Jonathan Adler

A Clear Choice…Modern Brass, Glass and Lucite Coffee Tables

doha living room

Now for a totally personal decorating post, but after my furniture setbacks from last week I am hoping you will indulge me. Somehow, finishing the house has become much more than just getting it organized and usable – it’s become symbolic or representative of my success in settling in to our new life. There are days when the frustrations of getting things accomplished here make me feel like I am failing. While I know it’s all fluff, not rocket science and not world hunger solving, I can’t seem to help it. You can see we have made progress, but without getting too analytical, I don’t think that is really what this is all about. Nonetheless, for now, I can’t seem to think about anything else.

In addition to the French chairs and desk that I am now missing, my living room, shown above, still needs a coffee table. I’m trying to balance desire with practicality, and as ever, some kind of availability. At times like this, with a lack of antique stores and thrift shops, I find myself scrolling 1stdibs, the place where dreams are made. There is a whole host of utterly lovely vintage lucite and brass coffee tables to be found there and that is what I would really like to add here. Visually I don’t want to clutter up the space and I assume at some point I’ll be making my way to Istanbul or Morocco or somewhere else nearby and getting a fabulous carpet that I won’t want to cover up. I’d like something airy and light and at great contrast to Yamamoto’s trunk which is being used as the other coffee table in the large square space. At the same time, I’d love some brass to link the two pieces together as the trunk has beautiful brass fittings. Corners, as on the piece below in Ellen Rakieten’s Chicago apartment, would be particularly referential. And I’m loving the way the transparent table looks with a Chesterfield sofa.

ED0310 Nate Berkus and Anne Coyle, top TV producer Ellen Rakieten

Jonathan Adler’s Jacques Table is readily available on his website and oh-so tantalizingly says “Yes, We Ship to Qatar” in big letters on the bottom. Unfortunately, the table is one of those items that is exempt from international shipping. It is too small anyway, whispers the sour grapes voice in my head.

Jacques Cocktail Table Jonathan Adler

Even better than just brass corners or edges is a table that has a shelf. I love having space to put books and other items without cluttering the top. This one, in a room designed by Lindsay Coral Harper looks like it may even be a closed vitrine. I could definitely have some fun with that.

Lindsey Coral Harper - House Beautiful brass and glass

I think it was this 2010 photo of Elizabeth Bauer‘s NYC studio in Lonny that really propelled this table onto everyone’s want list.  Hers has a bit of faux bamboo detailing around the edge and a low shelf that makes for lots of magazine storage.

Lonny Mag lucite and brass coffee table

There are some seriously to-die-for vintage examples of this style to be had all over 1stdibs, from this Romeo Rega beauty…

Italian Vintage Table by Romeo Rega |

…to this one by Pierre Vandel. Serious love.

Pierre Vandel Lucite Coffee Table 1stdibs

I haven’t really found a budget option in this style, but the Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table from Worlds Away might do for those of you in the USA.

Worlds Away Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table

An X frame is another shape I love, seen in Vogue in the home of model Miranda Kerr.

Madeline Weinrib White & Black Mandala Tibetan Carpet in home of model Miranda Kerr, photographed by Jason Schmidt for Vogue glass and brass coffee table

Some pretty ones on 1stdibs…

French Lucite & Gilt Brass Coffee Table 1st dibs

…including my favorite Karl Springer shape. I’ve been sighing over different versions of this table for years and years and it occurs to me that Mr. Springer could really use a post of his own.

Karl Springer lucite and brass coffee table 1st dibs

In the spirit of the Springer table is the new Helix Table from Design Within Reach, designed by Chris Hardy. The addition of wood to the legs gives the table a bit more heft, but I don’t mind.  I tried to convince DWR to sell me the table without the glass top this summer, before leaving for Doha, as the legs come disassembled. I thought maybe I could squeeze it in my carry-on.  Who knows? I may be forced to that plan this summer.

Helix Coffee Table DWR

A possibly easier option to come up with is a full-on lucite table with little to no detail to detract. I don’t want this simple waterfall one and I haven’t seen it here anyway, but ironically, CB2 will ship their version to me here. The table is inexpensive ($300) but the shipping is another 150% of the purchase price.

