Monday, December 22, 2008

Automotive Awesomeness: Volvo P1800

Saw this awesome Volvo P1800 at Case Manana yesterday. You know, like The Saint used to drive. You remember The Saint, don't you?

UPDATE: Crestview Doors Closing, Only Changing

Update on Crestview Doors, 12.23.08 -- the Mid-Century Modern custom door manufacturer run by David and Christiane Erwin that I wrote about a few months back.

Yes, they are ceasing production of new doors. However, they are still doing business, but it a different way.

"We are scaling way back," David said by email. "The downturn in the economy has forced us to, and in doing so we’ve taken a serious look at how our business affects the environment. Really, we hope every business is doing that right now.

"Our Doorlite Kits are a great example of how we are addressing the environment and the economy. They keep old doors out of the landfill, require less trees to make, require less fuel to ship, are easily repaired, and cost much less than a new door."

In a post on their blog, Christiane explains the situation and lists some deeply discounted doors for anyone interested.

Sorry about the error, guys. Best of luck to you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

3800 Pelham Rd, Fort Worth 76116 - $274k

Awesome Ridglea Hills MCM for sale from original owner. St. Charles kitchen with a Frigidaire Flair included.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crestview Doors Provides Solutions for Mid-Century and Modern Sensibilities

As anyone who has ever browsed the selection of doors at Home Depot or Lowe’s already knows, your design choices are pretty limited.

You can get traditional or … traditional.

David and Christiane Erwin found themselves in that same position a few years ago when they were remodeling their Mid-Century Modern residence in North Central Austin. They wanted a modern door that would match the rest of their house.

“I told my contractor exactly what I wanted, but he came back and said it didn’t exist,” David said. “I didn’t believe him. I mean, how hard could it be?”

But after many Google searches and visits to local home improvement stores, they realized that if they were going to get the door they wanted, they would have to build it themselves.

And build it they did. And from that idea came Crestview Doors, the company that has quickly become the leading provider of new solid-wood doors inspired by Mid-Century Modern design. Although they have an Austin showroom and workshop, much of their visibility and business is generated through their website (pictured below).

“There are plenty of people out there who are looking to buy a modern door but would get by with something else if they didn’t find us,” David said. “They aren’t going to build it themselves.”

Many of the doors that Crestview offers were inspired by houses in the Erwins’ neighborhood nestled between Lamar Boulevard and MOPAC along Koenig Lane. What's constitutes a Mid-Century or Modern door? Mostly the windows -- multiple geometric and sometimes asymmetric windows are the usual defining characteristic. And although many of the Erwins' customers are on the coasts or in Austin, they have shipped their doors all over the country.

The Erwins didn’t plan on building a business, just a few doors almost as a hobby that would bring in a little extra income to supplement David’s job as a graphic designer.

“I thought I could build a door a month and make a few extra bucks for stereo equipment or guitars,” David said. He planned to post a few messages on Mid-Century and modern design message boards to gauge the level of interest. “I figured we’d do it for a year, do 12 doors, and see how things went.”

When the first 12 doors sold out in six weeks, the Erwins knew they were on to something. The challenge became how to keep up with demand. Although they never intended to build a business, it became clear late last year that David needed to quit his job as a graphic designer and focus full-time on Crestview Doors.

Today, that decision seems to be paying off. With a design studio and showroom a short bike ride from their home, David and Christiane have new equipment that allows them to produce a door a day. Now the Erwins are even looking into new products, such as DIY kits that provide people with windows and templates to customize their own doors. The Erwins are even experimenting with tiki/Space Age room dividers and screens.

Now when David walks through his local big box home improvement store and sees someone grimacing at the selection of doors, he knows that’s a potential customer.

“Most door manufacturers have gotten so caught up in the race for features, like R-value, that they have completely ignored the design aspect of their product,” David said. “What I want to do now is reach the people who, before they saw our designs, didn’t even know they wanted a modern door.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sigh! Bill Melendez Checks Out

Bill Melendez, the animator who brought 'Peanuts" to life through animation and who created an animated work of art with "A Charlie Brown Christmas" died this week at age 91.

