Arne Emil Jacobsen Born 11 February 1902, Died 24 March 1971. Arne Jacobsen is considered one of Denmark’s most noted architects and designers. Worldwide he enjoyed success with minimal, simple and distinct lounge chair designs. Arne has long been considered one of the original creators of the internationally recognized “Danish Design”. His accomplishments in architecture were significant although his classic mid century furniture designs are what the world will likely remember him by. The Egg Chair, Swan Chair and Swan Sofa were designed in 1958. The original use of the chair was a lounge piece throughout the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen which Arne Jacobsen was the architect.
Charles Eames, an American architect and designer was greatly influenced by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. Eliel’s son Eero (think ball chair) would later become a partner and friend of Charles. In 1941, Charles married Ray Kaiser also an American artist, designer, and filmmaker who, together with her husband Charles, is responsible for many classic, iconic designs of the 20th century. Their work displayed the new technique of molded plywood products, including the 1945 DCW (Dining Chair Wood) and DCM (Dining Chair Metal with plywood seat) and the plywood Eames Lounge Chair 1956. From the beginning, the Eames furniture has usually been listed as by Charles Eames. In fact in the 1948 and 1952 Herman Miller bound catalogs, only Charles’ name is listed, but it has become clear that Ray was deeply involved and should be considered at minimum an equal partner in bringing the classic furniture pieces to life.
Eero Aarnio (born 21 July 1932) a Finnish interior designer was particularly known for his innovative furniture designs in the 1960s, notably his plastic and fiberglass chairs. Aarnio studied at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki. In 1963 he introduced the Ball Chair, a hollow sphere on a stand, open on one side to allow a person to sit within. The similar Bubble Chair was clear and with suspension from above takes a floating appearance. Other innovative designs included his floating Pastil Chair and Tomato Chair. His Screw Table, as the name suggests, had the appearance of a flat head screw driven into the ground. Eero was awarded the American Industrial Design award in 1968. Eero’s iconic 60′s modern retro modernism designs are more desired now than ever.
Eero Saarinen born 1910 was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer famous his ability to master varying style. For example, he was accomplished in both simple, sweeping, arching structural curves and seemingly the opposite side of the spectrum, machine-like rationalism. He designed many important pieces of furniture including one of the most famous, the “Womb” chair and ottoman (1948). The “Tulip” or “Pedestal” group (1956), features side and arm chairs, dining, coffee and side tables, as well as a stool. Eero’s designs were extensive, all were highly successful except for the “Grasshopper” lounge chair, which, although in production through 1965, was not a big hit.
Eileen Gray was born on 9 August 1878 into an aristocratic family near Enniscorthy, a market town in south-eastern Ireland. Gray’s father, James, was a painter who encouraged his daughter’s artistic interests. He took his daughter on painting tours of Italy and Switzerland. Gray was well known for her independent spirit. In addition to art, Eileen designed furniture, carpets and lamps. After WWI she opened a small shop in Paris where she sold pieces to friends and other artist. Two of her more famous furniture works are the Bibendum Chair and the Eileen Gray Side Table. In February 2009, a “Dragons” armchair made by Gray between 1917-1919 was sold at auction in Paris for 21.9 million euros, setting an auction record for 20th century decorative art. Eileen was bisexual and her love interests included Damia (or Marie-Louise Damien) and Jean Badovici, the Romanian architect and writer.
Florence Knoll is an American architect and furniture designer. Florence Knoll’s design flair began at the age of 14 when she designed her first home. A minimalist to the core, she pioneered the concept of open plan living and working spaces. The question Knoll asked prior to the design phase of the Classic Knoll Sofa & Chair: How can a piece of furniture support luxurious upholstery, yet take up as little space as possible? Her American interpretation of minimalist, rationalist design theories is clearly evident in her pieces. In her early years, Knoll studied under Mies van der Rohe. Some say a quick glance at the Knoll Sofa and Chair reveals the influence of Mies van der Rohe via his iconic Barcelona Lounge Chair. It is true that both the Knoll sofa and chair share a similar square button impressed cushion design. Some argue that Knoll Sofa and Love seat is the expression in full scale living room furniture what the Barcelona design is to the lounge category.
George Nelson, one of the founding fathers of American Modernism was born in 1908. While avoiding a rainstorm, Nelson ducked into the architecture school building to stay dry. It was then that he stumbled across an exhibit called “A Cemetery Gateway”. After, unfolded his interest and progression in the field of architecture. The then chairman of Herman Miller discovered Nelson while reading an article on “The Tomorrow House” in a design rag named “Pencil Points”. A year later George went to work for Herman Miller. One notable accomplishment was his idea to create a cleaner city in design as well as a reduction in pollution be it audio, visual or chemical. The outdoor malls in many suburbs of the U.S are in large part a result of his ambition. Some of his well known Modern Classic Furniture designs are the Nelson Bench also known as slat bench, the Coconut Chair and the Marshmallow Sofa.
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was born in Los Angeles. In 1906 his American mother Leonie brought him to Japan to be near his father amid growing anti Japanese sentiment following the Russo-Japanese war. In 1918 he returned to the U.S. to attend school in Indiana. After school he attended Columbia University and began taking night classes in sculpting at the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School. He soon dropped out of Columbia University and enrolled full time at the art school. His sculptures are famous for flowing interconnectivity, a design element clearly present in his self named coffee table. In 1947 he collaborated with the likes of Charles Eames to produce a catalog containing one of the most extensive collections of modern classic furniture which included his iconic “Noguchi Table”.
Le Corbusier born in 1887 was a Swiss architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter. He is famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called Modern architecture or the International style. He began experimenting with furniture design in 1928. His cousin, Pierre Jeanneret collaborated on many of the designs. In 1928, Le Corbusier and Perriand began to put the expectations for furniture Le Corbusier into practice. The first results of the collaboration were chrome-plated tubular steel chairs designed for two of his projects, The Maison la Roche in Paris and a pavilion for Barbara and Henry Church. The most famous of these chairs and sofa sets are the now-iconic Le Corbusier LC-2, LC-3 and LC-4. LC-2 & LC-3 are similar in design with the LC-2 being the small version and the LC-3 the larger version. Le Corbusier LC-4 is the famous Chaise Lounge.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe born in 1886 was a German architect and widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of Modern Architecture. He was commonly referred to and addressed by his surname, Mies, by his colleagues, students, writers, and others. In 1923 he joined the avant-garde Bauhaus design school as their director of architecture, adopting and developing their functionalist application of simple geometric forms in the design of useful objects. Mies is best known for modernist architecture but also designed modern furniture pieces using new industrial technologies that have become popular classics. During Mies period of furniture design he collaborated closely with interior designer and companion Lilly Reich. Popular pieces include the Barcelona chair and ottoman, the Barcelona table, the Brno chair, and the Tugendhat chair. His furniture was known for fine craftsmanship, a mix of luxurious leather combined with modern chrome frames, and a distinct separation of the supporting structure and the supported surfaces.
Poul Henningsen was once quoted as saying “Future comes by itself, progress does not.” He himself
lived by these words, always pushing the envelope in both his visually creative endeavors and in the
philosophy behind his writing. Poul was born in 1894 to likewise liberally minded parents; author Agnes
Henningsen and satirist Carl Ewaldet. Between 1911 and 1917 Henningsen received training to become
an architect, but he never graduated and tried himself as an inventor and painter.