Guest Post: Judy Kameon on Landscaping and Mid-Century Inspirations

On the heels of her recently published book Gardens Are For Living from Rizzoli, landscape and furniture designer Judy Kameon of Elysian Landscapes and Plain Air shares some of her thoughts on the relationship between mid-century design and gardens and a few images of her work.

Inspiration comes in many forms.  I often find myself inspired by places I travel to and the art, architecture and gardens I experience.  However, it was through books that I first discovered the modern designs of the mid-century landscape architects Garrett Eckbo, Thomas Church and my personal favorite, James Rose.  Their collective work promoted the rich connection between architecture and landscape, and celebrated outdoor living as a lifestyle.


Tile courtyard by Judy Kameon. Photo credit: Erik Otsen

Southern California has historically been a hub of activity for modern design since the mid-twentieth century.  It has a blend of the perfect ingredients for realizing the dream of outdoor living: a wonderful Mediterranean climate, lots of open space and a culture of expansiveness and creativity.

My own garden has been greatly influenced by this modern ethos and sensibility.  Over twenty years ago, I purchased an empty lot next to my small bungalow in Elysian Park with the idea that I would transform it into my a private oasis.  At the time I was a painter and generally worked late at night, which left me plenty of time during the day for other creative pursuits.  Making my garden quickly became my magnificent obsession.


Judy’s garden. Photo credit: Tom Mannion

Over the years, as my focus has shifted towards designing gardens for others, I continue to find inspiration from mid-century design and aspire to capture the excitement and spirit of that period of experimentation and exploration.


Balenciaga lunar landscape. Photo credit: Tom Mannion


Screened front garden. Photo credit: Melanie Acevedo

High_Res_Trousdale_F_350 CROPPED

Trousdale outdoor living. Photo credit: Tom Mannion

December 26th, 2014|0 Comments

Guest Post: Your Guide to Finding Hidden Treasures on Craigslist

Case Study Ceramics in the Living Room Hello Modernica readers! My name is Rose and I write for a mid-century furniture blog called Mimomito. We source affordable furniture via Craigslist so ya’ll good folks don’t have to.

I am really excited to be able to share some of my insight in finding quality mid-century pieces! In this post I’ll be addressing how to use Craigslist and what skills you can use to make finding the perfect furniture for you easier!

1. Make a Budget

I may be preaching to the choir here but I think it’s important to mention, just in case. I remember when I first started out; I just went around throwing money at everything I saw, like some kind of furniture Viking. I was ransacking thrift stores and tearing through Craigslist without a care or thought of money. CUZ HEY ITS CHEAP RIGHT?! The thing that caught up with me is that second-hand goods actually do start to add up.

So here’s the thing. We’d all like to get a beautiful credenza for sixty bucks, but that’s not going to be the reality for all of us. Getting a good deal isn’t just about getting something for a stupid steal, it’s sometimes just buying a nice piece for what it’s worth …or maybe just a teensy bit under. Yeah, I know; I am cheap too. Ask yourself how much you are really willing to pay and what pieces are you going to have to drop more money on?

Budgeting will at first seem like a tiring task that makes you feel restricted in your purchases, but in reality, it is completely freeing. It helps you to make well-thought-out purchases instead of wasteful buys that don’t work out for you in your home. With budgeting, you will be able to put together a range of pieces. Your pricey items will make your twenty-dollar end table look like it was two hundred!

Cat in the Living Area

2. Know What You Love

You want to make sure your stuff reflects who you are and what you like. You’ll find that this will save you money in the long run, as you’ll ending up throwing out less furniture that turned out to be “not so you.”. It can be difficult to see the potential in second-hand if you don’t have some handle on your personal taste. There are things you can do to help you feel more confident in your personal style. I find making lists, doing the Pinterest thing, and collecting images of homes I like really helps. So go ahead and get moody guys!

