Design Under the Influence: The History of Plaid and Tartan

Happy Fall! It’s Erika from small shop, and for this edition of “Design Under the Influence” I thought I’d pay tribute not only to Paloma’s vacay to the UK, but also to the cooler days ahead with a little post about the history of plaid and tartan, and how to use it in a modern way.
Although plaid (North America) or tartan (elsewhere) has been around since the 8th to 6th centuries B.C. in Central Europe, it did not arrive in Scotland until the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, certain patterns were associated with different regions of the Highlands and Isles because of availability/weavers in each area. The documentation of the various patterns is in part due to textile manufacturer Bannockburn who recorded over 200 genuine patterns by 1822 — an important year that marked the visit of King George IV to Scotland. It wasn’t until this time that tartan became the national dress of all of Scotland, and individual clans and families began to align with a particular pattern.
I thought it was interesting to learn that “plaid” is actually derived from the Scottish Gaelic word plaide, which means “blanket.” And although we’ve seen it used as blankets and throws, wallpaper, bedding and upholstery in traditional, formal settings, it’s more endearing to me when mixed with modern pieces and in contemporary spaces, used in unexpected ways or mixed with other patterns…
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Domino
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Do you use plaid in your decor?

Design Under the Influence: The Barcelona Chair

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Hello! It’s Erika Brechtel from small shop with this month’s “Design Under the Influence” featuring the one-and-only, award-winning Barcelona chair. I was actually surprised when I went through my previous 29(!) posts of this column and saw I had not written about this piece, especially since it is a prized piece in my own home. But I was more surprised that I did not know that Mies van der Rohe designed the chair as seating for the king and queen of Spain…and the stool for their royal attendants!
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You do probably know that the chair and stool were originally designed in 1929 to inhabit Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona (and the reason why you’ll sometimes hear this chair referred to as the “Pavilion” chair). The following year, he added the daybed to his Barcelona Collection, and by 1953 it became the “it” lounger when architect Philip Johnson selected it for his New York apartment.
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As a trained architect, Mies van der Rohe strove for a minimalist balance in form and materials in his furniture and buildings. Like many architects in the early part of the 20th century, Mies van der Rohe designed not only the exterior and interior structures but the furnishings within — the whole package. (You could say they wanted total control over the inhabitant’s experience!) But I love how this collection — despite his best efforts — can be found in spaces that exhibit a variety of styles, from classic to contemporary, to minimalist to maximalist, to retro to beach house, to even…chalet!
via MetHome
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Carlos Souza via Elle Decor
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Pieter Estersohn for Ralph Lauren in Elle Decor
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via Elle Decor
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The Barcelona Chair was honored with the Museum of Modern Art Award in 1977, and rightly so!

Design Under the Influence: Tom Dixon’s Copper Pendant

Hello! It’s Erika from small shop, super excited about today’s “Design Under the Influence” mainly because I learned something new about a product I’ve loved a long, long time: Tom Dixon’s copper pendant.
I’ve seen this beaut in all its glory all around the web, forever standing out as the signature piece in a room. But I decided to look into the Brit designer a bit more, and was intrigued by the fact that his company is committed to “innovation and a mission to revive the British furniture industry,” and that the brand itself is inspired “by our nation’s unique heritage.” What precisely could this mean? Upon further research, as if turns out, the UK was a primary copper supplier about 200 years ago. But perhaps more importantly, in Elizabethan times, experimenter William Gilbert started to define what would grow into the electrical engineering industry of today that consumes two million tons of copper annually. Throughout the 1700 and 1800’s, British experimenters continued to use copper successfully in electrical research, including a groundbreaking experiment by Sir William Watson who transmitted a current 2410 feet across Westminster Bridge, using the River Thames as a return circuit. Who knew, right??
As a fun side note, Dixon also declares that the 1970’s “Disco & Motorbikes” is what started it all for him. I can definitely see the disco component in this particular piece! A copper disco ball, so to speak.
What do you think of this modern icon? Perhaps a tour of some in situ installations will convince you that this is a piece you cannot live without…
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You dig?
The Tom Dixon copper pendant retails for about $675$685 ; historical notes obtained from Copper.org

Design Under the Influence: Frank Stella

"What you see is what you see." ~ Frank Stella

You’ve probably seen his iconic intertwining geometric shapes before, but didn’t know who he was. Meet Frank Stella, mid-century minimalist American painter and printmaker who paved the way for Pop Art through the flattening of objects with the use of solid color, and the denial of space and depth illusion with the removal of the brushstroke.

Originally hailing from Massachusetts, Stella moved to New York City in 1958 after graduating from Princeton, and quickly began to produce works that focused on graphic as subject, rather than a representation of some real-world object, person or scene.

After a visit to the Middle East in the early 1960’s, he created his groundbreaking paintings Protractor Series (above), each piece named for one of the circular cities he visited while abroad. Here he fully celebrates the painting as a flat surface, turning away from even a slight attempt at spatial illusion. In the mid-1960’s, Stella began experimenting with printmaking, introducing new techniques to produce his pieces. In 1973, he had a print shop installed in his home in New York City.

I’m a huge fan, and always adore seeing his work in various interiors — they enliven a space and can easily become the central focus of a room:

Frank Stella became the youngest artist to be the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. He went on to experiment with relief, collage, and finally three-dimensional art forms, particularly free-standing sculptures in public spaces by the 1990’s…and he continues to work in New York City. But it is his work done in the 1960’s and 70’s that defined him as a leader of the minimialist movement. In 2009, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

A living legend, literally.

Are you a fan too?

Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14

Design Under the Influence: Lindsey Adelman Chandeliers

“I like the idea of transforming a space in a dramatic way through lighting.” ~ Lindsey Adelman
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Hello, it’s Erika from small shop! I’m excited today to showcase a recent fave that I’m sure you’ve been seeing everywhere too: lighting designer Lindsey Adelman’s amazing chandeliers. Influenced by 19th century ornamentation and natural phenomenon, she and a small team create large hand blown glass and brass pieces that seem to take on a life of their own: the arms and tendrils expand out and grow organically from the center, seemingly random, quite dramatically, but with graceful purpose. The effect is extraordinary and transforms any style of room!
Studio Ilse
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Barbara Hill
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Steffani Aarons
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Stephanie Waltbillig
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Kelly Behun for Ivanka Trump
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S.B. Long Interiors
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Grant Gibson
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Adelman says of her work, it’s “about creating a mood and beauty, and people looking great at your dinner party.” Judging from the multiple installations here, I’d say she’s spot on, wouldn’t you?
And fortunately, she’s created a DIY version for the rest of us: check out my post today to see how you can get the look for less! (She’s kind of done her own version of “Design Under the Influence” for us!)
All images via LindseyAdelman.com except for 1 & 10