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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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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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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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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