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Icon: Polaroid SX-70 Part II

In our first icon series on the Polaroid SX-70, the camera is described as an “instant design classic”. A film made by Charles and Ray Eames reveals in great detail how an image is made on the film, as well as getting inside the camera to show how “form follows function”. This film goes a long way to explain why the Polaroid SX-70 is a Design Icon.

Polaroid SX-70, by Edwin Land, for Polaroid
via: Midcentury Modernist

Icon: Joe Colombo Elda Lounge Chair

In his brief but brilliant career, Joe Colombo (1930-1971) produced a series of innovations which made him one of Italy’s most influential Italian product designers. Elda was the first large chair to utilize a self-supporting fiberglass frame. Its seven sausage-like cushions, rotating base and generous proportions provide a great deal of comfort. This is one of Colombo’s first furniture designed and named after his wife Elda
The Elda lounge chair is exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Louvre in Paris.

Elda Lounge Chair, by Joe Colombo, An Original 1967 Joe Colombo Elda chair is available at City Furniture

Icon: Bird in Space by Constantin Brancusi

From the 1920s to the 1940s Constantin Brancusi was preoccupied by the theme of a bird in flight. He concentrated not on the physical attributes of the bird but on its movement. In “Bird in Space” wings and feathers are eliminated, the swell of the body is elongated, and the head and beak are reduced to a slanted oval plane. Balanced on a slender conical footing, the figure’s upward thrust is unfettered. Brancusi’s inspired abstraction realizes his stated intent to capture “the essence of flight.” This particular conception of “Bird in Space” is the first in a series of seven sculptures carved from marble and nine cast in bronze, all of which were painstakingly smoothed and polished.

“Bird in Space” has broken the world auction record for a sculpture in 2005 by fetching $27,456,000 at Christie’s New York to an anonymous buyer.

Bird in Space by Constantin Brancusi

Icon: Royal Mail Design Stamps

A set of first class UK stamps are to be issued in January next year commemorating ten icons of British design. The Royal Mail’s new series offers up a discernably nostaligic look at some British Design Classics, largely culled from the 1930s and 1960s. A “prestige stamp book”, issued alongside the stamps, will provide a more extensive background and history of the designs.

Design Stamps, Issues on 13 January 2009, from The Royal Mail
via: Creative Review

A Peek into Raymond Loewy’s Palm Springs Pad

Google has made available images from LIFE magazine. The Industrial designer Raymond Loewy was the icon of the age and often photographed for lifestyle magazines as well as featured on the cover of Time. These images date from 1947 and 1948.

Raymond Loewy House, Palm Springs, California, USA, Photographed by Peter Stackpole, for LIFE

Icon: Braun AB1 Alarm Clock

Ten principles defined Dieter Rams’ approach to “good design”:
Good design is innovative
Good design makes a product useful
Good design is aesthetic
Good design helps us to understand a product
Good design is unobtrusive
Good design is honest
Good design is durable
Good design is consequent to the last detail
Good design is concerned with the environment
Good design is as little design as possible
Back to purity, back to simplicity

In 1971 Braun introduced the AB1 Alarm Clock, designed to do what is required — keep accurate time and wake you up in the morning — no more no less. By adhering to design principles, Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs, created an icon of modern design.

For nearly 30 years Dieter Rams served as head of design for Braun until his retirement in 1998. He continues to be a legend in design circles and most recently designed a cover for Wallpaper* magazine. Many of his designs — clocks, coffee makers, calculators, radios, audio/visual equipment and office products — have found a permanent home at many museums over the world, including MoMA in New York.

Braun AB1 Alarm Clock, by Dieter Rams, Dietrich Lubs, 1971, for Braun

Icon: Mies van der Rohe Bauhaus Armchair

Designed by Mies van Der Rohe for the Bauhaus in 1927. The wicker-work for the chair was created by Lilly Reich, assistant to Mies Van Der Rohe. It is the Icon of Modern Furniture Design. This chair is one of the classics in the history of furniture. Bauhaus became a dominant force in architecture and the applied arts in the 20th century. The main theory was that all design should be functional as well as aesthetically-pleasing.

