Design God: The Exuberant and Influential Life and Times of Ettore Sottsass

August 27th, 2014

Glossy. Neon. Laminate. Contrast. Color. Leopard. There is not a single word in that list that Chairish does not love.

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What is this list of words, you ask? Is it a description of things you might observe on the set of Saved By The Bell? Does it describe a pair of Sophia Webster shoes? Is it what walking down the back-to-school aisle at Target looks like? Well, yes and no. It is impossible not to see the influence of Ettore Sottsass in a million and one places, even today, even though he developed his signature irresistible, zany, flamboyant aesthetic over thirty years ago, establishing himself as the godfather of the Post-Modern look that exploded in popularity in the 80’s, spawned a thousand copycats and is still coveted to this day.

A true jack-of-all-trades, Sottsass was never satisfied just doing one kind of work; he designed everything from furniture, ceramics and lighting to computers, brand posters, houses and fashion-label showrooms. He loved to paint, photograph, hang about with beautiful women and socialized with other artist-types: Picasso, Hemingway, Helmut Newton, Alan Ginsberg and Bob Dylan were all close friends. His work was constantly evolving with the rapidly changing times—after all, the 60’s was an era of counter-culture and, like a chameleon, he was always trying on new hats.

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All products designed by Ettore Sottsass. From left to right: Top Row: Tahiti lamp; Bacterio 1978; Carleton Bookcase. Middle Row: Ultrafragola Mirror 1970; Teapot 1987; Hanging Light, 1957. Bottom Row: Glasswork for Memphis, 1986; Telephone for Brondia 1986; Mimosa Side Table, 1984.

Born in 1917 in Austria, Sottsass was raised in the fashionable city of Milan. After graduating from the Politecnico di Torino with a degree in Architecture in 1939, he was dutifully serving in the Italian military during World War II when he was captured by the Germans and put into a concentration camp in Yugoslavia. Having survived that trial, he made his first foray into design working for none other than iconic American designer George Nelson. He was totally transfixed by the industrial revolution taking place in America that had yet to surface in Italy. His “anything is possible” attitude towards what he could do with his work was starting to form and was certainly partly based on the way the world was rapidly changing before his eyes. Returning home to Italy, he threw himself into a certain type of commercial work (that he would later turn his back on) that established his talent to the world at large with the Olivetti company, designing office equipment and furniture.

This marks the first of many times Sottsass wanted to shake up the status-quo: why should the tools and furnishings of the modern office be drab and uninspired? The first item that applied this philosophy to was the Valentine portable typewriter in 1969 for Olivetti. It became an instant hit. More of a fashion statement than anything else, its unmistakable bright red carrying case symbolized much much more than the drone-like action of typing upon what was within. While at Olivetti, he also designed the Elea 9003, a mainframe computer that won him the Compasso D’oro award. Around 1970, still popular brand Alessi commissioned him to design tablewares, and he was beginning to garner the attention of big brands like Knoll. However, it was also around this time that Sottsass started to experiment with sculpture and feel a sort of rebellion against commercial work, saying in an interview given late in his life: “ I didn’t want to do any more consumerism products, because it was clear that the consumerist attitude was quite dangerous in some ways.”

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Left to right: a poster designed by Sottsass for the Olivetti Valentine portable typewriter; Synthesis 45 Chair for Olivetti, 1970-71; The Elea 9003 mainframe computer

Very likely influenced by a trip to India during his tenure at the Olivetti company, Sottsass  became extremely concerned with people’s emotional connection to the objects around them. Machines, chairs, common-place objects were so much more to him than inanimate items by the very fact that humans interacted with them. He designed things not with a form or a function in mind, but the person’s feelings that would be using them. Objects became sacred because they were part of something sacred- the practice of living itself. But he was also very concerned that his work evoke emotion, that the viewer or user feel something when in contact with it. His desire to explore the creation of more meaningful items is no doubt what led him to his collaborative efforts with the Memphis group starting in 1980. Other influential members of this group of artists and designers included Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti and Marco Zanuso.

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Chairs at top: Vico Magistretti. Wave light: “Mezzachimera,” Vico Magistretti. Black and Marble light: “Snoopy,” Castiglioni. Mushroom lights: Vico Magistretti. A picture showing Magistretti, Castiglioni, Zanuso and Sottsass.  Achille Castiglioni under his famous Arco lamp. 1964 tiny television from Marco Zanuso. “Primate” chair for Zanotta, Castiglioni. Pair of “Senior” lounge chairs, Zanuso.

