In the words of the Soul Hamsters (do click): you can go with this... or you can go with that...
Phoenix is a fantastic city. It's warm during the winter, it's metropolitan, most of it is relatively new, and the roads are fantastically wide and in great condition. However, an overall appreciation for modern architecture is practically nonexistent here. The East Valley is the epitome of "cookie cutter". Cliche statement, I know, but talk about a cliche suburbia! It is still a beautiful city, but lacking originality. Last week this drove me to a point where I swore I would pluck my eyes out if I saw one more peachy-sand colored stucco house with a terra cotta roof. Then, I blinked... and that's all I saw... so I decided to keep my eyes, but I also decided to make concentrated effort to search out something aesthetically enjoyable. And this is what I found:
It exists! Modern stores, modern architecture, modern-loving people... there is such a thing here. Some consider themselves to part of an "underground" modern community in the Phoenix Metro area. I wouldn't say it's thriving but it's here! In the above photo, for example, is a store called Copenhagen. The owner is from Denmark (surprise) and he has rather fantastic taste and the largest showroom for modern furniture that I have seen.
There are actually two businesses in the above photo (Metro Retro and Modern Mansion), and they both specialize in the same thing--salvaging vintage modern furniture. Hello Eames. I was excited to meet the owners of both who were surprisingly friendly (unlike the more established franchise owners). They told me about their passion for beautiful vintage pieces and how they scour antique shops, thrift stores, and estate sales to find these unique lost pieces.
The hi-light of the trip was (drum roll)....
Hello Beautiful! A FIRST EDITION Eames Lounge chair that they ACTUALLY let me sit in! This little beauty can be snagged at Modern Mansion for a mere $4,500. Let me tell you what, the men working there were something else. Super friendly. "Sit here." "Let me tell you about this piece." I got quite an education.
For example: why is mid-century modern such a coveted classic?
#1 - It is sentimental. Because pieces such as these were mass produced, nearly everyone personally owned them or had used them. Take for example the Eames bikini chair. It was used in businesses and schools everywhere. There is something SENTIMENTAL about that. Vintage = nostalgia.
#2 - In the 1940's and 1950's a rare thing happened--consumers could buy fantastically designed/durable furniture at a low cost (then). Now days, if I want to buy a sofa that is timeless both aesthetically and in its dependability, I would probably spend upwards of $3,000. These mid-century classics can be 60 years old and they are still in great working condition. For example, the materials used in the above chair are: down feathers, leather, and a rare Brazilian wood that is no longer legal to harvest. Thus... all the rage.
Overall, I was delighted to meet some new fascinating people and to make connections in the "underground" modern community. I learned much and have found out that there are still many places I need to visit. Rejoice! My eyes have been spared for now.