Inside the Walls: Architect’s Design

Is there any distinctiveness to furniture designed by architects? If you ask me, the answer is yes. Design created by architects has its own allure and character. In fact, one of the first projects I like to assign my design students is to look closely at objects in the classroom, and to identify whether they were created by fashion designers, product designers, architects, or interior decorators. Furniture designed by architects is the main theme of an upcoming and intriguing exhibition which brilliant curator Mark McDonald organizes at Friedman Benda, entitled ‘Inside the Walls: Architect’s Design.’ To McDonald, products designed by architects often stand ‘at the forefront of newness, pushing existing boundaries.’ ‘Architects,’ he told me ‘never fail to excite me, they just have that “WOW” factor.’ With an unparalleled experience in the world of 20th-century modern design and a legendary presence in the marketplace for nearly four decades, he is freely moving within the history of design, selecting extraordinary icons. Whether created for specific commissions, or for mass projection, McDonald perceives these pieces and the exhibition itself as an opportunity to examine the relationship between design and architecture, to define architectural aesthetics, and to investigate the use of cutting-edge materials in architects-designed objects. The objects include furniture and lights by such legends as Ettore Sottsass, Luis Barragán, Mies van der Rohe, Lina Bo Bardi, Kenzō Tange, Marcel Breuer, Frank Gehry, Charles and Ray Eames, Oscar Niemeyer, Philip Johnson, Charlotte Perriand, Gio Ponti, Warren Platner, Rudolph Schindler, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Above: Frank Gehry, ‘Easy Edges’ Rocking Chaise Lounge, 1973.  January 18-February 17 at Friedman Benda, 515 West 26th Street. 
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Philip Johnson, Coolley Shade for Floor Lamp

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Frank Lloyd Wright, Lounge chair from the Clarence Sondern House, Kansas City, MO, c. 1938

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Richard Meier, Knoll, Rocking Chaise Lounge, 1980 Maple, leather upholstery

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Gio Ponti, Coffee table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas, Venezuela, 1954

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Gerrit Rietveld, Armchair Model No. R54, Designed 1942, Produced 1942-1946

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Rudolph Schindler, produced by Warren McArthur Corporation, Armchair Designed for Sardi’s Restaurant, Hollywood, CA, 1932-1933

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Marcel Breuer [Hungarian, 1902-1981] Chair from Rhoads Hall, Bryn Mawr College, PA, 1938

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Louis Kahn, Desk for the Morton and Lenore Weiss House, Designed 1949.

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William Lescaze, produced by Garland, Furniture Manufacturing Co, Chicago Chair for the Brooklyn Museum Library, 1933

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