Wednesday, March 31, 2010


In an industry dominated by male colleagues, Bodil Kjaer (1932 - ) is recognized as one of the leading Danish architects and designers from the 1950s and 1960s. Kjaer received her undergraduate diploma from COPENHAGEN'S STATE SCHOOL of INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE, did post graduate studies at LONDON'S ROYAL COLLEGE of ART and ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION SCHOOL of ARCHITECTURE in addition to later being a professor at University of Maryland here in the U.S. Professionally she was a senior architect at Arup in London and also had her own offices in Denmark and London. Kjaer designed and developed products as “elements of architecture”, more pointedly solutions to problems of interiors as part of highly contemporary architecture; such elements included furniture, light fittings, glass, etc. Her scope of design also included homes for the African tropics; factories, office buildings, and universities in England and Italy; city planning and international competitions about the future of cities; university based research in architecture, planning and design; and consulting to various ARCHITECTS, ENGINEERS and THEIR CLIENTS in more recent years.

It's no surprise that Kjaer’s "elements of architecture” captured the eyes of fellow architects. The first American architect to specify Kjaer’s designs, the upholstered series, was Paul Rudolph, then Dean of Architecture at Yale, who wanted them for his first high rise building, Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Boston. Jose Luis Sert, then Dean at Harvard, was another enamored with Kjaer’s designs for a building he designed for Boston University. Kjaer’s outdoor/indoor group is believed to still be in use in that building 50 years later. And noted Hungarian architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer elected to use Kjaer’s upholstered sofas in a building in New York.

Kjaer’s working table, a personal favorite, was designed as part of a series of elements of architecture in 1959 with the intention to build flexible working environments. It's essence is best conveyed in an insightful and charming summation by the designer herself from notes for an Exhibition of the Office Units in Berlin, 1995: “Furniture that will not overpower people. Furniture that will not scream and shout. The aim is understated elegance and furniture that will easily become part of a whole. And furniture that works with contemporary architecture (actually, become elements of architecture) and furniture to mirror the social and aesthetic ideas of an era. So, I guess that it is only natural that this furniture should appear in films in the 1960s as support for Sean Connery as well as Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave, and on television in Britain as support for politicians of the so called left as well as politicians of the so called right. And, also, as support for a TV-cook with a famous name like Clement Freud. And I guess, it is only natural that this furniture should act as support for EU-politicians in Brussels, diplomats in Russia and Brazil, as well as Prince Phillip at Sandringham Castle, the financier Evelyn Rothchild, and the presidents of Marks & Spencer, but also support Oscar Peterson, the pianist, Michael Caine, the actor, plus many more private and public persons, who bought this furniture in the past. Like the real estate agent in London, whose office I walked into when I was looking for a new home, and who, when I confessed to be the designer of his desk, made me sign it. Then I taught him how to take care of his desk. The prototype of the desk, which was made in ashwood with a matte, chrome plated base, was made for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass. Later that year, 1959, the Polaroid Corporation of America bought one in ash with an orange baked enamel steel base for the reception at it’s first production plant, north of Boston. That same year a desk was made in American walnut for the women’s college that Hillary Clinton attended. It was a gift from the trustees, and so it was equipped with a silver plate with inscriptions. However, those were special examples. As an architect and designer I often ran into problems of finding furniture that would express the same form-ideas as those we employed in the buildings we designed and which would, at the same time, express the ideas of contemporary management. The office furniture I found on the market in 1959, I found to be clumsy and confining, while neither the new architecture nor the new management thinking was the least bit clumsy or confining. My clients, for whom I was designing office spaces, more often than not were flexible people with open minds. They were bright and ambitious, and had many new ideas as to how run industries and institutions. Many of these ideas that materialized around 1960 have since spread and become accepted as the way to do things today. So, I am not really surprised that this furniture, which I designed for the forward-thinking executives in 1959, is still being recognized as useful "tools" for a wide circle of leaders and management.”

A small production of reissued office units and upholstered designs did take place between 2007 and 2009 by Hothouse in Shanghai, but has since terminated. Ms. Kjaer’s vintage and reissued designs are sold internationally at fine dealers and auction houses.

