Jasper Morrison is an English born Product & Furniture Designer. He received a Bachelor of Design degree from Kingston Polytechnic Design School in 1982 and a Master's degree in Design from theRoyal College of Art, London, in 1985. He also studied at the Berlin University of the Arts. He is known as one of the most successful industrial designers in recent times. Along side Naoto Fukasawa, the pair defined the term 'super normal', which Morrison believes answers the question of what 'good design' is. Morrison has a design language which is said to be creating good examples of design which are useful, understood and responsible. Morrison has a wide range of products from home to office to public spaces with collections present in New Yorks Museum of Modern Art and other prestigious museums around the world.
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect, sculptor and industrial designer. His father was famous architect and Cranbrook Academy of Arts Director Eliel Saarinen, while his mother was textile artist Loja Saarinen. In 1929 Saarinen studied sculpture in Paris which would define how he worked for the rest of his life. It was at Cranbrook he met Charles Eames. Together they where thrown into the forefront of design after winning first prize - in all categories - with their moulded plywood chairs in the MoMA sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition. Saarinen also befriended Florence Knoll, who attended Cranbrook. Knoll was a promising protege of Eliel Saarinen, and as such she spent a lot of time with the family including vacations to Finland. Knoll and Eero Saarinen where said to have a sibling like bond and when Florence joined Knoll in 1940 Eero was invited to design for the company. During his career, Saarinen proved his love or research and sculpture when designing furniture, often making hundreds of full scale models and prototypes to ensure the right curvature, line and proportions were implemented. Using modern materials with organic shapes and lines Saarinen's design language is described as Neofuturistic.
Arne Jacobsen was born in Denmark in 1902. His mother was a bank teller with a hobby in painting floral motifs. Jacobsen wanted to pursuit a career in art but his father persuaded him to peruse a more secure career in architecture. As a student at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Jacobsen travelled to Paris to participate in the Art Deco fair of which he won a Silver Medal for his chair designs. While in Paris he found a fondness to the aesthetic of Le Corbusier then on a trip to Germany came across the works of Miles Van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius. It was through these influences that Jacobsen's graduate piece won him a Gold medal. In 1941 as the darkness of World War II struck Europe, the Nazi race regime on Jewish Danes being sent to concentration camps meant Arne Jacobsen had to flee Denmark. Rowing a small boat, Jaconsen made it to Sweden where he would stay for two years. Architecture projects were limited leading Jacobsen to start experimenting in fabric and wallpaper design. On his return, Jacobsen revived his architectural career and later became acquaintance to furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen and was during this time Jacobsen created most of his prototypes in furniture design. Although Jacobsen discouraged the word 'designer', 1950's his interest in furniture design peaked with the Ant chair being commissioned for the Novo Pharmaceutical factory in 1951 followed by Severn Series 1955.
Born in Finland as Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, Alvar Aalto was primarily an architect in his early career, said to execute his designs with a traditionalNordic Classicism. Aalto is classed as one of the most influential architects of the Scandinavian Modernist Movement. Although Aalto studied at the Helsinki University of Technology, he also worked under Eliel Saarinen. During 1930's Aalto started designing and making singular pieces of furniture for his architectural projects such as Paimio Sanatorium. This extension into furniture and lighting was also aided by the newfound friendship of Aino (Aalto) who later became his first wife until her death. At the beginning of this extension, the most notable of designs was the Paimio Chair - made for Tuberculosis sufferers. Together in 1935, Alvar and Aino Aalto set up the company Artek to sell Aalto products to international markets. Although an esteemed architect, the introduction of Artek meant Alvar Aalto was known to continental Europe solely as a furniture Designer. Aalto was also the first furniture designer to use the cantilever principle in chair design using timber.
Charles and Ray Eames
Charles Ormond Eames Jr was foremost an architect while Bernice Alexandra (Ray) Eames an artist, but both also explored the field of film making and design. Charles studied architecture briefly at Washington University but left after two years. The reason is unknown, some sources say he was too modernist and forward thinking against the traditional design ethic of the time, while others say he was employed by Trueblood and Graf and his concentration for the course dropped. However, in 1930 Charles started up his own architectural practice along with two other partners. Around the same time, Ray was studying at Bennetts Women's College in New York. After graduation in 1933 she studied abstract expressionism under Hanz Hofmann becoming the founder of American Abstract Artists Group 1936 with pieces becoming permanent placements at Riverside Museum, Manhatten. In 1938 Charles had been invited by Eliel Saarinen's eldest to move to Michigan, Eliel Saarinen was a great influence for Charles Eames and so Charles, his wife Catherine Woermann and Daughter moved to study architecture at Cranbrook Academy of Arts. Charles soon became a teacher and head of industrial design within the school. It was during this time Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen would work together to further develop Alvar Aalto's use of moulding timber, to create moulded plywood products used for chairs, splints and stretchers for the US navy during WWII.
In 1940 after her mothers dither and relocation, Ray was invited to study at the Cranbrook Academy which took her out of the path of abstract artwork, experimenting in a variety of arts. She worked on display panels for the exhibition: 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings' along side Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames. Shortly after in 1941 the pair married and moved to Los Angeles. Working together into the 50's the pair continued to push boundaries in moulded plywood, fiberglass, moulded resin plastics and wire mesh mainly for Herman Miller. Eameses design practice ran for over four decades and amongst furniture, produced around 124 short films, textiles and artwork. In the late 40's, the pair took part in 'Arts and Architecture Magazines case study and produced the ground breaking Eames House. Erected by hand in only a few days, the house was made by prefabricated steel panels which was revolutionary for the modern movement.
