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Milton Glaser teams up with Mad Men

10 Mar

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If you are not familiar with  Milton Glaser now is the time to catch up. Mr. Glaser was extremely prominent in advertising graphics during the 60’s and 70’s The champion of “instant recognition” his bold statements have become iconic.

2-milton glaser logos - Google Search - Google Chrome 3102014 105102 AMHis minimal approach created some of the most familiar logos in the world of advertising, many of which are still in use and as fresh today as they were decades ago.1-milton glaser - Google Search - Google Chrome 3102014 104939 AMThere is no mistaking the psychedelic influence of the late 60’s, hence the new partnership with the creative crew who are responsible for the production of  Mad Men The series became extremely popular due its depiction of the goings on in a high powered advertising agency. A cross-generational success due to the number of Baby boomers who remember it well and the 30 somethings who still can’t believe that smoking , drinking  and fraternizing was common place during work once upon a time. I really miss those days of press type, hand done layouts and cocktails for lunch.

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Time and fashion move on, as it must for Mad Men as well. It will be interesting to watch the Sterling agency move forward into the past. The question is. How far can they go? Will they push into the 70’s? and what happens when they are asked to take on the publicity for big shoulders of “Dynasty” in the 80’s.

The New York Times Article,

Milton Glaser….

Mad Men…


Dad, the 60’s and the Aluminum Christmas Tree

19 Dec
an iconic shot

an iconic shot

There has been much interest in the Aluminum tree of late, strange that an item like this that at one time was the center of controversy and debate has become an object of adulation. The 60’s were a period sweeping tech advances, the space race was on and Pres Kennedy said we were going to the moon, as Jackie donned her modern Pillbox hat, which even Bob Dylan immortalized in song . The auto industry had abandoned the over wrought designs of the 50’s and embraced a new “clean look” Home appliances were now being dubbed “Sheer” no more bulbous refrigerators, rectilinear was the new design dictum. The Princess phone was the last word [no pun] in communications tech [ it lit up] Then along came the Aluminum Christmas tree, the ultimate in “modern” living, perfect for display on the moon. Reynolds Aluminum not wanting to left behind, introduced a game changer that flew in the face of Christmas tradition and all that was sacred.

The Clean Lincoln

The Clean Lincoln

As early as 57 a new look was coming

As early as “57” a new look was coming..note the right angles of her gloves.

Everything Aluminum

Everything Aluminum

Mad Men” was ahead of the curve embracing the revival of 60’s design. All of a sudden appeared the term “Mid-Century” modern, which replaced the “atomic age” label to describe the future look that swept the U.S. Many items that were once laughed at as naive and quaint were now becoming serious design statements. All things Mid-Century were in demand. an ironic twist, as I am a Mid-Century relic as well [and I’m not in demand] When Banana Republic teamed with Mad Men a younger generation was hooked. Skinny brimmed hats and the Rat Pack became synonymous with cool.

He was the last word in 60's hip

He was the last word in 60’s hip

It was my mother that fell hook line and sinker for the new look, Jackie was her style icon and she followed her style with religious fervor [as did many women of the day]  The Pillbox hat was essential and mom had one..a leopard one, [so politically incorrect these days]..Anyway the thought of a Christmas tree that needed no tending was irresistible to her. No dropping needles, no daily watering was “sheer” in every way. My Dad hated the tree he was a C.7 blinking lights and tinsel kind of guy. His protests fell on deaf ears. What wanted Mom she got. So poor Dad went out and bought the whole show, the color wheel and a set matching of gold tear drop ornaments. My sister and I had no say in the matter. I didn’t really love it either as I remember, but she did allow us to impinge upon her design scheme with a few of our favorite traditional ornaments, just to keep us quiet.

When I look at the shot of sis and I staring out the picture window, which Dad carefully composed, it never occurred to me that one day this life-less relic of a long gone decade would become a nostalgic touch stone. Thanks Dad, wish you were still around to see the current triumph your iconic photo and that hated tree.

My Mid Century Christmas

9 Dec

One would think that after a month of doing Christmas for others there would be little energy for doing it for myself…You are wrong, two factors made it easy for me this year, 1. I emptied my car of everything that did not make the cut in some one elses store and 2. We were hit with a snow storm yesterday.

