Monday, October 29, 2012


My great grandmother, American Anita Ball (related to George Washingtons's mother, Mary Ball-Washington) lived with my grandmother here in Sweden for long stretches. She was stern and often seen reading books and magazines. My mother said that the nine children used to come and talk to her and most often they got some money when they left.

When my grandmother died, I was given two large, handmade scrapbooks that had belonged to her mother, Anita Ball. 

The books are covered with black cloth and are obviously hand made.

The outside cover is roughly sewn on.

This book was made during the first World War and  this clipping shows women taking men's jobs at a farm in Missouri, USA.

Food was very scarce during the war, at least in Europe, and people took to raising chickens.

There is also interest in dancing steps .

How to build interesting garages -- always interesting to a woman of means.
The war kept the American steel industry in Pittsburg busy.

A clever thief with an extra arm!

Silk stocking advertisment

Typical sentimental domestic bliss scene.

More fashion

Something that must have struck her fancy.
She has pasted new things over previous clippings.

Recording artists of the time

Fancy Party Costumes

Anita Ball had many varying interests and these are just some of the many images in the book.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I walk by this fine Carl Milles sculpture almost everyday.

Carl Milles sculpture GENIUS is a lyre-playing angel -- an hommage to the Swedish writer August Strindberg

The Dancing Girls 1917
Carl Milles created several pieces with dancing women. At the turn of the last century a new form of free dance developed. Carl Milles was a great admirer of this modern dance and attended many performances both in Paris and in Stockholm. Dancing meant short moments of hovering and the dancers lose contact, if only momentarily, with the ground. When Carl Milles sculpted dancing women, it was the first time that he was interested in the concept of hovering and lacking gravity, concepts which later nearly dominate his sculptures. (Text from Milleasgarden)

The Sea God POSEIDON By his size, he overshadows  the smaller fantastic sea creatures surrounding the basin. (Placed at Götaplatsen in Gothenburg)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Fantastic color on this well kept Buick Riviera that appeared on a Gothenburg street this summer.
"Stunningly smart" as described in advertisements of its day.
The grill is an orgy in chrome.
The Swedish slang for this type of car used to be "dollar grin".

Fantastic details.

Whitewall tires

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I usually do not pay any particular attention to the designers names at IKEA but in two instances I came upon the name of Dutch designer Monika Mulder. 
She had designed two products for IKEA that had become very dear to me. I thought it would be nice to to one day let her know how much I liked what she had designed. So when I found that she had settled in my own town, of Gothenburg we had a chat and I asked her about design.
This photo and below from Monikas earlier homepage and the present one:


I do not like to store food in plastic  so I always try to store food in glass containers, but they are hard to find, so I was very pleased when I found a new line at IKEA. some years ago. They were a bit heavy but being square, they contained a surprising amount of food. Cold-cuts and vegetables look beautiful in them -- in the fridge or on the table. The matt white plastic lid is elegant in its simplicity. The smallest container is a jewel, you can surprisingly, fit an electric beater in it and whip the  cream in it, put it in the fridge and then handily put it on the table and then back to the fridge if there is any left.
 Monika was given the assignment from IKEA to design glass containers and they had picked the glass factory in Spain that would have sufficient capacity to produce the large volumes IKEA requires. She worked closely with that particar glass factory in Spain. The shape had to be somewhat adapted to the manufacturing process. 

I really stacked up on these fantastic containers.


The smallest  FIBBE trash bin is perfect for the bathroom. It can hang on the wall and you can easily clean the floor underneath. The plastic lid flips up very easily and the entire unit conveniently  lifts off  from the wall for emptying.
It was very inexpensive so I bought many of these. One must always buy a few extra of what you like at IKEA because the products come and go so fast. Suddenly you cannot get them anymore.
The larger FIBBE trash bin is really big (made square for this very reason said Monika) and stands on small feet that can be removed if one prefers that. 
FIBBE was Monikas intern job at IKEA  that gave her a full time job there. Having come right from school, she had done this design job by the book -- she spent time with people in their homes, interviewing them about their likes and dislikes. In Europe, they often have free standing thrash bins so this larger one looks very smart when it stands alone. I can fit one of the large size Swedish carry bags in it. Perfect. 

I like the simplicity in the design of the feet that easily can be attached or removed .
With IKEA, the designers have limitations and challenges -- the price is decided beforehand, the factory is chosen and the product must be stackable or packed flat. Monica's design of the watering can VALLO is an excellent example of how she met this challenge, it certainly is stackable. The design has been praised world wide. Few designers get such world exposure as designers for IKEA -- that must be very satisfying.

