Masters of all Times
Born in Gamtofte, Denmark, studied at Odense Technical College before enrolling at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen as an architecture student. He worked from 1950-1952 in the architectural firm of Arne Jacobsen and founded an independent studio for architecture and design in 1955. He first attracted wider attention with the geometric forms of his furniture designs for the firm Plus-linje. In the following years Panton created numerous designs for seating furniture and lighting.
He s passion for bright colours and geometric patterns manifested itself in an extensive range of textile designs. By fusing the elements of a room – floor, walls, ceiling, furnishings, lighting, textiles and wall panels made of enamel or plastic – into a unified gesamtkunstwerk, Panton's interior installations have attained legendary status. The most famous examples are the 'Visiona' ship installations for the Cologne Furniture Fair (1968 and 1970), the Spiegel publishing headquarters in Hamburg (1969) and the Varna restaurant in Aarhus (1970).
He was one of the most influential figures in the development of design during the 1960s and ’70s. Along with his experimental approach to forms and colours, he was captivated by the potential of plastic, a novel material at the time. His aim was to create a comfortable chair made in one piece that could be used anywhere.
After searching for a manufacturer for several years, Panton came into contact with Vitra in 1963. Together they developed the Panton Chair, which was first presented in 1967. Pre-series production of the Panton Chair commenced in 1967. It was hailed as a sensation and received numerous prizes. One of the earliest models is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today the Panton Chair is regarded as a classic of modern furniture design. The original version of the chair in rigid polyurethane foam with a glossy lacquer finish is marketed under the name Panton Chair Classic.
(Referring to the 50th anniversary of the Panton Chair, two limited editions were created in 2018: a chromed and Glow Panton Chair).
The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.
Charles and Ray Eames.
Charles Eames, born 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri, studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis and designed a number of houses and churches in collaboration with various partners. His work caught the attention of Eliel Saarinen, who offered him a fellowship at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1938. In 1940, he and Eero Saarinen won first prize in the 'Industrial Design Competition for the 21 American Republics' - also known as 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings' – organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Eames was appointed head of the industrial design department at Cranbrook the same year.
Ray Eames was born as Bernice Alexandra Kaiser in Sacramento, California, in 1912. She attended Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, and continued her studies in painting at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts until 1937. During this year she exhibited her work in the first exhibition of the American Abstract Artists group at the Riverside Museum in New York. She matriculated at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1940.
Charles and Ray Eames married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles, where together they began experimenting with techniques for the three-dimensional moulding of plywood. The aim was to create comfortable chairs that were affordable. However, the war interrupted their work, and Charles and Ray turned instead to the design and development of leg splints made of plywood, which were manufactured in large quantities for the US Navy. In 1946, they exhibited their experimental furniture designs at MoMA. The Herman Miller Company in Zeeland, Michigan, subsequently began to produce Eames furniture. Charles and Ray participated in the 1948 'Low-Cost Furniture' competition at MoMA, and they built the Eames House in 1949 as their own private residence. In addition to their work in furniture design and architecture, they also regularly turned their hand to graphic design, photography, film and exhibition design.
Choose Your Corner, pick away at It! Carefully, intensely and to the best of your abilities...In that way you might change the World.
George Nelson, born 1908 in Hartford, Connecticut (USA), studied architecture at Yale University. A fellowship enabled him to study at the American Academy in Rome from 1932 to 1934. In Europe, he became acquainted with the major architectural works and leading protagonists of modernism.
In 1935, Nelson joined the editorial staff of the 'Architectural Forum', where he was employed until 1944. A programmatic article on residential building and furniture design, published by Nelson in a 1944 issue of the journal, attracted the attention of D.J. DePree, head of the furniture company Herman Miller, Inc. A short time later, George Nelson took on the position of Design Director at Herman Miller. Remaining there until 1972, he became a key figure of American design; in addition to creating furnishings for the home and office, Nelson also convinced the likes of Charles & Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard to work for Herman Miller.
