pouf, an Albini!

new-to-me Franco Albini ottoman via Hawthorne Vintage

The whole day started with the dangling carrot of some free Eames chairs. I was on vacation over the holiday weekend, if tagging along on someone's house-sitting while fifteen minutes away from home counts as vacation. (Jeff was staying at a friend's, babysitting their pets, and invited me along, it all being kosher with the family whose porridge, chairs, and beds I was using, sort of like Goldilocks getting a free Groupon from the Bear family). So there I was, propped up late Sunday morning on pillows in their bed with my laptop, when I spotted a Craigslist posting for four free blue-upholstered, unnamed-but-definitely-Eames office chairs sitting out on the sidewalk waiting to be claimed up near Lloyd Center. But we were in southeast and still in our pajamas. So by the time we showered, dressed, and drove up there in his Jeep, about two hours after the post had gone up and maybe thirty minutes after I'd last checked, they had vanished—Poof!—because free Eames chairs are, like fairy tales, too good to be true.

And so I still need chairs for the vintage round dining table thrifted from Goodwill on Easter, which I haven't talked about yet, preferably at least two being vintage Eames fiberglass shell chairs, preferably in orange, parchment, or charcoal, and preferably on the Eiffel or dowel bases. But this post isn't about that. This post is about heading out in search of free chairs and coming home with a splurged pre-birthday-gift purchase—half from Jeff, half from myself—of a vintage Franco Albini cane ottoman. How did that happen?

Well, first there were the disappearing chairs. Then, because we were nearby, we hit the Broadway Goodwill where Jeff found a large Italian moka coffee pot for camping ($4), and I ran into a student from work in the shoe aisle while trying on a pair of lemon-gelato-colored, Italian-made, snakeskin-print, leather peep-toe heels that fit like gloves, half-off for $5. "Should I get these shoes?" I asked the student, who herself was trying on a pair of oversized slippers, but I was just making conversation because of course I was buying them (and she'd have something to tell her friends at school).

secondhand Italian-made, lemon snakeskin-print leather peep-toe heels via Goodwill

We had planned to check out a couple more Craigslist free piles in southeast, but then Jeff got a text from Sheila at Hawthorne Vintage saying the Lane surfboard coffee table he'd lovingly stripped and refinished a couple months ago had finally sold. And so because we had to head back to my garage to pick up a replacement table to restock his space (#A6), we next stopped at the 6th Avenue Goodwill where I bought a feather pillow insert ($4, to replace a foam one) and Jeff a vintage Japanese mug ($1).

vintage Franco Albini ottoman

Then over at Hawthorne Vintage with the table, while Jeff was installing a lamp, I spotted the Albini ottoman, and since I've wanted one for a while now, I somehow talked myself into it. (I'm so convincing!) Though over the years I've thrifted several secondhand wicker baskets in which to store yarn and laundry and such, this one is a fairly rare designer basket, and an upside-down one at that. Not having been reared with any designer d├ęcor, as in most working-class families, with the exception of my grandmother's kitschy print of Tretchikoff's green-faced Chinese Girl, whose origins I didn't know anything about till a couple years ago (it was sold at their garage sale while I was off at college or in Korea), this is my first official piece of modernist furniture designed by a real live architect. Well, Albini's long dead and (presumably) buried in Italy, but you know what I mean. I may cry, even though most people who see it sitting in front of my armchair will probably assume it's just some Asian wicker thing from Goodwill.

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