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Article

Hugh Davies

(b San Lorenzo, nr Reggio di Calabria, March 10, 1915; d Barto, PA, Nov 6, 1978).

American sculptor and furniture designer of Italian birth. After settling in the USA in 1930, he studied at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Detroit (1936), and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI (1937–9), where he taught metalworking and produced abstract silver jewellery and colour monoprints. In 1943 he moved to California to assist in the development of the first of a series of chairs designed by Charles O. Eames. His first sculptures date from the late 1940s. In 1950 he established himself in Bally, PA, where he designed the Bertoia chair (1952), several forms of which were marketed by Knoll International. His furniture is characterized by the use of moulded and welded wire; in the case of the Bertoia chair, the chromium-plated steel wire is reshaped by the weight of the sitter. Bertoia also worked on small sculptures, directly forged or welded bronzes. The first of his many large architectural sculptures was a screen commissioned in ...

Article

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1905, in Rosindale (Massachusetts); died 1999.

Furniture decorator and painter. Nature studies, still-lifes, pastoral scenes.

Martha Cahoon was the daughter of Swedish immigrants who had settled in Massachusetts. Her father was a furniture decorator who had learnt his trade in Sweden and is known to have worked for some of the best-known furniture decoration firms in Boston. Martha learned furniture decoration from her father, specialising in the technique of rosemailing. She married the artist Ralph Cahoon in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 6 November 1932, in Emporia (Kansas).

Assemblage artist, painter, furniture designer.

Wendell Castle studied at the University of Kansas, receiving a BFA in sculpture in 1958 and an MFA in industrial design in 1961. He has taught at the University of Kansas (...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Emporia, KS, Nov 6, 1932).

American furniture designer. He normally worked in wood (sometimes exotic wood), but has also made furniture in plastic and fibreglass; his finest work reflects his mastery of laminated wood. Castle’s decorative furniture is strongly sculptural; his designs are markedly individualistic, but nonetheless evince debts to the traditions of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement. His best-known designs are the Molar chair and loveseat designed for Stendig in ...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Blue Earth, MN, Nov 23, 1894; d Vero Beach, FL, April 20, 1989).

American interior and industrial designer. Deskey gained a degree in architecture and studied painting before working in advertising. From 1922 to 1924 he was head of the art department at Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA. In 1921 and 1925 he made trips to Paris, where he attended the Ecole de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi, before returning to New York in 1926 as a champion of modern art and design. In 1926–7 he created the city’s first modern window displays for the Franklin Simon and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. In 1927 he was joined by the designer Philip Vollmer, and the partnership became Deskey–Vollmer, Inc. (to c. 1929). Deskey expanded into designing interiors, furniture, lamps, and textiles, becoming a pioneer of the Style moderne (as Art Deco was known in America). His earliest model for the interior of an apartment was shown at the American Designers’ Gallery, New York, in ...

Article

Marcus Whiffen

Late 19th-century style of American architecture and furniture. It owed its name to the furniture designs of Charles Locke Eastlake (see Eastlake family, §3), which became widely known because of his book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and Other Details, first published in London in 1868 and in Boston, MA, in 1872. The book was an immediate success in the USA, and six more American editions appeared in the next eleven years. In the preface to the fourth English edition (1878), Eastlake wrote of his dismay at finding ‘American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call “Eastlake” furniture …for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible’. Eastlake-style furniture of the 1870s by such firms as Mason & Hamlin was decorated profusely with heavily carved Gothic ornament, whereas Eastlake’s own furniture had decoration that was simpler and more sparingly applied to emphasize function....

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Vienna, Oct 14, 1886; d Los Angeles, 1958).

American furniture designer, born in Austria. He emigrated to the USA in 1914 and worked first in New York and later in Los Angeles. His most famous work is his ‘skyscraper’ furniture, which first appeared in 1926; many pieces were maple, and inlaid with Bakelite (e.g. skyscraper bookcase, 1927; New York, Met.). Frankl later specialized in metal furniture and in Art Deco furniture decorated with black lacquers and gold and silver leaf....

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1955, in Kenosha (Wisconsin).

Installation artist. Furniture.