Pre-dawn shot

Pre-dawn shot

A few cups of coffee and I was ready. Ready to deplete the amount of “stuff” I had to put away in my basement. On went Bing Crosby and I set to decorating the house. The snow falling outside the window was the perfect accompaniment to my labors. Yes even an old Scrooge like me does [at times] get struck with the spirit. take a look at my retro decor.


A long shot

A long shot

My favorite Kitsch

My favorite Kitsch

The 40's Window Candles

The 40’s Window Candles

A brass Gazelle becomes a  Reindeer  this time of year

A brass Gazelle becomes a Reindeer this time of year

My heirloom Nativity

My heirloom Nativity

60's brass candle sticks, found 2 sets..lucky me

60’s brass candle sticks, found 2 sets..lucky me

A plastic Santa it a lot..

A plastic Santa it a lot..

My Christmas tea pots

My Christmas tea pots

Cocktails? of course!

Cocktails? of course!

Just can't get over mirror balls..

Just can’t get over the 70’s mirror balls..

All dressed up and Christmas is near.

All dressed up and Christmas is near.

Fake is OK in a Mid Century display

Fake is OK in a Mid Century display

My skinny tree with bubble lights...OF COURSE! and lots of tinsel

My skinny tree with bubble lights…OF COURSE! and lots of tinsel

The Parting shot a very Merry Mid Century Christmas to All!

The Parting shot a very Merry Mid Century Christmas to All!

My blinking tree…

The Gilded Festival…Building up Steam

1 Dec


received a phone call this morning, it was my long time friend Billy, he informed me that the first  “Gilded Festival”  was in town. The festival has pulled  together multiple artisans and performers  from Goth to Kilts.  All the participants share a passion for Steam-punk. I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with the term.

Table after table offered the regalia necessary to portray a diabolical mad 19th century scientist or if you choose leather clad  benevolent Fairy. It was quite a show, clockwork jewelry, skeleton keys, goggles, canes, top hats, magic wands, bustiers, even 19th century i pods. The show was small but I’m sure this show will “build up steam” in the past future.



My absolute favorite was the work of Brute Force Studios. The native Pennsylvanians hail from Harrisburg, of all places, but then again it must be fun to shake up the PA. capital especially with Corbit in the Governors seat. The pieces illustrated here are Brute Force, beautiful execution, made from leather metal [ no plastic or resin] the real thing.

Read about the Studios

 ” Owner and designer Thomas Willeford is also the author of the bestselling steampunk how-to book “Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos: A Maker’s Guide to Creating Modern Artifacts” (McGraw-Hill). He is best known as the creator of the mechanical arm worn by Nathan Fillion in the steampunk episode of ABC’s “Castle”. 

  ‘Thomas and his products have been widely featured on television (MTV, BBC, “Castle”, “Oddities”), online (Wired, BoingBoing, Popular Mechanics), and in print (Art Donovan’s “The Art of Steampunk”, Morgan Spurlock and Stan Lee’s “Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope”, Bizarre Magazine, Gothic Beauty Magazine, Engine Magazine). Satisfied customers include David Silverman (The Simpsons), Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5), Virginia Hey (Farscape), and bands Abney Park, Ghostfire, and Beautiful Deadly Children”.

” Supporting American industries and workers is very important to us. All of our materials, including fabric, metal, leather, and acrylic are made in the United States or imported from Sheffield, England. We do not outsource any of our labor to other countries. Even the fabric is milled in Pennsylvania”

“Human and animal welfare are also very important to us. We make monthly donations to our local food bank and PAWS of PA, a no-kill animal rescue and spay/neuter group”.

