Modernist Designers Series / Sam Maloof

This month’s designer hails from our very own state of California. Meet the man behind some of the most defining wood craftsmanship of the mid-century.

(   source   )

Sam Maloof (1916-2009)
United States
Designer, Craftsman

Sam Maloof was born in Chino, California with a natural talent for woodworking.

Following his service in the army during World War II, Maloof earned a position at a local college art department, where he began designing and crafting furniture. When his creations appeared in Better Homes & Gardens magazine and the LA Times, the custom orders came flooding in and never stopped.

Of the designs he created during this time, Maloof was best known for his rocking chairs, some of which even appeared in the White House for use by Presidents Reagan and Carter.

Walnut rocking chair, 1977  (   source   )

Walnut rocking chair, 1977 (source)

Though his work continued to develop throughout the Crafts movement, you can see an undeniable modern influence on his style — the simplicity of form, the focus on function, and the way he brought out the beauty of natural materials.

Rosewood Rocking Chair, 1963  (   source   )

Rosewood Rocking Chair, 1963 (source)

In 1953, Maloof began building and furnishing his own home with his wife, Alfreda. In 2000, a freeway extension project (the 210) required he move their Alta Loma home, which was later recognized as a historic property.

Music Stand and Chair from the Maloof House, 1969 and 1972  (   source   )

Music Stand and Chair from the Maloof House, 1969 and 1972 (source)

He relocated to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, where anyone can tour the 22-room estate today, complete with his own handcrafted spiral staircase.

More Modern Designs by Sam Maloof

Loveseat in Maple, 1992  (   source   )

Loveseat in Maple, 1992 (source)

Leather Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1960s  (   source   )

Leather Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1960s (source)

Hornback Chairs in Walnut, 1960s  (   source   )

Hornback Chairs in Walnut, 1960s (source)

Coffee table in Ash, 1954  (   source   )

Coffee table in Ash, 1954 (source)

Free Standing Cradle in Walnut, 1977  (   source   )

Free Standing Cradle in Walnut, 1977 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in September…

In the meantime, who are your favorite modern designers so far?

Modernist Designers Series / Sergio Rodrigues

Our featured designer for June brought new levels of comfort and relaxation to modern design. He was also one of the first to spread the Modernist movement to South America. Meet the father of modern Brazilian furniture...

(   source   )

Sergio Rodrigues (1927-2014)
Brazil
Architect, Designer

Sergio Rodrigues’s modern designs epitomize the relaxed lifestyle of his native Brazil.

After studying architecture and design in Rio de Janeiro, Rodrigues introduced Brazil to modern design, opening its first modern art and furniture store. Two years later, he founded a firm called Oca to design modern furniture himself.

Rodrigues’s work embraced robust woods — like jacaranda, rosewood, and imbuia — and he often used leather. Together, these rich materials would create many uniquely modern designs, all of which boast an undeniably suave style.

In 1957, he developed his infamous Mole chair. “Mole” means “soft” in Portuguese, and this chair is also known as the “Sheriff Chair” abroad. This design won him first prize in Italy’s International Furniture Competition in 1961 and was immortalized in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in 1974.

Mole armchair in jacaranda and leather, 1957  (   source   )

Mole armchair in jacaranda and leather, 1957 (source)

Mole sofa in jacaranda and leather, 1957  (   source   )

Mole sofa in jacaranda and leather, 1957 (source)

Rodrigues also worked closely with Oscar Niemeyer to style the interiors of Niemeyer’s buildings in Brasília. Rodrigues named a chair design “Oscar” after him.

Oscar chair in jacaranda and cane, 1960s  (   source   )

Oscar chair in jacaranda and cane, 1960s (source)

Rodrigues stayed with Oca for 13 years and continued to design into his later years. He churned out more than 1200 designs in his long career, and it’s said that all of them stayed true to the relaxed and playful nature of his people.

In other words, he is more than the first to bring modern design to Brazil. He was also the first to bring Brazilian comfort to modern design!

More Modern Designs by Sergio Rodrigues

Diz chair in imbuia wood, 2002  (   source   )

Diz chair in imbuia wood, 2002 (source)

Kilin chair for his firm, Oca Industries, in Brazilian pine and leather, 1973  (   source   )

Kilin chair for his firm, Oca Industries, in Brazilian pine and leather, 1973 (source)

Tonico chair in jacaranda and leather, 1950  (   source   )

Tonico chair in jacaranda and leather, 1950 (source)

Benjamin lounge armchair in freijó wood, 2013  (   source   )

Benjamin lounge armchair in freijó wood, 2013 (source)

Cuiaba chair in freijó wood, 1985  (   source   )

Cuiaba chair in freijó wood, 1985 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in July!

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Eva Zeisel

This month, we’re introducing a Hungarian-American designer whose incredible 105-year life took her through several countries, a World War, and into the history books of modern design.

( source )

Eva Zeisel (1906-2011)
United States (born in Hungary)
Designer, Ceramicist

Though born to a wealthy Hungarian Jewish family, Eva Zeisel ignored the leisurely callings of her status and immersed herself in the laborious role of ceramicist’s apprentice.

After graduating as a journeyman, Zeisel spent several years in Germany, designing modern-inspired ceramic dinnerware, vases, and tea sets. In 1935, she moved to Soviet Russia to assume the role of director of the Soviet china and glass industry.

In 1937, a series of events paused her work. First, she was falsely accused of plotting to assassinate Joseph Stalin and was imprisoned for 16 months in Russia. Then, when she was finally released and deported to Vienna, the Nazis invaded; she and her husband fled to the U.S.

The couple arrived in New York, and Zeisel’s career took off over the following years. She taught at the Pratt Institute, created a ceramics line for Sears, and was commissioned to create a line of modern ceramics for the Museum of Modern Art.

