|Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman by Charles Eames, 1956|
Like many architects, I am fascinated with the closely aligned craft of furniture design. In a continuing desire to make the posts on this blog concise, I have chosen to break this subject down into two posts. This post serves as an overview, and focuses the conversation on one particular type of furniture - the chair. The second post will be more of a historical survey and will address with other types of furniture as well. In this post, there are three questions for which I am suggesting possible answers. Why are architects interested in furniture design? What is the allure of chair design to architects? And how successful are the actual end products?
|Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer, 1925|
|Ladderback Chair by Charles Rennie Macintosh, 1902|
Pioneers of early modern architecture were well-rounded individuals who designed much more than buildings. Their training was in the arts and crafts in general, rather than exclusively in architecture. If an architect designed a building, they thought not only about the envelope, but also about what the envelope actually contained. During this time, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, architecture underwent radical transformations, due to the industrial revolution. Some architects, such as LeCorbusier and Marcel Breuer, embraced the new industrial world and experimented with new construction techniques and materials such as steel and glass. Other architects, such as Charles Rennie Macintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright, ushered in a return to the decorative arts, in reaction against the excesses of the Victorian era. Both camps produced buildings that were new and different. Furnishing them with compatible furniture proved to be challenging. So necessity became the mother of invention. The only way to get acceptable furniture was to design it. That is just what they did.
|Rolling Armchair by Paul Rudolph, 1968|
|Johnson Wax Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1937|
We'll explore a number of examples of architect-designed furniture pieces next time. Please join me again for Furniture by Architects.