Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Identifying Tile Topped Tables

We've been lucky enough recently to pick up a huge collection of vintage tile topped tables, almost certainly the largest in the UK and whilst cleaning them up and doing a bit of studying it became obvious that there's not a huge amount of definitive information out there.
Here's an attempt to compile what info there is, to iron out any contradictions and to clear up a few misconceptions. I'll also post a few links to some of the gems we have available.

Check out our Vintage and Retro Furniture on our website

Let me also say that we welcome additional comments and corrections!

Lets start with one of the more common names you'll see - Adri (Adri Belgique) A Belgian firm active mainly through the 1960's.  Their tables are usually signed, with the manufacturers name rather than any of the several designers they must have used judging by the variety of their abstract patterns.

     Photo's from 1stdibs and Pamono    

As any name or signature is painted on before firing the tiles, it doesn't always come out as legible as on the table above. What would be the chances of identifying a name from the four blobs on one of the sailing boat tables below? The base of these tables, incidentally, is very common to Adri, straight squared chrome legs attached to a black metal base. 


This pair highlight one of the attractions of tile topped tables, with each one being individually hand painted no two are the same. Notice the differences in shading and lines between the two. It's conceivable that the image was designed by an Adri employee and the two tables painted by different artists.
Signatures on tables add to their value as they give a little provenance, some of the most sought after designs carry the name of Belarti. Here's a couple of examples 

Tables with this name tend to be on good quality chrome bases and feature abstract, colourful designs which could easily pass for modern art.  In fact, though the signatures tend to be consistent, the designs can vary wildly.  
Is it possible that, in fact, they were designed by more than one person?

Although many sellers will confidently state that tiles were designed by a Belgian artist named Juliette Belarti, it seems actually that there was no such person and that the name was short for 'Belgian Artists' and created by a ceramicist named Julien de Covemaeker who had a studio in Ostende, Belgium.
Other items we have in store only cause further confusion. Compare the table Denisco tiled table on the right with the one below, signed Belarti.
Unless there was some flagrant copying going on, it seems highly likely that the same artist painted both of these. 
Denisco (or DeNisco/De Nisco) was an Italian ceramicist though the 60's/70's

Although there are several DeNisco tables to be found (with huge variations in style and signature) very little information is to be found as to the person behind the art.

Could Belgian Covemaeker posing as Belarti be designing for an Italian firm while posing as DeNisco? 

One particularly sought after design is often referred to as the 'Starburst' pattern, a Belarti specialty as seen on the signed example
on the right (sold recently on Roomscape)
We have a stunning example of a Starburst tiled table pictured above 
This particularly gorgeous table is signed Vigneron a tile making firm whose only other examples of tile art I've found are embedded into sideboards rather than tables.
So did Belarti/Covemaeker design for Vigneron? 

One interesting point that can help with identification is that the tile makers weren't generally also the base makers.  It's probable  that whoever originally sold the tables would have commissioned the tiles and bases separately and married them independently. This would explain the frequent confusion with similar styles and varying signatures

If you can't identify the tiles, flip the table over and see if there's a mark or label on the base. Here's an example where the base is made by, still trading, Belgian firm Metakor. The table itself, whilst presumably also Belgian, has a still unidentified signature. 

You can't win ''em all!

Stepping away from Western Europe for a moment, the Scandinavians had their own take on tile topped tables, typically more understated and usually using wood instead of steel. Here's a gorgeous Danish example designed by Tue Poulsen for Mobler. Details HERE

..and our earliest example, an English Conran designed table bought in 1956.
More details HERE 

Thanks for reading, let me leave you with an invitation to contribute or correct any errors via the comments
Here's two final images of tables we have instore and online which whilst beautiful and even familiar, are both unsigned and remain stubbornly unidentified!
Details HERE and HERE

Breaking news..........this is an image from a 1968 Belarti catalogue apparently showing an image of the man himself.
Any further information most welcome!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Folksy Finland

There must have been something in the water up in Finland in the 1960's and early 70's. While fashion everywhere else was going psychedelic, the Finns were getting folksier with several labels producing some fabulous pieces which are always a pleasure to have in store.
Scandinavian style in general could be very folksy at this time, the very collectable designs by Figgio Flint for example are practically dancing around a maypole 

But it seems to be Finland where the style was most adapted to clothing

Marrimeko were the first and best known, really finding their style from the late 50's on, especially when Jackie Kennedy wore them whilst on the campaign trail with her husband. There's a nice page HERE on Marrimeko, though I'd like to mention a few other smaller labels which followed hot on their heels.

