I have been greatly anticipating the January issue of the Magazine Antiques. Its new editor Betsy Pochoda (formerly of House and Garden) has gradually been making changes since May 2008, but finally in this month's issue we get to see its much-talked about redesign.
Another seismic shift in the magazine has been Pochoda's inclusion of mid-century design, which, frankly, is about time. When Leigh Keno, American furniture dealer and Antiques Roadshow poster boy, starts slipping in 1950s Italian furniture alongside an 18th Philadelphia School tallboy, you know things are a-changing.
One article in particular will make you want to consider giving the magazine a closer look: "The It Chair" by Shax Reigler. It chronicles the history of what many have dubbed the Frances Elkins Loop Chair through the eyes of design sleuth James Shearron of the architectural firm Bories and Shearron. Bories explains his fascination with the chair: "They appear to be made from one continuous unbroken line and that's very alluring. It also walks that line between modern and traditional design which is something we play with in our own work."
18th century English side chair in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the articulation of loops on the back of this chair in which you can see their overlapping as well as how they shape the back is based on the designs of William de la Cour and is the closest precedent for loop-back chairs. However there is no direct design source for the Elkins chair found to date
Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler's living room in Lake Forest, Illinois in a photograph by Ezra Stoller, circa 1934
Shearron came across this mid-century cast-iron pair (which most certainly were painted white) intended for the outdoors, and furthermore remembers seeing the loop chair in terrace settings in Hollywood films of the 30's.
A loop chair in the country house living room of Albert Hadley
Another feature Bories and Shearron will be certain to include is the dipped seat, which Elkins also replicated in her versions (which is a good tip to look for if something is represented with an Elkins provenance). "The opportunityto see this delicate calligraphic-like object married with our architecture would be very cool. We love them in black like the originals, or even a dark mahogany. A full set around a dining table or a few in a hallway - they really can go anywhere." And that's a recipe for a classic, if I ever heard one.
UPDATE: This April, Sotheby's New York will be offering the Elkins Loop Chairs designed for the Leslie Wheelers. This is a rare opportunity to own documented Elkins chairs - how much will they go for?
UPDATE II: http://www.themagazineantiques.com