Monika Mulders comments at the IKEA website:
"The shape was extra important when I designed IKEA PS VÅLLÖ water can. I wanted to give it an organic, fluid shape so it would harmonise with plants and running water. By using different templates I was able to sculpt a prototype that felt completely perfect. The final water can has both a shape and colour that make you want to have it out on display, instead of hidden away. And if you like, you can also use it as a juice pitcher and a vase."

No air transported here. These watering cans are eminently stackable. 

Training mugs for children (IKEA SMASKA). What a clever and appealing design.
These children hooks (IKEA BÄSTIS) also show Mulder's clever, playful and truly original sense of design.

This is another bold design. (SÄVÖ for IKEA). 
I mentioned to Monika that this chair is obviously a design for young people. Older people could not get out of it and, has she thought about designing furniture for older people who need higher chairs they can get out off more easily? Maybe we will find some designs along those lines with the baby boomers moving on?

This chair for IKEA (LÖMSK swivel chair) is very popular. It must take very special insight in a designer to make a  fold down cover for a child to hide under. Maybe we adults would like something similar? 

 This chair is still for sale and at the IKEA website Monika Mulder writes this:
"When I started designing children's toys, I thought a lot about my own childhood. When I was little I found the big swivel armchair in the living room great fun! Too bad we children weren't allowed to play with it. That's why I designed IKEA PS LÖMSK, a swivel armchair made specially for children. It isn't just fun, it's good for developing their sense of balance too. And your child can hide in it or play peekaboo, by opening and closing the hood - as much as they like."

This is not most people's idea of a side table.(MYRÖ side table for IKEA) 
It is to me, a bold design you find at IKEA and not in other places. They can afford to take a chance like this.
This stool is a similar bold design. (SLÖINGE stool for IKEA).
Not exactly a place for an elderly person to sit on, but fun.

Pendant lamp called "Bulb". Clever play with shapes. 
Monica Mulder's latest designed product for IKEA is a metal flower pot called DADEL
It comes in an oval shape also and I can already imagine more uses for them.

“I was inspired by old milk jugs, which usually only have a decorative function these days. They have a beautiful silhouette, something that I wanted to give DADEL plant pot. The plant pot is made of metal and has handles – features that are also inspired by old milk jugs. You can use large plants and pots to create a room within the room and furnish with plants as room dividers.”
says Monica Mulder

Child high chair (LEOPARD for IKEA)
This design is again very imaginative, unusual and beautiful.

Monica Mulder's comment at the IKEA website:
"As a parent myself I know that a highchair is around the table for quite a few years. So when I designed LEOPARD highchair my main priority, besides good function and safety, was the way it looks. I wanted to give the highchair a modern look with a strong character. Plastic gave me the freedom to do that by making the chair all in one piece, with organic curves. I also concentrated on ergonomics so it would be comfortable for children from the ages of four months to three years. Children like round shapes and they will love LEOPARD; it's like their own 

Monika designed this (HOLMIA) serving trolley for IKEA.
Again, a very interesting and appealing design. It would work well as a bed table. Most bed tables are hard to reach and if you get breakfast in bed, or work in bed, or are sick in bed -- you need somewhere to put all your stuff. This table you could pull out a bit and have it all very handy. A few drawers could be added...
This chair for a dog is charming. I wonder how a dog knows that this particular chair is for him and not the other chairs he usually chooses.

This is SELJE, a bed table, Monikas recently designed for IKEA.
It is unusual for many reason --  it is made from steel and the legs are not straight.
The opening slit is charmingly sideways and wonderfully simple. 


Sir Terence Conran, the UK design wizard, thinks that knowledge of the materials and the manufacturing process is essential for designers: 
"I have always seen design from the point of view of 'how are you going to make it?'...All my life I've had the knowledge that comes from having physically used my hands to make things. It all starts with a technique, or the quality of a material, and the design decisions are made because I know how a certain material will behave or how a certain machine can be used efficiently or economically".  (From Terence Conran. Design and the Quality of Life by Elizabeth Wilhide 1999 page 14)

There is of course only one Sir Terence with his unique experience gained from working with wood and metal in his early life. His experience is highly personal and cannot be grafted on to other designers. Unless these designers gain a similar experience. The next best thing is perhaps the IKEA process where the designer works intimately with a particular factory, with a close eye on the economy of price, process and material. 

Read more:
Dialogue with Monica Mulder 2008 by Andy Polaine