Jean Prouvé (8 April 1901 – 23 March 1984) was a French metal worker, self-taught architect and design. He is also designated as "constructor". His main achievement was transferring manufacturing technology from industry to architecture, without losing aesthetic qualities. His design skills were not limited to one discipline. During his career Prouvé was involved in architectural design, industrial design and furniture design.
Jean Prouvé completed his training as a metal artisan before opening his own workshop in Nancy in 1924. In the following years he created numerous furniture designs, and in 1947 Prouvé established his own factory. Due to disagreements with the majority shareholders, he left the company in 1953. During the ensuing decades, Prouvé served as a consulting engineer on a number of important architectural projects in Paris.
He left his mark on architectural history again in 1971, when he played a major role in selecting the design of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers for the Centre Pompidou as chairman of the competition jury. Prouvé's work encompasses a wide range of objects, from a letter opener to door and window fittings, from lighting and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular building systems to large exhibition structures, essentially, almost anything that is suited to industrial production methods.
Armi Ratia (1912-1979) was born in Pälkjärvi in Karelia - now part of Russia. Her father owned a small grocery store and her mother worked as a grade school teacher. She studied in Helsinki and graduated as a textile designer in 1935. That same year, she got married to Viljo Ratia.
In 1949, Armi took the first steps to creating Marimekko. She joined Printex, her husband's oilcloth and print fabric company, and she started buying exceptionally colourful and bold patterns for the company. Marimekko was founded two years later, when Armi and Viljo began making clothes from Printex's unique fabrics. For a nation struggling with scarcity and greyness after the Second World War, Marimekko was a welcome source of colour and joy.
At Marimekko, Armi Ratia was a textile artist, managing director, creative director, wizard of words, publicity guru, and wellspring of inspiration. She had an incredible ability to decipher the mood of the times and sense future trends. She also had a genius for recognising talent and finding ways to realise even the wildest, most imaginative ideas.
Even today, Marimekko's success owes much to Armi's ideas. She was a trailblazer who made Marimekko a way of life, an attitude, a phenomenon embracing the everyday and the extraordinary.
Giovanni "Gio" Ponti, Milan, Italy 1891-1979), was one of the Italian masters of architecture, designer and essayist. He created a vast amount of work in the furniture sector. This is demonstrated in his three Milanese houses which were fully furnished in the "Ponti" style. He promoted industrial design and introduced the idea of interior furnishing ranges as being sophisticated, economic, democratic and modern.
From 1923 to 1930 Ponti worked at the Manifattura Ceramica in Milan, changing the company's whole output. His industrial design work includes: a line of furnishings for the Rinascente department stores, under the name Domus Nova ceramic objects production: maiolica vases, porcelain, sanitary ware (like sinks and toilets) chairs: among others, he worked for Cassina designing an angular armchair, named "Distex", and the very famous 1957 "Superleggera" a wonderfully elegant chair that has left its mark on the world of furniture design.
Aino Aalto (1894-1949) was a pioneer of Finnish design. Born in Helsinki, Finland, she received her architecture degree in 1920 from Helsinki Polytechnic. In 1924, Aino joined famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s firm. Aino soon married Alvar, creating a lifelong partnership that built an international design legacy. The couple worked closely until Aino’s death, collaborating on several projects that have left a significant mark on global design.
Aino is also known for her own individual contributions which helped bring modern Finnish design to the international arena. Her architectural exhibitions for Artek received the Gran Prix at the 1936 Milan Triennial. Aino also won the gold medal at the same competition for her “Aalto Glasses” which were inspired by the circles created by throwing rocks in the water. Eighty years later, the versatile, stackable “Aino Aalto” glassware continues to be a timeless classic for Iittala. Aino Aalto also designed buildings, interiors, furniture and textiles.
The Finnish designer Eero Aarnio (b.1932) is one of the great innovators of modern furniture design. In the 1960s, Eero Aarnio began experimenting with plastics, vivid colours and organic forms, breaking away from traditional design conventions. His now iconic plastic creations include the Ball (1963), the Pastil (1968), and the Bubble (1968) chairs which echo the pop culture and spirit of their time. Many of Aarnio’s works are included in the world’s most prestigious museums, including Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MoMA in New York and Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.
It has been the ambition of Eero Aarnio to create designs with strong and identifiable character. His work has been said to have a communicative capacity and a psychological effect on the user and viewer. They are objects that stimulate the imagination and challenge seriousness and stiffness. Aside from sound ergonomic design Eero Aarnio follows very few rules when creating his furniture. “A chair must be comfortable for sitting and after that everything is free.”
Arri "Harry"Bertoia was born on March 10, 1915, in the small village of San Lorenzo, Friuli, Italy. In 1930 at 15 years old Harry chose to move to Detroit in America where his brother Oreste was already established. Upon entering North America, his name was altered to the Americanised Harry.
Bertoia attended Cleveland Elementary School to catch up in basics. He then entered Cass Technical High School, a public school with a special program for talented students in arts and sciences. In 1936, a one-year scholarship to the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts allowed him to study painting and drawing. His fate was cast when in 1950 Harry was invited to move to Pennsylvania to work with Hans and Florence Knoll (Florence was also a Cranbrook Graduate). During this period he designed five wire chair pieces that became known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll. Among these was the famous diamond chair a fluid, sculptural form made from a welded lattice work of steel. In Bertoia's own words, "If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them."