Because his much-loved 1965 animated tone-poem to childhood and the Christmas season has become a classic, it's hard to appreciate how revolutionary it was. CBS thought Melendez and Charles Schultz were the blockheads for wanting to produce a cartoon without a laugh track, a jazz soundtrack, real child actors voicing the characters and quotes from the New Testament. Melendez and Schultz got their way, and the result was a holiday classic and six Emmy Awards.

Melendez is should be remembered not just for his animation, but also for his voicing work -- when Snoopy speaks, that's Melendez's voice. Perfect.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Austin’s Uptown Modern Sets The Standard

Although Texas has a number of really impressive Mid-Century Modern furniture stores, Austin’s Uptown Modern on Burnet Road has leaped to the top of my list of favorites with its mix of brand-name vintage furniture and decor, kitsch and designer sensibility.

We had a nice talk with the owner, Jean, about the state of the MCM in Texas and my wife and I found out something that we already knew – selling MCM is a tough go in Texas, and it isn’t just because so many people still want to live in a Tuscan villa or still buy into shabby chic. There are plenty of people who want modern furnishings, but they want to pay $200 for a sofa. That makes margins pretty tight.

Although Austin Modern and Room Service are still a couple of my favorite stores, Uptown Modern is a cut above with its Knoll credenzas, Bitossi and Raymor-inspired lamps with silk shades and Danish Modern sofas and chairs. The design sensibility is impeccable and the pricing is quite competitive on most items. Jean also carries an impressive array of MCM outdoor furniture.

My parents living room looked just like this growing up.

The yellow Dux sofa looks wicked cool with the chrome and glass table.

Monster flat screen TVs have given old modern credenzas new life, but old MCM lamps aren't quite as appreciated. Too bad because the quality blows away most of what is available today.

Jean started out collecting jewelry and she has a fantastic collection of jewelry in the front case.

I totally want these!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

RIP Lou Teicher -- Makeout Music King

Lou Teicher, half of the piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, whose florid and sentimental versions of movie themes and love songs made them gods of easy listening and earned them wide popularity beginning in the 1960s, died on earlier his month in Highlands, N.C. He was 83 and lived in Sarasota, Fla.

The album cover above really expresses what Ferrante & Teicher were all about -- makeout music for your parents (or grandparents). After "Bonanza" was over, get the kids in bed, mix up a pitcher of martinis, dim the lights and cue up the Ferrante & Teicher. Yeah ... it was definitely Mom and Dad time.

'Mad Men' Moves MCM Mainstream?

From Ad Age: "Thanks to Don Draper, Joan Holloway and the gang, slim suits, skinny ties, sheath dresses and pearls are finding their way into the closets of consumers.

"'As far as TV shows go, ["Mad Men"] probably has the most influence [on fashion],' said Kevin Harter, VP-fashion direction at Bloomingdale's. 'And we're going to see this influence continue.'"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pete and Tari at Shady Dell

I'm more than a little behind with posting. How far behind? I've been meaning to post these photos since February. Pete Geniella is my colleague at West and Clear, my friend and one hell of a photog. When he and his lovely wife, Tari, made the drive from Fort Worth to San Francisco a few months ago, they stopped at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Ariz. It's a wonderful little MCM anachronism that I must add to my travel to-do list. Sez Pete:

"A place like The Shady Dell has real potential to go overboard on the retro-nostalgia-George Lucas-PT Cruiser-Diner-Letterman’s Jacket-sock hop tip, but they managed to keep their pants on and delivery a pleasant, authentic experience."

For more photos, go to Pete Geniella Photography.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"This is a crime scene"

Another MCM landmark bites the dust in Dallas. Click thru for the after pictures -- they'll make you sick. Sez Unfair Park:

"The neighbors knew something was up yesterday: Workers were in and out of the building, removing whatever they could salvage. But no way did they ever imagine that come 8 a.m. today that 2505 Turtle Creek Boulevard would be only an address -- a patch of land atop which now sits a pile of twisted metal and busted bricks that used to be an office building designed by the late Harwood K. Smith. "It's a crime scene," said one devastated neighbor this morning, surveying the wreckage cordoned off by yellow 'Caution' tape."

