Friday, April 30, 2010


Anyone who loves Modernism knows Pierre Koenig's houses. They're rational, beautiful, glamorous statements of the free-wheeling California life. Touring a Koenig house, one can be forgiven for thinking that one has somehow walked into a marvelous Sixties movie. Equally inspiring to their stylish envelope is their engineering genius adaptation to the footprint they set on. Koenig (1925 – 2004) received his B.Arch from the University of Southern California, apprenticed under Raphael Soriano among others, and was in private practice beginning in 1952. He practiced mainly on the west coast and was most notable for the design of the Case Study Houses No. 21 and 22 in 1960 and other steel houses. Both 21 (the Bailey House) and 22 (the Stahl House) were constructed on dramatic, otherwise-unbuildable sites. They were the result of 'Arts and Architecture' magazine approaching Koenig to participate in the magazine's Case Study House program. His houses captured the spirit of the post-war boom like no others; their open plans, easy glamour, and ease of maintenance were exactly what Los Angeles wanted to chase the austerity of the war years. In 1989-90 MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), built a full-size, walk-through model of Case Study House 22 in their Temporary Contemporary Building for the major exhibition: "Blueprints for Modern Living, History and Legacy of the Case Study House program." Case Study House No.22 is also represented in the traveling exhibition "The End of the Century, One-Hundred Years of Architecture. Koenig's work is so fresh it is hard to remember that his practice goes back half-a-century, to a time just after World War II. While still a student at USC's School of Architecture, Koenig did something very few students get to do; he built himself a house. Not just any house, either; it was an elegant glass-and-steel pavilion that attracted nationwide attention. At one stroke, Koenig established himself as a force in Modernist architecture; the echoes and accolades have not died down since. Every Case Study house was innovative, exciting, and seemingly a direct window into the future, but Koenig gave even more to the program than the other architects did. His first five years of practice had given him tremendous experience with Los Angeles' hilly terrain and arid climate; he was already adept at setting houses so they took advantage of breezes and blocked out the worst of the sun. Case Study House 21, designed in 1957, was built to take advantage of what was then considered an unbuildable lot. Koenig's first decision was that the house would dispense completely with the traditional program of driveway, lawn, landscaping, and impressively set-back house. The site plan allowed for a few feet of driveway terminating immediately in a carport that also sheltered the entrance; the street facade was geared toward the privacy of occupants, not the gratification of status-seekers. Only those permitted inside the discreet front door got to see what Koenig had accomplished where no one else wanted to build; a world of shelter, comfort, and style. CSH 21 has known fame and acclaim since it was first built; it was followed by CSH 22, a house on an even more 'unbuildable' lot. Where CSH 21 offers a feeling of connection to the hillside on which it was built, CSH 22 is about exhilaration; it hangs off its crag in a manner that hints of danger, while being perfectly safe- indeed, more stable in earthquakes than many of its neighbors. In more recent years, Koenig became even more adventurous; his Schwartz House handles its problem lot with stunning simplicity. In designing this house, Koenig was faced with a lot that was squared with the street, but whose best view was to be seen thirty degrees to the southwest. The lot was too small to permit a house set at an angle on the property; the project had to be built nearly to the lot lines to get the square footage needed by the client. Koenig's solution was to build a steel frame squared with the lot lines, and then to place another steel frame inside the first, twisted thirty degrees toward the desired view. In the 'USC Chronicle', writer Carol Tucker has described the Schwartz house as looking something like a gigantic Rubik's Cube. As if Koenig's practice and teaching loads were not enough, he was a tireless lecturer and speaker, working with gusto to spread his views on what he terms 'sustainable architecture'. He told audiences at MoMA and Arizona State and Yale that is possible to give man great comfort without dependency on failure-prone, energy-intensive heating and cooling systems. Koenig did not advocate climate controls; his message was that the climate should be managed. So the next time you have the good fortune to see one of Koenig's houses or one of the timeless Julius Schulman photographs … you’ll now know their greatest secret. They have style in abundance, but they are really not about that at all. They're about Earth serving mankind, and mankind respecting Earth. That may be the most stylish notion Pierre Koenig ever had.

