Dwell Store Gift Guide: For the Midcentury Enthusiast

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By Marianne Colahan / Published by Dwell
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At Dwell, we’re quite fond of the midcentury modern period, from revolutionary architecture and highly functional products to the streamlined silhouettes of our favorite furniture and lighting. This season, we’ve assembled a gift collection for fellow midcentury design lovers that celebrates this prolific period of modern design. Check out eight of our favorite midcentury gifts here, and be sure to check out the complete collection at the Dwell Store.

One thing we love about the For the Midcentury Enthusiast gift guide is that each item tells a story, whether it’s the late-night brainstorming session that led George Nelson and Associates to come up with the iconic Ball Clock or Hans Bølling finding inspiration from a Danish police officer stopping traffic for a family of ducks in his Wooden Duckling. We are also drawn to the stories of these designers, who were a part of such a treasured period in modern design.

modbox Midcentury Modern Mailbox, $320–$380 at the Dwell Store

This mailbox is inspired by mailboxes that were produced in the 1950s and 1960s. Designer Greg Kelly was frustrated at being able to find a mailbox to complement his newly renovated midcentury home and decided to design his own. Now, the colorful mailbox is available for midcentury lovers everywhere.

Greta Grossman, who designed the now iconic Grasshopper Floor Lamp, was an extremely productive designer, spreading her forty-year career on two continents—in Europe and North America. Grossman completed her fellowship at Konstfack, the Stockholm arts institution in 1933, and was the first woman to graduate from the Stockholm School of Industrial Design. She opened Studio, a combined store and workshop that became a hub for young Swedish designers. Soon after, Grossman and her husband Billy Grossman, an American jazz musician, emigrated to the United States. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Grossman exhibited her designs all over the world, including at MoMA in New York and The National Museum in Stockholm. She opened a store on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and designed interiors for homes and residential spaces. Grossman even sold some of her furniture designs to Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, and Frank Sinatra.

Nelson Ball Clock, $395 at the Dwell Store

An icon of midcentury design, the Ball Clock is a distinct departure from traditional clocks with faces enclosed in glass—alternatively, the Ball Clock is comprised of twelve brass spindles that end in solid hardwood spheres that mark the time, instead of a conventionally numbered face. Bold and colorful, this clock is a standout on a wall.

Danish Turning Tray, $239 at the Dwell Store

The Turning Tray was originally designed by Finn Juhl in 1956. The original trays are now on display at Finn Juhl’s Carlottenlund, Denmark home, which is now a museum. ArchitectMade has relaunched the Turning Trays by creating exact replicas from Juhl’s original drawings.

Despite her steady career and fame in Sweden and California, Grossman became a relatively unknown industrial and interior designer in the eyes of design history. Her contemporaries knew her and celebrated her, but her notoriety was not widespread or lasting. In many ways, Grossman’s career was largely forgotten despite forty years of working in the industry and taking a significant role in defining the modernist esthetic. As design brand Gubi’s mission is to re-launch designs—forgotten icons—it’s no surprise that the company connected with Greta Grossman’s story. From Jacob Gubi: "The fact that she is relatively unknown just makes the process for Gubi more interesting, as we have an honest opportunity to continue to convey Greta Grossman's designs… she ended up largely unknown and almost forgotten. I am very happy that we can give this magnificent female designer a second comeback."

Grossman Grasshopper Floor Lamp, $875 at the Dwell Store

Influenced by European Modernism, the Grasshopper Lamp balances minimalism, high function, and distinctive personality. Designed by Greta Grossman, the lamp was first produced in 1947 and balances a playful nature with a decidedly modern look.

Gubi has taken the iconic Grasshopper (Gräshoppa) Lamp that Grossman first produced in 1947 and made it available to a modern audience. Made of aluminum with a conical shade and tubular steel tripod, the Grasshopper Lamp remains Grossman’s most popular design. It was named for its abstract rendering of a grasshopper poised on its legs, ready to jump. The lamp is available at the Dwell Store in several colors, as well as in a table lamp version

Hans Bolling Wooden Duckling, $79 at the Dwell Store

The Duck + Duckling Series is a playful celebration inspired by true events. In 1959, a Danish police officer stopped traffic in order to let a young family of ducks across the road. Inspired by the newspaper photographs, Hans Bølling designed the duck and duckling figures to playfully commemorate the event. This duckling is handcrafted from teak wood.

Nelson Bubble Lamp Criss Cross Cigar Pendant, $299–$359 at the Dwell Store

George Nelson’s Bubble Lamps were first conceived in 1947. Since they were first produced, the Bubble Pendant Lamps have been a staple of modern lighting, and can be used in a variety of interior spaces. The Cigar Criss Cross Pendant is constructed from an innovative plastic that coats a steel wire-frame.

Tighten Up Recliner, $3,228–$4,929 at the Dwell Store

An undeniable statement maker, the Tighten Up Recliner from Thayer Coggin was originally designed by Milo Baughman in 1965. Handcrafted in North Carolina, the chair includes a reclining mechanism that extends the chair 64 inches. Available in several upholsteries and leather, the Tighten Up has a hand-tufted, buttonless back.

Enzo Mari: La Mela e La Pera – The Apple and The Pear Poster, $320 at the Dwell Store

In the hands of celebrated Italian modernist Enzo Mari, simple household objects—an apple and a pear—become graphic works of art. Part of the Nature Series, the La Mela e La Pera poster is silkscreened and unframed. Each poster comes with two PVC bars for wall mounting. Originally designed in 1963, each poster is printed in Italy.