Christophe Pillet – French Furniture Designer

Posted on 6th September 2011 in French Designers

Christophe Pillet – French Furniture Designer – A younger modern furniture designer, he was born in 1959. Graduating from the Fine Arts Academy in Nice in 1985, he continued his studies at the Domus Academy in Milan. A year after he opened his own design firm in 1993, he was awarded the title of Best Designer of 1994.

Using his creative abilities to work in a wide swath of fields like stage design, architecture, interior design, product and furniture design he has worked with well known Phillipe Starcke for over five years and in 2005 began collaborating with Porro.

One interesting element that he likes to weave into his modern furniture designs is the use of fire which he views as a sensual and delicate element that works well with contemporary furniture. He also designed a collection of minimalist tables labeled “Neat” produced by Kristalia. While the materials used aluminum, plywood and white lacquer are straightforward enough it is the actual production that gets more involved. With a barely there profile it lives up to its name as no frills, only the most essential of bare modern lines.

The chair “Pulp” is a unique one piece molded to conform to the shape of the human body it cantilever’s back with a profile as intriguing as its appearance. Immensely suitable for constant use such as in an office setting or public reception areas, it can be easily cleaned and lends itself easily to being stacked.

He is responsible for creating the interiors for the Hotel Sezz in Saint-Tropez, France. With his signature less is more approach to his minimalist modern furniture designs, the “Triomphe Sofa” typifies his interest in designing furniture that has what it needs and no more with a softly rounded back and strikingly defined lines.

An intriguing outside patio furniture piece is the “Loop Bench” which is made of polypropylene which is color fast and resistant to fading from the sun.  Completely 100% recyclable, it also collision proof. With an understated brilliant simplicity, imagine a rubber wrist band compressed with an oblong void left in the middle. With completely rounded edges it is child friendly as well.

He also works with more luxurious materials and finishes as well. The “Rive Droite Armchair” is made of walnut with seat and back cushions filled with down and covered in either textiles or leather. With almost no apparent connections between the pieces of the frame it is a simple and elegant design of pure modern furniture.

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Finnish Furniture Designer Eero Aarnio

Posted on 5th September 2011 in Finnish Designers

Furniture Designer Eero Aarnio

Furniture Designer Eero Aarnio – Images used to recall the 1960’s might include these: Twiggy, go-go boots, clear plastic bubble umbrellas and matching raincoats made from shiny, brightly colored plastic, and, of course, the iconic Ball Chair by Eero Aarnio.

Aarnio, a Finnish interior designer, was born July 21, 1932, became well known for his furniture designs, most notably the fiberglass and plastic chairs.

Upon completing studies at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, he started his own practice. One year later, in 1963, he designed the Ball Chair – a hollow ball seat for one person on a stand. Referred to as a “room within a room” (his original prototype included a red phone built into the upholstery), is a cozy and peaceful atmosphere, insulating outside noises. While it reflects private space, that the chair can move about on its stand, allows the enclosed individual to see the outside world on his own terms, from his own perch.

In an interview with Aarnio, he explained, “The idea of the chair was very obvious. We had a home but no proper big chair, so I decided to make one, but some way a really new one. After some drawing, I noticed that the shape of the chair had become so simple that it was merely a ball.” Pinning a full-scale drawing on the wall, he “sat” in the chair to see how a head would be able to move seated within. In similar tests, he determined the height of the chair, making sure that it would be able to fit through a doorway.

In creating the chair’s prototype, he explained that he used “…inside moulding, using the same principle as a glider fuselage or wing.” The chair was finally laminated in fiberglass. “…the naming of the chair was easy, the BALL CHAIR was born.”

The chair, presented at the international furniture fair in Cologne in 1966, was quite the sensation, resulting in Aarnio’s designing an entire line of fiberglass designs. The design was followed by the Bubble Chair – a clear seat suspended from a ceiling. Aarnio’s other designs included the floating Pastil chair (modeled along an inner tube) and Tomato chair (a more stable seat between three globes).
His designs were an important part of the 1960’s culture, and were seen in sets of period science-fiction films. As the designs used simple geometric forms, they were ideal for the venue.

