Sale Spotlight: The Swan Chair

When Arne Jacobsen unveiled his Swan chair (and its cousin, the Egg) in 1958, its bold curves and (nearly) seamless construction made it an instant icon. Created in collaboration with Fritz Hansen especially for the lobby of the SAS Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen, the chair featured a shape that was both delicate and accessible, with a swivel base that made it easy for its user to glance inconspicuously around the room (after all, isn’t that what hotel lobbies are best for?) and socialize in cool comfort. 

More than five decades later, the Swan retains its charm and its allure. And if you’re so inclined, you can be the envy of a hero to your friends by buying one of these ultra-rare special edition pieces in white leather here.

The video above gives you a glimpse into the detailed process of making the Swan, but our CCO Bradford Shellhammer wanted to dig a little deeper into the history. Hence, he reached out to David Obel Rosenkvist, Vice President of North American Sales at Fritz Hansen, who shed more light on this very special seat.  

Bradford: The Swan is one of the most iconic chairs in the world. Why has it remained such a classic?

David: It’s Arne Jacobsen at his best; the chair is truly timeless. It has sculptural and organic lines, and at the same time it’s so simple and pure. It does not have to have a direction. The Swan is natural from all angles, and makes every room a little more beautiful.

"Timeless," yes. I completely agree. But what is special about this particular edition?

It’s a celebration of the chair’s 50th anniversary. Only an iconic design like this remains relevant through decades, so our commemoration had to be unique. The selected leather is white with a touch of pearl. Its base mirrors that color, and has a bracelet with a sterling silver ring that encircles the Swan’s leg. This detail is quite special, and it’s limited to the 1958 chair—that’s the year the chair was launched for the Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen.

How exactly is the chair made? 

Each seat is hand-stitched, which requires skilled craftsmen with strong fingers. Beneath the leather there are layers of foam, and then finally there’s the core shell of the chair—a cold-pressed foam that Jacobsen developed together with Fritz Hansen.

Can you tell us a little more about are artisans who make it? 

Very skilled craftsmen and women. They’re trained as upholsterers and educated in the Fritz Hansen tradition of making the highest quality piece, every time. Upholstering in leather is the final and last part of the training, and it’s the most difficult. It requires very strong fingers and detailed precision. White and natural leather is especially difficult—it  needs to be soaked, stretched and warmed, and at the same time handled very delicately using white gloves because everything shows on these leathers. Only the very best assorted leathers can withstand this treatment. And only the very best craftsmen can do the job perfectly.

We know Arne Jacobsen originally designed the chair for the SAS Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen (which he also designed). But where does the Swan come in? What was his inspiration?

For both the Egg chair and the Swan chair, Jacobsen worked as a sculptor. He was very inspired by nature and was quite a gardener himself. You can clearly see this in the organic shapes he used as references. At the same time, he was a perfectionist and always sought the perfect balance of symmetry and proportion. The name of the chair couldn’t be another.

Sale Spotlight: Pan Am

If pop culture is any indication, there seems to be quite a dose of nostalgia for the 1960s and 70s at the moment. You know, the days when every lawn was perfectly manicured, SPAM was a viable dinner option, children mixed Bloody Marys for their parents and stewardesses flight attendants stewardesses were the chicest women you knew. (If you were lucky enough to fly back then, anyway.)

Courtesy: Signe Owrenn via PBPulse.com

At the forefront of stewardly (yep, we made that word up) fashion was Pan Am Airlines. Originally launched in 1927, it went on to become recognized for the stylish attire of its employees. The airline also spread the love to its first-class passengers, who where gifted a little piece of Pan Am chic in the form of their now-iconic totes.

Courtesy: EverythingPanAm.com

Current Pan Am Creative Director Brice Cooper reflected on the company’s fashionable legacy via email, saying, “Pan Am has always been fashion forward, and has employed cutting-edge designers from the beginning. Edith Head left her mark on Pan Am with stylish uniforms, but she also set a precedent for us to consider when we produce future collections. Form and function have to blend seamlessly. She was hired to design a cutting edge look for a cutting edge staff and did just that.”

Edith Head. Courtesy: CinemaStyle.com

Don’t know much about Ms. Head? Let’s fix that. From the 1930s all the way through the ’70s, Edith Head was a fearless trendsetter in the world of fashion. She made her mark most indelibly on the silver screen as a costume designer, winning eight Academy Awards—more than any other woman so far—and even designing Coast Guard uniforms for women, an assignment that earned her a Meritorious Public Service Award.

From Edith Head’s 1967 book, How To Dress for Success. Courtesy: RandomHouse.com

And yes, Edith Head is the one to thank for those classic Pan Am uniforms. While her designs were aligned with the styling of the times, their distinct tailoring reflected her fashion ethos: “Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady,” she famously said. And from scarves to the “Pan Am blue” hats to buttons and belts, no accessory was left behind. 

Courtesy: EverythingPanAm.com

Edith Head passed away in 1981, and Pan Am stopped flights a decade later, but the Pan Am brand continues on through nostalgia-tinged luggage, bags and accessories. If you’re feeling a little melancholy—or vacation-starved!—visit the Pan Am sale going on now. 

