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Designing Mid Century With Guerilla


It started with hanging out in auction houses. 


Twenty years ago, way back in 2004, I had a job working at Alex Cooper Auctioneers in the Antique Department. 

Joseph, who was in architecture school at Morgan, had more than a few opportunities to attend auction previews and look at consigned furniture, rugs, and collectables. 

This was before auction houses started placing their consignments online, so the only way to know what was there was to explore in person. 

Back then there were small dealers that made a tidy living purchasing treasures in one city, and then selling them in another. 

They’d arrive with truckloads of consignments from New Orleans or similar exotic locales, and it would be mixed in with consignments from local estates. 

I got a kick out of setting up the auction galleries, so the assorted pieces flattered each other. 

Initially everything would be lined up in rows to be photographed and cataloged, but following that, the placement would be to entice. The beautiful and the bizarre would all be mixed together. It’s a bit like assembling a puzzle where there is no finished image to use as a reference. 

While most of the design knowledge (and collecting) was done for personal use, eventually it was clear that we had amassed enough inventory to add a design practice to our business. Our first project was staging an architect’s residence I had listed for sale in Baltimore’s Mt. Washington neighborhood. 


Staged Living Room Smith Ave


Thinking of starting a staging company focused on mid-century modern design? 

It’s a great idea, one that a few people have mentioned to me over the years. The real challenge is that the furniture weighs a ton. 

Seriously, after we schlepped the Knoll sofas into the residence to get the perfect photograph, we had to rethink that approach. When you have big ideas and a little company, the sweat equity is real. 

The next project we staged was a model-residence at The Courtyard at 3400 Roland Ave in Hampden. 

In that case, it was a sexy black leather George Nelson sling sofa on a cream shag rug, with a Noguchi coffee table. It was the equivalent of parking a shiny sports car in front of a luxury listing. This was 2015, and we did not focus on marketing the building, as demand was so strong it leased up almost immediately. 

Here’s that same Nelson sofa in our residence shown with a pair of Tropicalia chairs by Patricia Urqiolia. 

Nelson Sling Sofa - Rabinowitz Residence


Recently we had fun doing a quick staging of a living room in another residence that was transformed by guerilla construction. It was a classic mix of pieces by George Nelson, Paul McCobb, Corbusier, Eames, and Jane and Gordon Martz. Joseph deemed it “incomplete without artwork” but we did not want to put holes in the walls. 


1901 Sulgrave LR 2.H

1901 Sulgrave LR 3.H


As we move toward completing our new guerilla HQ project in Towson Maryland, we are pleased to announce the inclusion of a design shop. 

It will be a designated retail space to showcase modern and contemporary design pieces. 

We’re looking forward to connecting with collectors, artists, and others passionate about design. 

Interested in hearing more about our design work and connecting with other design enthusiasts? Sign up for Mid Century Society.