The Memphis group consisted of artists with similar visions of creating objects using unexpected materials that were full of wit, categorically unconventional, fun, whimsical, sculptural and most definitely symbolic. Together, they created a 40 piece collection consisting of ceramics, glass, lighting, textiles and furniture. As Rowan Moore puts it, Sottsass and his compatriots were creating “calculated outrages against taste.” This is what the squiggles, loud colors and patterns, the odd, sometimes off-putting lopsided angles that elements of these works were pitched at, the use of unrefined materials like laminate aimed to do- to disrupt what was perceived as tasteful. These pieces are full of an undeniable playfulness- but even Sottsass admitted that small doses of Memphis style pieces, which were “like a drug” was best, to mix with more soft-spoken items advisable.

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Couch: “Lido” 1982.  Chair: “Saragoza” George Sowden. Face Sculpture: Gio Schiano. Red Chair: “Bel Air, “Peter Shire, 1982. Clock: George Sowden, 1982. The full Memphis effect.

Around this time, he formed the Sottsass Associati, a design firm with a strong architectural purpose that also dabbled in interior design, showroom design, brand identity and furniture. The firm is still active today.

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Top row: Images from an Esprit store designed by Sottsass. Bottom row: The interior of Sottsass’ Milan apartment . A drawing for the Loro Totina Villa.

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The Maui, Hawaii residence of the ACME Studio founders, 1997. Sottsass designed jewelry for ACME as well.

There is something utterly timeless about Ettore Sottsass’ otherworldly designs. Maybe it is a distinctly modern sensibility these days that accepts all types of styles in design, that craves the cheeky along with the high-brow, that appreciates something jazzy or unexpected to shake the senses and deviates from the norm. After all, who doesn’t want to stand out and be different? A deeply sensitive man who believed that design was about so much more than deciding how an object looks, Sottsass was always working towards something universal— to create a life’s work that was ultimately really meaningful. We can relate to that.

Below, some items from Berkeley, CA store SpacePop, a Chairish partner that clearly has an appreciation for the Post-Modern look.

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Sources:

http://www.iconeye.com/component/k2/item/2413-ettore-sottsass-%7C-icon-046-%7C-april-2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/01/arts/01sottsass.html?_r=0

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/18/ettore-sottsass-review-godfather-italian-cool-memphis-collective

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ettore_Sottsass

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ettore-sottsass-designer-dossier-176806



Whee! Chairish Receives $4M Series A Investment

August 15th, 2014

It’s time to start poppin’ bottles.

Read the full story of our Series A funding here



5 Colorful Couples to Invite Into Your Home

August 14th, 2014

Now that the world is finally recovering from Gwyneth and Chris’ “conscious uncoupling,” it’s time to welcome some new power couples to the scene.

The in-the-know style forecasters at Chairish, the leading marketplace for beautiful vintage and used furniture and home decor, have identified a handful of fresh, adventurous and wholly delightful color pairings that will make your space worthy of paparazzi flashbulbs.

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Architectural Digest Spain

Not sure what paint pairings you want in your home? We’re here to help. Our Chairish style scientists have thoroughly examined the current trends and gone back in time to see exactly what color pairings will make a splash in your home, but are also classic enough to endure the test of time. Ok, ok. Enough talk. Let’s get to the good stuff. Check out these brilliant palettes!

Color Couple 1: Peacock + Dove

These two are Lovebirds for sure! This inky blue and stone grey coupling reads grown up but approachably comfortable. Peacock blue adds a touch of unexpected drama while dove grey keeps things modern and clean— very complementary.

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(AP Photo/Brian Patrick Flynn, Daniel Collopy )

You could go big and bold with an accent wall in the rich color, or be brave and get a velvet or silk piece for your house that is sure to be the “apple” of your home.

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BoConcept

On the other hand, dove grey is the perfect shade for a plush headboard, a sleek sectional or a timeless wooden piece. Throw in some peacock blue accent accessories and boom, you’ve got a winning combo on your hands.

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Utility Design Co

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All above items via Chairish. Settee // Rug // Bed // Credenza

Color Couple 2: Peach + Tangerine

Light, bright and very modern, this sublime palette is ultra feminine but with a sly punch that sneaks up on you. There’s not a drop of sappy , saccharine girlishness to be found here.

