A Design Smorgasbord: Saarinen, Grossman, and More at DIEM, A+D, LAMA, PMCA, JF Chen

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One of the many wonderful things about Los Angeles is that politics is not everything. So if you want to shake that debate right out of your hair and be…

One of the many wonderful things about Los Angeles is that politics is not everything. So if you want to shake that debate right out of your hair and be reminded of the optimism of great creativity, take note of the following:

Opening tonight with a party at Moura Starr International is DIEM(Design Intersects Everything Made), a one-day design symposium taking place Friday, October 5 , 2012, at various locations within the Avenues of Art and Design District in West Hollywood. Panels will include a discussion about Eero Saarinen — at Jules Seltzer & Associates —  and, at Minotti, a chat with Yours Truly and art writer Shana Nys Dambrot about LA art, popular culture and museums.

And speaking of. . . Eero Saarinen, opening Friday night is A+D Museum’s new show, Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation, on view through January 3rd, 2013. Curated by Mina Marefat, and presented by ASSA ABLOY and Matt Construction, the show will highlight the Finnish-born Saarinen’s (1910 – 1961)  “short but brilliant career bookended with two iconic buildings: the unbuilt Smithsonian Gallery of Art. . . and Dulles International Airport, the nation’s first jet airport. . . The exhibition will present his contribution to California and mid-century, as well as (and this is fascinating, Saarinen as Double O. . .) “shed light on the little known chapter of Eero Saarinen’s secret professional life during the WWII when he served in the OSS, the precursor of the CIA.” According to the museum, “his wartime experience influenced and helped Eero Saarinen establish himself as one of the most creative designers with products that broke technological and aesthetic boundaries including the Tulip chair and the Womb chair, both still in production by Knoll.”

The opening reception is Friday, October 5th from 6 – 9pm (opening reception admission $20 General, $10 Students, A+D Members Free). A+D Museum is located at 6032 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

And speaking of midcentury design. . . one of the people responsible for reviving global interest in California’s formidable contribution to this epoch, is Peter Loughrey, the always charming and entertaining founder of LA Modern Auctions. Since getting into the midcentury market with then relatively affordable Eames chairs and other post-war Socal classics, 20 years later, LAMA has branched into design and artefacts from the pre-war and post-Modern decades as well as carving a new niche in art.

The auction house is holding its 20th anniversary sale this Sunday, October 7, and will feature, says Peter, “over 500 lots of rare and important fine art and design, including a strong selection of works by Richard Pettibone, Blue Surround from 1982 by Richard Diebenkorn, nine works by Andy Warhol, a hand-decorated motorcycle gas tank by Keith Haring, a collage by Yayoi Kusama, a painting by Roland Peterson, and a drawing by David Hockney.”

Among other gems: a Jean Prouve table from 1954 that was commissioned for a hotel in Cameroon, an selection of Greta Grossman designs and. . . chairs by Eero Saarinen.

(Note: I ran into Peter last weekend at Art Platform 2012, shown in this picture by this Gio Ponti sideboard. And he made the most intriguing observation having nothing to do with his auction this weekend. Based on his experience driving around he thinks that people waiting the left turning lane now text or check messagse until you honk; ie. they expect the driver, behind them, ie, You, to alert them when the lights change. He theorizes that rather than being annoyed when you honk, they expect you to act as their alarm so they can check texts at leisure. Love it. New Rules for driving in the digital age.)

Auction date: Sunday, October 7, 2012; 12 p.m; 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys, CA 91406 | 323-904-1950 | www.lamodern.com

And speaking of. . . Eames chairs, I have to stop and give a shout-out here to Joel Chen, AKA JF Chen, dealer and design impressario extraordinaire, whose amazing shows at his Highland Avenue showroom included an exhibit of his 400+ Eames Chairs, and who last night was given a richly deserved  2012 Design Leadership Award by LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design Council. They are purchasing this Nocturne radio (1934, Walter Dorwin, Teague, for the Sparton Corporation) in Joel’s honor with the funds raised from the Opening Night Party for the LA Antiques, Art, and Design show taking place next Wednesday.

Joel was given his award at LACMA’s Directors Lounge, greeted by admirers who had managed to tear themselves away from that debate, and he stunned them not only by actually speaking out (he usually keeps a low profile) but also with his sartorial dudeness, showing (left, in photo above) young Socal men how they should dress (if they could afford it), in his laceless lace-up shoes from Prada, spiffy drainpipe pants from Margiela, and jacket from Thom Browne.

And, speaking of. . . Greta Magnussen Grossman (shown, her rare three panel folding screen in walnut and metal, 1952, designed for Glenn of California, Los Angeles, 1952), the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) will host a show of her work, Greta Magnusson Grossman: A Car and Some Shorts. Opening Saturday, October 27, 2012, this first-ever retrospective showcases the work of pioneering Swedish-American architect and designer Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999), whose functionalist work underwent a meteoric rise upon settling in Los Angeles.

To Grossman, says PMCA, modern design was “not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions… developed out of our preferences for living in a modern way.”. .  In the 1940s and 1950s, Grossman designed two of her most iconic products, the Grasshopper floor lamp and the Cobra floor and table lamps.

She also designed homes, fifteen of which are in California. Frequently built on “problem lots” on the sides of a hill or canyon with the aid of stilts, she employed curtain walls of glass and free-flowing floor plans to take advantage of their hilltop locations. Her houses were often the first to bring modernism to their neighborhoods.

Organized by the Swedish Museum of Architecture and R 20th Century Gallery, New York City, the exhibition is curated by Evan Snyderman of R 20th Century Gallery and Karin Åberg Waern, curator, Arkitekturmuseet. Greta Magnusson Grossman: A Car and Some Shorts exhibition opened at the Swedish Museum of Architecture on February 9, 2010.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

7:00 – 9:00 pm

$5 admission