I keep thinking that one day people will wake up to how they are cavalierly destroying America's Mid-Century architectural heritage. But when they do, how much will we have lost?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mike Wallace Online at the HRC

Before there was 60 Minutes, there was the The Mike Wallace Interview. Broadcast journalist Mike Wallace's interviews from the television program which ran for two seasons in 1957 and 1958, will be available online on the Web site for the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

You can now watch interviews with Mid-Century luminaries such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Salvador Dali and Steve Allen. The only downside is you have to download their Media Player to few these. Still, I'm going to wear that thing out. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke now.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

One Man's Trash

I've always contended that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is better for finding MCM furniture than most people on the coasts might think. However, sometimes that ain't always true.

Consider the Hans Olsen table and chairs above. When he lived in NYC, my friend J found a set like that left out on the street for the trashman. Something that cool would never be out by the side of the road around here. The Big Apple got us beat there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

3825 Glenwood Dr., FW, 76109 - $365k

This is a beautiful old ranch in the heart of Fort Worth's hoity-toity Tanglewood neighborhood that would be a great home for some MCM enthusiast, but given its location, I'm betting someone is just about to turn this into their Tuscan dream home. Another ranch home about to bite the dust? Probably. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I Love a Good Stool

And six of 'em ... even better! I have been on the hunt for the perfect stools for my breakfast bar at El Rancho Deluxe, and today the quest was complete.

It's hard to find two or three awesome MCM bar stools. Today, I found SIX. Here's the check. Thank you very much. Plenty of MCM goodness remains at the Anne Bourland estate sale on 4009 Hildring in the 76109 part of FW.

Monday, February 4, 2008

1744 Martel, Fort Worth, 76103 -$179k

I love this house. I mean, I LOVE THIS HOUSE. It's another beautiful Mid-Century Ranch on the much-maligned East Side of Fort Worth at 1744 Martel on Scenery Hill. This 1951 ranch is 3,200 sf (!) with a kitchen to die for -- metal cabinets, a Frigidaire Flair range (Appliance Porn alert!), and a semi-circular breakfast bench. If I were in the market, I would buy this house. However, the extreme downside is that you are probably looking at three gas wells in your backyard in the very near future. Not good. Still, I hope this baby finds the right buyer.

609 Candlewood, Fort Worth 76103 - $181k

East Fort Worth is much neglected and much maligned, but there are some awesome Mid-Century houses there. Take for instance 609 Candlewood. Very ranchy and modern. A spacious 2,700 sf. A killer view of downtown. $181,000. Unbelievable!

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't want to live on the East Side. Too bad. I hope that attitude changes and I hope this house find the owner it deserves.

Allan Melvin, R.I.P.

Allan Melvin, the veteran character actor best remembered as Alice's main squeeze Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, went to the Big Casino a few weeks back. He was 84. For a remembrance of Melvin, check out this very thorough post on I'm Learning To Share.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Craigslist Furniture Update

Been while since I did one of these, but here are a couple of cool things in Arlington

  • Danish Modern coffee table: One owner, purchased in 1964. No-name modern. Teak. Will accept reasonable offers. The Dimensions are L -67 " H-17" W-25". $175.

  • Two green vinyl chairs: Original Vinyl in good shape. One has a couple very small dings in the vinyl but nothing major. Metal base. $50.

  • Rhapsody of Steel

    Once on an old TV sitcom, I saw a bellboy ask for a tip. The cigar-chomping fatcat he was helping told him, "Buy U.S. Steel."

    Well, U.S. Steel may have faded from its mid-century prominence, but some of their work endures, and not just in buildings and '57 Chevys. Rhapsody of Steel, was an industrial film like no other.

    Not only did the U.S. Steelers hire former Disney staffer John Sutherland to produce the film and Oscar-winning composer Dmitri Tiomkin to score it, they hired legendary stylists Eyvind Earle (Sleeping Beauty, Pigs is Pigs) and Maurice Noble (Duck Dodgers, How The Grinch Stole Christmas) to create the bold, colorful illustrations. To see some of the images from the film, visit the Hollywood Animation Archive.