semi modern

The William Kessler House
January 4, 2011, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Architecture | Tags: , , ,

The Grosse Pointe Park home of the late architect William Kessler quietly came onto the market last spring.  The home had been in care of Kessler’s daughters since the death of their mother in 2009, and they were interested in finding a buyer who would appreciate the pedigree of the home.  They started a word-of-mouth campaign among the members of SE Michigan’s creative industries, and that’s how I ended up getting a tour of the home several months back with my friends Keira and Toby.

The house was built in 1959 and, along with the Hawkins Ferry House also designed by Kessler, is considered one of Grosse Pointe’s most important modern homes.  Much of the furniture was custom-designed for the house, and the hope was that the new buyer would be interested in keeping those pieces in the home.  Speaking as someone who has worked with modern furniture for a long time I would say some of those bespoke pieces are a big part of the appeal!

The house fronts a busy street and rests behind a brick courtyard wall.  It has three peaked sections (see the small photo of the rear of the house below) and inside is divided into nine sections. As you face the front of the house the three peaks contain, (from front to back):  right peak – a music/lounging area, the foyer, and the dining room; middle peak – the living room, the kitchen and the family room; left peak –  the master bedroom, the second bedroom and the office/third bedroom.

Rear View of Kessler House

Rear View of Kessler House

The house sold in October, for a mind-numbing $235k. I know, another modern bargain in Michigan!  Since you’ll probably never be invited over, why don’t you enjoy these photos instead? 

[Sorry about the quality of the photos, the day was very overcast when I visited.  The pictures in the broker listing were much lovelier (and properly staged) but are no longer available online!]

Hyde Park, Detroit
February 24, 2010, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Downtown Living, Modern Living | Tags: , , ,

Just a quick hop across the Dequindre Cut from Lafayette Towers lies a quiet but cool residential co-operative called Hyde Park.  In the Detroit City Plan Commission’s Detroit Redevelopment Project List from March 1961 the parcel is referred to as “Elmwood Park #1 – Housing.”

I’ve met a few Hyde Park residents in my time in Detroit, several of them were visitors to Mezzanine’s showroom, others I’ve just met in the way you meet people around here.  All of them love where they live, and they’ve all been solid Detroiters in that progressive Lafayette Park mold I enjoy so much. 

Like other co-ops in the area, they surrender attention to the Mies co-ops, but it doesn’t mean the homes are without their architectural charms.  I have always been a fan of the variegated courtyard walls and the unique lighting, and particularly in winter have always gotten an expressive, “modernist Narnia” vibe from the neighborhood.  Must be all the lamp posts.

I took some time one snowy afternoon earlier this winter to try and capture some of the feel in photographs.  I learned that late afternoon is a tricky time to photograph the area.  Maybe I’ll try again in spring.

Hyde Park is very pedestrian-oriented by design. This is one entry, from St. Aubin Street.

Lamp-posted walkways cut a cross through the co-op.

The courtyard walls first caught my attention. Note the excellent lamp.

A side view with the great wall.

A backyard view.

The three-story units seem fantastic, with balconies on the upper levels.

Hugh is Open!
October 8, 2009, 11:59 am
Filed under: Downtown Living | Tags: , ,

Mezzanine has moved out of its showroom in Harmonie Park ( a wonderful space in a cool building that is now available for lease, by the way) and will be setting up shop next month in the Buhl Building, located in downtown’s Financial District.  In the meantime, we’ve opened Hugh.

A Park Avenue address finally!

A Park Avenue address finally!

Hugh is a store that sells home and personal accessories for men.  It has barware, glassware, furniture, lighting, and personal items like cufflinks and money clips, as well as distinctive vintage items.  It draws its inspiration from the classic masculine style of the 50s and 60s.  Think Mad Men or Playboy After Dark.

Mezzanine is known for carrying some of the best names in modern furniture, but there is also a certain price point that often goes along with that.  At Hugh we’ve made an effort to find great accessories that are affordable, and we are featuring furniture and lighting that delivers a lot of style impact with a lower wallet impact (with a smattering of high end classics thrown in – it was simply unavoidable).  Hugh is really a finely-focused subset of what Mezzanine has offered over the years, but it feels like an entirely new beast!

Check out the Hugh blog at for an immediate fix of Hugh information, and watch for our evolving website at   Of particular interest will be the Hugh Early Adopter promotion!  Stop in to check out Hugh – it’s located directly behind the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit.

Ch-Ch-Changes at Mezzanine
August 28, 2009, 1:19 pm
Filed under: News & Promotions | Tags: ,
A reason, a season or a lifetime?  I think a season!

A reason, a season or a lifetime? I think a season!

The whole Mezzanine world is about to be remixed and remastered, starting this weekend! Partially in response to new opportunities, partially due to a sluggish economy, but mostly borne out of a personal desire to change things up (call it the 11-year itch), Mezzanine is moving out of its Harmonie Park showroom at the end of August. 

