Edward J. Wormley is best known for his custom and limited-edition furniture designs for the Dunbar Furniture Corporation. He is honoured as one of the 20th century’s major designers of American modernist furniture. Ironically, Wormley married modern sensibilities to traditional designs that gave his modernist designs a distinctively muted warmth and a quality that defies time, making them stand out from among their contemporaries. He proved that one need not choose the new over the old and that new things can be made out of the old. A large number of Wormley’s popular pieces from the 1930s and 1940s were selling well even into the 1960s, and even command very high prices at auctions today.
Milo Baughman was an American furniture designer best known for his chair, sofa, and table designs. Baughman’s designs were all about simplicity and functionality. He practiced restraint and resisted novelty ideas that would not stand the test of time. As a result, he excelled at creating pieces that were distinctive and had long-lasting appeal, all without sacrificing affordability. He is known for his claim that good design is equal to enduring design. Baughman left behind a body of work that became emblematic for furniture design of the 60s and 70s. His designs became so iconic that they are still used, copied, and built upon by furniture makers and designers up to this day.
In an industry dominated by men, Charlotte Perriand stands out not merely because she was female, but because of an impressive oeuvre of beautiful, comfortable and functional designs. She was among the most important furniture designers and architects of the mid-20th century. Her work was anchored in “the art of living” or l’art de vivre. Perriand sought to make good design accessible. She knew how to use the current technology to realise good furniture. She developed designs that could be mass-produced, employing standardisation, prefabrication, and flexible use of materials. Today, her pieces command high prices and are found in major public and private collections.
George Nelson is considered one of the most important American designers of the 20th century. He was inspired to study architecture after he saw exhibits from students when he entered the Yale School of Architecture building to get out of a rainstorm. Although best known as an author, teacher, and as Director of Design for Herman Miller, George Nelson also designed furniture. One of his best-known designs was the Coconut Chair, a lounge chair that looked like, as Nelson puts it “a coconut cut up into eight sections”. He was more interested in the process that led to the end product than in the end product itself. Nelson’s greatest contribution was his introduction of modernism to American society.
Jens Risom was one of the icons of Mid-Century Modern furniture design. While working for an architectural firm, his interest in furniture was ignited by the introduction to the work of Alvar Aalto and Bruno Mathsson. Risom teamed up with Hans Knoll and they launched the Hans Knoll Furniture together. However, he separated and launched Jens Risom Design when Knoll’s wife served as design director. He was among those who introduced Scandinavian design, marked by simplicity and functionality, to the American public. Risom identified function, comfort and construction as the touchstones of his design philosophy. Risom lived long enough to see a new generation rediscover and appreciate his work.
Greta Magnusson Grossman was among the few female designers to be celebrated in the architectural scene during the mid-twentieth century. Her work was looked at as a mixture of both European thoughts as well as the culture and way of life in Southern California. The European influence on her work was due to her early exposure to the European Modernism. Greta acknowledged the shortcomings of being a feminine artist and affirmed that she must succeed by making history on the field. Her furniture was distinguished by its matchless mixture of materials and willowy magnitude. As far as the experimental architecture world is concerned, this woman was a prominent figure all through the 1960s.
Isamu Noguchi was a well-respected and admired Japanese American sculptor and designer. At the urging of his mother, Noguchi enrolled at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School, where his talents were recognised and encouraged. Noguchi’s forms seem to suggest nature and human beings interacting with one another or with their surroundings. His preference was generally for wood or stone. Noguchi’s work was also richly inspired by European surrealism and abstraction. His sculptures, fountains, and gardens are focal points in major cities of the United States and worldwide. Noguchi was best known for sculpture, but he worked in many other mediums, including painting, ceramics, interior design, and architecture.
Drawing on the Scandinavian tradition of functionalism, simplicity, and craftsmanship, a lot of Danish designers utilised the new industrial design methods to design furniture, buildings, and domestic objects. On the other hand, the making of industrial design was utterly started by the foundation of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufacturing Company at the end of the eighteenth century. Beauty, function, and an excellent selection of materials can be discovered in just about all designs which were made in Denmark even ten years ago. For the period of many years, Danes were influenced by a variety of elements but the fact is that the core principles ever remained the same.
Florence Knoll Bassett is considered to be one of the most influential designers in America after World War II. She was taken under the wing by world-renowned designer Eliel Saarinen after he took notice of the young Florence’s interest in the buildings around her school campus. While working for Hans Knoll, they fell in love and married, and Florence became a partner in the company. Florence used to call her furniture designs as “meat and potatoes”, fillers among the pieces of such great designers as Bertoia, Saarinen and van der Rohe. But even with such big names, Florence’s furniture creations weren’t overshadowed. In fact, they are still admired and produced to this day.
