Tuesday, September 1, 2009



Bauhaus - school in
Germany founded by Walter Gropius that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. Bauhaus Movement – of, relating to, or characteristic of a 20th-century school of design, the aesthetic of which was influenced by and derived from techniques and materials employed especially in industrial fabrication and manufacture.

Modernists, especially those involved in design, had more pragmatic views. Modernist architects and designers believed that new technology rendered old styles of building obsolete.
Le Corbusier thought that buildings should function as "machines for living in", analogous to cars, which he saw as machines for traveling in. Just as cars had replaced the horse, so modernist design should reject the old styles and structures inherited from Ancient Greece or from the Middle Ages. In same cases form superseded function. Following this machine aesthetic, modernist designers typically rejected decorative motifs in design, preferring to emphasize the materials used and pure geometrical forms. The skyscraper, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building in New York (1956–1958), became the archetypal modernist building. Modernist design of houses and furniture also typically emphasized simplicity and clarity of form, open-plan interiors, and the absence of clutter. Modernism reversed the 19th century relationship of public and private: in the 19th century, public buildings were horizontally expansive for a variety of technical reasons, and private buildings emphasized verticality—to fit more private space on more and more limited land. Conversely, in the 20th century, public buildings became vertically oriented, and private buildings became organized horizontally. Many aspects of modernist design still persist within the mainstream of contemporary architecture today, though its previous dogmatism has given way to a more playful use of decoration, historical quotation, and spatial drama

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is an
art museum located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, USA, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been singularly important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world.[1] The museum's collection offers an unparalleled overview of modern and contemporary art,[2] including works of architecture and design, drawings, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and artist's books, film, and electronic media

Influential Masters:

Walter Gropius – Germany / was a
German architect and founder of Bauhaus who along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Marcel Breuer – Hungary / architect and furniture designer was an influential Hungarian-born modernist of Jewish descent. One of the masters of Modernism, Breuer displayed interest in modular construction and simple forms. Studied and taught at the
Bauhaus in the 1920s stressing the combination of art and technology, and eventually became the head of the school's cabinet-making shop.

Le Corbusier – Switzerland / was a
Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and also painter, who is famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called Modern architecture or the International Style. He was a pioneer in studies of modern high design and was dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout central Europe, India, Russia, and one each in North and South America. He was also an urban planner, painter, sculptor, writer, and modern furniture designer. Le Corbusier co-designed a system of furniture with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. The tubular steel furniture like the famous chaise and Grand Confort chair projected a new rationalist aesthetic that came to epitomize the International Style.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – Germany / The modern city, with its towers of glass and steel, can be at least in part attributed to the influence of architect Mies van der Rohe. Equally significant, if smaller in scale, is Mies' daring design of furniture, pieces that exhibit an unerring sense of proportion, as well as minimalist forms and exquisitely refined details. In fact, his chairs have been called architecture in miniature exercises in structure and materials that achieve an extraordinary visual harmony as autonomous pieces or in relation to the interiors for which they were originally designed.
Mies and Lilly Reich designed what is perhaps his most famous creation. Created for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona International Exhibition, the Pavilion chair was intended as a modern throne; a thick cushion upholstered in luxurious leather and set upon a curved metal frame in the shape of an X inspired by classical furniture. Perfectly proportioned and finished, the simple chair exuded an air of elegance and authority.In 1938, Mies emigrated from Europe and moved to Chicago. The rest of his career was devoted to promoting the Modernist style of architecture in the U.S., resulting in rigorously modern buildings such as the Farnsworth House and the Seagram Building, designed with Philip Johnson. Perhaps the best summation of his work is Mies' own: thoughts in action.



Alvar Aalto – Finland / Using native birch wood and plywood and his own new bentwood techniques, Aalto created his classic Lounge Chair, the curvilinear Wood Screen designed for the Finnish Pavilion and his iconic stacking stool. These pieces represent his virtuosity with form and structure and firmly established Aalto's genius and fluency with wood - which he described as the "form inspiring, deeply human material." Their natural beauty also made waves among the European avant garde, better known for a high-minded austerity than warmth.

Ron Arad – Israel / Design took a radical turn in the 1980's, deconstructing the rigid ideology of the Bauhaus–often with great humor. Avant-garde designers like Philippe Starck and Ron Arad brazenly borrowed from the "historical closet" of previous styles and created biomorphic forms with whimsical names like Arad's Big Easy Red chair, the After Spring Before Summer chaise lounge and the Empty chair. These chairs posed anew the question, "What ought a chair to be?"

Jeffrey Bernett - USA / With his commitment to function and simplicity – and a singular attention to manufacturing detail he has won accolades in a range of disciplines, including architecture, interior design, residential and office furniture, lighting, graphic design, transportation design and fashion. His very first furniture collection, presented at the 1996 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, received the Editor's Award for "Best of Show.

