LEARN FROM THE GREATS: DESIGNERS WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE

LEARN FROM THE GREATS: DESIGNERS WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE

It is hard to know the best design magazine with so many from which to choose. One of my favorites is Contract.

Harry Bertoia Diamond chair 1952. Steel rod and Naugahyde seat pad. Mfg. Knoll International, USA MOMA

In the current issue, the article by Jan Lakin about the Cranbrook Art Academy and Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, inspired me to write about the special schooling for designers, among whom are Ray and Charles Eames, Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, among many, who were student collaborators with figurehead designer and architect, Eliel Saarinen. Professionals that helped to define art and design for decades.

The Cranbrook Educational Community, a National Historic Landmark, was founded in the early 20th century by newspaper mogul George Gough Booth.

Eliel Saarinen, fresh from Germany and involvement with the Bauhaus,  had firm ideas of what an art school must be. He was commissioned to design and then teach at the campus of Cranbrook Educational Community in 1925. According to the article, the Academy is renowned for the masterful campus planning and architecture by Eliel, complete with studios, classrooms, workshops, a library, and art museum-that would foster craft, the intense study of the arts, and a spirit of discovery. The school was intended as an American Equivalent to the early 20th century now defunct Bauhaus in Germany. The Bauhaus (scroll to “Grand Stand” blog) was the icon of art schools followed by Cranbrook.

Saarinen became president of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1932. He  influenced subsequent furniture design. Saarinen also designed the museum at Cranbrook, now being renovated.

Cranbrook Art Museum - Wikipedia

About Cranbrook Art Museum
Cranbrook Art Museum is a contemporary art museum, and an integral part of Cranbrook Academy of Art, a community of Artists-in-Residence and graduate-level students of art, design and architecture. The Art Museum, which was established in 1930 and opened at its current site in 1942, is Eliel Saarinen’s final masterwork at Cranbrook. Today, the Art Museum presents original exhibitions and educational programming on modern and contemporary architecture, art, and design, as well as traveling exhibitions, films, workshops, travel tours, and lectures by renowned artists, designers, artists, and critics throughout the year. In 2011, the Art Museum completed a three-year $22 million construction project that included both the restoration of the Saarinen-design building and a new state-of-the-art Collections Wing addition. For more information, visit www.cranbrook.edu.

To see the article, click Contract and scroll to see on the left of the page, “Cranbrook Art Museum.”

Next week, we’ll take a look at Eero Saarinen. A powerful influence and world renowned designer and architect, the son of Eliel Saarinen.

Do you believe there is such a thing as “good design?” Do you believe in special schooling to become a designer? If you wanted to be a designer, art, graphic, interior, what considerations would you give to your training? If you hire a designer, do you ask about credentials?

 

 

 

 

 

MOSHE SAFTIE: HABITAT 67 MONTREAL

MOSHE SAFTIE: HABITAT 67 MONTREAL

Habitat ’67 – Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie received an invitation from me to speak to my students studying design in the early 80’s. Due to time restraints, he wrote a lovely letter of refusal. One of my constituents and good friend asked me to do a blog about Mr. Safdie. It is my pleasure to accept her invitation to write about a favorite architect.
The design, “Habitat 67” was an early invention of Mr. Safdie. Multifamily concrete stacked modular units, it was a study in people placement and the practical use of space. He designed the buildings in 1967 for the Montreal Exposition. Although, someone I know who visited the Exposition, experienced the architecture and found it “cold.” Still it was an excellent example of industrially produced modular housing. The design showcased construction techniques unheard of at the time.
In March, 2009, Habitat 67 received the classification of a historic monument.

According to “e-architect”, Habitat 67 began life as a master’s thesis project prepared in 1961 by Mr. Safdie, then an architecture student at McGill University. He came up with the idea of a high density apartment building that would provide residents with privacy as well as peace and quiet. He was invited to develop his idea for Expo 67 and did so alongside engineer August E. Komendant. By the time the universal exhibition came round, the project was partially completed, and 26 apartments were reserved for the Expo. The housing complex had 354 prefabricated units, initially forming 158 one or two story apartments with one to four bedrooms. The apartments were divided into three pyramids.  Each apartment featured a landscaped garden built on the roof of the level below. Follow the link to check out this exciting property.  Waterfront property and tennis courts.

Mr Safdie established his architectural practice in 1964  in Montreal to design and supervise the construction of Habitat 67. Today the principal office is in Boston, Massachusetts with branch offices in Jerusalem, Toronto, and Singapore. The international practice provides a full range of urban planning, architectural and interior design services. Activities range from the design of public institutions-including museums, performing arts centers, libraries, and university campuses-to the design of airports. housing, mixed-use complexes, and new communities.

Below is a sample of his current innovative work.