Achilles Castiglioni was born in Milan, Italy in1918. As early as 1940 he dedicated himself to testing industrial production with brothers Livio (1911-1979) and Pier Giacomo (1913-1968). After graduating in architecture in 1944, he began research into shapes, techniques and new materials, aimed at developing an integral design process. In 1969, he was authorised by the Ministry of Education to teach "Artistic Design for Industry" and was a professor at Turin´s Faculty of Architecture until 1980 and then professor of "Industrial Design " in Milan until 1993.
Castiglioni continued to pursue an active career right up until his death at the age of 95 in 2003. He will forever be associated with his most iconic design, the Arco lamp.
Antonio Citterio was born in Meda, Italy in 1950 and graduated in architecture at the Politecnico of Milan. From 1972 he worked in the field of industrial design as a designer and consultant. He works with many manufacturers and in 1987 he won the Golden Compass Award for the 'Mobil' system and in 1995 for the 'Battista' folding table for Kartell.
Joe Cesare Colombo
Cesare Colombo (better known as Joe) was born in Milan in 1930. He attended the Brera Academy and Milan Polytechnic School of Architecture. He worked in number of jobs before opening his own design studio in 1963. A tall inveterate pipe smoker, he was never a slave to idealogical bounds but embodied many of the utopian values of the 60s.
From his studio Colombo worked primarily on architectural commissions - including ski lodges and mountain hotels - as well as product design. His furniture designs were characterised by optimistically bold and round forms. He was remarkably prolific during his single decade as a designer some of his most notable projects include the 1963 Elder Armchair and 1970 Bobby trolley. Tragically his career was cut short by a fatal heart attack at the age of 41.
“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”
Le Corbusier was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris in Switzerland on October 6, 1887. In 1917, he moved to Paris and assumed the pseudonym Le Corbusier. In his architecture, he chiefly built with steel and reinforced concrete and worked with elemental geometric forms. Le Corbusier's paintings emphasised clear forms and structures, which corresponded to his architecture. At age 13, Le Corbusier attended Arts Décoratifs at La Chaux-de-Fonds, where he would learn the art of enameling and engraving watch faces, following in the footsteps of his father.There, he fell under the tutelage of L’Eplattenier, whom Le Corbusier called “my master” and later referred to him as his only teacher. L’Eplattenier taught Le Corbusier art history, drawing and the naturalist aesthetics of art nouveau. Perhaps because of his extended studies in art, Corbusier soon abandoned watchmaking and continued his studies in art and decoration, intending to become a painter. L’Eplattenier insisted that his pupil also study architecture, and he arranged for his first commissions working on local projects.
After designing his first house, in 1907, at age 20, Le Corbusier took trips through central Europe and the Mediterranean, including Italy, Vienna, Munich and Paris. His travels included apprenticeships with various architects, most significantly with structural rationalist Auguste Perret, a pioneer of reinforced concrete construction, and later with renowned architect Peter Behrens, with whom Le Corbusier worked from October 1910 to March 1911, near Berlin.
In the 1930s, Le Corbusier reformulated his theories on urbanism, publishing them in La Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) in 1935. The most apparent distinction between the Contemporary City and the Radiant City is that the latter abandoned the class-based system of the former, with housing now assigned according to family size, not economic position. The Radiant City brought with it some controversy, as all Le Corbusier projects seemed to. In describing Stockholm, for instance, a classically rendered city, Le Corbusier saw only “frightening chaos and saddening monotony.” He dreamed of “cleaning and purging” the city with “a calm and powerful architecture”; that is, steel, plate glass and reinforced concrete, what many observers might see as a modern blight applied to the beautiful city.
At the end of the 1930s and through the end of World War II, Le Corbusier kept busy with creating such famous projects as the proposed master plans for the cities of Algiers and Buenos Aires, and using government connections to implement his ideas for eventual reconstruction. His career spanned five decades; he constructed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America. On July 17, 2016, seventeen projects by Le Corbusier in seven countries were inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as "an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement".
Tom DeVesto, Founded Tivoli Audio, Llc. in 2000 and serves as its Chairman and Design consultant. Mr. DeVesto is a respected and established leader in the audio industry, with the goal of bringing simple to use, high-quality audio products to the consumer at reasonable prices. His thirty-year career he was responsible for the Development of many of today's best-selling hi-fi and multi-media products.
“It has always been my mission and passion to bring to market the highest quality consumer electronics products that reflect what consumers are looking for in outstanding design and sound quality.
Walter Adolph Gropius was born in Berlin, Germany in May 1883. He was a German American architect and educator who, particularly as director of the Bauhaus (1919–28), exerted a major influence on the development of modern architecture. Gropius who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modernist architecture. His works, many executed in collaboration with other architects, included the school building and faculty housing at the Bauhaus (1925–26), the Harvard University Graduate Centre and the United States Embassy in Athens.
Beginning in 1903 Gropius followed in his architect father’s footsteps. He studied architecture in Berlin and Munich, but never received a degree in that field. After a year of travel in Europe, Gropius joined the architectural firm of Peter Behrens in 1908. Other modernists working in that office included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.
