Mid-Century Modern Toys: Cubebot

The kid's growing up which means it's time for some new toys. I've been trying to find toys that are fun, not branded or based on TV shows, secretly educational and hopefully well designed with a mid-century modern twist. I think Cubebot fits the bill on most, if not all, points.

Designer David Weeks describes Cubebots thusly:
Robot toys are usually made of plastic and require batteries – but not this collection! Meet Cubebot, Julien and Guthrie. Inspired by the Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles, these wooden sculptures are a non-traditional take on the toy robot by joining ancient Japanese traditions with contemporary toy culture. Their sturdy hardwood frames can hold hundreds of poses and when playtime is over, they each neatly fold up into unassuming cubes.
David Week also designed Hanno the Gorilla, which is just a sweet looking monkey to put on a shelf or mantel in any mid-century modern home.

Vintage Moe Light Honeycomb Lighting Ad

I was doing a little internet shopping, looking for some more Moe Light Honeycomb lights to possible add to our house when I ran across another vintage ad for the line. This one reads:
Moe Light Division
Thomas Industries Inc.

New colors, new textures blend in this exciting use of unique jet-age materials. The unusual honeycomb structure creates entirely new visual effects; hues enhance your decor. In emerald-blue, tangerine-gold or honey natural as pull-down, pendant or ceiling fixtures.

Moe Light's Unique Honeycomb
Fresh new lighting idea for your home

Cheap Modern Patio Furniture

The seasons are changing and I can't wait to spend some time on our modern patio furniture. It turns out though that we should have just been hanging out behind some big box stores so that we could throw some pallets in our trunk and make pallet patio furniture.

It is just a good looking as most modern patio furniture sets and, minus the cushions, totally free if you know where to look.

Jack White: Upholsterer and His Rarest Record

Last time I wrote about Jack White and his mid-century record recorder someone emailed me to say, "You know he was an upholsterer, right?" I did not, but apparently NPR had me beat to the scoop, by a few years. Jack used to write notes and poems on the inside of furniture. In the interview, Jack went on to say:
The zenith of that [was when] Brian [Muldoon] and I had a band called The Upholsterers [and] for the 25th anniversary of his shop, we made a hundred pieces of vinyl. We made a record we stuff into furniture that you could only get if you ripped the furniture open. We even made it on clear vinyl with transparency covers — we thought you couldn't even X-ray it to see if it was in there. I'm talking about — really, you could rip open a couch and think it's not there 'cause it's inside the foam — sliced inside the foam and slid in there. I mean, we really went to great lengths to make sure possibly no one would ever hear our record! But it's there. It's so great. It's there. There's a hundred pieces of furniture out there that have those records, and maybe one day someone will find them.
Heads up to anyone doing upholstery in the Michigan or Great Lakes area, check for poems on the inside and records the cushions. The rarest Jack White album in history would probably be worth more than the upholstery job itself.

Mid-Century Inspiration by Broyhill Premier Furniture

Marissa recently emailed me with a question:
I just purchased a mid-century Broyhill Premier Inspiration china cabinet, dining table and six chairs. I was trying to find out the exact year and maybe some pictures of other items in that line. So far, no luck! Maybe you could help me find some more info and value? I love them very much. I just wanted to know the history of the brand.
And she included a few pictures:

I've written about the history of Broyhill furniture company and the history of Broyhill Sculptra, which was probably being built around the same time as the Broyhill Inspiration line. The earliest newspaper ad I can find for Inspiration by Broyhill Premier is from 1959 and says it's the "first showing of Broyhill Premier's dramatic new collection, Inspiration."

It's hard to say if it's the store's first showing of Broyhill Inspiration or if they were announcing the world premier of the line. Either way, it's probably safe to say that Broyhill Inspiration was build in the late '50s and continued to be made into the early to mid '60s.

The other scrapes of newspaper ads I can find say that the Inspiration line included over 40 pieces for the bedroom, living room and dining room and that it's made out of mahogany with brasstique pulls.

I was able to find two original price lists for Inspiration furniture in some old furniture store ads. 

Of the over 40 pieces there's at least a room divider, round dining table, side chair, arm chair, buffet, sofa, lamp table, cocktail table, triple dresser, mirror, master chest, kingsize panel bed, night stand, end table, coffee table, china cabinet and a chest.

I was also able to track down an vintage Inspiration by Broyhill Premier brochure. 

The copy reads,
The romance of far away places...
Inspiration's arabesque panel motif is fram a Moorish palace, From Ming China, the door-pull in tone-on-tone brasstique. Its architectural elegance and quiet air of assurance is Georgian English. And distinctly American, the intuitive blending of art and function.
for a home serene in its beauty, subtle drama. Master-crafted in swirl-grained mahogany given a tawny Malabar finish. Over forty correlated pieces from which to choose... each modestly priced.
I haven't seen an actual pictures of the line, other than the ones Marissa sent me.

As for value, it's always hard to give a price online, but here are some tips for pricing mid-century furniture.