Now go to the site

Check out the Festival

35 Years of Collecting…Now what?

4 Nov
What came first the chicken or the egg? I’ve always had a penchant for collecting even as a child. I have also been a “display man” my entire adult life. At this point I ask myself, How did I get all this stuff? Was it a genetic inclination or was it just being on the front line of retail endeavors. If I had been an accountant would I have still have been a collector? probably, but display certainly contributed, the constant need for “things” to do a display. I have created a museum of “stories” all of which have been in a window at one time or another. Now the question is what do you do with all of it?..Ironically its time to open a shop,
My favorite Liners
The SS United States is docked here in Philly
This is my shrine to the Ship
Various Mid Century Items and stainless backsplash from a diner
The Painted Lady a 30 year project
A miniature hotel
Radios another collection
Models and Toys
The Predicta, yes that’s King Kong playing
This is the “Constantinople” collection East meets West at the Golden Horn . My objects of Eastern origin, arranged to replicate the Byzantine style.
The perfect Bedroom decor, at least for me. It’s on the “Dark” side.
Dark with lots of gold leaf
I have a huge number of exotic throws. I love them thrown on everything.
Moroccan dresser scarf and pierced brass tray
I’ve been collecting hanging lanterns and liturgical incense burners as well.
It’s my Greek and Russian background that started me on the icons
This is a fabulous huge hanging Turkish lantern.
A Syrian pierced lamp with beaded fringe.
My galley kitchen is mid-century all the way. that and that from countless flea markets and garage sales
Pyrex beakers arranged chronologically
Neon cocktail sign and Seal lamps
Kitcshy Commemorative plates are fun.
Raymond Loewy for Rosenthal China. Great coffee set.
An ice cream condiment set, now for tea bags
The Living Dining Space a little of everything.

Sears, Honor Built Homes

31 Oct


I’m posting this to make amends for my previous piece that tore to shreds Sears merchandising practices. Many of you may not know that many of our older suburbs contain hundreds of Sears “Honor Bilt” prefabricated homes. Sears Roebuck was the first company to turn homes into pre-cut kits. They offered every type of home imaginable, from cute “craftsman” bungalows to elaborate southern mansions


One could order from a catalog, a house that fit your regions vernacular. English Tudor for the Eastern seaboard, craftsman for the Midwest or Spanish revival for the south western states,
even Prairie style adapted from Frank Lloyd was available Anything was possible due to Sears ability to merchandise on a level that was unheard of in the early 20th century. Each kit came with instructions for the assembly of the numbered pre-cut components. One could customize by choosing hardware,lighting fixtures,exterior cladding and roofing. Sears also offered easy payment plans so that the average middle class owner could obtain the house of their dreams. Need I make any comments about our current middle class?




Next time your cruising around the neighborhood, look around these homes are still with us. A testament to the organizational, design and merchandising ability of the Sears Roebuck Company

Ever Wonder Why No One Shops Sears?

22 Oct


Sears doesn’t know who they are, this empty cart is emblematic of their identity crises. Are we Kmart? Or are we Macy’s? at least Macy pretends to be a “real”department store. No carts. Kmart knows that carts are an essential part of their program. Make up your mind, Sears.

The contrast is extreme, in a world of battling branding waged by retailers like Apple and Urban Outfitters how can Sears not see that they look abandoned. The following photos remind me of the series “The World After People” a department store left to the ravages of time without human habitation. It’s no wonder that Sears (once the largest retailer in the world) has lost its customer base. Despite all it’s problems even Penny’s looks like Bergdorf’s by comparison. I wish someone would explain why the oldest retailer in the States hasn’t figured out how to merchandise product.


This is the result of employee rigging, no VM would ever mount this display, or would they?


Now here is an exciting electronics dept. three boxes on the floor. Guess they gave up on this category.


Empty gondolas,could you at least remove the shelves and make a display of one product every 4 feet…


This is a shoe dept? Go to Nordstrom’s


The day of department store portraits passed a decade ago. Time for a barricade.


Dead fluorescents in a drop ceiling, Sears has all the signs of defeat,


An invitation to browse, I think not, this mess is too great a challenge. I will pass.


How about a face out? Put something there, anything! Go grab a couple of tee shirts


Boxed items are the easiest products to make into a story, This is the best they could come up with? apparently there are no VMs in this store.


I’ve seen better display at flea markets, this is down right scary. Would take two days to make sense of this tangled mess, but why even try there is nothing here that anyone wants.


Are there any sales people on this floor?


Not even price will move these goods, the Salvation Army does it better, they size order.


Stained point of purchase branding, I think not.

This is why it’s over for Sears, stick to hardware and appliances. Give up the fashion goods. Time to downsize.

