Gerald Griffith at work in his studio:
Wright has offered at auction several original drawings of the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe.
When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair was introduced in 1929 it was critically acclaimed but the cost and difficulty of chrome plating the frames limited production. By the early 1950s technology had caught up to Mies van der Rohe’s progressive furniture designs and both Knoll Associates and Gerald Griffith were producing his forms. Chairs produced by Knoll and Gerald Griffith can be distinguished by looking at the intersection of the base; works made by Gerald Griffith feature a crisp hard-edged intersection while versions by Knoll have a reinforced curved intersection.
The Mies van der Rohe office found Gerald Griffith in 1949. The challenge of creating the Barcelona chair in stainless steel – something engineers said could not be done – appealed to Griffith’s tenacious personality. After much experimentation and exploration, Griffith completed the task and he produced Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona and Tugendhat designs in stainless steel for a number of years.
Provenance: The Office of Mies van der Rohe, Chicago | Edward A. Duckett, Bowling Green | David Bryant, Bowling Green In celebration of Mies van der Rohe’s 125th birthday, Wright’s senior specialist Michael Jefferson presented the history of the Barcelona chair to The Mies van der Rohe Society.
Blueprint and Elevation of the Barcelona chair, 1950, Auction at Wright
Kunsthal Rotterdam will be presenting a comprehensive exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Dutch furniture brand Pastoe. Since it was founded in 1913, Pastoe has grown to become an internationally recognised designer label. The brand stands for simplicity, timelessness, quality and craftsmanship. Over the past years, Pastoe has acquired an excellent circle of designers including Maarten Van Severen, Shigeru Uchida and Scholten & Baijings.
The exhibition Like Pastoe illustrates the rich history of the furniture brand and provides an overview of the unique collaboration between Pastoe and various architects, artists and designers. The exhibition has been organised around the following themes: ARCHIVES, ENVIRONMENTS and VISIONS. In the ARCHIVES theme, Krijn de Koning presents the history of Pastoe using exceptional designs, advertising material, sketches, photographs and trade fair presentations. Within the ENVIRONMENTS section, Anne Holtrop projects Pastoe’s vision on the architectonic space. The exhibition’s installations represent an environment in which living, working, learning and creating are defined in a new way. VISIONS highlights the search for new perspectives on product development and includes work by various designers such as Naoto Fukasawa, Claudio Silvestrin and Scheltens & Abbenes.
Like Pastoe: 100 years of design innovation, February 23 – June 2, 2013, at Kunsthal Rotterdam
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In 1960 Dieter Rams conceived of a shelving system “…that could be expanded, rearranged and moved when necessary. The system initially went by the name RZ 60, and in 1970 was renamed the 606 Universal Shelving System, which continues to be a success today. Its popularity derives from the fact that lt offers restrained simplicity while the individual components offer great flexibility for the ever-changing lives of the owner. Over the years the wall-mounted shelving evolved to allow it to be compressed between the floor and ceiling (from 1970). A series of drawers, cabinets and integrated tables permits it to accommodate almost all requirements.” (Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams)
606 Universal Shelving System by Dieter Rams, Available in annodized aluminium or white powder coated aluminium, for DePadova
In 1998 Finland issued a design-themed stamp set which featured some of the most iconic works of local design history: besides product and textile designs by Alvar Aalto, Kaj Franck, Bertel Gardberg, Timo Sarpaneva and Annika Rimala, furniture design was represented by one chair — Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Karuselli.
The exhibition in the Museum of Estonian Architecture gives an overview of the interior architect and furniture designer Yrjö Kukkapuro’s artistic production which spans over 50 years. Starting with a student work from 1957 and concluding with a prototype specially designed and manufactured for the Tallinn exhibition, Kukkapuro’s long career is filled with independent experiments in the field but also includes positions as the chief designer of Haimi, Lepokaiusto and Avarte. Kukkapuro’s first successful collection Moderno was created in 1958-1960 and is still in production.
Kukkapuro’s oeuvre is like an X-ray of the design history of the second half of the 20th century. Pop-art influenced colourful plastic chairs, Karuselli, Saturnus or Chair No. 419 manufactured in the 1960s from fibreglass and ABS plastic using experimental methods are contemporary benchmarks carried by utoplan aspirations. The minimalist turn in 1970s abandoned artificial materials, new favourite was birch plywood. Remmi and Pressu models date from that period but at the same time Kukkapuro started decades’ long experiment to create ergonomic office chairs. Piaano, Fysio, Sirkus or Funktus are series which thoroughly redefined the understanding about typical office furniture. in the 1980s the wave of Postmodernism brought back colour, patterns and décor to Kukkapuro’s chairs. The 1990s are characterized by the abstract patterns printed on simple plywood form from
the “tattooed” chairs series and in the 2000s the explorations in materials continue. New favourite is bamboo from which there is a series specially made for Chinese market.