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Case Study House No. 22 – 1635/36 Woods Dr. Los Angeles (Hollywood Hills) CA 2600SF/1500SF(covered area) c1960 (top)
Case Study House No. 21 - 9038 Wonderland Park Ave., Los Angeles (Hollywood Hills) CA 1320SF/600SF(covered area) c1960 (2nd)
Schwartz House - 444 Sycamore Rd Santa Monica CA 2700SF c1996 (3rd)
Koenig House – 12221 Dorothy St. Los Angeles (Brentwood), CA 3000SF c1985 (4th)
Iwata House – 912 Summit Pl Monterey Park CA 12000SF incl. covered area & pool house c1963 (bottom)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Considered one of the pioneers of modernist Brazilian furniture making, Joaquim Tenreiro (1906-1992) was born into a family of woodworkers and carpenters in Portugal, immigrated to Rio de Janeiro and in the 1920s began working for the firm of Laubissh & Hirth. . In the early 1940s, Tenreiro was among the first designers in the Brazilian furniture industry to adopt a European modernist vernacular. His initial efforts, including the 1942 "Poltrona Leve," met with considerable success, and in 1943 he established his own firm with factories in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. However, it was not until the 1950s that he began to be recognized as a master furniture designer in Brazil. One of his main clients was Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, for whose houses a number of pieces were originally commissioned.Tenreiro’s exquisitely crafted pieces evoke a refined coexistence of traditional values and modern aesthetics, strongly bound to the Brazilian cultural milieu. In spite of his success and his professional recognition, Tenreiro closed his furniture studio in 1967 and decided to devote himself exclusively to fine arts, taking up painting and sculpture once again , a path that he had discontinued long before. During the next following decades until his death in 1992, his works were included in many art and design exhibitions held at renowned galleries and museums in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. A forerunner in the truest sense of the word, the "father" of modern furniture in Brazil left behind an unrivaled aesthetic legacy. His designs are sold at fine galleries and auction houses, in particular, R20th Century and Espasso.

related links:

Three-legged chair of imbuia, roxinho, jacaranda, ivorywood and cabreúva c1954 (top)
Jacaranda and reverse-painted glass bookshelf c1954 (2nd)
Jacaranda/red laminate credenza c1948 (3rd)
Sleepwalker’s armchair c1950s (4th)
Jacaranda with green under painted glass cocktail table c1960s (bottom)

Monday, April 26, 2010


“Considered a major figure of post war design, Finnish designer and sculptor Tapio Wirkkala (1915 - 1985) completed his training as a decorative sculptor in 1936 at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki. After winning a design competition in 1946 for engraved glass, organized by Iittala glass works he became interested in glass. The collaboration with Iittala glass works would last until 1985. By winning both the first and second prize in a competition for the Finnish bank notes he established himself as a talented and very productive graphic designer. Although all of his products have an exceptional sculptural quality he continued to work as a sculptor, producing exquisite pure wooden forms. The largest of them was "Ultima Thule" an impressive wall made for the 1967 "man and his world" exhibition in Montreal. An exhibition in Gothenburg's Röhsska Museet on Finish ceramics, glass and textile was the first of a long series of exhibition designs in Europe and North America. As art director for the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki Wirkkala organized numerous exhibitions on Finish crafts and design. He worked as a design consultant for Soinne & kni Oy, Hackman-Sorsakoski etc.
His long lasting collaboration with Rosenthal AG started in 1956. Wirkkala’s sculptural sensitivity challenged the finest of all Rosenthal patternmakers Richard Scharrer, resulting in "Finlandia", "Composition", "tea for two", "Variation", "Polygon", "Festival" and finally the most refined of all Rosenthal porcelain: "Century".
His own craftsmanship was expressed in all areas of artisanal production, glass, jewelry, ceramics wood forms and textiles. His cutlery patterns and hunting knives for Hackman Oy are among the most refined of all scandinavian designs.
He was awarded the Lunning Prize in 1951, three Grand prix at the Milan Triennale in 1951 and three others in 1954. In 1960 and 1963 he added the silver and gold medal, Finally in 1980 the Prince Eugen Medal in Stockholm. He became an honorary Royal Designer for Industry in 1964. Received an honorary doctor’s degree from the R.C.A. in London and was a member of the Finnish Academy.
Tapio Wirkkala's production reaches from airplane food service products to Venetian Venini glass. His products are collected in such prestigious design collections as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt, all in New York, the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam, the Royal Ontario museum in Toronto and forty others. Tapio Wirkkala is without any doubt one of the most productive and versatile designers of the 20th century. He is also one of the finest examples of craftsmen/designers since William Morris and the strongest representative of the Scandinavian design tradition anchored in the love for materials and the passion for the technologies that transform them.”

