Saturday, September 11, 2010

Perfect Imperfections

People often ask me, after having spent some time in my store, what my house is like. "You must have some amazing things", they say. To which I respond, "well, yes and no".

Here's the thing. We have a 3-year-old little boy and a cat - neither of which, despite both of their relatively good behavior, are particularly conducive to keeping "museum quality pieces" around the house. Our stuff gets USED, which, more often than not, means that it's more utilitarian than fancy-designer-y. Plus there's the fact that most of the time, when I find a "really great thing", I'd rather sell it and make the money than hold on to it. After all, I'm a dealer, not a collector.

However, there are a few exceptions. For some reason, I'm drawn to flawed pieces - or, as the title of this post implies, "perfect imperfections" (apologies to my friend and colleague Kirk Albert, from whom I've shamelessly nicked this phrase). Part of this is because they are more difficult to sell and inherently worth less than their perfect counterparts, but part of me really does see a certain beauty and accessibility in these flaws.

Some examples: the big, beautiful Robert Sperry bottle form vase that has a broken (albeit professionally repaired) neck. Or the Tapio Wirkkala Jakala bowl that has a barely-perceptible "occlusion" that caused the dealer I bought it from many years ago to sell it to me for half the price of the other, much less interesting, but "perfect" example of this form that he also had for sale.

Or...this Bruno Mathsson Eva armchair.

This chair was a fairly recent buy, acquired from the estate of a sales executive for Artisan House (the maker of Curtis Jere products, among other things - more on this in another post). This was a whole-estate buy. I went to the house, looked everything over, told Karl, the executor of the estate (and the deceased's son) which pieces I wanted and how much I was willing to pay, then let him chew on the figures for a bit.

Not too long after, he called me back and agreed to the prices I had proposed. However, what with one thing and another, it ended up being a few weeks before I got back out to the house to pick everything up. As I was going around the house figuring out how I was going to cram all this stuff into my van, I noticed that the Eva chair, which was previously pristine, had acquired some rather ugly stains.

The ensuing dialogue went something like this.

Me: "Karl?"
Karl: "Yeah?"
Me: "I don't remember this chair having these stains on it before".
Karl: "That's because it didn't".
Me: "Ummmm..."
Karl: "About a week ago, I moved it to that corner where it's sitting right now. Then the roof decided to spring a leak. Right there, in that corner, onto the chair".
Me: "Son of a...."

Karl ended up giving me the chair for half the price we had originally agreed on, and I decided that it fit in quite nicely with my collection of beautiful-but-slightly-damaged pieces. I didn't really have a good place to put it, but I decided that I needed a chair in my office in which to sit and play my guitar. This would be that chair.

Unfortunately, as good looking and comfortable as this chair is, it is a TERRIBLE chair for sitting in and playing guitar. It's way too reclined, the arms do nothing but get in the way, and if you sit forward enough so that you're upright enough to play comfortably, the chair wants to tip forward because it's so lightweight. So, as much as I wanted to make this chair a part of my collection of perfect imperfections, it is now up for sale for someone else to enjoy. Just don't try to play guitar while sitting in it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beyond Repair

When people ask me "can this/that/the other thing" be fixed, my standard response is "anything can be fixed, it's just a matter of how much money you want to spend". Well, anything except this chair.

This, my friends, is the definition of "Beyond Repair".