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Posts from the ‘Video’ Category

Music That Gets Us Through (What We’re Listening To Now)

This first video comes from the indie band “Walk Off the Earth” out of Ontario, Canada. I was just introduced to this the other day and I can’t get it out of my head. They have made a name for themselves doing covers on YouTube and this video has really thrust them into mainstream. Let’s face it, it’s pretty awesome–just a really cool idea. This is their cover of Goyte’s “Somebody I Used to Know” (also a cool video worth checking out).

I want to nominate this next one as my own personal “Record of the Year.” It’s just that good. I listen to this all the time. M83 is a musical act by Spanish-French musician Anthony Gonzalez. Their name comes from a spiral galaxy, Messier 83, and is as dreamy and galactic as this album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Here’s “Midnight City” from that album.

At this point you may have guessed that French musicians get me excited, and Mélanie Laurent is no exception. In fact, this sultry songstress just melts my ears. I have a real appreciation for music that has the ability to reach into me even though it’s in a languages I don’t understand. When I first heard her duet with another one of my favorites, Damien Rice, I was sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car. We were driving over the Mass Ave bridge into Boston at night with the windows down, it was beautiful and the perfect backdrop for “Everything You’re Not Supposed To Be”. This is the only English song on her debut album, En T’Attendant, that she co-wrote and produced with Damien Rice. This album is definitely worth the Francs, er, Euros.


Music That Gets Us Through (What We’re Listening To Now)

I was first introduced to the Baltimore duo, Wye Oak about a year ago and their album Civilian. hasn’t left my playlist of go-to albums yet. This video is what did it for me and you’ll know why in the first 10 seconds–it’s just so visually stunning that it made me look deeper at this band and Ii’m so glad I did! Here’s their song, “Fish,”

I can’t remember how Nathaniel Rateliff’f came into my life, maybe it was through Emerson”s College radio, WERS here in Boston, but I was sold. I listened to Rateliff”s In the Memory of Loss over and over again while I painted an extra bedroom in my house over the course of several evenings. His music is all encompassing with an impressive emotional range mirrored by an equally vast tonal range. His voice captures everything from a sadness-soaked raw howl to a soothing timbre as comforting as sitting beside a warm fire. Obviously this is perfect music to do some house painting.

Finally, I give you my favorite Ampersand, “get ‘er done,”American indie folk band, Blind Pilot. I write, I do computer programming, photographing and road tripping to this Portland, Oregon, band. Their album 3 Rounds and a Sound, reached number 13 on the Billboard Top Digital Albums chart. I love these hipster cats, these boys went on tour on their bikes! Two dozen tour stops between Bellingham, Washington, and Santa Cruz, California, with all their instruments attached to custom-made bike trailers. Anyway, if you haven’t been lucky enough to be exposed to Blind Pilot, well here’s your chance.

Eva Zeisel: Designer and Ceramic Artist Extraordinaire!

eva zeisel

Sadly, Eva Zeisel, the prolific ceramics artist and industrial designer whose career spanned over 60 years died on December 30th in New York City. She was 105 years old! And she was still working!!! That is amazing to me… and incredibly inspiring.

I first became familiar with Zeisel after seeing a piece of hers beautifully displayed in a Sneak Peek on Design*Sponge. I immediately Google’d her, and subsequently fell in love. Her work is simple, elegant, and incredibly functional. She can be quoted as saying, “What good is a beautiful piece, if you can’t use it?” Right on, Eva!

eva zeisel century collection crate and barrel

Eva Zeisel Classic Century Dinnerware updated designs for Crate and Barrel.

Zeisel was born Eva Striker in Budapest, Hungary in 1909. Her family was highly educated. Laura Striker, her mother, was the first woman to earn a PhD from the University of Budapest. I guess trailblazing ran in the family! Zeisel was always artistically inclined, and she entered the Hungarian Royal Academy of Fine Arts when she was 17. After an apprenticeship with a pottery master, she began working for a German ceramics manufacturer in 1928.

In 1932, while living and working in Russia, Zeisel was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months after being falsely accused of plotting to kill Stalin. For 12 months of her sentence, she was kept in solitary confinement. Whoa.

eva zeisel mugshot

Mugshot taken of Eva Zeisel before being sent to Leningrad prison

Zeisel speaks candidly of her experience in Prison Memoir, an auto-biographical account that was published last year in issue 14 of the independent art and literary magazine, A Public Space.

