George Nelson Gets a Little Goofy


When a friend posted a link to these kitschy cartoon dog lamps on her Facebook page, we were surprised to learn they were by midcentury designer George Nelson. Yet Nelson always seemed to have a more playful side than some of his contemporaries (especially in his use of color), as evidenced by his famous marshmallow couch and swag desk. So maybe we shouldn’t have been shocked by its provenance, but we did raise an eyebrow at the price: $2,975. Yikes! Nearly three grand for a pair of comical cartoon-faced dog lamps.

But it got us thinking about other strange – and sometimes delightful – intersections between midcentury modern design and kitsch. Another great example are these rare Eames-patterned kubricks (named for the director but highly prized collectible toys). They were on sale a few years ago at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago shop (for around $70) but are increasingly hard to find these days.

And one of our favorite goofily clever homages to midcentury design is the Hairy Bertoia chair. (Re)designed by Douglas Homer, the chairs take on the classic 1950s wire Diamond Chair by Bertoia and add 2500 strands of sponge cord hand knotted to the chair. Kitschier? Yes. Comfier? Most likely. For $2,500 it’s also not cheap.

What is your favorite midcentury mashup? And are these pieces playful and fun or too tacky and schlocky?

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