In 1957, Vitra founder Willi Fehlbaum signed his first licence agreement with Herman Miller to produce furniture for the European market. During the ensuing decades of the collaboration with Vitra, a close friendship evolved between George Nelson and Rolf Fehlbaum, who later said about Nelson: 'No other prominent designer spoke as intelligently or wrote as coherently about design'. Nelson expressed his thoughts on design topics in numerous articles and eleven books; his seminal treatise 'How to See' was recently reissued in a new edition by Phaidon.
Along with his position as Design Director at Herman Miller, Nelson opened his own design office in 1947, George Nelson Associates, Inc., working together with such outstanding employees as Irving Harper, Ernest Farmer, Gordon Chadwick, George Tscherny and Don Ervin to create countless products and objects, some of which are now regarded as icons of mid-century modernism. His architectural work included numerous private residences. The Sherman Fairchild House (1941) attracted considerable attention, and his Experimental House exemplified his interest in prefabricated building and flexible floor plans.
Original name Arri Bertoia, (born March 10, 1915, San Lorenzo, Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy—died November 6, 1978, Barto, Pennsylvania, U.S.), Italian-born American sculptor, printmaker, and jewelry and furniture designer best known for his monumental architectural sculptures and classic Bertoia Diamond chair.
Bertoia attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and taught painting and metalworking there from 1937 to 1943. While at Cranbrook he experimented with printmaking and created a large collection of monoprints. In 1943 he sold about 100 of them to Hilla Rebay of New York’sMuseum of Non-Objective Painting (now the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), and a number of them were included soon after in an exhibition. Bertoia set off for California in 1943 and worked with designers Charles and Ray Eames, whom he had met at Cranbrook. It is widely held that Bertoia designed elements of the Eames’s furniture line but received no credit for his contributions. Unhappy with that arrangement, he moved on to join Knoll Associates in New York City in 1950. His achievements there included the 1952 Diamond chair (more commonly known as the Bertoia chair)—made of polished steel wire, sometimes vinyl coated, and covered with cotton or with elastic Naugahyde upholstery—as well as a side chair and a barstool made with the same mesh wire frames and the Bertoia bird chair and bird ottoman. Bertoia’s furniture line was (and still is) so popular that he was able to focus on his sculpture while he made a living from his furniture sales.
Bertoia claimed that his sculpture evolved when the jewelry he was designing “kept getting larger and larger.” Some of his later works, the “sonambient” or “sounding sculptures,” were designed to be activated by the wind or by hand to produce pleasing metallic or airy sound patterns. His numerous major works for public areas include huge decorative flow-welded metal sculpture screens for major corporations and educational institutions, such as the steel-screen altarpiece (1955) for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapel. Other notable works include a large copper and bronze fountain for the Philadelphia Civic Center (1967; dismantled in 2000), the bronze wall sculpture View of Earth from Space at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. (1963; dismantled for airport renovation and reinstalled in 2012), and a fountain piece—Untitled Sounding Sculpture—for the sunken outdoor plaza of the Standard Oil building (later renamed the Aon Center) in Chicago (installed 1975).
Bertoia completed more than 50 public works and tens of thousands of smaller sculptures before he died at age 63 from lung cancer. It is thought that the cancer developed at least in part as a result of the toxic fumes emitted from materials such as the beryllium copper that he used in his work.
I appreciate a slight yield, lightness of weight, some motion if possible, because in moving about, the human body determines... the comfort and the measurements of its environment... the human measure is still the strongest factor. But coming back to the chair, there are certain motions we go through - we like to lean back, like to toss things - and if the chair's adaptable it responds and it's almost like wearing a comfortable coat; you really don't know you have it on.
(1902-1981), born in Hungary and trained at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, is heralded as having produced the first tubular steel armchair, his pieces pioneering the demand for tubular steel furniture throughout the 1920s and 1930s. These pieces, along with his innovative laminated wood furniture and his unique architectural interpretation of light and space yielded a great deal of international respect and inspired the work of a wide range of designers.
