Lee F. Mindel: His Veritas (‘Truth’)

There is something magical about architect-design furniture pieces and the way architects transfer their architectural thinking to small-scale objects, because the successful examples typically capture what is, in essence, a microcosmic manifestation of their buildings. Consider George Nakashima, Arne Jacobsen, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies, Gio Ponti, Mario Bellini, Toyo Ito—you can trace their design thinking in the furniture they created. I therefore was thrilled when I recently heard about an upcoming and anticipated furniture series by Lee F. Mindel for Ralph Pucci.

Mindel knows furniture more than most of us. His intellectual and poetic exploration in the world of historical design began decades ago when the market for mid-century design was in its infancy. He visited Parisian design galleries, learning, researching, discovering the legacy of modernism, before scholarship was widely available, placing masterpieces of modern design in the dazzling interiors he has created for his art lovers clients. The article he published in AD in the early 90s, describing a trip to Paris, is considered a benchmark among experts. In creating the new furniture series, Mindel has incorporated his extensive travels across the globe, his experience in curating furniture collections and design auctions, his love for European modernism, and leadership as an influencer. “You look, you study,” he says, “but you never copy.”

The soft, organic forms emphasize Mindel’s life-long philosophy—that furniture has the power to introduce warmth and affection into any modernist interiors. The pieces, all made in platerglass, were crafted at the studio of Ralph Pucci as a part of the artist-in-residence program, working alongside artisans and master sculptor. The series is currently housed in the stunning showroom of Ralph Pucci at West 18th Street, in an exhibition entitled “Veritas,” Latin for “truth.” Honesty has a key place in Mindel’s taste and process of thinking, in accordance with the legacy of the Modern Movement, as taught and adopted at his alma mater, Harvard Graduate School of Design, where Mindel completed his master’s degree in architecture in the 70s.

The Santorini Console and Dining Table, inspired by the vaulted arches on the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea, immediately transports you to this part of the world. The references are clear and are all processed through Mindel’s signature elegance, artistic interiors, love for the perfect finishes, intellectual spaces, and poetic thinking. They bring innumerable layers to the furniture, making it relevant and contemporary. The tall, light sculptures refer to Le Corbusier’s Modular Man, the modernist’s recurring silhouette of a stylized human figure—his version of the ‘New Man.’ The Vallauris Light Sculptures was named after the famed Southern French town where Pablo Picasso and George Jouve created their work in clay, and the Gustavsberg Sconce pays homage to the time-honored traditions of Swedish ceramics. The Archipelago Sconces mirror the topography of the islands that embrace the North Sea from Sweden to Finland, while the Rialto Bench was informed by the spanning bridges of Venice and Florence, Italy, and the Double Take Mirrors serve to extend the artistic legacy of Diego Giacometti and Jean-Michel Frank.

This must-see exhibition will be open by appointment until the end of June.