Pete Peanut and the Trouble with Birthdays is a book that's seeking funding via Kickstarter. What caught our eye were the meticulously crafted sets in the video, which features midcentury design in miniature. The authors Mimi O. Chun and Sean Hewens were inspired by a trip to Palm Springs Modernism Week. "All of the homes were perfectly preserved, the way you might imagine them in the 60s," Chun says. "Despite all of the visitors in town for the event, there was a stillness to Palm Springs that seemed like the perfect backdrop for Pete Peanut, who is the quiet type of peanut—a contemplative sort who understands that not all change is good, regardless of whether or not it involves birthday cake."
The handbuilt set includes the following roster of furniture, lighting, and accessories: A George Nelson daybed and nightstand; Achille Castiglioni's Arco lamp; painter Barnett Newman's Vir Heroicus Sublimis; painter Helen Frankenthler's Robinson Wrap; a Florence Knoll credenza; Eero Saarinen Executive side chairs; a Pro Ject turntable; Florence Knoll sofa; Finn Juhl's Japan chairs; Donald Wexler's Palm Springs house; Rodney Graham's Inverted Drip Painting #43; a Danish modern–inspired sideboard; Josef Albers' Homage to a Square; Noguchi table; a Danish modern–inspired desk with Olivetti typewriter; Saarinen tulip table; and Florence Knoll chair.
"Pete has no idea that he lives amongst iconic pieces of design or seminal artworks and they don't figure into the narrative at all," Chun says. "In fact, within the story itself, it's somewhat ambiguous what era Pete actually lives in, which made a midcentury environment an ideal backdrop as these pieces that were designed half a century ago—or more—continue to be revered as examples of good design today."
"Just as the narrative can be read on multiple levels, we wanted the visual appeal to span readers of all ages," Chun says. "At face-value, this is a story that will appeal with children; on an allegorical level, the human-sized themes—e.g. our preoccupation with aging, the unending celebration of self, introverts being easily misunderstood, and the rise of the underdog—will resonate with adults. Visually, there are brightly colored photographs for kids, but we hope the miniature replicas of design icons will charm all ages."
"99 percent of the miniatures featured in the book were made painstakingly with hand tools: Xacto knives, sandpaper, felt, a needle and thread, strips of basswood, and mahogany—things you can find at a great art supply store," Chun says. "I only recently got a Dremel rotary tool to help with sanding the curves of a Saarinen dining table. But overall, the simple, clean lines—often pure geometry—found in mid-century and Danish modern sensibilities helps with creating pieces at this scale."
Here's a shot of the set for scale.
Backers at the $40 level will receive note cards.
Pete Peanut and the Trouble with Birthdays is a full-color, hardcover book. Find out more about the Kickstarter project and catch the endearing video here.