Many designers and architects have worked with the notion of folding, collapsible or adjustable furniture. A classic piece commonly known as the propeller stool was designed by Poul Kjaerholm, a functional design with slender, elegant steel legs, twisting 180 degrees.
PK 91, by Poul Kjærholm, for Fritz Hansen
Inspired by the hull of a viking ship, this large staved teak ice bucket, incongruously called Congo is lined in orange plastic.
Danish-born Jens H. Quistgaad was one of Scandinavia’s leading designers with a vast product range that included furniture, kitchen equipment, tableware and more. He is most closely associated with Dansk International Designs, a company which he co-founded with American entrepreneur Ted Nierenberg. Their partnership lasted for 30 years, Quistgaard being responsible for the majority of designs produced.
He worked in a variety of materials including iron, steel, ceramic and wood. It is wood, and in particular teak, which most often springs to mind when Jens Quistgaard is mentioned.
Teak Ice bucket, by Jens H Quistgaard, 1955, for Dansk Designs
Gio Ponti designed the Villa Planchart, a private home built in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1956. Ponti designed the interiors in a remarkable fashion; he selected (and often designed) furnishings, decorative objects, and even articles of daily use. The modernist principle of integration of the arts with the architecture was naturally carried out in this building.
As well as carefully planning and executing the relationship between architecture and landscape, Ponti believed that “architecture is made to be looked at.” It is public landscape. “Facades are the wall of the street, and a city is made of streets; the facades are the visible part of the city, they are all of the city that appears.”
Villa Planchart, Caracas, Venezuela, 1956, by Gio Ponti.
More: Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Lewis Morley became world-famous in 1963 when he took what is considered by many to be one of the photographic icons of the period, his classic portrait of Christine Keeler. Then at the height of her fifteen minutes of fame as one of the protagonists of the infamous Profumo Affair. In 1963 a major political scandal developed in Britain due to model and call-girl Christine Keeler’s affairs with John Profumo, the Conservative Party’s Minister of War, and a Soviet naval attaché. The ensuing controversy was possibly even responsible for the downfall of the ‘Tory’ Party at the following election.
Morley photographed Ms Keeler sitting naked astride a knock-off of an Arne Jacobsen chair (sold by Habitat), her torso tantalizingly concealed by her arms and the back of the chair.
“It was the very last shot on the roll. I was walking away and turned back. She was in a perfect position and I just snapped it. I never found her sexy, though. She reminded me too much of Vera Lynn!”
Carl Arne Breger is one of those designers that emerged in the fifties and sixties that served the industry exceptionally well by being both technically innovative and completely in tune with the expectations of the users. The Duett Pitcher and Juicer made a cameo in the cult series Space 1999.
Duett is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Carl Arne Breger was trained between 1943 and 1948 as a decoration painter and model maker at Stockholm’s Konstfack he started as a scene and billboard painter for Svensk Filmindustri. His design career started when in 1953 he joined Stig Lindberg at Gustavsberg.
Duett Pitcher and Juicer, 1957 (now out of production) by Carl Arne Breger, for Gustavsberg
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.
The Acrilica lamp design came about from Colombo’s work on a hotel project in Sardinia in which he utilized the perspective of a counter-ceiling to produce a particular mode of indirect lighting. It is this idea that ultimately gives birth to the Acrilica lamp which utilizes a curvature of methacrylate to diffuse light indirectly.
The Acrilica lamp is included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Acrilica lamp, by Joe Colombo, for Oluce
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.
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
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.