just plum

Favorite Things: April

April is in full swing, and the list is out. Our current group of April favorites stems from a lighter, fresher perspective in all things: lighter colors, refreshing greens everywhere, new spring foliage and flower blossoms, and the awareness of a certain optimism that comes from the new season. What we are coveting now. 1. All things Cherry Blossoms, either seen in person or imagined. 2. Macarons of any color, although especially in green to match the spirit of April. Macarons are the french version of macaroons. They are made with a marvelous almond paste and true to each color, they have distinctive tastes. These are pistachio. 3. Mix and match striped napkins which salute the new season of entertaining. 4. Trench coat, in every style and color imaginable. 5. Tretorn sneakers (nothing more to be said). 6. An indoor/outdoor table runner which just makes sense in the warmer months. This is made from rustic and textured linen. 

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The Farnsworth House

Spring is here. Finally, we all can venture more freely outdoors, bask in the sunlight, and live with less. All these pleasures are encapsulated into the Farnsworth House by Mies Van der Rohe. This home is an iconic example of modern architecture that was built in 1951 along the banks of the Fox River in Plano, Illinois. It was the summer home of Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a Chicago-based physician. The way it floats, the way the walls blend with the environment, the lack of ornamentation is the closest thing to camping inside. It's one of our favorite things. For more information, follow these links:

http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history-farnsworth-house/

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/lee-mindel-farnsworth-house-visit-mies-van-der-rohe-blog

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The trench coat

This month we are kicking off something new. It's a look into our Favorite Things organized by month and season. You probably don't know this but Modernplum started off as a blog about a lifestyle laden with simple things, authentic experiences, and finding beauty everyday. Favorite Things is about capturing all those. We have a new board on Pinterest that will keep everything organized by month. First up - the Trench Coat. This embodies everything we love about Spring dressing. It's slightly spontaneous, it's simple, it's a classic and it's timeless. Where it to the park or to dinner. Slip it on with heels or court shoes. Put your hair up or in a pony. Most every retailer regardless of price point carries the trench during this time of year. If there is one piece of clothing that signifies the new season, it's the trench.

 

 

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Art: Valentines by Cy Twombly

It's Valentine's Day and I can't think of a better way to express my gratitude and love to everyone than with paintings by Cy Twombly. Twombly paintings are both personal and universal. They are about me, and you, and us, and them. His painting's scratches, marks, and smears express the our universal need to connect with others, to reach out and to belong. Looking at these paintings makes me feel connected to humanity as a whole. I can recognize myself in these marks. There is something hopeful and comforting and very inclusive about that. These paintings are a wonderful Valentine's Day reminder about the true nature of love. Have a beautiful day, everyone.

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Special breakfast pancakes

Special breakfast pancakes

No doubt, this is the season for special meals at home. During this time it's always fun to whip up some breakfast food that makes these time extra festive. At these times, I often make this pancake. It is not the flat, griddle cake, dosed with lots of syrup variety of pancake. It is a Finnish pancake that puffs up like a balloon in the oven, and the consistency is more like a custard, than a cake. In Finland, the pancake is served with lingonberry preserves, their version of strawberry jam. We like it with any kind of jam or frozen berries that have been heated over the stove and mixed with a little sugar. And honey always tastes good. The recipe comes from an old cookbook, A Slice of Santa Barbara, which my mother gave me years ago. It is pretty simple to make: Melt 1/2 cup butter in the oven in a 9" x 13" pan. Then combine 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 cups milk, and 1/2 cup sour cream. Then add this mixture to butter in the pan, and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Top with berries and powdered sugar. The prep time is about ten minutes. This is also a great company recipe since it bakes in the oven like a casserole. It really starts the day out feeling festive. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and happy eating.

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Lusting for Lucy Rie pots

Lusting for Lucy Rie pots

Is it even possible to lust after an inaminate object? I am here to say, a most definite yes! The object of my affection are the ceramics of a Lucie Rie (1902-1995), who made beautiful and ethereal vessels, dishes, plates, and bowls. Her touch was light as a feather, yet her objects are strong forms and command a presence. It's the juxtaposition of these opposites that give these pieces their timeless value, I think. An article about her in Elle Decor writes "Rie's work blurs the line between craft and sculpture and utility and fine art." I am not the only one - there are many who lust after this work too as Rie's pieces are collected throughout the world. Rie may not be with us anymore, but her heavenly ceramics endure. Lucie Rie ceramics are available at 1stdibs.com, Babcock Galleries, New York, Graham Gallery, New York, Jeffrey Spahn Gallery, San Francisco, and Phillips de Pury & Co., New York. Images courtesy of Elle Decor.

