Every time I see this Todd Merrell Antiques magazine ad, which I find weirdly compelling, I invariably end up at his website and am suddenly transported into some dark Middle Earth underworld, where I feel I might be asked to retrieve an amulet with the help of a talking dog with eyes as big as saucers or something. Normally, dark, blocky, pseudo-primitive furniture doesn’t appeal to me, but this particular antiques dealer collects pieces that are so well-made, so uniformly amazing, so farfetched, and – despite their number and diversity – so consistent in their level of fantasy, that I find it hard to resist any of them. Of course none of these objects is the slightest bit affordable. But together they point to something really funny about the early 70s – something that perhaps had its roots in the 50s or earlier – that brought together vague tribal fantasies, Middle Ages sci-fi, Beowulf, some sort of odd minimalist baroque, the rustic, the pagan and the just plain weird. Maybe what’s appealing about the dark, fantastical solidity of this stuff is that it’s a welcome relief from the relative spindliness and occasional prissiness of all those Danish teak settee legs and arms, or from the over-hygiene of minimalism, I don’t know. But these objects undoubtedly originate in some sort of rebellion against the disenchantment of a tamed machine-age aesthetic. I think that everyone, especially every midcentury-modern purist and every fussy 60s minimalist, desperately needs one mad, pagan piece of furniture, just to work against whatever it is you’ve got going on, and also, you know, to open an enchanted portal into the underworld. Details and many more pieces on Flickr.
The chair above includes lamp, bookshelf, ottoman, heads of deer to rest your hands upon, as well as dominion over a mountain forest kingdom.
And for your queen, this rocker. (Both wooden chairs above are by Jack Rogers Hopkins, USA, 1970s.)
A bronze wall-mounted chest by Paul Evans, USA, 1969, provides storage for vintage board games, 1970s Playboys, your fur cape, bottles of mead, your sword, whatever.
If I had the Paul Evans credenza above, I’d store the anti-Voldemort amulets (the ones my nephew requires to go to sleep) in it.
Forget Narnia! This wardrobe opens onto candlelit forest groves full of bacchanalian dancing all night long, and no martyr-y lions. Serving Cabinet, Phillip Lloyd Powell, 1960’s, USA
Exeunt all, through the doorway to Valhalla.
Tags: 1950s, 1970s, 50s, 70s, amulets, antiques, Beowulf, brutalism, brutalist, chair, chest, console, credenza, dark, decor, earthy, furniture, furniture design, hippie, Hobbit, Hobbity, interior design, kingdom, magic, mancave, medieval, men's, midcentury modern, Middle Ages, Middle Earth, modernism, modernist, Paul Evans, rocker, room divider, science fantasy, screen, Todd Merrell, Tolkien, Valhalla, woodsy