Made in Mexico: Mexican Mid-Century Modernism

It’s fairly common knowledge that California and Mexico have a lot in common. Beautiful weather, beaches, the indoor-outdoor lifestyle and a relaxed casual atmosphere make both places irresistible. Less commonly known is how much California and Mexico influenced each other in the realm of design. “Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985”, currently on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, examines the influence that both locations had on each other in architecture, design, fashion, jewelry and pottery.

Modernism flourished in both places. Richard Neutra, the acclaimed modernist architect, had deep ties to Mexico, lecturing there in the 1930’s. Neutra influenced many young architects of the time, many going on to have successful careers of their own. Luis Barragan, probably Mexico’s most famous architect, was highly influenced by Neutra. Some of his most recognized work comes from his home, Casa Luis Barragan, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site:

Many great designers who worked in Mexico during the 1950’s-1960’s have been re-discovered and are enjoying much deserved attention by collectors and design enthusiasts. On Madison has put together a pictorial collage of some of our favorite iconic pieces by designers who are now receiving the recognition they deserve.

Glass mosaic box by Salvador Teran / Equipal chair by Pedro Ramirez Vasquez / Roberto & Mito Block chair / Petite credenza by Eugenio Escudero

Arturo Pani brass cocktail table / Pedro Friedeberg brass hand chair / Mathias Goeritz sculpture via On Madison / Pepe Mendoza coffee table with glass top / Antonio Pineda copper pitcher / Arturo Pani leather lounge chair / Carlos Merida blue tile mosaic / William Spratling silver pitcher


Chic Sheep

“They are not furniture, they are not sculpture–call them ‘Lalannes’.”

Mention the name Lalanne to a serious collector and the image of flocks of whimsical, life-size sheep grazing in the world’s most beautiful homes immediately comes to mind. Sheep are synonymous with this famous husband-wife artistic duo.

Claude and Francois-Xavier met in 1952 and began collaborating artistically in 1956. Sharing a passion for animals and nature, their first exhibition in 1964 was called “Zoophites”. Known by their moniker ‘Les Lalanne’, the world Les Lalanne is a realm where Surrealism Nouveau Realisme, and anthropomorphism merge, where every creaetion is a playful, whimsical and unique merging of the decorative and fine arts. Their work is also functional, meant to be touched or sat on, even slept on.

From the 1960’s and onwards, Le Lalanne caught the attention of an entire generation and soon had a devoted following among notable private collectors around the world who either purchased or commissioned their works. Fashion luminaries such as Coco Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, and more recently Marc Jacobs, John Galliano, and Tom Ford are some of the Lalanne’s major collecting fans. The Lalanne’s even collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent for one of his collections, designing moulded bronze breastplates and bustiers that served as the bodices for some of his gowns.

Not unexpectedly, auction prices have continued to skyrockt in recent years for the coveted Lalanne sheep as well as the fantastical bronze furniture created in a variety of animal shapes and sizes. The gilt bronze crocodile banquette fetched an incredible $482,500 at Christie’s in December 2009.

Les Lelanne definitely practiced their own philosophy. Francois-Xavier famously said, “The supreme art is the art of living”. We couldn’t agree more.

On Madison believes in practicing the art of living every single day, in even the smallest details. Our collage of the Lalanne’s work is a testament that everything in your home should bring a smile.


Design Legend: Angelo Donghia

For any of you that have been to the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles you know that it is a behemoth. You could get lost for days because of the sheer volume of things to see. That’s why, after all these years in business, I have distilled my browsing to just a few showrooms. A perennial go-to is Donghia. They represent such venerated lines as Rubelli and Armani, in addition to their own Donghia textiles. Their furniture and lighting is a distillation of the creative genius of its  founder, Angelo Donghia.

Angelo Donghia was born in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. His father was a tailor and at 18, Donghia left home for New York to attend the prestigious Parsons School of Design. After graduation he went to work for the renowned antique dealer Yale Burge, where he eventually became a partner. His first major commission was the Opera Club at the Metropolitan Opera House. He never looked back.

Donghia was the first designer to recognize branding. He expanded his design firm into furnishings, lighting, and fabrics. His signature look of silver-foiled ceilings, generously proportioned furniture, and bleached floors exuded the kind of urbane luxe that won him loyal followers such as Barbara Walters, Halston, Ralph Lauren, and even Donald and Ivana Trump. Donghia now has showrooms in every major city across the country.

On Madison has put together a collage of our favorite Donghia interiors to inspire and remind us what creative genius is all about. All photos and sources can be found here.

Donghia, design legend.




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