Sale Spotlight: fferrone design

As part of the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture and Design wing and with a place on the tables of Michelin-starred restaurants like Per Sé and French Laundry, fferrone design's glassware has quite a pedigree. 

Take one look at the these fferrone flutes and we think you’ll agree that, along with the rest of their Revolution Collection, their masterful lines and sophisticated form are enough to raise a glass to. But! If you’re like us, then you like lots of reasons to fill raise your glass—and we all know that the real fun begins when you mix the highbrow with the low. So pop a bottle of fancy bubbly and throw out one of the toasts listed below. ¡Salud!

For drinking with coworkers:
Work is the curse of the drinking class. 
(Oscar Wilde)

For drinking with friends:
My friends are the best friends
Loyal, willing and able. 
Now let’s get to drinking!
All glasses off the table!
(old Irish toast)

For drinking with your crush:
Here’s to your discretion!
(unknown)

For drinking with literary types:
The problem with some people is that when they aren’t drunk they’re sober. 
(William Butler Yeats)

For drinking with religious types (and carboloaders):
Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. 
(Ecclesiastes 9:10)

For drinking with Friends of Dorothy (and martini lovers):
I love to drink martinis.
Two at the very most. 
Three I’m under the table.
Four I’m under the host! 
(Dorothy Parker)

For drinking with friends who like to say, “Awwwww!”:
There are good ships, and wood ships,
And ships that sail at sea.
But the best ships are friendships,
And may they always be.
(old Irish toast)

For drinking with newlyweds who love conceptual furniture:
May your wedding night be like a kitchen table—all legs and no drawers!
(old Irish toast)

For drinking with Jay Z and Kanye West:
May all of your pain be champagne!
(Kanye West)

For drinking with Julie Andrews…or Homer Simpson:
Doh…the stuff that buys me beer
Ray…the guy that sells me beer
Me…the guy who drinks the beer
Far…a long way to the bar
So…I’ll have another beer
La…And maybe one more beer
Tea…No thanks, I’m drinking beer
That will bring us back to…Doh!
(unknown)

For drinking with everyone! (Everyone who loves beer, at least):
For every wound, a balm.
For every sorrow, cheer. 
For every storm, a calm.
For every thirst, a beer.
(unknown)

Sale Spotlight: Bazaar Bayar

One of the best stories we’ve come across is the impossibly romantic tale of Abit and Catherine of Bazaar Bayar, who are selling their authentic Turkish textiles and rugs in our Vintage Shop right here. While visiting Turkey on her own in the late ’90s, Catherine—who was on something of a shopping excursion—met Abit, a local textile purveyor and unofficial historian. The rest, as they say, is history. From their home in Istanbul, Amit and Catherine filled in some of the details of how a chance meeting and lifelong passions became a happy life together on the other side of the world.

Catherine, what was it that initially drew you to Turkish textiles? Many people admire them, but few find themselves traveling the country on their own and studying them in depth! 

I’m an anthropologist at heart—I love to study how people live and especially what they make with their hands. A Danish designer I’d worked with had a large collection of vintage kilims. His love of the colors, the natural dyed wools, the stories the patterns told, and how they were made by ‘ordinary’ village women was infectious. He helped me buy my first pieces and his mum re-taught me to knit, which sparked my knitwear design passion. I was always drawn to embroideries, lace and other ‘women’s work’ of previous centuries, and Turkey is rich in these traditions. The women here are still doing them. 

How did you and Abit first meet? 

Catherine: I was on a solo trip to explore more of Turkey than what I’d seen of Istanbul during my clothing design trips. I was just off a bus, exhausted and staggering up a street in Selcuk—the town next to the Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus—and Abit asked if he could help me find my hotel. I rudely brushed him off but he was extremely polite… Of course, I saw him at a sidewalk cafe the next day and felt so guilty I agreed to let him join me.

Abit, what did you notice first about Catherine? 

The overstuffed duffel bag she was lugging. I knew she must be a shopper! 

Catherine, there must’ve been something about Abit that caught your eye, even if you did brush him off initially.

I did think Abit was dressed far too well in a good suit and a fine-gauge sweater for this tourist town where the major occupation is farming!

So it’s safe to say that it wasn’t love at first sight. But you first met over 10 years ago and are still very happy together. How do you explain it? 

Catherine: I’d say we are happy because we recognized kindred spirits in each other pretty immediately. I was only going to stay in Selcuk for two days, but ended up staying a week. Abit knew everything and wanted to show me everything—from ancient ruins to the most amazing textiles—without trying to “sell” me. That’s rare here in Turkey. He knew what I liked because he liked it too; we both respond strongly to a sense of authenticity. I’ve worked with so many creative people over the years, and it’s not easy to find someone with the same aesthetic sense—much less a straight man! That’s probably Abit’s best treasure-hunting skill—a sense of what people will want or need, even before they do. But to be completely honest, I fell in love with Turkey long before I met Abit. People presume I came here for love, and I did, yes—but for all of it.