Jim Isermann lives and works in Palm Springs, California. In his furniture pieces and wall coverings he attempts to broach the middle ground between high art and design. In 1950s America, industrial designers sought to imbue utilitarian objects with utopian ideals borrowed from the visual arts. In turn, artists with Pop, Op Art or Minimalist agendas looked to domestic products for inspiration, recognising their role as mass-produced icons of a new found capitalist optimism. This dialogue between ornamentation, materiality and iconography provides the basis for Isermann's work. In ...

Article

Leland M. Roth and Gordon Campbell

(John)

(b Vienna, Sept 22, 1890; d New York, Dec 27, 1965).

American architect, stage designer, furniture designer and writer of Austrian birth. In 1920 he worked with Adolf Loos in Vienna. He was also in contact with the artists associated with De Stijl and began experimenting with innovative theatre designs. In 1924 he produced the Endless Theatre design. The ‘Endless’ was a double-curved shell of reinforced concrete that could enclose any irregularly traditional divisions into floor, wall, and ceiling but offered the inhabitant an open interior that could be modified at will. For the theatre he adapted the ‘Endless’ by devising a double-spiral stage interconnected by ramps and rings of spectator seats. Kiesler believed that the Endless Theatre, without proscenium or curtain, projecting out into the audience, with perpetually moving walls bathed in light of ever changing colour, would promote greater interaction between actors and audience.

For the celebrated Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925...

Article

Louise Noelle

(b Mexico City, May 7, 1931; d Mexico City, Dec 30, 2011.

Mexican architect and furniture designer, active also in the USA. He graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Arquitectura, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, in 1953. He began as a draughtsman in the studio of José Villagrán García, the leader of Mexican Functionalism, becoming his partner between 1955 and 1960. During this period he was a follower of the International Style, as seen in the Hotel María Isabel (1961–2; with Villagrán García and Juan Sordo Madaleno), Mexico City. In 1960 he set up in partnership with Noé Castro (b 1929) and Carlos Vargas (b 1938), specializing in the design of factories and office buildings, the most notable project of this period being the office building for Celanese Mexicana (1966–8; with Roberto Jean) in Mexico City, with its prismatic outline and technical brio in the use of the hanging structure. In the late 1960s, influenced by ...

Article

Veerle Poupeye

(b St. Andrew, Dec 29, 1902; d Sept 20, 1992).

Jamaican sculptor. He was initially self-taught, but later attended the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London. He worked as a furniture-carver in the 1930s for the Jamaican Art Deco furniture designer Burnett Webster (1909–1992). His own work of this period was influenced by Art Deco and by Edna Manley. Gradually it became more academic, and he became Jamaica’s most popular monumental sculptor. Among his best-known works are monuments in Kingston to Jamaica’s national heroes, including Norman Manley (1971) and Alexander Bustamante (1972), as well as to the reggae singer Bob Marley (1985). He worked in various materials, including bronze, but was at his best as a woodcarver. His outstanding achievement is the carved ceiling decoration and lectern of the university chapel, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Boxer, D. and Poupeye, V. Modern Jamaican Art. Kingston, 1998.Poupeye, V. Caribbean Art...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b 1917; d 1969).

American furniture designer and decorator, active in Massachusetts and Michigan. The simple lines and smooth surfaces of his furniture derive from Shaker furniture; his ‘Planner’ series has become an emblem of 1950s American furniture.

L. Piña, J. Lindbeck and M. Ellison: Fifties Furniture by Paul McCobb: Directional Designs (Atglen, PA, 2000)...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1944.

Sculptor, furniture designer.

Judy McKie produces artistic furniture.

Atkins, Robert: ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, Abbeville Press, New York, 1990.

Article

Geoffrey R. Edwards

(b Melbourne, Feb 9, 1929; d New York, April 19, 2005).

Australian sculptor and designer, active in the USA. He studied aeronautical engineering and later industrial design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, but left without finishing the course. From 1949 to 1953 he worked as an industrial designer, specializing in furniture. Marketed widely in Australia during these years, his furniture was distinguished by its simplicity. It was constructed with plain, undisguised materials such as steel rods, timber laminates, and cord; his tables, chairs, and shelving systems exercised a delight in linear and open structure that conveyed an impression of virtual weightlessness.