Breuer studied under Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus from 1920-24. When the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925, Breuer designed furniture for the new campus and became head of the furniture workshop, a position that he held until 1928. Also in 1925, he created the famous tubular steel Wassily chair, purportedly inspired both by constructivist aesthetics and by the handlebars of his new bike. The chair was innovative in that it was extremely light, and was built entirely from ready-made tubes that were welded together. Several different companies sold the piece until it was picked up by Knoll.
In 1928 he started a private practice in Berlin and came out with his Cesca cantilever chair and stool, named after his daughter and probably inspired by Mies Van der Rohe. He moved to America and worked as an architect with Gropius and taught at Harvard.
His work remains relevant due to his flexible structural philosophy that, 'a chair...should not be horizontal/vertical, nor should it be expressionist, nor constructivist, nor designed purely for expediency, nor made to 'match' a table it should be a good chair.'
Structure is not just a means to a solution. It is also a principle and a passion.
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe.
It’s difficult to imagine what the skyline of Chicago might look like without architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He influenced an entire generation of architects while tenured as head of the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). During his 60-year career, Mies established a design vocabulary that helped define Mid-Century Modern architecture.
Mies did not design buildings with a particular style in mind. For him, the philosophy came first. How a building looked was purely an expression of its era and its materials. As he explained, “I am not interested in the history of civilization. I am interested in our civilization. We are living it. Because I really believe, after a long time of working and thinking and studying that architecture, can only express this civilisation we are in and nothing else.”
When Mies arrived in the United States in 1938, he was already internationally known and established in his field. He designed one of his most famous buildings, the Barcelona Pavilion, as the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Spain (Time and place where the Iconic Barcelona Chair was introduced to the World). It’s a magnificent example of his trademark emphasis on open space. Soon after that success, he served as director of the Bauhaus, the school of design in Germany. He elected to close the school in 1933 and eventually left his home country due to mounting pressure from the growing Nazi regime.
From 1939 to 1958, Mies served as head of the architecture department of IIT, where he not only redesigned the department’s curriculum but also the university’s campus. A year after his appointment, he developed plans for the recently expanded 120-acre campus. Mies designed a collection of buildings with steel and concrete frames wrapped in brick and glass curtain walls, including his masterpiece: Crown Hall. The campus was revolutionary at the time, and it perfectly expressed Mies’ design principles and “less is more” approach.
In 1960, Mies was awarded the AIA Gold Medal, which is the highest award given by the American Association of Architects. Considered among the greatest architects of the 20th century, Mies’ influence can be seen throughout Chicago and certainly reaches far beyond his adopted hometown.
Less is more.
L.Mies Van Der Rohe.
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret/ Le Corbusier.
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier was born in 1887 in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. He studied classical architecture during several voyages. He discovered the solid bases of classical architecture, but was also curious to explore other cultures. Throughout his career, he continually mixed heritage and modernity.
He was a pioneer of modern architecture and a leader of the International Style. The prominent and largely self taught, architect was also an accomplished painter and writer.
Le Corbusier’s most celebrated buildings include the Villa Savoy outside Paris, Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp France, and the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. He is also known for his work in urban planning, which included the design of Chandigarh, India, in the 1950s.
Among his sleek furniture designs are the LC2, LC4 and the LC5 chaise lounge Chairs, which is still produced and popular today.
I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.
Born in Geneva in 1896, Swiss painter, architect, and designer Pierre Jeanneret studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts. After graduating in 1921, he worked in the Parisian architectural office of the Perret brothers, pioneers in the use of reinforced concrete.
By 1923, he had set up an architectural practice in Paris with his cousin, Le Corbusier (1887-1965). The two worked side-by-side throughout their prolific careers, and Jeanneret's contribution to the partnership has become increasingly recognized. Their pivotal, 1926 manifesto, Five Points Towards a New Architecture, is considered to be a pillar of modernist thought and the intellectual foundation of their legendary work. Both architects were members of the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM).
