LeatherSofasOnline range of Design Classics
In the early and middle years of the 20th century new technologies gave
designers the opportunity to make new forms and designers like Eileen Grey, Le
Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Charles and Ray Eames created many of the
classic modern furniture designs that we recognise today.
Furniture inspired by the most important of these modern masters including Le
Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames and Henry Bertoia is
available in our Design Classics collection. There are also iconic pieces
inspired by the designs of Isamu Noguchi, Arne Jacobsen and others. The Noguchi
coffee table is a unique sculptural statement in glass and painted wood which
was designed in 1948; the Jacobsen Swan and Egg chairs date from 1956.
Many years out of copyright these iconic designs are now available at prices
which are affordable and comparable to furniture which has neither the heritage
nor the sculptural presence of these great classics. By choosing one of these
timeless 20th century icons you can add a distinction and sense of style to your
home which will give you practical use and aesthetic pleasure for many, many
years to come.
The modern masters of Twentieth Century furniture design
In Paris in 1928 Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand designed the leather and
steel chaise longue which is one of the masterpieces of the Modernist movement.
The following year Mies van der Rohe designed the German pavilion for the 1929
International Exposition in Barcelona. The chair he designed for the King and
Queen of Spain has since been known as the Barcelona chair and is regularly seen
in important modern buildings, on TV and in the movies.
Le Corbusier’s main work was as an architect. When he died in 1965 there were
many tributes including from the President if the United States Lyndon B.
Johnson and from the Soviet Union who said “Modern architecture has lost its
greatest master”. His best known furniture pieces are the Petit Confort and
Grand Confort sofas and armchairs and the iconic Corbusier chaise longue.
Mies van der Rohe, who was also an architect, is regarded as one of the leaders
of the International style and is famous for his comments that “less is more”
and “God is in the details”. Early in his career he worked alongside Le
Corbusier in the studio of Peter Behrens. He is now best known to the general
public for the Barcelona chair and stool.
Designer Furniture - “We wanted to make the best for the least” Charles
In the years after the Second World War the International Style was the name
given to minimal modern architecture, and both Le Corbusier and Mies van der
Rohe, by then working in the US, were among its leading exponents.
In 1941 Charles Eames, another architect, and his wife Ray turned their second
bedroom into a workshop and experimented with a home-made plywood moulding
machine resulting in an order for 5,000 leg splints from the US Navy. This
expertise with moulded plywood led to the design of an armchair for Billy Wilder who Charles Eames had worked for as a set designer in Hollywood. Designed in 1956
the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is a masterpiece in black leather and moulded
plywood with a five-spoke metal base.
Charles and Ray Eames had a philosophy of design which Charles encapsulated in
two statements. The first expressed their desire to make good design available
to everyone “We wanted to make the best for the least” and the other showed they
had the same obsession as Mies “The details are not the details. They make the
design”. The first of these principles is exemplified by the DSW and DSR ranges
of moulded chairs and the Eames lounger ably demonstrates the second.
Eero Saarinen and Henry Bertoia, Cranbrook students of architecture and
When starting a commission for a private house, Charles Eames met the Finnish
architect Eliel Saarinen who offered Eames a fellowship to study design and
architecture at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan where he met Saarinen’s son
Eero. In 1940 they won the New York Museum of Modern Art furniture competition.
Through his time at Cranbrook, Eames also met sculptor Henry Bertoia. Both Eero
Saarinen and Bertoia created furniture designs which are regarded as modern
The younger Saarinen’s Tulip chair collection (known from 1956 as the Pedestal
group) became widely recognised when it was used in the original Star Trek
television series. Like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen is
recognised as one of the most important architects of the 20th century.
In 1939 Henry Bertoia had his own workshop where he designed and made metal
sculpture and jewellery including wedding rings for Charles and Ray Eames who he
subsequently worked for in California. In the 1950s he moved to Pennsylvania
where he designed the wire mesh chairs which have made him famous. He saw them
as functional pieces of sculpture saying “If you look at these chairs, they are
made mainly of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.”
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