Stylish Dining Area

3. Be a Fixer

To get a good deal, you may have to be willing to put in some elbow grease on old furniture. The great thing about mid-century pieces is that they were well-made to begin with, so restoring them is usually easier than it seems, and the pay off is ten-fold.

 4. Let People Know

Some of the best things I have are because my friends and family know what I like. For example, instead of getting me something from my wedding registry, my Grandma gave me her Russel Wright dish set. It’s a gift I will treasure forever. You never know what your friends or relatives have in their attic that they’ve been waiting to let go of. Chances are, if you know this person, you could be that perfect home for their beloved item.

Vintage Dishes and Tableware

Mid-Century Modern Tableware and Plates

How to Search Correctly

Since I am Craigslist hound, I thought it be helpful to give you some practical applications for this new zen way of life (you may roll your eyes now. It’s ok. I can’t see you).

I’ll be giving you tips on optimizing your search results on Craigslist. There are great deals to be had here but, to a first time user, it can be a clustered mess! Here are some things you can do to stay organized and on top of new listings for a website that is always changing.

1. Keep a List

Whenever you come across a search word that you think yields good and unique results for your taste, write it down! Keep this list for yourself and go through it often.

This helps you get through Craigslist fast and with some order. You’ll start to realize what search words produce the best results for you and feel more confident in your searching.

2. Stay on Top of It

Craigslist is super easy when you check it daily.

Staying on top of your local Craigslist is going to save you overwhelming searches through new listings, and a whole lotta time in the long run. Make it a part of your morning Facetwittertumbmail routine.

3. The Early Bird Gets the Worm

As a person who has spent a lot of time asleep, it makes me a lil’ proud to be able to quote that old saying with an actual reason for its importance. I love sleeping so much that I actually forgot that this was important.

Searching craigslist in the morning is going to give you the best results for two reasons.

One is that all the posts that were made when Joe the mechanic got off of work will show up pretty fresh in the morning. The other is that you want to be the first person that sees his Brasilia highboy for 160 bucks.

Once you find this post, it’s a good idea to try to get to the seller as soon as you can. I’ve had many times where things were bought from under me because I waited a couple of days.

There was even a time when I went to purchase a decent sized Kilim rug at a good price and happened to see a pretty neat lamp that the seller was also getting rid of. I mentioned how neat it was and the seller said that the girl who wanted it should be on her way – but that I could take it right now if I wanted! I wasn’t gonna be that dude though, guys. So even though it was tempting, I passed that lamp up (Nobel Peace Prize here I come). You can’t really get mad at Joe the mechanic for selling stuff from under you. Well, actually, you can get a lil mad. Go ahead guys, feel your feelings.

The thing to keep in mind is, they are just trying to get rid of their stuff quickly and many times people flake on them – a lot. It’s really not their responsibility to make sure they hold onto a piece until you are good and ready to get it. Be willing and able to get your new addition as soon as you can.

Craigslist waits for no man.

4. Using the Search Box Effectively

The search box is going to be your best friend, of course! Use it creatively. Think about what you want and why someone would be getting rid of it. The best example I have is my desire for a porch with a ton of plants – big, humongous plants! When you look to buy these huge plants already potted at a store, it can be spendy. So I turn to Craigslist. Typing plants in the search box is like five pages long and produces a bunch of things that aren’t even plants. So you have to think about the context in which a person would be getting rid of all their potted treasures. Moving sale! So in the general search box you type just that – “moving sale plants”.  I’ve come across great finds when thinking like this. Simply put, think about the what and why!

5. Read the Ads

This is a really important thing to consider. Craigslist posts are basically someone describing something that they are trying to sell. Posts often include how the person got the piece, why they are getting rid of it, if it belonged to someone they knew, and what kind of condition it is in.

You’ll start to realize there is a pretty consistent way people talk. I call this the used car salesman language -‘There isn’t anything like it!’. Once you become fluent in this gift of gab, you can use the key parts of these phrases in your search box – things like “anything like it” or “solid wood”. Type these two to three word sentences in your search box and watch those precious beans come to life.

