Contemporary Furniture Designs

Edgar Kaufmann, in a 1950 pamphlet released through New York's Museum of Modern Art asked, What is Modern Design? He suggested that contemporary design should do a number of things, including fulfiling the practical needs of modern living, while developing new forms, and textures that embrace the latest in technology, materials and techniques. He said so much more, but alas, talk is not the same as seeing. Through the power and improved capabilities of the Internet, the globailzation of markets, and the spread of technology AND great modern design worldwide, we can enable the process of combining art and practical living - through discovery and ultimately offering wonderful modern furniture pieces that both beautifully and originally represent the highest and best examples of contemporary furniture design and craftsmanship.

Click to enlargeHarry Bertoia

One the eminent modern designers whose products are featured here. A native of Italy, he had an acute awareness of natural beauty, and he built models from toothpicks when a mere child. These became prototypes for his later innovative metal creations.

His works have been purchased or displayed at New York's Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco Museum, 1958 Brussels World's Fair, Dulles International Airport and the Federal Reserve Bank in Virginia.

Bertoia designed his now famous "Diamond Chair." Knoll was the exclusive manufacturer, and still offers these designs for thousands of dollars. He felt his unique latticed steel over various upholsteries were God's products, and so he would not sign his works.

Eileen Gray

Born in Ireland in 1878, Eileen Gray is known for her superior craftsmanship and style and is considered one of the classic modern designers. She is best known for her striking 1926 bedside table, which featured a circular top supported on a stand with a u-shaped base, a piece she referred to as the "Bibendum" chair.

Another of her creations is the "Transat" chair, which featured an upholstered seat with an adjustable headrest suspended within an angular wooden frame. She also developed space-saving devices such as the foldable S-Chair and a double-sided chest of drawers.

Josef Hoffman

Josef Hoffman was one of the founders of the Vienna Secession, an association of revolutionary artists and architects. He was also one of the founding members of the influential Wiener Werkstatte, the "Vienna Workshops," a development of Art Nouveau that sought to resist the mass production mentality in the arts and called for integration of the fine and applied arts as well as the treatment of everyday objects with refined craftsmanship and aesthetic consideration.

Producing everything from furniture and glass to jewelry, it was one of the high points of modern design history and a beacon for later artists and designers producing some of the earliest Art Deco designs.

Le Corbusier

Born as Charles Jeanneret in Switzerland, in 1887, the son of a designer, Le Corbusier initially learned metal engraving. From 1920, working in numerous European cities, in prominent architect's offices, he studied and embraced the pioneering use of concrete and reinforced steel in houses intended for mass production.

Le Corbusier became the best-known enthusiast for the plain "International Style," giving talks and writing books to explain the new principles of design and use of materials. He famously said, "A house is a machine for living in" and believed that well-planned housing would influence the people who lived there to lead ordered, productive lives.

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer, 'the father of modernism' was born in Hungary in 1902, and became one of the greatest architects and furniture designers of the 20th century. A prolific artist, he wanted his designs to be affordable and available to all.

In 1968 he won the AIA's Gold Medal for a legacy with included the Pennsylvania Pavilion at the 1939 New York's World Fair, the 1953 UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966. In the same year he won the Jefferson Foundation Medal that cited him "among all the living architects of the world as excelling all others in the quality of his work."

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