New York Times on my Neighborhood

9 Oct

A Creative Renaissance in Philadelphia’s Fishtown - - Google Chrome 1092013 20703 PMFishtown USA my home for 30 years has hit the big time….……

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs

9 Oct


As I was poking around this morning on Facebook I ran across a posting about the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. I was fortunate to have worked there a decade ago, due to fate and circumstance. At that time I was working with a display fixture company as a store planner and visual merchandiser, we received a call for assistance with their spa ( spas were “in” again during the 90’s) and the Greenbrier’s was in need of update.

I knew little about the history of the resort aside from the hidden bunker beneath it that was intended to house the government in case of nuclear attack. I traveled down,to assess the spa and pull together a plan for its re-merchandising. I will never forget my first impression as I passed through the gates. It was as if I had entered the grounds of the White House [not far from the truth] at one time referred to as the “Old White” there it was a sprawling columned palace. Azaleas lined the way to the portico entrance, this is going to be good I said to myself, and it got better.


The uniformed doorman removed my luggage and parked my car as I entered the black and white lower lobby. My design senses reeled as I realized I had entered a decor time capsule. It was as if I had entered a Cedric Gibbons designed set for “The Women” old school Hollywood chic to die. This is the moment I realized who Dorothy Draper was in the history of interior design. Dramatic simplicity, bold color against black and white, azalea patterned wall paper, over scaled federal plaster details. A true sense of style, not trendy fashion. The management had retained the design footprint that Draper had put in place just after the government returned the resort to private ownership. The Greenbrier served as a military hospital during WW2.

This must be what heaven looks like

This must be what heaven looks like

I was shown to my room, another combination of American Federal style mixed with Draper verve. As I unpacked I noticed a posting in my closet that stated the various dress codes, for the dining rooms, needless to say it was very coat and tie, as it should be in a part of history like the Old White. This place was the playground of the southern aristocracy for two hundred years and played host to European royalty on more than one occasion. General Lee delivered his farewell to the confederacy and his supporters in the dining room. The Greenbrier is an integral part of American history it’s only correct to respect its decorum and dress the part. I spent my first night in total awe of the decor. Each room was grander and more glamourous than the last. Dorothy knew her stuff.

Can't you just see the the Duke of Windsor here.

Can’t you just see the Duke of Windsor here.

My short tenure there was the most pleasant I have ever experienced. The cooperation by all those I worked with was of the highest standards. I was delighted to be allowed in the storage areas to retrieve Draper pieces to create a guest room vignette in the spa ( I was in prop heaven rooting around in that attic) I had lunch in the employee dining room and a tour of the vast kitchens, nothing thrills me more than “back of house” tours. Yes I did see the bunker, which I must say was nothing compared to the splendor of the hotel. Pure institutional drab, a museum display of a typical sleeping cot, the morgue for those who might die in residence and the decontamination showers.

The Bunker entrance

The Bunker entrance

The resort has a new ownership since my stay and I hear that much has changed. The golf courses are public now. The bunker is now a casino and the elegant formal dining room is a steak house. Times change and to survive the Greenbrier has to appeal to a wider audience. Today’s guests are not the idle rich who once spent an entire season, honeymoon couples now spend a week to golf, hike and “take the waters” in the spa. I’m pleased that it still exists intact, and has not succumbed to some horrible real estate development.



In retrospect I was fortunate to experience the Greenbrier 10 years ago when it still retained much of its Southern etiquette and formality, that earned its fame as the as America’s premier resort.

The Spa 


What it was when I was there.

What it was when I was there.


My attic finds


The Pool

The Pool


The pool promenade

and a few more shots


Trellis decor

greenbrier - Google Search - Google Chrome 1092013 90202 AM

RED! and buttoned tufted luxury

A place in the country

A place in the country

Take a look at Messy Nessys post that sent me off longing for past jobs…be great if we could lock them up right now and forget the combination.

Facade Slips Down

8 Oct
Great concept

Great concept

I really have to hand it to this town, really a brilliant concept. Not an easy project to articulate, but they did, and did it beautifully. The top story left in its original state was a sacrifice worth making to realize his concept. I do wonder how they maintained its stability, while installing the new facade  . A temporary Art installation, funded by local arts council, it’s a wonderful example of a community pulling together to resurrect the towns slipping popularity.

Take a look at the article…

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