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Muuto via Decor 8 Blog

And you know what they say- nature knows best! (They say that, right?) In any case, these two juicy fruit-infused colors are as good together in a fruit salad as they are in your boudoir or living room.

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Dering Hall

The darling hues are at once similar, but still distinct enough to stand on their own. One’s provides a little zing of red, while the other adds a blushing beauty of pink, and together they will really warm a space up.

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Better Homes & Gardens

In a space like this, you’ll never get bored! Not going to lie, all these juicy descriptions are making us drool right now.

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Better Homes & Gardens

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Southern Living

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All products via Chairish: Pendants // Chest  // Painting // Hide rug

Color Couple 3: Caramel + Brass

Inspired by French midcentury modern style, this uber-tailored color combination delivers timeless cool with a glamorous and handsome edge. Think Tom Ford meets American Hustle.

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House & Garden

Together, these striking, earthy tones make us feel all warm and gooey inside (much like Matthew McConaughey, can we get an AMEN?!).

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Amy Morris Interiors

Ok, ok. Let’s get our brass back into gear. We love the supple softness that leather lends contrasted with the gleaming hardness of a brassy accent piece.

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Nuevo Estilo

This pair works equally well in bright and airy light-filled spaces as it does in a dark and sensual den-like zone/mancave. You’re sure to bask in the warm embrace of this combo, no matter where it goes.

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Fawn Galli Interiors

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Brian Patrick Flynn

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Smitten Studio

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Lorenzo Castillo

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Domaine Home

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All above products via Chairish: Leather 3 Seat Sofa // Brass Side Table  // Leather Settee // Brass Lamp

Color Couple 4:  Amethyst purple and Emerald green

Deep, rich jewel tones can’t help but compliment one another, and sparkly amethyst gets some gravitas when balanced with the rich depth of emerald green.

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Didier Delmas

Put these two in a room together and you’re sure to get the effect of living in a treasure chest, without the pirates. By going with not just one, but two powerhouse colors in one space, you’ll definitely be inspiring some envygrams with this fabulous, statement making room.

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Prue Ruscoe for belle au

This luxe and moody coupling packs some serious style chops and will prove you’re fearless when it comes to your home.

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Source Unknown

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Lime Wood Hotel via Vogue Australia Living

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Domaine Home

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Desire to Inspire

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All Products via Chairish: Sofa  // X-Base Ottoman // Tall Cabinet // Velvet Chair // Juju Hat // Egg Decor // Transparent Chair // Pair of Chairs // Glass Vase

5. Persimmon Orange and Cornflower Blue  

All smiles, all the time.

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Dwell

Love a bright, colorful space that instantly welcomes anyone who steps into it? Then this is definitely the way to go. Together, Persimmon and Cornflower Blue make for a sunny and stylish match made in heaven.

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Better Homes & Gardens

This merry pair is also a classic case of fire and ice. The red, underlying tones of the persimmon bring out the highlights of the brightest-sky cornflower blue to compliment each other in the most striking way.

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Carole Carr Design

This dynamic duo is sure to make whatever room they inhabit stand out from the pack. It’s a classic case of “opposites attract!”

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Homelife au

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Meg Braff in Coastal Living

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All products via Chairish: Blue + Black Chair // End Table // Pair of Armchairs // Desk // Phone // Swan Sculpture

What fabulous color couples do you most want to invite over? Did we forget any?  Let us know what color palettes you are crushing on! From subtle couples to outrageous pairings, we’re all about the POPS of color, why limit yourself to just one? In this case, more is more. So go on girl, grab your color wheel and start match-making.



A Perfect Chairish Giveaway

August 13th, 2014

Here at Chairish, we really do see all our beautiful products as foster children of sorts- we usher them from one home to another, and we always want to know that they are going to a place where they will be adored and bring people joy. So, when we lovingly put a room together to be sent off as a prize to one lucky sweepstakes winner, we had no idea what that one person (selected out of thousands) would end up doing with the swag. 

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Well, this story has a fairy-tale ending. We couldn’t dream up a more perfect winner for this room giveaway than Alexandria Baker. An Art Director in Indiana with a background in graphic design, she was in a state of transition that many of us can relate to: having finished the school and roommate portion of her life, she was ready to buy and furnish her first house. Only once she had the house, she was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of deciding how to furnish it and what would work together, calling herself “clueless” when it came to decorating this blank slate.

