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glass clown, designed by Fulvio Bianconi, for Murano, from the statuine
serie Tiepolo, 1951. Of him it has been written: "Eclectic
and with a multi-faceted talent, Bianconi is one of the few graphic
designers of his generation, all with an artist's training, who
have been able to make the transition from the collage book covers
to the book series with no pictures, like Garzanti's Blue collection"
(from the preface of a book by Scheiwiller publishing house, Milano,
0.360, Width 0.140, Depth 0.120
on application (PW3)
Fine tapestry designed by Marta Maas Fjetterstrom. Marta Maas Fjetterstrom's
contribution to textile design within the Scandinavian Modern movement
of the inter-war period, was both innovative and prolific. She began
her career at the Malmo Society, before setting up her own workshop
first in Vjittis, and then in 1919 in Bastad; weavers were employed
to execute her designs, for which she drew inspiration from traditional
folk art and from the Swedish landscape, combined with more abstract
and painterly explorations in colour and form. Her background as
a watercolourist is reflected in many of her pieces, which employ
a palette of gentle natural colours.
Height 0.640, Depth 1.080
Price on application (F79)
quality cabinet, probably designed by Aldo Tura of Italy or Tommi
Parzinger, circa 1965, covered with red stained and lacquered goatskin,
with mirrored interior.
1.200, Width 0.600, Depth 0.400
and woven leather 'Butterfly Chair', designed by Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy,
Juan Kurchan & Antonio Bonet c.1938. This version dating to
0.930, Width 0.750, Depth 0.850
Arne Jacobsen (1902-71), architect and designer.
Educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture
in Cph, professor at the Academy (1956-65).
As a designer, Jacobsen made prototypes for furniture,
textiles, wallpaper, silverware etc. Among his most famous designs
are The Ant (designed for Novo's canteen) (1952), Series 7 (1955),
The Egg and The Swan (designed for the SAS Royal Hotel ) 1958, and
the tableware Cylinda-Line (1967).
Among his most famous works as an architect are
the apartment blocks Bellavista in Klampenborg (1933-34), Bellevue
Theatre (1935-36), Århus Town Hall (in co-operation with Erik
Møller) (1939-42), Søllerød Town Hall (in co-operation
with Flemming Lassen) (1940-42), Søholm semi-detached houses
in Klampenborg (1950-54), Rødovre Town Hall (1957), Glostrup
Town Hall (1958),The Munkegård School in Cph (1955-59), SAS
Royal Hotel Cph (1958-1960), Toms Chocolate Factories in Ballerup
(1961), Danmarks Nationalbank (started in 1965), Saint Catherine's
College in Oxford (1964-66).
Jacobsen also designed a project for the lobby of
Hannover Concert Hall (1964-66), Castrop Rauxel mall (1965), Christaneum
Grammar School in Hamburg (1965), Administration building for the
Hamburg power station (in co-operation with Otto Weitling) (1965).
Professor Bruno Mathsson.
1907 - 1988.
As his countries most distinguished furniture designer
Bruno Mathsson gained an international reputation for Swedish design
and his work over a 50 year period will remain a significant contribution
to Sweden's design history.
That he stood at the leading edge of furniture design is reflected
in that many of his designs, innovations in their day are now widely
acclaimed as timeless modern classics.
Bruno Mathsson was born a cabinet maker. His father,
Karl Mathsson, was a master cabinet maker of the fourth generation
and it was therefore obvious that the son would follow in his fathers
footsteps. The son learnt his trade from the bottom up and thus
acquired a detailed knowledge of wood technology and thorough feeling
for the qualities of wood .
However. For the young Bruno this was not enough.
Fascinated by the possibilities he found in developing the form
and function of furniture by using new technology he was inspired
by the functionalist movement. By the 1920s and 1930s he had become
deeply absorbed in his own studies borrowing literature on design
from the curator at the Röhsska Konstslöjdsmuseet (Röhsska
Arts and Craft Museum) in Gothenburg, Axel Munthe. Self taught he
was to grow into one of the most celebrated interpreters of the
functionalistic school of ideas.
In 1931 Bruno Mathsson carried out his first practical
experiment in functionalism, the chair ¨Gräshoppan¨
(The Grashopper), inspired by a scholarship granted by Värnamo
Hantverks- och Industriförening (Värnamo Craftsmen- and
industrial association) and a visit to the birth place of functionalism
in Sweden, the Stockholm Fair in 1930.
At Värnamo Hospital, who bought the chair for
the reception area, people found it so ugly that it was put away
in the attic. One item only has been preserved at the Bruno Mathsson
show room in Värnamo. Now Bruno Mathsson had got his appetite
whetted and enthusiastically he continued the experiment with the
so called bent-wood technique. He created work chairs and reclining
chairs in this technique and, at the age of 29, he had his first
one-man show in 1936 at the Röhsska Arts and Craft Museum in
Gothenburg. The walk along the road to success had started.
Bruno Mathsson had his international breakthrough
as a furniture designer at the World Fair in Paris 1937. His furniture
excited great enthusiasm and admiration and were in great demand
all over the world. He was represented at the Museum of Modern Art
in New York when it opened in 1939 and at the fair in San Francisco
the same year.
When the great upholder of culture in Sweden, Gotthard
Johansson, had visited the Museum of Modern Art and seen Bruno Mathsson´s
show there, he wrote enthusiastically in the Svenska Dagbladet on
May 11th 1941¨For the first time in my life I felt a secret
pride in being born only twenty kilometers from Värnamo¨.
That was an acknowledgement that meant much to Bruno Mathsson´s
self confidence and development as a designer.
Sweden of course meant much to Bruno Mathsson. He
chose to stay on and carry on his work in his native town Värnamo.
There he had his roots. There he could live in peace and develop
his art. In reality, however, Bruno was a great internationalist.
Early he made contact with people in designer circles all over the
world. In the 1940s he made a long journey to the USA together with
his wife Karin, where he met with pioneers in architecture and design
like Charles Eames, Walter Gropius, Hans Knoll and Frank Lloyd-Wright.
The journey was of great importance and gave, among other things,
as a result the famous Mathsson glass house design. During the winter
he lived in Portugal in one of his own glass houses.
He loved Denmark in general and Copenhagen in particular.
One if the evident proofs to posterity if the Danish contacts is
the Super-ellipse table he created in co-operation with Piet Hein.
During the 1970s Bruno Mathsson developed valuable contacts in Japan,
where there is still a significant licenced production and sales
of his designs.
For a world artist like Bruno Mathsson it was essential
- for his design language as well as for the promotion of his work
- to play on well-chosen and well-tuned instruments. A well-composed
exhibition was one of these instruments.
Bruno Mathsson participatedin furniture exhibitions
all over the world from the Form Design Center in Malmö, Sweden
to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since 1964 on Bruno Mathsson´s
furniture has been represented at a permanent show room at the Bella
Center in Copenhagen. After his death several memorial exhibitions
have been held, among others in 1991 at Hörle Mansion outside
Värnamo and in 1993 both at the National Museum of Art in Stockholm
and at the furniture fair in Milan.
