So, when a client of mine introduced me to her 1950s Danish chair, all of my minimalist thoughts and ideas came rushing back. I couldn't wait to get started. I pulled out my files and found hoardes of modernist books. I also started surfing through eBay to find a matching Danish chair. I had worked in Copenhagen for a year and felt strangely at home during this search.
I then realized that a lot of minimalism stems from the Modernism movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It wasn't just interior decor that was making leaps and bounds but music, poetry and the arts were all changing.
In design there were so many changes. For example; Eileen Gray's side table, designed in 1927, reflects her desire for functional perfection. Originally conceived as a bedside table for the guest room in Gray's famous E. 1027 house in Cap Martin (her sister was fond of breakfast in bed), it is also useful as a side table in living rooms, office reception areas or, (thanks to durable materials), on the terrace:
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair and Stool, first designed in 1929!! Mies van der Rohe designed the chair to serve as seating for the King and Queen of Spain, while the stool was intended to accommodate their attendants:
The Eames molded plywood dining chair was designed in 1946 and is instantly recognizable as the work of Charles and Ray Eames, with a form that relates directly to the human body:
The Noguchi table (1947) conceals nothing; revealing everything about the nature of simplicity. Two simple, smoothly shaped pieces interlock to form a tripod that supports a .75" thick slab of transparent glass. Practical and beautiful, the Noguchi Table will uphold a variety of objects in a professional reception area or the home:
Trained as an architect, George Nelson found a fresh solution to lighting design in the organic forms of his "bubble" lamps. The lamps were produced in 1952 by spray coating a skeleton of steel wire with a layer of translucent plastic that allowed light to shine softly through and protected the eye from glare:
Arne Jacobsen designed the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, as well as many of the furnishings. For its busy lobby, he created the biomorphic Egg chair in 1958 which is believed to be the first swiveling upholstered chair. The wings of the chair were added for privacy whilst in the hotel lobby:
The Arco floor lamp was designed by the Castiglioni brothers in 1962. This dramatic lamp provides overhead lighting without requiring ceiling suspension. Supported by a weighty marble base, the polished stainless steel shade extends eight feet into a space, leaving room for a dining table or sofa to be positioned underneath the light source. To make the Lamp easier to carry and move, the designers placed a hole in the base that accommodates a broom handle. The edges of the marble block are beveled, which might appear to be decorative, but the real reason the brothers removed the block’s sharp corners was for safety. The Arco lamp is one of the classics of modern lighting design and is part of MoMA’s permanent collection:
Looking back at all these designs - can you believe that some of them are over 80 years old...?? They look as if they were designed today. I now cannot wait to get going on another modern design.