Mid Century Modern Dating

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Modern Master
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Mid Century Modern Dating

Postby CapitalMod » Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:44 am

I thought everyone might get a kick out of this:

Modern Romance
For Lovers of Mid-Century Design, A Matching Set Can Prove Hard to Find

By Jeff Turrentine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2005

Like an Italian-neorealist film buff in Boise, like a country music fan
in Kazakhstan, the modernist in Washington can feel a little lonely

For those whose dream house is not a grand center-hall Colonial brimming
with Ethan Allen, but rather a low-slung, mid-century ranch packed with
Herman Miller, the prospects of finding a like-minded soul mate in this
city of traditionalists can seem pretty slim.

Single modernists: Don't give up just yet.

The Georgetown branch of Design Within Reach, the contemporary and
mid-century furnishings retailer, recently hosted an evening of speed
dating sponsored by 8minuteDating, an outfit that organizes events at
which men and women can mingle in a casual but briskly structured

On a Thursday evening in early March, dozens of registrants filed into
the Cady's Alley storefront to sip beer and champagne punch, engage in a
round-robin series of timed conversations with members of the opposite
sex, and slide into the sleek designs of Mies van der Rohe, Eero
Saarinen and Le Corbusier, among others.

From 8minuteDating's standpoint, the evening proved so successful that
another one has been planned for April 9 at the Design Within Reach
store in downtown Bethesda. (For more information, visit
www.8minutedating.com .)

For some attendees, however, the dream of finding that special someone
who loves sunsets, long walks on the beach and George Nelson platform
benches remains elusive.

Melba Black, a 31-year-old copywriter from Northeast, is glad she went
-- though the gathering was hardly the modernism-devotee magnet for
which she had hoped.

"I thought it was worthwhile," says Black, who describes her own
personal style as "poor woman's mid-century" -- funky pieces she picks
up at flea markets mixed with the occasional collector's item, such as
the circa 1961 Knoll walnut mini-credenza with metal legs and leather
pulls that she found on eBay. "I met people I would not have likely met
anywhere else," she says, including a University of Maryland
architecture professor with whom she struck up a friendly conversation.

Alas, kindred spirits were in short supply that night. Most of the men
in attendance would probably have been just as happy had the event been
held at a bar or restaurant. With the exception of the architecture
professor, few seemed to share Black's passion. And although she says
that a partner's indifference toward mid-century design wouldn't
necessarily be a deal-breaker, she does hope to find someone who will
understand why her knees begin to wobble whenever she stands next to an
Isamu Noguchi coffee table.

"It's important to me," says Black, who cites husband-and-wife team
Charles and Ray Eames as her favorite mid-century designers. "But
weighing whether a chair is more important to me than a person that I
find valuable in my life . . . well, we may be able to ditch the chair.
Relationships are about compromise anyway. I've been in relationships in
which it's apparent that the people I'm involved with don't love my

At the same time, she says, having compatible tastes in design is every
bit as important as having compatible tastes in movies, music, books,
food and all the other things that factor into a long-term relationship
-- maybe more so. "At some point the goal is to build a home together,
to cultivate a living space that both people find equally enjoyable. So
it's easier when there's not so much compromise that would have to

Jennifer Schneider, who also attended the 8minuteDating event, was there
at the behest of her sister, who signed her up. A lawyer at the FCC who
is taking master's-level courses at the Corcoran College of Art and
Design, Schneider, 34, wouldn't mind finding a guy who shares her love
of 1950s furniture by designer Paul McCobb, or the houses of Charles
Goodman, the Washington area's most famous mid-century architect.

Schneider, who lives in Dupont Circle, used to spend weekends with an
old boyfriend driving around Hollin Hills, a Fairfax County neighborhood
with a large concentration of well-maintained Goodman houses. She
acknowledges that her old flame's interest in modernism wasn't
necessarily a natural part of his personality -- that it developed over
time, and partly at her urging.

"You can only expect so much from men," she says. "Remote willingness is
better than nothing."

At Design Within Reach, Schneider found herself becoming frustrated with
one would-be suitor who had the temerity to speak insultingly of a
particular piece. "He was, like, 'Why would you ever want to sit in
that?' " she says. "And I told him: 'Because it's a classic Eames
chair!' He said it looked like what he used to sit on in kindergarten."