Town and Country Salt and Pepper Shakers, MoMA, 1945 ( source )

Town and Country Salt and Pepper Shakers, MoMA, 1945 (source)

Hallcraft/Tomorrow’s Classic Sauce Boat with Ladle, MoMA, 1949-50 ( source )

Hallcraft/Tomorrow’s Classic Sauce Boat with Ladle, MoMA, 1949-50 (source)

In her more than 75-year career, Zeisel was famous for pushing boundaries. Although her ceramics included the clean lines and simplicity of modernism, she challenged these limitations with designs inspired by nature, the human form, relationships, and her own playful approach to life.

That Zeisel’s pieces were featured in the Museum of Modern Art and mass produced for the general public is a tribute to her skill in creating beautiful and functional designs.

More Modern Designs by Eva Zeisel

Large Biomorphic Silver Platter designed for Nambé, 1952 ( source )

Large Biomorphic Silver Platter designed for Nambé, 1952 (source)

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Tea Pot, German Modernist, 1929 ( source )

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Tea Pot, German Modernist, 1929 (source)

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Coffee Set, German Modernist, 1929 ( source )

Eva Zeisel Schramberg Coffee Set, German Modernist, 1929 (source)

Serving set designed for KleinReid, 1999 ( source )

Serving set designed for KleinReid, 1999 (source)

Pitchers, 1946-1960 ( source )

Pitchers, 1946-1960 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in June…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Poul Kjærholm

This month’s modern designer hails from Denmark, a country famous for producing many of the biggest names in the Modernist movement.

( source )

Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980)
Denmark
Designer

Poul Kjærholm is most known for bringing the use of steel into modern design, but surprisingly, his career started as a carpenter’s apprentice. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that Kjærholm studied under renowned designer Hans Wegner and Jørn Utzon (an industrial designer) at Copenhagen’s School of Arts and Crafts.

In the years that followed, Kjærholm designed chairs and tables for E. Kold Christensen and Fritz Hansen, and he earned several design awards along the way. He once said that his design philosophy came, not from expressing his own personality, but from expressing the personality of the materials.

By combining natural materials like wood and leather with his characteristic touch of steel piping, he created some of the most innovative furniture designs of the era. The PK22 and PK24 lounge chair designs are his most famous.

PK22 lounge chair, 1960 ( source )

PK22 lounge chair, 1960 (source)

PK24 lounge chair ( source )

PK24 lounge chair (source)

In addition to furniture design, Kjærholm also spent many years teaching at his alma mater, the Royal Danish Academy of Arts, and the Design Institute. Nevertheless, he continued to design chairs until his death in 1980.

More Modern Designs from Poul Kjærholm

PK9 Chair ( source )

PK9 Chair (source)

PK61 Coffee Table in Steel and Glass E. Kold Christensen Denmark ( source )

PK61 Coffee Table in Steel and Glass E. Kold Christensen Denmark (source)

PK71 Nesting tables for E. Kold Christensen ( source )

PK71 Nesting tables for E. Kold Christensen (source)

PK11 chair design for E. Kold Christensen, 1957 ( source )

PK11 chair design for E. Kold Christensen, 1957 (source)

“Holscher” chair with welded steel tube frame ( source )

“Holscher” chair with welded steel tube frame (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in May…

In the meantime, tell us about your favorite modern designer in the comments below!

Modernist Designers Series / Jacques Adnet

For our third modernist designer to know, we’re taking you into the heart of French art, culture, and history: Paris.

If you missed February’s featured designer, read here!

(   source   )

Jacques Adnet (1900-1984)
France
Architect, Designer

Jacques Adnet and his twin brother, Jean, received their artistic education at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1916.

Following graduation, the twins founded their own design firm, Jean & Jacques Adnet, where they would work together for the next four years.

During this period, Adnet’s work was largely inspired by the popular Art Deco style of the early era. He used it to update traditional furniture in new ways and placed heavy emphasis on materials like leather, metals, mirror, and woods.

In 1928, the brothers’ paths took different directions when Jacques Adnet accepted a directorship at the design firm La Compagnie des Arts Français. It was here that his style began to shift towards the work he is most famous for…

He continued to use luxurious materials and to reinvent traditional forms, but he began to embrace the svelte lines and shapes of modernist design.

Campaign chair and ottoman, 1940s  (   source   )

Campaign chair and ottoman, 1940s (source)

Lounge chairs, 1950  (   source   )

Lounge chairs, 1950 (source)

Coffee table with mirror, 1930s  (   source   )

Coffee table with mirror, 1930s (source)

His unique modern style continued into the 1940s, when Hermès commissioned Adnet for nearly a decade’s worth of furniture designs. Adnet’s most famous pieces include the leather mirror, Circulaire, and his table lamp, Quadro VII, which was produced in Italy.

Circulaire, round leather mirrors, 1950  (   source   )

Circulaire, round leather mirrors, 1950 (source)

Quadro VII Lamp, 1929  (   source   )

Quadro VII Lamp, 1929 (source)

Adnet also renovated and designed several high-profile interiors in the 1940s and 50s, including French President Vincent Auriol’s private apartments, Paris’s UNESCO headquarters, and several luxury ocean liners.

When La Compagnie des Arts Français closed in 1959, he resumed his work as an art school director.

More Modern Designs by Jacques Adnet

Hand-stitched leather lounge chairs, 1950s-1960s  (   source   )

Hand-stitched leather lounge chairs, 1950s-1960s (source)

Leather magazine holder designed for Hermès  (   source   )

Leather magazine holder designed for Hermès (source)

Stitched leather desk, 1950s  (   source   )

Stitched leather desk, 1950s (source)

Leather table, 1950s  (   source   )

Leather table, 1950s (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in April…

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!