Harry Bertoia – Italy / Italian artist and furniture designer, Harry Bertoia, was thirty-seven years old when he designed the patented Diamond chair for Knoll in 1952. An unusually beautiful piece of furniture, it was strong yet delicate in appearance, and an immediate commercial success in spite of being made almost entirely by hand. With the Diamond chair, Bertoia created an icon of modern design and introduced a new material, industrial wire mesh to the world of furniture design.

Achille Castiglioni – Italy / his designs are often inspired by everyday things and make use of ordinary materials like extruded aluminum and stainless steel. The genius of Castiglioni's inventive imagination is in his ability to use the minimal amount of materials while creating forms with a maximum effect.

Antonio Citterio – Italy / Antonio Citterio has earned a reputation for his uncompromising design and craftsmanship. Born in Meda, a small city north of Milan, Citterio graduated in architecture from the Politecnico of Milan in 1972 and established a design studio with Paolo Nava who remained a close collaborator until 1981. Citterio also worked with architect Vittorio Gregotti on the restoration of the Brera Art Gallery in Milan. In 1973 Citterio began a long-term partnership with the furniture company, B&B Italia.

Joe Colombo - Italy / in 1963 he began a mission to invent what he called a "new type of habitat." In furnishing these living habitats, Colombo applied his newfound production processes and the new plastics he had fully adopted. His three-year experimentation with these living systems culminated in the Total Furnishing Unit, where all living spaces – kitchen, storage, bed and bath – are contained in a single unit. The design debuted in 1972 at MoMA's Italy: the New Domestic Landscape, just not in time for Colombo to enjoy the acclaim.


Tom Dixon – Tunisia / having taught himself welding, but lacking a retail venue to sell his work, he opened Space in the mid '80s. Dixon first received international acclaim with his S Chair, which was introduced by Cappellini in 1989. He launched Eurolounge in 1994 as a way to manufacture his lighting designs on British soil. For his own projects, Dixon gathers inspiration from the world around him, encompassing concepts small and large – from industrial revolution-era engines to the common paperclip. In 1998 Dixon began working as head of design at Habitat, becoming creative director by 2007. In 2004 he began collaboration with Artek, which was founded in 1935 by Alvar Aalto. Dedicated to bring Artek into the new millennium, Dixon is still focused on upholding the company's legacy.

Rudolfo Dordoni – Italy / he has worked for several high profile companies as a consultant and designer and is active in the field of architecture, as well as the design of retail shops, exhibits, showrooms and pavilions. As a designer, he has worked with Artemide, Crassevig, Moroso, Cappelini International and Arteluce among many other prominent companies. As an architect, he has designed for Dolce & Gabbana, Panasonic and Beierdorf.

Charles & Ray Eames – USA / Charles and Ray Eames created more than a "look" with their bent plywood chairs or molded fiberglass seating. They had ideas about making a better world, one in which things were designed to fulfill the practical needs of ordinary people and bring greater simplicity and pleasure to our lives. The Eameses adventurously pursued new ideas and forms with a sense of "serious fun." Yet, it was rigorous discipline that allowed them to achieve perfection of form and mastery over materials. As the most important exponents of organic design, Charles and Ray Eames demonstrated how good design can improve quality of life and human understanding and knowledge.

Mariano Fortuny – Spain / Fortuny was an accomplished and innovative stage-set designer, architect, inventor, couturier, and lighting technician. The reflector lamp, popularly known as the Fortuny Lamp, works on the same principle as his stage dome, and clearly demonstrates Fortuny's philosophy that "it is not the quantity, but the quality of light, that makes things visible.

Frank Gehry – Canada / Frank Gehry is one of the most sought-after, internationally recognized and prolific architects and designers in the world today. His work defies categorization, but has become an icon of current architecture with such projects as the Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Gehry's newest architectural projects include the proposed and controversial New Jersey Nets complex in Brooklyn, New York, a satellite museum for the Guggenheim, a hospital wing in Scotland and a museum extension in Gehry's birthplace of Toronto. In addition to designing over 30 existing buildings, Gehry has distinguished himself with a handful of furniture designs, created throughout his career.


Poul Henningsen – Denmark / Trained as an architect, Henningsen is best known for a series of lighting fixtures that resulted from his fascination with the then-new technology of the electric light bulb. In 1925, one of these fixtures won first prize for modern lighting at the Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts. The next year it was put into production by Louis Poulsen & Co. in Copenhagen, and it has been in continuous international demand ever since.

