30 November 2009

Design Research display, Cambridge MA, 2009

Lengths of Marimekko fabric cascade down the stairwell

The day before Thanksgiving we went out to dinner with some friends, classmates from college we hadn't seen in twenty years. We left home a bit early and went to see an unusual exhibit on the way to our restaurant. In a space most recently occupied by Crate and Barrel, but known to architecture aficionados as the Design Research building, there's an installation of items from the glory days of retailer Design Research, or D/R for short.

This defunct but still influential merchandiser brought Scandinavian design - the good stuff, not the imitations - to American living rooms in the 1960's and '70's.

The retail space is for rent, so the landlord graciously allowed a local group, spear-headed by Jane Thompson, to put on a show, so to speak, of items from the glory days of D/R. No admittance, so all my photos are through the large glass window walls.

D/R introduced Marimekko to North America

Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia, a woman who took over the ailing Printex company, and created fresh wearable clothing, as well as designs for home furnishings.

Shirts and stripes

Eero Saarinen designed the table and chairs

Another interior with the signature look of neutral sofa
paired with pillows in prints of intense color

Looking at the building from Brattle St.

View from Brattle St.

I don't know if the building has some kind of landmark status or not, but it should. For more on this gem of a building, visit

29 November 2009

A Quilter's Gathering 2009

Detail, Wellfleet Waves, by Kate O'Leary, a member of my quilt guild

DH and I went to A Quilter's Gathering, an annual four-day festival of quilts, classes, vendors and special events held at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire, http://www.aquiltersgathering.com/index.htm

I like this show particularly, as the adjudicators balance classic and innovative quilt-making, and there's usually lots of sophisticated use of color, as in the image above.

A highlight of the show was a display of quilts made by long-time Chelmsford quilter and teacher Sally Palmer Field, constructed using antique and commemorative fabrics she's collected. The fabrics are just extraordinary.

Old Lowell quilt, detail. A sampler style quilt made exclusively of antique fabrics made by mills in the Lowell area

Old Lowell quilt, detail

A piece of centennial fabric Ms. Palmer collected

World Columbian Exposition of 1893
The center of this quilt is a commemorative handkerchief from this event
The striped fabric in the field was made by
the Cocheco Mill in New Hampshire

A close-up of the handkerchief, with views of the exposition in each corner

Tribute to Teddy Roosevelt
The center is a commemorative handkerchief

Detail, Tribute to TR
Click on image to enlarge.
Note initials TR quilted in corners adjacent to center square

Ulysses Grant; another rare commemorative handkerchief forms the center panel

The commemorative handkerchiefs and bandanas of the type found and incorporated by Ms. Palmer into her quilts are seldom exhibited, so this display was a rare opportunity to see them, as well as the other vintage fabrics in the quilts.

Back to the contemporary show quilts; there were many to admire.

Blowin' in the Wind, Nancy Egan Vogel

Off Shirley's Rocker, Rose Orr

Off Shirley's Rocker, detail
The pineapple blocks in the corner add interest to the lone star pattern

Marilyn's Rooster, Barbara Beaumont
The box label was printed digitally and then tea-dyed for an aged look

It's hard to see in my photo, but the rooster's feathers are skillfully machine-quilted. I'm not usually a big fan of representational quilts, but this quilt is a great marriage between image and technique.

Impressive technique is also show-cased in the quilt below, which the artist began in a piecing workshop with Ruth McDowell, http://www.ruthbmcdowell.com/

Maple in Fusion, Valerie Daniels, detail

Finally, there were the vendor displays.

Elin Noble's stall, with her hand-dyed fabrics

I couldn't resist posting this sign - antiquated indeed!