Marina Bay Sands Moshe Safdie, Singapore

Marina-Bay-Sands-Architecture–Moshe-Safdie-Singapore-yatzer_13.jpg

Luxury hotel, Marina Bay Sands recently opened the doors of its microcosm to the public and has already wowed tourists with its unique and luxurious design. Up at the top, a pool for your swimming pleasure.

The Marina Bay Sands hotel is located in Singapore has been designed with one goal in mind, to be the leading business, leisure and entertainment destination in Asia. It holds the title of the most expensive hotel built till this day, as its investment by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation reaches $5 billion. The Marina Bay Sands hotel is a mixed-use integrated resort with 2,560-rooms, three 55-storey towers, a 150-meters infinity pool on top of the towers, an indoor canal, a museum shaped like a lotus flower, the best shopping mall in Asia and world-class celebrity chef restaurants.  Furthermore, it includes theatres, an outdoor event plaza, a convention center and a casino with private gaming rooms for premium players.

If you wanted apartment living, waterfront, with all the luxuries and amenities, would Habitat interest you? Or do you prefer the kind of living that affords more privacy?

Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to you all. I will be back in two weeks.

 

 

SEATING PRETTY

SEATING PRETTY

Sit yourself down my dear, in your favorite chair, do not fret, do not sweat, for all you cherish is beneath your seat.

Kitchen Chair 16x16x32"

The crème de la crème is from the 1988 Harry N. Abrams, Inc “397 Chairs” collection. The “Kitchen Chair” by artist Sylvia Netzer. The chair is made of steel tubes, silicon and  found objects.

The almighty chair we all take for granted is not always what we expect. For the last two weeks we have discussed the talented, think-out-of-the-box, architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. His architecture reached new heights (oops, an unintended pun) of creativity and function. He designed the interior to reflect the exterior in design, use of materials and function. His seating was accommodating, but uncomfortable with its too deep seats and too stiff backs.

Dining Chair Robie House

All seating must have some pitch to the backs to allow for butt space. But not too much then you will see dangling feet. It is important when getting seating to test your best not only for pretty, but also for fitting your purpose.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect of Horizontality, designed this dining chair for the FLW Robie House in Hyde Park, Chicago. See what I mean by back pitch in the drawings below.

The Boynton Dining Chairs now being manufactured by Copeland were designed for the E. E. Boynton House in Rochester, New York. Mr. Boynton wanted comfortable seating for his guests, so Wright designed a chair back with a compound curve in it that would support a person’s shoulders and give lumbar support for the lower back. Lacking the technology to actually create the compound curved panel, the design was relegated to Wright’s archives for the last 100 years.


Let’s take a last long look at a really comfortable chair. The good old Club Chair.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

With James permission here he is in his fav chair…James Kaston, of Remains Lighting, NYC with his cat, Pinky, in his antiques-filled apartment in Stuyvesant Town. Besides his Pinky, the cat who has gone on to pinky heaven, James loves his Napoleon III chair. Can you see enough to get the idea of comfort for your weary soul, pardon, I mean seat?

Have you experienced seating that you can’t wait to get out of and run away as fast as you can? Like, how many of you sit and relax at White Castle, like our stockbroker friend who couldn’t fit?

Until next week…more U-know…wrapped around another story.

FLW INTERIORS & SEATING

FLW INTERIORS & SEATING

Fallingwater Fireplace in Living Room section

If you are  reading this, you are probably curious about Frank Lloyd Wright Interiors.

FLW was not a singer songwriter, he was not a shoemaker, he was not slothful, and he was not an interior designer. FLW was a creative genius in architectural methodology and an engineer. He knew he was an architect and engineer, but he also thought he was a designer of interiors and furniture maker. Fallingwater is a prime  example of Wright’s
concept of organic architecture, “promoting harmony between man and nature through a design integrated with its site buildings, furnishings and surroundings as part of a unified, interrelated composition.”

His large sitting room at Fallingwater could have had several “conversation groupings.” There is ample bench-like seating that is designed for lots of people sitting side-by-side.FLW lined up the seating all around the perimeter of the room. Unless you are sitting with your sweetheart and holding hands, it is difficult to sit right next to someone and hold a conversation. The best seating is to group conversation areas so folks are sitting across from one another.

When last I visited his magnificent Fallingwater I found it curious there was no seating at the fireplace. The fireplace is a  perfect conversation area, but the rock ledge he designed and installed is in the way.

Lined up sitting

The windows are behind the seating. It would be difficult to enjoy the view. A view or fireplace  are natural focal points to group seating. Neither the view nor the fireplace was considered.

Fallingwater is the ultimate realization of his vision of man living in harmony with nature. Walls of glass enhance the site-and-house connection. But what about the functional connection for those using the space? He argued with his client about design and money. Instead of an agreed budget of $50,000 max, the cost escalated to $155,000.

Keep posted for a look at more of Wright’s ideas.

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