Bruno Mathsson was a striking artist, wilful, stubborn
and clever (in a typical way for his native county) and with a certain
feeling for the simple, fastidious beauty and elegance in form.
In all his work he managed to combine the beauty of form with well-thought-out
function in a way that is but rarely surpassed. This is to be found
not only in his beautiful, functional furniture but also in his
glass houses which are market with exactly that - the simple, the
beautiful and the functional. The light and the lightness combined
with an ingeniously well-thought-out heating system and well-insulated
triple glazing make the peculiar nature of his glass house. Bruno
Mathsson was in this way a pioneer.
It is, however, the furniture that has given Bruno
Mathsson the reputation as one of the greatest designers in the
world ever. In the technique of bending laminated wood he found
a seating line that is unsurpassed in fastidious elegance and ergonomic
function. The furniture he created have nearly all become classic.
He gave each model a female name, Eva, Mina, Miranda and Pernilla
etc. It gave each a sort of identity of its own. When, in the 1960s,
Bruno turned to tubular steel is his furniture design, he did it
with the same mastership he had shown in wood.
What makes Bruno Mathsson´s furniture unique
is that - although to a great extent designed in the 1930s to 1940s
and are seen as "classic" - they still feel eternallly
young. They are loved and bought as modern, functional furniture
by young people and not just as collectors items for connoisseurs.
International sales are as high as ever and his
designs find new audiences being exhibited at museums worldwide.
Like his designs, Bruno Mathsson seemed eternally
young. He lived with and for his art and never seemed to get weary
in his eagerness to create new furniture for a new age. At the age
of 80 he followed the development in working with computers and
created a line of computer furniture which has the necessary qualities
to become classic design of the future..
Bruno Mathsson was conferred with honours all over
the world and was, of course, flattered by and proud of the attention.
But there was one event he appreciated more than anything else.
When he returned to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the
1970s for a show, the distinguished newspaper, the New York Times,
had put a head line all over the front page -¨Bruno is back¨.
He had become Bruno with the American people.
More than 55 years after his international break
through, Bruno Mathsson posthumously attracts national and international
interest. The cultural legacy he left behind is not only a Swedish
matter. It concerns us all.
Text Bruno Mathsson International.
Värnamo, May 1993
Charles Ormond Eames, Jr was born in Saint Louis,
Missouri. By the time he was 14 years old, while attending high
school, Charles worked at the Laclede Steel Company as a part-time
laborer, where he learned about engineering, drawing, and architecture
(and also first entertained the idea of one day becoming an architect).
Charles briefly studied architecture at Washington
University in St. Louis on an architectural scholarship. He proposed
studying Frank Lloyd Wright to his professors, and when he would
not cease his interest in modern architects, he was dismissed from
the university. In the report describing why he was dismissed from
the university, a professor wote the comment "His views were
too modern." While at Washington University, he met his first
wife, Catherine Woermann, who he married in 1929.
After he left school and was married, Charles began
his own architectural practice, with partners Charles Gray and later
One great influence on him was the Finnish architect
Eliel Saarinen (whose son Eero, also an architect, would become
a partner and friend). At the elder Saarinen's invitation, he moved
in 1938 with his first wife Catherine Woermann Eames and daughter
Lucia to Michigan, to further study architecture and design at the
Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he would become a teacher and head
of the industrial design department. Together with Eero Saarinen
he designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern
Art "Organic Design" competition. Their work displayed
the new technique of wood moulding, that Eames would further develop
in many moulded plywood products, including, beside chairs and other
furniture, splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy during World
In 1941, Charles and Catherine divorced, and he
married his Cranbrook colleague Ray Kaiser, moving with her to Los
Angeles, California, where they would work and live for the rest
of their lives. In the late 1940s, as part of the Arts & Architecture
magazine "Case Study" program, Ray and Charles designed
and built the groundbreaking Eames House, Case Study House #8, as
their home. Located upon a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean,
and constructed entirely of pre-fabricated steel parts intended
for industrial construction, it remains a milestone of modern architecture
In the 1950s, the Eameses would continue their work
in architecture and furniture design, often (like in the earlier
moulded plywood work) pioneering innovative technologies, such as
the fiberglass and plastic resin chairs and the wire mesh chairs
designed for Herman Miller. Besides this work, Charles would soon
channel his interest in photography into the production of short
films. From their first one, the unfinished Traveling Boy (1950),
to the extraordinary Powers of Ten (1977), their cinematic work
was an outlet for ideas, a vehicle for experimentation and education.
The Eameses also conceived and designed a number
of landmark exhibitions. The first of these, "Mathematica,
a World of Numbers and Beyond" (1961), is still considered
a model for scientific popularization exhibitions. It was followed
by "A Computer Perspective: Background to the Computer Age"
(1971) and "The World of Franklin and Jefferson" (1975-1977),
The office of Charles and Ray Eames, which functioned for more than
four decades (1943-88) at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California,
included in its staff, at one time of another, a number of remarkable
designers, like Don Albinson and Deborah Sussman. Among the many
important designs originating there are the molded-plywood DCW (Dining
Chair Wood) and DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat) (1945),
Eames Lounge Chair (1956), the Aluminum Group furniture (1958) and
as well as the Eames Chaise (1968), designed for Charles's friend,
film director Billy Wilder, as well as molded plywood leg splints
for the US Navy, the playful Do-Nothing Machine (1957), an early
solar energy experiment, and a number of toys.
Short films produced by the couple often document
their interests in collecting toys and cultural artifacts on their
travels. The films also record the process of hanging their exhibits
or producing classic furniture designs, to the purposefully mundane
topic of filming soap suds moving over the pavement of a parking
Perhaps their most popular movie, "Powers of
10", gives a dramatic demonstration of orders of magnitude
by visually zooming away from the earth to the edge of the universe,
and then microscopically zooming into the nucleus of a carbon atom.
Charles was a prolific photographer as well with thousands of images
of their furniture, exhibits and collections, and now a part of
the Library of Congress.
Charles Eames died in 1978 while on a consulting
trip in his native Saint Louis, and now has a star on the St. Louis
Walk of Fame.
Dieter Rams (born May 20 1932 in Wiesbaden) is a
German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer
products company Braun.
Rams was a key figure in the German Functionalist design renaissance
of the late 1950s and 1960s, and a former teacher at the famed Ulm
Hochschule für Gestaltung. Eventually becoming head of Braun's
design staff, Rams' influence in the advent of clean and simple
Rationalist design was soon evidenced in many products.
Rams once explained his design approach in the phrase
"Weniger, aber besser" which freely translates as "Less,
but better." Rams and his staff designed many memorable products
for Braun, including the famous SK-4 record player and the high-quality
'D'-series (D45, D46) of 35mm film slide projectors.