Recently I had the pleasure and opportunity to correspond with Ms. Kjaer prior to this feature. Following my initial email, Ms. Kjaer gracefully responded and took the time to provide certain resources for this posting. I simply wanted to formally express my thanks and appreciation once again for her helpful interface.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Ms. Bodil Kjaer (top)
Working table for C.I Design, Boston, 1959-1961 / E. Pedersen & Son, Denmark, from 1961 (2nd)
Easy chair for Harbo Solvsten, 1955 (3rd)
Daybed for C.I. Design, Boston 1959 (4th)
Lounge chair for C.I. Design, Boston, 1959 (bottom)

Monday, March 29, 2010


American furniture designer, sculptor and artist Paul Evans (1931-1987) is remembered for his contributions to American furniture design and the American Craft Movement of the 1970s … more pointedly his metal sculpted furniture creations with the influential American manufacturer Directional Furniture. Evans trained as a silversmith, and also learned the art of the goldsmith and blacksmith. His innovative mind eventually led him to creating extraordinary metal furniture designs. With Directional, Evans introduced several series of furniture lines; the Argente series, the Sculpted Bronze series, and the popular Cityscape series. Evans' combination of handcraft and technology anticipated the limited edition art furniture of today. The artist's relationship with Directional set a unique standard for creative manufacture by insisting every piece be made by hand, finished by hand, and supervised by the artist at each step of production, one piece at a time. Evans’ designs are sold through fine dealers and auctions houses.

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images: (click on images to enlarge)
Sculpted bronze & steel diamond shaped pedestal glass top table, c1970s (top)
Cityscape credenza, c1970s (2nd)
Cityscape sofa, c1970s (3rd)
Sculpted front console, c1960s (4th)
Cityscape arm/armless dining chairs, c1970s (bottom)

Friday, March 26, 2010


Italian architect-designer Tobia Scarpa (1935 - ) is recognized for his classic designs produced by a variety of leading international manufacturers of furniture and lighting including Cassina, Knoll, Flos, B&B Italia and Meritalia. As a point of reference Scarpa was commissioned, along with Pier Castiglioni, to design the very first models for the lighting company Flos started by Dino Gavina. Scarpa collaborated on many designs throughout his career with his wife Afra. Both Tobia and Afra were greatly influenced by Tobia’s father Carlo Scarpa, particularly in the technical properties and aesthetic possibilities of materials, an outlook that Tobia shared through his own work for the famous Venini glassworks company in the late 1950s. Tobia and Afra are also known for their work in commercial architecture and interior design, especially later in their career. Some of their best-known work is for the Benetton clothing company. They are credited with several interiors for them and for their prototype store in Italy. Tobia has also been a lecturer at the School of Industrial Design in Venice. The marital duo's designs are on show in main museums all over the world and many have been chosen for various international design exhibitions. Throughout his career Tobia worked with the motto that design "is a profession without a rule book...that which remains (and is worth talking about) is that final and concrete result: the object. For a crossection of their designs refer to bonluxat and architonic links below. Vintage designs are sold internationally through fine dealers and auction houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Fantasma floor lamp for Flos c1960s, c/o Steven Learner Studio’s Tribecca Penthouse project (top)
Andre cocktail table for Knoll c1960s (2nd)
Soriana club chair for Cassina c1970s (3rd)
Carlotta armchair for Cassina c1960s (4th)
Model 925 lounge chair for Cassina c1960s (bottom)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Native New Yorker Ludwig Sander (1906 – 1975) is most remembered for his late style of painting; the bold, flat canvases of the 1960s and 1970s, two or three colors, bisected at the edge of the field by a few stark horizontal and vertical black lines. Sander studied architectural drawing in high school and then painting with Hans Hofmann in Munich in the early 1930s. He returned to New York shortly thereafter and concentrated on drawing and painting while attending classes at the Art Students League where he studied under Alexander Archipenko, George Elmer Brown, and Boardman Robinson. He supplemented these studies during the mid-1930s with night school at Columbia University, and summers in Woodstock, New York, where he investigated color theory and related subjects. After serving in WW II, Sanders moved in the artistic circle of the nascent New York School, becoming an early habitué of the Cedar Tavern, where he befriended Willem de Kooning and Jack Tworkov, among others; he participated in the watershed Ninth Street Show of 1951. After spending a summer with Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning at an old Victorian house on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton, Sander purchased a house in Sagaponack in 1954 and remained there till his death. Sanders' works are sold at fine galleries and auction houses.

