Monday, February 08, 2010

A Loopy Coincidence




Life is full of coincidences. Last week I learned that David Serrano and Robert Willson of Downtown had introduced a powder-coated steel version of the iconic "loop" chair (see above) made famous by Frances Elkins. Serrano and Willson were inspired to create an outdoor version of the chair after a designer told them that he recalled seeing a metal version of it in the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Well, I thought it was an interesting tidbit of design news, and in fact I mentioned it on Facebook a few day ago.

So here's where the coincidence part comes: this weekend I was watching the 1944 film
Laura, and lo and behold, there was a metal version of the loop chair:


Here they are on the character Waldo Lydecker's patio. You'll have to click on the photo to zoom in on it, but there are the loop chairs sitting pretty underneath that really fabulous umbrella.



If you look really closely, you'll see that the set designers Thomas Little and Paul S. Fox also used a loop bench on Lydecker's balcony.



And Waldo Lydecker wasn't the only character in the film with metal loop chairs. Ann Treadwell, the title character Laura's wealthy aunt, had them as well.

Now, I didn't have time this weekend to watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner so I can't comment on that movie's chairs. The metal backs of the Laura version seem to be flat (almost pressed looking), and the loops appear to be beefier than those of the Downtown chair. And if you look at the last photo, there was also a loop table. How great- a loop chair, loop bench, and loop table. Perhaps Serrano and Willson should consider expanding their line.

(And in another slight coincidence, the famous David Raksin theme song of Laura (titled Laura, of course) was the music that my sister, Laura, walked down the aisle to when she got married.)

34 comments:

  1. Eagle eye Jennifer. The interiors in GWCTD are really terrific by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. GREAT story and great chair!! I love what you did with this post images included. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Courtney! I agree about the interiors from GWCTD, but I never saw the loop chairs! I need to watch it again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like it when life imitates art; you start to see things that you never really saw before once you have been exposed to so much more!

    Good eye! Great post!

    Leslie

    ReplyDelete
  5. The flatten version shown in the movie is a much more striking design, I think, and beefier too. I wonder what company produced it?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think the Laura version closely resembles the original antique chairs from which the design was taken. I too would love to know who produced them. If I find out, I'll let you know.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How totally cool are you to pick up on that!!! I love it! I also LOVE that chair. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cynthia- Thanks for the vote of confidence, but don't know if I'm cool ;) Perhaps I just get too caught up in the set decoration!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The new chair is great looking - I wonder if it is comfortable as well...
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  10. Way to go, Jennifer!

    Talk about something hidden in plain sight. How many millions of people have watched that classic movie in the last 60-some years, without anyone ever noticing those iconic chairs--or, anyway, without anyone ever commenting on a design blog about them? And a bench & table design, too! I'm glad somebody's keeping her eyes open.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Bart! Finally, during my third time watching it I finally saw those loop chairs. I think you have to watch movies a few times- the first time to pay attention to the plot, and the second to absorb the set's details.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous12:22 PM

    Wow, What a wonderful post! I'm a long time fan and owner of some of the original loop chairs. The ones I have where made by Century Furniture. Shax Reigler wrote a really nice history of the chair for Antiques Magazine a couple of years ago. The article is entitled "The It Chair" The orginial modles came from Nancy Lancaster's collection and where Janpaned. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've discovered that reading decor blogs has affected my movie-viewing--I'm always distracted by set design now. BTW--I love the older chair design and don't care for the newer version (it looks too much like painted rattan.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great eye Jennifer!! I love a happy coincidence!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I use to watch Sex & The City twice, once for the plot and then a rewind for the clothes. After this post, I see I'm going to have to do the same with movies! Nice post, and great eyesight!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am impressed with your eyesight. I think you may have to buy you sister a chair!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Really neat - what an eye you have to spot it. I love the finished effect. I'd use these inside too!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Laura what a fantastic movie,love the chairs as done there. The new version backs- I wonder how comfortable they will be on the back after a bit of sitting. With your eagle eye-You should be on the look out for some old ones. pgt

    ReplyDelete
  19. That is just so interesting, great eye and great research! When I saw the title of your post " A loopy Coincidence", it took on a different meaning for me since I just wrote a post "My Loopy Obsession" http://iamadomesticgoddess-acs.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-loopy-obsession.html. Seems many of us ,(always) have these chairs on the brain!

    ReplyDelete
  20. cool post and awesome chair :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous8:04 PM

    I too have noticed the metal garden variety of loop chairs in this movie and others over the years. And I agree this is a very interesting aspect of the history of the 20th century loop chair and its origins. What came first the Elkins version or Hollywood? The Elkins' loops for Mrs. Marshall Field at Mutton Town NY came out in Vogue in 1936 and Elkins' loops for the Wheeler's in Lake Forest IL came out in House & Garden in 1938. As far as I know this was the first time modern loop chairs were seen in print in the US as popular decor. The movie Laura was released in 1944.

    The Country Life books showing Edward Hudson's 18th century loop chairs (later owned by R. Tree and N. Lancaster) were published around 1908 and surely this was the spark that started the whole thing.

    I dont think metal garden versions were ever manufactured or surely we would have seem them pop up often in the last few years but instead these were designed by and made for Hollywood set designers.


    As for these new metal loop chairs...Antiques on Old Plank Road a Chicago antique dealer sold an old set of 6 in 2008. They were supposedly by Elkins from a house in Lake Forest IL and supposedly were sold to someone in NY. .

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please let me in on your coincidence! I too watched Laura on Saturday. The interiors, clothing.....oh my! The fact that I have been "jonesing" on the Elkins chair per your post and that you watched Laura "with me" how serendipitous.

    I enjoy your blog soooo much. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Fabulous post! This has always been one of my favorite movies and I named my cat after Waldo Lydecker!

    Thank God for Clifton Webb...did you also love him in The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham?

    Really great ...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Boy !!you have got me looking into those photo's. They are lovely chairs and I still say some of the old designers were just great.
    The Garden furniture is hard to find..I have gone to lots auctions and seen it rarely.

    yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anon- Thank you for this info on the metal loop chairs. Very curious...

    ReplyDelete
  26. DB- OK, now that is really a coincidence! Great minds think alike ;)

    Jane- I have not seen Razors Edge yet, but plan to soon!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous9:34 AM

    love these chairs! FYI It can also be seen on the terrace of Uncle Willie's house in the 1940 film Philadelphia Story.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anon- I've seen that movie about 3 times but I've never paid attention to the sets once! Big mistake on my part :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. You are too much! Nothing gets past you. Waldo's bathroom has always haunted me....

    ReplyDelete
  30. Actually, I could do an entire post on Waldo's home...it's that fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  31. magnaverde11:23 AM

    An excellent suggestion...

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love this outdoor chair . Fabulous inspiration

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great eye! And great chair too!

    ReplyDelete