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Clueless? We beg to differ. As you can see, this girl styled her place out perfectly, blending her Chairish treasures with items of her own like a pro. She added pops of pink and fresh flowers throughout, picking up on the themes in the wall hangings in the dining room and threw in a slew of fabulous lamps and smaller items of decor. But she did say that having a bunch of things pre-selected to go together made the whole process a lot easier, and opened her eyes to the beauty of a bold green couch- something she claims she never would have selected on her own but has turned out to be her favorite item. Happy to help, Alexandria!

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Everyone is winning here- Alexandria is as happy as a clam, living in her new sophisticated digs and we can sleep soundly knowing that these pieces have found a new life in a home where they will be used well (and stylishly!). We took some time to chat with Alexandria about the experience of winning such a cool prize, and what she’s learned along the way. 

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Lovin’ The Learning Curve At Hampton’s Store Q44 Decor

August 7th, 2014

Katie Burbatsuly grew up living and breathing furniture and décor, having been blessed with an interior designer for both a mother and a sister. One could almost say that she was predestined to open a store one day, and most certainly bred to naturally have great taste and a good eye. It was only a matter of time before her path lead her to owning and operating Q44 Décor in Quogue; Katie always knew she wanted to be her own boss (this is what Entrepreneur Barbie dream are made of).

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But how did she get to the point of living her dream in this pretty Hamptons hamlet? Katie believes firmly that part of what has lead to her success is her years of experience doing many different types of work for many different types of companies. While wearing all these different hats, she gained the “skills, tools, knowledge and confidence” to become her own boss once and for all. She jumped into the home décor retail biz by selling items from her own personal collections alongside her mother in a co-op store space in Delray Beach, Florida. This was yet another brick in the path that lead Katie to branch off on her own with Q44.

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Naturally, Katie is drawn to all things oceanic—and really, what self-respecting gal who hops from one beach town to another isn’t. You know, stuff like shells & coral, turquoise & blue and spending a semester at sea. She even cites one of the all time greatest on-screen beach houses as an aesthetic soul-sister to Q44. She sets her store up like a pro, creating vignettes so that visitors can shop an entire look, but also encourages people to pick what they love and what speaks to them- and she follows this rule herself, only stocking items she would want in her own house. 

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Next time you’re feeling beached out and you happen to be in the neighborhood, be sure to stop in to Q44 for a dose of fresh and fabulous; finding something you’ll love is a shore-thing…

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It’s A Fab, Mod Life

August 1st, 2014

Robert Zizzo really lives the life. I mean this in more ways than one, so let me elaborate: as a retailer specializing in gorgeous pieces from iconic designers and brands, he has done what any sensible fanatic would do and completely outfitted his home in the most fabulous of these pieces. So his home and his work life reflect one another beautifully. He is able to create atmospheres that pay such close attention to the details that it really does feel like a trip back in time to be in his home or store. And It’s only natch that movie and television set designers call Mod Life a go-to sourcing destination given his stellar rep. He takes care to stock not only the furnishings, but also the art and decor that really round a space out. In other words, he makes achieving the full vision possible. 

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But the dude also lives the dream of hitting the road and heading across the country every six weeks or so with an empty truck in search of great inventory. He has a “leave no stone unturned” philosophy, and as such picks his way through estate sales and antique fairs for the tastiest offerings by day. By night, he explores the finest accommodations and food available in whatever town is closest by, much like a modern day dandy. He’s just got this deep appreciation for the finest things in life and is not ashamed to say so. I read in an interview that he wanted his swanky bedroom to feel just like the most luxurious hotel imaginable, somewhere you walk in and say “it’s perfect.” How can one not have mad respect for this lofty goal? Anyway, he eventually heads back to Chicago with a truck full of goodies, proud to be saving his customers money by cutting out the need for shipping costs. 

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That Robert has impeccable taste is no question. What makes him an expert in creating atmospheres so perfect they are worthy of period-related entertainment (two words: Mad Men) has to do with his ability to recognize that great design is not about putting a bunch of super iconic pieces together and calling it a day. It’s about that hunt, finding that special, outstanding piece that still displays those classic qualities but in a less obvious way. Below, he talks any sane person’s dream vacation and the admiration he has for a certain art thief. 