Many of his designs - wonderfully sleek coffee makers, calculators,
radios, audio/visual equipment, consumer appliances, and office
products - have found a permanent home at many museums over the
world, including MoMA in New York. For nearly 30 years Dieter Rams
served as head of design for Braun A.G. until his retirement in
The son of Eliel Saarinen, he studied with his father
at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he had a close relationship
with Charles and Ray Eames. He received a B.Arch. from Yale University
in 1934, and in 1940, he became a naturalized citizen.
Saarinen came to attention for his 1948 competition-winning
design for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, not completed
until the 1960s. (The competition award was mistakenly sent to his
father.) For the General Motors Technical Center, the Noyes dormitory
at Vassar, the famous 'expressionist' concrete shell of the TWA
Terminal, and other important commissions, he designed all the interiors
and furniture in a curving, theatrical, futuristic style. He served
on the jury for the Sydney Opera House commission and was crucial
in the selection of the internationally-known design by Jørn
In 1954 he married Aline Bernstein, an art critic
at The New York Times, with whom he had a son, Eames, named for
his collaborator Charles Eames.
Saarinen died of a brain tumor at the age of 51. The firm of Roche-Dinkeloo,
with partners Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, completed some of Saarinen's
unfinished projects. Neglected and sometimes mocked during his lifetime
by the architectural establishment, he is now considered one of
the masters of American 20th Century architecture.
Probably the most original and influential British
furniture designer, manufacturer and retailer of the twentieth century.
Race was educated at St Paul's School, London and
studied interior design at the Bartlett School of Architecture,
also in London, from 1932 until 1935. He then gained employment
as a designer with Troughton & Young of London, the lighting
manufacturers, under the direction of A. B. Read, and after studying
hand-weaving in India in 1937 founded Race Fabrics, a textile design
firm and shop, to put his designs into production.
During the war Race served in the Auxiliary Fire
Service in London, after which, in 1945, in partnership with J.
W. Noel Jordan he created Ernest Race Ltd. to design and manufacture
his unique furniture. Race was director and chief designer of this
seminal firm (renamed Race Furniture Ltd. in 1962) which produced
minimal, organic designs with economical use of materials.
Seeking a compromise between English traditional
and Swedish modern, Race's furniture was characteristically light
and easy to handle, with clean lines and thin splayed legs. His
BA chair of 1945 and the renowned steel rod 'Antelope' chair for
the 1951 Festival of Britain won gold and silver medals respectively
at the prestigious 10th Milan Triennale in 1954. These were followed
by the 'Flamingo' easy-chair (1959) and the 'Sheppey' settee and
chair (1963). The latter was comfortable and ingenious in its design,
being assembled from a set of interchangeable, mass-produced components.
In his later years, from 1961 until his death in
1964, Race was a consultant furniture designer for Cintique and
Isokon furniture, designing the attractive Penguin Mark 2 Donkey
bookcase in 1963.
Race is known principally for his chairs, designed
in the Contemporary style after the Second World War
Ettore Sottsass (1917-) is an Italian architect
and designer of the late 20th century. He founded the Memphis Group.
Originally an architect, Sottsass became a consulting
designer for typewriter manufacturer Olivetti.
Ettore Sottsass is one of the leading members of
the 'Memphis' group founded in 1981 with Barbara Radice as public
relations/art director. The group's main aim was to bring back radical
deigns and did so through toasters that the whole group designed
together. The products that were made by the 'Memphis' group always
had bright colours, bold patterns and made of plastic laminate surfaces.
Sottsass and Memphis were out to make a statement and to break down
the barriers between high class and low class. To some, this concept
would take a life time to happen but to others it offered freedom.
The Austrian born designer, Ettore Sottsass was
described as 'a forward looking designer.' He began his career by
studying architecture at Turin Polytechnic. He was a student there
for 4 years and proved his talent as he wrote articles on art and
interior design with his fellow student Luigi Spazzanpan.
On leaving College, Sottsass joined the Italian
army for 3 years. After finishing his army duties, he worked for
a group of architects and before long set up his own Milan based
office in 1947, which he called 'The Studio.'
Sottsass eventually teamed up with Olivetti as a
design consultant and worked with him for over twenty years. While
working with Olivetti, Sottsass made many new and different things.
He designed a pop-influenced "totem", a Valentine typewriter,
Elea 9003 calculator etc.
Finn Juhl was trained as an all-round building architect,
not especially as a furniture designer, something he himself considered
important to emphasize. On several occasions, he pointed out that
as a furniture designer, he was purely autodidact. His oeuvre did,
however, also comprise a broad spectrum of architectural works.
He made an especially excellent contribution as an interior designer.
But it was nonetheless first and foremost furniture which made him
a reputation, not only in Denmark, but internationally as well.
And with good reason, since it was in this field that he showed
truly original talent.Finn Juhl designed his first furniture for
himself. It is an old tradition for architects and painters to design
furniture for their own use, one that in Denmark goes all the way
back to the latter half of the l8th century, when the architect
and painter Nicolai Abildgaard designed a number of pieces for his
own use in a "neo-antique" style.
There are various theories about why Abildgaard
designed this furniture, which was inspired by scenes on Greek vases,
cenotaphs, and sculptures. Some believed that he intended to use
the pieces as models for his historical paintings, which depicted
scenes from antiquity, while others cited political reasons. Neo-classical
furniture was the style of the absolute monarchs, while furniture
from antiquity originated in the times of the Greek and Roman republics.
This is why this furniture came into fashion in the years following
the French Revolution. Still others believe that Abildgaard simply
wanted furniture that satisfied his aesthetic senses. Whatever the
case, it became a tradition for painters and architects to design
furniture for their own use. In the beginning of the following century,
the sculptor H.E. Freund designed his own neo-antique furniture,
as did M.G. Bindesbøll, who built the Thorvaldsen Museum,
and many others throughout the century. In the beginning of our
own century, the painter Johan Rohde designed some fine, simple
pieces of furniture for himself and for friends and acquaintances,
so it was indeed a strong tradition.
This furniture designed by artists is now found in museums, while
the pieces which Finn Juhl designed for his own use will hardly
become treasures. His later and best models, in contrast, now stand
in museums of decorative art throughout Europe, the United States,
Australia, and Japan. But they are not just museum pieces: they
also stand in many private homes and public premises all over the
Finn Juhl was born on January 30, 1912, in Frederiksberg,
part of Greater Copenhagen. His father, Johannes Juhl (1872-1941),
was a textile wholesaler who represented a number of English, Scottish,
and Swiss textile companies in Denmark. He never knew his mother,
née Goecker, who died only three days after his birth. There
is no way of knowing what this meant for Finn Juhl's childhood,
but he himself denied that he missed her, for the logical reason
that you cannot miss what you do not know. He had many friends whose
mothers took tender care of the motherless boy. He himself felt
that it perhaps made him more independent than he would otherwise
have been. He was supported by his brother Erik, 2 years older,
who was close to him throughout his life.
Finn Juhl noted in an interview that his relationship with his father
was not especially warm. "Father was authoritarian, but I learned
quite early that if I just obeyed him, nothing would happen to me
- then I would have the rest of my time to myself. . . When my father
came home before dinner, we had to tell him if we wanted to have
an audience with him. And so he sat down at his player piano, his
cigar in his mouth, and stamped out a classical repertoire, while
I sat in a rocking chair with an antimacassar beside an imitation
fire-place which had a large clock with a glass dome and General
de Meza on horseback."