Related links:

Images: (click on images to enlarge)
Genesee VIII, oil on canvas H54 x W60 (top)
Pompeii XI, oil on canvas H60 x W54 (2nd)
Chinook VII, oil on canvas H32 x W36 (3rd)
Untitled, charcoal on paper H14 ¾ x 14 (4th)
Untitled, silkscreen H20 x W18 (bottom)

Monday, March 22, 2010


The collaboration of Dutch designer Martin Visser (1922 – 2009) and Spectrum began back in 1954 when Visser was asked to work for them as a designer and be head of the company’s collection. Visser had a strong preference for craft-built furniture. Many of his designs had an industrial style, but were usually craft made. He also stretched techniques to the limit; he loved to make what was almost impossible! An example of this is that he did not bend his designs’ tubing, but cut and welded it. Honest use of materials, simple construction and absence of decoration gave the impression that Visser had a great admiration for Berlage and pre-war functionalism. He loved to make simple furniture using as little material as possible but with the clearest possible shapes. In the ‘60s, his furniture became less austere and looked more solid, with greater volume and comfort. In the late 70s/early 80s, Visser was Head Curator of modern art at the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. After this period, he returned to furniture design. In his later designs, Visser expressed his conceptions about simplicity and clarity of form. This later work was more baroque than the austere designs with which he made his name. His inspiration came more from the art world rather than that of design. But the constructive aspect remained important; he experimented with new forms and materials, including cardboard and perforated sheet steel. Visser’s career was crowned in 1998 with the Oeuvre prize for design. Reissued designs are produced by Spectrum and vintage finds can be sourced internationally at fine dealers and auctions houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
BR 02.7 sofa for Spectrum (top)
BZ bench for Spectrum (2nd)
SZ 01 armchair for Spectrum (3rd)
SE 06 chair, TE 06.7 table for Spectrum (4th)
Round dining table c1960 (bottom)

Friday, March 19, 2010


“Recognizing that the furniture in Brazil was lacking the national identity achieved in architecture by luminaries Oscar Niemeyer, Lúcio Costa and their colleagues, Brazilian architect and furniture designer Sergio Rodrigues (1927 - ) founded OCA Industries in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro in 1956 … a brand that for two decades was the hallmark for modern furniture in Brazil. He took recourse to traditional materials such as leather, eucalyptus and the wood of the Jacaranda tree. To his tribute Rodrigues received first place award at the Concorso Internazionale del Mobile (1961) as well as inclusion in the permanent collection of MOMA in New York for his Mole armchair. His overt passion for wood led to create a versatile modular architecture system that permits assembly of the most simple constructions as well as highly complex buildings. Among Rodrigues’ many projects his most notable include the Brazilian Embassy in Rome, the Universidade de Brasilia, the Palacio des Arcos, the Teatro Nacionale in Brasilia and the headquarters for Editora Bloch in Rio.” Certain reissue designs are produced today by Classicon. His vintage designs can be sourced internationally at fine dealers and auction houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Sergio Rodrigues on Mole armchair for Classicon (top)
Alex dining/center table for OCA, Brazil c1960s (2nd)
Diz armchair for Classicon (3rd)
Mocho Banco (milk stool) for OCA, Brazil c1960s (4th)
Jacaranda daybed for OCA, Brazil c1960s (bottom)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


English product and furniture designer Jasper Morrison (1959 - ) began designing products back in the late 80’s/early 90’s for SCP in London, the German door handle producer FSB, the Office furniture company Vitra, and the Italian furniture producer Cappellini. Morrison and his company are based in London and Paris these days, and for the most part continue to do work for Alessi Spa, Italy; Alias Srl, Italy; Canon Camera Division, Japan; Cappellini Spa., Italy; Established & Sons , England; Flos Spa, Italy; FSB GmbH, Germany; Magis Srl, Italy; Rosenthal AG, Germany; Rowenta, France; Sony Design Centre Europe; Vitra International AG, Switzerland. In addition in 2004, Morrison began consultancies with Samsung Electronics, Korea, Muji (Japan), Ideal Standard (UK) and Olivetti (Italy). The essay entitled “Super Normal” by Lars Müller Publishers (2006) crystallizes what Morrison has been striving to achieve for years … “design forms with a special kind of normality and perfect summary.”