 This gorgeous white linen dress is by Arola (an province in Eastern Finland) It has lovely embroidery to the front and hem and a wraparound belt.

A simple style that looks amazing when worn

There's little information on Arola available, aside from a handful of dresses, although there is a store called Arola in Finland which sells, inevitably, Marrimeko

More info HERE

Here's another sleeveless dress, by Marketta this time, another label with little info apart from the occasional item turning up.
This is more Marrimeko in style with it's bold flower print, but look at that collar and lapel! The way it sweeps from the neckline is a style I've not seen before

More info on this dress HERE

Another stylish Finnish label from this period that we see is Fenno-Sport. Another company that perhaps lived in Marrimekos shadow a little, certainly this red skirt has the look. Currently on Etsy

 Having said that Fenno-sport also produced gems like this extraordinary op-art dress. Are there any other labels out there that I've missed?

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Christian Dior Black Velvet - If you please

Is there a more luxurious fabric than thick, soft black velvet and was there ever a designer more associated with creating luxurious garments than Christian Dior?
Here's a few examples of what happened when the two combined

This amazing dress is known as the Cygne Noir (Black Swan)
The black velvet and silk was supplied by specialists
Bianchini-Ferier (info here) and was made around 1949/1950.
Just look at the outsize bow and the contrast in the charcoal gray silk and the light absorbing velvet.
It currently lives behind the scenes in the V&A, with more info here

In Space, our store in Harrogate UK, we're lucky enough to have two examples, this stunning Dior London dress is made from an astonishing heavy lace cut velvet, possibly also by Bianchini-Ferier, which I imagine would be incredibly difficult and expensive to produce even today, who knows how it was achieved in the 1950's.
There's a link here

 Another example in complete contrast is this 1960's 'Diorling' black velvet dress with silk embroidery.        The high neck, long sleeves and full skirt will cover any flesh but the cling of the velvet and the split in the leg will still look super sexy.  
We've paired it here with a Versace gold chain belt, pretty snazzy, don't you think?
More info here

And along with the vampiric image of the goths (itself soon assimilated into late 80's fashion), here's what the 1980's did to Black Velvet, 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Guzzini and me

An iconic name for any lovers of quality retro, Guzzini lighting is a classic combination of style and substance, proof that you don't need to sacrifice form over function

As the most accessible form of design, we have a bit of an obsession with lighting here in Space.
You may not be able to stretch to a big money designer or vintage sofa, or not be sure if you're quite ready for that huge statement artwork but every room in your house will need lighting and a great retro lamp is an effective, affordable way to create a great mood for a room.

I personally have a Vico Magistretti Mezza chimera floor lamp and a pair of Guzzini plastic mushroom ceiling shades, well Guzzini style!  These particular shades were widely copied through the 1970's so I thought I'd look into the companys history a little. With a little digging (HERE for example), it turns out that a lot of what I thought I knew was wrong! 

Did you know that the company was named after a giant invisible rabbit? Any quick search on the internet will bring up the name Harvey Guzzini, surely I can't be the only person who laboured under the illusion that this was a real actual person? One of the brothers, presumably? Seems not, in fact the older brothers-  Raimondo, Virgilio and Giovanni - on founding the business in 1959, named the company after James Stewarts giant invisible furry companion from the 1950 film 'Harvey'. 

They initially specialised in smaller homewares, copper trays and bowls but with the addition of younger brothers Adolpho, Giuseppe and Giannunzio to the team and the employment of designer and architect Luigi Massoni as art director by 1965 Guzzini were starting to produce the classics so sought after today.