Home could not have inspired Finn Juhl in his later work as an architect.
"I grew up in a Tudor and Elizabethan dining room, and we had
leaded windows and high panels. On the other hand, there was a Swedish
chandelier in the living room. The study had Chesterfield chairs."
Finn Juhl said the following about his choice of
career: " I wanted to be an art historian. I frequented the
Royal Museum of Fine Arts from the time I was 15-16 years old; it
was open one evening a week. And I was given permission to borrow
books from the Glyptotek [museum] library by Frederik Poulsen, who
was a Hellenist, while I am more enthralled by Achaean-Greek art.
My practical father, who had an instinct for mammon, did not think
that art history was a means of making a living. So we made the
compromise that I would begin at the Academy, and I had the sinister
ulterior motive that of course I would be able to study art history
there at the same time."
After graduating from Sankt Jørgens Gymnasium
in 1930, Finn Juhl was indeed accepted at the Royal Academy of Fine
Arts' School of Architecture at Charlottenborg. At the time, the
school was divided into a preliminary school, which consisted of
two classes, and a main school, which consisted of three. The third
and final class ended with a graduation project. Students normally
spent their first two four-month summer vacations apprenticed to
a mason or a carpenter, and the following summers at an architect's
office. Working at an architect's office was an especially important
part of a student's education. This is how he learned what the life
of an architect was like in practice. But it was not easy to get
a job at an architect's office, since the 1930s experienced one
of the construction crises that have plagued architects in all ages.
But Finn Juhl was lucky: in the summer of 1934, he got a job with
the architect Vilhelm Lauritzen.
It was usually possible at the main school to choose one's professor,
and Finn Juhl chose Kay Fisker. This proved a good choice, for he
grew to admire Fisker as an architect. As things were, students
did not have a close relationship with professors. All were practicing
architects and also had large offices to manage. But they assigned
projects and directed the teaching through assistants. In the course
of a school year, the professor arrived two or at most three times
and sat down at the student's drawing board to look at the project
with which he or she was in progress and give some good advice.
The assistants also worked as architects so there
were limits to how much students saw them. Actual teaching took
the form of an overall critical review of how well the students
had carried out their projects and of lectures given by both professors
and teaching assistants. Kay Fisker was an excellent lecturer -
something that could not be said of all the professors. Only Steen
Eiler Rasmussen could match him, and perhaps Wilhelm Wanscher, who
lectured on art history. Fisker's lectures were real attractions:
a student had to be very ill indeed not to attend. He was probably
the first lecturer at the Academy to show two slides on the screen
simultaneously to provide a complement or a contrast. This made
the lectures exciting, and Fisker's slide collection seemed inexhaustible.
In addition, Fisker was a fine architect. In 1931,he had (together
with Povl Stegmann and C.F. Møller) won the Århus University
competition, and in doing so created a Danish version of international
functionalism, which was highly admired, especially by his students.
On the whole, he markedly influenced his students' concept of architecture
despite their sporadic personal contact. This was true especially
in the case of Finn Juhl.
Florence Bassett Knoll (1917- ) Birthplace: USA
While a student at the Kingswood School on the campus of the Cranbrook
Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Florence Knoll
Bassett (neé Schust) became a protegée of Eero Saarinen.
She studied architecture at Cranbrook, the Architectural Association
in London and the Armour Institute (Illinois Institute of Technology
in Chicago). She worked briefly for Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer
and Wallace K. Harrison. In 1946, she became a full business and
design partner and married Hans Knoll, after which they formed Knoll
Associates. She was at once a champion of world-class architects
and designers and an exceptional architect in her own right. As
a pioneer of the Knoll Planning Unit, she revolutionized interior
space planning. Her belief in "total design" - embracing
architecture, manufacturing, interior design, textiles, graphics,
advertising and presentation - and her application of design principles
in solving space problems were radical departures from the standard
practice in the 1950s, but were quickly adopted and remain widely
used today. For her extraordinary contributions to architecture
and design, Florence Knoll was accorded the National Endowment for
the Arts' prestigious 2002 National Medal of Arts.
Her work was influenced by some of the greatest
designers of her day. Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Marcel
Breuer all had a part in her architectural education, and her designs
reflect the European aesthetic.
Her American interpretation of minimalist, rationalist design theories
is clearly evident in Knoll's storage pieces. She mixed woods and
metals to great effect and added laminates as they became popular.
Dressers and desks are all square in design but never lack for quality.
Hanging cabinets have glass shelves, sliding doors and drop down
fronts that can be used as bars.
In the 1950's Florence Knoll's work was often displayed
at the Museum of Modern Art's "Good Design" exhibits.
Although Knoll did a great deal of residential work, the International
Style she worked in was specially in successful corporate offices.
Knoll's vision for the new office was clean and uncluttered, and
the corporate boom of the 1960's provided the perfect opportunity
for her to change the way people looked at work in their offices.
Her open plan layouts created clean, uncluttered spaces a perfect
venue for her furniture. Companies like H. J. Heinz, CBS, and Connecticut
General Life Insurance all embraced this new way of organizing business
Franco Albini (1905-1977) is often considered to
be the most important of the Italian "Neo-Rationalist"
designers. Trained in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, graduating
in 1929, his work helped herald in a wave of furniture design that
successfully combined the new forms of modernism with a more traditional
artisanship. Much of his furniture was designed to make use of the
inexpensive raw materials of the area, in the post war years when
other materials were scarce. His work, both in architecture and
design, displays a commitment to a rigorous craftsmanship and elegance
built on a minimalist aesthetic, unencumbered by extraneous ornamentation.
Albini started out working in the studio of Gio
Ponti. He started his own studio in 1930 where he collaborated frequently
with Franca Helg. One of his pioneering pieces from this period
was a 1939 radio made of glass which was innovative in the way it
was designed to reveal the internal components of the machine. He
began showing his work in the Milan Triennials of the 1930s and
was part of a 1946 exhibit of furniture in which the items addressed
the problem of designing for small spaces and featured a number
of stacking and folding chairs. His office also designed interiors,
like the Zanini Fur Shop in Milan, which was completed in 1945.
He was an editor for Casabella in the 1940s and from 1946 to 1947
he worked closely with Cesare Cassina in a program to enhance their
company by meeting regularly and collaborating with individual designers.
The pieces of furniture that became the icons of
his career were produced primarily in the fifties. The stylistic
variety suggests a dislike on his part for adherence to a singular
aesthetic. His 1950 "Margherita" and "Gala"
chairs, made of woven cane, were intrinsic elements within the growing
movement during that period to revitalize arts and craft traditions.
His 1952 "Fiorenza" armchair for Arflex was formally expressive,
almost animated, and the profile of his 1955 "Luisa" chair
evoked the profile of an austere architectural project. Produced
by Poggi, the 1956 "Rocking chaise" was an elegant concept--
the rocker as a piece of furniture for reclining, like a taut hammock
reigned into the confines of a bent wood frame. He also designed
a living room console for Poggi during this period.
