artek and heath ceramics launch collaboration with imaginative installation by the archers
the vitra showroom display, which celebrates limited-edition tea trolley 900 and stool 60 releases, portrays a fictional meeting between alvar aalto and edith heath.
housed within a vitra (artek’s parent company) showroom in new york’s meatpacking district, the installation, called “take five,” marks the launch of a limited-edition tea trolley 900 and stool 60. by imagining a scenario in which artek’s founder, famed modernist architect alvar aalto, and edith heath, founder of the eponymous ceramics brand, had met and collaborated, a story of what could have been is brought to life.
above> sculpture class in school of design / 610 fairbanks chicago / c 1940
serendipity: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for…
this article intends to provoke an ongoing conversation re chicago’s design history. let’s begin with a philosophy of “one must look back to move forward” and with elements necessary to this narrative — in chronological order… bauhaus movement, lászló moholy-nagy, new bauhaus in chicago, the chicago design archive, and chicago designer steve liska. an aside, this year, iit institute of design is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its founding as the new bauhaus.
[ bauhaus movement /// weimar/dessau germany ] the historical bauhaus is the most influential educational establishment in the fields of architecture, art and design. founded 1919 in weimar germany by architect walter gropius as a school that combined crafts and the fine arts, it was famous for an approach to design which it publicized and taught. the school closed in 1933 when the nazis came to power in germany.
the bauhaus can still be felt today, essentially characterizing the image of german design abroad. architects, designers and artists associated with the bauhaus include: alvar aalto, josef albers, herbert bayer, charles and ray eames, eileen gray, johannes itten, walter jacobsen, wassily kandinsky, paul klee, le corbusier, laszlo moholy-nagy, george nelson, isamu noguchi, eero saarinen, frank lloyd wright and mies van der rohe.
above> in 1907 belgian architect henry van de velde founded the school of arts and crafts in weimar germany / 1919 he invites walter gropius to move in who starts the state bauhaus
[ lászló moholy-nagy, a new bauhaus school /// chicago usa ] also known as moholy – a hungarian experimental artist, modernist, and former faculty at the parent bauhaus in dessau comes to chicago. in 1937, at the invitation of walter paepcke, the chairman of the container corporation of america, moholy-nagy, moved to chicago to become the director of the new bauhaus. the philosophy of the school was basically unchanged from that of the original.
unfortunately, the school lost its financial backing and it closed in 1938. paepcke continued his own support and in 1939, moholy-nagy opened the school of design. in 1944, the school became the institute of design. earlier in 1939, the institute of design became a part of illinois institute of technology and became the first institution in the united states to offer a phd in design.
below> moholy-nagy on the balcony of the prellerhaus in dessau / 1927 / courtesy of the metropolitan museum of art
[ the chicago design archive and chicago designer steve liska ] liska shares his thoughts with DesignApplause upon discovering his new office was once the home of moholy’s school…
[designapplause] for the past 30 years you have managed to create wonderful office spaces for yourself. your current space may be your best. how did you arrive at this location?
[steve liska] our lease was up, was grumbling about it to a client that just developed the 600 north fairbanks helmut jahn building. he said he had a tenant (the pritzker military library) moving out of his building and i should take a look. it was slightly scary.
[DA] what is your vision of your office spaces? what is your office supposed to do?
[SL] as brand designers- communication is critical. so have always appreciated an open, flexible, collaborative office. our office supports us and gives us a neutral environment to share ideas. and has good coffee.
[DA] what was involved / how did you arrive at the finished presentation of your space?
[SL] the building is almost 100 years old, very solid and concrete loft-like. my friends at gary lee partners helped us plan for all the previous tenant demo- we removed walls, office and lots of strange old equipment. then they helped configure the space, basically made it happen.
[DA] tell us about some back stories to this building.
[SL] it was built almost a 100 years ago as a bakery (the horn and hardart automat company). it has been a us post office, housed hugh hefner’s first playboy office, the chez paree nightclub in the 50s, home to joe sedelmaier, shel silverstein, dingbat’s disco (mr. t!) and of course the school of design. lots of history, stories and a few cool ghosts.
[DA] what did you know and what did you learn about moholy?
[SL] it took a while to learn about the school and moholy-nagy from our new landlord, but once we did- we were fanatics. he actually taught in what is now our space. we have a great old photo of a sculpture class in our office from the late 40s. i have always been a fan of everyone from the bauhaus, but the more i researched moholy-nagy – the more obsessed i became. such a renaissance man.
[DA] tell us about the facade presentation.
