Oprah Magazine: Styling the Bennett House

I had a great opportunity back in December to style an entire Bennett House by brinca dada for the March 2015 issue of Oprah Magazine. The job came at a great time, since I had off from work over Christmas break, and I completed it in a little over a week (for comparison, my Ladies' Home Journal styling job took place over a few months). It was intensive but very fun.

The article is about how to "spiff up" your home for spring, so I had a framework from the editorial team to get me started. The photo editor knew that they wanted a modern, clean interior with specific things such as a large mirror in the entryway, plants on the upper level, a fireplace with birch logs, etc. So even before I had the house in hand, I started to consider what would work best from my collection.

About that house...I had to completely assemble it as part of the job. So, it was shipped to me flat and I immediately got to work. I'll be honest--it took me many hours to identify and organize the pieces and also get the adhesive off the windows. There was a lot of mental and physical elbow grease up front, but the results were great. It's a fantastic house that is a joy to style. 

Here is the completed house:

Once it was assembled, I had a much better sense of what furnishings would work. The house is closest to 1:16 scale, although 1:12 will also work. I realized the one thing I was lacking was a complete modern kitchen in 1:16 scale, so I ended up purchasing a Lundby Smaland one from a dollhouse store about an hour away.

Once I had the Lundby set, the rest of the kitchen came together quickly. The ceiling light is from IKEA and came in handy, and the clock is a favorite of mine from Bandai. I paired some colorful Reac Eames chairs with a custom dining table by Patie of Minisx2 on Etsy. The doggie was not planned by the magazine, but I added him in, and he made the cut! I love the way this room turned out.

The foyer also came together nicely. I ended up using a great 1:10 scale Bodo Hennig table, which worked well in that double-height space, along with a great graphic rug from minimodernistas. The mirror is a craft item, and I paired it with some funky fur boots by Re-ment. The light is a pull chain for a 1:1 scale ceiling fan from Lowe's, and the plant is AG Minis.

Yup, that's me
The biggest challenge was coming up with a modern fireplace and realistic birch logs. I ended up creating a fireplace with some wooden and plastic pieces and then actually found some real miniature birch logs at Michael's. I sent the magazine two different options and they ended up choosing the white one, which looks great with the picture frames by Paris Renfroe.

I was thrilled to be able to use a great "Long and Low" couch, pillow, and print ottoman by minimodernistas. They all worked really well in the space. 

The bedroom features a vintage German bed and a dresser, which I was not convinced would work in the space, but they did. 

The magazine was careful not to have the rooms be overtly midcentury modern; this was, of course, my original direction :)

No Eames for you!

No Risom, either!
They went for a Bodo Hennig chair instead, along with the globe fixture from minimodernistas.
The rooms went through some iterations, but not many. It was nice to see the house come together.

And yes, they kept the Mini Cooper, too!

Since the magazine hired a studio to take the photos, I had to pack up each of the furnishings and label everything according to its location. I also took pictures of the placements just in case. I then boxed up the house and drove it into New York City, directly to Hearst Corporation, which publishes the magazine.

My two older ones helped get everything safely into the Oprah offices :)

Here is the final spread, along with views of the individual pages. Very exciting!

The magazine added a red door, as well as a closet in the foyer

And my credit!!!

"Dollhouse Stylist." I LIKE IT. Hope you enjoyed the results!

Bennett House at NYIGF

This week, I made it into the city to take in the August market at the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). I was pressed for time, so I focused my energies on the Accent on Design section in the mammoth Javits Center.

The brinca dada booth was among my first stops, and I was rewarded: the final 3/4" scale Bennett House was on display, along with a new line of furniture! Founder and CEO Doug Rollins was on hand to answer my many questions as I stared and stared at the final house (they previously showed a prototype at the Toy Fair in February; you can see my post here).

So what did I learn this time around about the house?

* It's smaller than the prototype, but still opens up to provide many levels of play. There's even a hinged  garage and an elevator (hand cranked)!

* It's a straightforward assembly made of eco-friendly woods...Doug assured me that it would not take longer than 45 minutes (P.S. This is not a lightweight house...definitely has some heft)

* Doug and his partner Tim Boyle, the architect who designed the house, used a completely different manufacturer from the Emerson, and are very happy with the quality. Doug does not foresee any issues and knows he will have happy customers.

