Boerge Mogensen – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 31st August 2011 in Danish Furniture

Boerge Mogensen – Living in the same time period as other Danish modern designers such as Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, he was known best for promoting Danish design. Like many during this time, he attended the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen graduating in 1938 continuing on to study architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of fine Arts School of Architecture. In 1943, he worked in several local Copenhagen design studios most notably as the manager of FDB’s furniture design studio. During the 1940’s, he was also the Head of Furniture Design for the Danish Cooperative Wholesale Society.

In 1950, after teaching at the Royal Danish Academy, he left the studio of FDB and opened his own modern Danish furniture design studio. His style was strongly rooted in traditional craftsmanship executed with an understanding and execution of classical lines but with a modern interpretation. His designs allowed the general public that did not yet embrace modern furniture design to appreciate and begin to understand this new style.

This was seen in the 1949 “Shell” chair that responded to the human form allowing for a curved backrest with an uplifted rounded seat of teak and beech. In 1945, he designed the beech “Spokeback Sofa” with side arms that were able to be dropped down or tied back into place. This was taken up again in 1951 where he had on display at the Cabinetmaker’s a Guild Exhibition a grouping of Danish oak with leather upholstery.

In 1953, he designed a family room that incorporated a workbench and a sewing table labeling it “This is Where We Live”. Perhaps he was envisioning today’s modern version of the inclusion of a home office into our living areas.
This exploration into the design of a whole room in relation to furniture caused him to design cabinets that instead of being free standing pieces of furniture were built into the walls. True to his nature of being thorough, he studied and noted the dimensions of objects typically used along with the number that an average person might possess. He collaborated with Grethe Meyer in 1954 to produce Construction Cupboards of the House. Embracing the stricter aspect of functionalism in modern design, he developed rules for the design of these storage systems eventually leading to the publishing of a manual on building storage systems.

In 1959, he redesigned the “Spanish” chair. Made of oak and leather it was as the rest of his furniture, simple and modern, furniture suitable for everyday living. He also worked extensively with Lis Ahlmann designing textiles.

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Bruno Mathsson – Sweedish Furniture Designer

Posted on 30th August 2011 in Danish Furniture

Bruno Mathsson – Born in January 1907 in the town of Värnamo in southern Sweden, he worked as a modernist architect and Scandinavian modern furniture designer until his death in August 1988. Raised by a carpenter father, he showed an interest from little on in following his father’s footsteps. Eventually he began to work in his father’s gallery with a focus on furniture especially chairs.

As he developed his designs he also developed a technique for constructing wooden chairs that involved running the components under hot water while the wood was bent and then glued securely in place.

Some of his best known works are the “Grasshopper”, 1931, the “Mimat”, 1932, the “Eva” chair, 1935 and the “Swivel” chair in 1939-1940. Fully captured by the functional side of form of modern furniture design, he designed the “Grasshopper” inspired by his visit to the Stockholm Fair in Sweden in 1930. While the Värnamo Hospital who purchased his chairs for their reception area eventually removed all of them because of complaints by visitors that the chair was ugly, continued to perfect his bent-wood technique.

Eventually he was invited to his first one-man show in 1936 at the Röhsska Arts and Craft Museum in Gothenburg where his modern furniture designs met with approval. This led to his success and professional accolades at the World Fair in Paris in 1937. This in turn led him to explore the world of design internationally travelling to the United States in the 1940’s meeting the likes of Charles Eames, Hans Knoll, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd-Wright. The later so influenced him that he designed the Mathsson glass house which interestingly included well insulated triple glazing.

Usually naming his chairs with a female name, he expanded the materials he used for frames and included tubular steel as well. Understanding the elegance in the modern minimal line, he incorporated ergonomic correctness in its function as well. Creativity for him continued well into his older years and at the age of 80 began designing a line of modern computer furniture.
His furniture such as the “Mimat” is a simple wood frame with a woven seat. The “Stories” table was light and rested on wheels which allowed for easy mobility and the “Pernilla” lounge chair was inviting support by bentwood legs with curvilinear arms. The “Table Kuggen Mi” made from either a variety of woods or a white lacquer, has an almost puzzle piece outline providing for an individualized projection from the main part of the table for each person who might sit there. Imaginative and practical, it summarizes well his design philosophy.