Massoni encouraged the use of designers who were exploring the fast developing technologies of the sixties, particularly in plastics, Here's a fabulous example from 1970.
The Quadrifoglio table lamp designed by Gae Aulenti. Named after the four leaved clover that inspired it's organic shape, the futuristic, fluid shape is classic retro. 
This particular light is currently available on the Space website HERE

A much sought after Guzzini light that we've had in recently is the gigantic 'Clan' floor lamp. Much rarer, this was the first I'd seen of these outside of a design book.
There was a smaller table top version but this bigger one was an absolute gem.
Even writing this I'm wondering whether this one should have been gracing a corner of my own living room but it sold so quickly it didn't even make it onto the website.
Still, there's a very happy customer out there.
Here's a link to more info on the Clan on Object<>Plastic a great site specialising in classic plastic design

By the late 1970's Harvey Guzzini had morphed into iGuzzini (pre-empting the iPhone by a good 30 years!) and were specialising in industrial and architectural lighting rather than designing for the home. A shame of course, who knows where they would have taken design but by then stores such as Habitat and even BHS were selling many Guzzini style shades and lights. You can see the design influnces even today in IKEA. and the like, but for retro hunters the originals will always be the best.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Malcolm Hall - Glam Style

 We love a little bit of Glam here in Space. The 40's and 50's are lovely of course but, personally, the colour, vibrancy and new materials of the 60's and 70's do it for me, especially when you can associate those styles with the music of the time. 
You'll know the names Ossie Clark and Tommy Roberts but, if you're a fan of 1970's rock, you'll certainly have seen the work of Malcolm Hall. How about this for starters
White Malcolm Hall suit worn by Led Zeppelins Jimmy Page, made around 1975 and now in the V&A

Paul McCartney, Brian Eno, David Bowie, ABBA and ..er..Mud were among the many stars to wear Malcolms threads, there's a tasty selection in the retro section on his website. Indeed, happily, he is still trading and his style hasn't changed too much
An image from Malcolm Halls current range with appropriately stylish old rocker model

What's inspired me to write this piece is that we've been lucky enough to find a vintage Malcolm Hall suit from the early 1970's. We can even trace it's provenance to Boodle-am, a small independent shop in Leeds, one of a few places to stock him outside of London.
Son of Space, Gabriel Elvidge, modelling our Malcolm Hall suit

What a beauty. Olive brown satin, with velvet panels front and back, a huge lapel and gently flared trousers. We'd love to sell this to the equivalent of Jimmy Page etc but who's around nowadays with enough flamboyance, Coldplay? More HERE

While I had my captive model I took a few shots of him in another of our 1970's Pop/Rock culture suits, this time a 3-piece Teddy Boy style number tailored by John W. Mills of Bexleyheath. I can't find a single mention of him on the net so presumably he didn't go on to dress the stars although they'd have looked pretty dapper in this..
Find it HERE

Sunday, 18 May 2014

National Vintage Awards

We're delighted to have been shortlisted for the Northern 'Best Regional Shop' in this years Nva's
If you have a moment please click the pic to go to the voting page, put a tick next to us and enter your email and send. 
It means a lot to us to get some recognition for all the hard work (no really!) we've put in over the last 5 years. Winning would really be a boost!  Many Thanks.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

When buying Vintage.......

Some great advice here for those 'on a mission' to buy some quality pieces!

Stylist.co.uk  How to buy Vintage

The only quote that doesn't apply to us is "Have you noticed how dark vintage shops can be?"

Friday, 11 April 2014

Oh, What a lovely blog.

Here's a great post about a visit to the shop by the good folks at Wish Vintage, Kent.  
Many thanks.

Read it HERE

and here's a link to their Facebook

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Gorgeous Yorkshire at our opening

We had a private launch for our both floors of 'The Ginnel' last week and the lovely ladies from the 'Gorgeous Yorkshire' blog came along, took some excellent photos and gave us a very nice write up.

Here's the link Gorgeous