* A whole new line of furniture is available with the house and will be sold as a complete set for $399 or by room, and prices will range from $29.99 to $49.99 per set. This new line is a *major* upgrade from the Emerson line...real wood grains, some leather, fabric, hinged details, and working drawers. Doug told me that they were designed by Cecilia Reboursin.

* Unlike the Emerson, the house will not be electrified. Too complex, and eliminates production delays and difficulties.

* The Bennett will be a limited run, only 300 are planned and a portion of that will be shipped to Europe.

* Retail price: $599

* The house is still on track to be available in October, and they will start taking pre-orders in the next few weeks.

How about some photos? The quality is not ideal -- they were all taken with my iPhone. The final flooring in the house will be bamboo, and Doug showed me a sample. I took some of the furniture shots on the sample. He also mentioned that the flooring in the garage will be cement-like.

That's Doug making a sale on a Bennett in the background, one of the few that occurred while I was at the booth!

The garage -- floor will have a cement finish

LOVE the stool, and the lounger is pretty great as well

Fabric topped bed!

That's a leather covering on the office chair

Two rugs come with the set

Nursery furniture also features fabric toppings

Lovely shape!

What do you think??

You might have seen the Dylan lurking in the background. Doug tells me the house, which retails for $149, is doing very well since it launched this spring and started shipping in the summer. The final furniture was on display, and I was impressed by the its sturdiness and style. For $14.99, it's a steal.

Here's some video of the Dylan and its furnishings (excuse crappy video quality):

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the latest from brinca dada. Is the Bennett on your wish list? Is the Dylan already in your house? What shall we ask Doug and Tim to make for us next?!

New News on brinca dada's Dylan

All photos courtesy of brinca dada

There's news to be had on the Dylan, the latest creation from brinca dada. Earlier this year I blogged about the Dylan here and here, and it was exciting to see this inventive follow-up to the Emerson, the wildly successful modern 1:16 scale house that launched the company. While founder and CEO Doug Rollins admits that there were production issues with the Emerson, they are committed to continuing their efforts to create products that are "beautiful and fun." (By the way, check out the brinca dada website for a sale on the Emerson now.)

Doug shared some details on the Dylan and was kind enough to satisfy my intense curiosity with some new renderings of the house and furniture. The house, which Doug says is inspired by the work of minimalist masters Paul Rudolph and Tadao Ando, looks very similar to the prototype I saw at the Gift Fair, but the main difference is that it is now not collapsible. Doug said that it came down to a safety issue so they decided to launch it as a fixed structure. Constructed in 1:16 scale and made of MDF and other woods, the Dylan features lead-free and non-toxic paints, and includes four rooms on two levels. The house will be available on the brinca dada website (and in select stores) in mid-July for $149, which is at the lower end of the range Doug shared at the Gift Fair in February. And yes, brinca dada will ship the house internationally!

Care for a peek inside?

There will be a set of 26 pieces of modern furniture, made of foamboard, for a very reasonable $14.99. While in my opinion there are some similarities to the MoMA Modern Play House pieces, the Dylan set shows more sophisticated profiles with just the right pops of color.

I personally really like the design. It's boxy, but I think the open panes give it an airiness and sense of fun. Remember, this is a toy for kids too, not just us rabid modern mini fans! I see many possibilities for modern scenes and setups, and while I am disappointed that the design no longer supports a collapsible functionality, it's not a deal-breaker for me. Heck, only one of my houses is truly collapsible (my Large VERO) and I never take advantage of this feature.

Share your own feedback on the renderings, and let me know if you have other queries. I know Doug would be more than happy to provide the answers if he can, and I look forward to seeing the house in person at the NY International Gift Fair in August.

On the Bennett, the next brinca dada offering waiting in the wings, it is still in production and Doug hopes to share more on it soon. There's also some plans in the works for the Emerson. I know we'll all stay tuned...

Toys, Toys

Reconstruction of cutouts for "Noah's Ark," by Antonio de Lara, from the catalogue Toys of the Avant-Garde

In a few weeks I will be headed to the Toy Fair in New York City to check out the latest and greatest in toys, with an eye toward products for adults and kids alike that are dollhouse-related or are items that can be used in modern dollhouse environments.

My first stop at the Fair will be the brinca dada booth. As many of you know, brinca dada is the toy company behind the 1:16 scale Emerson House, which premiered at last year's Fair and has ended up in many of your homes. I heard from owner Doug Rollins (whose partner is architect Tim Boyle) that not only are they aiming to have their gorgeous Bennett on display at the Fair, but they are also unveiling a new house, the Dylan. Doug shared a preview of this new creation, which is...collapsible and extremely cool-looking!

