In 1956, Irving Harper was working at George Nelson’s design firm when the two of them were approached by a Long Island company that had invented self-skinned injected plastic cushions. The inventors believed that the plastic discs could be produced inexpensively and saw the potential for creating something interesting with them. Harper and Nelson were intrigued and spent a weekend designing possible ways to use the discs. A model of a sofa was made (using checkers arranged on a small frame), which led to the design of the Marshmallow Sofa (above). Unfortunately, the plastic discs were not inexpensive to produce after all, and the Long Island company could not deliver the product they’d promised.
216 posts categorized "Designers"
June 05, 2012
June 01, 2012
Anyone who’s seen the movie The Graduate is familiar with the scene when Mr. McGuire says to Benjamin, “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word … Plastics.” And while this suggestion is dated today (it was even a bit dated when the movie was made in 1967), the truth is that plastics were big business – a “wonder material” that emerged after WWII. Charles and Ray Eames, who started working with it for chair production, immediately recognized the possibilities of plastics.
May 29, 2012
“We can tell the age of a city,” said George Nelson, “roughly by the patterns of buildings and open spaces seen from the air.” Could you tell by looking at him that he’d be 104 today? Since the mid-century master missed the chance to share his birthday with his colleagues Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard, he gets today’s blog post all to himself. And that’s as it ought to be – modern American design would look very different without the influence of Herman Miller’s groundbreaking design director (1946–1972). Learn more about this legendary designer’s legacy here.
Posted by Emily Fasten
May 24, 2012
Today is the birthday of Florence Knoll Bassett, Edith Heath, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi. If it's also your birthday, you're keeping company with some of the most creative minds of the 20th century. To celebrate this day, we suggest visiting the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, the Girard Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, or the Knoll Museum in East Greenville, PA. Have you been to any of these places? If so, let us know what you think.
May 21, 2012
The Noho Design District is one of the hottest design destinations in New York City during Design Week. It is produced and curated annually by Sight Unseen in partnership with NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Here are a few highlights from this year's event, May 18-21.
Run, don't walk, to the 3,500-square-foot temporary showroom opened by lighting company Roll & Hill. As you know, we have a number of R&H items in our assortment and we're huge fans of their work. The space also includes a satellite show for The Future Perfect. Here are a few of the items to see at 2 Cooper Square in in Noho. (Shown above: Rudi by Lukas Peet for Roll & Hill.)
May 20, 2012
"If a designer loves something when designing it, you'll feel better when using it," said DWR CEO John Edelman. "That passion comes through." And so began the Design Week panel discussion moderated by Susan S. Szenasy of Metropolis magazine. Read more about this topic in Tough Love on the Metropolis blog.
I missed the 20-foot reclaimed wood seesaw on my first trip through WantedDesign, so dense was the space with interesting things (and people) to see. WantedDesign is a four-day event featuring the work of designers from around the world. Here are a few of the highlights.
New lighting by David Trubridge
May 16, 2012
Kudos to Alice Rawsthorn on her piece "Reflections on a Soup Spoon" in the New York Times. So concise is her description of this functional piece of cutlery designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957, that I was convinced to purchase as set of my own. I am also a huge fan of Jacobsen's Series 7 Chair, so I figure this guy knew what he was doing in the dining room. But it's worth noting that the 5-piece cutlery set shown in her article does not include the coveted Soup Spoon. Instead, this spoon, called the Bouillon Spoon or Breakfast Spoon by manufacturer Georg Jensen, is sold separately in sets of two. Have you had the pleasure of slurping your soup with such a spoon? If so, please let me know what you think. And I'll be sure to report back after I receive mine.
May 08, 2012
Jens Risom with his iconic lounge chair, designed in 1943.
We celebrate Jens Risom every day at DWR -- and especially today, his birthday. Risom designed the first chair for the company Knoll in 1941, and he's still designing today. "Basically, my whole life has been in the design of pieces that make the living environment more enjoyable," says Risom. "Many designers lose sight of this. They want their work to be looked at like art. I prefer design that is neutral and not the center stage, furniture that is for people."
To the man who has brought us so much enjoyment in our living environments, we wish you a very happy birthday!
Learn more about Jens Risom in this DWR Film.