One of Jeanneret’s most enduring solo works is his Scissor Chair, which was designed in 1947 and manufactured by Knoll between 1948 and 1966. It features a simple, maple wood structure hinged together by circular brass struts and topped with two upholstered cushions.
was a French architect and designer known for her iconic Modernist furniture. A colleague to Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Jean Prouvé, Perriand collaborated with the designers early in her career.
Her series of tubular steel chairs brought her critical acclaim, as did her inventive design of the chaise longue. “The only advice I would give would be to stay within the reality of things, that is, the execution, the concrete,” she once said. "And then, she would have to make herself known, produce little things, show them, etc."
Born on October 24, 1903 in Paris, France, Perriand studied at the École de l'Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs from 1920–1925. She subscribed to Le Corbusier’s philosophy about domestic space—fully integrating each component with the whole—and developed ideas for prefabrication and the flexible use of space. Utilizing new industrial materials and technology, as well as embracing natural components with traditional processes, Perriand revolutionized the look of 20th-century interior design. She died on October 27, 1999 in Paris, France at the age of 96. Today, the designer’s works are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Design Museum in London, and the Center Georges Pompidou, among others.
The extension of the art of dwelling is the art of living - living in harmony with man's deepest drives and with his adopted and fabricated environment.
Born in 1907 in New York City, Alexander Girard was one of the leading figures of postwar American design, along with his close friends and colleagues George Nelson and Charles & Ray Eames.
The primary focus of his wide-ranging oeuvre was textile design. Girard created numerous fabrics for the Herman Miller Company, favouring abstract forms and geometric patterns in a wide variety of colour compositions. Many of his upholstery fabrics remain as timely and vital as ever and are still manufactured and utilised by Vitra today.
Having originally studied architecture, Girard made a name for himself over his long career in the fields of furniture, exhibition, interior and graphic design. Moreover, he was one of the world's most important collectors of folk art. The objects and textiles acquired by Girard on his extensive travels provided him with a rich source of inspiration and ideas. When Rolf Fehlbaum, the son of Vitra's founding family, first visited Alexander Girard and his wife Susan at their Santa Fe home in 1960, Fehlbaum wrote a letter to his parents telling of the deep impression it had made on him, and describing it as the most fascinating house he had ever seen in the United States.
Vitra and the Vitra Design Museum have devoted themselves to the reappraisal and revival of Alexander Girard's work over the past several years. The growing Girard collection in Vitra's product portfolio includes his painted Wooden Dolls, the Environmental Enrichment Panels and various furniture pieces and objects, along with his distinctive fabric designs.
After Alexander Girard's death in 1993, his heirs donated the Girard archive (comprising hundreds of drawings, prototypes and samples) to the Vitra Design Museum. In 2016/17, the museum mounted the exhibition Alexander Girard: A Designer's Universe.
Nothing is new, but personal interpretations can often be so.
Among Danish furniture designers, Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) is considered one of the most creative, innovative and prolific. Often referred to as the master of the chair, Wegner created almost 500 in his lifetime, many of them considered masterpieces. His iconic Wishbone Chair is probably the most well-known and has been in continuous production since 1950.
Son of a shoe-maker in southern Jutland, Hans Wegner, finished his formal training as a cabinetmaker with master cabinetmaker Stahlberg in 1930 before starting at Teknologisk Institut in Copenhagen. He soon moved to the School of Arts and Crafts in the Danish capital where he became architect in 1938, and started teaching in 1946.
In 1940 he joined Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller in Arhus, to design the furniture for the new Arhus city hall. He started to work with 'minister' cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen in 1940 and showed his first furniture in the famous Hansen store on Bredgade 65 in 1941. Johannes Hansen was more than twice as old as the 26 year old Wegner but the unique collaboration between the two became the undisputed backbone of Danish furniture design and the main reason for it's world wide recognition in the fifties and sixties. The Copenhagen Museum of Art and Industry acquired the first Wegner chair in 1942.
In 1943 he started his own design office and 1 year later designed the first of a long series of 'chinese' chairs inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming chairs for Fritz Hansen. In 1950 Wegner designed the “Wishbone Chair” produced by Carl Hansen & Søn in Odense which became the most successful of all Wegner chairs. Most well known for it’s use by Kennedy and Nixon in their famous CBS TV debate of 1960.