Check this out this demo:

video courtesy of brinca dada

Amazing, right? Doug said that the house is ideal for the "modern doll house lover and apartment dweller" and can easily slide "under a bed or behind a couch."  The house will carry a price tag of between $149-$179, according to Doug. The house has design elements evocative of the Emerson, such as the flooring and style of the roof. I do love the walls of windows and the bi-level design. And, of course, I love the idea of a collapsible house, having seen the potential of my 1940s pop-up, my 1960s Instant Doll House, and even my new 1960s Bodo Hennig school house. Doug and Tim are still working on the specs, so they could not yet share materials or scale, or details like whether or not there will be stairs. I look forward to talking more with Doug at the Fair, and will fill you in soon!

On a related note, I wanted to share some photos from a book that accompanied an exhibition of Toys of the Avant-Garde, which is on view at the Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain until January 30.

It is a lovely catalogue of children's toys, books, posters, dolls, furniture, and many other aspects of play in the avant-garde style from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book features essays by curators and other experts on the stylistic influences of play in different countries and cultures, highlighting the designs of artists including Picasso, Klee, Calder, Duchamp, and many others. Here are some of my favorite pictures (it was difficult to choose!):

Any surprise that this a high chair by Gerrit Rietveld?

Now THAT's a cradle!

The catalogue, which was printed in separate editions in English and Spanish, retails for about $40 through Amazon or Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. I acquired mine through Barnes & Noble and with my membership and a coupon, it was $35. Well worth it!

Browsing through the catalogue reminded me to share a little toy that I recently purchased: a boxed wooden train marked "East Germany." It is such a simple, timeless design, and will hopefully work well in one of my 1:10 scale houses; I put it next to a 1:10 scale chair for comparison:

Lastly...I have a few special mini vintage "toys" in my collection that are lovely, but I am finding that I will likely not use in my houses. I wanted to offer them up to my readers, in the hope that one or a few of you might like to add them to your own collections. They are very special, and I wanted to offer them here first before trying eBay or something similar.

They are:

A vintage boxed set of Brio Mobilia dining room furniture, 1:16 scale:

The box is a bit worn, especially at the corners, but is unopened and the furniture looks to be in mint condition. As you can see, it is labeled "Djursholm 38380." I believe it is from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

The other two pieces came as part of a lovely lot of 1950s German furniture that I bought back in spring 2009, and are closest to 1:10 scale. I found out that the pieces came from Haus Kathrin (you can see my post here), a stunning 1950s era house.

A  wooden television set, missing a leg, but easily fixed. The wiring and plug is completely intact, but I have not been able to test it.

A corner-shaped fireplace, covered in litho paper and also wired. There is a red bulb behind the wires, so I have to assume it is meant to light up to simulate the heat of a roaring fire!

If you are interested in any of these gems, please email me an offer at call-small(at)call-small(dot)com. First come, first served. Thanks!

Design Within Reach Recap

Thanks to everyone for all of your support during the preparation for my Design Within Reach event, which occurred on Thursday, June 24, in Princeton, NJ. A BIG thanks goes to the store and its staff - Troyce, Meredith, and Henry - for inviting me to put up the display and for giving me the freedom to create something new and different.

It was an incredibly fun and surreal time, and it made all the work (and stress!) worth it. I thought I would give a little (actually, it's pretty long on details) recap with some of my photos taken after the event; I had the foresight to have a photographer at the event, but lacked the foresight to bring my own camera! All of the event pictures will be posted to my Flickr soon, hopefully next week, and I'll let you know when they are there.

What happened before 1:30 p.m.?
My day started early, getting the kids off to school and then running some last minute errands for the display. I had stayed up quite late the night before putting the finishing touches on the Kaleidoscope House and the two fish condos that would also be part of the event. I knew it was going to be very important to pack everything away safely and in an organized manner so that I could unpack as efficiently as possible at the store. I memorized all the setups as I put items away in little sorting trays and larger boxes and tried to group them by room. This took a while, people, let me tell you! I also had to finish some last minute framing of some of my K House photographs and I also wrote and framed a description for what was on view, noting all the loans from Elf Miniatures, minimodernistas, Paris Renfroe, and Peppercorn Minis. I threw my new business cards in along with a little Alessi tray to display them. I showered, dressed, and set outvery slowly in the car for the store.

