Category Furniture Design

Museums, galleries, and exhibitions

Gallery exhibitions on furniture design at the local, regional, national, and international levels have become common occurrences, and they serve a significant purpose in educating and evolving contemporary paradigms about design. The International Arts and Crafts exhibit in London, Indianapolis, and San Francisco in 1996; the London exhibit focusing on Italian furniture design entitled "Icons" in 1992; Design by Delight, exhibited in Indianapolis in 1990; and the retrospective exhibit on the work of the late Poul Kjsrholm at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art are examples of furniture exhibitions that have helped to promote the work of furniture fabricators and designers and in doing so, have also shaped the cul­ture of furniture design...


Industry Sources

The industry arose during the nineteenth century. Selective furniture companies have promoted the culture of design by publishing books, sponsoring gallery exhibitions, and coordinating international conferences. As industry has grown in political and economic

strength, it has assumed a greater academic and cultural responsibility. Contemporary fur­niture companies renowned for educating and evolving the culture of design include Alessi, B & B Italia, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, Giogetti, Herman Miller, Kartell, Louis Poulsen, Olivetti, Thonet, Vitra, and Zanotta.

The following manufacturers represent a small portion of the global picture but are included here to establish a basis for those furniture companies discussed in this book...


References and Sources

Important distinctions were made between the architect and the artisan (head and hand) in the 1400s during the rise of the Renaissance. Leon Battista Alberti’s writing gets right to the point in articulating distinctions between thinking and making in architectural theory. Four hundred years later, the Industrial Revolution furthered the polemic gap between "head" and "hand" in the midst of the nineteenth century. Furniture entrepreneurs such as Michael Thonet began to pave the way for design to emerge within the culture of mecha­nization and industry. Simultaneous with the rise of industry, writers and crafts persons such as John Ruskin, William Morris, and Gustav Stickley did their utmost to rekindle the notion of craft and workmanship in furniture design...


New Digital Tools, New Synthetic Materials, New Design Opportunities

Digital milling machines, high-end computer technologies, intuitive three-dimensional com­puter-aided design drawing (CADD) modeling programs, new synthetics, and smart materi­als are helping designers and fabricators realize new furniture products. In addition to the assimilation of digital technologies, green design has become a significant, almost an inher­ent, aspect of design. We have seen and will continue to see new designs respond to the growing need to respect our physical and social environments.

Damakersvan (translated to "The Makers of. . .") is a result of the collaboration of three designers: Judith de Graauw and brothers Jeroen and Joep Verhoeven. In 2005, the design­ers utilized computer-assisted design and fabrication technologies to create Table Cinderella (Figures 10...



In many interior and building projects, the design or selection of furniture has significant value in the generation and development of architectural and interior work. Academic and professional environments reinforce the notion that furniture design is a significant com­ponent of interior spaces. However, furniture design encompasses disciplines extending beyond architecture and interior design. In the context of expanded disciplines, the depth, breadth, and evolving body of knowledge of industrial design have inspired new work and new ideas about materials and production processes. Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid, and Marc Newson are contemporary designers who have been inspired by new materials and production processes, and their work, in turn, has inspired other designers.

Interesting p...


Craft versus Design

Furniture craftsmen emerged in the United States soon after World War II, seeking to create works of beauty using handcraft technologies. They were somewhat resistant to the industri­alization and mechanization in which the country was immersed and were often associated with studio furniture, which was crafted using machine and hand tools. George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, and Sam Maloof were renowned for their studio-based practices, producing some of the most refined and well-crafted furniture pieces from the post-World War II period to the 1980s, though the tradition continues today.

New Craftsmanship

New craftsmanship is marked by the hybridization of craft and industry...



How did modernism affect society? Modernism was not broadly accepted until after World War II, when society began to look to the culture of design for leadership in social change. Exceptionally talented designers worked closely with artisans and craft shops throughout the United States and Europe during this time to bring the modern ideal into popular culture and to create furniture for everyday use. Many designers became prominent within this climate. Their work, working prototypes, and writings inspired a generation of furniture designers and helped develop the spirit of modernism.

Jean Prouve (1901-1984) was a French designer whose work has been recognized by his ingeniously simple method of fabrication that is typical of his furniture...


The Bauhaus

Walter Gropius (1883-1969) founded the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany, in 1919. It precipitated a revolution in art, design, and architectural education whose influence is still felt today. In the words of Wolf von Eckardt, the Bauhaus "created the patterns and set the standards of present-day industrial design; it helped to invent modern architecture; it altered the look of everything from the chair you are sitting on to the page you are reading now."12 Under Gropius’s leadership, design and furniture created a modernist revolution demon­strating how materials and fabrication processes could inspire the design process. An exam­ple of this philosophical approach can be seen in Mart Stam’s design of the first cantilevered tubular steel chair.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) was on...



In 1901, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959) gave a talk at a meeting of

Подпись: Figure 10.53 Dining chair for the Susan Dana home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Computer model by Sylbester Yeo and Jim Postell.


the Chicago Society of Arts and Crafts entitled "The Art and Craft of the Machine." He declared that the furniture he designed was suitable for machine production and that machines should be abhorred only when they were set to replicate nonmechanical tasks such as carving. He wanted furniture to be machine made and affordable for a large number of people (Figure 10.53). Frank Lloyd Wright became an eminent American designer who created unique furniture pieces for most of his buildings. So impor­tant is his work that efforts have been made to preserve much of it, including the furniture and decorative elements within his buildings.

Between 1895 and 1915, Grand Rapids, Michigan, was commonly refe...


Arts and Crafts in the United States

The Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by a crisis of conscience. Its motivations were social and moral, and its aesthetic values derived from the conviction that society produces the art and architecture it deserves.9

The American segment of the Arts and Crafts period (1895-1915) was marked by a structural expression of simple form and handmade appearance (Figure 10.49). The primary tenet in design was function. This premise, along with a restrained use of ornamentation and a respect for the nature of the materials used, carried Mission style furniture forward for a quarter of a century.

Gustav Stickley (1858-1942) was influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris...