This Eames-Saarinen collaboration is not much remembered, but it marked the beginnings of two remarkable careers.
Dunbar made some really interesting pieces back in the day, didn’t they?
I like this mix of a Jacobsen Bird Chair with a pair of Saarinen Womb Chairs. The combination underlines the similarity of design philosophies that marked the iconic creators of the period.
I think Paulin is terribly underrated in the pantheon of MCM designers. For instance, remember this one?
Check out those Cherner chairs just kind of stuck in there. Aren’t they great?
Of course I would not want the room to look retro, but in small doses the furniture just looks good. BONUS: (a side note that is important to me) most of this furniture is readily available used- a lot in good condition and for incredibly reasonable prices.
The reason it “just looks good” is that the best of the MCM designers – the icons – produced a level of work that can only be described as products of genius.
Much of the work of Eames, Saarinen, Nelson, Mies, Jacobsen, and the others works quite well simply as sculptural forms. You can put an Eames LCM into a plain white room and just look at it, because it is so beautiful as a form, never mind its function.
I love the way they’ve used the Bertoia Diamond Chair (with padding) in this vignette.
These aren’t the most comfortable pieces of furniture ever designed, but as sculpture, they’re wonderful in a room. Which isn’t odd, given that Harry Bertoia always regarded himself as more of a sculptor than a furniture designer.
Nelson (the clock and table), Saarinen (the side table) and Jens Risom (the two chairs). Risom is a touch offbeat for this mix, but still a tasty pick.
Today’s post could have been titled name that industrial Mid-Century Modern designer, since today’s mystery person was well-known in the industrial design world (your first hint). But we love this person’s work for interiors, especially when it comes to tabletop accessories. Who is this person?
I know, but many who only casually follow MCM design may not.
Plycraft made some pretty odd looking pieces back in the day. This one looks as if George Mulhauser had a hand in its design. Mulhauser’s designs sometimes look clumsy, but one of his hallmarks was a concern with individual comfort. I have two of his Eames lounger knockoffs in my living room, because I find them much more comfortable to sit in than the real deals.
Hans J. Wegner was born in 1914 in Denmark. As he matured, it turned out he was the right person in the right place at the right time. He cut his teeth in design and furniture making as a teenager, apprenticing for a master cabinetmaker. He then went on to study furniture making as well as architecture in Copenhagen, where he was inspired by the Carpenters’ Guild Furniture Exhibits.
Wegner continued his education by working under Arne Jacobsen. who is probably best known for designing the Swan Chair and the Egg Chair, which both remain modern icons (personally, my favorite is a vintage Grand Prix chair, but that’s a story for another day):
After developing his style of organic and functional designs, Wegner designed the Wishbone Chair in 1949, during the height of mid-century modern design. The chair has had a major influence on design ever since and is a Danish Modern icon. It works in so many rooms, from a Japanese tea house vibe to very contemporary spaces.
Huh. I had no idea of the close connection between Jacobsen and Wagner. Interesting.
A great designer, an iconic design, and a wonderful story. Enjoy!
When you think of Ralph Rapson, you normally think of the architecture he produced from his offices in Minneapolis, or you think of the iconic Case Study House 4; which was part of the Case Study Houses program sponsored by California Arts and Architecture magazine from 1945 through the early 1960′s. Most of us don’t think of Rapson as an artist, furniture designer. The thing is, like so many of his generation, his creativity was never siloed into a single category. Rapson was a prolific architect, designer, and artist until his death in 2009. Over sixty years Ralph Rapson maintained a consistency and commitment to the basic and best principles of modern architecture, and design without distraction.
Read the whole thing.
Although best known for his career as an architect, Ralph Rapson designed furniture for Knoll in the ’40s after befriending Florence Knoll at the Cranbrook School. Post his death, his family put his designs back into production and these mid-century modern classics are now available for sale again after 60+ years.
This is kind of an interesting piece, because, although the design is nearly sixty years old, it hews very, very close to an even earlier design – the Grasshopper Chair by Eero Saarinen.
Okay, okay, some of those MCM color schemes were a bit over the top.
Risom isn’t generally considered to be in the absolute top rank of MCM designers, but nonetheless he created some very attractive pieces.
So pervasive is the Charles and Ray Eames aesthetic that the interior shot above could be from 1949 — when the designers moved into their home, Case Study #8 — or 1968, or even 2011. It’s so common that the word “Eames” has become shorthand for any piece of Craigslist furniture possessing a vaguely mid-century look.
But let’s take a wider view of the Case Study’s influence and focus on architecture, not plastic chairs.
You’ve heard me speak of “MCM Cozy” style. This shot of Charles and Ray Eames’ living area (mostly orchestrated by Ray, I understand) is a perfect example of what I mean. Every surface is crowded with items of personal significance and taste. The bones may be the spare, linear ligaments of the MCM approach, but they only serve as the framework for the intense personalization that overlays them.
Be sure to read the rest of this post, which is chock full of interesting pictures as well as analysis of just how homes like the Eames’ Case Study House #8 influenced architecture all over the world.
This fantastic mid-century modern office looks like it’s straight off the set of AMC’s Mad Men or a James Bond film, but it’s actually the original office of Harley Earl, Vice President of Design at General Motors.
Harley Earl was a visionary and innovator, being the originator of clay modeling for automotive designs, designer of wrap-around windshields, two-tone paint and the iconic 1950s tail fins. It’s no wonder that he hired Eero Saarinen and Associates to design the interior of his offices.
Come on, now. Don’t you wish you could have had somebody like Saarinen to design your office?
Me, if wishes were horses, I’d like the Eames to come in and do my living room.
You walk into a living room you’ve never been in before. There is a Barcelona chair catty-corner to a Le Corbusier chaise. There is a lacquered credenza that was made by a Danish person in the middle of last century. Your host opens wine for you with a bright-red Alessi bottle opener. You set the stemless Reidel glass down on a Saarinen side table, take a seat on the Knoll sofa, and sink into a reflective state of déjà vu. Where have you seen this tableau before? Oh. That’s right…. On the toilet. Idly flipping through a Design Within Reach catalog.
Interesting rant, well worth a read.