At 2:00 p.m. I arrived at the store, leaving me two hours to set everything up. The store looked great, and Meredith and Henry were there to help me strategize on where to place everything. We figured out that the house would go on a lovely long extendable table in the front middle of the store, and my photographs and fish condos on a shelving unit on the opposite side. I set up the condos and Meredith placed them along with my photographs. This is how it all looked:

I used two pieces in the store to do setups: an Eames black wire table and a Rolly side table, and Meredith suggested spacing them out apart from the house display in other parts of the store so as not to crowd things. Excellent decision. I set them up quickly and went to work on the house. Henry and Meredith offered to help, but then could see that I whirling around to place everything solo. :)

By 3:00 p.m., most of the furniture was set up, and it became apparent to me that I should have tried harder to clean some of the blue-tac and other marks that have built up over time. I did what I could and felt relieved to have some extras of Glenda's rugs and some artwork! I then placed all of the accessories and tweaked things here and there.

Mark Green, an architect who designed the furniture for the brinca dada Emerson House, then arrived! It was so great to see the Emerson for the first time. It is large when opened up, so we decided to add a leaf to the table and it worked beautifully. Mark prepared the house for the display and let us know that Doug and Tim of brinca dada had to take all the furniture prototypes to the west coast for a trade show. So, while very unfortunate no furniture was there to see, Mark brought out his laptop and showed us some amazing renderings of everything, and was also able to show all the guests later on. We all just drooled and drooled. Here's a peek:

When 4:00 p.m. rolled around, I was done, and felt a huge sigh of relief. People started to come in and there was sustained attendance throughout the three hours. It was a bit surreal to see people look at the house and setups in a space other than my basement, and also great to have friends, work colleagues, and others come to catch a glimpse of my madness. Lots of people asked questions, mostly about how I got started and if I make my own furnishings. People were amazed at the craftsmanship of all of the loaned pieces and were genuinely impressed that these artisans could create such realistic copies of classic modern design in 1:12 scale.

And there were 1:12 to 1:1 mirror images all around the store, like the 1:1 Nelson desk:

And Elf Miniatures' version!

Here is my lovely new teak shelf from Mini Modern (thanks, MC!), by Paris Renfroe:

Look how nice Glenda's rug works as a wall hanging, next to Doris' heavenly bed:

People loved the cozy luxury of this space:

And enjoyed the play of colors in the kitchen:

If anyone knows these Theo Klein stoves, you know that they look like toys from the back. So I used some reflective paper to simulate stainless.

Among the visitors, there were two lovely women who said they followed my blog and had come from a distance -- I am sorry I did not ask their names, nor where they came from (if you are reading, please comment, and let me know, so I can thank you again!). Then, I spent time speaking with three other older women who talked about their own dollhouse ventures, and one expressed interest in sushi for doll houses. I referred her to the store down the street that currently carries a Re-ment sushi set! Another woman was a furniture designer who seemed intrigued by the possibilities in 1:12, especially since you don't need as much space to work! Some children came and were all so incredibly well behaved and engaged. It was so interesting to hear people's impressions and perspectives and observe their reactions to what was on display.

After 7:00 p.m., we moved the house up on a shelf, along with the Emerson and the Eames and Rolly tables. I am so glad I decided to do the event, even though it stretched me pretty thin and was a challenge to plan. I could not have done it without the support of my husband and kids, who kept reminding me to have fun. It was truly a learning experience, designed around creativity and exploration.

Credits: Thanks again to all the artisans for lending their wonderful work. I am only highlighting their loans here; the accessories and other furnishings are from my collection. Kitchen: Green kitchen unit and dishwasher, table, and one stove from Elf Miniatures; Arc and globe lamps and blond tall cabinet by minimodernistas; low bench, abstract artwork, and cowhide ottomans by Paris Renfroe; rug by sink by Peppercorn Minis. TV Room: Couch and TV stand by minimodernistas. Office: Nelson desk and shelving unit by Elf Miniatures; rug by Peppercorn Minis; curved trefoil table by Paris Renfroe. Bath: Jacuzzi and sink by Elf Miniatures; hatbox toilet by Paris Renfroe. Bedroom: Bed, linens, and side table by minimodernistas; rug wall hanging by Peppercorn Minis. Eames wire table: Noguchi coffee table by Paris Renfroe. Rolly side table: curved chaise and potted plants by Paris Renfroe. Orange fish condo: sink by Elf Miniatures; S chair by Paris Renfroe.

