obvious is who made it. There’s no maker’s mark. Figures. It took a surprising amount of sleuthing to discover this chair’s pedigree, but I did it.

Turns out this chair is the work of  James W. Leonard for the Education Supply Association (Esavian Ltd) in the UK. The cast-aluminum alloy frame and bent beech-plywood child’s school chair made by Esavian was designed to be stackable. So this is no frou-frou object. It’s a utilitarian piece of furniture designed to stand up to rigorous use — and yet it’s a thing of beauty.

Where did it come from? I happened across it on eBay a few years back via a seller in upstate New York, not the UK. Once I spotted that slung-back aluminum leg, I was hooked. These chairs are tough to find in the states — believe me, I’ve tried since lucking across this one. They do, however, turn up upon occasion on

Circa? Post-war. The design dates to 1948.

Interesting tidbit:

There were also adult-sized chairs, some in molded ply and others vinyl covered…

james w leonard chair for adults |

james w leonard chair for adults |

and a gorgeous stacking table that’s to die for…

james w leonard table for esavian |

james w leonard table for esavian |

Much to-do has been made about whether Leonard or Jean Prouvé first designed what’s come to be termed as the “compass leg.” As I understand it — from what I’ve read — Leonard’s design predates Prouvé’s by a few years. But what do I know anyway?

Want to see a few other perfect things I’ve dug up while sifting through our premodel mess? I can show you a vintage aluminum clock we hope to have a place to hang someday and a vintage steel sculpture David’s grandfather made that deserves an eventual special spot.

one perfect thing

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

neon clock 1

neon clock 2

What is it? Minty vintage aluminum clock with painting we commissioned from John Dee.

Where did it come from? David and I came across the clock in the dusty corner of a stripmall antique store in Pueblo, Colorado, ages ago. The tag said $25. Sold! Spun aluminum case, un-dinged (finally got all the paint off). Original glass with pinstripes, unscratched. Hands and clocky bits, working. The face had some awful lunchmeat promo on it, sloppily hand-painted right over the top of what was probably a great Chevy bow-tie sign. It was begging to be stripped, so I did.

Had the neon replaced. Mmmmm, glowy. Then it sat in the corner of our loft until I asked John if he’d  throw his paint voodoo on it. Now it sits dark and unplugged in the corner of our house longing for a wall.

Circa? Unsure. Guessing the ’40s or ’50s.

Interesting tidbit: John Dee is a UI artist and illustrator at Harmonix working on games like RockBand and, well, probably all their other titles as well. His paintings make me smile. More here.

one perfect thing

Friday, February 5th, 2010

mcvitty sculpture

Have I mentioned this house is complete chaos? Yeah, I think I covered that. On the other hand, I can still spot a few things I really love in the maelstrom. This would be one of them…

What is it? Steel sculpture made from found scrap metal.

Where did it come from? David’s grandfather, John D. McVitty (fondly known as Mackie), came across it by the town dock in Stonington, CT, and had it welded to a matching base. voila! art!

Circa? Nobody knows for sure.

Interesting tidbit: Mackie was a contemporary of a few names you might know… like artist Alexander Calder, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and modernist master Marcel Breuer. He knew these people. The mind reels. He studied architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and then moved over to MIT to pursue naval architecture.

Found a photo from 1947 in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art of Mackie’s first wife Joan hanging out with Calder and Breuer’s wife. You can’t make this stuff up.

mcvitty in granada

Mackie on his boat in Granada