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Laminated paduk, maple, hazel wood, nickel plated brass cocktail table for Asko OY (top)
Bolle bottles for Venini (2nd)
Vase for Rosenthal (3rd)
X-Frame Table for Artek (4th)
Stainless Steel cutlery for Serafino Zani (bottom)

Friday, April 23, 2010


Venetian born Baron Alessandro R. de C, Albrizzi (1934 – 1994) translated the spirit of swinging London into a line of furniture and objects with panache and sophistication that were just right for the late 1960s. His extensive knowledge and love of classical furniture allowed him to sensitively design a line of furniture and objects spanning through the early 1980s that has transcended that giddy period and is now considered classic modern design. Hand-crafted with precision using acrylic (Perspex), glass, stainless steel, aluminum and wood, the Albrizzi designs prove once again that the best modern design is usually made by hand. His noble title stems from the family's wealth and properties derived from Dada Albrizzi, Alessandro's great aunt, who had bequeathed her vast estate to Alessandro's father, Giovanni on the condition that the male heir should take the surname Albrizzi to ensure that the dynasty would survive in perpetuity. Giovanni, a talented amateur painter and collector of ship models, is well remembered for designing Harry's Bar, the famous restaurant in Venice, which was founded by his friend Giuseppe Cipriani. The senior Albrizzi's design legacy continues: the famous Cipriani logo of a stylized bartender shaking a cocktail is still emblazoned on plates and glasses at all of the company's restaurants in Venice, Hong Kong, New York, London and Porto Cervo. Although survived by son Lorenzo, Alessandro’s’s early bliss of marriage to Florentine aristocrat Maria-Theresa Ginori was short lived. His frequent trips to London without his wife led to a dalliance as well as business partnership with British architect, Tony Cloughley catapulting Albrizzi’s design career. Over the course of time Albrizzi opened shops in London, Paris, New York and Palm Beach serving an elite clientele which was a natural progression given Albrizzi’s noble roots. His upper echelon social circle which facilitated much of Albrizzi’s acceptance and success included: Lennox-Boyd and Guy Nevill, whose families were close friends of the Queen and Prince Philip; Lynn Phillips, daughter of famed Martha Phillips (Martha’s couture boutique); Alain La Riviere, the scion of a wealthy Argentinean family; Diane and Egon von Furstenberg; and C.Z. Guest, the legendary blond New York socialite, wife of Winston Guest, an heir to the Phipps steel fortune. By the late 70s it had became obvious to Albrizzi that interest in his designs had peaked. Albrizzi's designs had given Perspex a reputation for chic sophistication but by the end of the 70s, Perspex had developed a bad rap given the overproduction of poor quality, cheap TV stands, magazine racks and other things. In later years Albrizzi began a fruitful collaboration with Mary Jane Pool on book projects that excited his imagination. The Gardens of Venice was published in October 1989, with Pool's elegant prose and Albrizzi's subtle color photographs, followed in 1992 by a second volume, The Gardens of Florence. While working on his third book The Gardens of New York, Albrizzi died after a protracted fight with cancer. Although possessed of wonderful country homes in Italy, in particular Palazzo Albrizzi near Balzano, Albrizzi embraced the freshness of America, and adored New York, which became home resulting in his U.S citizen in the early 1980s. Considered tremendously talented, sensitive, intelligent, and shrewd Albrizzi wore his nobility very lightly. It was there, but it didn't intrude at all in his relations with other people. The above parable stems from a wonderful literary piece that I sourced on the web (see link below), which I recommend reading/viewing in its entirety. Albrizzi’s designs today can be sourced internationally at fine dealers and auction houses.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Octagonal Perspex, chrome, steel table (top)
Canopy bed (2nd)
Stackable Perspex cubes (3rd)
Chrome, rosewood, leather fire place set (4th)
Perspex backgammon set (bottom)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Eric Watson was born in San Francisco, California. Arrived in NYC in 1996 and quickly joined a group show at Jack Light Gallery, LES. In 2003, Watson studied painting under Ira Richer at the School of Visual Arts. 2004 - East Coast Red Bull Surf (Group) Show, Red Hook, Brooklyn. Then in 2006 a group exhibition called The "COUP" Show, curated by Candice Magley at Weiss Pollack Galleries, NYC. 2009 - Group exhibition (World of Imagination Vol 2) APW Gallery, NYC.

