One of the greatest things about having our own vintage shop is the opportunity to explore and discover new (and old) designers and manufacturers. After being exposed to so many different items from different eras, you tend to absorb at least some of the history behind them.

But of course it's completely impossible to know EVERYTHING. We learn something new every day. Case in point is this Lucent Melmac tray which was designed by Raymond Loewy. Loewy is pretty well known as the "father of industrial design". Some of his highlights include the iconic slender Coke bottle, the Greyhound bus, the Shell and Exxon logo and the Coldspot refrigerator for Sears Roebuck & Company.

However, we weren't aware this plate was a Loewy design until very recently. We actually have had this platter, which has a pattern called "Evening Song" on it, for 3 years. It was only until finding an identical one at a church sale that we decided to look into who made it. We had looked earlier, but for some reason didn't connect it with Loewy. This happens very frequently - we buy something and don't find out about its history until a few years later. It makes collecting vintage items very interesting, though a bit frustrating at times if we're trying to find out who made something!

As we mentioned earlier, we've got a sale on items from Scandinavia running right now. I came across this wonderful pottery figurine by JIE Gantofta too late to include with that previous post. Actually, I don't know too much about this J I E company from Sweden (have seen the company sometimes referred to as Jie-Keramik AB ) except that they made a whole host of different ceramic items from cookie jars to figurines. We earlier found these little ceramic dishes from JIE.

I believe that they also used quite a few different designers, some famous and others not so much so. The flower girl shown above is actually very similar to marked pieces by Elsi Bourelius who designed for JIE. The flower girl figurines we've seen had the paper "JIE Gantofta Sweden" sticker that also appears on ours, but they also had another smaller label that had Bourelius' name on it, which ours is missing. Our figurine is also marked inmold on the bottom with a "JIE Sweden" stamp.

OK, we've switched out the sale at A La Modern for this month. (Finally!) We're featuring items from Scandinavia this time around. That would be goodies from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, if our limited geography lessons are correct (is Iceland usually included in the mix too?)

These are some of our favorite countries for vintage housewares and modern home decor - when they can be found, that is. Here in southern California, we don't come across as many items originally from these countries as perhaps in the midwest and east coast. So it's a real treat to find them when we do.

We're a little pressed for time right now, so rather than go on in detail about each item, we'll leave you with pictures of a few of the items on sale (click on the photos to get to the item in the store). Nearly every item from Scandinavia is on sale this month. Hope you enjoy looking at the photos!

We actually were NOT in a blue mood after finding all of this stuff at the thrift stores today! There's actually more goodies not even pictured that we came across, but this is all that would fit in the one shot. It just happened that everything in this picture had a bit of blue.

It was nice to find so many things at the thrifts after having inconsistent luck the past few months. I think that garage sale season is also in full swing, which means we've got to start checking the listings more often. Anyhow, many of these items will soon be in the shop or on our Etsy outlet.

From left to right: a large selection of blue and gold Georges Briard old-fashioned glasses. We haven't found this exact pattern, but have seen the shape many times previously. Next to the Briard glasses are two glittery crystal candlesticks by Kosta. This is the first time we've come across Kosta at the thrift that still had their stickers on. We're not sure if these are new or not, but believe them to be from the 1970s-80s and possibly designed by Ann and Goran Warff. Sort of reminiscient of the Iittala Sarpaneva candlesticks.

Right above that is a sweet Figgjo Tor Viking gravy server designed by Turid "Turi" Gramstad-Oliver. This is the first time we've come across the pattern in the wild. The turquoise Bauer La Linda veggie bowl right above it would be wonderful, but it has quite a bit of crazing and some manufacturing flaws to it. Not sure if we'll be keeping that one or not.

Immediately to the right of that are two interesting blue and gold decaled milk bottles or jars. We've seen jars like this before that probably date to the late 60s or early 70s, but usually the gold paint has deteriorated quite a bit. Not sure if these may have had some sort of lids or stoppers. Lastly, right below the milk bottles is a Bing & Grondahl Porcelain trivet or plaque from Denmark, picturing a boy and his catch of the day. This was designed by someone named "Antoni" - we still have to research this to see who the designer is. It actually may be a newer piece, but we're not complaining!