In 1910 Gropius partnered with Adolf Meyer to set up an architectural practice in Berlin. They contributed to the design of one of the most notable early modernist buildings, designing the steel-and-glass facade of the Faguswerk shoe-form factory (1911) in Alfeld an der Leine (Lower Saxony), a building that still stands to this day.
With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Gropius served as a sergeant major and was seriously injured while stationed on the Western Front. With the war’s end in 1918, Gropius was able to resume his design career.
The rise of Hitler in the 1930s would soon drive Gropius out of Germany. With the help of the English architect Maxwell Fry, Gropius was able to leave Nazi Germany in 1934, on the pretext of making a temporary visit to Italy for a film propaganda festival; he then fled to Britain to avoid the fascist powers of Europe. He lived and worked in Britain, and then moved on to the United States with his family. Settling in Massachusetts, Gropius set about designing his own house, using the approach developed at the Bauhaus. The house the Gropiuses built for themselves in Lincoln, Massachusetts (now known as Gropius House, was influential in bringing International Modernism to the U.S.
Gropius and his Bauhaus protégé taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1937–1952) and collaborated on projects including Alan I W Frank House in Pittsburgh and the company-town Aluminum City Terrace project in New Kensington, Pennsylvania,.In 1938 he was appointed chairman of the Department of Architecture, a post he held until his retirement in 1952.] In 1944, he became a naturalised citizen of the United States.
In 1946, Gropius founded the young architects’ association, The Architect's Collaborative (TAC). One work produced by this office is the Graduate Centre of Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts (1949/50).TAC would become one of the most well-known and respected architectural firms in the world.
Today, Gropius is remembered not only by his various buildings but also by the district of Gropiusstadt in Berlin.
“Walter Gropius has been described as "one of the few actual inventors of modern architecture, the creator of the world famous Bauhaus and the most famous architectural teacher alive."
Poul Henningsen was born in Copenhagen in 1894 to the famous Danish actress Agnes Henningsen. He never graduated as an architect, but studied at The Technical School at Frederiksberg, Denmark from 1911-14, and then at Technical College in Copenhagen from 1914-17.
He started practicing traditional functionalistic architecture, but over the years his professional interests changed to focus mainly on lighting which is what he is most famous for. He also expanded his field of occupation into areas of writing, becoming a journalist and an author. For a short period at the beginning of WWII, he was the head architect of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. But like many other creative people, he was forced to flee Denmark during the German occupation but soon became a vital part of the Danish colony of artists living in Sweden.
His lifelong collaboration with Louis Poulsen began in 1925 and lasted until his death. To this day, Louis Poulsen still benefits from his genius. Poul Henningsen was also the first editor of the company magazine “NYT”. The CEO of Louis Poulsen at the time, Sophus Kaastrup-Olsen, gave the magazine to PH as a gift because he had been terminated from the Danish newspaper he worked for (his opinions were too radical).
Poul Henningsen's pioneering work concerning the relations between light structures, shadows, glare, and colour reproduction—compared to man’s need for light remains the foundation of the lighting theories still practiced by Louis Poulsen.
Hella Jongerius born 1963, in the Netherlands) works to combine the traditional with the contemporary she also combines the newest technologies with age-old craft techniques. Hella aims to create products with individual character by including craft elements in the industrial production process.
Jongerius sees her work as part of a never-ending process, and the same is essentially true of all her designs: they possess the power of the final stage, while also communicating that they are part of something greater, with both a past and an uncertain future.
In 1993 she founded the Jongeriuslab studio, where independent projects are developed as well as work for major clients, including the upholstery fabric company Maharam, the interior design of the Delegates’ Lounge of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, cabin interiors for the airline KLM. Since 2012, Jongerius has served as Art Director for the rug company Danskina and since 2007 as Art Director of colours and materials for Vitra. Many of Jongerius’ products can be found in the permanent collections of well known museums (such as MoMA, New York, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam).
Hella Jongerius lives and works in Berlin.
Finn Juhl (30 January 1912 – 17 May 1989) was a Danish Architect, interior and industrial designer most known for his furniture design. He was one of the leading figures in the creation of 'Danish Design' in the 1940s and he was the designer who introduced Danish Modern to America.
Juhl never studied to become a furniture designer, the first furniture he designed were for his own use and not designed for a mass production. His designs were more ‘devoted’ to form than to function; a breakthrough in the Danish design tradition.
The Pelikan Chair designed in 1939, was exhibited during the Guild Exhibitions, a yearly Cabinetmaker’s Exhibition and highly criticised because of its organic form far from the Danish furniture tradition of functional objects. However, despite the numerous criticisms Finn Juhl 's works started to be appreciated abroad throughout the 1940s for the virtuous, radical and organic design clearly inspired by contemporary artists and by natural forms; like the aforementioned Pelikan Chair and the Chieftain Chair. Juhl gave a soft edge to the lines of wooden modernist chairs, favouring organic shapes which often took the wood to the limits of what was possible. He generally used teak and other dark woods, unlike many of the other proponents of the Danish Modern movement who often used oak in their designs.
One of his hallmarks was the floating back and seat which is seen in most of his chair designs, usually upholstered, in contrast to the hard wood of the bearing elements. The full back and seat, seeming to hover on their supports.