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.
Son of pioneering Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961), was not only born on the same day, but carried his father's later rational Art Deco into a neofuturist internationalism, regularly using sweeping curves and abundant glass.
Saarinen's simple design motifs allowed him to be incredibly adaptable, turning his talent to furniture design with Charles Eames (Organic Chair for Vitra 1940), and producing radically different buildings for different clients.
The Tulip Table as well as the Tulip Chair, which he designed for Knoll in the late 1940s and early 50s , is one of the few pieces of furniture he became famous for.
Despite his short career as a result of his young death, Saarinen gained incredible success and plaudits, winning some of the most sought-after commissions of the mid-twentieth century.
Confusion comes from trying to emalgamate several conflicting ideas.
Arne Jacobsen's cooperation with Fritz Hansen dates back to 1934. However, it was the Ant designed in 1952 - succeeded by the 3107 series - that propelled his and Fritz Hansen's names into furniture history.
Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) was very productive both as an architect and as a designer. At the end of the 50s Arne Jacobsen designed the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, and for that project the Egg, the Swan, the Swan sofa and Series 3300.
Arne Jacobsen was and is an admired and outstanding designer. While the significance of Arne Jacobsen's buildings was less appreciated, his furniture and other design work have become national and international heritage.
For more than half of the twentieth century, Arne Jacobsen’s ideas shaped the landscape of Danish design, rippling out from Scandinavia to influence architects and designers around the world. He managed to direct projects ranging from complex buildings like Danmarks NationalBank to detailed challenges as humble as a special teaspoon for his cutlery set, working with a relatively small studio staff driven by an unquenchable need to create.
Jacobsen’s creative process centered on his strict consideration of detail. He brought his visions to life for patrons and builders with scrupulous, hand-painted watercolours. In any given year, Jacobsen managed to design what others might be happy to produce in five.
The primer factor is the proportions.
Eero Aarnio (b. 1932) is a Finnish designer and professor h.c. and is considered one of the great innovators of modern furniture design. During the years, Aarnio has experimented with a variety of different materials, including plastic, fibreglass and foam plastic. With these materials he has created some of the icons of Finnish design such as the Ball Chair (1962), Bubble Chair (1968) and Pastil Chair (1968), just to name a few.
Famous for his furniture, Eero Aarnio is renowned also for his lamps – such as Double Bubble and Swan – and has proven his skills as a wood designer as well – for example with the Rocket bar stool and the Baby Rocket stool are excellent examples of his wooden designs. Eero Aarnio’s designs are characterized by a positive attitude and joyful nature, exemplified in works like the playful Puppy or the lovely Dino.
Aarnio’s creations are present in the collections of numerous museums worldwide – including the Victoria and Albert Hall Museum in London, the MoMA in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris – and he has won many prestigious international design awards, such as the Red Dot Design Award and the Compasso d’Oro Design Award.
A chair is a chair… but a seat does not have to be a chair. This can be anything as long as it is ergonomically correct.
Anna Castelli Ferrieri.
Was the first women to graduate from the prestigious Milan Polytechnic. Casatelli Ferrieri was a member of a generation of Italian designers who transformed the world of designer with new technologies and materials. Castelli Ferrier perferred to work with plastics. Her intuitive elegance became the signature of the Italian modern style.
In 1949, Castelli Ferrieri and her husband founded Kartell, which became a leading furniture company known for its high quality plastc designs. With the success of Kartell, the couple lead the way in Italian modern design throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. In 1976, Castelli Ferrier became the Art Director of Kartell while still experimenting and designing for the company.
Her innovative design helped propel the Componibili into one of Kartell’s best sellers. The modern plastic furniture modules can meet various functionl needs in mulitple rooms in the hme. Flexible, functional and practical, Componibili is one of the oldest Kartell designs.
It is not true that what is useful is beautiful. It is what is beautiful that is useful. Beauty can improve people’s way of life and thinking.”