Designer Desire: Robert Sonneman

Mosaic of Robert Sonneman lighting designs | H is for Home

Robert Sonneman (b. 1942) is a New York City-based lighting designer. He began his career at the tender age of 19 as the sole-employee at George Kovacs, a shop located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

His designs are influenced by Modernism, most notably the Bauhaus movement. As the man himself says:

I’ve always been fascinated with movement, weight, and balance. I saw the lamps that I built as lighting machines that glorified the industrial aesthetic. As modern design and architecture morphed into other genres of contemporary style, I also explored new creative paths.

In 1967, he founded his own company under the Sonneman brand which became SONNEMAN – A Way of Light in 2003.

He’s very prolific (1,600 designs and counting!), with his contemporary designs available extensively; from his own store and other upmarket retails outlets such as YLighting. His vintage designs are readily available on 1st Dibs and sometimes come up for sale on Etsy and eBay.

Find more of our Designer Desire features here!

Robert Sonnemancredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs

Designer Desire: Colin Ruffell

Mosaic of Colin Ruffell artworks | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned Colin Ruffell, our chosen Designer Desire artist, in the past when we acquired a couple of his original paintings a few years ago. We thought we’d share with you a few more of his artworks.

He has a few, very distinctive styles; abstract modernist, impressionist – however, it’s his naive, Cloisonnism paintings that we love the most – especially the vintage examples. Perhaps because it reminds us of the work of Bernard Buffet.

We couldn’t put it better ourselves, so we thought that we’d allow Ruffell to say a little about himself:

Colin Ruffell was born in 1939, then he was bombed, evacuated, educated, expelled, travelled, repatriated, married, bred, qualified and taught; until in 1965, aged 26, he became a full-time professional artist. Since then he is proud and happy to have survived.

This is the point at which we normally add an image of the artist or designer that we’re featuring. However, we couldn’t resist including the following short film of Ruffell’s cat, Trevor!

His vintage work comes up for auction on occasion; there’s currently a lovely example for sale on Etsy.

Colin Ruffell

Image credits:

Antiques Atlas | Art Publish | Ask Art | Mutual Art

Designer Desire: Jorma Laine

Mosaic of Jorma Laine jewellery designs | H is for Home

I was doing a Google search recently for ‘Vintage Scandinavian jewellery’ (as you do!) and stumbled across the work of Jorma Laine – I’m now smitten!

Laine (1930-2002) was a Finnish jewellery designer who worked for Turun Hopea Oy, Kultateollisuus Ky, Kalevala Kory Oy and his own company, Silver-Laine.

He worked mainly in bronze and silver with the occasional use of semi-precious stones such as turquoise, tiger eye, unakite or nephrite. His style was abstract, Modernist – almost Brutalist – with Viking and tribal influences.

I’ve come across lots of stunning examples of his work but below is the only portrait of the man I could find. Perhaps it’s because he apparently spent the final years of his life living as a recluse in a log cabin in the forest of Finland.

As I said, his work is readily available and fairly affordable – from less than £50 for a bronze pendant. Try looking on Etsy and eBay if you’re interested.

Jorma Laine, jewellery designercredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Bukowskis

Designer Desire: Sara Tyson

Mosaic of Sara Tyson illustrations | H is for Home

We tend to feature vintage and mid-century modern artists and designers in our Designer Desire series. However, the work of Sara Tyson stopped me in my tracks. Tyson is an award-winning Canadian graphic designer and illustrator with over 30 years’ experience. Her work has graced the pages of periodicals such as Harvard Business Review, National Endowment for the Humanities, Smithsonian Magazine and The Washington Post.

She says she’s inspired by early Christian and Byzantine art and I think she has a similarity in style to one of my favourite artists, Stanley Spencer – especially Shipbuilding. A selection of her work is available to purchase from the i Spot website (link below). I’d really like copies of her ’12 Days of Christmas’ series of holiday greeting cards; they’re beautiful!

Sara Tysoncredit

Additional image credits:

Behance | Creative Finder | i Spot

Designer Desire: Richard Koppe

Mosaic of Richard Koppe artwork | H is for Home

Richard Koppe (1916-1973) was an American modernist artist, designer and educator. In the late 1930s, Koppe attended the New Bauhaus in Chicago where he was taught by László Moholy-Nagy. You can really see the tutor’s influence on the pupil’s style.

For ages we’ve hankered after a menu he designed in 1948 for Well of the Sea restaurant located in the basement of Hotel Sherman, Chicago. Examples appear on eBay occasionally – but they are never cheap!

He produced other designs for the restaurant including 5 impressive ‘glow in the dark’ wall murals, coloured recessed back-lighting and kinetic mobiles. A range of crockery was produced for the restaurant by Shenango in 1953 using his designs. Someone on Zazzle is currently producing exact replicas of this restaurant-ware; putting it to china, melamine and textile home accessories.

We have an illustration painted by Cal Dunn of one of Koppe’s Well of the Sea murals in one of our vintage cookbooks, ‘The Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes from Famous Eating Places‘. We’ve also found a couple of  contemporary black & white photographs of the restaurant here and here.

Richard Koppe exhibited widely at international institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Academy in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia, the Royal Academy of Art in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

He also taught for many years as Head of Visual Design and Fine Arts at the Institute of Design (ID) at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and later as Professor of Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Portrait of Richard Koppecredit

Additional image credits:

Art in America magazine | Corbett vs Dempsey | Elmhurst Art Museum | Invaluable | Flickr

Designer Desire: George Cook

Mosaic of George Cook pottery items for Ambleside Pottery

Earlier this week, we wrote about a piece of Ambleside pottery we bought. Today we’re going to show you a few more examples of work by its maker, George Cook. Cook was the founder and main designer-maker of Ambleside Pottery based in the southern Lake District, Cumbria. He ran the pottery from 1948 until he retired in 1968, when he sold the premises to Brian Jackson. Between 1959 & 1966, he trained Gordon Fox who currently owns & runs Kentmere Pottery.

George Cook pieces regularly come up for sale at auctions across the UK and occasionally appear on eBay. They’re very reasonably priced… for the time being!

The 1954 Rydal Women’s Institute programme reveals how the group held their April meeting at George Cook’s studio. A pottery demonstration formed part of the event. The studio was located in North Road, in an abandoned corn mill (see bottom photo taken in April 1886) by Stock Ghyll, Ambleside.  The pottery remained in existence until the 1980s. At present, it operates as the Giggling Goose Café. Apparently, examples of the pottery can still be found on the roof above the kitchen window.

George Cook, founder of Ambleside Potterycredit

Stock Ghyll Mill, North Road, Amblesidecredit

Additional image credits: Worthpoint