Florence Marguerite Knoll Bassett (née Schust; born May 24, 1917) is an American architect and furniture designer who studied under Miesvan deer Rohe and Eliel Saarinen . Born to a baker, and orphaned at age twelve, Florence Schust grew up Saginaw, Michigan. Schust demonstrated an early interest in architecture and was enrolled at the Kingswood School for Girls, adjacent to the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
While at Kingswood, Florence befriended Eilel Saarinen, whom she would later study under at Cranbrook. Warmly embraced by the Saarinen family, Florence vacationed with them in Finland, enjoyed the company of their accomplished friends. The connections she made and the skills she developed while at Cranbrook were the foundations of Florence Schust’s incredible design education and pioneering career. With recommendations from Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto, Florence went on to study under some of the greatest 20th century architects, including Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 1941 Florence moved to New York where she met Hans Knoll who was establishing his furniture company. With Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen and salesmanship, the pair, who married in 1946, grew the nascent company into an international arbiter of style and design. Florence also seeded contributions with her friends Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe.
In creating the revolutionary Knoll Planning Unit, Florence Knoll defined the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America. Drawing on her background in architecture, she introduced modern notions of efficiency, space planning, and comprehensive design to office planning. Florence ardently maintained that she did not merely decorate space. She created it. The Planning Unit rigorously researched and surveyed each client — assessing their needs, defining patterns of use and understanding company hierarchies — before presenting a comprehensive design, informed by the principles of modernism and beautifully executed in signature Knoll style. Florence and the Planning Unit were responsible for the interiors of some of America’s largest corporations, including IBM, GM and CBS.
As part of her work with the Planning Unit, Florence frequently contributed furniture designs to the Knoll catalog. She humbly referred to her furniture designs as the “meat and potatoes,” filler among the standout pieces of Bertoia, Mies, and Saarinen. However, with her attention to detail, eye for proportion, and command of the modern aesthetic, many of her designs have become as revered and celebrated as those of her colleagues.
After the tragic death of Hans Knoll in 1955, Florence Knoll led the company as president through uncertain times. In 1960 she resigned the presidency to focus on directing design and development and, in 1965 after pioneering an industry and defining the landscape and aesthetic of the corporate office, Florence Knoll Bassett (she remarried in 1957) retired from the company. Her contributions to Knoll, and to the rise of modernism in America, are immeasurable.
Hans G Knoll
Hans G. Knoll (1914–1955) was a German American who, together with his wife, Florence Knoll founded Knoll the well-known design company and furniture manufacturer.
German-born Hans Knoll was a member of a prominent furniture-making family. His father Walter C. Knoll, one of the pioneer makers of modern furniture in pre-Hitler Germany, produced early Mies van der Rohe designs in his Stuttgart factory.
A man of vitality and drive, and disenchanted with Europe, Knoll went first to England where he opened his own interior design company, Plan Ltd. His stay in England was brief and in 1937 he came to New York. With his background in the production of furniture and his zeal for good design, he was ready in 1938 to form the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company in small space on East 72nd Street. Hans originally intended to import European designs but because of difficult import conditions, he shifted his ambitions toward domestic products.
As Hans expanded the scope of his company to include interior design projects, he hired a young Danish designer named Jens Risom in 1941 to help with space planning. The state of custom interior design led Risom to design new pieces of furniture for specific projects – the original Knoll furniture. At the same time, Hans created the company’s first manufacturing plant in an old dance hall in East Greenville, Pennsylvania.
While the company grew quickly in its first few years under Hans’s leadership, it was Knoll’s association with Florence Schust, beginning in 1943, that propelled the company toward unparalleled excellence. (Florence and Hans were married in 1946.) Over the next nine years, and until Hans’s untimely death in a 1955 Car accident in Cuba, the company grew substantially both in the US and abroad, with the establishment of the Knoll Planning Unit, Knoll Textiles, and a myriad of now iconic commissions. By 1955, Hans and Florence had established one of the preeminent and international design houses: the Planning Unit had begun work on Connecticut General’s headquarters, and the collection included designs by Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen’s Womb Chair and 71 and 72 office chairs, Bertoia’s wire-frame collection, Florence Knoll’s design, among others.
Eero Saarinen wrote of Hans Knoll: Hans Knoll has made a great and lasting contribution to the cultural world. No one man has done so much to change the interiors of our buildings. In America we feel his impact especially in institutional and commercial buildings into which contemporary design has hardly penetrated. … It was he who gave his clients confidence in good design. Within his huge, flowering organisation he dealt with each employee in a personal, human way. To designers he gave generously of his own creative imagination, encouraging them to undertake new and better things. He always freely gave credit to his designers, yet he – who played a big part in their work – never took any credit himself. The generosity, the enthusiasm, the inspiration and the concern for human beings which he brought to everything he touched will long be remembered by all of us.
Vilhelm Lauritzen (9 September 1894 – 22 December 1984) was a leading Danish modern architect, founder of the still active architectural firm Vilhelm Lauritzen Arkitekter. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, graduating in 1921. The following year he founded his own firm, Vilhelm Lauritzen Arkitekter, and remained active in the firm until 1969. He received the Academy's Gold Medal in 1926 throughout the 1920s he created a number of monumental designs in a classicist style.Towards the end of the decade he travelled in Central Europe and became acquainted with the latest trends in Functionalist architecture with its technical and structural innovations. This inspired him to create buildings reflecting grounded and restrained Modernism and it was with such buildings that he had his breakthrough.