“It had a great feeling of unreality. I mean, I was a designer of china; I was not in the business of killing Stalin. Imagine yourself!”

Shortly after getting out of prison in 1937, she married Hans Zeisel, and the two came to America with only $67 in their pockets. It was here that Eva’s career began to flourish. She designed popular lines for the Hall, Castleton, and Rosenthal China companies, among others. Zeisel was also the first to create and teach the Ceramics for Industry course at the Pratt Institute.

eva zeisel buckingham dish for hall china

Close-up detail of a dish that Zeisel designed for the Buckingham collection from Hall China Company. Photo from Visualingual blog.

After a taking a hiatus throughout the 60s and 70s, Zeisel went back to work in the 80s, and didn’t stop. Most recently, her design work expanded to include rugs, housewares, and furniture.

eva zeisel lounge chaireva zeisel coffee tableeva zeisel vaseseva zeisel bronze candlesticks

If you would like to know more about the extraordinary life and career of Eva Zeisel, there are books and a documentary DVD available on the Eva Zeisel Originals website. She’s even got her own medallion!!! Take that, Stalin!

eva zeisel medallion

I hope you have enjoyed my little tribute. Let me know your thoughts. Lots of people get weak-in-the-knees for Eva Zeisel. For example, Todd Oldham:

And the folks over at CBS Sunday Morning:

Also, there was a nice obituary in The New York Times, as well as a memorial feature on NPR.

eva zeisel portraiteva zeisel signature

Happy Holidays from Ampersand Vintage Modern!!!

So, it looks like we may have some GREAT NEWS to share with you by the end of the week!!!

I’m not going to say what it will be, but I think the following video adequately expresses our excitement! Enjoy!!!

Ice Cube on Charles & Ray Eames!

Who knew? Before Ice Cube started rapping he studied architectural drafting. Awesome.

Check out the following video clip Ice Cube made for Pacific Standard Time. It is a cool, love letter to Los Angeles design. In it, he praises the work of Charles and Ray Eames.

Music That Gets Us Through (What We’re Listening To Now)

Here are a few songs that have been in heavy rotation on my iPod lately:

Bon Iver. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, but I recently jumped onto the Bon Iver bandwagon. They’ve been around since 2007, but they were just nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy, and their second album has made numerous “Best of 2011” lists.


Rosie Thomas. I love Rosie. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while now, but listening to her Christmas album–with a mix of classic and original tunes–is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!


LMFAO. I shouldn’t really have to comment on this one. It’s mindless, junk food for your ears. After one listen, just try and get it out of your head!


Happy listening!

Charley Harper: Mid-Century Master

I’ve been a big fan of Charley Harper’s artwork for a while now. In a past life, I managed a custom framing gallery, and one of my clients was a collector of Harper’s prints. Over the years, she must’ve had at least 15-20 of his prints framed. I remember being intrigued by the way Harper looked at nature, and how he twisted the perspective to make it interesting and somewhat kooky.

A few years ago, I came across this huge coffee table book at my local Anthropologie store. It was a collection of a lifetime of work by none other than Charley Harper. What attracted my attention, other than the familiar images on its bright-colored cover, was the name Todd Oldham beneath the title. I was curious to find out why Oldham, known for his equally lighthearted and fun approach to design, was inspired to write and edit this book.

Upon reading the book, I learned that Oldham first became enamored with Harper’s illustrations when he was a young boy flipping through the pages of his childhood science text, The Golden Book of Biology (circa 1950s). Much later, his appreciation for Harper’s art was rekindled when he was rummaging through boxes of old magazines in a thrift store and stumbled across back issues of Ford Times, for which Harper was a contributing artist throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Take a look at this short video by Oldham, where he discusses Harper’s artwork, printing technique, and legacy:

Charley Harper died in 2007, but his artwork is just as fresh and remarkable as ever. You can view a large collection of his prints and posters in the gallery on his website. Most of the pieces are also available for purchase. I bought my first Charley Harper print at an auction a couple of months ago. I’m very excited. It’s called “Crow in the Snow” and its from 1974.

Crow in the Snow

I hope that you take the time to check out the beautiful artwork of Charley Harper. He truly was a Mid-Century Master. Here are a couple of my other favorites:

Manatee in the Mangroves, 1990

Shadow Dancers, 2006

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