A mid-century modern Christmas…brinca dada dolls house, lego architecture or Mad Men “Jet Set” House?
Alistair McLean
Category: From the Studio

Alistair: Posted on Monday, 19 December 2011 11:56 PM


As the Christmas season rushes towards us, Secret Design Studio thought we might provide a few gift ideas that would suit both big and little mid-century modernists, or perhaps anybody that appreciates good architecture and clever design. Unfortunately most of these presents are made out of Australia, so delivery before this Christmas would be impossible, but at least it gives you the time to plan and save for next Christmas….

Christmas present #1, A modernist dolls house called the Dylan House by brinca dada.



Secret Design Studio is pleased to see a contemporary looking home that doesn’t look like a poorly proportioned, asian- interpretation of an American suburban home with faux historicist features.



This company has a wonderful ethos towards toys and play – they describe themselves as a team of people who believe that toys don’t need to be noisy or flashy to be exciting.  But toys shouldn’t be marked as “For Display Only” either. They believe that toys should be beautiful and fun.  That is why brinca dada design toys that parents love to look at, and children love to play with. The phrase “Remember to Share” is littered throughout their website, but I suspect that it would be hard to share their beautiful toys.



The Dylan House is “inspired by the minimalist masterpieces of Paul Rudolph and Tadao Ando, Dylan House features a concrete-and-glass feel, but with the breezy openness of a beachfront home. Floor-to-ceiling windows open to allow natural light into the house and play from many angles. The Dylan House has five living spaces on three levels: living room/dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and roof patio. Dylan House is created in 3/4” scale.”



Secret Design Studio is relieved that the furniture, which seems to have a strong Scandinavian heritage, possibly more Great Dane Furniture (http://www.greatdanefurniture.com/) than Ikea. Although it does look like it may flat-pack for delivery like Ikea!  It works well with the house, and doesn’t look like it came from a set for “Little House on the Prairie” like most dolls house furniture.

Brinca dada has a number of American distributors, as well as some online distributors.  On their website they include Amazon, but Secret Design Studio had no luck on Amazon getting this house.  Secret Design Studio would suggest that Australian purchasers follow up the American online retailers found here:

http://www.brincadada.com/online-store-locator , where it retails for around  $129USD (without furniture and delivery).

Australian purchasers should also keep an eye on fishpond.com.au, which is like an Australian version of Amazon.  Fishpond have another brinca dada dollshouse which is a “new release” item, but not currently available.

Christmas present #2 Lego Architecture Farnsworth House.


The Lego Farnsworth house is part of the little known Lego Architecture series range which also includes the Guggenheim Museum, Fallingwater, White House, Rockefeller Centre, Burj Khalifa, the Robie House and the Brandenburg Gate.  An earlier series called the Lego Landmark series includes the Sears Tower, John Hancock Centre, the Empire State Building and the Seatle Space Needle.


Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said “Architecture starts when you carefully put bricks together”, however Secret Design Studio is sure that he was not thinking of Lego at the time.




The story of the Lego Architecture range is interesting, Adam Reed Tucker earned a degree in Architecture at Kansas State University in 1996. Whilst there, he sought a method to join his two passions of art and architecture, and hit upon the idea of using Lego bricks. From this, he founded Brickstructures, Inc., and began to design and build models of famous landmarks. His work was noticed by the Lego Group, and together they formed a partnership to release some of his models as commercially available Lego sets under the Lego Architecture brand.



From the Lego Architectural website:

As a LEGO Architectural Artist, Adam Reed Tucker strives to capture the essence of a particular architectural landmark in its pure sculptural form. He does not view his models as literal replicas, but rather as artistic interpretations using LEGO® bricks as a medium.

Adam Reed Tucker’s love of architecture started at an early age in his hometown of Chicago:

“Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the iconic Chicago Skyline. This later inspired me to explore Architecture in hopes of one day becoming an Architect”.

He did indeed go on to study architecture, and, inspired by his city’s skyline, developed a passion for skyscrapers. It was his wish to communicate the complexity of skyscraper engineering in simple terms that led him back to another of his childhood passions:

“I wanted to level the playing field with something most of us all grew up with and can relate to no matter who you are or where you came from: The LEGO© Brick.

While for many the LEGO brick is not a material typically used as an artist’s medium, Adam Reed Tucker quickly discovered the LEGO brick was lending itself as naturally to his applications as paint to a painter or metal to a blacksmith.

As he continues to explore how to capture new LEGO Architecture buildings with LEGO bricks and plates, he finds the possibilities and challenges they offer almost magical. ”



For Australian distribution check out Fishpond, eBay and justbricks.




Christmas present #3 

If Christmas presents #1 and #2 seem a bit small scale, perhaps a bit mean, and your pockets are deep, Secret Design Studio suggest that you may like to consider something bigger, that still keeps the same clean, pure aesthetics, and may be a bit more useful.




Curbed LA reported that the Frank Sinatra Fox Residence that was used on an episode of Mad Men called “Jet Set” is for sale.  Secret Design Studio loves that this could be a present that keeps on giving, with the house being in high demand for filming locations, and can return up to $2 million a year. Part of the package is a property manager who deals with and is paid for by the studios.




Curbed LA reports that “The 1951 Pereira & Luckman house has an incredibly star-studded history from its early days all the way to today. It was built for Chase Manhattan Bank heiress Dora Hutchinson, who, according to Forbes, threw “massive who’s who parties for Hollywood, hosting the A-list likes of Lucille Ball and Ava Gardner, and shooting off fireworks to signal Happy Hour to her neighbors.” 

The listing says that Judy Garland and Vicente Minnelli were married on the property. After Hutchinson moved to New York, she rented the Fox (also known as the Farralone) to Frank Sinatra for almost a decade, who in turn sublet the guesthouse (which has its own pool) to Marilyn Monroe. She had her last, famous photoshoot in one of the pools and supposedly spent time there with John F. Kennedy. 

More recently, it made Mad Men viewers drool playing a Palm Springs house in the episode “The Jet Set.” Dreamgirls, Ali, and Californication also filmed there.The property is 14 acres and includes a 10,000 square foot main house with four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and a lower-level production studio; a 1,000 square foot guesthouse with one bedroom and one and a half bathrooms; a detached gym; a nine and a half acre vineyard (that has a tentative tract map for subdivision), and room for parking 200 cars.”





For more information on this beautiful home go to the official site, http://www.farraloneestate.com/