During the sixties, his work was geared more towards industrial
design and larger architecture projects. He designed the Rinascente
building in Rome in 1961. In 1964 he, Helg and Bob Noorda collaborated
on a project to design several stations within the Milan subway
system. Their plan was centered on a desire to keep the individual
identity of each stop, while unifying the design through repeated
materials and a consistent font and style for the signs identifying
the stations. For Brionvega he designed a television that was exhibited
at the 1964 Milan Triennial. During this period he also produced
several lamps for Arteluce. Throughout his career he was the recipient
of three Compasso d'Oro awards.
George Nelson (1908-1986) was, together with Charles & Ray Eames,
one of the founding fathers of American modernism. We like to think
of George Nelson as "The Creator of Beautiful and Practical
George Nelson was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908. He died
in New York City in 1986.
George Nelson studied Architecture at Yale University, where he
graduated in 1928. He also received a bachelor degree in fine arts
in 1931. A year later while preparing for the Paris Prize competition
he won the Rome prize. With Eliot Noyes, Charles Eames and Walter
George Nelson was part of a generation of architects that found
too few projects and turned successfully toward product, graphic
and [interior design].
Based in Rome he travelled through Europe where he met a number
of the modernist pioneers. A few years later he returned to the
U.S.A. to devote himself to writing. Through his writing in "Pencil
Points" he introduced Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le
Corbusier and Gio Ponti to North America. At "Architectural
Forum" he was first associate editor (1935- 1943) an later
consultant editor (1944-1949). He defended sometimes ferociously
the modernist principles and irritated many of his colleagues who
as "industrial designers" made, according to Nelson too
many concessions to the commercial forces in industry.
By 1940 George Nelson had drawn popular attention with several innovative
concepts. In his post-war book: Tomorrow's House, for instance he
introduced the concept of the"family room". One of those
innovative concepts, the "storagewall" attracted the attention
of D.J. De Pree, Herman Miller's president. In 1945 De Pree asked
him to become Herman Miller's design director, an appointment that
became the start of a long series of successful collaborations with
Ray and Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia, Richard Schultz, Donald Knorr
and Isamu Noguchi. Although both Bertoia and Noguchi expressed later
on regrets about their involvement, it became a uniquely successful
period for the company and for George Nelson. He set new standards
for the involvement of design in all the activities of the company,
and in doing so he pioneered the practice of corporate image management,
graphic programs and signage.
George Nelson's catalogue design and exhibition designs for Herman
Miller close a long list of involvements designed to make design
to the most important driving force in the company. From his start
in the mid-forties to the mid-eighties his office worked for and
with the best of his times. At one point Ettore Sottsass worked
at his office. He was without any doubt the most articulate and
one of the most eloquent voices on design and architecture in the
U.S.A. of the 20th century. He was a teacher and he did write extensively,
organized conferences like the legendary Aspen gatherings and published
several books. Among the best known designs are his marshmallow
sofa, the coconut chair, the Catenary group, his clocks and many
other products that became milestones in the history of a profession
that he helped to shape.
Giò Ponti (18 November 1891, Milan- 16 September,
1979, Milan) was an Italian architect. His parents were Enrico Ponti
and Giovanna Rigone. Gio Ponti did military service during World
War I in the Pontonier Corps with the rank of captain, from 1916
to 1918, receiving the Bronze Medal and Miliitary Cross.
Gio Ponti graduated with a degree in architecture in 1921 from the
Milan Polytechnic, and set up a studio with the architects Mino
Fiocchi and Emilio Lancia in Milan. Later, he went into partnership
with Lancia (Studio Ponti e Lancia, PL: 1926-1933); then with the
engineers Antonio Fornaroli and Eugenio Soncini (Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Soncini,
In 1921, he married Giulia Vimercati; they were
to have four children and eight grandchildren. From 1923 came his
public debut at the first Biennial Exhibition of the Decorative
Arts in Monza, which was followed by his involvement in organization
of the subsequent Triennial Exhibitions on Monza and Milan.
From 1923 to 1930 he worked at the Manifattura Ceramica Richard
Ginori, in Milan and Sesto Fiorentino, changing the company's whole
In 1928 he founded the magazine Domus. From 1936
to 1961 he was professor on the permanent staff of the Faculty of
Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic.
In 1941 he resigned as editor of the magazine Domus and set up the
magazine Stile, which he edited until 1947. In 1948 he returned
to Domus, of which he remained the editor until the end of his life.
In 1952 he went into partnership with the architect
Alberto Rosselli (Studio Ponti-Fornaroli-Rosselli, P.F.R.: 1952-1976);
after the death of Rosselli he continued to work with his long time
partner Antonio Fornaroli.
Hans Wegner was born in 1914: Tønder, Denmark
where he completed his early education and was trained as a cabinet
maker. In 1936, at the age of 22 he attended the School of Arts
and Crafts in Copenhagen, returning later as a tutor.
He worked as an assistant to Erik Møller
and Arne Jacobsen until 1943, helping on their design for the Århus
, and adding some of his own furniture. In 1943 he opened his own
office and came out with the Chinese chair which, along with his
1949 "Round" chair would provide the basis for many of
his later chairs.
Interiors magazine, in America, put the Round chair
on the cover in 1950 and called it 'the world's most beautiful chair,'
catapulting Wegner into international fame and sparking a profitable
export market. It became known simply as,The Chair and began making
high profile appearances like the televised 1961 presidential debates
between Nixon and Kennedy. Of the design Wegner said, "many
foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've
answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification,
and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible
elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest."
While "the Chair" is the probably the
chief icon of Wegner's career, and a form that he revisits often,
he is responsible for a number of other designs. He and Johannes
Hansen exhibited a joint project at the Cabinetmakers show every
year from 1941-66, Wegner claiming that it was "more like a
game...we had to have something to display every autumn." His
own chair designs from those decades, manufactured primarily by
PP Møbler and Carl Hansen & Son, were made with the modern,
sculptural idea that they could stand on their own, rather than
as parts of a furniture set. The Peacock chair from 1947, with a
slatted back rest fanning out to evoke the bird's plume, was inspired
by the traditional "Windsor" chair. His 1949 Folding chair
was made to be hung on the wall, and his Shell chair from the same
year experimented with curving the wood in three dimensions to form
the seat. The multi-purpose Valet Chair, designed in 1953, had elements
for hanging up or storing each piece of a Mans Suit. The backrest
is carved to be used as a coat hanger, pants can be hung on a rail
at the edge of the seat and everything else can be stowed in a storage
space underneath the seat.