CB2 Peekaboo Clear acrylic lucite coffee table

I would definitely consider a big simple square like this one in Claiborne Swanson Frank‘s apartment and if I was back in Hong Kong I know I could get that made easily.

Claiborne Swanson Frank's apartment lucite coffee table.

I like this one that shows its joints and we could use brass screws – see I can squeeze in a bit of brass – to connect the parts.

lucite table french settee pop art

Again there are beautiful examples on 1stdibs, most of which are also quite expensive. I don’t mind the prices on the signed pieces made with metal in the photos earlier, but find it harder to justify prices when it is only lucite.

1970s Modernist Lucite and Glass Cocktail table 1st dibs

Especially since Wisteria makes this version, on sale for $719 right now. It too comes disassembled, so I wonder about packing up the pieces and having a new glass top cut here.

Wisteria lucite and glass square coffee table

This is one of those posts that has no clear (ha ha) answers at the end, but I’d love to hear what you think and which ones you like. Any suggestions on sources that might be available to me or even making my own would be appreciated! I think I must be at the six month mark – isn’t that always a dip time in expat adjustment?

Links to all the photos and 1stdibs items can be found on my related Pinterest board, along with many other goodies.

Related Post:
A Clear Choice…Vintage Baker Brass and Glass Coffee Table

Red Cross Decor

One of the most distinct logos in the world, the chunky bars of the Red Cross have been on my mind lately for obvious reasons, and not so obvious ones. I think I am not the only one either – ironically, the interior design world seems quite interested in it too. Maybe it’s just these constant disasters have worked on people’s subconscious and turned it into a larger decor trend?

I have been inexorably collecting design images featuring that red cross shape since the earthquake and tsunami here in Japan. And then one of the things I noticed from my post the other day was how much Ben Pentreath liked his red cross pillows, shown here in his old New York apartment around or before 2003…

…and then here again just the other day in his new London flat. He obviously really likes them (and his sofa) because while other things have changed, he’s kept them in rotation. Of course it’s not really the pillows that grab your attention in his new apartment – it’s that amazing map grouping (a re-print of John Roque’s Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and Borough of Southwark from 1746) against the wall. But more on maps some other time!

Interior designer Brian Paquette boasts a pair of the cross pillows in his 220 square foot Seattle studio.

The collage of vintage photos and the framed Japanese mail bag are amazing and imbue the space with a masculine kind of romanticism.

He likes the cross motif so much he even has it here on a stored blanket. Frankly, the entire space has a ship-shape/found object vintage military vibe – it’s a bit of an oxymoron, but that’s what makes it work!

I’m not sure where Ben or Brian got their pillows, but Angel Dormer got hers from Jonathan Adler. I had started to feel that this trend was distinct to men, but this photo disproves that theory.

Jonathan Adler offers the pillows in a variety of fun colors.

I am always discovering great things on Emily Henderson of Secrets From a Stylist‘s blog. As an antique dealer, it drives me a bit crazy that she is so inaccurate about naming items she uses (calling a Louis style chair Victorian, for example) but as a stylist and designer she has a way of knocking your socks off. Here her red cross (actually a vintage Swiss flag) provides the exclamation point to a funky couch and warm brown furniture.

A red cross pattern is not uncommon in traditional quilting. Love this modern usage – graphic, but sensible – you can pull it down if you get chilly.

Red crosses seem more literal in bathroom spaces, like this one tiled in a kids bathroom. Love that trough sink – it’s everywhere these days!

Or this vintage medicine cabinet.  You always know where the band aids are in this home.

Love love these gray cabinets and slab marble counter but not sure how I feel about the subtle cross on the backsplash under the hood.

I’ve seen my fair share of official old Red Cross items at the shrine sales, like this large square carrying trunk at Kawagoe. I think Brian Paquette would love it, don’t you?

And others are interested in this trend too – this Red Cross army box sold quickly on One Kings Lane.

Is it just the graphic punch the cross gives that makes people like it? Or do you think that is so because it represents succor and security in an emergency?  Any which way, if I have helped you feel like making a donation, of money or blood, here’s the link: RED CROSS. At the end of the day, they always show up to help.

