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
One of the best known houses in the history of Modernism is not a house at all, but an elaborate movie set. Created entirely at MGM studios in Culver City, California for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, North by Northwest. In 1958, when the movie was in production, Frank Lloyd Wright was the most famous Modernist architect in the world. His magnum opus, Fallingwater, was conceivably the most famous house anywhere. His renown in the Fifties was such that mass-market magazines like House Beautiful and House & Garden devoted entire issues to his work. Hitchcock instructed the set designers at MGM to design a house in the Wright style, by its creation, the image of the Vandamm House became an icon of Modernism in architecture.
Designed by Corradino D’Ascanio, an engineer at Piaggio, who also designed, constructed and flew the first modern helicopter. A man who hated motorcycles, D’Ascanio dreamed up this revolutionary new vehicle; drawing from the latest aeronautical technology, he imagined a vehicle built on a unibody steel chassis, the front fork, like a plane’s landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The result was an aircraft-inspired design that to this day remains forward-thinking and unique among all other two-wheeled vehicles.
Upon seeing the vehicle, Enrico Piaggio remarked “Sembra una Vespa!” (“It looks like a wasp!”) and the name stuck. Vespa has lived on from one generation to the next, subtly modifying its image each time. The first Vespa offered mobility to everyone, then, it became the two-wheeler of the post war economic boom. During the sixties and seventies, the vehicle became a symbol for the revolutionary ideas of the time. Advertising campaigns like “He Who Vespas, eats the apple”, and films such as Quadrophenia have come to symbolized these eras.
Nanna Ditzel’s career has spanned five decades, Born in Copenhagen in 1923, she would later become an apprentice cabinetmaker at the Richards School before completing her education at the School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In the same year that she graduated from the Academy she and her first husband, Jorgen Ditzel, established a design studio in order to continue their already fruitful collaboration.
During this period of her career she designed several signature pieces like the “Hanging” or “Basket” chair that could be suspended from the ceiling and serves as a remarkable example of the Ditzel’s experiments with wicker. In 1954 Nanna and Jorgen began creating jewelry for Georg Jensen. These designs would win them both gold and silver medals at the Milan Trienalle. Using the rippling of little waves across the surface of water as an important source of inspiration Nanna Ditzel created, throughout her career, jewelry that communicates an elegant interpretation of simple organic form. Collaboration with her husband also produced a series of children’s furniture the most notable of which is the “Toadstool” which was a stackable piece that could serve as either stool or table.
Official site: Nanna Ditzel
The Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. (rebuilt 1986) It is the most significant building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and extravagant materials, such as marble and travertine. The building stood on a large podium alongside a pool. The structure itself consists of eight steel posts supporting a flat roof, with curtain walls of glass and a small number of partition walls. Mies designed his now famous Barcelona chair especially for this building.
Barcelona Pavilion, by Mies van der Rohe
Buy the Book: Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography
Ease of travel in the jet age encouraged a growing fusion of cultural influences after World War II. Although Sori Yanagi’s stool was designed and manufactured in Japan, it employs western forms (the stool) and the material (bent plywood). Its calligraphic elegance, however, suggests a distinctly Asian sensibility despite the rarity of such seating furniture in traditional Japanese culture. The stool is made from two curving and inverted L-shaped sections, each forming one leg and half of the seat. A metal rod midway between the legs serves as a stretcher and holds the stool together.
Butterfly Stool, 1956, by Sori Yanagi (Japanese, born 1915); Originally manufactured by Tendo Co. Ltd. Now sold by Vitra.