The house on Graymoor Lane was beautiful in the winter. With warm fireplaces inside and beautiful, expansive views of the snow in the woods outside, it was easy to feel at home here. The blue skies always shone through. But a Midwest winter is a long winter, and we were never happier than when Spring arrived. With glass walls throughout the house, we could watch the first flowers start to emerge and grow with them every day. And that first day when we could open those walls up and let Spring inside, those were the best days. However, Spring can be short—or non-existent. And, on this exceptionally warm summer day, we find ourselves day-dreaming about a season that is both awakening and fleeting.
When we think back on those mid-century Spring days, and the joy that those flowers still bring us every year, it is no surprise that they have found their way into our collections. The delicate petals of the Artichoke Collection and the joyous burst of Star Wall find their inspiration in nature. But most of all, it is the Bloom Collection that reminds us of so many forget-me-nots and phlox and primroses. It is always in Spring blossom, no matter the season. Spring inspires the artist in all of us.
So many of our favorite mid-century designers turned to flowers for inspiration.
In 1957, esteemed mid-century modern designer Eero Saarinen introduced his Pedestal Collection. The star of this group is better known today as the “tulip chair.” The iconic design served two purposes. First of all, Saarinen felt that contemporary furniture was messy and distracting, or, in his words, “ugly, confusing, and unrestful.” By standing a chair on one leg, Saarinen reduced the clutter and achieved the simplicity of form and aesthetic that was such a hallmark of the era.
Image courtesy of knoll.com
Secondly, Saarinen’s pedestal form emerged from the natural world: the graceful simplicity of a tulip perched, open, on its stem. Mid-century designs, even some of the most linear, still looked to organic shapes for inspiration. Whether it was the curve of a vine or the ripples of a pond, the natural world offered a purity of form and design.
Saarinen was not alone in his interest in tulips. French designer Pierre Paulin also crafted a Tulip Chair a few years later. Where Saarinen focused on efficient materials, Paulin prioritized comfort. His Tulip Chair is sculptural in form, and perhaps more clearly evokes the flowers that inspired it. Moreover, it was, and continues to be, produced in a range of fabulous colors that bring to mind the explosion of color each Spring.
Bluebells and Snowdrops
Like furniture designers, lighting designers in the 1950s and 1960s were continually drawn to the shapes of flowers. Take Silnovo’s Diabolo chandeliers. The loose grouping of six, eight, or even more lights transforms the delicate spray of bluebells into brass and chrome mid-century perfection. The echo of the flower-spray softens the angles and bridges the organic and the manufactured.
Image courtesy of Stilnovo
Perhaps no piece is more evocative of flowers than the iconic Arco lamp. Beyond its excellent lighting innovation, one cannot help but see the droop of early snowbells or even wild tulips in the graceful globe of the lamp. It is both unobtrusive and yet entirely demanding of our attention. Designed by the Castiglione Brothers in 1962, this beautiful organic light fulfilled the brothers’ modernist belief that “design demands observation.” In this case, the design emerges from close observation of organic forms in nature, and we keep looking because it is so perfectly transported into our living rooms.
Spring is a time for us all to get a little fresh air, to spruce up the house and ourselves. Take time in your garden, or a park, or just stop, as the saying goes, and smell the roses. It’s the little moments in our day that rejuvenate the soul. And if you need a bit more inspiration to bloom along with those Spring flowers, we recommend putting on your favorite Graymoor Lane Bloom collection earrings or bangle and wearing Spring in style.