[SL] many years ago the building’s owners hired an artist to decorate the front of the building with a huge mural of moses. not sure why moses, but it was quirky and interesting. the building was undergoing surface repair- so moses was going to be painted over. we talked to our landlord about replacing it with something related to moholy-nagy and the school of design. we eventually found a little 2 1/4 inch square photo at moma that we thought was a good evolution from moses. our landlord agreed- they ended up hiring the same artist to paint the mural based on that photo. a year later- the traveling moholy-nagy show was announced.
the best part is watching all the tourists who take photos from across the street. they don’t exactly know what the mural is all about- and that is good.
[DA] is this your final location in a perfect world?
[SL] no that would be costa rica or paris. but for now- this is pretty good.
[DA] as long as we have you, what kind of things are you working on?
[SL] a lot of real estate work, some educational institution branding, and ongoing work for a lot of existing clients. (liska.com)
[DA] i’ve been to your offices many times and we have run into each other pitching work. i don’t recall you wearing anything but a white shirt and tie. and now that you’ve aged a bit you remind me of the design community in the late 60s early 70s. very serious looking. thoughts?
[SL] i’m glad you think i am serious looking. like most things in fashion- it comes back over and over again. i count on that. i do own 2 blue shirts. seriously.
[DA] want to say something we haven’t talked about?
[SL] no, done for now. have to go pick out tomorrow’s tie.
above> liska’s office on 610 north fairbanks today / a mural of moholy over the entrance
the chicago design archive (2002-present), is a permanent and exclusive online record of chicago-related experiential, graphic and product design. the mission statement is simple – to share the best of chicago design. originally hosting only graphic design, experiential and product design work is now being collected. the cda founding board recently added a graphic design advisory and a curatorial board. it goes without saying that this dedicated team feels the burden of preserving and growing the cda, afterall, it’s only chicago’s design heritage. we asked advisor, steve liska, if we could meet at his office. entering his office building we all notice the plaque below. we didn’t know…
stool 60 special edition series | tom dixon, comme des garçons, mike meiré, monocle, mads nørgaard, nao tamura | artek | 2013 (based on 1933 original by alvar aalto)
[ artek ] Artek was founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The business idea of the company was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other educational means.” That was the beginning of Artek. The Artek collection comprises design furniture and lighting fixtures by the Nordic masters Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala and Eero Aarnio. The latest addition to the portfolio consists of products by Yrjö Kukkapuro. The masterpiece of Kukkapuro, the Karuselli chair, will be re-launched on the market in the beginning of the year 2014. In addition to classics, Artek is also launching new generation design products under the Artek Studio brand. Alvar Aalto’s furniture represents an interpretation of Scandinavian modernism articulated primarily in Finnish birch wood. Wood and functionality are both hallmarks of the Artek collection. The Artek portfolio represents the most comprehensive collection of wooden design furniture in the world. Artek has international sales offices in New York, Berlin, Stockholm and Tokyo. The domestic market accounts for 60% of the company’s turnover, with Artek holding a solid position in the Finnish consumer and contract market. Vitra’s design classics have for a number of years been an important part of Artek’s collection for the Finnish market. Artek operates four stores in Finland, as well as a wide retail network.
[ vitra ] Vitra is a furniture company dedicated to developing healthy, intelligent, inspiring and durable solutions for the office, the home and for public spaces. Vitra’s products and concepts are developed in Switzerland by applying a diligent design process that brings together the company’s engineering excellence with the creative genius of leading international designers. It is our goal to create products with a high functional and aesthetic life expectancy. The Vitra Campus architecture, the Vitra Design Museum, workshops, publications, collections and archives are all integral elements of the Vitra Project. They give Vitra the opportunity to gain perspective and depth in all of its creative activities.
Wright’s Mass Modern sale closes our spring 2013 auction season with nearly 500 lots offered at no reserve. From iconic designs by Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames and Ettore Sottsass, to posters and works of art by Richard Avedon, Jim Dine and Gerhard Richter, this sale features something for everyone.
sideboard | walter dorwin teague | c. 1935
o-space pendant lamp | luca nichetto and giapietro gai | foscarini | 2003
saturn stool | dakota jackson | 1976
magis dog house | michael young | 2001
1> battuto bowl | tobia scarpa | venini | c. 1960
2> PH 3 5/2 table lamp | louis poulsen | 1933/c. 1951
3> dining chairs | alessandro mendini | studio alchimia | 1983
4> lounge chair | c. 1965
5> tongue chairs | arne jacobsen | fritz hansen | 1955
6> three skin chair | ron arad | moroso | 2004
7> shelving system | michael marriott | established & sons | 2005
8> 1966 armchairs | richard schultz | 1966/c. 1995
9> tronchi vase | toni zuccheri | venini | c. 1964
Wright Auction Houses launches their Scandinavian Design Auction—showcasing pieces by Alvar Aalto, Poul Henningsen, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, and Poul Kjaerholm. Known for its elegance and seamless integration of material and form, Nordic furniture was instrumental in launching the modern design movement of the twentieth century, and remains among the most sought-after modern furniture today. The lot includes several of Jacobsen’s Egg and Swan chairs, as well as an Aalto Paimio lounge chair.