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How Chairish Fully Furnished a Home in a Week at Dwell On Design

July 31st, 2014

Let’s say you moved into a completely empty house and had not a single stick of furniture to your name, but needed to fully outfit it in a matter of days. Like… a week. We’re talking dining room, living room, two bedrooms, an office and two bathrooms. Could you do it? The answer is a resounding YES, and the proof is in the Chairish-flavored pudding of the 2014 Dwell On Design House, which we filled with all vintage, pre-owned furniture and decor sourced from a 10 mile radius of the house within a week. Boom. 

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Welcome to your new, totally empty home! 

OK, OK, I may have just made it seem like this ain’t no thang, but we’ll admit that there was a bit of wrist-wringing and wine guzzling drinking during the process. Fortunately, we were able to pull this feat off thanks to our beloved Chairish team, our favorite local vintage shops, L.A. design darling Vanessa De Vargas' stylings, and our moving experts who kept our precious cargo scratch-free! The beauty of all this? It’s the fact that anyone, even you dearest reader, can do this. It’s a shining example of how we were able to say, “Ta Ta!” to lead times, hello insta-house! By using vintage and pre-loved furniture and decor, there’s no need to deal with long lead times, ‘cause lord knows it takes forever to order something, wait for it to be assembled, and then another bajillion weeks to ship. Oh, and we’re also helping out Mother Earth, and who doesn’t want that?

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Girl power from team Chairish! From left: Buyer Cat Belluschi-Paulk, Co-Founder Anna Brockway, Head of PR Jen Rivas and Vice President of Merchandise and Sales Jae Hah.

All these moving pieces came together within the 1,600 square-foot LivingHome prefabricated dwelling in less time than it takes to receive a pair of clogs in the mail from Zappos. How exactly did it happen? It started with Cat, who played an essential role in developing Chairish’s working relationships with the stores that were featured as part of the L.A. City Guide; she reached out to those local vendors again to see who would be willing to join us in this endeavor. Now, part of being a young business is finding creative ways to collaborate with others in a manner that is mutually beneficial without necessarily exchanging that dough-rei-mi.  In this case, we were able to offer L.A. storeowners the unique opportunity of not only being part of an event put on by a very well-respected name in the design world, guaranteed to attract large crowds, but the chance to sell their goods live, during the show, via the Chairish app! No other vendor at Dwell On Design was selling off the floor in this way. Lucky for us, some incredible vendors signed up happily; Danish Modern L.A. provided a massive amount of pristine items and LiveStyleDesigns allowed us to develop the flavor and pizzaz every well-rounded space needs by offering art, accessories and decor.image

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The above Adrian Pearsall sofa, teak and marble coffee table and set of walnut dining chairs were used to furnish the main living space and all came from nearby store Danish Modern L.A.

Once we had secured these partners, we knew we needed to call in the big guns for help with picking and then arranging all the tasty goods needed to transform these spaces- after all, it had to look beyond fabulous! We must have been good in a past life, because L.A. based designer and Chairish power seller Vanessa De Vargas said she’d be game to join the team. She and Cat went to the stores together to “shop,” Vanessa using her mad designer skills to whip up furniture plan drawings literally as they went from store to store. Talk about vision. She also got down and dirty when it came time to stage and place the pieces, hauling, moving and prepping the pieces along with the movers. Speaking of movers- we worked with Studio Express, who flawlessly transported all the items from their homes around the city to the convention center, unwrapped and placed them and then returned them to their owners safe, sound and in the perfect condition they had left in. This kind of service is hard to come by these days, people! I speak from experience! And may I say, their prices were beyond fair. Ok, I’ll stop pitching them now, but seriously, if you need anything moved in the L.A. area, we recommend giving them a call!

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In one bedroom, a buttery yellow IB Kofod for Larsen chair is a standout piece from LifeStyleDesigns. The vintage American flag came from Turquoise and the ceramic elephant on the bedside is by Jonathan Adler.

Even once everything was selected and we knew where it was all to go, the wizards on the Chairish production team had to create a unique collection consisting of the items within the house- and keep in mind the time between when the pieces found their final resting place inside the house and the house being opened to the public was a mere 24 hours. By the time they walked through the front door, the visitors needed to be able to shop the collection on the spot.  AND, production was working off of photos sent to them on the fly ! This just speaks to their unbelievable product knowledge- to be able to merely look at a picture and identify what piece came from where is incredible! Excuse me while I gush, but I’m just such a proud mama, I can’t even help it.