Gaetano Pesce was known to be a leading architect in Italy and a design pioneer of the 20th century. His work was distinguished by a creative utilisation of colour and materials, emphasizing links between a person and the society, through design, architecture and art. Pesce created the purposeful, imperfect, and warm production design to expand the well-known notions of Modernism. He was popular for his work with moulds, resin, and casting techniques used to make different objects. Gaetano Pesce was honoured with so many professional awards from 1975 to 2010 in recognition of his hard work as an expert of his time.
Verner Panton was a man with a unique personality and an extraordinary sense of space, light function, shape, and colour. He originally wanted to become an artist, but his dream was punctuated by his father, so he decided to become an architect instead. Hence, he went to the School of Fine Arts and he worked as a traditional tradesman before his architectural training. Panton wanted to incite people into making use of their thoughts with his work. He, therefore, showed people innovative ways in order to encourage them to use their phantasy thoughts and made their environment more exciting by conducting tests with furniture, colours, lighting, and textiles as well as using the latest technologies.
Sam Maloof was described as the most celebrated contemporary furniture craftsman in America. He combined the art of design with the necessity of comfort. He developed style hallmarks such as organic forms, articulated joinery, and a commitment to clean and swooping lines. The rocking chair first made in 1958 was Maloof’s most famous piece of work. Maloof recreated a traditional American design by discovering the intrinsic setback of the rocking chair form and modified it. Quite a lot of Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States are the enthusiasts of Maloof rockers. Maloof’s work can be found in various museums, institutes and the White House.
Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a renowned designer and architect whose works included glassware, textiles, furniture, paintings, sculptures, and architecture. The furniture designs of Hugo were well thought-out Scandinavian Modern. His first design of architecture was built while he was still a student. Aalto relocated to a few places, at the same time, built a number of houses. While Aalto was prominent for his architecture, his furniture designs were exceptional and are still the rage these days. He also won many awards and honours in recognition of his contribution to the development of Finland. His wife carries on with the activities of the business till date.
Hans J. Wegner was one of the most ingenious and prolific furniture designers of his time. He was the brain behind the Danish Modern and second to none in chair-making. His maiden designs got the attention of his people around the time he finished his cabinet-making apprenticeship. Wegner relocated to Copenhagen, where he enrolled in the School of Arts and Crafts before embarking on his architect career. A few years later, the maiden edition of China Chair was designed, one of which was adjudged the most successful design of all time. Today, all the major design museums in the world have Hans J. Wegner’s furniture in their collections.
Poul Kjaerholm started his career as an apprentice cabinet maker before going to the Copenhagen School for the Applied Arts, where he studied furniture design. He was a very eloquent man. As a result of his natural authority, he began an exceptional career as an instructor without stopping his education with his lecturers. Kjaerholm eventually became head of the Institute for Design and later a professor in 1976. The furniture pieces Kjaerholm designed represented a mix of new technologies, techniques and craftsmanship. He used ordinary materials and steel frames in his work. The products Kjaerholm created would then remain the symbol of classics minimalist design.
In his lifetime, Kaare Klint was referred to as the creator of Danish furniture design. Having a successful architect for a father exposed him to architecture from a young age. This also influenced him to settle for a career in architecture, besides the fact that he was also struggling as a painter. Klint started his career as an apprentice to his father and attended classes at a few schools. His analytical approach to his projects, the use of high-quality materials, and superb craftsmanship influenced quite a lot of furniture designers of his generation. Klint’s combination of his creative nature and carefully researched furniture designs made him the father of modern Danish furniture.
Paul McCobb was an American furniture and industrial designer best known for his contributions to modern furniture design. Paul studied both drawing and painting but was cut short when World War II began. After the war, he developed his interest in modern furniture design and met Mesberg at work. Together, they would create and sell furniture throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Paul wanted to design furniture that was accessible to a lot of people. Because of his designs, he received several awards and became a consultant for a number of leading companies. Nowadays, McCobb’s creations are highly sought after by collectors, and reproductions are still available for sale.
There were many furniture designers who helped to make Danish furniture achieve international acclaim; One of such persons was Borge Mogensen. He was one of the most recognised furniture designers who redefined the future of furniture designs. Mogensen’s education in the art of furniture design was quite rich. After working as a cabinet maker, he studied furniture design for 2 years before he underwent training at the Royal Danish Academy of fine arts for another 4 years. Immediately after graduating, he became a studio manager, received various recognitions, and finally set up his own design studio. His collaboration with Professor Klint led to his famous work in the designs of home storage.