Caren (ruxquiero) wrote in mod_swings,

I suppose I'll talk about how I came to love mod for my first community entry. Apologies in advance if it puts you to sleep. :-)

First, I need to explain a belief of mine. When I look at style, I look at it as an element tied to all other aspects of of a person's life. I don't believe any art form or expression of personal taste stands alone from time and place. The more I study psychology and become more familiar with human nature, I am struck by this. My interest in mod has as much to do with history and my fascination with the changing mindsets of people in those times, as it does with design.

My parents used to deal antiques. Although they have different careers now, they still deal antiques as a hobby. My entire life was spent immersed in nostalgia, whether it was Victorian or 50s kitsch. I grew up watching silent films, old serial movies from the 40s, and looking for furniture to repair on the weekends with them.

As I grew older I found my tastes maturing much like the tatstes of pop culture matured in those eras. When I was younger, I loved Victorian style. There was something solid about it, and our house was full of pieces of 1800s furniture. That style felt like home to me, because I grew up with it. I even learned how to sew clothing from that period.

As I got older, I took art classes and leanred about art nouveau, the deco age, and post-modernism. I love the artwork of Pollock, Piccasso, Kandinsky... Frank Lloyd Wright became my favorite architect. The more I learned about these people and these periods in style and architecture, I began to see Victorian style for what it is. I saw it as a reflection of people from that time and place. Staunch... curly.... taking up space. Cluttered social mores and structure. I couldn't believe how confined they were in every aspect of their daily life, and soon came to realize that this was reflected in the objects with which they chose to surround themselves. I still have a strong appreciation for their craftsmanship, but I find that I have a hard time looking at a curly, bulky piece of furniture from that period.

My parents and I can still bond over art deco, but my personal tastes now sit somewhere between the Polynesian 50s and Clockwork Orange. They are so disappointed :-)

I like the streamlined look of Heywood-Wakefield, Knoll, Herman Miller furnishings, but I soften them with tribal art and organic elements like date palms or teak fixtures.

I got engaged. My husband is a nuclear engineer, and he doesn't think in terms of art. It became my job to figure out how to decorate our apartment. I had some very different tastes to juggle. We love each other very much, but part of that is because we are so different from one another. He likes a sterile, stainless look. He hates clutter. He doesn't like a lot of color.

I, on the other hand, fill my paintings with pure color and need for my environment to feel organic and livable. My home needs a personality.

It was a big challenge to find a compromise. It was good-- it gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better, because we figured out what kinds of design elements would express who we are, and how to make those work in one space.

That is when I started to look at design books. I don't know. In America, it's the "same old thing" a lot of the time. I'm bored with American colonial furniture. I'm bored with Victorian. I'm bored with uncomfortable mission-style and French country decor.

I was about to give up my search for a good book when I saw the book above. PAD: A guide to ultra-living. How could I not want to pick up a book with a title like that? This book is not for the faint of heart. It features some of the strangest-looking apartments I've ever seen, and gives directions on how to make anything from a home bar and swag lamps to a "porno-chic" love lamp. The styles it features are electic, to say the least. But it helped me to get over my fear of swag lamps, and finally tipped me over the edge into accepting a more Clockwork Orange look. If you ever get this book, be sure to look at Johnny Foam's "killer" apartment.

My husband and I are big fans of Stanley Kubrick. So, I used industrial and C.O.-type furniture and accents in neutral colors to satisfy his need for simplicity and a lack of clutter. To satisfy my need for humanity and color, we covered our couch in a vintage, ruby red print fabric from the 50s and started collecting tribal masks. My favorites are Maori, Northwestern Native American (Shalish), Polynesian, Thai, and African masks. Steve (my husband) gave me three African tribal masks for a wedding present. It really adds something human to the mix.

A lot of our fixtures are stainless steel or chrome. Anyway. Now that it's all put together, it has a nice balance to it and we both feel at home here.

I think the designs we can agree on the most is Danish mod. I have a teak pole lamp that I'm particularly proud of, and some reproduction silverware that mimics a retro Danish mod style. I'll post more pictures of the house when I can, but in the meantime here's what I've found for our apartment so far....

This is the fabric we covered the couch with. The couch is nice and rectangular... reminds me of something that came out of a 1957 modern design magazine or something. So the fabric worked really well. It was in perfect shape, and because everything else in a neutral color, it really brings out the other pieces in the room. I was afraid the snowflakes would look too much like Christmas, but they didn't.

This clock hangs over our television set. The company that made this clock went out of business in 1963. It was also in good condition.

Our teak pole lamp. Pole lamps are an excellent way to fill up dead space. This one now sits in a corner next to our patio door.

Ignore the cheetah print in the background. These are pics from the person who sold this swag lamp to me. This bubble lamp is made from stiffened thread. If you touch it, it feels very silky. It hangs next to the bar in our living room.

Anyway, that's it. I hope I didn't bore any of you to death with this rather lengthy post. ;-) I'd love to hear how other people came to enjoy mod, and what they do with it.
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