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Arne Jacobsen – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 29th August 2011 in Danish Furniture

Arne Jacobsen – Best known as a furniture designer though he thought of himself as an architect first, it was his design philosophy that drove him to design everything from a building down to the spoon on the modern dining room table. It was this attention to detail that he was noted for. Considered an ultra-modern designer, he was born in Copenhagen in February of 1902. As the son of Jewish parents, this would cause him problems later on during the time of Hitler’s ascent to power. While he originally desired to pursue the path of a painter his parents persuaded him to study architecture instead. Graduating from the Architecture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 1927, he began to work for Kay Fisker and Kaj Gottlob., both architects and designers.

It was during this time that he entered a chair design that he had been working on while in school in the Paris Art Deco fair in 1925 where he won a silver medal. It was while he was at the fair that he first became familiar with the work of Le Corbusier and in travels with Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, famous and influential modern rationalist architects. As his career proceeded, he went on to design many notable modern buildings.

It was during World War II when he was forced to flee and take refuge in Sweden for two years that he expanded his design palette by designing fabrics and wallpaper. In 1945, when he was finally able to return to Denmark he continued to design modern buildings and furniture. His desire to design all aspects of a project comes from the German word Gesamtkunst which means to unite all forms of art.

Collaborating  with Louis Poulsen on producing lighting designs, it was during the 1950’s that he became more focused on modern furniture design which were used many times to decorate the interiors of his buildings. Inspired by Charles and Ray Eames with their exploration of bent plywood he reinterpreted this as his own, he designing the “Ant” chair in 1952. So named as it resembled the outline of an ant with a raised head, it was made from formed molded laminated veneer supported by three thin plastic legs and easy to stack.  This inspired the Seven Series which included variations of Model 3107 which was wildly popular. It explored the use of plywood being bent in two directions at the same time.

Commissioned to design furniture for boutique hotels, he designed the “Egg” chair and the “Swan” chair in 1958 for the Radisson SAS Hotel, most likely inspired by Eero Saarinen’s “Womb” chair.

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – German Furniture Designer

Posted on 22nd August 2011 in Furniture design styles, German Furniture Designers

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Born March 27, 1886, is considered a pioneering master, along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier of modern architecture. His buildings, using modern materials such as steel and plate glass to define interior spaces and were beacons of clarity and simplicity. His architectural style was fashioned towards minimalism, calling his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He has become associated with the aphorism “less is more” and “God is in the details”.
He worked in his father’s stone-carving shop and local design firms before working for the interior designer Bruno Paul. His architectural career was born when he apprentice at the studio of Peter Behrens from 1908-1912. There he was exposed to popular design theories and to progressive German culture – meeting and working with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier.
Ludwig Mies renamed himself after his marriage ended in 1921, adding the Dutch ‘van der’ and his mother’s maiden name, ‘rohe’, becoming Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
For a competition in 1921, he designed two innovative steel-framed towers encased in glass. Though it was never built, it drew critical praise and laid the framework for his dream of building a glass skyscraper. This would come to fruition with his skyscraper designs of the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some of these include New York’s ‘Seagram’s Building’, Chicago’s ‘Twin Towers’… examples of flexible, open space on a large scale.
Pre-coursing his skyscrapers, in 1944, and already an American citizen, he designed one of his most famous building, the ‘Fransworth house’, a small weekend retreat outside of Chicago. It is one of the most radically minimalist houses ever designed – it is a transparent box framed by eight exterior steel columns. A single room forms the interior, which is then subdivided by partitions and completely enclosed in glass.
Another of his most famous buildings, the German Pavillion at the international exposition in Barcelona was designed in 1927. Two years later, this small hall had become known as the Barcelona Pavillion – and for it he also designed the famous chrome and leather ‘Barcelona Chair’. The pavilion maintained a flat roof supported by columns. The hall’s interior walls were constructed of glass and marble and were mobile as they did not support the structure, resulting in the concept of fluid space which could as easily move indoors as outdoors. He continued to explore this method in his designs years later. During this period he collaborated with Lilly Reich, his muse and companion for many years.
In 1962, he designed Berlin’s ‘New National Gallery’. His design for this was to realiz his dream to build an exposed steel structure which directly connected interior space to outdoor environment. Though he traveled to Berlin several times during the building’s construction, he was unable to attend it’s opening in 1968. He died on August 17, 1969 in Chicago.

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Alberto Meda – Italian Furniture Designer

Italian Furniture Designer  Alberto Meda

During the emergence of the modernist style, modern furniture was designed by individuals with all kinds of backgrounds. With a centralist theme of combining form with function, Alberto Meda came from a background as a mechanical engineer. With a natural inclination towards the functional side of modern furniture design, he grasped and incorporated the naturalist, organic forms that were expressed through his contemporaries.