Inspired by classical portraits of Danish merchants
sitting in Ming chairs, Wegner created series of chairs that helped
establish Denmark as an international leader of modern design. Of
this series the Wishbone Chair is widely considered to be his most
In the early 1960s he came out with several variations
on the Bull chair which came with or without horns, and was a fine
example of the line Wegner could masterfully walk between elegance
and playfulness. "We must take care," he once said, "that
everything doesn't get so dreadfully serious. We must play---but
we must play seriously." In more recent years he has continued
to design chairs and has also worked with lighting, such as the
Pole amp created in 1976 with his daughter Marianne. A true craftsman,
Wegner has stated that, "the chair does not exist. The good
chair is a task one is never completely done with."
World renowned for blending a variety of natural
material in his classic designs, Hans Wegner has received many international
accolades for his work, among them : "the Triennale" 1951,
1954 and 1957; "Royal Society of Arts" London 1959; "Citations
of Merit" Pratt Institute, New York 1959 and the "International
Design award", New York, 1957.
In June 1997 Wegner was awarded an Honary Doctorate
by the The Royal College of Art in London.
Hans Wegner celebrated his 90th birthday on April
Harry Bertoia (b. March 10, 1915 in San Lorenzo,
Udine, Italy. d. November 6, 1978 in Barto, Pennsylvania, United
States) was an Italian-born artist and designer.
He began taking drawing classes in 1928 before emigrating first
to Canada, then to Detroit in 1930. He became a US citizen in 1946.
He designed sound sculptures, monotypes, jewellery and furniture.
His "Sounding Sculpture" can be found in the plaza of
The Aon Center, Chicago's second tallest building.
In the late 1940s, Bertoia was working with Charles Eames on ergonomic
studies that would be used to create practical forms for furniture.
In the period from 1950-1954, after parting ways with the Eames
Office, Bertoia produced the five wire pieces that became known
as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll. Innovative, comfortable and
strikingly handsome, the chairs have a delicate appearance that
belies their strength and durability.
In Bertoia's own words, "If you look at these chairs, they
are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through
A classic, modern design that enhances any environment, Bertoia's
wire chairs remain a fascinating study in bent metal and a fixture
of mid-century design.
Herbert Hirche is born 1910 in Görlitz (Schlesien).
After carpenter teachings it studies from 1930 to 1933 at the building
house in Dessau and Berlin, among other things with Kandinsky and
bad van the raw one. The latter adjusts it 1934 in its office in
Berlin, where Hirche works until 1938. After short independent activity
he becomes to 1945 coworkers of Egon egg man and later also by Hans
Scharoun. 1948 it as a professor to the university for applied art
in Berlin white lake and 1952 to the national academy for screen
end of arts Stuttgart will appoint. Since 1950 Hirche member is
in the German work federation, 1959 joins he the federation of German
Idustrie designers (VDID) and 1961 becomes it member in the advice
for shaping. Apart from its training activity he arranges numerous
houses, interiors and furniture and participates in many exhibitions.
Herbert Hirche dies on 28 January 2002.
When Herbert Hirche comes 1930 as twenty-year-old
one to Dessau to the building house, this already is in a difficult
situation. He nevertheless remains up to its final locking 1933
its pupil, in order thereafter by the leader at that time bad van
the raw one in its citizen of Berlin office to be gotten. Its first
building, the house Krum in Niederhausen, originates already from
the year 1932. While further interior arrangements and building
projects with bad follow the time of the national socialism van
the raw one, Lilly realm and Egon egg man, which is destroyed however
to a large extent or to be lost. After the Second World War he works
in the group of Hans Scharoun on the reconstruction of Berlin and
begins its training activity first in Berlin white lake and then,
starting from 1952, in Stuttgart. 1949 he arranges the exhibition
as lives in Stuttgart, which shows new German Design since the end
of war and way for the further development of the German organization
becomes pointing. Even on further important exhibitions it is represented,
so e.g. 1957 on the Triennale in Milan and on the inter+'s building
in Berlin, where it shows several Inneineinrichtungen, and 1958
on the world exhibition in Brussels. Besides it sketches numerous
style screen end of products for the company brown to AG, primarily
radio and television sets, or for the company Holzäpfel in
Ebhausen, whose carry most furniture the handwriting Hirches. By
his membership in the German work federation (1950), with which
it since 1946 already cooperated, in the federation of German designerdesigner
designers (1959), whose presidency it from 1960 to 1970 takes over,
and also in the advice for shaping (1961) exercises Hirche a large
influence on the Design and the architecture, of the 60's and 70's
50's. If its interest applies thereby primarily for the serial one,
dismantle-cash and again join-cash, then Hirches request is nevertheless
always "the noble restraint, () feeling for measure and proportion,
() inconspicuous, like natural integration into the surrounding
landscape. "(Mia Seeger, in: Hirche, without page number) the
influence bad van that raw became in its work unmistakably, but
to its own concept of harmony.
He was born in Tokyo in 1912 and died in 1971. In 1932 he started
working on a standard prototype of chair with Kappei Toyoguchi under
Bruno Tauto at the National Academy of Industrial Arts in Japan.
In 1952, he founded the Japan Industrial Designers Association with
Riki Watanabe and Sori Yanagi and in 1955 he established his Design
Laboratory. After that, he received Gold prize for his work at the
Japanese display at the World Exhibition in Brussels. He later created
a variety of interior designs for the Keio Plaza hotel and in 1964,
his most famous work, the Lounge Chair, was selected as a permanent
exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Isamu Noguchi Noguchi Isamu, November 17, 1904 - December 30, 1988)
was a notable 20th century artist and landscape architect.
Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles to an American writer, Leonie
Gilmour, and a Japanese poet, Yone Noguchi (full name Yonejiro Noguchi),
on November 17, 1904. In 1906 he moved with his mother to join his
father in Japan, where he spent the rest of his childhood.
In 1918 he was sent to the United States for schooling. He graduated
from La Porte High School in La Porte, Indiana in 1922.
In 1924 Noguchi dropped out of Columbia University to pursue sculpture
full-time. In Paris, he became Brancusi's personal assistant for
several months. In the ensuing years he gained in prominence and
acclaim, leaving his large-scale works in many of the world's major
cities. Such works include:
A bridge in Hiroshima's Peace Park
Sculpture for First National City Bank Building in Fort Worth, Texas
Sunken Garden for Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale
University in New Haven, Connecticut
Billy Rose Sculpture Garden, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Sunken Garden for Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in New York, New York
Gardens for the IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York
Kodomo no Kuni, a children's playground in Yokohama, Japan
The "Portal" sculpture sculpture located on the east plaza
of the Justice Center Complex in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dodge Fountain and Philip A. Hart Plaza in Detroit, Michigan (created
in collaboration with Shoji Sadao)
Bayfront Park, Miami, Florida, 1980-1990
His works were not limited to sculptures and gardens. He designed
stage sets for various Martha Graham productions; he designed some
mass-produced objects such as lamps and furniture some of which
are still manufactured and sold today. Among his furniture work
was his collaboration with the Herman Miller company in 1948 when
he joined with George Nelson, Paul László and Charles
Eames to produce a catalog containing what is often considered to
be the most influential body of modern furniture. His work lives
on around the world and at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in New
The furniture designer ROBIN DAY (1915-) and his
textile designer wife LUCIENNE (1917-) transformed British design
after World War II by pioneering a new modern idiom. He experimented
with new materials in inexpensive furniture for manufacturers like
Hille and she revitalised textile design with vibrant patterns for
As Britain's most celebrated designer couple of
the post-war era, Robin and Lucienne Day were - and are still -
often compared to their US contemporaries, Charles and Ray Eames.
