Born in Finland in 1910, Eero Saarinen was the son of Eliel Saarinen, a noted and respected architect. His mother, Loja Saarinen, was a gifted sculptor, weaver, photographer, and architectural model maker. Eero was taught that each object should be designed in its “next largest context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, environment in a city plan.”
Eero Saarinen produced a series of masterpieces of breathtaking individuality, including the 630-foot-tall, stainless steel St. Louis Gateway Arch and the TWA Terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
The underside of typical chairs and tables makes a confusing, unrestful world,” said Saarinen. “I wanted to clear up the slum of legs.” Thus in 1957 Saarinen unveiled his groundbreaking collection of pedestal coffee, dining and side tables for Knoll, whose simple elegance has endured for over 50 years.
Echoing the Martian invaders in the War of the Worlds (Paramount Pictures, 1954), for which his brother, Hal Pereira, was Art Director, William Pereira’s “Theme Building” for the new Los Angeles International Airport was intended to resemble a landing spaceship. Calling this “the first terminal area specifically designed for the jet age,” The initiall building design was done by James Langenheim, of the Pereira-Luckman firm.
Theme Building, LAX, Los Angeles Airport, USA, by (1962, Pereira, Luckman, Becket, Williams)
Often overlooked and a common sight in every sushi bar and maybe even lurking in the back of your refrigerator, this package design is now included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). The dispenser is equipped with the essential functions as a soy sauce dispenser such as easy to pour (on two sides!) and a non-drip spout. The company has shipped to date over 250-million units.
Designed in 1961 by Kenji Ekuan. (Japanese, born 1929) and GK Design Group. Kikkoman Soy Sauce Dispenser. Glass and polystyrene plastic, Manufactured by Kikkoman Corporation, Japan.
Kikkoman Soy Sauce Dispenser, by Kenji Ekuan, for GK Design Group
A corner-bound sample book of Girard designed wallpapers.
Chairs for Herman Miller special for Braniff Airlines
Vitra Wooden Dolls
Classic Pillow – Maharam Cushion Quatrefoil
Alexander and Susan Girard at the Herman Miller show
One of the biggest names in mid-century textile design is Herman Miller’s Alexander Girard (1907-1993), trained at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London and at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome.
Girard managed to inject an uninhibited use of color and a clever playfulness into the industry. He turned to countries like Mexico and India where a handicraft, or folk art, tradition still thrived, he developed a new method of coloring and patterning that proved to be a vibrant counterpoint to American modernist furniture.
The Farnsworth House, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1946 for his client, Dr Edith Farnsworth, is seminal. It asserted America as the pre-eminent home of modernism after the war. It also reduced (for the first time) the idea of a dwelling to its skeletal minimal.
Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois USA by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
+ Farnsworth House National Historic Site
Buy the Book: Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography
Danish architect Finn Juhl (1912–1989) is regarded as one of the greatest furniture designers of the 20th century. He was a pioneer figure within Danish furniture design and the Danish Modern movement, along with Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm, and Børge Mogensen.
The house, now open to the public was designed and built by Finn Juhl as a young architect in 1942, is a unique example of Danish modernism for both architecture, furniture design and the visual arts.
Home of Finn Juhl, Ordrup, Denmark, through 31 August, 2008
Platter, Tapio Wirkkala, Finland, 1951, laminated birch, teak
19 x 9 7/8 x 1″ (48.3 x 25.1 x 2.5 cm). Manufactured (not in production) by Tapio Wirkkala
Criticized for being cold, imposing, dehumanizing, one of Serra’s major public works was removed by a committee from New York City’s Federal Plaza. Emerging in the 1960s, he was part of a generation of artists who worked to redefine what sculpture could be. After experimenting with a variety of materials, he settled on thick sheets of steel as his preferred material, and went on to create some of the most frightening spaces imaginable. His prints are just as ‘impressive’.
Short Biography Richard Serra
When completed in 1969, the John Hancock Center was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. A mixed use building of offices and retail, it also contains the highest residences in the world. One of the most famous buildings of the structural expressionist style, the skyscraper’s distinctive X-bracing exterior is actually a hint that the structure’s skin is indeed part of its ‘tubular system’. This idea is one of the architectural techniques the building used to climb to record heights (the tubular system is essentially the spine that helps the building stand upright during heavy wind loads). The only drawback from my point of view is the ceiling height in the condominiums; I have entertained in several units and while the night light views are expansive and the morning views above the clouds are a real pleasure, and a heavy diagonal beam slashing through a window adds a distinctive interest, there is a certain interior claustrophobia that modernism should alleviate — bets are, it was a client decision to pack more floors in.
John Hancock Center, by Skidmore Owings Merrill