George Nelson (1908-1986) was an important modernist whose work cut across the fields of interior, industrial and exhibition design. Nelson studied architecture at Yale University in the 1920s, and in the next two decades earned a strong reputation as a writer on design for Architectural Forum, Interiors and Fortune. In 1945 Nelson began a long association with the Herman Miller Furniture Company of Zeeland, Michigan, where as head designer he developed an innovative line of furniture and commissioned new designs from others. His first commission was Isamu Noguchi’s biomorphic glass-topped coffee table, which began production in 1947, the first of many designs that the sculptor would create for Herman Miller in the late Forties. Nelson also was responsible for bringing the designs of Charles Eames to Herman Miller, and he collaborated with R. Buckminster Fuller on a number of projects. Among Nelson’s own creations are classic works of Fifties design, including the bubble lamp, ball clock, marshmallow sofa and the pole-supported wall-storage system.
The Vitra Design Museum at Weil am Rhein in Germany is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Nelson’s birth with a retrospective of his work, opening Sept. 13. “Although Nelson was one of the most important American designers and design writers, it’s almost as if we are introducing him in Europe and reintroducing him in the U.S.,” said Jochen Eisenbrand, the exhibition’s curator. “Most people, even those interested in design, may not know much more about him than a few design classics.”
A building whose brief called for a “family house with hanging space for paintings, while avoiding the appearance of an art gallery,” Maison Carré is one of the most important private homes designed by Alvar Aalto, the distinguished Finnish architect and father of Scandinavian modernism. Built in the late1950s, and situated some 40 kilometres southwest of Paris, the residence has now been acquired by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, it has now been opened to the public.
The house was commissioned by Louis Carré, a prominent French art dealer and gallery owner. After purchasing a piece of land in 1955, Carré contacted Aalto to ask whether he could design a new home for him. In the summer of 1956, Carré travelled to Italy where the architect was supervising the construction of the Finnish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale.
Jo Hammerborg Zero pendant for Fog & Meurop Denmark at City Furniture
The classic Stelton vacuum jug with the unique rocker stopper was introduced in 1977 and the same year awarded the ID-prize by the Danish Society of Industrial Design. Since then it has attracted considerable attention for its functionalistic design.
Designed by Eric Magnussen in 1976, the unique sealing system has made this Danish classic with its tall, slender form world famous. Due to the special tipping mechanism, the Stelton flask opens automatically. The lid closes again, aroma-tight, when put down again.
Stelton Vacuum Jug, by Erik Magnussen, for Stelton
Alberto Meda came to design from engineering, bringing with him a pragmatic mind, an attention to details in materials and production process, in addition to formal concerns. This applied-science background has shaped Meda’s recognizable stamp of elegant simplicity, designs that are at once modern in form and organic in feel.
Meda started his career in the 1970s as the technical director of the plastics manufacturer Kartell. There he began to forge a unique relationship between technology and design experimentation, incorporating poetry as well as engineering into his imaginative solutions. He subsequently opened his own office in Milan.
Meda believes that “the more complex the technology, the more it is suitable for the production of objects for simple use, with a unitary image, almost organic.” He demonstrated this idea with the Light Light Armchair, his first carbon–fiber chair, manufactured in a small series. The chair, which weighs a mere four pounds, is a physical and psychological representation of lightness.
See more products designed by Alberto Meda
Some see Habitat 67 like and Ant hill or rabbit warren and others see a resemblance to a Taos indian pueblo village. While the visiting public was impressed, they didn’t embrace the concept. At a distance the complex looked like an exciting piece of Cubist sculpture, at close up it’s flat concrete-gray exterior looked dull and as if nobody lived there.
An experiment in apartment living, Habitat 67, became the permanent symbol of Expo 67 after it closed. It was Canadian architect Moshe Safdie’s experiment to make a fundamentally better and cheaper housing for the masses. He attempted to make a revolution in the way homes were built – by the industrialization of the building process; essentially factory mass production. He felt that it was more efficient to make buildings in factories and deliver them prefabricated to the site. Prescient.
Habitat 67, by Moshe Safdie, for Expo 67.
Introduced in 1972 by Artemide, the Tizio lamp represented a breakthrough in more ways than one. The metal arms, which conduct the low-voltage electricity from the transformer in the base to the bulb, are perfectly counterbalanced and can hold in any position. The Tizio incorporated a halogen bulb, one of the first uses of this technology outside the automotive industry. Favoured by architects who wear bow ties and very much associated with image and power in the 1980′s, it is a winner of the Compasso d’Oro in 1989. It’s now a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Tizio lamp, by Richard Sapper, for Artemide
Marcel Lajos Breuer was born in the provincial city of Pecs, Hungary. His early study and teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s introduced him to three older giants of the era that had a life-long influence upon his professional career – Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier.
Breuer left the Bauhaus and moved to Berlin in 1928 and then moved to England in 1935 when the Nazis made it impossible for anyone who had been a part of the Bauhaus to practice architecture. In 1937, Breuer joined Walter Gropius in his architectural practice and also became a professor at Harvard. Breuer moved to New York in 1946 to found his own architectural firm, and like Le Corbusier, Breuer chose concrete as his medium of choice. He used concrete in his design of the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City.
Marcel Breuer’s most recognized furniture design was the first bent tubular steel chair, known as the Wassily Chair. The Wassily Chair was designed in 1925 and inspired by the curved tubular steel handlebars on Breuer’s Adler bicycle. He designed his famous Wassily chair for painter Wassily Kandinsky, Breuer’s colleague on the Bauhaus faculty. Kandinsky admired Breuer’s finished chair design so much that did Breuer made an additional copy for Kandinsky to use in his home. When the Italian manuafcturer re-released the chair in the 1960s, they designated the name “Wassily” after they had learned that Kandinsky had been the recipient of one of the earliest post-prototype units.
Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) Biography
Link: Breuer Trailer House
The Alvorada Palace is Brazilian Presidents’ official residence. Surrounded by a large garden, the building is known for its white marble columns that have become a symbol of the country. Brasilia is the result of a modern urban project designed by Lúcio Costa, the Alvorada is one of a series of structures that Oscar Niemeyer designed for this city, many of these modern buildings appear on Brazils’ currency and in countless tourism brochures.
“You may not like Brasilia, but you can’t say you have seen anything like it — you maybe saw something better, but not the same. I prefer Rio, even with the robberies. What can you do? It’s the capitalist world. But people who live in Brasilia, to my surprise, don’t want to leave it. Brasilia works. There are problems. But it works. And from my perspective, the ultimate task of the architect is to dream. Otherwise nothing happens.”
- Oscar Niemeyer
A suave pioneer of curvaceous concrete, toying with the limits of engineering while injecting sex and surrealism into Le Corbusier’s famous machine for living, he designed some of the most audacious, sublimely poetic and occasionally goofy buildings of the 20th century.
- NY Times Magazine
Alvorada Palace, by Oscar Niemeyer
The PK80 daybed was designed by Poul Kjærholm in 1957. Characterized by its low height and distinguished aesthetic, it can be found in museums all over the world. Kjærholm had a particular interest in various construction materials; especially steel, which he considered a natural material. He was a trained carpenter who continued studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. He moved on to work at Fritz Hansen, for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes. This particular model was designed for Ejvind Kold Christensen, today it is produced by Fritz Hansen
PK80 daybed, by Poul Kjærholm, for Fritz Hansen