Born in Lenno, an Italian province of Como in 1945, after graduating from the Politecnico di Milano in 1969, he went on to be the manager in charge of furniture production and plastic laboratory equipment for Kartell. Exposed to the synthesis of technology and product design he became a freelance designer for several large well-known furniture and product companies such as Vitra, Philips and Alfa Romeo Auto.

In particular, Vitra commissioned him to design his first chair this included the “Meda” a sleek office chair that was designed with ultimate comfort with minimal structure . He has won numerous awards for his designs including the I.D. design review “Best of Category” with Vitra for the Meda chair as well as the INDEX award in 2007 for the Solar Bottle. INDEX is a Denmark based non-profit that promotes designs that contribute to the improvement of people’s lives worldwide. His design of the Solar Bottle allows for the treatment of microbiologically contaminated water by the absorption of UV rays that disinfect the water. Included is a handle that allows for transportation of the container as well as providing for the proper angled placement of the bottle to capture as much sun as possible.

His “Light light” chair, 1987, “Soft light” chair 1989, “Longframe” 1991 and the “On-Off; lamp 1988 are part of the permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and are typical of his minimalist, functional designs. The “Longframe” is a fluid undulation of form combining the technologies of extrusion and die-casting. Working in aluminum both the frame and the seating mesh appear light and organic in form. The “On-Off” lamp is designed to be able to be turned off by moving the lamp from side to side rather than by a switch. It was designed to work with an LED light bulb.

His work with modern tables might best be seen in “Frametable” 2001. It is a folding table that is also designed to be able to hang from a wall like a painting featuring the unique “x” design. With an embossed aluminum alloy composite top supported by aluminum legs, it is as unique in use as in its folded state.







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Alessandro Mendini – Italian Furniture Designer

Italian Furniture Designer Alessandro Mendini

Born in Milan in 1931, Alessandro Mendini continues until today to be a colorful and prolific furniture designer embracing neo-modern and contemporary design. His reach includes the design of modern furniture, objects, interiors and installations. Working with Philips, Swarovski, Alessi, and Swatch he develops design and brand identities.

Trained as an architect at the Milan Polytechnic until 1959, he was part of the Nizzoli Associate Practice until 1970. In 1973 he was a founding member of the “Global Tools” group and in 1979, he joined the Studio Alchimia eventually co-founding the Domus Academy.

As versatile as his abilities with modern furniture design, he was also the editor in chief for several Italian design and architecture magazines; Casabella, Modo and Domus. Stating that he usually reads between 15-20 books simultaneously he is an author of several design books as well as providing critique and essays on design.

Deciding he would play with current modern furniture designs he began to play with works of other modern furniture designers adding his own unique and colorful reinterpretation. One of his better known modern furniture pieces is the “Proust” armchair. First produced by Cappellini in 1978, it a colorful explosion of shapes and exuberant forms based on the classic Italian armchair. With a hand carved and hand painted frame, the colors of the fabric match the colors on the frame. This same chair design was to be redone several times over exploring alternative coverings and materials.

His intriguing style also produced modern kitchenware with a wry and amusing outcome. The Anna G. Corkscrew designed in 1994 utilizes the functional connection of the corkscrew to become head, hair, face, neck shoulders arms and the main body of a woman. This popular item was followed by a pepper mill, cream and sugar set, box and champagne cap capitalizing on the same motif. Similarly amusing and yet completely functional is the Parrot Sommelier Corkscrew designed in 2005 that easily fits inside a pocket.

His work continues to be a part of modern furniture design exploring and pushing the limits of material, form and the application of colorful. In a recent exhibit, he displayed the “Bench” that he designed in collaboration with Pierre Charpin. Playing with bright colors and geometric forms, it is modern furniture at its best with an almost coffin like form with rounded corners and surfaces.





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Modern Outdoor Furniture Designs

Posted on 12th August 2011 in Outdoor Furniture

The visual aesthetic of modern outdoor furniture has changed drastically from its original utilitarian roots. Typically, in the olden days, outdoor furniture as taken a completely different path from modern design furniture. Modern furniture has become more functional while outdoor patio furniture, while still functional, has had its use embellished far beyond just something to sit on if you happen to get stuck outside to something that is pleasant to look at, a pleasure to sit in and becomes a community point for the family to gather around, in many cases around a pool.