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In the office, Brown & Saltman chairs by John Keal from Danish Modern L.A. face a large surfboard motif art piece from LiveStyleDesign. The blue lamp on the console is also LifeStyleDesign and the Saarinen tulip chair behind the desk is from Turquoise.

The weekend flew by- people came and went, ooh-ed and ahh-ed, compliments were paid and my heart swelled with happiness, pride and a sense of great accomplishment. How could it not? And in the end, I reflected on what an amazing and unique service we provide. One of the most glorious perks of sourcing from Chairish and a major factor in how this house was filled in such a short time: shoppers can find items that are for sale in their city and literally go and pick them up the same day as purchase. Good luck enjoying that luxury at a big-name furniture retailer, where the lead time is NEVER less than a couple weeks, and is often months. But what really makes me feel good is the fact that by sourcing locally from a selection of pre-owned items, we are being kind to our sweet Mother Earth. By eliminating the need for shipping across states and picking from items in about a 10 mile radius, we spared the air. But shopping at Chairish is also an act of recycling and reusing. Did anyone see that hilarious article from The Onion about how enough chairs already exist in the world, so we can stop producing new ones? Was it a cheeky article? Yes. But it touched on a truth we really do stand behind here at Chairish. Whenever possible, we say buy vintage and pre-owned so we can reduce the amount of unnecessary waste we create and the need for using Earth’s precious resources to make a chair that likely already exists and needs a new home! PLUS, vintage so often happens to be hand-crafted and constructed with higher quality materials than what is used today! Everyone wins!

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A Model 63A teak bench by Niels Moller and walnut night stands in the second bedroom came from Danish Modern L.A. A pair of vintage gold mirrors over the credenza and a blue lamp came from Turquoise

I’m still buzzing and glowing from this amazing event. I hope we can do more like it in the future, as it only reinforced the power of great people and great product, which is what we’re working with here over at team Chairish. We can do anything and we can have fun doing it. And most importantly, we make it all look easy. Humble brag.

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The living and dining room, outfitted with piece mentioned above. Who wouldn’t want to live here?

Though it was a pretty hectic two days, we were honored to be selected for the job, it was like being crowned Homecoming Queen! While we were excited with the results, we were still a little nervous to see what the crowd thought… 

"The Chairish team did a superb job curating from product on their site to bring to life a great modern home and show 31,550 attendees what great design can be found on Chairish," said Michela O’Connor Abrams, CEO of Dwell. 

Phew! Dwell approved. Happy dance time! 

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Standing Out With Stellar Union

July 30th, 2014

Let me just describe a problem you’re so likely to have: you’ve just purchased a house abutting the dunes of the ultra-chic Hamptons shoreline, but oh gosh! You need to find some authentic vintage pieces to give the space some flair and to mix in with your DWR/Restoration Hardware. And oh gosh, you’re hosting a summer cocktail party in a few days to reveal your new digs and want it looking fresh-to-death in time. What do you do?

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Well, what you do is scurry over to Stellar Union in Southampton to pick up a retro-fabulous green velvet barrel chair or a few Italian glass lamps in shades of sunshine yellow and sky blue to make your space really pop! Lucky for you, the Hamptons is home to William Shefferine and Sheila White, so they can come to the rescue in moments like this with a store that stands out from the numerous Early American antique stores that are more abundant in the famed Hampton’s town.

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The pair believe in making spaces special by mixing the old with the new, and fear-not a style mash-up of say, Deco and Mid-Century Modern or Italian antique and 90’s Mod. They also know that Hamptons (and by proxy, NYC) shoppers dig the eco-conscious aspect of shopping at a store like Stellar Union, as they are recycling and doing their part to prevent the need for chopping down trees to construct something brand new. With their appreciation for things that harken back to bygone eras, it’s no surprise to hear they are Game Of Thrones fans and would like to live during the time when what is arguably the birthplace of the modern home occured. Read on…

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Chairish x The San Francisco Chronicle

July 27th, 2014

We totally love our city. And what’s not to love? Every element of San Francisco makes us fall more and more in love… the Giants, the restaurants, and even the hills (can you say buns of steel?!). Pretty much, San Francisco is the best boyfriend ever. It also happens to be a true design and architecture destination! From classic Victorian homes to the lively Castro to the bustling Chinatown, San Francisco is definitely a diverse city, which is also represented through its eclectic design styles. To celebrate the unique nature that is San Francisco, we’re pairing up with The San Francisco Chronicle to take a deeper look at the bohemian nature of The City, as well as its mix & match inspired design.  