Image credits: 1. Red Cross, 2. The Financial Times, 3. via Ben Pentreath Inspiration, 4-6. Rue Magazine January 2012, photo credit: We are the Rhoads, 7. Lonny Magazine January/February 2011, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 8. Jonathan Adler, 9. Emily Henderson, 10. Limilee, 11. Martha Stewart Living October 2010, 12. Country Living, October 2011, photo credit: Bjorn Wallander, 13. via Willow Decor, photo credit: Jamie Salomon, 14. me, 15. One Kings Lane

Granny Chic…Needlepoint Pillows in the Most Modern of Spaces From Ruthie Sommers and Jonathan Adler

Ally at From the Right Bank posted new photos of her lovely living room just the other day and a small detail popped out at me – her needlepoint dog pillow – a boxer, to be exact. (Correction: I don’t know what blogging drugs I was on, as it is not a boxer, but a French bulldog) It reminded me that I have been meaning to do a post on these so-out-they-are-in accessories for quite some time now and it seemed like a light-hearted anti-dote to the last few heavy posts.

The needlepoint dog promptly made me think of the one in Ruthie Sommer‘s living room, which was featured in Lonny as well as House Beautiful.

Ruthie is a big user of needlepoint pillows in the spaces she designs, using them to add a bit of quirky light-hearted fun.

Note the needlepoint iris pillow in the photo below…more on that later!

She even offered some in her One Kings Lane Tastemaker Sale.

Rachel over at The Lovely Lifestyle has a cute story about her purchase of that very same iris pillow from the OKL sale, now happily ensconced on her couch. Note yet another dog pillow!

Jonathan Adler is the other great user of needlepoint pillows and perhaps I should have mentioned him first as he really is responsible for resurrecting them, first in the bargello ones he made popular again and now cute and kitschy ones too. He was recently featured in the one year anniversary edition of online magazine Matchbook.

Zodiac anyone? Check out Adler’s website for more pillows and his portfolio.

Adler’s pillows are popular with other designer too, like this beach living room by Leslie Klotz.

The idea for this post has been percolating for almost a year as last spring during our evacu-vacation, I had the pleasure of visiting a dear friend in Hong Kong with the best kind of needlepoint pillows – inherited ones! I find those with personal connections and stories to be the most authentic. As always with me, we are back to grandmas.

Love the Mondrian-esque Broadway Boogie Woogie one.
Another authentic option? Make one yourself…

…or in my case, get my mother-in-law to make it.

Image Credits: 1. via From the Right Bank, 2-3. Lonny July/August 2011, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 4-5. House Beautiful March 2011, photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 6-7. via One Kings Lane, 8. via The Lovely Lifestyle, 9-11. Matchbook February 2012, photo credit: Rima Campbell, 12. House Beautiful July 2008, photo credit: Laura Resen, 13-14 &16. me, 15. via Purl Bee.

Art Deco Delight…Exuberant Chinese Rugs

For the last of my Chinese New Year posts I turn to an item made in China but designed and sold pretty exclusively for export. Produced in the first third of the 20th century and then consigned until fairly recently to the pile of historical design mistakes, they have been rediscovered and appreciated by some. So decide if you love them or hate them, as Chinese art deco carpets are one of those items that rarely does anyone feel neutral about.

Traditional Chinese rugs were symmetrical and organized, as well as simply colored, using natural wool and dyes in colors such as brown, cream, tan, blue  and gold. The riot of colors that was introduced by chemical dyes from Europe freed designers to create compositions using wild and unprecedented color combinations, particularly in the 1920s. The main center of production was a stop on our friend Yamamura‘s travels, the Tientsin Concession, now referred to as Tianjin. We always hear about the international nature of Shanghai in the early 20th century but it should not be forgotten that Tientsin was a major center of global production, particularly as it was at the heart of the wool trade. Walter Nichols, American entrepreneur and Tientsin resident owner of the largest rug production company dominated the field, so much so that Chinese art deco rugs are often referred to as “Nichols” carpets.

