Always Classic, Always New…Collectibles: Mid-Century Modern Accessories
I grew up in a Mid-Century Modern home…Paul McCobb furniture, Russell Wright dinnerware, Ben Rose textiles, etc.…I know my father would be beyond thrilled to visit the Randolph Street Market to find timeless MCM treasures. In today’s exclusive post I’m featuring some of the home accessories used in a Mid-Century Modern home.
We are beyond fortunate to live in the City of diverse world renowned architecture, including some of best of the best here are a few examples…Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (who, by the way, lived in a vintage building near two of his structures), John Moutoussamy, and Bertram Goldberg.
“Though the majority of his work was completed before the midcentury era, Frank Lloyd Wright in many ways laid the foundation for modernism in America and beyond. His philosophy of “organic architecture” emphasized the importance of nature and the human body in design, a sharp contrast to the coldness with which the International Style was often regarded. Wright was also incredibly influenced by Japanese art and architecture, and his adoption of certain motifs—decorative screens, lacquer, paneling—embedded these in the language of American modernism for years to come.
Perhaps no name is as synonymous with the clean-lined architecture of modernism as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born Ludwig Mies, he later adopted his surname as a first name and adopted the upper-calss “van der Rohe” when he began working with wealthy clientele). The German-born creative began his career creating neoclassical homes but after World War I he, like his close associates Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, turned to minimalism, looking to create a style that felt encompassing of the era. Van der Rohe served as the last director of the Bauhause before emigrating to the U.S. when the Nazis took power in his native country.
A Chicago native, John Moutoussamy studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where Mies van der Rohe was one of his professors. Moutoussamy adopted many of van der Rohe’s principles of simplicity, several of which are evident in his most famous building, the Johnson Publishing Company, which housed the offices of magazines like Jet and Ebony. To this day it is the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago designed by a Black architect. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2018.”
These three paragraphs taken from an article, from the House Beautiful website, by Hadley Keller, published October 26, 2022.
From the Bertrand Goldberg website. “Architect Bertrand Goldberg was born in 1913 in Chicago, Illinois. He went to Harvard and then the Bauhaus in Berlin from 1932-33. He organized his own firm in 1937 after working in the offices of George Fred Keck (1935) and Paul Schweiker (1935-36). During his career, his unique design philosophy and innovative use of technology were acknowledged through numerous awards and exhibitions in the United States and Europe. Goldberg died in Chicago in 1997.
Goldberg’s early work focused on small, intimate projects: residential design, industrial design, and small-scale commercial architecture. In 1959 he began work on Marina City, a unique mixed-use residential and commercial complex on the bank of the Chicago river. Recognized as an iconic architectural landmark, it was the first of many large-scale commissions that defined Goldberg’s later career, including Raymond Hillard Homes and River City, as well as many educational and health care facilities.”
Bertrand Goldberg quote…”My message, I think, is much more important either than myself personally, or than the quick identification as the round-building architect. I am talking about the performance of people in a social system, about of people in the city.”
Here is one of Goldberg’s still standing and very much lived in and loved homes..it resides in Blue Island and is owned by my dearest friends Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel who have been in their home since 1997 and have totally renovated it to it’s former glory.
In 1939…..“This home was built for Dr. Aaron Heimbach, a prominent local physician whose family had moved to Blue Island in the late 19th century and sold produce on Western Avenue south of the canal. Dr. Heimbach practiced medicine from offices located in the southwest corner of the home – the house was constructed with an X-Ray room at its center!
This strikingly modern residence is the early work of Bertrand Goldberg, who is best-known as the architect of Marina City in Chicago, and represents one of Goldberg’s few designs in the International Style. As Goldberg developed his own work he became internationally famous as a designer who experimented with the plastic nature of concrete.
Of the few houses Goldberg designed in the 1930s (built in 1939) this home is only one of six confirmed standing. In 2009 homeowners Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel were recognized with the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award from Landmarks Illinois for their efforts to restore the home.” From the Blue Island website https//:www.blueisland.org
The Driehaus Award
Okay, enough about architecture and architects this is about how to accent your home with period appropriate accessories. Many of the architects created pieces to continue their philosophy of design…most notably Frank Lloyd Wright, others worked with talented creators to support their visions. I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the pieces The Toms have in their unique home, many of the pieces were found at past RSM weekends.
The table, chair and lamp are Heywood Wakefield. From their website…
“In 1897, two prominent furniture companies, Heywood Brothers (est. 1826) and Wakefield Company (est. 1855) merged to create Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company; the name would be shortened to Heywood-Wakefield in 1921. The new company rose to particular popularity in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s with its solid wood, Art Deco-inspired mid-century modern furniture.”
Fixture original to the home
Art on original brick wall and on MCM chest
Close up of the tray
Boxes by Winter
Fireplace tools….love the original tiles!
Dinnerware and martini glass
A few more of The Toms treasures….ending with a small glass ashtray (that now resides in The Toms home) from my father’s Higgins Glass collection, he was fortunate to know the founders, Michael and Frances Higgins. The tradition continues…as stated on their website… “THE HIGGINS STUDIO, HOME OF “MODERN MIRACLES WITH EVERYDAY GLASS” WAS FOUNDED IN 1948 BY MICHAEL AND FRANCES HIGGINS. TODAY, THE MIRACLES CONTINUE, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HIGGINS’ CHOSEN SUCCESSORS, LOUISE AND JONATHAN WIMMER. THIS DIRECT LINE OF CONTINUITY MEANS THAT GLASS OBJECTS IN THE DISTINCTIVE HIGGINS STYLE WILL CONTINUE TO ENCHANT COLLECTORS FOR MANY YEARS TO COME.” https://.www.higginsglass.com. I have seen, over the 20 years of RSM, many fabulous Higgins pieces…keep your eyes peeled! All the above photos were taken by Tom Mantel.
Not only do the Hawley-Mantel gentlemen have an outstanding home both in architecture and interior treats but Tom M drives a vintage 1940 Packard which he often shows at RSM. Here are a couple of my photos of this extraordinary vehicle.
You can see there is great variety in Mid-Century Modern home accessories many of them can be incorporated with other styles. Here are some inspirational styling thoughts…
I’ll do other posts on Mid-Century textiles, iconic furniture and tableware. It is very hot at the moment and quite frankly what is more classic than a Barcelona or Eames chair…nothing I can think of….
Mies Barcelona chair
Eames iconic chair and ottoman
Books, of course, check out individual architect’s bios. There are many, many books on the subject…yet something else to collect and find at All photos unless otherwise noted found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.
All photos unless otherwise noted found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.
EXCLUSIVE FOR THE RANDOLPH STREET MARKET BY NENA IVON, Nena’s Notes