Replacing that great loft showroom will be three different Mezzanine components:

*  Hugh, Mezzanine’s new “sub brand” store, will be opening up on Park Avenue in the Iodent Building, just after Labor Day.  Located at street level right next to Centaur Martini Bar, Hugh will offer gifts and home/personal accessories for men, inspired by classic 60s bachelor style.  It will offer a broad range of items at very appealing pricepoints, because I figure it’s about time we had a guy store around here.

* will be the primary source for Mezzanine’s amazing collection of classic and contemporary modern furniture and accessories.  New items will continually be added over the coming months until all our offerings are online.  With our hyper-competitive pricing and free shipping on most items, will be the spot to meet your modern needs!

*  Mezzanine By Appointment.  We will be set up in a new showroom soon that everyone is welcome to visit.  See furniture in person, check out fabric samples, obtain our counsel on furniture and lighting selections, special order merchandise or have a styling consultation in our stylish new digs.  Details on this in a future email!

So a new chapter begins at Mezzanine, and it seems like the most exciting yet!

The Gus Modern Sale!
July 31, 2009, 2:09 pm
Filed under: News & Promotions | Tags: ,

Gus Modern, our Canadian friends who design outstanding classically-styled modern furniture, are having a big sale!  Through August 16, all upholstered furniture from Gus is 20% off the already-reasonable prices!

Great Classic Lines

Great Classic Lines

We sell many expensive items at Mezzanine, and over time I have learned why some items are so expensive.  The attention to design, the meticulous craftsmanship, the uncompromising materials – all these things add up in cost pretty quickly.  You don’t purchase a piece of e15 or Knoll furniture because you are looking for a bargain, you purchase it because you are looking for the best.  It has always been Mezzanine’s goal to carry the best design and the best quality.

That is why I was thrilled to start representing the well-priced Gus Modern line of furniture.  While there are obviously trade-offs when you get an $1800 sofa versus a  $4000 sofa, I have found them to be incredibly thoughtfully-designed and well-made, and a great value for the money.  I am happy to show their furniture side-by-side with our other lines, and to have furniture that is accessible to a broader range of customers.

The 20% sale makes the great pricing on this furniture even better!

Pierre Paulin
June 17, 2009, 1:00 pm
Filed under: News & Promotions | Tags: , , ,

We received some sad news from our friends at Artifort today.  Pierre Paulin, the influential French designer whose work for Dutch manufacturer Artifort is considered iconic 60s modern design, passed away on Saturday.  He was 81.

Pierre Paulin  1927 - 2009

Pierre Paulin 1927 - 2009

Paulin is best known for his 1960s designs with catchy names like the Orange Slice, the Tongue, the Ribbon or the Tulip (names given by the public, not by the designer), but his body of work is extensive and spans sixty years.   Many of his designs are in museum collections internationally, including MoMA.

Back in 2004 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC a group of us had dinner with Pierre Paulin and our Artifort colleagues.  A friend joined me at the dinner and we were seated right next to and across from Paulin, so we ended up talking with him all evening.  His English is slightly better than my French, so there was not a lot of small talk, but we chatted about the differences between American and European cities, and some of his older more obscure designs. 

A good friend had a Paulin-designed chair made by Artifort in the 1960s that was long out of production and as I described it to him he drew a picture to make sure we were talking about the same chair.  At the end of the evening I asked him to sign the drawing for me, to give to my friend.  The chair and the drawing have both come into my possession now.

At dinner, discussing the chair.

At dinner, discussing the chair.


Sketching the F282 archair series.

People tend to categorize Paulin’s designs as part of the movement toward wild, bold design in the 60s, but his pieces are, at their core, minimal and sculptural.  When showing pieces at Mezzanine we have always had a tendency to show the chairs in neutral colors, to emphasize their form:  a Tongue Chair in black wool stretch fabric; an Oyster Chair in a light beige wool boucle.  Context is what ultimately gives these designs any “retro” or “kitsch” factor, on their own they are timeless.

An exuberant design in a minimalist setting always works.

An exuberant design in a minimalist setting always works.

His death marks the passing of another major figure in 20th century design. You can learn more about Pierre Paulin on his website, which is in French but has many attractive photos.  And Design Addict has a nice retrospective of his work here.

Wielding the June Cleaver
June 5, 2009, 5:33 pm
Filed under: News & Promotions | Tags:

Our big Mezzanine clearance sale starts this Saturday, June 6!

There is nothing like a fantastic deal on Mezzanine merchandise, so we are chopping prices on almost everything in the store. Furniture floor models, name-brand accessories, overstock, old stock, even some vintage items – it all gets the price cut.

We want to clear out whatever we can so we can change things up.  Everything is priced to move. 

What isn't marked down in this photo? Nothing.

What isn't marked down in this photo? Nothing.

We are going to try something new this time with our “Make Me an Offer” section.  An item is tagged with its regular price and you tell me what you want to pay!  If I’m in a good mood, I’ll probably accept your offer.  Or maybe we can haggle!  It’s like a garage sale, except you pay sales tax.

The sale lasts the month of June, come down soon and snatch up the bargains!


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