“She designs with force, without making any concessions, and that’s what interests me — even if at times it can be a bit difficult”
- Michel Roset, co-owner of Ligne Roset.
France’s hottest designer Inga Sempé (b. 1968), graduated from l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI) in Paris in 1993 at the age of 25. She also won a scholarship for a year’s studies at the French Academy in Rome (Villa Medici). She achieved a complete breakthrough at the Milan Furniture Fair, where her wilful Brosse shelf was shown. The shelf, which has ‘curtains’ made of bristles from sweeping brushes, was displayed in Edra’s showroom and attracted a lot of attention. Since then, Sempé has been a hot name in the design media throughout Europe. Her first exhibition was held last summer at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Inga Sempé has worked with George Sowden (1989), Marc Newson (1994) and Andrée Putman (1997-99).
Having worked for Charles and Ray Eames and Hans and Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia garnered icon status as a designer when he created the Bertoia Collection for Knoll in 1952. Italian-born, Bertoia utilized his superior skills as a sculptor to bend and shape industrial wire rods into chairs that would become pinnacles of twentieth century furniture design. Now considered modern classics, the collection was so commercially successful that it allowed Bertoia to dedicate himself exclusively to his main artistic passion: sculpting.
Biography: Harry Bertoia
Hans J. Wegner (1914 – 2007).
Born in 1914: Tønder, Denmark where he completed his early education and was trained as a cabinet maker. In 1936, at the age of 22 he attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, returning later as a tutor.
He worked as an assistant to Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen until 1943, helping on their design for the Århus Town Hall, and adding some of his own furniture. In 1943 he opened his own office and came out with the Chinese chair which, along with his 1949 “Round” chair would provide the basis for many of his later chairs.
Interiors magazine, in America, put the Round chair on the cover in 1950 and called it ‘the world’s most beautiful chair,’ catapulting Wegner into international fame and sparking a profitable export market. It became known simply as,The Chair and began making high profile appearances like the televised 1961 presidential debates between Nixon and Kennedy. Of the design Wegner said, “many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I’ve answered that it…was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest.”
Inspired by classical portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming chairs, Wegner created series of chairs that helped establish Denmark as an international leader of modern design. Of this seies the Wishbone Chair is widely considered to be his most successful design.
In the early 1960s he came out with several variations on the Bull chair which came with or without horns, and was a fine example of the line Wegner could masterfully walk between elegance and playfulness. “We must take care,” he once said, “that everything doesn’t get so dreadfully serious. We must play – but we must play seriously.”
- Danish Design
Teddy Bear Chair, Circle Chair, CH 07, Wishbone Chair, Bull Chair.
Biography: Hans Wegner
Recommended reading: Danish Chairs
One of the most versatile and unconventional designers from the second half of the century, Gaetano Pesce has been expanding the notions and structures of Italian New Design throughout his entire career. He studied architecture and industrial design in Venice from 1959-1965, and went on to produce continually vibrant and radical work in painting, sculpture, film, theater, design and architecture.
In 1972 at the MoMA’s exhibition, “Italy: the New Domestic Landscape” Pesce was represented by his “Moloch” lamp. This design was an enormous reproduction of the popular swing-arm “Luxo” lamp. Some of his other important works include the elegant 1986 lamp series, including the “Airport,” “Square” and “Bastone” standing and wall-mounted lamps. His melted plastic “Samson and Delilah” chairs and tables (1980) are representative of his attempt to design “objects that have a propensity or an aptitude for meaning.” His furniture was produced by several of the major international names in design production including B & B Italia, Knoll, Cassina and Vitra.
Official Site: Geatano Pesce
From mobile phones and restaurants, to a private jet and Ford concept car, Marc Newson has executed a range of projects in the past twenty years that most designers barely dream of. Born in Sydney in 1963, Newson spent his childhood in Europe and Asia before studying jewellery and sculpture at Sydney College of the Arts. After graduating in 1984, he lived on government grants while designing sculptural furniture and making it himself. His breakthrough came in 1986 when Newson exhibited the Lockheed Lounge, an elegant aluminium version of an 18th century chaise longue. The Lockheed Lounge became a media sensation and now commands hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.
1961 Playboy photo featuring left to right – George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom.
Portrait, from Playboy
Born in Finland in 1910, Eero Saarinen was the son of Eliel Saarinen, a noted and respected architect. His mother, Loja Saarinen, was a gifted sculptor, weaver, photographer, and architectural model maker. Eero was taught that each object should be designed in its “next largest context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, environment in a city plan.”
Eero Saarinen produced a series of masterpieces of breathtaking individuality, including the 630-foot-tall, stainless steel St. Louis Gateway Arch and the TWA Terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
The underside of typical chairs and tables makes a confusing, unrestful world,” said Saarinen. “I wanted to clear up the slum of legs.” Thus in 1957 Saarinen unveiled his groundbreaking collection of pedestal coffee, dining and side tables for Knoll, whose simple elegance has endured for over 50 years.
A corner-bound sample book of Girard designed wallpapers.
Chairs for Herman Miller special for Braniff Airlines
Vitra Wooden Dolls
Classic Pillow – Maharam Cushion Quatrefoil
Alexander and Susan Girard at the Herman Miller show
One of the biggest names in mid-century textile design is Herman Miller’s Alexander Girard (1907-1993), trained at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London and at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome.
Girard managed to inject an uninhibited use of color and a clever playfulness into the industry. He turned to countries like Mexico and India where a handicraft, or folk art, tradition still thrived, he developed a new method of coloring and patterning that proved to be a vibrant counterpoint to American modernist furniture.
Danish architect Finn Juhl (1912–1989) is regarded as one of the greatest furniture designers of the 20th century. He was a pioneer figure within Danish furniture design and the Danish Modern movement, along with Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm, and Børge Mogensen.
The house, now open to the public was designed and built by Finn Juhl as a young architect in 1942, is a unique example of Danish modernism for both architecture, furniture design and the visual arts.
Home of Finn Juhl, Ordrup, Denmark, through 31 August, 2008
Criticized for being cold, imposing, dehumanizing, one of Serra’s major public works was removed by a committee from New York City’s Federal Plaza. Emerging in the 1960s, he was part of a generation of artists who worked to redefine what sculpture could be. After experimenting with a variety of materials, he settled on thick sheets of steel as his preferred material, and went on to create some of the most frightening spaces imaginable. His prints are just as ‘impressive’.
Short Biography Richard Serra