His first large commission to be built was the Daells Varehus department store in Copenhagen built in stages from 1928 to 1935 as one of the first examples of Modern architecture in Denmark. He went on to win the competition for the design of the first Copenhagen Airport which was constructed over 2 years starting in 1937. Another major project included the national Danish broadcaster DR's Radio Building while its Television Building was designed by his firm with Mogens Boertmann as its principal architect.
Lauritzen also designed furniture, often in connection with his buildings. His lamps, especially his table lamps from the 1930s, manufactured by Louis Poulsen, continue to arouse interest.
Magistretti was born in 1920 in the City of Milan, Italy. He graduated as an architect in 1945 and pursued a career chiefly in the fields of architecture, town planning and industrial design. His work was first recognised in 1948 when he won the coveted Gran Premio award. After that came forty years of activity with other prizes and awards. Throughout the course of his career, Magistretti held prestigious professorships at the Royal College of Arts in London and the Domus Academy in Milan.
Furniture, lamps and other objects that he designed may be found all over the world and the most important design museums such as the MoMA New York and the Victoria & Albert in London, have given exhibitions in his honour and kept examples of his work in their permanent collections.
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe
"God is in the detail"
Born in Germany in 1886, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe broke new ground with his architectural designs. He started out as a draftsman before striking out later on his own. During World War I, Mies served in the German military. He then became a well-known architect in Germany, creating such structures as the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona Exposition. In the late 1930s,
Mies emigrated to the United States. There he created such well-known Modernist works as the Lake Shore Drive Apartments and the Seagram Building. He died in 1969.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe attended a local Catholic school, and then received vocational training at the Gewerbeschule in Aachen. He further honed his skills by working with his stonemason father and through several apprenticeships.While employed as a draftsman, in 1906 Mies received his first commission for a residential home design. He then went to work for influential architect Peter Behrens, who had taught the likes of Le Corbusier. In 1913, Mies set up his own shop in Lichterfelde.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 put Mies’s career on hold, and during the conflict, he served in the German military, helping build bridges and roads. Returning to his work after the war, Mies debuted his vision of a glass skyscraper, submitting the futuristic design for a 1921 competition. Around this time, Mies added “van der Rohe” to his name, an adaptation of his mother's maiden name. By the mid-1920s, Mies had become a leading avant-garde architect in Germany. He was a member of the radical artistic 'Organisation Novembergruppe,' and later joined the Bauhaus movement. Founded by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus movement embraced socialist ideals as well as a functional philosophy about art and design. (The Nazis later found the work of Bauhaus to be degenerate, however, and the group shut down under political pressure.)
One of Mies's most impressive works from this period was the German Pavilion he created for the Barcelona Exposition in Spain. Constructed from 1928 to 1929, this exhibition structure was a modern marvel of glass, metal and stone.
Despite his growing notoriety in Germany, in the late 1930s, Mies left for the United States. Settling in Chicago, he ran the school of architecture at what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology and also developed the plan for its campus.
Highly regarded in his field, Mies was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1947. He also continued to be in demand as an architect, building the Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York City. A joint project with Philip C. Johnson, the dark metal-and-glass 38-story skyscraper was completed in 1958.
One of Mies’s final projects was the New National Gallery in Berlin, for which he had received a commission from the West German government. Completed in 1968, the structure is a testament to his Modernist aesthetic. The two-level building features walls of glass supported by an imposing metal frame.
Following a lengthy battle with oesophageal cancer, Mies died on August 17, 1969, in his adopted hometown of Chicago. Many of his impressive structures still stand today, wowing visitors with their innovative design. Perhaps what has made his work so enduring was his progressive design philosophy. “I have tried to make an architecture for a technological society," he told the New York Times. "I wanted to keep everything reasonable and clear—to have an architecture that anybody can do.”
Isamu Noguchi, born in 1904 in Los Angeles to the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi and the American writer Leonie Gilmour, studied at Columbia University and the Leonardo da Vinci Art School.
He subsequently established his first independent studio and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927. Noguchi became an assistant to Constantin Brancusi in Paris and presented his first solo exhibition in New York. After studying brush drawing in China, he travelled to Japan to work with clay under the master potter Jinmatsu Uno.
His experiences living and working in different cultural circles are reflected in Isamu Noguchi's work as an artist. He is considered a universal talent with a creative oeuvre that went beyond sculpture to encompass stage sets, furniture, lighting, interiors as well as outdoor plazas and gardens. His sculptural style is indebted to a vocabulary of organic forms and exerted a sustained influence on the design of the 1950s.
'My Father, Yone Noguchi is Japanese and has long been known as an interpreter of the East and West, through poetry. I wish to do the same thing through sculpture', he wrote in his proposal for a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Noguchi died in New York in 1988.
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect, sculptor and industrial designer. His father was famous architect and Cranbrook Academy of Arts Director Eliel Saarinen, while his mother was textile artist Loja Saarinen.
In 1929 Saarinen studied sculpture in Paris which would define how he worked for the rest of his life. It was at Cranbrook he met Charles Eames. Together they where thrown into the forefront of design after winning first prize - in all categories - with their moulded plywood chairs in the MoMA sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition. Saarinen also befriended Florence Knoll, who attended Cranbrook. Knoll was a promising protege of Eliel Saarinen, and as such she spent a lot of time with the family including vacations to Finland. Knoll and Eero Saarinen where said to have a sibling like bond and when Florence joined Knoll in 1940 Eero was invited to design for the company. During his career, Saarinen proved his love or research and sculpture when designing furniture, often making hundreds of full scale models and prototypes to ensure the right curvature, line and proportions were implemented. Using modern materials with organic shapes and lines Saarinen's design language is described as Neofuturistic.