Typically Middle Aged furniture tends to be made of stone, brick or wood with animal hides uses as canvas. Camp styled chairs have always been popular because they are extremely functional. Some chairs are just as ornately styled and carved as a home chair would be except these chairs fold up, allowing the owner to take the chair with them everywhere they go and be able to sit outside.

Another famous set of outdoor patio furniture is the webbed look that created a loom-styled furniture design. These days, modern design furniture for the patio is way beyond the basics and allows the owner of said furniture to really lounge out such as the extended loungers to sleep on.

These days, modern outdoor furniture is also much more comfortable to sit on. It’s hard to be uncomfortable when you’ve been provided with five inches of cushion to sit down on. While form is still extremely important, comfort and aesthetics have proven equally important.

These days, your patio furniture comes with the right size cushions. But what should modern outdoor furniture designs take into account when looking to make a purchase? Of course you want the entire setup to be comfortable whether you are leaning, standing, visiting, barging in on and just basically being involved. To really keeps things simple, look for quality made cushions with good colors and replaceable cushions. Find modern furniture that actually is bug resistant and weather resistant. These two features in particular are very important and will help predict the lifespan of your modern furniture design for your patio.

You don’t want the outdoor furniture to be made of the wrong types of furniture or just poorly made furniture or you will not be happy with the escape you have created in your backyard. Modern design furniture for the patio is very functional. Always strive to meet the aesthetic goal, but don’t lose form, functionality and quality for a cheap set of modern furniture. Use a variety of setups, even close up with furniture to determine how it looks. Use the right modern materials as well such as synthetic rayon which makes a very unique looking piece of furniture in my furniture design for outdoors. This modern designed furniture is similar to wicker but lasts longer and creates very unique woven designs.

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Retro Furniture Designs

Posted on 11th August 2011 in Retro Furniture Designs

It was in the 1950s that the retro furniture design started becoming popular. With the advent of modern furniture designs, the impact of the modern industrial revolution changed how people visualized design furniture. As the ability to create en masse almost any type of furniture from chairs to beds to tables increased, design furniture world wide changed as artists focused not only form and function, but to design as an art. Big, bold colors came in as geometric shapes of all kinds took over the industry. Whether it was a simple wooden chair cuts with edgy shapes and a circular cushioned seat to a geometric table fashioned as part art part function.

It was almost as if after the oppressive atmosphere of war gave way to its opposite—light, whimsical, fun, and this was seen in retro furniture just as it was in the modern cars, music and dress styles of the three distinct eras of the 50s, 60s and 70s. If you look at history, furniture was rationed in England during the war and only wood furniture was readily available which led to a high demand for modern, retro furniture as Europeans wanted to create a new environment.

Prior to the 1950s, furniture inside homes was still fairly traditional overall, even as the modern furniture movement started changing in the early 1900s. It wasn’t until then that retro furniture designers really displayed true modern influence as several decades of rapid change in the industry began to find its way into the average American home. As European design began to influence how Americans visualized furniture, it took a while to shape an entire nation. Initially, modern furniture was seen in well to do families in major metropolitan areas such as New York City or portside cities such as Los Angeles.

But as manufacturing became more and more reliable, and the world left the years of war behind, the average American family was prosperous enough to afford the new modern yet retro furniture designs being created by designers all over the world.

Woods were mixed with fabrics as walls took on lives of their own with memorable patterns. Smooth surfaces were popular with long elongated shapes such as a lounge chair or chaise chair. Many times unusual shapes were used in furniture design such as the ball chair or the later designed egg chair which was very popular inside homes in the United States.

Minimalism in design furniture became the norm with bright colors and shapes doing the “speaking” for furniture designs while ornate, wood and parquetry was in hiding as people strove to create a modern look. Furniture became very shapely, but was still well-made to last. Furniture designs included s-shapes, unique metal casing of legs, shapely tables finely constructed of metal with some wood accents. Bean bags and inflatable furniture even became popular during the peak of retro furniture design.

In the 1950s, British designer Donald Gomme challenged not only how furniture was designed, but how it was marketed, with designs marketed around the interior design of an entire room so that people had several years to buy the entire room design piece by piece. Showrooms popped up all over Europe, and it was these designs that influenced a generation of furniture. The played legs, simple shapes and the ability to buy piecemeal whole suites of furniture made it a very popular option for families.

This is only one way mass production changed furniture, creating in it a more retro, yet modern design for individual homes and interior designs. Retro furniture still influences design today.

