Furniture Design: Then and Now

Let’s learn from the best furniture of the past and present
Furniture of substance, narratives, identities, and inspiration.

What is contemporary furniture? It’s not what you see when you shop in furniture stores. The world of contemporary furniture design is much more sophisticated, interesting and advanced, communicating the zeitgeist and values of our time. In this program, you will meet those whose furniture stand at the forefront of the world of design. You’ll meet designers who freeze metals, grow furniture on trees, utilize a broad spectrum of typologies and methods, and translate the most basic and traditional crafts into contemporary expressions. They have established research-based studios and their work has come to shape the discipline of design today. You cannot understand the present without knowing the past and therefore, you will also learn chapters in the history of furniture, meeting curators, historians, and writers who have devoted their careers to the study and research of furniture design of the past century – Carlo Mollino, Frank Lloyd Wright, Carla Porset, Gianfranco Frattini.

In the new series ‘Furniture Design: Then and Now,’ design historian and connoisseur Daniella Ohad will host instrumental figures in the world of furniture design, while illuminating various themes in modern and contemporary furniture. You will gain an understanding of the story of furniture, develop a critical eye and the ability to identify greatness, and to recognize furniture’s expression and spirit of the time. You will meet some of the world’s most brilliant furniture designers, writers, and historians, in this once-in-a-lifetime design experience.

The world of furniture is one of the most fascinating areas of design, as furniture represents the political, social, and artistic values of its time, and it evolves to continue to match the times. In the ancient world and during the centuries leading to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, furniture was crafted exclusively for royalty and aristocracy. However, in the early years of the past century, it moved toward the intersection of architecture, art, crafts, design, taste, and power, while being subjected to the shifting boundaries of craft, design, and identities. Good furniture design must have strong vision, significant forms, innovative use of materials and technologies, storytelling.

Wednesdays, 12:00-1:15 pm EST

Clara Porest, Butaque, c. 1957; images courtesy Museum of Modern Art.
Raw Edges, ‘Endgrain,’ Chatsworth House, 2015.