However, their working practice was quite different. Whereas the
Eames designed as a team, the Days mostly worked independently in
separate fields. Placed side by side, Robin's furniture and Lucienne's
furnishings are remarkably harmonious in ethos and aesthetic, reflecting
the creative synergy between them. But it is important not to blur
their identity and achievements. Assessed individually, the Days
are both towering figures in their own right.
Like many architects and designers during the optimistic
post-war period, the Days believed in the transformative power of
modern design to make the world a better place. They rose to prominence
during the 1951 Festival of Britain, which provided an ideal showcase
for their talents. Lucienne's arresting abstract-patterned textiles
and wallpapers were displayed alongside Robin's steel and plywood
furniture in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion. Robin also designed
the furniture for the Royal Festival Hall.
Significantly, the Days were already in their mid-thirties
by the time of the Festival, having trained at the Royal College
of Art in London before World War II. This explains the strength
and maturity of their early post-war designs as they had been honing
their ideas throughout the previous decade. It also explains their
astonishing productivity throughout the 1950s. The Festival of Britain,
the Days realised, was an opportunity not to be missed.
Robin Day, the son a police constable in High Wycombe,
and Désirée Lucienne Conradi, who grew up in Croydon,
the daughter of Belgian reinsurance broker, met at a Royal College
of Art dance in 1940. She was in her final year studying printed
textiles. He had already left the college in 1938, having specialised
in furniture and interior design. They married in 1942. It was their
passion for design that drew the couple together and formed the
basis of their personal and professional relationship. Acting as
mutual catalysts, they spurred each other on to realise their ambitions
and to produce their most original work.
The war and its government-regulated aftermath delayed
their careers, but made them even more determined to succeed. In
the interim, Lucienne designed dress fabrics, while Robin turned
his hand to exhibition and poster design. In 1948 he and Clive Latimer
won first prize in the storage section of the International Competition
for Low-Cost Furniture organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New
York. The cabinets in their flexible, multi-functional storage system
were fabricated from a tube of moulded plywood cut into sections
- a radical innovation for the time.
Robin's success brought him to the attention of
a British manufacturer, Hille, which had specialised in period furniture,
but was eager to modernise. Seizing this opportunity, he designed
a series of simple, functional chairs, tables, desks and storage
units that harnessed the latest wood and metal-working techniques.
Many of his designs were low-cost, such as the beech-framed 1950
Hillestak chair with its moulded plywood seat. Whereas pre-war furniture
was solid and ponderous, Day's designs were pared down and seemed
to float above the ground, as with his 1952 Reclining chair. "What
one needs in today's small rooms is to see over and under one's
furniture," he told a journalist in 1955.
Robin's inventive response to technology reflected
the positive, forward-looking mood of the early post-war era. His
sparing use of materials and economical approach to construction,
using the minimum number of components, as in the 1953 Q Stak chair
stemmed from the enforced austerity of the war years, when materials
and labour were in short supply. These habits became deeply ingrained
in his design psyche. From the outset Robin Day was a deeply moral
and highly principled designer, who was not interested in making
a design statement, but in solving practical problems in the most
rigorous, efficient and cost-effective way. "A good design
must fulfil its purpose well, be soundly constructed, and should
express in its design this purpose and construction," he stated
The commission to design furniture for the Royal
Festival Hall marked a turning point in Robin's career. The brief
was complex and demanding, including restaurant and foyer furniture,
auditorium seating and orchestra chairs, each with specific functional
demands. His talents were also evident in the two room settings
he designed for the House and Gardens Pavilion at the Festival:
one low-cost, one high-cost, both equipped with his latest storage
furniture and chairs.
It was for this display that Lucienne created her
revolutionary furnishing fabric Calyx, an abstract pattern inspired
by plant forms, composed of spindly lines and irregular cupped motifs
in earthy and acid tones. Initially her principal client, Heal Fabrics
was sceptical about this avant-garde design, but Calyx was so widely
praised, nationally and internationally, that the company enthusiastically
embraced the 'Contemporary' style and championed Lucienne's work.
Over the next 20 years she produced over 70 outstanding patterns
for Heal's, all remarkable for their inventiveness. Lucienne was
also much sought after by other textile companies, including Edinburgh
Weavers, Liberty and British Celanese.
The originality of Lucienne's early patterns grew
from her love of modern art, particularly the paintings of Joan
Miró and Paul Klee. She sought to create a similar energy
and vitality in her patterns through dynamic, ebullient compositions,
as in 1953's Spectators and Perpetua, and bold colour contrasts,
as in the 1956 Herb Antony. In 1957 Lucienne reflected: "In
the very few years since the end of the war, a new style of furnishing
fabrics has emerged
. I suppose the most noticeable thing about
it has been the reduction in popularity of patterns based on floral
motifs and the replacement of these by non-representational patterns
- generally executed in clear bright colours, and inspired by the
modern abstract school of painting
Probably everyone's boredom
with wartime dreariness and lack of variety helped the establishment
of this new and gayer trend."
The 1950s and 1960s were a time of feverish activity
for Lucienne. As well as designing printed textiles, she responded
to a flood of invitations from manufacturers to design carpets,
wallpapers, tea towels, table linen and ceramics. Among her clients
were the German manufacturers, Rasch for wallpaper and Rosenthal
for ceramics. She also produced a large body of designs for three
leading British carpet manufacturers: Tomkinson, Wilton Royal and
Creating repeat patterns for textiles is a laborious
process, but Lucienne's designs convey an impression of effortless
spontaneity. "It is not enough to 'choose a motif', nor enough
to 'have ideas' and be able to draw," she observed. "There
must also be the ability to weld the single units into a homogenous
whole, so that the pattern seems to be part of the cloth."
Visually stimulating, but not over-insistent, her patterns are sophisticated
and multi-layered, with cleverly balanced assertive and recessive
elements, thereby working both from a distance and close up.
The playfulness and linearity of her early patterns
was superseded from the late 1950s by a growing interest in architectural
compositions, as 1950s Sequoia. After a series of textural patterns
during the early 1960s, her designs became bolder, simpler and flatter,
as in 1966's Pennycress. Several of her later designs had full-width
repeats, such as 1967's Causeway designed specifically for the large
floor-to-ceiling picture windows then in vogue. An inspired colourist,
Lucienne was always meticulous about selecting the colourways for
her patterns. She also acted as colour consultant to several clients.
Colour relationships were the key feature of her one-off 'silk mosaics',
a new medium that she developed during the late 1970s.