Ettore Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer of the late 20th century. His body of designs included furniture, jewellery, glass, lighting and office machine design.Sottsass was born on 14 September 1917 in Innsbruck, Austria, and grew up in Milan, where his father was an architect.
He was educated at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin and graduated in 1939 with a degree in architecture. He served in the Italian military and spent much of World War II in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia. After returning home in 1948, he set up his own architectural and industrial design studio in Milan.
In 1956, Ettore Sottsass began working as a design consultant for Olivetti, designing office equipment, typewriters, and furniture. Sottsass was hired by Adriano Olivetti, the founder, to work alongside his son, Roberto. There Sottsass made his name as a designer who, through colour, form and styling, managed to bring office equipment into the realm of popular culture. Sottsass, Mario Tchou, and Roberto Olivetti won the prestigious 1960 Compasso d’Oro with the Elea 9003, the first Italian mainframe computer. In 1968, the Royal College of Art in London granted Sottsass an honorary doctoral degree.
Throughout the 1960s, Sottsass traveled in the US and India and designed more products for Olivetti, culminating in the bright red plastic portable Valentine typewriter in 1970, which became a fashion accessory. Sotsass described the Valentine as "a brio among typewriters." Compared with the typical drab typewriters of the day, the Valentine was more of a design statement item than an office machine.
While continuing to design for Olivetti in the 1960s, Sottsass developed a range of objects which were expressions of his personal experiences traveling in the United States and India. These objects included large altar-like ceramic sculptures and his "Superboxes", radical sculptural gestures presented within a context of consumer product, as conceptual statement. Covered in bold and colourful, simulated custom laminates, they were precursors to Memphis, a movement which came more than a decade later. Around this time, Sottsass said: "I didn’t want to do any more consumerist products, because it was clear that the consumerist attitude was quite dangerous." The feeling that his creativity was being stifled by corporate work is documented in his 1973 essay "When I was a Very Small Boy". As a result, his work from the late 60s to the 70s was defined by experimental collaborations with younger designers such as Superstudio and Archizoom Associati, and association with the Radical movement, culminating in the foundation of Memphis at the turn of the decade.
Sottsass had a vast body of work; furniture, jewellery, ceramics, glass, silver work, lighting, office machine design and buildings which inspired generations of architects and designers. In 2006 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held the first major museum survey exhibition of his work in the United States. A retrospective exhibition, Ettore Sottsass: Work in Progress, was held at the Design Museum in London in 2007. In 2009, the Marres Centre for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht presented a re-construction of a Sottsass' exhibition 'Miljö för en ny planet' (Landscape for a new planet), which took place in the National Museum in Stockholm in 1969
Philippe Starck (French, born 1949) is one of the world's most recognised product designers with a prolific portfolio of designs to his name covering everything from citrus juicers to lighting, chairs to mirrors. His gift is to turn the object of his commission into an object of charm, pleasure and encounter. With his expertise still in huge demand he continues to work with leading brands Kartell, Alessi, Vitra and Flos amongst many others.
Starck's output includes furniture, decoration, architecture, industry wind turbines, bathroom fittings, kitchens, floor and wall coverings, lighting, domestic appliances, office equipment such as staplers, utensils (including a juice squeezer and a toothbrush), tableware, clothing, accessories (shoes, eyewear, luggage, watches) toys, glassware (perfume bottles, mirrors), graphic design and publishing, even food and vehicles for land, sea, air and space (bikes, motorbikes, yachts, planes). The buildings he designed in Japan, starting in 1989, went against the grain of traditional forms. The first, Nani Nani, in Tokyo, is an anthropomorphic structure, clad in a living material that evolves over time. Stark's philosophy is : design should take its place within the environment but without impinging on it; an object must serve its context and become part of it.
llmari Tapiovaara was one of the greatest interior architects and designers of his era. With the mind of an explorer and a soul of a craftsman, Tapiovaara was always seeking for new solutions to improve everyday objects. During his long career Tapiovaara created dozens of iconic objects loved by the public.
Tapiovaara is especially revered as a master of characteristic and human objects and surroundings who captured the essence of Finnish identity. Today the contemporary Tapiovaara Family Collection maintains the timeless heritage of a master of Finnish design. Ilmari Tapiovaara graduated in 1937 as interior architect from the department of furniture design of the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki. After graduation he obtained the position of assistant for six months at Le Corbusier’s office in Paris. In 1938 Tapiovaara began work as artistic director and designer at Asko Oy, the largest furniture manufacturer in Finland, and in 1941 he was hired as artistic and commercial director for the furniture company Keravan Puuteollisuus Oy. In 1946–47 Tapiovaara designed, together with his wife, Annikki Tapiovaara, furniture for Domus Academica, the new student housing facility in Helsinki. It was in that project the famous Domus Stacking Chair was designed.
Ilmari Tapiovaara was a great admirer of Alvar Aalto’s work, and he wanted to create products based on the same ideological premises. Tapiovaara embraced the principle of social equality of functionalism, and felt that architecture was the starting point of his design work. In addition to dozens of chairs and other furniture, mostly intended for public spaces, Tapiovaara also designed interiors for many banks, offices, hotels and showrooms starting in the 1940s.