Some of the earlier chairs of the still tenaciousiy active Yrjö Kukkapuro have become design classics which are sought-after in online auctions and vintage furniture stores, at the same time being exhibited in renowned design museums from London to New York. The exhibits, prototypes as well as production models, of the Tallinn exhibition are mainly from Kukkapuro’s personal collection which he has gathered in his atelier over the years.
Yrjö Kukkapuro Furniture, Jan 11 – Feb 10, 2013, at the Museum of Estonian Architecture, Tallinn, Estonia
Mass-produced midcentury furniture by the Italian modernist Carlo Mollino can cost a few thousand dollars per piece, and his prototypes and custom works cause greater market stirs.
In 2005 and 2008, Christie’s in New York got seven-figure prices for 1940s oak and maple tables that Mollino created for a marquis in Turin. The designer worked in a vocabulary of hairpin turns, spikes and flanges. He was also notoriously moody and obsessive, and a daredevil who flew experimental planes, scaled mountains and raced cars.
His colorful biography adds to the appeal of the objects. “They have a huge aura about them,” said Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, the founder of the Salon 94 galleries in Manhattan.
A show with a few Mollino works from around 1950 (with five- and six-figure prices each) opens on Thursday at the Salon 94 branch on East 94th Street; display cases were designed by the British architect David Adjaye. The exhibition includes an ash bentwood chair and a resin-and-glass bookcase, made for a Turin publishing house, and aluminum boomerang light fixtures from a textile magnate’s apartment in Turin.
On Oct. 23 the Italian government blocked an auction at Christie’s in London that featured 30 pieces of 1950s Mollino furniture, which had long been installed in an Italian industrialist’s country house in the foothills of the Alps. The works, including oak and chestnut tables, chairs, cabinets and ceramic coat hooks, were deemed by the government to be treasures that could not be exported. (They were returned to their owner.)
On Dec. 10 Sotheby’s in New York will offer four 1940s oak chairs (estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 for the set) with split backs that a private collector found years ago at a Los Angeles tag sale. Mollino used the split-back design in ski resort and restaurant interiors, but no one knows where the tag-sale chairs originated.
The first American exhibition devoted exclusively to the work of one of the most influential and innovative figures of post-war French design. Featuring rare examples presented in historical living environments, the exhibition encompasses thirty unique pieces–many of which have never before been shown publicly–bringing to light the remarkable works of an oft-overlooked Modernist.
Born in France in 1925, Motte was part of a younger generation of post-war designers dedicated to an optimistic vision of industrialization and modern design’s ability to improve the lives of the masses. Following the reconstruction period, this group of designers embraced mass production as well as newer, affordable industrial materials as a means of realizing radically inventive forms.
A stolid devotion to contemporary forms, expressed using both traditional and newly invented industrial materials, established Joseph André Motte as one of the most visionary figures of his generation. Joseph André Motte: The Art of Living highlights the diverse breadth of materials that characterize Motte’s oeuvre and presents many of his most significant innovations in modern style. Featuring rare examples of Motte’s early work in rattan of 1954 to his transition to production furniture with Charron in 1958-60, the show is divided into two spaces that each focus on a distinctive period of this illustrious designer’s oeuvre.
Based on a 1954 Charron presentation, the first space will focus on Motte’s early work in plywood and rattan, and will feature a pair of the iconic 1949 Tripod Chairs and the 1954 rattan Sabre Chair, placed within a living room interior. These iconic designs exemplify Motte’s distinctive use of traditional techniques used to craft innovative modernist forms.
Motte’s designs for mass production and his experimentation with new affordable materials such as plastic, foam, and Formica will be represented in the second space, which will focus on Motte’s designs of the 1960s. This environment presents a 1960s chambre and includes a rare vinyl bed, the 1959 Light Table and a pair of nightstands made in luminous white opaline glass.
Joseph André Motte: The Art of Living, November 8 – February 9, at Demisch Danant, New York
In the late ’80s, before he became famous as a member of the Compton, Calif., gangsta-rap group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting at a trade school in Arizona. In the video, made for “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” the sprawling Getty Institute-organized collection of exhibitions on the postwar Southern California art scene, Ice Cube tours the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, marveling at the resourcefulness of the husband-and-wife team.