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flickr: @brendanlynch

Oftentimes we find ourselves buying a bunch of things, but then we don’t know what to do with them! Fortunately, The Chronicle’s home design columnist, Paige Porter Fischer is here to help. As a seasoned editor and art director for big magazines like Better Homes & Gardens and Sunset magazine, we got a chance to pick her brain about all things San Francisco and design. She’s also picked her favorite SF goodies on Chairish for you to shop AND she’s shared ways to style these one-of-a-kind finds. Read on for more about San Francisco style and design tips + tricks!

Chairish: What do you think makes San Francisco stand out as a marketplace for boho and mix/match inspired design?

Paige: San Francisco is certainly a melting pot of folks from just about every walk of life one can imagine, but the diversity isn’t just about the population—it’s also about the design aesthetic. I think a few things contribute to the boho vibe here, and so much of it has to do with San Francisco’s reputation as a place where people can come to be themselves. People don’t move here to fall in line with trends; they come here to start their own. San Franciscans are an entrepreneurial, creative bunch, and they’re unafraid to express their personal styles. I love the dichotomy of design here—the historical houses filled with modern furnishings, the warehouse lofts decorated with oversize antiques. Anybody can pick a theme and shop an edited look out of a catalogue. But mixing and matching is so much more fun: A farmhouse table surrounded by Hans Wegner’s wishbone chairs; a wingback chair upholstered in Indian block print fabric; a Chesterfield sofa paired with a Lucite coffee table. Bohemian design exists in places where individuality is celebrated. And therein lies the beauty of the Bay Area.

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Chairish: What are your favorite design destinations in SF for inspiration?

Paige: You can’t go far in this city without being stimulated. I have a large map of the city at home, and my husband and I often choose neighborhoods to check out or rediscover. Architecturally, I can go anywhere and be inspired—by the intricate craftsmanship of buildings, by paint colors on houses and doors, by tiny gardens packed with color and texture. As far as public spaces go, I enjoy all of the museums here, namely the De Young, MOMA, and The Palace of the Legion of Honor. As far as outside spaces, I cannot get enough of the Japanese Tea Gardens. I go there when I need a little break from the chaos of the city—it’s an oasis in the middle of Golden Gate Park that, for me, inspires a thousand Instagram photos. I love walking up and down Hayes Street in Hayes Valley, 18th and Valencia Streets in the Mission, Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights, and Divisadero in NOPA. The creativity of window displays, the constant evolution of restaurant design, and the people-watching are all endlessly inspiring.

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flickr: @CTG/SF

Chairish: Which is more important, style or comfort, or can they live harmoniously?

Paige: I think it’s a shame if style and comfort don’t live harmoniously. I have scouted many homes that were impeccably built and decorated, and very photogenic to say the least, but there wasn’t a lot of life in them. They didn’t feel comfortable—or give off signs that they were lived in and loved. The homes I’ve written about that really spoke to me are the ones that truly represent the tastes of the people who inhabit them. You walk in and think, this home fits this family. They feel comfortable here, and they feel confident about their style and their design choices.

I always say that the most enviable person in the room at a dinner party isn’t necessarily the most beautiful or the best dressed, but rather the most confident. The person who commands the room is the person who is most comfortable in his or her skin. The same is so often true for design. I love it when people have confidence to break the rules a little bit, to experiment, to buck trends and buy things they love. I know a designer who had a thing for vintage western paintings. No one told her to buy them. They weren’t on trend; they just spoke to her. When she grouped them together on a wall, they told a story. It was her style, and it became this great design moment in her home and really relaxed her family’s living space.

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Chairish: How do you see the mishmash of cultures and types of people  (of San Francisco) expressed through design?

