it’s a paul rand moment. i want to share another paul rand item, this one beautiful and rare. there are many books on mr. rand , but i’m amazed how many of these books have left out many items he designed. many monographs on artists and designers often are not as comprehensive as i would like. maybe it’s all those art history classes i took. an exception in my mind was burke’s book on jan tschichold, ‘active literature.’ the depth and detail about tschichold’s life, and the many examples of his designs, are remarkable. there were dozens of items that i had never seen before. when i purchase a monograph about a designer or artist, i welcome this rigorous, in-depth approach. i guess it’s about money in the end, and for an author to do a proper job he needs the funds to do the necessary research. i would expect there is not much money in a book that has such a narrow audience.
this rand item i’m sharing is an ash tray. it needs no explanation other than to say i was thrilled when I found it. the hunt is a wonderful thing. i remember traveling to california to visit my wife’s mother in la jolla. i was excited because i made a beeline straight to louis kahn’s salk institute. a breathtaking building. a few years ago there was a wonderful documentary about kahn’s life by his stepson. one scene that i was was not thrilled with was when his stepson is skating around the plaza between the buildings. the camera fixed as he skated to and fro, snake-like. a bit disrespectful, in my mind. i didn’t skate on my visit. early in our relationship, my wife and i shared the love of antique malls, flea markets and paper fairs. these days i go it alone. i do miss sharing the discovery. i take my daughter now. if you want to know how to get a good price, let my 11-year-old negotiate. anyway, on this trip to california i remember many things. one being fresh-squeezed orange juice. yes, i was 31 and i don’t think i had ever had fresh-squeezed orange juice. i remember my first bagel, too. (thanks, marybeth.) so we drive down to san diego and hit the antique malls. we are walking through the stalls and there was a 20% off sale for everything in the mall. this didn’t mean much as i walked in but later it would. we walked slowly through and were about done, when i looked up and there on a shelf was rand’s el producto cigar box. i had been looking for one for years. it was on a shelf about 8 feet high, out of direct eyesight. an odd place for display because with 99% of the items you are usually looking slightly down. i reached up and grabbed it. of course i was thrilled. i turned it over and saw the price: two dollars. this was all we found that day. i went to pay and gave the cashier the cigar box and she said, ‘that will be one sixty.’ one dollar and sixty cents. remember, 20% off. what does this story have to do with rand’s ash tray? well, it was a lovely present. so I just have to be thankful for good friends. enjoy.