Poul Kjaerholm – Denmark / Poul Kjærholm's pieces are sculptures in themselves, but with an understated, subtle quality that makes them ideally suited for accompanying art. In 2004, New York's Museum of Modern Art installed Kjærholm daybeds, tables and chairs in its galleries and restaurant. In his furniture, Kjærholm emphasized use and wear, with a focus on materials that were durable and improved with age. He viewed each piece as an element to support an architectural space, and was equally interested in how a chair or lounge positioned the sitter in relation to the surrounding floors and walls. Apprenticed as a cabinetmaker, but drawn to the potential of steel, Poul Kjærholm brought craftsmanship and industrial materials together in the design of his PK series of furniture.

Morris Lapidus – USA / Contrary to the International Style's glass and steel walls were the vivid, fantasy landscapes of Morris Lapidus, an unlikely contemporary of Mies van der Rohe. Considered a visionary of American dream architecture, Lapidus originated 20th century luxury architecture with a number of Miami Beach hotels built during the 1950s. His work was everything that the international style was not: curvy, dramatic, showy, ornamented, accessible and whimsical, bringing him both critical backlash and commercial success over the next 30 years.

Ferrucio Laviani – Italy / Ferrucio Laviani is part of a generation of young Italian designers who came to prominence in the early 90's when the Memphis movement (an influential
Italian design and architecture movement of the 1980s/offered bright, colorful, shocking pieces ) made its mark on international design. Laviani went on to design whimsical, colorful furniture and objects that reminds us of its exuberant and expressive mission. Laviani's Orbital Lamp of 1991, perhaps his best known design, used color-saturated biomorhic shapes for the glass shades, and an angular, tapering metal base, bringing to mind the organic emphasis and optimism of the '50s, while his Max table combines multi-use practicality with his signature curvilinear forms.

Ross Lovegrove - Many of his designs address ecological issues and he has worked on a proposal for a lightweight product architecture called the Solar Seed that is solar powered and inspired by the form of a cactus. Whether creating a luxury leather bag collection or a plastic thermos flask, Lovegrove's humanistic approach and organic sensibility have set a direction for design in the next century.


Vico Magistretti – Italy / for over 50 years, Vico Magistretti represented the rational face of post-war design, seeking timeless solutions to technical and formal problems. Based his whole life in Milan, he consistently produced designs that are as startling, spontaneous and original as they are logical and elegant. Magistretti designs produced simple, portable, practical furniture – qualities that were to appear again and again in his work during the 1950s.

George Nakashima – USA / The tree as an artist's resource was of utmost importance to Nakashima, who described felling as akin to cutting diamonds. From the appearance of Nakashima's finished pieces, one can almost imagine him wielding his bare hands to shape the wood. He preferred, and was highly sensitive to, the distinctive nature of walnut, ash and cherry. And he would intentionally choose wood that might have been rejected by other woodworkers for its imperfections. Those imperfections were to become his beauty marks.

George Nelson – In 1946, Nelson became director of design at Herman Miller, a position he held until 1972. While there, Nelson recruited other seminal modern designers including Charles Eames and Isamu Noguchi. He also developed his own designs, including the Marshmallow sofa, the Nelson platform bench and the first L-shaped desk, a precursor to the present-day workstation. He also created a series of boldly graphic wall clocks, a series of bubble lamps made of self-webbing plastic and developed forward looking, occasionally futuristic concepts such as the "hidden city" of underground buildings designed to create a "more humane environment.

Marc Newson – Australia / is a former silversmith and self-taught architect and designer from Australia, quickly becoming known as a maverick in contemporary design. He recently published a book on his work, Marc Newson (London: Booth-Clibborn, 1999) and over the last few years has appeared in numerous European and American magazines such as Blueprint, Domus, and Time. His honors include a 1999 George Nelson Design Award for innovative design and pieces at New York's Museum of Modern Art, Paris' Musée Des Arts Décoratifs, London's Design Museum, and Berlin's Vitra Museum. His designs are widespread

Isamu Noguchi – USA / One of the great sculptors of the 20th century, Noguchi created "lived spaces" for the theater, interiors gardens and playgrounds. He also sought to bring sculptural qualities to the many objects he designed for common use. As a young man, Noguchi studied medicine at Columbia University, but abandoned medicine to pursue painting and sculpture and in 1927; a Guggenheim fellowship took him to Europe. In Paris, he had the great good fortune to be apprenticed in the studio of Constantin Brancusi, whose investigations of form and space recalled the art and architecture Noguchi knew from childhood years spent in Japan.

Verner Panton – Denmark / Even if Verner Panton's creative output was reduced to the eponymous Panton Chair, his name would still be assured in the pantheon of modern design. With the Panton Chair, the first example of single-formed injection molded plastic seating, Panton succeeded in creating one of the most daring and famous chair designs of the twentieth century.

