Monthly Archives: September 2017

Legendary Legacies in the World of Design

Phyllis Morris at a 70s party
Phyllis Morris during the 1970s at one of her famous parties.

A comment made by an exciting new addition to the Currey & Company roster of design talent inspired this post. During an interview with Jamie Adler, the daughter of the legendary Phyllis Morris, the subject of legacies came to mind when she said, “We are so excited that we’re partnering with Currey & Company on this project. We’re a second-generation company just as they are, which means the care they take with the designs they produce is similar to our focus.”

Legendary Legacies

The original Pink Poodle Lamp Phyllis Morris, one of her legacies
The original Pink Poodle lamp, carved from clay with a potato peeler!

Products designed by Morris will be introduced at High Point Market, one of which is her famous poodle lamp, which Jamie notes was originally sculpted in the kitchen, in clay, with a potato peeler! “Cecil was so great to work with on everything, but on this lamp in particular because it needed a refresh given its origins,” she added. “I think it’s remarkable that they will be helping to reintroduce the brand to today’s audience and continue mom’s design legacies.” And about one special visitor to the High Point showroom each market, she said, “When I heard that Robert Currey has a poodle, it was a done deal for me: I completely believe in magical coincidences like that!”

Phyllis with Pamela Poodle
Phyllis with her poodle Pamela, who inspired the lamp, on Melrose Place in Los Angeles in 1953.

Magical is an excellent word to use when describing Phyllis Morris’ personality and her influence in Tinseltown. During the avant-garde mid-century modern era that birthed a long list of design-industry super stars, she opened her first showroom. The space, which opened in 1955, was dedicated to lighting at first, which makes the Currey & Company partnership so fitting, don’t you think? “We went through the archives preparing for this project and there are so many designs that feel so current,” Jamie remarked. “She was designing lamps that still seem fresh today.” You’ll see what she means when you see them for yourself during market, her designs debuting alongside new pieces by greats like Bunny Williams who have remarkable legacies of their own.

New Introductions by Bunny Williams

Bunny Williams Collection
The Bunny Williams Collection in the Currey & Company New York showroom during WNWN.

Bunny is such a name that her first Currey & Company collection created so much buzz for us last market. It was the same last week during the 9th annual What’s New What’s Next at the New York Design center when they sparkled brightly in the showroom along with some new releases.

Bunny Williams at What’s New What’s Next.
Bunny Williams holds court in the Currey & Company showroom during What’s New What’s Next.

Bunny was on hand to share the inspirations for her designs with attendees and, as always, she put everyone in a terrific mood. If you didn’t make it to WNWN, you’ll be able to see her collection during market, a number of them already on their way to being best sellers—such as the Belle chandelier and the Malvasia wall sconce, the popular fixtures below one of her new products, the Byron chandelier.

the Byron chandelier designed by Bunny Williams

The new Byron chandelier was designed by Bunny Williams. The Greek Key motif and dentil work on the fixture brings panache to the design, while the fluid motion of the downward lines make this a graceful composition. The fixture, made of wrought iron, wood and glass, has been treated to a washed gold leaf finish.

Belle chandelier designed by Bunny Williams

The large-scale Belle chandelier is fashioned from concentric circles that decrease in size as they move toward the bottom to give this light fixture a contemporary yet time-honored appeal. The wrought-iron piece has been treated to a gold leaf finish for punch while a diffuser softens the light source.

Malvasia Wall Sconce designed by Bunny Williams

You’ll need to look closely at the Malvasia wall sconce to appreciate its unexpected details that include a classic fluted shade with knob-like fittings, dentil work and a playful hand clasping the tube that affixes the shade to the back-plate.

New Introductions by Phyllis Morris

Among the new Phyllis Morris introductions you’ll see during High Point Market are these lamps and chandeliers:

Poodle Lamp designed by Phyllis Morris

The new iteration of the Poodle lamp in gold, which is a refined remake of the original lamp Phyllis carved from clay in her kitchen with a potato peeler. It comes in a variety of sassy colors! I asked Jamie what she thinks her mother would have thought about the lamp making a comeback. “I think she would be so thrilled,” she answered. “This is the iconic piece that put her on the map and it represents one of the things I think she was great at—it is a piece that makes you happy when you see it. So many of her pieces either evoke happiness or elevate feelings in some form or other. She wanted all of her furniture be emotional.”

Eyelash Chandelier designed by Phyllis Morris

The Eyelash chandelier, which is made of wrought iron and finished in a French gold leaf, has that sexy vibe for which Phyllis Morris was famous. During an era when it was all about “big,” this chandelier’s lines prove the fancier the curl, the more mod the girl!

Hollywood Table Lamp designed by Phyllis Morris

The Hollywood table lamp is a statuesque lamp at 45” tall. It is made of wood that has been treated to contemporary gold leaf and black finishes, the mid-century cut-outs so on point for the famed era, and this is one of the designs that prove Jamie’s point that her mom’s designs read as fresh decades after they were designed.

Making Legacies that Last

She believes her mom would love Currey & Company, and she predicts that had they met, she and Cecil would be best friends: “I could just see them at a cocktail party!” I’d like to thank Jamie for such a terrific interview. She’s shown below proving she inherited her mom’s penchant for posh fashion with a hint of drama!

Fashion-forward legacies with Jamie Adler
Jamie Adler showing off her fashion-forward DNA!

Given my literary and filmography curiosity, I asked if Phyllis had had a favorite book or movie. “She loved Antie Mame,” Jamie answered. “She was crazy about Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, and she adored Lana Turner.” I thought it would be fitting to close today by honoring this design legend with a nod to the life of one of her favorite super stars and a work by a famous poet who was equally enthralled with the celebrity. I found this great video clip that features some wonderful images illustrating a biography of Lana Turner’s life, whom no one can deny left one of the most powerful legacies to come from her era:

And Frank O’Hara, who has one of the most lasting legacies in poetry, eulogizes the actress in this kicky poem that has always been one of my favorites of his:

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

film star Lana Turner Hollywood legacies

A Brief Look at Market Events

Come to the showroom on October 16 from 3 to 5 pm (IHFC M110 on Main Street) to meet Jamie Adler and to celebrate the Phyllis Morris Collection. We’ll be sharing more of our High Point Market details during the next few weeks so be sure to check in on our Facebook page to find out more. We have such an exciting array of events planned and some remarkable new products, and we can’t wait to share everything with you! We’ll be there from October 13 through 18 so be sure to stop in.

Saxon Henry also blogs as The Modern Salonnière.