Big Buzz, Mini News: Brinca Dada!

After the recent Toy Fair in New York City, buzz spread very quickly amongst the modern mini community about the Emerson, a stunning 1:16 modernist creation unveiled at the Fair. FromDaddy Types, to ohdeedoh, to my fellow bloggers Mini Modern, Altera, and Rebecca, design and doll house aficionados posted with intrigue about this newcomer, designed by the firm brinca dada (that's "BREEN-kuh day-duh"). Modern MC of Mini Modern recalled that a very similar-looking house sold on eBay for over $400 a few months ago, and it was confirmed that it was indeed the Emerson prototype. See this Daddy Types post for more on this.

The house will retail for $299 this spring, and according to the Brinca Dada website, the home has it all: six rooms including a living room, kitchen, library/office, master bedroom, bathroom and child's bedroom; a large, open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows; many extras including mitered-glass corners, two fireplaces, sliding glass doors, solar panels, and recessed LED lights; and non-toxic and lead-free wood stains and paints.

A press release on the brinca dada website notes that the Emerson's design was inspired by Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House and the ultra-modern home that A. Quincy Jones designed for Gary Cooper, here (courtesy of www.eichlernetwork.com):

I was in touch with brinca dada head Doug Rollins, a dad of three, about the house, and wanted to share some more about this welcome addition to the modern doll house scene.

What's the scale?
The scale of the house is closest to 1:16, although buzz early on said everything from 1:12 to 1:18. Rollins says, "The actual size is 3/4" which I think equates to 1:16. When we originally designed Emerson as 1:12 it was enormous and we thought it would be too big for many playrooms and too expensive. We're learning about scale as we go here. The idea for the company is to make toys that adults love to look at and kids love to play with. For the houses, we are finding that there is a significant market for dollhouse collectors as well. So we are quickly learning how best to give them what they are looking for. We developed Emerson House for kids as the primary user and adults (re: dollhouse enthusiasts) as a secondary target."

By the way, I have to assume a level of durability of this house given it is geared for children, who will likely not be deterred by the lack of stairs!

Are there accessories for the house?
There are dolls and living furniture. The dolls have a minimalist edge and in my opinion might resonate more with the kids and may not suit those adult collectors who use dolls in their scenes, but the furniture is more adaptable for collectors. Rollins said of the furniture and pricing, "We don't have prices for the furniture, but we are hoping to keep them in the $30-$40 per room range. More to come on that. We are still in the design phase so we don't know materials etc. yet." The chair is an absolute definite for me, and it would be great if the firm produced a range of rooms.

Where will the house be sold?
The house will be sold on the brinca dada website and in fine toy stores. Rollins said that he is "...pushing for wide distribution of our toys at retail. We plan to be in toy shops, hobby & doll shops, design stores, museum stores, department stores and maybe even some furniture stores." They are currently seeking a European distributor, but will ship worldwide!

Who is brinca dada and what is the meaning behind the name?
Rollins, a toy industry veteran, co-founded brinca dada with architect Tim Boyle, who as Rollins stated has "designed houses for a number of celebrities (which he can't disclose, even to me)." On the name, Rollins shared that "Brinca dada (it's day-duh) comes from the Brazilian term for toy or game. It's a total butchering of the spelling, though. Tim and I both lived in Brazil at different times and we both always liked the term. It has a great ring to it. Brinca is also Spanish for jump and we like the association with the dadaist movement which was so playful and also with the idea of daddy, which Tim and I both are." Boyle is dad to four, and both he and Rollins reside with their families in New York City. The company is so new that as Rollins said, "...when I say new, I mean new. We launched this last Sunday at Toy Fair."

Will brinca dada continue to produce doll houses?
Rollins said that brinca dada will continue to design houses as part of their line and have some ideas for other toys that he did not want to disclose at this time. Regarding additional items, they have a modern townhouse in the works, the Bennet House, that Rollins hopes will be available by October. "It's truly stunning," Rollins said. "I can't wait to finalize the designs so we can get some renderings out."

We can't wait either!!!

The Emerson definitely fills a niche for modern doll house collectors, including those who prefer working in 1:12, but who might be amenable to working in a smaller scale. I absolutely love the use of materials and the warmth of this house. I am impressed by what looks to be fine finishings and a keen level of architectural detail; I look forward to seeing it in person.

I'll keep tabs on brinca dada, and have a feeling you will too.