Mid-Century Norsu Elephant Banks

We're planning on getting the kid a piggy bank soon, but most piggy banks are pretty ugly so I went on the hunt for a mid-century modern piggy bank. The best one I found are these Norsu elephant banks. (Norsu is Finish for elephant.)

They were designed by MK Tresmer for the Finnish Union Bank and were given out to kids to promote saving. They're originally from the 1970s and are still made by the same factory in Finland today.

But I can't find a place to buy them in the States, so the hunt continues.

Mid-Century Modern Toys: Areaware Balancing Blocks

I was on the hunt for a birthday present for the child of some design-conscious friends of ours, who also have a preference for mid-century modern kids' toys. I happened upon these multi-colored Areaware balancing blocks and I think they'll be the perfect gift.

Areaware also happen to be the makers of Cubebot, so they're quickly turning into my go-to company for mid-century modern toys.

The blocks were created for Areaware by Fort Standard, a design studio in Brooklyn, and are crafted from sustainably harvested wood and covered in non-toxic tints.

They also created this super cute video about the balancing blocks, which reminds me a lot of the Sesame Street claymations from my childhood.

Mid-Century Lane Furniture, Sculptra Series?

An interesting ad popped up on Austin's craigslist. The lister claimed this mid-century cedar chest was a "Vintage Lane Cedar Chest from their Sculptra Series."

While I think it's a case of mistaken furniture names, one can understand someone mistaking this for a Broyhill Sculptra piece, I still wonder what mid-century Lane Furniture line this is actually from.

There isn't a cedar chest listed in the original Broyhill Sculptra brochure or original Sculptra price list, so it's definitely not a Broyhill Scupltra piece. (Plus the handles are similar, but not exact.)

But the similarities to Broyhill Sculptra are uncanny – the square motif, the cat-eye handles – and I wonder which series came first.

Does anyone recognize this vintage cedar chest or know what Land Furniture line it's from? I can't find any proof that a Lane Furniture Sculptra line ever existed.

Mid-Century Modern Kids' Books: Charley Harper ABCs, 123s and Colors

There's a set of three mid-century modern kids' books by Charley Harper which would make a great shower gift for anyone.

Charley Harper's ABCs

Charley Harper's 123s

We have them all and they're great for younger readers. For us, they were a little hard to actually teach off of because the kid kept getting distracted by the images instead of focusing on the letters and numbers (who could blame 'em), but they're great when they're just starting out.

Also, be sure to get the current printing, with the proper apostrophe usage (read: not the versions we have/the versions above).

Mid-Century Artist: George Keller

I'm still a little obsessed with the Character-Culture-Citizenship Guides. One of my favorites is poster number 2, Courage.

The artist is George J. Keller. He was the chairman of the fine arts department at Bloomsburg University, which makes sense since most of the Character-Culture-Citizenship Guides where designed by teachers.

But George Keller's life got a little more interesting after he stopped teaching. He became a wild animal trainer.

Keller had a big cat show at Disneyland called, "Feline Fantastics," which was rebranded as "Jungle Killers" after poor attendance. The new name didn't help and the act was eventually canceled. 

George then took his act on the road performing at Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey's Circus, and other touring circuses.

It makes his Character-Culture-Citizenship Guides poster all the more interesting. The animal is actually the one showing courage in the poster and clearly Keller had a love of animals. And a good amount of courage himself.

Done: New Lights in Dining Room

We had our new dining room lights installed. And by new dining room lights, I mean our vintage Moe Light Honeycomb ceiling lights.

Before we had one light and one fire alarm with an ugly plastic ceiling medallion covering up a light box. 

The light wasn't the worst

But we definitely wanted to get rid of the fire alarm in the middle of the room.

And that's where our Moe Light Honeycomb ceiling lights come in.

They look great up close

And far away.

When they're on they're nice and bright and have a lovely orange glow on the sides

And when they're off, they look just as good.

Plus, because they're close to the ceiling they actually make the room feel a lot taller, which is nice bonus.

Mid-Century Austin Barber Shop

I was out for a stroll around the neighborhood and remembered we needed milk. I walked to the nearby strip mall where our grocery store is but because I was coming from a different direction, I happened on something new.

A mid-century barber shop oddly tucked into the middle of a strip mall.

This particular strip mall was probably built in the '50s and from the looks of things this old school barber shop was an original tenant. All the other tenants have sadly been replaced with cell phone stores and the like.

I love the mid-century look of the place and I'm thinking about getting a cut there, but I'm a little scared. I kid you not, the two haircuts advertised were a flattop and a fade. It's almost too perfect really.

Looks like they do shoeshines too. If I find out they do straight razor shaves too, I'm just going to start hanging out here.

Another Mid-Century Ranch in Texas

I have been obsessed with this house on Mid-Century Modern Freak since the day I saw it.

The mid-century paint colors are perfect, the furniture inside is perfectly complementary and all the details are in place. Check it out on Mid-Century Modern Freak and get obsessed yourself, and once you are you can check out even more images here.

A Little More American of Martinsville History

I've touched on the history of American of Martinsville a little when I was trying to track down what line our American of Martinsville bar is from. (Turns out it's from the Dania collection.)

For some reason it never occurred to me that Martinsville might actually be a city where they made all the American of Martinsville furniture. In modern copywriting and naming you'd never throw the name of the town you're from in your company's name because you never know when you're going to expand or move out of town. But I guess American of Martinsville planned to stick around, and stick around they did, for over 100 years.