Hope that answers a few of Marissa's questions and now we all have another line of mid-century Broyhill furniture to look for while we're out hunting vintage furniture.

Vintage Broyhill Premier Furniture Brochure

This wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I'm happy I ran across this vintage Broyhill Premier furniture brochure. It includes fabric swatches for Broyhill furniture as well as images of the Broyhill Forward, Accent and Invitation lines.

The overall theme of this Broyhill brochure seems to be quality furniture for the cost conscious, with the outstanding tagline of, "Live high on a low budget."

Mid-Century Modern Kitchen Light

As I mentioned, our kitchen light fixture isn't working properly anymore. We had the electrician out to discuss options.

We have a huge halogen lighting fixture in the kitchen now, but we didn't want to go with halogen again for energy efficiency and heat reasons. However, we also wanted to make sure that we still got enough light throughout the entire kitchen. The electrician gave us a few options, but the two we liked best were: 1) a new, normal-sized fixture and a couple of recessed lights or 2) recessed lighting throughout.

So we went hunting for mid-century modern kitchen lights to see what was out there in case we wanted to go that route.

There are, of course, a few Rejuvenation options:
The Arthur

The Casper

The Lyle

The Chase

And the Foton.

A few options from House of Antique Hardware:
The Massena

And the Lanza

All Modern has the Sonneman Puck

And the ET2-Percussion-3.

While Home Depot has the Lithonia Lighting Inertia.

But our favorite was the Jonathan Adler Parker ceiling light at Lamps Plus.

However, in the end we're going to go with the all recessed lighting option. It should make the kitchen look cleaner and more open (and hopefully taller). Plus, we're eventually planning a total re-do for the kitchen and an all recessed lighting look is pretty much guaranteed to look good with anything we do.

Mid-Century Modern Furniture at Target

While I was looking for Room Essential planters online, I happened across another inexpensive modern line at Target, Blu Dot. 

The line might not have the truly timeless look, lines and quality of the mid-century modern furniture that has designer names attached, but for the price, Blu Dot is hard to beat.

The Return of Target's Room Essentials Planters

Target's Room Essentials planters are the best looking cheap modern planters that I've found. And I'm not the only mid-century blogger in love with Room Essential planters, Kate at Retro Renovation and Baz at Atomic Indy both caught the bug last year. I bought a big one for our front porch and a small one for the back patio. 

When they didn't pop up for sale online when the seasons changed this year, I worried that they were a one-year anomaly. I was especially worried because I needed another planter for the house. But a trip to my local Target proved that they are back, just not online.

My Target had white, gray and teal RE planters, but once the season's in full swing more color might be available.

Mid-Century Record Recorder

I am at the exact right age where the White Stripes hit me hard, and I will pretty much fall in love with anything Jack White does. But everyone should fall in love with this, including mid-century fans.

Third Man Records (Jack White's label) has refurbished as 1947 Voice-O-Graph, making it the only working vinyl recording booth in the world. You can record up to two minutes and leave with a record in hand.

And if you look closely in the background of the video, around the :42 second mark, you'll see that they also have another mid-century machine of marvel in their store – a Mold-A-Rama.

So who's up for a road trip to Nashville?

My Favorite Vintage Travel Poster

I have seen my fair share of mid-century travel posters and there are some truly amazing designs out there, but this one is probably my favorite. Every time I see it, I smile.

It's known as Rainboeing the Skies, for fairly obvious reasons, and was used to announce the addition of the Boeing 747 to El Al Israeli Airlines. It was designed by Dan Reisinger in 1971.

Reisinger did a whole series of amazing work for El Al.

There are two reasons  Rainboeing the Skies isn't hanging in our travel-themed nursery: 1) As a copywriter I'm not sure I could handle a pun that big hanging in my house and 2) today's price tag for the poster is as sky high as a Boeing 747.

1960 Progress Lighting Catalog

This Progress Lighting catalog from 1960 has a great mixture of lights that would look good alongside knotty pine cabinets and lights that would look great in a mid-century modern living room.

Modern Ocean Creature Lights

Our kitchen ceiling light stopped working. Turns out we need to replace the fixture, which isn't heartbreaking because we don't really like the fixture. I wish one of these ocean creature light fixtures by Roxy Russell Design would work because they're so beautiful, but we'd probably end up hitting our head on it. So the hunt for a mid-century kitchen ceiling light begins.

Mid-Century Desk with World Map Top

This mid-century desk with a world map on the top hit Austin's Craiglist yesterday and it was gone before I left work. If it stuck around for more than a few hours it would have been the future homework desk of my little one. It would have had to live in the attic for years seeing as school hasn't even started yet, but it would have been worth the wait.

Luckily, it looks like there are a few different mid-century desks with world map tops out there. Hopefully one will be available when homework time starts.

Travel Pennants and Souvenir Pennants

My parents found some old souvenir pennants that I bought with my allowance decades ago on a family road trip. They're not mid-century, but they do have some interesting designs. And they gave me the idea that mid-century travel pennants would be a great addition to any travel-themed nursery. They're small, usually inexpensive and easily changeable so you can keep things fresh.