Friday, September 28, 2012

Russel Wright Unveiled Michele Yeeles

Russel Wright Melmac New
Thanks to Michele for this gorgeous photograph. Looks like the 1950's all over again.

Russel Wright Melamine for 2012 Unveiled 

Okay, enough hype time. Thanks to designer Michele Yeeles for sending over this exclusive image of the NEW Russel Wright melamine line (which will be available in some outlets and at Bob's Your Uncle.)  Imagine my shock when I realize this looks exactly identical to the good old stuff.  How beautiful to see it brand new. It's taken me 28 years to assemble a few pieces with this kind of untouched gloss. I will be so excited to add a brand new set to my collection.

The Molds

It has been my theory for such a long time that the molds were hidden in storage somewhere, but Michele indicates these are brand new molds! She also agrees with others I've spoken to that those original molds must have been melted down for scrap by now. (I would be saying boo hoo, but from the looks of  the above you don't need them anyways.)  Michele indicated that molds like the ones to use these need to be cleaned and used or they will rust as they are made of metal.  Can you imagine if they are still alive and sitting since the 1960's how much rust they would have on them?  If someone had found them they may be unidentifiable and in the scrapyard indeed.

Exclusive RetroChalet Interview with Michele Yeeles

Designer Michele Yeeles (formerly of Reebok, now owner of Bob'sYour Uncle) has decided it's time to bring Russel Wright Melamine back to the table. Working closely with Annie Wright and the Russel Wright Estate, samples were debuted at the Gift Show a few weeks back.  Here is what I wanted to know and here is what she had to say!
1. What made you decide to bring Russel Wright's designs back to the table?
I've been an admirer of Russel Wright's for a long time, friends of ours introduced us to the American Modern and Iroquois collections when I was at Reebok (we gave them a vintage Russel Wright teapot as a wedding gift). After we had been producing our other melamine lines, we were looking to add another collection so we looked into the history of melamine dinnerware and Residential seemed like a natural choice. The pieces are beautiful not just to look at, but also to hold. Russel's attention to how something feels in your hand and the balance of weight in each piece is wonderful.

2. Was it a painstaking production process, or did things go smoothly?

I'd have to say both! Working with Annie and the Russel Wright Studio has been great and delving into the Russel Wright archives was fantastic, but trying to collect enough vintage pieces to reference all the shapes and colors took a long time. Luckily I found you for the black and copper penny colors! We are still working on color formulas to try to achieve the cloudy effects of some of the original colors, so I'm still not sure how long it will be before we can re-create them.

3. Do you think now, this will bring a whole new collect-ability among collectors of Russel Wright's work?

I think it will, it's 60 years since the first production of Residential and it seems to be quite difficult to build up complete sets of the collection in the vintage market. The new release will make it available to a new generation of collectors as well as those who already collect vintage. Russel's estate is also open to introducing new colors of Residential and other designs in melamine too, so there will be previously unreleased Russel Wright designs to look forward to.

4. Where can this be found, and for how long do you plan on offering it?  Note: At the time of this interview there were only show samples available.

There are two places I know it will be available; our own shop and the Russel Wright Design Center, but I think it will be a hit with other retailers at the show too. I hope we will offer it for many years to come, it's such a classic collection, the designs have already stood the test of time. We expect the first color (black) to be in stock in November and new spring colors early next year. 

A big thank you to Michele for giving her time and information to me. I really hope this line is a success. 

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Angry Birds
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