Designer Desire: Mary Blair

Mosaic of Mary Blair artworks | H is for Home

If you were a child of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, the illustrations of Mary Blair will be really familiar to you. She was responsible for the concept artwork on many Walt Disney films. Bambi? Cinderella? Alice in Wonderland? Peter Pan? That was her!

She designed a breathtaking, multi-storey mural inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort which opened in 1971 (see the top right image in our collage and the film of its making at the bottom of this post). It’s 90′ tall and consists of 18 thousand hand-painted tiles!

The styling and colouring of the original it’s a small world installation is also her work. It began life as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion thereafter moving to Florida’s Walt Disney World. It has since been followed by later versions in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

She was one of the main illustrators on the Little Golden Books series of children’s books (Another Disney project). Her output can be found in I Can Fly, Little Verses and Baby’s House.

Mary Blair also designed advertising and, on occasion, packaging for Meadow Gold milk, cheese and ice cream, Blue Bell children’s clothing, E-Z underwear, Hanes Underwear, Pall Mall cigarettes, Dutch Boy Paints and Baker’s instant chocolate flavor mix.

You can find numerous books illustrated by Blair, as well as books about her and her work on Amazon.

Check out some of our other past Designer Desire members here!

Mary Blair and Walt Disney

Image credits:

Flickr | Pinterest


Ceramic Mural from Animation Scoop on Vimeo.

Get their look: Rustic porch

Rustic porch of Firefly holiday cottage in Mawgan Porth, Cornwallcredit

What a glorious place to spend a warm summer’s evening! Gently rocking back and forth with a cold beer or glass of wine, taking in the view and watching the sun go down.

This rustic porch (and indeed the cottage to which it belongs) ticks lots of boxes for us in terms of materials and décor.

We like the combination of natural wood and stone in a building structure – and the introduction of cane, rattan and weathered metal works perfectly with it.

The look is carried through the various connecting spaces – flowers, textiles and furs softening the harder edges.

If you’re equally taken by the idea of spending some time here – well you can! The cottage is situated in Cornwall and available to rent for holidays (dogs allowed too).

Hopefully we’ll be lighting that fire and rocking in those chairs one day soon!

  1. Franco Albini rattan rocking chairs
  2. Franco Albini glass-topped rattan table
  3. Tree branch tea light holders – set of three
  4. Large terracotta plant pot
  5. Storm lamp
  6. Natural woven straw seat cushions

Get their look: Rustic porch | H is for Home

Vintage Pyrex patterns

Vintage Pyrex patterns - Blue Gaiety lidded casserole and yellow & white Gooseberry Cinderella mixing bowl set | H is for Home

We added two very nice pieces of vintage Pyrex to our webshop today. Our newly listed items include a lovely set of four graduated ‘Cinderella’ mixing bowls in the ‘Gooseberry’ pattern and a lidded casserole dish from the ‘Gaiety’ Snowflake range.

Blue vintage Pyrex 'Gaiety' casserole dish | H is for Home

It got us to wondering when Pyrex was invented… 1940s/50s would probably have been our guess. We were a fair way out – it was a brand introduced by Corning Inc in 1908. The thermally resistant glass moved from industrial use to domestic applications (apparently after a Corning employee’s wife used a sawn off battery jar to bake a cake).

Detail of vintage Pyrex 'Gaiety' pattern | H is for Home

It’s certainly come a long way from that first cake and has found a home in millions of kitchen cupboards worldwide. It’s such a great material for kitchen use – durable, practical, heat resistant, doesn’t retain food smells, transparent and decorative too if desired.

Vintage yellow and white 'Gooseberry' Pyrex Cinderella mixing bowl set | H is for Home

Various designers have contributed to the shapes and patterns of Pyrex over the years – Penny Sparke, Betty Baugh, SMART Design and TEAMS Design amongst them.

Colourful collection of vintage Pyrexcredit

You can go for the plain, clear glass or more colourful opaque ranges – and there certainly are some fabulous Pyrex patterns available.

Detail of vintage Pyrex 'Gooseberry' pattern | H is for Home

So, where did the name Pyrex come from… this quote from a Corning executive:

The word PYREX is probably a purely arbitrary word which was devised in 1915 as a trade-mark for products manufactured and sold by Corning Glass Works. While some people have thought that it was made up from the Greek pyr and the Latin rex we have always taken the position that no graduate of Harvard would be guilty of such a classical hybrid. Actually, we had a number of prior trade-marks ending in the letters ex. One of the first commercial products to be sold under the new mark was a pie plate and in the interests of euphonism the letter r was inserted between pie and ex and the whole thing condensed to PYREX.

