AT Offline: Fritz Karch from Martha Stewart

AT Offline: Fritz Karch from Martha Stewart

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Maxwell Ryan
Sep 29, 2009

September Guest: Fritz Karch - editorial director, collecting, Martha Stewart Living
AT Offline: The NY Design Meetup
Attendance: 142

The week before last I had the pleasure of sitting down with Fritz Karch in front of a packed audience. Fritz has worked closely with Martha Stewart since 1992, and has become the editorial director for collecting within the MSLO empire. He shared with us his experience as a lifelong collector, and surprised me with how modest he was and how much collecting is, for him, about the challenge and the whimsy of how pieces fall together into groups that we then call "collections."

Of particular interest were the beautiful photos he showed of a few of the many collections he's pulled together for Martha Stewart. To kick off the week, I thought I would just lay out these big juicy images and let you devour them. Many will be familiar, as Fritz's editorial collections with Martha have, over the years, created their own trends.

This is the type of small, quirky antique store that Fritz favors. This pic is from a small town north of NYC.

Collecting is about the hunt and the beauty of the found objects. Here are a few greeting card collections, which were printed and sold for pennies, but was a huge business and source of expression for the graphic arts in the 20th century.

Here are some playing card collections.

I loved these: kitchen towel collections.

Bedspread collections. Again, these were never expensive, simply lovely to have for the variety of pattern and the crispness of the materials.

Milk-glass was also cheap, but lovely to look at in groups and a perennial favorite of collectors.

Labware!

This white chemistryware is actually really expensive and hard to find.

Vintage cake tins.

Vintage silverware. As with all these collections, it is not how much they match, but how much they are all variations of shape and size (and don't match) that make them attractive and interesting.

Watering cans.

Rolling pins.

Cutting boards shaped like fish!

AND shaped like pigs! Fritz said that this was a very popular shape for cutting boards.

Bakelite.

Honey serving vessels.

This last one was my favorite and communicated the full message that Fritz conveyed. This collection of fish trays is made up of trays from differing years and with differing prices. The pleasure of this collection is in the differing interpretations of shape and color, which is then skillfully mounted on the green tile wall, becoming it's own piece of art.

All About Fritz!

"Fritz Karch's office looks just as you might imagine. It's piled high with his latest finds, a fascinating mix of exquisite things and intriguing oddities. Ask him about virtually any vintage item, and he'll tell you the story behind it. For our collecting articles, Fritz, who started at Martha Stewart Living in 1992 and is now the editorial director of collecting, chooses topics that educate and delight. He then arranges objects related to the topics and captures their quirky and beautiful personalities in photos. Collecting is about "reusing and recycling," Fritz says. "There's so much wonderful stuff in the world." In addition to being a lifelong collector (or, as he says, "hunter and gatherer"), Fritz is a dealer specializing in twentieth-century dinnerware, among many other things. His preference, he jokes, goes toward four categories: broken, large, heavy, and useless."

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