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