If, like me, you love primary source materials, take a look at this original Nichols Chinese Rugs pamphlet and Elizabeth Bogen’s article “What the Wool Trade Wrought” from Hali magazine. In it she makes the case that the Chinese rugs were influenced by the flowing French art deco style, as opposed to the machine-age angular deco style found in the US and the rest of Europe.  Therefore by default, the true influence on them is Japonisme, which had so influenced the French style. I wholeheartedly agree with her analysis and think you will too after looking at the following photos. The floral designs, asymmetry and escape from rigid borders are all quintessentially of Japanese origin.

So enough talking – time to jump in to the photos! Actor Anthony Edwards and Stila founder Jeanine Lobell worked with designer Rafael de Cárdenas on their Park Avenue apartment, filling it with her trademark bright colors. Starting out with their space is like starting a joke with the punchline or giving away the best part of a story, but their rugs are truly extraordinary in color, condition and style, so we must start there. Their space also demonstrates one of the best characteristics of these carpets – the way that a few unmatched but similarly colored ones can work together in a space.

It seems like they have at least three of these lavender, purple and fuchsia beauties, which are not easy colors to find. Their lighthearted decor and colors revolve around them.

Jumping to another unusual color combination new in the 20s which then became popular, this Brooklyn loft has a giant burgundy and mustard art deco rug in the main space…

…with a smaller, complimentary colored one in the corner.

Because they are so pretty and plush for bare feet you find them quite often in bedrooms and personal spaces. Here Laurie Lieberman uses a grouping of 3 similarly colored smaller rugs around her bed in this NYC apartment.

In this bedroom by John Loecke you can see one peeking out from the bed. I love the way it works with the beautifully embroidered headboard.

And here is a tiny one being used as an entry rug next to a fabulous pink Victorian door. I hope visitors scrape their shoes well before coming inside!

Nanette Lepore’s dressing room, decorated by Jonathan Adler, is such a romantic setting, suiting the rug perfectly, from the mirrored chest to the velvet ottoman and crystal chandelier.

While the most common patterns have a wide border, sometimes even a row of combination borders with sculpted edges, others are simpler, with branches and botanical motifs loosely gathered in the corners. The simpler rugs tend to be later than the elaborate rugs, usually 1930s, until by the 1940s they become simple fields of color without decoration. Alexandra Champalimaud’s loft has a huge golden art deco rug in this style.

Sorry for the dark photo, but I could not resist showing this borderless art deco carpet, one of the most beautiful rugs I have worked with. Note the great painted Tibetan chest against the wall too.

The close up gives you a sense of the rich color, scrolling vines and bamboo and the deep pile. Kids love to sprawl out in front of the TV on this rug.

While I don’t personally own one, my early associations with them come from an old “Thoughts of Home” essay in House Beautiful magazine (who else out there remembers that monthly column, now long gone?) In it, a woman inherits a giant, soft Chinese art deco rug and chronicles it witnessing the milestones of her family’s life. At the end of the piece, she rolls it up and brings it to her daughter’s home where the next generation of her family will get to enjoy it. For some reason, that essay always stuck in my head and made me romanticize them. I have been sorting back issues trying to find the essay but so far no luck. There is a published compendium or two, so I may have to check there next.

On a related note for locals, the Tokyo American Club’s annual Carpet Auction is happening on Saturday, February 25th. No Chinese art deco rugs to be found there, but there will be a huge selection of carpets from many of the other major weaving regions including Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and Afghanistan.This sale has a charitable component too – two million yen will be donated to the College Women’s Association of Japan for a scholarship. To see my article about it in this month’s issue of iNTOUCH magazine, click here.

For more on the Tientsin Consession:
If Only This Suitcase Could Talk
Research From a Reader…More On Yamamura-San’s Suitcase

Image credits: 1-3. ABC Carpet & Home via 1stdibs, 4-5. Elle Decor October 2010, photo credit: William Waldron, 6-7 via chiarabelle‘s Flickr photostream, 8. The New York Times October, 26 2011, photo credit: Trevor Tondro, 9-10. John Loecke via Little Green Notebook, 11. Elle Decor September 2008 photo credit: William Waldron, 12. New York Social Diary October 22, 2010, photo credit: Jeff Hirsch13-14. R. Michaelson.

Tokyo Jinja

Back to top