May 04, 2012
DWR's Bonnie Edelman is featured in Wag Magazine this month. Journalist Mary Shustack reports on the photographer's special connection to Uruguay, horse breeder Althea Ganly, and a special training method called imprinting. "What happens is you get these very calm, docile horses, friendly horses,” says Edelman. "So while they look wild, they are quite easy to work with." Read the article at wagmag.com.
May 01, 2012
Celebrated by his contemporaries as "The Magician of Venice", Mariano Fortuny was perhaps the last Renaissance man in the truest meaning of the term. Though trained as a painter, Fortuny was an accomplished and innovative stage-set designer, architect, inventor, couturier, and lighting technician. Fortuny was born on this day 141 years ago. The Delphos gown he designed in 1907 continues to shape women's fashion, and the textiles company he founded is still going strong.
The Fortuny Lamp, designed in 1907.
April 23, 2012
Charlotte Perriand is best known for her elegant modernist tubular steel furniture of the 1920s and 1930s, but it was her architecture that stole the show at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan.
An exhibition of her Refuge Tonneau showcased the kind of prefabricated aluminum buildings and interiors Perriand designed in the 1930s. Inspired by a children’s fairground ride in Croatia, Perriand had the idea for a mobile mountain refuge in 1936. Two years later, working with Pierre Jeanneret, she developed this dodecahedron structure, consisting of a metal frame, central pole and umbrella-like top with 12 spokes. It was initially envisioned for the steep terrain of the Alps, but one can easily see this “space shuttle–mountain shelter” taking off in the aeronautic world.
The interior is made from pinewood, giving the minimal structure a welcoming feel. The heater is inside the central steel pillar and warms the entire interior while occupying as little space as possible.
April 19, 2012
There are few words more forbidden at DWR than “cute” and yet, that is how our VP of Creative described this lamp. Alas, if it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a (cute) duck.
Finn Juhl designed the FJ Lamp series in 1963 for the Danish lamp company LYFA. Production was discontinued just seven years later, making the vintage models very rare and highly coveted by fans of Finn Juhl. Making its debut at this year’s Salone, the lamp is back in production, thanks to the efforts of Ivan Hansen and Hans Henrik Sørensen of Onecollection, the producers of authentic works by Finn Juhl.
April 07, 2012
Running into legendary designer Jens Risom in the halls at Design Within Reach is just one of the many great things about working here. Our latest DWR Film lets you experience the wit and wisdom of the modern master, as he speaks with us about history, parachute straps, Hans Knoll and, of course, chairs.
“Never design anything that cannot be made,” said Jean Prouvé. Born on this day 111 years ago, Prouvé always regarded himself as more of an engineer or “constructor,” than a designer. A master of materially efficient designs, his furniture has the presence of architecture, and his ideas for prefabricated houses (he designed his own house as a prototype) were influential in later developments of prefab housing. We raise our glasses to Prouvé on this day. Photo above: Jean Prouvé in front of his house, circa 1955.
April 06, 2012
Featured in a special issue of Design Gossip by the lighting company Flos, DWR founder Rob Forbes takes readers on a journey of visual literacy this month. From the Pantheon in Rome to a wine cellar in California, Forbes gives examples of how architects – often unwittingly – can be extraordinary lighting designers. The essay reminds me of George Nelson’s writings in How To See, in which Nelson presents his ideas on how to read the man-made environment. Like Nelson, Forbes carries his camera everywhere and is a master at recognizing and evaluating the things that surround us every day. Learn more about how Forbes sees the world in “Light and Magic.”
In 2010, Forbes founded PUBLIC, with a mission to help improve the quality of our public spaces and our public lives.
April 02, 2012
March 06, 2012
Lot 33: Charlotte Perriand, Early “Tokyo” Bench, circa 1955.
Get your paddles ready. Tomorrow, Sotheby’s Auction House will hold a sale for 20th Century Design including a Private Collection of Mid-Century Design and Ceramic Art. The event promises to showcase some rare mid-century gems and a few peculiar lots, such as a staircase designed by Le Corbusier for The Unité d'Habitation in France. Other classics include an "Eye" Wall Clock designed by George Nelson Associates for the Howard Miller Clock Company, a "Grasshopper" Floor Lamp by Greta Magnusson Grossman and our editorial director’s favorite, the Swivel Chair by Hans Wegner. Here are a few of the lots we’ll be watching ...