Watson presently works in Long Island City, NY at Juvenal Reis Studios. To check schedule for open studios and exhibitions go to Juvenal Reis Studios website.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Dr. Schwangerschaftsunterbrechung - acrylic silk screen, 54 x 46 (top)
Rooster - acrylic paint, paper, wax crayon, graphite, clothes pins and garment bits, 68 x 64 (2nd)
Every Household - acrylic paint, wax crayon, clothes line and clothes (3rd)
Untitled - acrylic paint, paper, wire line and sweater remnants, 56 x 86 (4th)
To be Held - acrylic paint, paper, wax crayon, graphite and sweater bits, 56 x 62 (bottom)

Monday, April 19, 2010


One of the more important French designers of the mid-20th century Pierre Paulin (1927 – 2009) began designing furniture for Thonet in the early 1950s where he discovered and mastered new materials in the manner of the American designers Eames, Saarinen and Bertoia. After responding to Harry Wagemans invitation to join Artifort in the mid 1950s, Paulin found the means and support he needed to realize the production of his designs. In his concern for simplicity and refusal of any lyrical effect, his designs were given numbers in certain cases. His innovative designs anticipated social revolutions through the lifestyles they encouraged. At the end of the 1960's, Paulin benefited from a close collaboration with the talented and inventive artisans of the new atelier of research and creation from "le Mobilier National", which coincided with the renovation of the Denon wing of the Musée du Louvre, the renovation of the private apartments of the President Georges Pompidou at the Elysée and the creation of furniture for the Presidential Office of François Mitterrand in 1983. Although these prestigious commissions contributed to his renown, other designs, however, permitted the public to discover the comfort of modern living. At once sculptural and rigorously functional, they're studied forms cradle the body in perfect harmony. A man of the future, Paulin scattered his path with poetic objects that were ahead of their time and whose rediscovery more than 30 years later inspire admiration.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Easy for Meubles T.V. c1952 (top)
N° 261 ABCD sofa for Artifort c1968 (2nd)
Arachneen chair for Artifort c1972 (3rd)
N° 553 chair for Artifort c1963 (4th)
Curule chair for Ligne Roset (bottom)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Regarded as one of a group of Italian designers from Milan who shaped the international idea of "good design" in the postwar years, Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) trained in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano University, and opened his own design office in 1945. From the beginning of his career, at Domus where he served as the editor from 1947-49 and at Casabella where he was editor from 1952-56, he helped to establish the theories and ideals of the energetic Modern Design movement. Select designs by Zanuso are permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Triennale Milano, Triennale Tokyo, Vitra Museum, Arflex Museum and Kartell Museum. As a professor of architecture, design and town planning at the Politecnico from the late 1940s until the 1980s, and as one of the founding members of the ADI (Associazione Per Il Designo Industriale) in the 1950s, Zanuso has had a distinct influence over the next design generation coming out of Italy.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Senior chair for Arflex c1950s (top)
Marcuso dining table for Zanotta (2nd)
Sleep-O-Matic sofa for Arflex c1954 (3rd)
Bridge folding chair for Arflex c1951 (4th)
Regent chair for Arflex c1960 (bottom)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