As fiberglass was known to be a dangerous material to those working in its manufacture, Aarnio replaced it with safer types of plastic. Toys and furniture for children are still designed by Aarnio.

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Charlotte Perriand – French Furniture Designer

Posted on 5th September 2011 in French Designers

Charlotte Perriand – Living from 1903 to 1999, she was a French architect and designer that pursued her design from a philosophical base. She believed that the better the design the more it helped to create a better society.

Studying furniture design at the Ecole de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs furniture she already started exerting her influence at a young age of 24. She was known for creating modern furniture design using chromed steel and anodized aluminum. Championed by the critics when she presented at the Salon d”Automne in 1927, she went on to collaborate with the world famous architect Le Corbusier known for his strict attention to minimalist lines and details. Lasing nearly ten years with him she created during this time “The Equipment of Habitation: Racks, Seats, Tables” which was produced initially by Thonet and then Cassina. Some of the pieces she designed while she was with him were the “LC2 Grand Comfort” armchair, the “B301” reclining chair and the “B306” chaise lounge.

Becoming more involved in the politics of her time during the mid-1930’s she joined several leftist organizations and continued to design both modern furniture and living spaces. Perhaps because of her involvement in these groups it began to influence her design style which started to shift towards the use of more traditional materials and affordable materials along with an emphasis on handcrafted techniques.  She experimented with wood and cane in the hope that she could produce well designed and affordable furniture at a mass production scale.

Part of this exploration was to collaborate with Jean Prove and Pierre Jeanerette on designing prefabricated buildings.

Spending time in Japan from 1940 to 1942 as well as reading the Book of Tea, greatly influenced her designs from 1940 until her death. While she was sent their as an advisor on industrial design to the Ministry of Trade and Industry she eventually was forced to leave the country as an “undesirable alien”. She continued to design both interiors and furniture and helped to design a prototype kitchen for Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment building in Marseille in 1950 and the ski resorts of les Arcs in Savoie in 1962.

As a part of the machine age view of living, some of her best works are a series of tubular steel chairs the “Fauteuil Dossier” the B301 in 1928, the “Swivel” chair  the B302 from 1928-29 and the “Chaise Lounge” the B306 in 1928.

As she moved away from working with Le Corbusier and became independent,

she stated  “The most important thing to realize is that what drives the modern movement is a spirit of enquiry, it’s a process of analysis and not a style…We worked with ideals.”

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Charles Eames – American Furniture Designer

Posted on 2nd September 2011 in American Designers

La Chaise by Charles and Ray EamesA profile of Charles Eames could not be complete without including the importance of his collaboration with his wife, Ray. Both were American designers who made enormous contributions to modern architecture and furniture. Research into various books about Eames as well as photographs of furniture development makes evident that her involvement was crucial, demanding that she be considered an equal partner. Fabrics by Eames were Ray’s designs, including the Time Life Stools.
Born in 1907, the nephew of architect William S. Eames, Charles knew by age 14 that architecture would be his career. As a part-time laborer at the Laclede Steel Company, and a high school student, he was exposed to engineering, drawing and architecture – all of which became life-long passions. Later on in college, sources indicate that his devotion to Frank Lloyd Wright and modern architecture resulted in his dismissal. That he was also employed as an architect while attending classes, seems the more likely reason for the expulsion, in that sleep deprivation led to poor performance in his studies.
Influenced by the architect Eliel Saarinen, Charles moved to Michigan in 1938 to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He would later teach there and head the industrial design department. With Saarinen’s son, Eero, their furniture designs for the New York Museum of Modern Art “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” won the competition. The furniture exhibited the new technique of wood molding, which Eames throughout his career, would develop in a variety of molded products: in addition to chairs and other furniture, splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“Take your pleasures seriously”, (Charles Eames). He and his second wife, Ray, moved to Los Angeles in 1941. The pivotal Eames House, also known as Case Study #8 – became their home. The duo designed it as part of the Arts & Architecture Magazine’s “Case Study” program. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the house was set upon a cliff and constructed by hand in several days entirely of pre-fab steel parts for industrial construction. The house continues to be considered today a beacon of the unlimited commercial and residential possibilities presented by modern architecture.
Ray-Bernice Kaiser Eames was born in 1912 and was an artist, designer and filmmaker. She studied abstract painting with Hans Hoffman and in 1936 became founder of the American Abstract Artists. She met Charles during her studies at the Cranbrook.
During the 1950s Charles and Ray furthered Charles’ work in molded plywood, resulting in innovative technologies such as the fiberglass, plastic resin chairs and the wire mesh chairs they designed for Herman Miller. Charles’ interest in photography began their foray into the production of short films, which were chronicles of their ideas, experiments and education.
For more than 40 years (1943-1988) their office included the talents at various times of designers a few among them, Richard Foy and Henry Beer, Harry Bertoia, Gregory Ain and Deborah Sussman. During this time span, ground-breaking designs which originated there were molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood) and DCM (Dining Chair Metal with plywood seat) (1945), the Aluminum Group (1958) as well as the Eames Chaise in 1968 – which was designed for the film director Billy Wilder, a friend of Charles’. In addition, an early experiment into solar energy and a variety of toys were developed in the co-op.
Eames died in 1978, Ray died 10 years later.

