Mid-Century design collector Rob, tells us how he turned his passion into a business

Modern Mailbox for MidCenturyHome

Mid-century obsessive Rob, is the proprietor, along with his wife, of Modern-Mailbox, a small company that makes original, handmade Mid-Century Modern-inspired mailboxes for homeowners with a passion for retro design.

Rob was an early convert to the style. Speaking to him earlier this month, he recalled first encountering mid-century design at the age 11 or 12. While rifling through some old belongings of his grandparents, sat in the family garage after they had passed, he found a set of Franciscan stoneware (starburst pattern) “the space age pattern instantly stuck with me”. It is no surprise that the mid-century style got under his skin.

Rob Baker_Modern Mailbox_House

Rob Baker_Modern Mailbox_House

He now lives in an authentic 1953 mid-century home in Boise, Idaho, USA. While the town isn’t known for its modern architecture, it is notable for being the location of the Mountain Home Air Force Base, designed by Richard Neutra in the mid-50s, along with several of the homes on the base. In fact, you can see Neutra’s influence in several Boise, ID, homes including his own residence: low pitched roof with extended overhangs, floor to ceiling windows, tongue and groove cedar wood ceilings, floating fireplace, etc.

In addition to his mid-century home, Rob has also been a collector of mid-century modern artefacts for almost 20 years. Such dedication has led to an exceptional collection of furniture, fixtures and fittings. Among the long list of items in Rob’s possession are chairs by Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Eero Saarinen, dining and patio sets by Richard Schultz, sculptures by Curtis Jere and Mark Weinstein, and original artwork by Alfredo Santos and Joan Miro.

Rob Baker_Modern Mailbox_House

The self-evident dedication is part of the reason Rob was first compelled to make his own contribution to the mid-century style: the Modern Mailbox. After having gathered together such a collection, he was frustrated that his run-of-the-mill mailbox did not live up to the overall aesthetic he had created, and that, when looking to upgrade his mailbox, there did not seem to be any period pieces readily available. And so, he decided to make one himself.

It was a real labour of love, the main intention being not profit, but rather a desire to have a mailbox that truly lived up to the exceptionally-designed pieces he had assembled in the rest of his house. While anyone can go to their local hardware store and purchase a mailbox, Rob wanted to set the benchmark for what a modern mailbox could be. In his own words, “A mailbox is something that you look at every day. I wanted something that truly represented the personality and characteristics of our own home.”

Rob Baker_Modern Mailbox_House

We asked Rob what the main considerations were in approaching the task. In his words, “it was extremely important to me to keep our mailboxes sleek, clean and ultra-modern.” This is clear to see in the design, but we were also curious to find out what obstacles he encountered in the path to the beautiful end product. “The biggest obstacle in designing our first mailbox and all of our upcoming designs has been designing a piece that hides all hardware.” It doesn’t seem to have proved insurmountable, after all, the design is as sleek as they come.

Rob Baker_Modern Mailbox_House

After tracing his story up to the production of the mailbox, it only remained to ask if Rob had anything else in store in the future. He pointed to their recent foray into interior fixtures, with their mid-century modern inspired light switch and outlet covers. Rob and his wife are constantly doodling ideas for future projects. Their continuing aim is “to design products that are fun, period correct and can be enjoyed for decades to come”. It’s a sound focus, and especially nice to see how much fun they are having: “We are,” he said “having a ball, and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

Visit Modern Mailbox for the full collection.

Modern Mailbox Light Switches