And the city of Martinsville has a little history on their furniture making legacy, which includes American of Martinsville, Bassett Furniture and Hooker Furniture Company. The American of Martinsville portion of that history is:
In 1906, American Furniture Company was founded by two Martinsville tobacco men, Ancil Witten and Charles Keesee. With 12 other local business leaders, these men raised an original capitalization of $30,000. The company has grown substantially and first surpassed $100 million in sales in 1989. Today, the company specializes in producing furniture for the hotel and healthcare industries, and operates under the name American of Martinsville. Open a dresser drawer the next time you stay in a hotel and, chances are, you'll see an American of Martinsville logo.

Mid-Century Modern Kids' Books: Orla Kiely Numbers and Colors

We were at the library this weekend and I happened upon two great mid-century modern kids' books: 

And Orla Kiely Numbers
Great covers for when they get left on your coffee table (or floor) and great design inside to help your little one learn the basics.

Wood Mid-Century Modern Fence

There have been a lot of severe storms in Austin recently. One storm was so strong that it broke the gate on our driveway. It wouldn't be a big deal and I'd probably just take the whole thing down, but we have a dog, which means that we need a gate. Replacing it has been on our to-do list for a while and it's  it's literally held together with string right now, so I'll probably have to replace it soon.

Replacing the gate probably has future implication on what the backyard fence on whole looks like when it gets replaced

And maybe the frontyard planters too if we want to carry the them to the frontyard, like authentic mid-century landscaping would

So I've been waiting for the perfect mid-century fence inspiration to figure out how I'm going to replace the gate. I think I found it.

I love the stacked look and it's really thick which makes it feel strong and solid.

And if you get a glance from the side, which you probably would with a gate, it still has a nice look.

I didn't have a ruler handy, but I think it's 2x4s on top of 2x6s with about an inch overlap.

I'm going to wait on the gate a little longer (the sting is holding up fine for now) so that we can come up with a complete plan for both the front and backyards, but I'm pretty sure this stacked wood mid-century fence style is going to play a role in the final outcome.

Vintage Ad for Broyhill Brasilia Furniture

I love when I find a new retro ad for mid-century furniture, especially if that ad is for Broyhill Brasilia furniture.

The ad reads:
Bold new design inspired by the city of tomorrow...
Broyhill Premier
Design copyright Broyhill Furniture Factories 1967 
Colonades on bed, triple dresser and chest repeat the basic motif of the grouping. Bases on night table are a translation from the sweeping look of the Executive Palace of City of Brasilia.

Brasilia ... the newest city in the world ... now becomes BRASILIA ... the newest look in furniture. From the grace and grandeur of the free-flowing Colonades on the Palace of the Dawn (shown here), to the ultimate usefulness reflected throughout the Brazilian Capital, BRASILIA ... the furniture is an accurate translation of Brasilia, the city. Created by Broyhill Premier, BRASILIA, the furniture, is of soft-toned Walnut, lightly accented with rosewood. Its pure, architectural beauty and practicality make it a "must see" for today's home. See our BRASILIA displays now.

Modern Lotus Bowls from the Arne Clausen Collection

After a break, because it's hard to carry a baby through old homes, I've been estate sale-ing it again recently. One of the things I've been on the hunt for is a new fruit bowl. Secretly I've been hoping to stumble upon a Cathrineholm lotus bowl.

But I might not have to hunt for a vintage version much longer. Lucie Kaas, a Danish design company, has relaunched a Cathrineholm ceramics collection. The new lotus bowls come in three sizes and eight colors and are part of the Arne Clausen collection, named after the Norwegian artist who originally designed the lotus pattern.

However, there isn't an American seller for the bowls right now. There are a few online retailers who will ship overseas but, as always, overseas shipping adds a great deal to the cost. Hopefully some of the vintage stores in Austin or some of my vintage store friends will start carrying this collection.

Happy Birthday Saul Bass

I've mentioned Saul Bass once or twice, or three times. Google is getting in on the Bass game with their Google Doodle to celebrate his birthday.

It's a nice encapsulation of an epic design career.

Sony TR-620 Vintage Packaging

I was looking for something only slightly related when I came across this great vintage Sony packaging. It originally housed a Sony TR-620 transistor radio, which was released in 1960 and came in black, white, blue and coral red.

The more I see retro electronics, the more I wish the companies that made them would look back and release products with similar design elements. We might not need transistor radios anymore, but that starburst speaker grill could be put to good use these days.

Mid-Century Modern Kids' Book: Julian in the Autumn Woods

My parents have been giving me books that they saved from my childhood so I can read them to my little one. One of the prettiest ones they've given me Julian in the Autumn Woods. It was written in 1976 and released in Czechoslovakia; it was published in English for the first time in 1977.

It's full of great '70s colors and textures: browns, greens, yellows and oranges all on top of each other.

And it's a great little story that I'll be happy to read to my little one. Sadly, Julian in the Autumn Woods hasn't been republished, but you might be able to find a copy in your local library or used book store.

Adding to My Mid-Century Modern Art Toy Collection

It has been a good beginning of the year for art toys, especially for mid-century modern art toys.

Joe Ledbetter re-released Mr. Bunny. This rabbit be replacing the Super Teeter in my mid-century modern art toy collection.

Gentle Giant is making a series of giant Star Wars toys. I picked up a Hammerhead because I love the look of him and with his brown/blue color scheme it looks like he stepped right out of the '70s. He'll be a perfect fit in my mid-century home.

Mr. Clement released a black edition of her Please Forget Me bunny (Mr. Clement is a pseudonym of a female artist). It's simple shape and clean lines fit perfectly in a modern home.

Now I just need to find the perfect mid-century shelving unit to put them all on.