“Got off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls,” he says, sounding as if he were admiring a tricked-out low rider. “They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”
For the exhibition Ice Cube wanted to recreate this famous photograph by Charles Eames sitting on a rare 1953 DAT-1 Chair.
The upcoming Important Design Auction at Wright includes this rare lamp, designed for the 1958 Venice Biennale. This example comes from the collection of Maruizio Albarelli, the director of Vetri Seguso d’Arte. Sold with original framed drawing and framed vintage photograph of this work.
Floor Lamp, by Flavio Poli, Exhibited: Venice Biennale, 1958, Italy, Estimate: $20,000–30,000, Auction at Wright
An unambiguously future oriented rendering of a ‘traditional’ clock and barometer combination (no reason to suppose that the future should not contain inconstant atmospheric conditions). Figures set in Akzidenz provide a connection to the earliest phase of the Braun programm, when it was first adopted as the corporate typeface. Beautifully sealed up within these perspex vitrines. Domoset is wall-mountable. Clock and barometer swivel in their cases to permit a vertical or horizontal arrangement; they can be removed altogether and hung independently. A detachable stand allows use as a desk set. The domoset forms part of the first analogue wall clock series, formed of domodisk, domo fix, domo flex and domo desk.
Braun AB 21 domoset, by Dietrich Lubs, Available at das programm
In the year 2008, the American designer George Nelson (1908-1986) would have celebrated his 100th birthday. To commemorate this occasion, the Vitra Design Museum exhibited the first comprehensive retrospective of his work. Nelson was one of the most influential figures in American design during the second half of the twentieth century. With an architectural degree from Yale, he was not only active in the fields of architecture and design, but was also a widely respected writer and publicist, lecturer, curator, and a passionate photographer. His office produced numerous furnishings and interior designs that became modern classics, including the Coconut Chair (1956), the Marshmallow Sofa (1956), the Ball Clock (1947) and the Bubble Lamps (1952 onwards).
As design director at Herman Miller, a leading US manufacturer of modern furniture design, Nelson had a major influence on the product line and public image of the company for over two decades. He played an essential role in bringing the company together with designers such as Charles Eames, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi. Early on, Nelson was convinced that design should be an integral part of a company’s philosophy, and by promoting this viewpoint, he also became a pioneer in the areas of business communication and corporate design.
As an architect, designer and writer, Nelson was deeply interested in the topics of domestic living and interior furnishings. In the bestselling book Tomorrow’s House (1945, co-authored with Henry Wright), he articulated the groundbreaking concept of the “storagewall”. The walls of a house, Nelson explained, could be used to store things by transforming them into floor-to-ceiling, two-sided cabinets. A revolutionary idea at the time, it anticipated the flood of consumer goods that the economic boom in the western world would soon produce, turning the single-family home into a small warehouse.
Nelson designed several private homes, including a New York town house for Sherman Fairchild (1941, together with William Hamby) and Spaeth House on Southampton beach (1956, together with Gordon Chadwick). As a committed proponent of industrial building methods, Nelson published numerous texts on the topic of prefabricated architecture. In the 1950s he developed the “Experimental House”, a modular system of cubic volumes with Plexiglas roof domes which owners could assemble into personal habitations according to their own spatial requirements.
In addition to his preoccupation with architecture and the domestic interior, Nelson intently pursued the topic of office furnishings. Besides designing the first L-shaped desk, he played a major role in the development of Herman Miller’s Action Office, and in the 1970s he created his own office system, Nelson Workspaces. Similar to Nelson’s home furnishings and experimental architecture, this system was based on a variety of modular elements that could be freely combined.
The extraordinary diversity of design tasks taken on by the Nelson office extends far beyond the field of furniture design, although the latter forms the basis of his reputation today. Numbering among his clients were many large corporations including Abbott, Alcoa, BP, Ford, Gulf, IBM, General Electric, Monsanto and Olivetti, as well as the United States government. In his New York office, which he established in 1947 and ran for more than three decades, Nelson employed over fifty people at times, including familiar figures such as Ettore Sottsass and Michael Graves. Along with exhibitions, restaurant interiors and showrooms, George Nelson & Company designed kitchens, flatware and dishes, record players and speakers, birdhouses and weathervanes, computers and typewriters, company logos and packaging, rugs and tiles.