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Carlo Mollino – Furniture Italian Designer

Posted on 1st September 2011 in Italian Designers

Carlo Mollino lived his life in the same manner as he described it should be lived, “Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.” He was known for his architecture as well as his designs in modern furniture setting a world record for the highest price paid for a piece of furniture in 2005. The oak and glass table he designed for one of his interiors project, Cassa Orengo in Turin, 1949, sold for $3,824,000.

Living his entire life in Italy, he was born in 1905 in Turin, Piedmont. His interests were as varied as his abilities covering the range from race cars and the occult to design and architecture including an avid interest in photography particularly regarding women. Even though his life was short, he died in 1973, he left behind a colorful and exuberant portfolio of both built and unbuilt projects. Starting his architectural career in 1930, he worked in his father’s office from 1933 until 1948 winning the G. Pstono prize for designing a house in Fort dei Marmi.

He designed the Società Ippica Torinese building in Turin in collaboration with Vittorio Baudi di Selve between 1936 and 1939. His love of skiing motivated him to design several mountain homes as well as write a book about his skiing techniques inclusive of illustrations. Perhaps his most intriguing is Casa Mollino that he decorated as his private pyramid with the things he was to take with him to his afterlife. This was guided by his fascination with tomb of the Egyptian royal architect “kha”.

He continued to design many important buildings in Italy as well as interior projects designing furniture specific to the interiors projects that he was working on. In 1951, he designed a table that appears to have a floating glass top above a base that is organic and skeletal nature. It was typical for him to include some element of the figure or form of the human body. While understanding the tenets of neo-plasticism and rationalism that are integral to furniture design, he interpreted it in creative and unorthodox ways that allowed for both the designers and users manipulation.

The table in 1949, the “Arabesco table” was a precursor to his later designs using a free form glass as the table’s top along with an organic and undulating base secured in three seemingly precarious locations. The roll top desk designed the following year rests upon legs that appear to be ready to walk away at a moment’s notice. The chair and stool designed for the Lutario Dance Hall in 1959, is minimalist, quirky and defined simultaneously. Most of his furniture designs were produced by Apelli & Varesio Joinery in Turin.

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Nanna Ditzel – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 26th August 2011 in Danish Furniture Designers

Nanna Ditzel – The Danish School of Arts and Crafts has consistently trained and produced talented furniture designers. Nanna Ditzel studied both at this school and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen graduating in 1946 and proceeded to open her own studio with Jørgen Ditzel.