6. $160.00 and Under

When I tell people I search through everything on Craigslist that is $160 and under, their eyes bulge out and they give me a suspicious, surprised look. This is the best strategy though, guys, and if you stay on top of new listings every day, it’s really easy. Price searches are good because you know you won’t go over your budget, and you might come up with something you weren’t expecting.

7. Know the Piece

This is where knowing what you want is really good for your searching. I’ve found some of my favorite things by searching – surprisingly enough – MATERIALS I love. Get familiar with the pieces you want. Know the woods that were being used, where the piece was made, who manufactured it, what year it was made, and search its shape if it has a unique one. I am sure most of you Modernica followers are experts on the ins and out of mid-century modern. Use all the knowledge you have in your searches!

8. Know Your Surrounding Areas

This is kind of a weird thing, but it’s important to know your surrounding cities for a good deal. Get familiar with the cities around you that had a boomin’ middle and upper-middle class in the 50s and 60s. It’s worth the search, every once in a while, for both thrifting and Craigslisting.

The most important thing to remember: the more you know, the easier your searching will be. Follow blogs that expose you to new things in design – LIKE THIS ONE! The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it will be for you. I hope this has made you excited to start your hunt for unique styles and tastes in your home. I wish ya’ll DA BEST in your hunting!

Rosa Rose Della Rosa is a contributor to the Mimomito Blog and collaborates with her husband on illustration and silkscreen projects for their company Della Rosa Home & Prints. Ben and Rose sell these items and some hand-picked collectibles in the Scout Living Antique Collective.

Plant2 Plant living room5 living room4 living room3 Living room 2 kitchen Brass girafe2 Bar2

July 3rd, 2013|0 Comments

Guest Post: How to Plant a Case Study Ceramic Bowl, by the Enduring Gardener

Ceramic Planter with Wildflowers The Modernica Case Study Ceramic Bowl with Plinth is an object of beauty in its own right – its simple clean lines would look perfect just as it is in minimalist surroundings.  Being more maximalist than minimalist by inclination, I decided to plant it up with a selection of  delicate spring flowers that contrast beautifully with the simplicity of the bowl.

Once the plants have passed their prime I will transplant them onto a wooded bank in my garden and find something equally lovely to take their place. My bowl will live outdoors in dappled shade in the spring and summer months, coming indoors for special occasions.

I will replant it regularly as the flowers fade, ringing the changes and mood of the planting as the mood and season takes me. It will look just as striking with a single type of plant – ferns for a shady spot, or lavender in the sun.  With the arrival of  the colder months, I will bring it  indoors and plant it with a succession of bulbs, starting with hippeastrum (amaryllis) for Christmas.  The wooden plinth will be kept for indoor use so that I can stand the bowl on polished surfaces without causing any damage.

Planting the Bowl

  1. Before you begin,  give your chosen plants a thorough watering and allow excess water to drain away.
  2. When there are no drainage holes in a bowl, it is advisable to add a layer of grit or gravel to the pot to stop the roots getting waterlogged. I have also added some biochar to stabilize the nutrients and keep water sweet if it does collect in the bottom of the bowl.
    Potting Compost in Case Study Ceramic Pot
  3. Half fill the bowl with a potting compost that is specially formulated for container planting. Rich Soil
  4. For a mixed planting add the tallest plant first – in this case it is a white bleeding heart positioned next to the rim of the bowl. Avoid placing the tallest plant centrally; it makes it more difficult to create a naturalistic arrangement. Planted Case Study Planter
  5. Arrange the other plants in front of the key plant – here they are snakeshead fritillaries, wood anemones, scilla, dwarf narcissus, and cowslips. Once you are happy with the composition, gently feed compost round the rootballs and then top with grit, gravel, or moss. Flowers in Case Study Ceramics

Modernica Planted Ceramic Bowl

Stephanie Donaldson Stephanie Donaldson lives in the UK and is contributing gardens editor of Country Living Magazine as well as author of a number of books on Window Boxes, Hanging Baskets, and Container Gardening.  You can read a little more about Stephanie on her popular gardening blog – The Enduring Gardener.