Ilmari Tapiovaara also worked abroad in various capacities. In 1952–53 he was employed as professor at the school of design of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and he also worked for a while in the office of Mies van der Rohe. In the late 1950s, he travelled to Paraguay, where he designed furniture on behalf of the UN development programme, and in the mid-1970s he worked in Mauritius in a similar project. He also worked in an expert capacity in Yugoslavia, participating in the development of a centre for furniture and joinery industry. He also designed furniture for clients in Italy and Sweden, among others.
Ilmari Tapiovaara was awarded a total of six gold medals at the Milan Triennials in 1951, 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1964. He was awarded the Good Design Award in Chicago in 1951, the Pro Finlandia medal in 1959, the Finnish State Design Prize in 1971 and the Furniture Prize of the SIO Interior Architects’ Association of Finland in 1990.
"Objects must communicate,"
In 1961 Patricia Urquiola was born in Oviedo, Spain, but has lived and worked in Milan for over 20 years. She studied architecture at the Technical University of Madrid and the Polytechnic University of Milan, where she graduated in 1989 and Achille Castiglioni oversaw her graduate thesis. In the early years of her career, she was assistant lecturer to Achille Castiglioni, she collaborated with Vico Magistretti and was Head of Design at Lissoni Associati.
She opened her own studio in 2001, working in product design, interior design and architecture. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona is one of her many architectural projects. Urquiola's focus has always been on craft, her designs are unconventional, emphatic, and experimental, blending humanist sensibilities and technical expertise – qualities that also inform her work as an architect.
Urquiola has received numerous accolades and awards over the years, and in 2011 she was awarded the Medalla de Oro al Merito en las Bellas Artes and the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King Juan Carlos I of Spain. Some of her designs are exhibited in the most important museums of art and design.
She designs among others for Alessi, Axor, Flos, Kartell and the W Hotels.
Hans Wegner (1914 - 2007) is one of a handful of designers who helped to define modern Danish design. In a career spanning more than seven decades, Wegner worked quietly and consistently on a remarkable range of designs that were to transform the domestic aesthetic and become coveted classics.
Above all, Wegner was a master craftsman with a keen understanding of the properties and potential of natural materials. Born in 1914 in Tønder, the son of a shoemaker, he was apprenticed to a carpenter at the age of 17 before studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He studied there from 1936-1938, before taking further studies as an architect.
In 1940 Wegner initiated a joint project with Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller in Aarhus, which involved fitting out Aarhus' town hall. It was also in 1940 that Wegner began to work with Master Carpenter Johannes Hansen, a man who played a significant role in bringing modern design to the Danish public. The then Copenhagen Industrial Art Museum (now Design Museum Denmark) purchased their first Wegner chair in 1942.
Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) was a multitalented design genius, widely considered a leading figure of modern Finnish industrial art. Wirkkala's wide ranging portfolio spans from glass, furniture and product design to sculpture, city planning, art, graphics and even creating banknotes for the Finnish treasury. As his reputation grew internationally, Wirkala exhibited throughout the world but he was a recluse by nature. His favourite place was a spot so remote within the deep woodlands of middle Finland and it was in nature that he found his much loved solitude and the inspiration for forms that industry could produce or artwork could create. Throughout his incredibly productive career, Wirkkala received numerous awards including three gold medals at the Milan Triennale, the Lunning Prize, Pro Finlandia Medal and the Prince Eugen Medal.
In 1946, Wirkkala won his first design award in a competition sponsored by Iittala that would mark a lifelong relationship with lasting effects on his career and the company. As Iittala’s artistic director, Wirkkala’s unique artistic vision helped establish the company’s global reputation. Throughout his legendary career, the uniquely talented artist created more than four hundred glass objects for Iittala, many of which, like the Ultima Thule and Tapio series remain popular today.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic structure. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture".Wright was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture and developed the concept of the Usonian home in Broadacre City, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States.Wright always aspired to provide his client with environments that were not only functional but also “eloquent and humane.” Perhaps uniquely among the great architects, Wright pursued an architecture for everyman rather than every man for one architecture through the careful use of standardisation to achieve accessible tailoring options to for his clients.
For Wright, a truly organic building developed from within, outwards and was thus in harmony with its time, place, and inhabitants. “In organic architecture then, it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishings another and its setting and environment still another,” he concluded. “The spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing.” To that end, Wright designed furniture, rugs, fabrics, art glass, lighting, dinnerware, and graphic arts.
His creative period spanned more than 70 years. In addition to his houses, Wright designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums and other structures. He often designed interior elements for these buildings as well, including furniture and stained glass. Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. Wright was recognised in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time".
Sori Yanagi, born in 1915 in Tokyo, attended art school in the city and worked from 1940 to 1942 in the office of the designer Charlotte Perriand.
In 1952, he founded the Yanagi Industrial Design Institute, which created a prolific number of articles of daily use and furnishings. Sori Yanagi’s organic forms combine western industrial designs with Japan’s native artisanal traditions. This successful synthesis made Sori Yanagi one of the most significant Japanese designers of the post-war era. In addition to furniture, he also designed lighting, glass objects, cutlery, children’s toys, metro stations, cars and motorcycles.
In 1977, Sori Yanagi was named director of the Japanese Folk Art Museum in Tokyo.
He died in Tokyo in 2011.