Michael Thonet (1796-1871) earned a place in the history of design as the inventor of the bentwood technique and as a pioneer of industrial furniture production. Following an apprenticeship as a carpenter and cabinet-maker, Thonet opened his own workshop in Boppard, his hometown, in 1819. As early as 1830 he began to experiment with laminated wood. The actual development and perfection of the bentwood technique, however, took place in the years after 1842, when Thonet established the firm in Vienna. The world-wide success of the company he founded in 1856 under the name "Gebrüder Thonet" (Thonet Brothers) was based on technical innovation and a commitment to industrial production methods, as well as an aggressive marketing strategy. Thonet's bentwood furniture gained a reputation for being visually attractive, light-weight, strong, long-lasting, and inexpensive. Several of his famous designs, with Chair No. 14 at the forefront, are still produced today with slight modifications.
The British architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), one of the major representatives of the Art Deco style in Great Britain, is regarded as the most prominent figure of the so-called Glasgow School. While completing his practical training at an architectural firm, Mackintosh took evening courses at the Glasgow School of Applied Arts. In 1889 he joined the construction firm Honeyman & Keppie, becoming a partner from 1904 until 1913. His most important work is the Glasgow School of Art (constructed between 1897-1909), for which he also designed the entire interior and furnishings, still extant today. Although Mackintosh realised further notable buildings, such as Hill House, his reputation is primarily based upon his extensive work as a furniture designer. The convincing co-existence of rational and expressive elements in his work, such as the combination of geometric abstraction and organically flowing lines, continues to fascinate.
Little is known about Thomas Lee, other than the fact that he lived in the city of Westport on the East Coast of the U.S. around 1900. It was there-probably in his spare time and for personal use-that he designed and most likely constructed the chair that became known as the Adirondack Chair or Westport Chair. In 1903 he handed over the design to a carpenter friend named Harry Bunnell, who also resided in Westport. Bunnell applied for a patent on the chair under his own name in 1904 and immediately began production. It is not known how many of these chairs were produced.
The Dutchman Mart Stam (1899-1986) was one of the founders of radical Functionalism and is regarded as the inventor of the tubular steel chair without back legs (1926), an idea which secured him a place in the history of design when still a young man. Although he did not have a formal design education, he gained experience working in renowned architectural firms in the Netherlands and Germany. At the beginning of the '20s, he helped to initiate the avant-garde journal ABC, through which he and El Lissitzky became acquainted. Shortly afterward, the two men developed the legendary Wolkenbügel horizontal skyscraper project. His row houses for the Stuttgart Weißenhofsiedlung (1927) are regarded as his most important individual work. For Stam , who also worked as a theorist, publicist and university docent, aesthetic considerations played a secondary role in the solution of design problems. His social and political views were clearly relevant to his insistence on the primacy of function and economy.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) was one of the main protagonists of classic modernism and, along with Le Corbusier, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. In 1905, after completing an apprenticeship as a stonemason in his home city of Aachen, he moved to Berlin. There he worked for Peter Behrens, among others, before going into business for himself in 1913. His early work is strongly informed by Schinkel's Neo-Classicism, but in the 1920s Mies turned toward the Moderne movement. Formal clarity, elegant proportions and perfection of detail are outstanding characteristics of his architecture. Notable examples are the Tugendhat House in Brünn (1928-30) and the Barcelona Pavilion (1929), for which he also designed the furniture. Mies emigrated to the United States in 1938, where he assumed a professorship at IIT in Chicago. In addition to Crow Hall in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York, Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie numbers among his most important late works.
The Dutch designer and architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964) is regarded as one of the most innovative and unusual figures in design during the first half of the 20th century. Following his training as a joiner in his father's workshop in Utrecht, he worked as a goldsmith's draughtsman and then in an architectural firm before opening his own cabinet-making business in 1917. Just a short time later, his acquaintance with Theo van Doesburg led him to join the avant-garde group of artists known as De Stijl. Rietveld's famous Schröder House (Utrecht, 1924), for which he designed both the architecture and interior furnishings, was an exemplary application of the group's theoretical principles. His trail-blazing experiments with materials such as tubular steel, fibreboard, aluminium sheeting, and laminated wood represent an outstanding contribution to the history of design.
The designer and architect Robert Mallet-Stevens (1886-1945) was one of the most important representatives of Art Deco in France. Following his studies at the École Spécial d'Architecture in Paris between 1903-1906, where he was exposed to the stylistic influence of Mackintosh and Josef Hoffmann, Mallet-Stevens worked primarily as an interior architect. He made a name for himself with interior designs for luxury apartments and for retail stores of Parisian haute couture. During the '20s, Mallet-Stevens became associated with the Moderne movement, serving as a founding member of the Union des Artistes Modernes in 1929. Two of his most important works date from this period and are notable for their starkly Cubist idiom: Charles de Noailles' villa in Hyère (1924-33), and a large residential house in Paris (1926-27).
Almost nothing is known about Herbert von Thaden. The only thing that appears certain is that he was a co-owner of the U.S. furniture manufacturer Thaden Jordan Furniture Corp. during the 1940s.
Born and raised in Hungary, Mathieu Matégot (1910-2001) completed art studies in Budapest. He moved to France in 1931 and began working there as a stage designer and architect. Immediately after World War II, Matégot opened his own furniture atelier in Paris. His interiors during the '50s for Tit Melin Airport in Morocco and for the Parisian restaurant La Saladière attracted a great deal of attention. Matégot ended his career as a furniture designer in 1959 and henceforth devoted himself to the design of rugs and carpets, for which he won international acclaim.
Very little verified information exists about Jørgen Høvelskov. Except for the Harp Chair and a predecessor to it, both of which were probably designed in the mid-to-late Sixties, no other works by Høvelskov have been identified.
