Recently, a client came into ModMart looking for a Tulip table and chairs. Since I didn’t have one in the shop at that moment, I put our curator to task, within about 22 minutes she was able to source 2 full sets! Yes- she’s that good!
We gathered round my lap top and examined photos, first- a full Burke set that looked really good, but she really wanted the tulip chair bases not the star pattern. Next, we FaceTimed Eero as he waited in a nearby storage unit for his next home. This was hilares- we all “LOL”ed, the Saarinen looked like it had been VERY well loved by its previous owners as there was an enormous scribbled red heart from a magic marker right on the top. Somebody said “I get it, I love it too”! There was also some expected wear around the bases. Of course I’m not concerned, the set could easily be refinished or even just cleaned up and sold as is to anyone with a good sense of humor, who appreciates appropriate patina.
I’m of the school- as long as you stick with the same stains, paints or fabrics in keeping with the era, there is no right or wrong when it comes to refinishing vintage. Unless it is highly collectible and rare, it’s up to the digression of the soon to be owner. I personally like a little wear on my furniture, it’s humbling in a weird way to know that these amazing pieces have lived a life before me- they have soul and add a layer of texture to your space that the new stuff can’t hold a candle to! That said, if you want a completely stripped down and refinished table and chairs, owners Dan and Brian, (Harry Bertoia’s nephews) can do that right in the back of ModMart- No problem-o!
Then, just as I am feeling so accomplished that we granted her wish at lightning speed, she asked if I could just order her a brand spanking new knock off that she had seen online from a wholesaler! Yeah, I was a wee bit disappointed but since the customer is always right and I have an account at the place that sells it, I reluctantly placed the order for her.
So fast forward a week, the table and chairs arrive even before their expected due date (YAY)! They were delivered right to her kitchen (YAY) but they left the table in two pieces for her to assemble (BOO). I would have had the cavalry over there in a heartbeat, but she and her husband insisted on DIYing it. While tightening what they had of the hardware (missing pieces) they heard that familiar sound you don’t want to hear when assembling junk furniture- gulp! The particle board on the underside of the table had completely cracked in a long jagged splintery zigzag!
MOD-MERGENCY!I headed over to assess the damages.
Off the bat, I was not impressed with the stark blueish white color of the table, it wasn’t the warm and inviting white that I’m use to from the real deal! Then, I checked out the underside- It was bad. It could have been fixed or replaced, but we obviously had to send the whole lot back! I mean really, who could predict whether it would hold up one year let alone the 60 plus like the originals!
She decided on the scribble heart table and chairs but that one sold within a day or so. We did find her another true Saarinen set and refinished it to Knoll Associates “neo-futuristic” standards of the 1960s!
If you are new to the Mid Century Modern scene you are probably feeling a little impatient about finding those fab pieces that mix functionality, ingenuity and iconic style. Be patient, there is something to be said for the thoughtfulness behind them that these copy cat, overseas, mod mills simply can not duplicate! And don’t worry, I know, your inbox is under constant siege with all sorts of deals on watered down versions of the greats- STAY STRONG! Look for the rare, meant to be pieces that the Mid Century Modern Gods send your way. Find the ones that grab you and pull you in! Surround yourself with authentic pieces that thrill you!
And here’s the free advice- Do your space a favor, save the bologna for your sandwich and go for the genuine article not the board made of particle!
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