April 30th, 2013|2 Comments

Japanese Magazine QOLA Features Modernica

Magazine Story about Modernica Mid-Century Modern Furniture Last month’s issue of QOLA, a Japanese magazine that targets Japanese residents in Los Angeles, published a commending feature on Modernica. The article, originally written in Japanese, goes into detail about Mid-Century Modern style and Modernica’s authentic fabrication processes. If you read Japanese, feel free to browse through the original version here.

For the rest of us, here’s a summary of the article in English:

This is a Mid-Century Modern story: How it began, why people love it, and how Modernica is preserving its history.

Japanese Culture and Design In Japanese culture, people like change; to change and adapt a product is to improve the quality of life. In the United States, on the other hand, Americans respect the “original” more than the Japanese do. People are interested in why and how it’s made.

“If the original was so good, why change it?”

Mid-Century Modern is one of those design styles that needs no change to remain quintessential. No additions or deductions could improve its perfection. For example, the George Nelson Bubble lamp, the Noguchi Table, or the famed Eames chair. Products such as these remain beautiful and timeless.

As years pass, so many products have been degraded to suit the mediocrity and convenience of mass production processes. Most US companies have switched to cheaper supplies and materials from Asia. As the cost of the product is decreased, so is its originality.

Even the Eames fiberglass chair lost its spirit. Companies copied the shape of the design using more convenient plastic materials. When the fiberglass was taken away, the history of the Eames shell chair was broken.

Modernica building Fiberglass Shell Chairs It was Los Angeles-based furniture design company, Modernica, that picked up the pieces and restored the legacy of the Fiberglass Shell Chair. Modernica tracked down the original materials and machinery that were used to fabricate the original Eames Fiberglass Shell Chairs in the 1950s. For the first time ever, the chairs are being manufactured and sold through one company. Modernica has succeeded in reviving the history and spirit of a Mid-Century Modern original.

We’d like to send a special thanks to Tak Itomi for this glowing commendation of our work. See the original magazine article, or have a look at these beautiful images Tak captured at our factory and showroom:

Los Angeles Modern Furniture Showroom

Side Shell Chair Manufacturing Showroom Floor Layout


January 11th, 2013|0 Comments

Jacey from Damsel in Dior Illustrates the Versatility of Case Study Furniture

“What is one personal styling tip you live by?” As an editor of a fashion blog, this is the question I get asked most. My answer is always this:

Don’t waste money on smaller items that will fill up your closet space. Save up and invest in key pieces that will elevate your entire wardrobe and last you a lifetime.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to understand how this “tip” applies to every single area of your life, including the way we decorate our homes.

I was first introduced to Case Study Furniture on my first date with my {now} husband.  While I cannot 100% tell you that it was because of his case study pieces that I later said “Yes” to his proposal, I can tell you that I distinctly remember the first time I walked into his condo thinking, “Wow, the man’s got taste!”

Since then, I have grown more and more proud to call the pieces my own and my appreciation and love for all things fashion has slowly ripened into a love affair for all things interior design. The reason I am infatuated with Case Study Furniture is not only for its customization, sharp modern detailing, and practicality, but each individual piece inspires a room in a very profound way. You can have every other piece of your furniture be from Target or Ikea, but with a Case Study Unit in the room, it compliments and elevates the entire space just as a Chanel purse would compliment an entire closet.

Office Space with Case Study Storage These are photos of our living room and office space, both of which have a case study piece in them. We use the larger Case Study Storage Unit in our office for storage {filing} and it serves as a place for all of our miscellaneous supplies.

Living Area with Modernica Daybed The Case Study Daybed in our living room provides a cozy spot to relax in front of the fire on chilly evenings.

Damsel in Dior See more from Jacey at her blog, Damsel in Dior.


Modernica Case Study Daybed

December 18th, 2012|1 Comment