Right from the start of his career Robin was totally
committed to the design of low-cost, mass-produced furniture. With
the 1963 Polypropylene chair for Hille, he achieved his ultimate
goal. Light, strong, flexible, scratch-proof, heat-resistant and
hard-wearing, polypropylene had numerous advantages over other materials
in use at the time. Robin was the first designer to appreciate its
potential for furniture and to overcome the technical and engineering
problems involved in making the shell of a chair.
"Considerations of posture and anatomy largely
determined the sections through the shell," he explained. "I
wanted to avoid seeing the frame fixings though the seat of the
chair, and designed bosses integrally moulded with the underside
of the seat. Another feature of the design is the fully rolled-over
edge which helps to give strength and stability against over-flexing."
Although understated, the Polypropylene chair is extremely refined.
A worldwide hit, produced in the millions, it has spawned innumerable
copies, although none can compare with the subtlety of the original.
Robin went on to create a whole 'polyprop' family - the 1967 Polypropylene
armchair, the 1971 Series E school chairs and the 1975 jaunty indoor/outdoor
Durability and comfort have always been key features
of Robin Day's designs, hence his interest in public seating. A
pioneer of ergonomics long before the term was invented, his designs
invariably combine practicality with durability. Much of his public
seating was used for decades after its original installation, notably
his 1960s Gatwick benches in Tate Britain, 1980s auditorium seating
for the Barbican Art Centre in London and 1990s Toro and Woodro
seating on London Underground.
© Design Museum + British Council
Sir Terence Orby Conran (born in Esher Surrey on
October 4, 1931) is a British designer, restaurateur, retailer and
Terence Conran's father was a business man who owned a rubber importation
comany in East London. Conran was educated at Bryanston School in
Dorset and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design where
he studied textiles. As a student Conran worked on the Festival
of Britain on the main South Bank site. Having started his own design
practice in 1956 with the Summa furniture range and designing a
shop for Mary Quant. In 1964 he opened the first Habitat shop in
Chelsea with his third wife Caroline Herbert, which grew into a
large chain selling household goods and furniture in contemporary
designs. In the mid-1980s Conran expanded Habitat into the Storehouse
group of companies that included Mothercare and Heals but in 1990
he lost control of the company. Conran and Caroline Herbert divorced
in 1996 in which she settled for over £10m. His later retail
companies include the Conran Shop.
He has also been involved in architecture and interior design, including
London's Michelin House (which he turned into the restaurant Bibendum)
and the Bluebird Garage both in Chelsea. Conran had a major role
in the regeneration in the early 1990s of the Shad Thames area of
London next to Tower Bridge that includes the Design Museum which
is managed by the Conran Foundation. He has written and published
various books, particularly on interior design.
He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and winner
of the Minerva Medal, the Society's highest award.
Conran has also created various other London restaurants including
the Soup Kitchen, Orrery, Quaglino's, Mezzo (restaurant), Pont de
la Tour, Blueprint Cafe, Butler's Wharf Chop House, together with
restaurants in various other countries.
The fashion designer Jasper Conran is his son with his second wife,
the writer Shirley Conran. Conran's sister is the wife of chef Antonio
Verner Panton (13 February 1926 - 5 September 1998) is considered
to be one of Denmark's most influential 20th-century furniture and
interior designers. During his career, he created innovative and
futuristic designs in a variety of available materials, especially
plastics, and in vibrant colors. His style was very "1960s"
but regained popularity at the end of the 20th century; as of 2004,
Pantons most well-known furniture models are still in production
(at Vitra, among others).
Panton was trained as architectural engineer in Odense; next, he
studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske
Kunstakademi) in Copenhagen. The first two years of his career -
1950-1952 - he worked at the architectural practice of Arne Jacobsen,
another famous Danish architect and furniture designer, but Panton
turned out to be an "enfant terrible" and he started his
own design office in 1955. Near the end of the 1950s, his chair
designs became more and more unconventional, with no legs or discernible
back. In 1960, Panton was the designer of the very first single-form
injection-moulded plastic chair - the Stacking chair or S chair,
which would become his most famous and mass-produced design.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Verner Panton experimented with
designing entire environments: radical and psychedelic interiors
that were an ensemble of his curved furniture, wall upholstering,
textiles and lighting. He is best known for the design of a German
boats interior, now a famous museum. He is also known for a hotel
in Europe that utilized circular patterns and cylindrical furniture.
Italian designer Vico Magistretti (1920-) established
himself as a master of simple, elegant and even understated design
solutions to domestic needs and desires. His work is driven by a
passion for building off of what he calls, "anonymous traditional
objects," which he finds "extraordinary for the very fact
that they are anonymous, and can go on repeating themselves in time
with slight differences, because they're basically resistant to
conceptual wear. I've always been attracted by this kind of re-use,
not least because I don't like the design aspect to show too much."
Magistretti got an architecture degree from the Polytechnic in Milan
in 1945. In 1946 he took part in the 'Popular Furnishings' exhibit
at the Italian Furniture Show Reunion as part of the Milan Triennale.
Here he showcased a deck chair and a bookcase built of shelves suspended
along two columns of metal tubing. In 1949 he was part of a show
organized by Fede Cheti which included all the premiere Italian
designers working at the time. Magistretti's contribution to the
show included a bookcase designed like a ladder, leaning against
the wall and a small, stackable table which was subsequently put
into production by the Italian company Azucena. The goal of the
company, and of Magistretti himself, was to produce quality modern
furniture that could begin to coexist alongside the antiques filling
most Milanese apartments.
During the 1950s Magistretti did a lot of architectural work, including
an office building in Corso Europa and the Villa Arosio. He expressed
a dislike for "designing Countess So-and-So's drawing room,
or Mr. Whatsit's dining room chairs" and preferred to design
with his own home in mind, and to think of his designs as "autobiographical,
like a diary or a little private world." In 1959, however,
as an offshoot of a public commission to design the Carimate Golf
Club, his simple "Carimate" chair became a popular icon
of design into the 1960's. Magistretti probably enjoyed this commission
immensely, since he was an avid golfer and developed several sketches
for new golf clubs and bags, none of which were ever put into production.
The chair was a successful marriage of rural materials-- a wooden
frame with a rush seat-- and bright, modern paint work and gloss
finish. In 1962 Cassina began producing the chair and ushered in
a long era of collaboration with Magistretti.
In the sixties he began to work in plastic, expanding on the prevailing
structure of chairs and tables built from a single piece of reinforced
resin. Some of his important innovations in plastic are the use
of S-shaped legs for maximum support without breaking the integrity
of the singular piece, and the technique of thickening the plastic
to reinforce the areas that receive more stress. Magistretti also
designed "softer" armchairs like the "Maralunga"
chair (1973) which features an adjustable headrest. His paean to
the "anonymous object" is his "Sinbad" armchair
and sofa (1981) which has an informal, cozy quality achieved by
its English horse blanket throwover cover. He wrote that when he
saw the traditional blanket he thought it was "so beautiful
that I'd like to add four buttons and sit down on it." He is
also known for his lighting fixtures like the "Atollo"
table lamp in painted aluminum which won the Compasso d'Oro award
in 1979 and was featured in the MoMA's fiftieth anniversary calendar.