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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pioneers and prophets of modern design

While most people think "modern" means 1950 to the mid-1960s, the movement actually started two decades earlier.  Bauhaus visionaries like Marcel Breuer and Mies Van Der Rohe, as well as French designers Charles Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier) and Charlotte Perriand were designing chairs in the 1920s that both predicted and influenced the departure from the stuffy conservatism of Victoriana.

In the 1930s Gilbert Rohde created tubular steel chairs for Herman Miller and Troy, and Alvar Aalto began to work with molded plywood. The 1938 sling chair designed by Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy became the classic Fifties "butterfly" design.  The rounded corners of Russel Wright's furniture for Conant Ball and his belief in mass-produced home decor changed the way furniture was made available to consumers.

The trio of chairs designed in 1940 by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen won the MoMA Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition and reshaped our attitudes about the form and function of furniture.

After World War II, these chairs formed the vanguard of the mid-century modern movement and have been refined and repeated, copied and counterfeited, and faithfully revered ever since.

Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer, 1925

Barcelona chair by Mies Van Der Rohe, 1927

Basculant "pony" chair by LeCorbusier and Charlotte Perriand, 1928

Molded plywood chair by Alvar Aalto, 1934
Tubular steel chair for Troy by Gilbert Rohde, 1930s

Russel Wright for Conant Ball

Lounge chair by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, 1940

1 comment:

  1. We have one one of the first you have pictured, the wassily chair. Great piece! Let me know if you know someone looking for it!