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Nordic cottage winter retreat

Nordic cottage winter retreat

Here is a simple interior that I just have to share. It is a simple pine-clad dining room in Sweden, perched atop a hill in Gothenburg. This is home to Per Bornstein and his daughter and it was originally featured on in Dwell. Per designed the space which consists mainly of raw pine lumber which adorn the walls. The simplicity and honesty of this material in this space gives it a commanding presence. It is raw but so elegant. Per says "I like the idea that everything is what it is. In the end, it makes the house easy to understand." Easy to understand is also simple, authentic and intentional. Simple designs of real materials and intentionally executed are the recipe for lasting beauty, I think. These three things make all the difference. Images from Dwell.

 

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Menswear inspired, Larson Bedding

Menswear inspired, Larson Bedding

We are happy that Larson is here, just in time to ring in the new year. Larson is our newest bedding collection that is inspired by sewing details and subtle styling popular in men's suits. With Larson, we've paired a contrast pinstripe with oatmeal linen on a coverlet, sham, and accent pillow. The look is urban and yet simple enough for a beach house. Also typical of Modernplum design, it fits with him and her preferences. Larson is available as a set or separates.
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Design: Smitten with Patrick Weder lighting sculptures

Design: Smitten with Patrick Weder lighting sculptures

 Every once in a while when looking at new objects of design, my jaw drops to the ground and I become giddy. And this time, it was for Patrick Weder and his beautiful functional art pieces. From his studio in Brooklyn, Patrick makes furniture, interior installations, garden vessels and lighting. The text on his web site explains that his work "marries streamlined architectural elegance with an absolute understanding of functional needs. creating designs that are as practical as they are visually stunning." This is what blows me away -- here is an absolute artist and engineer coming together in equal amounts. This balance, so hard to achieve, is present in all his works. In this case, art is design and design is art. So inspirational. All pieces are one of a kind and can be ordered from his site at Patrick Weder Design. They are custom-made and can require up to 14 weeks, but it is so worth the wait. Here are some images of his lighting fixtures which taps into the organic honeycomb form as design unit. 

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Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

Agnes Martin's paintings are on view at the Guggenheim in New York now until January 7th. This is a rare opportunity to see her cerebral and sublime paintings in the minimalist style. We are inspired by Martin here at Modernplum, for her use of geometry and proportion, her creative and unique spirit, and her pioneering example for younger woman artists. Her paintings are both hard edged and dramatically stark, and yet also very soulful and organic. This ying and yang or presence of opposites within the work makes it seem timeless, modern and old, and always relevant. If you are in New York this fall and winter, this is a show not to be missed. 
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Spaces: The Kaufmann House

Spaces: The Kaufmann House

Now that we are heading into winter, there are two things I covet: light and the outdoors. And to get the fix, I may jump on a plane to Palm Springs, California which is known for those two things. PS as its called by the locals, is an eclectic mix of desert landscape, boutique hotels and restaurants, artist population, and modern architecture. One midcentury master, Richard Neutra built the Kaufmann House in 1947 here. It is currently privately owned, but so inspiring in the design and lifestyle is provides. It's all light and nature. Transparent walls make rooms seem to spill outside and the minimal furnishings allow the light and space to flood indoors. There is a beautiful, soulful, and slow luxury about this partnership. That's one reason we love modern design.
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In Print: Living with Light

In Print: Living with Light

"Etre Heureux en rendant heureux" - this adage which translates roughly as finding happiness through creating happiness, is a favorite saying of one of my heroes: Axel Vervoordt, the Belgium interior and product designer, art dealer, and stylemaker. For Axel, this core idea expresses the commitment to inspire audiences through discovering and transmitting the beautiful, with a deep respect for everything that is authentic. In Axel's work, the concept of beauty is made physical. He harnesses elements made from nature - light, water, metal, and wood - blends with a modern aesthetic and punctuates with fine art - the kind of art that just puts a pit in your stomach. For Axel, modern doesn't mean new, and beauty isn't about being young. It's about time, history, and authenticity. Axel is my hero because Modernplum is about that also. Like Axel, we are about making and designing that digs for beauty and timelessness. While our products are new, the endurance of linen as a home staple provides a continuity between the past and present that is palpable and important. Linen is beautiful and modern all at once. I call linen the light catcher among other things -- you can spot linen a mile away just by the way is reflects light. Thank you, Axel for pointing the way. Axel has a new book out -- Living with Light which showcases twenty interior projects that all use light as a primary inspiration. Available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Axel-Vervoordt-Living-Light/dp/208020159X
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