Wright says, of the collection: “Designs issuing from Scandinavia in the 20th century shifted the paradigm of modernism towards a fundamentally human ethos which has been, and remains, a standard for function, quality and beauty.”
A highlight of the sale is a collection of Swedish carpets from Märta Måås-Fjetterström AB, the studio that commissioned Barbro Nilsson and Marianne Richter. A graphic, yellow wool carpet by Richter will likely carry the auction’s highest price tag; it’s estimated to go for $30,000-40,000. Peruse the lot at your leisure at [ wright ]
pk 9 chairs | pool kjaerholm | e. kold christensen | 1960
desk | bodil kjaer | desk | e. pederson and sons | c. 1960
>1 ph 4/3 table lamp | poul henningsen | louis poulsen | 1927
>2 desk | bodil kjaer | desk | e. pederson and sons | c. 1960
>3 falurutan carpet | barbro nillson | märta måås-fjetterström | 1952
>4 veckla vessels | stig lindberg | gustavsberg |1951
>5 pk 9 chairs | pool kjaerholm | e. kold christensen | 1960
>6 lounge chair | peter karph | christensen & larsen | c. 1966
>7 model 162 dining table | borge møgensen | søborg møbelfabrik | 1953
>8 model K10-11 floor lamp| tapio wirkkala | idman |1958
>9 l-leg desk with return | alvar aalto | artek | 1933
>10 carpet | marianne richter | märta måås-fjetterström | c. 1950
>11 model 3217 sevener chair | arnie jacobsen | fritz hansen | 1955
>12 model A331 beehive ceiling lamp | alvar aalto | valaistustyö ky | 1953
[ scandinavian design ] includes nearly 250 works of exceptional design. Each item will be featured in our award-winning, full-color auction catalog as well as presented in our online preview at [ View lots ] | 1440 West Hubbard Street Chicago | 312 563 0020 [ wright auction ]
The 1930s marked a breakthrough decade for Alvar Aalto both as an architect and a designer. Stool 60 was first introduced to the international public at the Wood Only exhibition in London in November 1933, to rave reviews – making 2013 Stool 60’s 80th anniversary. The simple, stackable and durable wooden stool represented a new approach to furniture design, and a continuation of the brand of modernism initiated by Bauhaus. The use of wood instead of bent steel was revolutionary at the time. Aalto spent years developing the L-shaped leg at the Korhonen furniture factory. The development of Stool 60 also took several years. Aalto kept testing different technical solutions together with the experts of the factory. The result of their collaboration is a durable and modern technical solution that later on led to the creation of many other classic designs.
stool 60 | mike meiré | artek | 2012
In 1935, just a few days before the founding of Artek, the Municipal Library in Vyborg opened and Stool 60 was used for the first time in a public building. Stool 60 represents a crystallization of the values of Artek concerning the importance of technology, art and ethics. Stool 60 is the number one seller of Artek products and one of the most famous design products of the world.
Throughout 2013, Artek will introduce a series of stools, designed by well-known architects and designers, commemorating the anniversary. This month, we are featuring the stools by Mike Meiré (seen above).
Learn how these colorful stools are put together in this short video:
egg chair and ottoman by arne jacobsen | click > enlarge
Wright’s Scandinavian Design auction features 231 lots of the preeminent modern designs of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The sale includes works by favorite designers of the region including Hans Wegner, Poul Kjaerholm, Josef Frank, Ole Wanscher and Alvar Aalto to name only a few.
Wright’s spring 2011 auction season comes to a close with our annual Mass Modern auction on July 9th. This NO RESERVE sale features nearly 500 lots of modern design. From Tank lounge chairs by Alvar Aalto, to Ball wall clocks by George Nelson & Associates, to a Giada decanter by Toni Zuccheri – this sale truly has something for everyone.
Each lot is featured in a specialized, full-color auction catalog [ view catalog online ]. Complete descriptions and images of lots are available online. [ View lots ] Gallery preview runs through July 5th – 8th | 10am – 5pm | with special extended preview hours accompanied by refreshments on July 7th, 5 – 8 pm | 1440 West Hubbard Street Chicago | 312 563 0020 [ wright auction ]
[ Auction 9 July 2011 10 am cst ]