Paige: The funny thing about my job is that I’m paid to be a sort of voyeur. I get to peek inside so many people’s homes, all over this city. And even though stereotypes exist about certain neighborhoods, I have found that those presuppositions don’t exactly hold true design-wise. Of course there are more modern lofts and industrial spaces in Dogpatch and SOMA, and more Victorian and traditional houses in Presidio Heights and Pacific Heights. It’s impossible to deny there are certain genres of design that exist in certain zip codes, and that’s why Sue Fisher King and Hudson Grace do well on Sacramento Street and Viracocha and The Apartment thrive in the Mission. But what keeps the design scene interesting, again, is the mix: the hipster couple you’d expect to find in the Mission who actually live in the Outer Sunset and roast coffee beans in their popcorn maker and fill their Edwardian with mid-century modern flea market finds. Or the family who just moved back from being ex-pats in Singapore and outfitted their Pacific Heights Victorian with a perfect mix of Asian and Southern antiques. It is that element of surprise—the expect-the-unexpected vibe—that makes San Francisco bohemian to me.

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Chairish: How did you choose the 40 pieces for Chairish? What were you looking for when you browsed the site for this collection— what were you immediately drawn to?

Paige: A good friend in the design world once told me to look for pieces that could have multiple lives—in other words, be put to many uses in many rooms. I am drawn to furniture that could function in different, unexpected ways. And I’m a big fan of objects that are conversation pieces in a house—from fun lighting and accessories to artwork. No one wants to show up at a party wearing the same dress as someone else. And that’s how I feel about decorating. You don’t want the room out of a catalogue that anyone could have. You want a room that tells a story. One-of-a-kind objects become the characters.

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Chairish: Who has taught you the most about style?

Paige: I’d have to say Michael Walters. He’s a stylist I first met almost ten years ago, and he’s been on almost every set I’ve worked on in San Francisco. Stylists are the unsung heroes of magazines. They add the extra layer of personality or sophistication to a room if it’s not quite there yet, or edit what’s already in a room to keep things from looking cluttered or busy on camera. They have the difficult job of working very, very hard to look as if they were never there—as if the way we shoot a room is the way we found it. Michael has this extraordinary eye, and he can see a few low-res photos of a house that I’ve scouted and bring a truck load of options that are so fitting and perfect for the location the homeowner ends up begging to keep it all in the end. He’s a design magician. Plus, he’s just the most stylish guy I know—and effortlessly so. I rarely buy anything for my house—or my husband—unless I run it by him first.

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instagram: @michaelwaltersstyle

Continue on for more style tips from Paige…

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Brass is the new black these days, and this classic desk lamp has a fun updated wire shade. I love it.

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Throws are to sofas what scarves are to men and women. These simple accessories can transform a sofa or chair. I love the classic look of this grey herringbone.

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Sometimes, a room needs a little bit of color. These Chinese lacquered side tables are such a great shade of red—almost a neutral red—and would look great flanking a sofa or bed. They boast great storage, and I love the fretwork on the bottom shelf.

Love Paige’s finds? Shop the whole collection here 



Meet the Dynamic Duo Behind Neato

July 24th, 2014

You don’t need to spend time with the husband and wife team that owns Neato Vintage, Jesse and Caitlin, to know how highly they value having a great sense of humor. You can totally pick this up just by scrolling through their blog, which showcases a feed of new arrivals accompanied by witty one liners. Case in point: “A lovely pair of Paul McCobb dressers are visiting the shop, careful— they might follow you home.” image

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To be with Jesse and Caitlin is not only to experience firsthand their playful nature; it’s to see how much they love one another and their work. In their Humboldt Park storefront, they told me how a mutual passion for “the old, awesome, unique and obscure” united them. Further explaining the urge to seek out, collect and resell pre-owned and vintage items, Jesse describes how his father was himself a collector, and how he grew up wandering the flea markets with dear old dad.

imageThe store is filled with a thoughtful mix of timeless, functional wooden Mid-Century pieces and decor to make any space instantly have a unique and collected feel. Oh yes, and it is proudly patrolled by Mischka The Cat (often featured snoozing comfortably on the blog). Ultimately, this mix reflects quite accurately Caitlin and Jesse’s personalities. It is clear that along with a willingness to be cheeky and have fun, a sincerity about and reverence for the history and impact of furniture design goes hand-in-hand for these two. Below, they speak directly to any collector’s soul when describing their favorite vacation and force us to admit that Pixar has gone beyond nailing ageless humor, but also must have some animators that double as design lovers.

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