Thanks to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s 19th-century roots and the Hewitt sisters’ collection, the institution has strong holdings in that era’s decorative arts. This month, the New York museum announced that its 20th-century collections were strengthened with a considerable gift from George R. Kravis II.
Most people view Switzerland as the birthplace of nifty pocket knives, cheese with holes, expensive skiing, and Dadaism. But it also gave us the legendary modern furniture company Vitra, as many of the most enthusiastic and/or pretentious of design lovers know.
PARIS — Eileen Gray designed furniture that didn’t so much inhabit as space as touch lightly on it. With discreet forms and minimalist waves that contrasted their industrial materials to the waning of Art Nouveau, the Irish designer quietly influenced the modernism that would guide architecture and design beyond the 1920s and 30s. Yet while her contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer have their names as cemented in modernist history as their sturdy designs, Gray’s legacy has been less studied.
I couldn’t imagine leaving Copenhagen without experiencing the classic Arne Jacobsen SAS Hotel that opened in 1960. One of the things that makes this structure so unique is that Jacobsen was commissioned by SAS, the Scandinavian airline, to design the world’s first designer hotel. While the notion of a “designer hotel” is commonplace nowadays, before Jacobsen’s acheivement, luxury was a term more frequently associated with more vintage elements, like lavishly patterned carpets, heavy curtains and 19th C. moldings.