German born, French educated New York City based Karl Springer (1930 – 1991) was known for his lavish interpretations of Art Deco lines and the use of exotic skins and materials. Springer moved to New York in 1957 to become a bookbinder. Given a job at Lord & Taylor, Springer put the skills of bookbinding to use to create small, decorative objects covered in fine leathers and skins, developing new methods as he went along. His handmade designs caught the eye of a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman and soon began to attract a discerning clientele. He managed to establish his first, tiny workshop in the early 1960's and started concentrating on furniture design in 1965. His style encompassed the gamut from French Art Deco, to Asian and African motifs. His proficiency in materials was second only to his prolific designs, often customized for each client. His designs were executed in wood, metal, lacquer and Lucite, with many of his most recognizable pieces covered in leather, parchment, shagreen, horn or reptile skins. His quest for high quality imbued his work with a sense of scale and proportion. He demanded attention to detail and uncompromising craftsmanship, which won him respect throughout the design industry. In 1991, Springer died of complications from AIDS in New York.

related links:

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Shawgreen Regency chair c1970s (top)
Nickel & glass cigarette table c1960s (2nd)
Oasis chair c1970s (3rd)
Stepped brass & nickel cocktail table c1970s (4th)
Mosaic marble floor lamps c1970s (bottom)

Monday, April 12, 2010


Founded as Figli di Giovanni Galimberti, Flexform initially specialized in the production of lacquered and upholstered furniture. In 1959 the name changed and the focus of production turned to high contemporary design featuring work by designers such as Cini Boeri, Joe Colombo, Sergio Asti, Rodolfo Bonetto, Paola Nava, Antonio Citterio, Gabriele Mucchi, Giulio Manzoni, Mario Asnago, and Claudio Vender. Notably the inventive design work of architect Antonio Citterio led not only to the collections of small armchairs and accessories but also to a range of large sofas – warm islands of comfort consisting of variously sized modular elements that radically changed the concept of socializing and inhabiting space. Such collections – Long Island, Groundpiece, Status, and Resort are staples for the Flexform brand. The U.S. agent for Flexform is Antonella Cremonesi / Tel & Fax 1 718 834 1003,


images: (click on images to enlarge)
Groudpiece modular sofa & end table, Jiff round table by Antonio Citterio, Thomas chair by Studio Flexform (top)
Tube chair by Joe Colombo c1969 (2nd)
Happy sofa, Kidd table by Antonio Citterio (3rd)
Moka table by Mario Asnago, Claudio Vender (4th)
Spider chair on wheels by Giulio Manzoni (bottom)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999) maintained a prolific forty-year career designing houses, interiors and furniture. In the late 1920s Grossman completed a one-year woodworking apprenticeship in her hometown of Helsingborg, Sweden and was awarded a scholarship to enroll at Konstfack, the renowned Stockholm arts institution. At Konstfack she excelled in her mastery of technical drawing and focused her original design work on furniture, textiles and ceramics. She later married jazz bandleader Billy Grossman with whom she immigrated to the United States in 1940, settling in Los Angeles. The unique approach to Swedish modernism that she brought with her when she moved from Stockholm proved to be incredibly popular in the United States. Over the next twenty years she produced work for companies like Glenn of California, Sherman Bertram, Martin/Brattrud and Modern Line. The work for Glenn of California is arguably her most sophisticated and best known. These pieces were characterized by the materials she used, such as rich, colorful textiles and woods like California walnut paired in surprising and elegant combination with black plastic laminate and wrought iron. The uniquely petite proportions and asymmetrical lines of her furniture also set her work apart. In the late 1940s Grossman designed a groundbreaking and successful line of lamps for Barker Brothers, later produced by Ralph O. Smith. These were among the first lamps to employ bullet shaped, directional shades and flexible arms. These lamps were included in the "Good Design" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as was a chair she designed for Glenn of California. Grossman's most enduring work in Los Angeles came in the form of her built architectural commissions. Grossman's houses were designed to the diminutive scale of the Los Angeles based Case Study House program -- most of them having a footprint of less than 1,500 square feet. In the 1950s Grossman taught industrial design courses at the University of California, Los Angeles and at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. She retired from design and architecture in the late 1960s. Some ten years after her death, there remains a loyal following of her work, which can found at fine dealers and auction houses.

images: (click on images to enlarge)
Drop-leaf walnut laminate wrought iron cocktail table (top)
Laminate wrought iron tri-table with signature primary colors (2nd)
Walnut and wrought iron desk (3rd)
Bullet head directional table lamps (4th)
Three panel wood metal folding screen with signature primary colors (bottom)