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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
German designer Konstantin Grcic was born in Munich in 1965. After opening his practice KGID (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design) in 1990, he very quickly received recognition for his simple, ingenious products. With numerous commissions from the most important names in the design industry, such as Authentics, Flos, iittala, Krups, Magis and Muji, his work has been widely published in several books and design reviews, and has been awarded the prestigious Compasso d’Oro (Milan, 2001) and Nombre d’Or (Paris, 2004), among others.
Grcic describes himself as a mix of German mentality and English education. Following his initial training as a cabinetmaker, from which he retains the hands-on approach and sensitivity to materials of a craftsman, Grcic went on to study contemporary design at the Royal College of Art in London. This formative experience added a new dimension to his fascination with making things. As a result, every one of his products is characterized by his careful research into the history of design and architecture, and his passion for technology and materials. So much so, that Achille Castiglioni, one of the most significant Italian designers of the twentieth century, considered him to be his ‘spiritual heir’.
The book presents the work of KGID, showcasing a remarkable portfolio of products and design concepts with especially commissioned photographs and original drawings. It also offers a rare insight into his design process by showing the various stages of a product’s development through sketches, models, computer renderings and snapshots at the workshops of KGID and several manufacturers. With texts by Konstantin Grcic, Pierre Doze and Francesca Picchi, and conceived by Florian Böhm and Konstantin Grcic, this is the first publication on one of the most interesting and prolific designers of today.
Monograph: KGID (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design), Edited by Florian Böhm
Buy it here: Amazon
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The Beomaster 1900 arrived in 1977 as the most stylish Hi-Fi amp/tuner on the planet. This remains an outstanding design of the period. It is a masterpiece of design with its brushed aluminium, detailled illuminated front indicators and of course the mysterious touch sensitive pads.
Jacob Jensen succeeded in a further coup. Not only did he resist the temptation to follow the general trend and stack individual components on top of each other to form a so-called “hi-fi tower”, but he also demonstrated how to counter Japanese firms, who had long since dominated the market with uninspired metal boxes full of buttons and dials.
Beomaster 1900, by Jacob Jensen, for Bang & Olufsen