Love certainly can certainly make us do crazy things! Were you ever hesitant about moving to Turkey, Catherine? 

Honestly, no. The logistics of moving across the planet were daunting, but it was such a natural decision and I felt so at home here. The culture shock challenges came from moving in with Abit’s large traditional family, but having our own businesses helped me establish my own sense of purpose and rootedness.

You moved again, to from Selcuk to Istanbul, in 2010. What is your favorite time of day there? 

Catherine: Any of the five prayer times. Because we live in the Old City, the interweaving of so many voices from the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and a multitude of smaller locations makes me stop and listen, to appreciate where I am and what I’m doing.

What is a typical day for the two of you? 

Catherine: Since it’s winter, we are mostly working at home where we have a sea view, and only a few days a week in our current dusty, drafty workspace a few blocks away. (Rugs are messy!) That will change next month, when we get our new shop space in the old artisan quarter up and running. Because we are in the midst of the Grand Bazaar district, everything and everyone we need are very nearby; there’s no need for appointments or to drive, and public transport is easy here when necessary. Work time in Istanbul is quite suited to be flexible—which is perfect for us, since we’re not morning people! But the day almost always ends with Abit cooking up one of his big pots of soup or stew.

Can either of you choose a favorite kind of textile? Is there one in particular that just makes your heart beat faster?

Catherine: Most anything handmade, where a little soul from the artisan is visible. A certain combination of color, texture and pattern will do that—the fact that someone took the time and had the skill to make something of such beauty that was not intended for show or sale—simply to grace a family home or to give to a daughter for her dowry—is awe-inspiring

What are some of your most prized treasures? 

Abit: There have been so many over the years, but the kilims my mom and her sisters wove in the ’60s and ’70s are definitely favorites. Talking about how kilims and carpets are made, the meanings behind them, and inspiring someone to take them home to live with is a lot of fun too.

Can you tell us more about the workshop for local artisans that you support? 

Abit: We live in the former Ottoman artisan quarter, but there are only a few fiber artisans left because new hotels and high rent prices are pushing them out. A few of us are banding together to retain their workshops here and bring others in. Our work with repurposed kilims and carpets is mainly to support the wealth of talent of the local women. Not so much weaving these days, since that’s been overtaken by tourism and commerce, but those who knit, crochet and embroider—those “home skills” that are undervalued but loved by women around the world. So many visitors want to have hands-on learning about these crafts, which provide a means for communication between cultures. Our workshops teach oya, the Turkish art of needle lace, as well as knitting, felting, ebru, embroidery, block-printing. This year we are focusing on the tulip.

Finally, what are you most excited about in the coming year? 

Catherine: The fiber arts and culture trip we’ve planned for visitors in May, with time here in Istanbul, and also in Abit’s southeast home region as well as Ephesus. Hands-on textile experiences throughout! Come visit!

My Inspiration: Jane Hruska

Accessories designer Jane Hruska creates bold, unique jewelry for women that want to make an entrance—and she takes her cues from the pros. (She makes quite a dashing entrance herself, actually. Especially when she brings us her amazing chocolate chip cookies.) We asked Jane to tell us about her passion for fashion; she cites it as a big source of inspiration for the pieces she’s currently selling on our site

Jane says, “My love affair with vintage fashion and old movies plays a huge role in my work. Although my aesthetic is more contemporary, many—if not most—of the components are vintage. Some of my inspiration comes from my love of old films.” Below, she shares some of her favorite film fashion moments.

The Women, 1939

Fabulous gowns…and no men in sight.

The original 1939 version of The Women, starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, etc. In addition to showcasing a tremendously talented cast, you see no men in the film! It’s shot almost entirely in black and white—but the film makes a stunning change to color during the fashion show scene. And the clothes? Fabulous forties.

These dresses clearly deserved a switch to color, no?

The Opposite Sex, 1956

Full skirts, pink satin, leopard prints…and cowboy boots!

The second version of The Women was titled The Opposite Sex and shot in 1956 in color—and with men. This one starred June Allyson, Joan Collins, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorhead and Leslie Nielsen among others. 

Flawless fifties fashion.


The Key To The City, 1950

Original sketch by costume designer Helen Rose for The Key To The City.

In The Key To The City, Loretta Young wears a smashing suit in the first few scenes. Her style in almost all her films was in the same league (but different era, however) as Audrey Hepburn. Smart, classic, and still sensuous. If you ever want to see great ’50s fashion, watch her television series “The Loretta Young Show”. To introduce each episode, she entered through a door and twirled to close it. Her hallmark.

Doris Day

The chair, the bag, the suit…perfect lines everywhere you look.

My other favorite vintage style icon—along with Audrey Hepburn—is Doris Day. Her classic clean lines hugging her lovely figure rendered her sexy without a hint of vulgarity or tackiness. Check out Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, Midnight Lace to name only a few. And the gloves…oh, the gloves!  

Sheer perfection.