Born in 1923 and living until 2005, she explored a variety of artistic mediums; these included textiles, tableware and cabinet making.  Furniture was designed for Frederica, Kvist, Getama and others who carried her lines as well as Georg Jensen who carried her jewellery designs and Kvadrat, her textiles. Open to investigating and utilizing new materials and construction techniques, she explored using fiberglass, foam rubber and wicker.

As a recipient of the Lunning Prize in 1956, which was awarded on a yearly basis from 1951 until 1970 to two Scandinavian designers who best exemplified Scandinavian design, in 1990 she won the Gold medal in the International Furniture Design Competition in Japan for “Fredericia”, “Bench for Two”.  She was also awarded the lifelong Artist’s Grant by the Danish Ministry of Culture in 1998.

As the world of architecture changed during this time so did interior design. Split level interior plans became popular during the 1950’s. She experimented with designing modern furniture seating that would be best suited for this new idea of space. One of these productions was the “Hanging Chair” produced in 1957 that appeared quite simply as a half egg made of wicker material. She established Interspace with Kurt Heide in London from 1968 – 1986 operating as an international furniture store. She then returned to Copenhagen.

Known as a prolific designer, she had several one woman exhibitions around the world over the course of her design career. With literary aspirations as well, she wrote the book Danish Chairs in 1954. The award winning “Bench for Two” produced in 1989 was made of solid maple and aeroplane ply with silkscreen printing. With a hypnotic circular repetitive pattern, the two halves fit together to form the backrest with another half circle forming the seat. Resting above four modern minimalist legs, it appears to float and invite at the same time.  In 1990 she designed the “Butterfly Chair”. This was an exploration of modern furniture new materials made from folded fiberboard with silkscreen printing on a simple, animated metal frame.  Her exuberance in modern design furniture is well typified in “Joy” Dressing table produced in 1999 as part of the “Joy” bedroom collection that utilized curvilinear forms with the best in modern form and function.

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Niels Joergen Haugesen – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 25th August 2011 in Danish Furniture Designers

Niels Joergen Haugesen
– Born in 1936 in Vivild, Denmark, he was trained as a cabinet maker and in 1956 graduated with a degree in furniture design from the College of Arts and Design. Eventually he began to work with the architect Arne Jacobsen in Copenhagen in 1966 until 1971. This time would serve to influence his future designs.

Working as a teacher at Denmark’s Design School, he opened his own design studio in 1971. From 1980 to 1995 he collaborated with the architect Gunvor Haugesen.

Recognized for his modern furniture designs and attention to detail he was awarded the Danish ID Design Award for the “Haugesen Table” in 1986. The table was designed with two extensions that allowed for the modern furniture piece to be folded into a compact form with a variety of wood tops available including oak, walnut and maple.

He also won the Danish ID Design Award for the X-line chair in 1987 that which was produced in 2000. So named because no matter what angle the chair is viewed the minimalist metal frame is perceived to form an “X” shape.

Another design that he received critical acclaim for is the Nimbus Table System that combines five distinctly separate table tops to create one single table top. With a series of five different permutations of this experimenting with different colors and types of woods it allowed for the design of bigger tables celebrating and  viewing each piece individually while admiring the whole.

With a strict adherence to the modern furniture design that less is more, in the Xylofon collection it entails the crisscrossing of metal and wood,  usually using teak for the seats.

In 1996 he won the Danish Furniture Award and in 1997 he won first prize in the Danish Forest Association’s Furniture Competition ultimately receiving  in 1998, the Lifelong Artist’s Grant by the Danish State Art Fund.

Frederica Furniture has produced his designs since 2002. One of his more recent productions is the “Distance” sofa so named because of the distance that separates the neck support from the back support making it appear to float above it. The collection included a series of available configurations with an armchair and stool as well.

His works can be viewed at the Danish Museum of Applied Art, Museum of Modern Art in New York and the DK-Copenhagen Arts Decoratif Union Louvre in Paris.