In his free time Meadmore began to produce sculptures, carving wooden shapes whose forms were similar to those of tensioned strings, and from 1950 to 1953 experimenting with mobiles. After extensive travel in 1953 in Europe, where he was particularly impressed by modern sculptures that he saw in Belgium, he produced his first large abstract sculptures in welded steel. Some of these, for example ...

Article

Indian, 20th century, female.

Born 1940, in India, to American and Bengali parents.

Painter. Figures. Murals, furniture.

After training in India, in Bombay (now Mumbai) and New Delhi, Anjolie Ela Menon studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1961 to 1962. She lives and works in New Dehli...

Article

Peter Carter

(b Aachen, March 27, 1886; d Chicago, IL, Aug 17, 1969).

German architect, furniture designer, and teacher, active also in the USA. With Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, and Le Corbusier, he was a leading figure in the development of modern architecture. His reputation rests not only on his buildings and projects but also on his rationally based method of architectural education.

He was born Ludwig Mies but later adopted his mother’s name, van der Rohe. The son of a master stone mason, Mies van der Rohe had no formal architectural education. He attended the Domschule in Aachen until 1900 and then the local trade school (1900–02) while working on building sites for his father, from whom he acquired a respect for the nature of building materials. The town’s many fine medieval buildings stimulated a youthful interest in architecture, and their characteristically clear and honest construction exerted a lasting influence upon his creative work. Two years as a draughtsman and designer for a firm specializing in stucco decoration followed, before he left for Berlin in ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Spokane, WA, 1905; d 1990).

American furniture designer and manufacturer. The son of Japanese parents, after an early career as an architect he turned in 1940 to furniture-making, initially in Seattle and then, after a period of internment, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where in 1946 he estabished an independent workshop. The workshop produces both series and individual designs, always in solid hardwood with no veneers; designs reflect both American and Japanese traditions, but are contemporary rather than revivalist. Although Nakashima is sometimes described as one of the founding figures of the American craft movement, his workshop used machine tools and, in the case of his series designs, production methods to create furniture that looks hand-crafted. The workshop is still a family business, and is now run by his daughter Mira (b 1942).

The Soul of a Tree: A Woodworker’s Reflections (Tokyo and New York, 1981) D. Ostergard: George Nakashima: Full Circle (New York, 1989)...

Article

Jean A. Follett

(b Boston, MA, 1842; d Boston, MA, 1910).

American architect, stained-glass designer, furniture designer, and photographer. Preston was the son of Jonathan Preston (1801–88), a successful builder in Boston. William completed a year’s study at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge, MA (later incorporated into Harvard University), and then went to Paris where he enrolled briefly in the Atelier Douillard. He returned to Boston in 1861 to work with his father, with whom he remained in partnership until the latter’s death. William then practised independently until his own death.

Preston was a prolific architect, designing over 740 buildings in the course of a career spanning 50 years. His early work was in the French Renaissance style, as seen in his Boston Society of Natural History building (1861–4), a tripartite structure with its floor levels arranged to equate with the proportions of the base, shaft, and capital of a Classical column. It has monumental Corinthian columns and pilasters and a central pediment flanked by a balustraded parapet. He worked in a typically eclectic manner during the 1870s and became an extremely fine designer in the Queen Anne Revival style in the 1880s and early 1890s. The varied massing, stained-glass windows, terracotta, moulded brick, and carved-wood detail of the John D. Sturtevant House (...

Article

(b 1905; d 1976).

English architect and furniture designer , active in the USA. He moved to California c. 1930, and thereafter designed furniture for his own buildings and for mass production. From 1946 to 1956 he designed furniture for the Widdicomb Furniture Company (now John Widdicomb Co.) in Grand Rapids; some of his designs reflect Art Deco influences, but he was an exponent of modernism. His book Goodbye Mr Chippendale (1944) inveighs against the American taste for antique and reproduction furniture; in 1964, however, he co-authored a book on the Furniture of Classical Greece

Good-bye, Mr. Chippendale (New York, 1944) America’s Most Distinguished Contemporary Furniture (New York, 1955) with C. W. Pullin: Furniture of Classical Greece (New York, 1963) Neo-classical Art Moderne Furniture: by T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, circa 1937: Property Formerly in the Estate of Conrad Hilton, Bel Air, California, 2 pts (sale cat., New York, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1980 and 1981)...