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The Changes in Modern Furniture Design

Posted on 10th August 2011 in Modern Furniture Designs

As the late 19th century unfolded into the 20th, there was an air of rebellion in the air. A new generation was embracing what is now known as the Industrial Revolution. This revolution transformed the way the world designed, manufactured and lived. As mass production slowly became the norm, the ability to really use new materials and machinery changed how furniture, among many other items, was designed. Modernism at its best reflected the mood of the early 1900s.

To design furniture was becoming an art form, as the Baroque influences from the Renaissance period gave way to Neo-classicism which focused on the classic era of Ancient Greece or Rome. Then the furniture and art world moved into Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionist era where modernism really began to have its influence on the Art Deco or Art Nouveau world.

In was in the early 1920s that the great Bauhaus School of Design in Germany began creating modern designers that eventually went around the world, influencing design furniture. Modernism embraced all that was new and different as the younger generation rebelled against what they felt were outdated design ideas for a modern world that could finally make anything. Some of the world’s most famous artists came from the modernist movement—Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollack.

Modernism evolved simultaneously as the automobile expanded, manufacturing became the norm and the telephone and telegraph changed communication forever. As a society, Americans and Europeans were learning to live in a very different world, and the art and furniture design reflected that.

By looking to a new way of design, and rejecting old patterns and old ways of creating, furniture designers could provide modern furniture stores such as those in New York with miraculously created new modern furniture. Using new materials and new ways of designing modern furniture, not just out of wood, but using plastic, metal, fiberglass and other modern materials to create the a sofa or chair that can be manufactured. There are timeless pieces that were created during this era that are still used in modern furniture design today.

What must have seemed oppressive as large, ornate, heavy looking wooden furniture was changed as modern furniture designers transformed furniture design. The new materials, in particular metals and fiberglass and fabric made the furniture much lighter to carry, lighter to look at and were more efficient to make. A focus on form and function was heavy as a new generation embraced the changes of the future.

Traditionally, furniture was connected to a family and was specifically created for them and was passed down to other generations. The desire for a futuristic look and design appealed to furniture designers as they made modern beds, chairs and other furniture that traveled to modern cities such as Los Angeles and Miami which were just beginning to evolve as metropolis’.

A sleek, artistic, yet functional look was brought to the new designs that focused on how technology could improve it. As part of modernism, furniture design was not left behind as a generation strove forward. Today, these sleek lines, new materials and other influences from modern furniture design are still seen in furniture stores. The desire to be modern drives an industry and creates a challenge in creating new furniture.

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Hans Wegner – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 9th August 2011 in Danish Furniture

We all have our gifts and Hans Wegner’s was designing chairs. Credited with over five hundred chairs over the span of his career, he designed with the intent to reveal, to strip down furniture to its essence, its core. With this clarity of line and purpose in mind, he created both serious and more light hearted pieces such as the Ox Chair in 1960 that was available with horns (or without).

Born in 1914 and living until 2007, he was part of the mid-century Danish designers who created modern design for everyday living. Trained first as a cabinet maker, this provided for his expert and experimental use of wood in his contemporary furniture designs. Like many of his time, he attended the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and then continued on to the Architectural Academy in Copenhagen.

Collaborating with both cabinet makers and architects, he eventually began working with Arne Jacobsen who was a successful Danish architect who, with Erik Moller designed the Arhus City Hall. Wegner was to design the furniture for the Aarhus Municipal Hall inside the city hall. Eventually Wegner opened his own contemporary furniture company. Working with architect Borge Mogensen, he designed furniture for FDB, a chain of Danish grocery stores.

Throughout his career, he designed interesting modern furniture chairs that carried equally interesting names such as the Peacock Chair in 1947, the Hoop Chair in 1965 and the Wishbone Chair in 1949. Most of his designs were produced by PP Mobler and Carl Hansen & Son.

Taking a traditional design such as the Windsor chair, it was reinvented in the Peacock Chair that like its name exhibited a slatted back that fanned out similar to that of a peacock’s plume. Understanding that form and function are always one in regards to modern furniture, the Valet Chair, 1953, was designed to accommodate hanging a man’s suit on. With a storage space under the seat to storage miscellaneous items, the back served as a coat hanger and a rail conveniently placed next to the seat could hold a pair of pants.

The wishbone Chair also referred to as the Y Chair, 1949, made of hardwood and natural cord caning is so named because of the shape of the backrest. Simple in line, this contemporary furniture piece is devoid of detailing that would detract from its rounded and inviting form which probably accounts for its popularity. With the Papa bear chair, 1951 and the unique Shell Chair, 1963, with a wonderfully smooth arched backrest, modern furniture had found a great designer.


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