Friday, 18 December 2015

Pygmalia 1960's Manchester

A very cool jacket we've just got in has prompted a little research.

This, very groovy, swinging sixties, striped jacket
is from Pygmalia a shop that opened in 1965 in Manchester.
 It was owned by Tony Bookbinder (aka Tony Mansfield) who was the drummer in 1960's group The Dakotas and brother to Elkie Brooks. 
 Other pop stars mentioned to be behind the store in various places are Eric Stewart (10cc and The Mindbenders) and Graham Nash and Tony Hicks of The Hollies.
 It's important to recognise that the swinging sixties weren't just happening in Carnaby Street, all over the country small boutiques were popping up selling the latest fab gear, mens as well as womens. These often had a big name behind them, George Best's boutique on Deansgate perhaps the best known. There's a great clip of it at the beginning of Jack Rosenthal's  'The Lovers'

 A great, rarely seen film now, I love the way it shows the 1960's and 1970's as groovy and grim in equal measure. 

 If anyone knows of any other Pygmalia clothing, please post in the comments, there seems to be very little about.
 More info here on ManchesterBeat

 And here's a pic of the label and a link to the jacket on our website
  1960's Pygmalia Men's Striped Jacket    
 And a direct link to the site  Space Harrogate

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,