Mies B 42 Chair, Mies D 42 Armchair, by Mies van der Rohe, with Lilly Reich, for Tecta

Icon: Wheat Kings

For over a century, wooden gabled grain elevators, known as Wheat Kings, have defined the Canadian prairies. They are faintly anthropomorphic, with a pointy head, sloping shoulders, and stout torso. But one by one, they are vanishing, going the way of the small-town railroad station and manned lighthouses.

The first grain elevator sprang up alongside the tracks of the newborn Canadian Pacific Railway at Gretna, Manitoba, in 1881-four years before Riel’s Northwest Rebellion. By 1933, close to 6,000 grain elevators dotted Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. These simple and durable railside appurtenances became focal points in prairie social and economic life.
But the consolidation of small farms into mega-farms and the abandonment of railway branch lines spell the end for the traditional elevator. Today’s farmers increasingly ship their grain by long-haul tractor-trailer to regional “high-throughput grain handling centres” where super-efficient, steel and concrete plants each do the work of a dozen old-style elevators.
Fewer than 1,200 prairie cathedrals remain standing, a handful may survive as heritage artifacts. The rest will succumb to demolition crews.

Flickr Set: I Love Grain Elevators

Icon: Lloyds Building by Richard Rogers

One of the best known and most admired buildings in the City of London, the current Lloyd’s building is the eighth home of Lloyd’s in its 300 year history. This icon of modern architecture was designed especially for Lloyd’s, by Richard Rogers Partnership, to a very specific brief of quality, flexibility and presence. The building was built over eight years from 1978 to 1986. Its focal point is the gigantic Underwriting Room on the ground floor, which houses the famous Lutine Bell.

Lloyds of London Building, by Richard Rogers Partnership

Icon: Philippe Starck Salif Juicer for Alessi

The Juicy Salif citrus squeezer is without doubt, Philippe Starck’s best known design. Once the focus of heated debate and criticism for its supposedly impractical design, it is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
One of the first projects by Starck for Alessi and devised in the second half of the 1980s, the Juicer has a sculptural feel while the grooved aluminum “spider head” neatly funnels juice down to the glass.

It remains unparalleled in its ability to generate discussions about its meaning and design. As well as being the most controversial citrus fruit squeezer of the 20th century, it has also become one of the icons of design of the 1990s, and it continues to be one of the most provocatively intelligent articles in the Alessi catalogue.

Juicy Salif, Citrus Squeezer, by Philippe Starck, for Alessi

Editor's Picks

Konstantin B
…the compensation for all the things you simply did not do, polished to perfection. [more...]

Suggested Reading

The Story of Eames Furniture
Brimming with images and insightful text, this unique book is the benchmark reference on what is arguably the most influential and important furniture brand of our time. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Making of the Modern Museum
First-ever book to explore the process behind one of the greatest modern buildings in America. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

MoonFire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11
A unique tribute to the defining scientific mission of our time, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

Cars Freedom Style Sex Power Motion Colour Everything

Cars
Freedom Style Sex Power Motion Colour Everything. This lavish and beautifully designed book is the gift book for all car enthusiasts and design aficionados. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

Design Icons

Karuselli Lounge Chair
“Without question my favourite piece of interior design, and undoubtedly the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. I like to retire to one with a cigar and a stiff drink as frequently as possible." - Sir Terence Conran. [more...]

Resources

More Books

Case Study Houses
“It’s a huge coffee-table book, which analyses each of the houses in chronological order, with plans, sketches and glorious photographs.” [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

The Eames Lounge Chair
The book examines the evolution of a design icon and places it in its cultural, historical and social context. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

The U.N. Building
Symbol of world humanitarianism, a beacon of unity after the Second World War. More than 50 years on, the 39-story building is regarded as one of the pinnacles of mid-century modernism. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

Loblolly House
Including a DVD of the film "A House in the Trees", a real-time documentary of the design, fabrication, and assembly of this amazing house. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

Desire
The Shape of Things to Come. An up-to-date comprehensive survey on furniture and object design today, showcasing the crème de la crème of designers. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

Marcel Wanders
Behind the Ceiling is the first monograph on one of the most influential, prolific and celebrated international designers today. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

How to Wrap Five Eggs
A mid-60s classic of Japanese design. Stunningly laid-out paean to traditional Japanese packaging is rife with sumptuous black and white photos of all manner of boxes, wrappers and containers that appear at once homely and sophisticated, ingeniously utilitarian yet fine and rare. [more...]
Buy it here: Amazon

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