Detail of Pyrex Tableware stamp | H is for Home

There are various websites dedicated to all things Pyrex – here are links to a few:

Bernard Rooke floor lamp

Vintage Bernard Rooke studio pottery floor lamp | H is for Home

This fabulous floor lamp came into our lives recently.

Bernard Rooke pottery stamp | H is for Home

It’s by artist, Bernard Rooke and dates from the 1960s/70s period. Bernard Rooke was born in 1938. He attended Ipswich School of Art and Goldsmiths College, London where he took up pottery. He set up a workshop in Forest Hill in London in the 1960s, sharing the space with Alan Wallwork whose work we have sold in the past. Bernard’s pieces are very sculptural and he found that producing lamp bases made his pieces even more acceptable and accessible for the public to have in their homes. They’ve remained a mainstay of his output over many years.

Vintage Bernard Rooke studio pottery floor lamp | H is for Home

There are bulbs both at the top and internally, and this gives a great effect when illuminated – light diffusing through all the little holes and casting shadows on the wall behind.

Detail of a vintage Bernard Rooke lamp with the light diffusing through | H is for Home

We’re now on a hunt for the perfect shade. It has to be Hessian or raffia, we think – and a fair old size too – the lamp base itself stands 3½ feet tall. Let us know if you have one for sale or know where there’s one lurking. We currently have around five lamps that need shades, but this one’s probably top of the waiting list!

Collection of studio pottery stoneware vases | H is for Home

We’ve placed the lamp in our bedroom where it shares the space with other studio pottery from the same era. We like these little groupings of pots. They’re all in quite subdued tones of brown, beige and oatmeal so don’t shout for attention, but we love these subtle variations in colour, shape and texture.

Vintage Bernard Rooke studio pottery floor lamp | H is for Home

The lamp has real impact when you walk into the room. It has the potential to work well in all kinds of settings – from boho-chic to mid century modern. In addition to working well with the other pottery in the space, we also like the way the circular form is echoed by the cane mirror. There’s a classic 1960s starburst clock on the wall close by too. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we really love it. And we know a good friend of ours will be eyeing it up jealously (and we have to admit that it would look perfect in their house)!

Vintage beaten copper plaque

Vintage beaten copper plaque above the bed in our top-floor bedroom | H is for Home

Last week, we published a post about our recent decorating exploits – specifically our top floor bedroom and its shades of grey and black. At that point, there was a large space above the bed waiting for a suitable piece of art. We’d mentioned that there are lots of things relating to nature in the room – and also copper highlights dotted about. Imagine our joy when we found this gorgeous vintage 1960s beaten copper plaque at a local flea market this week.

Tail detail from vintage beaten copper plaque | H is for Home

The first thing we saw peaking out were the feathers. “Oh, that looks interesting!”, we thought…

Head detail from vintage beaten copper plaque | H is for Home

…and, as we pulled it towards us for a better look, the bird’s head was revealed.

Vintage beaten copper artwork above the bed in our top-floor bedroom | H is for Home

We absolutely love it – the stylised bird, so typical of the era, the materials used, texture, patina and colours. We thought we’d be waiting quite a while to fill that long, narrow space with something suitable – but a few days after taking the initial photos, there it appeared. We very nearly missed the market that day too, but fortunately fate intervened!

Designer Desire: Mari Simmulson

Mosaic of Mari Simmulson designs | H is for Home

Born in St Petersburg, Mari Simmulson (1911-2000) was an Estonian-Swedish ceramic designer. After art school in Tallinn and Munich, she first went to work for Arabia in Finland. From there, she emigrated to Sweden producing designs for Gustavsberg between 1945 & 49 before moving on to Upsala Ekeby until 1972.

She primarily produced plates, plaques, vases and small sculptures. Like Laila Zink, who we featured in this series a couple of weeks ago, a recurring motif in Simmulson’s work was beautiful, almond-eyed women and animals such as birds, cats and fish.

Her work is surprisingly affordable and is often available on Etsy and eBay.

Portrait of Mari Simmulsoncredit

Additional image credits:

Bukowskis