Edit: Just saw an older photo on Sputnikhouseware's Flickr that said that this plaque was originally made around 1964 when Antoni did the poster art for the Denmark Pavillion at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

We've decided to start putting up pics of some of the cool things we've discovered at estate / garage sales and thrift stores. In general, most of these things will eventually be available on the main A La Modern shop, or on our Etsy outlet. However, we realized that sometimes takes awhile to get the things we come across into our shops. So, think of these blog pics as a sort of quick preview of what's to come.

We had one of the best scores in a long time at a recent estate sale. This estate sale was only advertised on Craigslist, as far as we know. It was a very low key sale, without a ton of signs all over the place. The folks running it were super nice and helpful. We went an hour after it opened, and there was surprisingly little foot traffic.

We couldn't believe how much Scandinavian and mid-century goodies this place had, at such reasonable prices! We ended up picking up quite a few things as you can see in the photo above.

The yellow Dansk Kobenstyle pot was the first thing we saw upon walking through the door. We grabbed it immediately, scarcely believing our good fortune. The kitchen was filled with stuff - the Arabia eggcups and Figgjo salt and pepper shakers went into our box immediately.

We nearly passed over the Danish pepper mill, however. We haven't seen too many of these around, so we didn't think it was from Denmark. It was marked on the bottom though, so we had to have it.

The yellow and white stacking containers were also a lucky find - nearly passed them as well. We've actually been trying to figure out the story on these - certainly they've gotta be vintage, probably 1960s. However, we haven't been able to find any information about them. The closest thing we've seen were these Arabia covered nesting storage bowls on MOMA of all places! If anyone has any info on them, we'd like to hear about it.

The clear plastic container in the back is made by Dansk and is in the Gourmet Designs line. We thought at first it was another Gunnar Cyren design, but it appears it's not. I know we have too many Gainey Ceramics pots already, but it was hard to resist the little vintage AC-6 in pink.

The toast rack, I think we might keep. Not too sure the age of the piece, but likely made in Japan, in the 60s-70s. The Tammis Keefe kitty hanky was an accidental score. We only picked it up because of the nice cats all over it, not realizing it was actually signed by Keefe, who's a pretty famous designer for textiles like this. You can bet we'll be looking out for more of her printed fabrics in the future!

We later hit a few thrifts on the way home and also came up with a few more goodies. Above is an awesome mid-century combo tray and cheese cutting board by a company called Gladmark. We've seen a number of different trays by this company which was based in Sun Valley at one time. Many of the trays we've seen include a ceramic tile like this one.

We also picked up a vintage set of Libbey glasses with a matching carafe. Nice green and white floral design on these, and the carafe still had its plastic cover top. Look for these items to hit our Etsy store in a bit.

Happy estate sale hunting!

Blue Hyalyn Vase

Hyalyn Pottery is actually a bit of a new discovery for us. Part of it has to do with the fact that we don't come across it as much, probably since it was a southeast United States operation. We find the same is true with regional housewares and decor in our area of the west coast - we find TONS more California pottery around here than people do on the east coast.

In any case, the Hyalyn pottery produced some really nice examples of midcentury ceramic items over its near 30 years of operation. Eva Zeisel and Georges Briard both designed items at one time for the company. The pottery was started by H. Leslie and Frances Moody in North Carolina in 1946. Rather than try to rewrite the history of the pottery, we'd encourage people to read the Hyalyn article on the Wisconsin Pottery Association site for more information.

The Hyalyn blue vase shown above was part of their "Decorator" collection/line and was made in the 1960s. It came in various colors and shapes and all featured the same bumpy glaze and wavy lines.

Hyalyn Ashtray

Without a doubt, the most common items that we come across from Hyalyn are ashtrays. In the past, we've left them because they've been damaged, or they weren't very interesting. The geometric shaped ashtray shown above was an exception. This was part of the "Shibui" line and was made in the mid 1960s. It has the familiar cork board glued to the back that most Hyalyn ashtrays we've seen exhibit. The Hyalyn ink stamp was put directly on the cork.

Hyalyn Candleholder

We also came across this great dual Hyalyn candleholder plus bowl. We initially picked it up because we just liked the way it looked. However, trying to research it, we haven't been able to come up with much. There was rumor that a more famous designer may have worked on this one - Michael Lax or Georges Briard have been suggested. We have not been able to confirm any of the names, however, so for the time being this is going to have to remain another beautiful midmodern mystery.