Charlotte Perriand – Italy / through luck, fate or simply the power of her own genius, Charlotte Perriand designed a roof-top bar for the Salon d'Automne which drew the attention of Le Corbusier. Upon seeing the anodized aluminum and chromed steel furniture that Perriand had designed for the bar, the famed Corbusier invited Perriand to join the Le Corbusier studio. For the next ten years, Perriand participated in the designs issued from the Le Corbusier studio, including the first tubular steel designs for systematized furnishings known as "Equipment de l'habitation" (1928-1929). Hard-edged, severely functional, the collection reflected strict ideas about moral and physical fitness. The best known of this group is the LC4 chaise longue. Perriand also collaborated with Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret in the design of the Grand Confort armchair (1928) which epitomizes the International Style. In 1940, together with Jeanneret, Jean Prouve and George Blanchon, Perriand established an architectural office for the design of prefabricated aluminum buildings. Over the next three decades, Perriand continued to design buildings, interiors and furniture notably a prototype kitchen for Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation, the London office for Air France and conference rooms for the United Nations in Geneva.

Jean Prouvé - France / was trained as a metal smith before attending engineering school in Nancy, and his intimate knowledge of metal remained the foundation of his work and career. After opening his own workshop in 1923, Prouvé began producing modern metal furniture of his own design as well as collaborating with some of the best-known French designers of the day, including Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. His shelving units for the dormitories at the Cité Internationale universitaire de Paris, designed with Perriand and the artist Sonia Delaunay in 1952, are perhaps the best-known examples of his collaborative work.

Gio Ponti - Italy / In a career that spanned 60 years, Gio Ponti – architect, designer, journalist, teacher, painter, and poet – showed that factory-made goods could pulse with personality, and proved that art and industry could coexist. Ponti produced startling work at every scale, from household objects to large buildings. As the young artistic director at the Manifattura Ceramica Richard-Ginori, in Milan, he applied neoclassical motifs to ceramic bowls and plates, creating a fresh look in everyday objects. As founder and longtime editor of Domus magazine, he encouraged the overlap of art and architecture. And as an architect, he built "typical houses" that looked fairly conventional on the outside, but were inventive on the inside with flexible spaces and modular furniture.


Eero Saarinen – Finland & USA / Saarinen collaborated with Eames on various projects, culminating in a range of furniture that won first prize at an exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1940 entitled, "Organic Design in Home Furnishings." After 1946, Eames went to work for Herman Miller, and Saarinen became associated with Knoll® Associates. A number of Saarinen's chairs for Knoll were to become landmarks in the history of 20th century design. Like his furniture, Saarinen's architecture is characterized by expressive sculptural forms. Among his masterworks are the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport, New York; Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.; and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
Philippe Starck – France / School drop-out Philippe Starck jump-started his career by designing two nightclub interiors in Paris in the 1970's. The success of the clubs won the attention of President Francois Mitterand, who asked Starck to refurbish one of the private apartments in the Elysee Palace. During the 1980's and 90's Starck continued his prolific creativity. His products have sensual, appealing forms suggestive of character or personal identity and Starck often conferred upon them clever, poetic or whimsical names.

Michael Thonet – Germany / Michael Thonet is one of the most important innovators in bent wood furniture making. Thonet patented a process of bending under heat several layers of wood veneer glued together and laminated. And used the new material to create curved back-rails and legs on chairs, contoured headboards for beds and scrolled arms for sofas.


Maartin Van Severen – Belgium / Maarten van Severen's modus operandi was to take the Modern legacy of strict geometry and use of industrial materials to its logical conclusion. The results were often severe, minimalist objects of great presence and form.

Marcel Wanders – Netherlands / He designed the Square Light Pendant (1998) and the Container Table (2002), both exemplars of clean lines and pure function. His Can of Gold (2001) is a gold-plated soup can that sells for $200, with the proceeds going toward food for the homeless. And Wanders must be able to meet commitments, because he's in demand all over the place – designing soap for Bisazza, a lamp for Flos, tables for Cappellini.

Hans Wegner – Denmark / Hans Wegner stands among designers Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Poul Kjærholm and Verner Panton as a master of 20th-century Danish Modernism. More specifically, he was instrumental in developing a body of work known as organic functionalism.

Marco Zanuso – Italy / One of the elder statesmen of modern design, Marco Zanuso contributed to the Italian design movement in the years following World War II. Trained in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic (1935-39), he opened his own design office in 1945 and his work was marked by rigor and originality during a long, illustrious career. Zanuso's early experiments with bent metal brought him international recognition at the Low-Cost Furniture competition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1948. Further exploration of materials yielded sleek designs in plastic and upholstered furniture. Alongside his contemporaries and countrymen, Mario Bellini, Joe Colombo and Ettore Sottsass, Zanuso was one of the great Italian designers of the 20th century.
images:(click on images to enlarge)
Pallucco Fortuny Centanario floor lamp by Mariano Fortuny
David Hockney Potted Daffodills c.1980
Jean Prouve Anthony daybed 20th century
Cappellini Revolving Cabinet by Shiro Kuramata

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