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Lotus chair for Cappellini (top)
Park sofa & chairs for Vitra (2nd)
Hi-Pad chairs for Cappellini (3rd)
Smithfield suspension lights for Flos (4th)
Sleeper bed for Cappellini (bottom)

Monday, March 15, 2010


“One summer's day in 1955, when in the company of her husband Fernando, Maddalena De Padova suddenly decided to make a journey to Denmark to discover the clean, light lines of the Nordic designers. And this was the beginning …”
A year later the marital duo began importing furniture and objects from Scandinavia to be sold in their Milan store. Shortly thereafter they engaged in a license agreement to produce designs by Charles Eames, George Nelson and Alexander Girard for the Herman Miller Company through their company I.C.F. De Padova. Unfortunately in 1967 Fernando met with an early passing and Maddalena took helm of the business. In the mid 1980’s Maddalena launched her first own production branded “Edizioni De Padova”, in cooperation with some of he most famous designers in the world such as Achille Castiglioni, Dieter Rams and especially Vico Magistretti, who designed most of the new collection. In addition to being business affiliates Maddalena and Vico became life companions many years later after Fernando’s passing. "Her deep knowledge of Scandinavian, American and Italian design, thanks to her cooperation with some of the most famous international design masters, such as Arne Jacobsen, Charles Eames, George Nelson, Dieter Rams, Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, just to name a few, and her indefatigable willingness, has made De Padova a worldwide known point of reference for Italian design”. To her tribute Maddalena has received just recognition: the Cultural Scientific Committee of “Abitare il Tempo” prize for “having contributed in an essential way to the development of the Italian design” (2003), and the Career Award by Compasso d’Oro (2004). Continuing to develop and expand the collection Maddalena and now her children Valeria and Luca who represent management today have collaborated with certain modern day designers like Patricia Urquiola, Jasper Morrison and Marco Zanuso Jr. Refer to company portal for network distribution.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Shine table, Serbelloni chairs by Vico Magistretti (top)
Vidun table by Vico Magistretti (2nd)
Basket rocker by Vico Magistretti (3rd)
Tavolo ’95 dining table by Achille Castiglioni (4th)
Louisiana armchair & ottoman by Vico Magistretti (bottom)

Friday, March 12, 2010


Johannes Wohnseifer (1967 - ) is a German artist based in Cologne. He often draws reference to the German history of his youth, such as the 1972 Summer Olympics and the Red Army Faction. He creates smooth, glossy, billboard-like paintings. Wohnseifer has exhibited in shows including Irresistible Impulse at Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne, Intervention at Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Hein, Schellberg, Wohnseifer at Schnittraum in Cologne. He has shown at the Hara Museum in Tokyo, Union Gallery in London and Galerie Yvon Lambert in Paris. He is represented by Casey Kaplan in New York, Johann Koenig in Berlin and Nicolas Krupp in Basel.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Sudden Problem
Braun Sugar
Behind the Stripes
Usher wears Rolex bling bling

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Established in 1945 Oluce is the oldest Italian lighting design company that is still active today. In fact, before the war there existed only Gino Sarfatti's Arteluce, which disappeared in the late '90s, while 1948 saw the birth of Azucena and Lamperti, followed by Arredoluce and Stilnovo in 1950. But for many years it was chiefly Arteluce, Azucena and Oluce that dominated the Italian scene, creating a hub for the designers - strongly engaged first in the reconstruction and later in the birth of series production - who animated the Milanese forum: Vittoriano Viganò and BBPR, Gigi Caccia Dominioni and Ignazio Gardella, Marco Zanuso and Joe Colombo. At the start of the '90s, it was the rigor of the emergent Swiss designer Hannes Wettstein which characterized the company's style. Some examples are Wettstein's "Soirèe" model, a slender assembly of aluminum and makrofol, as well as Riccardo Dalisi's ironically provocative Sister and Zefiro models. Finally, in 1995 Oluce took a different tack under the art direction of Marco Romanelli, which bolstered its international success and the collection's critical acclaim. The new formula put the focus on expressing highly diverse personal idioms and in particular those of leading contemporary designers, such as the Englishman Sebastian Bergne, the Swiss Hans Peter Weidmann, and the Italians Laudani/Romanelli. In 1997 the "Estela" lamp was the world's first industrially-produced object designed by the brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, poetic narrators of their far-away Brazil. In 2000, the "Nuvola" series marked the start of Toni Cordero's collaboration with Oluce. One of the leading Italian architects of his generation, Cordero imposed his vision through the use of utterly disruptive and unconventional forms. For current production designs refer to company portal for network distribution. Vintage designs can be sourced internationally at fine dealers and auction houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Coupé by Joe Colombo (top)
Floor lamp c1950s (2nd)
Atollo by Vico Magistretti (3rd)
Canopy by Francesco Rota (4th)
Floor lamp c1950s (bottom)