When you finally meet the right person, as they say, you just know.
Bruce and Fonda Nichols first began flirting several years ago when
Bruce, a mid-century enthusiast with a particular fetish for lamps,
would come into the Leesburg consignment store from which Fonda sold
clothing, collectibles and small furnishings.

"I remember standing there behind the counter, when he was at the store,
with a piece of paper," says Fonda Nichols, 42. "We'd sketch out these
fabulous '50s lampshades or other things he'd found."

The first time he came over to her house, he remarked favorably on her
1950s sofa. Eventually they began to see their mutual appreciation for
1950s style as a sign that they were meant for each other.

Since marrying in 2001 -- the wedding was performed by an Elvis
impersonator in Las Vegas, naturally -- their two-bedroom condominium in
Sterling has become an unlikely showroom for classic mid-century items,
including the couple's pride and joy: a hard-to-find leather-covered
desk designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, with sliding doors, a
built-in wire-mesh file drawer and a flip-top. It was the first piece of
furniture that they ever bought together.

"We've stayed together for the desk," says Fonda Nichols. "How could we
ever split it up?"

Mark and Amy Eggers couldn't tell Herman Miller from Herman Munster when
they started dating -- but over time, mid-century furniture has become
the 31-year-old married couple's obsession. After buying a single piece
from GoodEye, a Northwest store specializing in mid-century and tiki
styles, they became hooked. Recently they purchased a 1952 house in
Holmes Run Acres (another enclave of mid-century architecture in Fairfax
County), the better to show off their ever-expanding collection of
pieces by designers such as Harry Bertoia and Arne Jacobsen.

Amy Eggers likens the couple's simpatico sensibility to "an unspoken
language. Your tastes evolve together," she says.

"It's like being on a constant treasure hunt," she says. "And it's not
just for yourself -- you're always looking for things that the other
person will like. You're buying things for your home, for this
environment that you both enjoy so much."

(c) 2005 The Washington Post Company

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Midlife Modern
Modern Socialite
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley, CA

Postby Midlife Modern » Fri Apr 22, 2005 6:59 am

I was in D.C. last month and one morning opened the Washington Post
to find this posted article complete with color photos of newly restored
suburban MCM homes. I really had no idea there were homes of this type in
Virginia and Maryland. But, I had to laugh at the concept of dating someone
because of compatibility over furniture choices.
Also, when I was in Georgetown I found a great store with fabulous
vintage mid-century modernist furniture, accessories and artwork.
Every piece was in great condition with just the right amount of patina.
Unfortunately, I couldn't afford any of the stuff I liked. They had originals by
George Nelson, Gio Ponti, Paul McCobb, Eames, Herman Miller and
T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings among others.
The store is called Sixteen Fifty-Nine. www.sixteenfiftynine.com

Modern Master
Posts: 237
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 4:17 pm
Location: Washington, DC
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Postby CapitalMod » Fri Apr 22, 2005 10:55 am

Yea there are more than a few here although still a far cry from California. Lots by Charles Goodman in both Maryland and DC. We also have some fine modern structures like RFK Stadium and Dulles Airport.

The city of DC is a classic East Coast city but with a vague French look. The burbs are like all others having boomed in the 50s.

Thanks for the store tip. I will check it out. ***

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Lotta Living Host
Lotta Living Host
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Location: sunny Eugene, Oregon

Postby Joe » Fri Apr 22, 2005 1:10 pm

great concept, 'cuz compromising sucks!

User avatar
Midlife Modern
Modern Socialite
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley, CA

new style of dating

Postby Midlife Modern » Sat Apr 23, 2005 7:28 am

Yeah, however I am old enough to remember that if the person you dated had a bean bag chair and boards on cinderblocks they were cool. Now you have to have a $2,000 Eames chair to be worthy. :wink:
The fact that Design Within Reach was the sponsor of this dating should tell you something. One of the funny bits was a women who had original Eames wood ply chairs in her apt. and an unscreened suitor said, "how can you stand to sit in those things—they remind me of kindergarten". Needless to say that relationship didn't get off the ground.

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