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Osvaldo Borsani – Italian Furniture Designer

Posted on 24th August 2011 in Italian Designers

Italian Furniture Designer Osvaldo Borsani – Coming from a family history of furniture makers namely his father who produced furniture, he was born in 1911 in Varedo Milano with a twin brother, Fulgenzio. The two were to continue to collaborate to produce a series of modern furniture pieces that included E60 in 1946, suspended book-shelves using anodized aluminum with natural wood or laminated plywood shelves. As many modern furniture designers of his time, he also designed for ease of movement and flexibility of space. The S80 produced in 1949, was a minimalist folding chair consisting of a solid wood frame.

The T1 and the T2 in 1949, showcased his experimentation with new materials expressed in a simple execution. The smaller table had a chrome brass base finished in white lacquer with a glass top while the larger table, T2 had a black lacquered steel base with a black lacquered wood top.

Following the design principle of modern design, that form and function need to work together simultaneously, the production of the E22 in 1951 is a wooden wall storage system that can be placed on wall rails allowing for flexibility in configuration and customizing it the users particular needs and desires.

The L51 perhaps best typified the use of craftsmanship with useful design. Produced in 1951, this bed was made from molded plywood and lacquered metal with an intriguing night table mounted on a rotating arm. The “Jack Knife” produced the next year, with a remarkable similarity to today’s modern futon sofa, was designed to be a convertible modern sofa with a black enamel frame using with a fabric or leather cover over polyurethane foam.

As his designs progressed over the coming years, he maintained his attention to craftsman level detail and construction with an emphasis on modern furniture pieces that appeared to dissolve any noticeable construction or structural connections. He also designed maintaining the strictest of modern design with simple clean lines offering only what is necessary for the function as well as including the ability to be able to be easily disassembled or broken down.

In 1954 he opened Tecno, producer of modern furniture suitable for the home and the office. Here he designed and produced the D70, the “Butterfly” with a long seat and the classic chaise Lounge P40. The concept of the “Butterfly” chair was expanded in 1955, with comfort and versatility in mind in the L77 which is a jointed bed able to be raised or lowered on both the upper and lower half of the bed.

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Peter Maly – German Furniture Designer

Posted on 23rd August 2011 in German Furniture Designers

Born 1936 in Germany, he attended the Danish School of Furniture Design. A versatile designer, he studied interior design at the University of Applied Sciences in Detmold. Having graduated in 1960, he worked as an interior designer and journalist for Beautiful Living, a German interiors magazine until 1970.
In 1970, he opened his own design and interior architecture studio in Hamburg working with companies like Behr, Jab Anstoetz, Anta, Cinna, COR, Mauser and particularly for Ligne Roset pursuing his minimalist modern furniture design.
“I like working with clear, geometric forms: for me they are the essential condition of their longevity.”
With a broad range of design interests including textile and product design, he did exhibition design as well as the design and fit-out for Ligne Roset stores all over the world.
He is best known for the Zylkus chair, the Cena chair and the 737 chair. The Zylkus chair is a celebration of clean modern lines with segmented pieces joined together to provide a unique form with great functionality. Rounded metal frames define the arms and is connected to a strong angled seat frame defined by a circular foot in the back. The Cena chair is very simple with a slightly curved backrest supported by two small rods connected a curved seat on slightly tapered legs. As part of a collection, he designed variations to be able to be gathered around a dining room table, the wood seats remained a constant, a classic in modern furniture design. The 737 chair is a woven seat and back with a simple wooden frame.
This adherence to a clear and distinct voice devoid of any excess is an important element of his designs. His intent is to produce high quality modern furniture pieces that will become family treasures and passed from generation to generation. This is as much a tribute to quality craftsmanship and quality materials as it is a response to his concern for over consuming.
“…I am concerned that my designs become long lasting products – they are counterproductive to the ever accelerating consumer carousel.”
One of his design collections the MENOS furniture won third prize at the imm Cologne 2005. Originally designed in 1996, it includes dressers and wall storage units. Using high gloss and lacquered surfaces it presents as unique with an unexpected light touch.
His more recent collection produced in 2010 includes the Eagle, Falcon and Spider. Consistent with their names, the Eagle appears to float above the floor with wings that appear ready for flight at a moment’s notice.

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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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