A prominent protagonist of Postmodernism, the Italian designer, architect, and publicist Alessandro Mendini (born in 1931) was also one of its pioneers. Following architectural studies at the Polytechnicum of Milan, he worked for several years at an architectural firm. From 1970 to 1976 he was chief editor of the periodical Casabella. In 1977, Mendini was one of the founding members of Alchimia, a group which contributed significantly to the development of Postmodernism. In terms of his work as a designer, Mendini's preferred stylistic medium is the collage. Particularly his irreverent reinterpretations of famous designer pieces have created a stir. In the '80s he once again assumed chief editorial responsibilities (Domus, 1980-85), while also distinguishing himself as an architect. Major works from this period are the Casa della Felicita for Allessi (1983-88) and the Groningen Museum (1988-94). Mendini continues to be regarded as one of the major figures in contemporary Italian design.
The Italian Michele De Lucchi (born in 1951) is one of the most colourful personalities in the design world today. After completing architectural studies in 1976 at the Art Academy in Florence, he made the acquaintance of Ettore Sottsass. Together they helped to found Memphis, a group at the forefront of design during the '80s. De Lucchi not only designed objects for Memphis, but also staged the group's famous exhibitions. With his desk lamp Tolomeo, which has remained a best-seller ever since its retail introduction in 1986, De Lucchi reverted from the playful experimentation of Postmodernism back to a functional and elegant style. Since establishing his own studio in 1988, he has devoted himself to a variety of projects from different areas of design. He also works as an architect, primarily in Italy and Japan. His clientele includes manufacturers of furniture and lighting, as well as large international companies in the service industries.
The Frenchman André Dubreuil (born in 1951) studied at the Inchbald School of Design in London during the early '70s.
He then worked as an antique dealer and interior architect, before beginning in 1985 to create furniture and objects out of forged iron in his metal workshop. For his creatively playful, ornate furniture, which is shown in exhibitions around the world, Dubreuil draws inspiration from the formal idiom of the Rococo.
Ron Arad (born in 1951) studied at the Art Academy of Jerusalem from 1971-73, before moving to London to continue his studies until 1979 at the renowned Architectural Association. He gave the name "One Off Ltd." to his first design shop, which opened in London in 1981. Here Arad began with the hand-crafted production of his unconventional furniture, working by preference with sheets of welded steel that give his objects a strongly sculptural character. His projects for architectural interiors have also received notice, such as the room sculpture that he created in the foyer of the Tel Aviv Opera in 1990. Since the end of the '80s, Arad has designed furniture for series production in collaboration with leading manufacturers. He has earned an international reputation as one of today's most prominent furniture designers.
Jasper Morrison (born in 1959) completed his studies at Kingston Polytechnic and at the Royal Collage of Art with a Master's degree in 1985. He subsequently received a fellowship to study at the Hochschule der Künste (Art Academy) in Berlin. In 1986, he opened his own design studio in London. Two room installations "Reuter's News Center" for Documenta 8 in Kassel (1987) and "Some new items for the house" at the DAAD Gallery in Berlin (1988) attracted wide attention due to their impressive conceptual clarity and the formal reduction of objects. Morrison thereby established himself as a prominent advocate of "New Simplicity", which emerged as a reaction to the formal excesses of Postmodernism. Along with furniture (especially for Vitra and Cappellini), Morrison has designed lamps, domestic accessories, and textiles. He has secured a position as one of today's most important and influential designers.
*3 May 1931 in Milan, † 4 Sept.1997 in Milan Professor at Milan Polytechnic and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and co-ordinator of the international architecture section at the Milan Triennial. Rossi, who received the Pritzker Prize in 1990, constructed buildings in all of Italy, as well as in Berlin, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur. His buildings types represent the entire spectrum of urban architecture: schools, civic auditoriums, libraries, theatres, cemeteries, single-family residences and block housing. His formal idiom is distinguished by simplicity and austerity. With the aim of creating timeless works of architecture, Rossi implemented basic geometric forms - cube, cylinder, prism - in a wide variety of creative combinations. Rossi's work as a designer shows a close formal affinity to his architectural oeuvre.
The Shakers were members of a religious movement founded by the Englishwoman Ann Lee. The name is derived from the convulsive, shaking movements of the group's ritual dances. These religious communities were organised in large family groups, did not recognise private ownership, wore plain, modest clothing, and were largely self-sufficient. They quickly won approval as new American citizens for their exemplary lifestyle and for the high quality of their craftsmanship.
Shaker The products created by the Shakers were rooted in the religious aim to apply their working skills to the realisation of a harmonious and spiritual environment--an 'earthly paradise'.
Hans and Wassili Luckhardt - along with the Taut brothers, Hans Scharoun, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius - belonged to a group of young architects who met together with established master builders Hans Poelzig and Peter Behrens in Berlin and Dessau after the First World War. This circle offered a platform for the exchange of visionary ideas and social criticism; it had strong artistic affiliations with Expressionism and Cubism.
Shiro Kuramata is reckoned as one of the greatest poets of modern designs. His objects always consist of only few forms and materials, which suggest intensive extremes of embossed dialogues, and give the object its own spirit. »Apple Honey« is a composition of draconic geometrical basic forms, which nevertheless remain completely independent, resulting in functional furniture. While the square steel framework stresses the static of the seat, the tube, which becomes in the back the horizontal semi-circle, plays with the movement of the human body. With an inclination of exactly 45° it breaks through the framework and reinforces at the hind legs the most strongly stressed connection of the construction. At the front edge of the seat the framework remains open, so that the pad offers a more comfortable support. Thus the concurrence of hard and soft lines results in an ingeniously simple solution: Stability and comfort in contrasts full of expression.