On the way back from LA last year, I bought a book with the rather unwieldly title of Hand-in-Hand: Ceramics, Mosaics, Tapestries, and Woodcarvings by the California Mid-Century Designers Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman, in the hopes that I might hang onto some of that California Modern vibe.
I hadn’t heard of Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman before, but they had me at the foreword, where one of my contemporary design and retail heroes, Jonathan Adler, wrote the following:
“…there are people such as Charley Harper, Alexander Girard, and Charles and Ray Eames… who somehow, by some mystical, magical process, have maintained teh explosive, uninhibited, unjaded creative freedom of childhood. Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman are in this pantheon of Design Gods. Their work is the perfect marriage of gorgeous design, impeccable craftsmanship, emotional sincerity, and unfiltered, childlike wonder.”
Throughout the book, which surveys the 30-year collaborative partnership of this brilliantly creative couple, the sense of their enjoyment of what they make shines through, as they build a business creating affordable, accessible homewares that epitomise Californian mid-century modernism. Operating first as Jenev Design Studio, then ERA Industries, the Ackermans designed and produced a dizzying array of goods, including weaving, ceramics, wood carvings, and mosaics.
One of the most enjoyable things about the book is that finished mosaics, tapestries and prints are shown alongside preparatory sketches, giving such fab insight to the development of a design.
I like the Ackermans. I like many of the things they make (some, I do find challenging, as they’re an awful lot like things I remember from some less-than-chic suburban 70s homes I once knew), but I love their energy, style and ability to work together so fruitfully and happiness. Lives can be so full and extraordinary, can’t they?
PS: When we were back in Cape Town, and I was paging through the book, I was thrilled to come across this image of the Morning Dove tapestry, which I read had gone on to be commissioned as a silkscreen for the rooms of a new Hyatt Hotel in 1973…
…because while we had been in the rather fabulous Dr Collectors store on Le Brea, I’d stopped to snap this pic, which I now realise must have been one of those Hyatt panels. Wow! Original Ackermans in the flesh! Geeking out now!