Catching up after a long break from blogging. T Magazine is featuring its best stories in design for 2013, bringing us back to Chandigarh and the furniture of Jeanneret with a review of Amie Siegel’s Provenance, which follows Jeanneret’s furniture from the dumps of Chandigarh to the auction rooms of the West. Siegel’s video sold for a very meta $52,500 at Christie’s October Post-War and Contemporary sale, probably to another magnate who will enjoy it in his yacht.
Discovered recently: modernist furniture designers in Mexico while looking up Klaus Grabe material and the MoMA 1941 competition “Organic Designs for Furnishing” (hopefully more on both later).
It is well known that after the Bauhaus was forced to close in 1933, most of its artists found refuge in the United States. But the Bauhaus diaspora also reached less likely places like Palestine, South Africa or Mexico. In Mexico, the spirit of the Bauhaus left a strong legacy of Mexican modernist furniture designers: Clara Porset, Arturo Pani, Pepe Mendoza, Luis Barragan, Francisco Artigas, and Michael Van Buren. If you want to know more check this article (Word document) by Jorge S Arango and this one by Oscar Salinas Flores (in Spanish; Google translates it fairly well).
Anni and Joseph Albers, the most famous of the Bauhaus expatriates associated with Mexico, frequently came from nearby U.S. to visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, among others. The Albers also visited Clara Porset. Porset, who became interested in the Bauhaus while visiting Europe, was a former student of Joseph Albers at Black Mountain College.
Clara Porset – El Butaca Chair
Other Bauhaus alums that came to Mexico include Hannes Meyer, and closer to our vintage pursuits, Klaus Grabe and Michael Van Beuren. Grabe, another Albers student, Van Beuren, also a former student of the Bauhaus, and Morely Webb together won first prize for a lounge chair in the 1941 MoMA competition. (Mexico scored a double as Porset also won a prize). The chair was subsequently edited by the company Domus, established by the three designers as the premier modern furniture editor in the country.
Organic furniture competition lounge chair
Grabe soon left Mexico to settle in New York where he ran Klaus Grabe Inc. and pursued his quest for modern low-cost furniture, including plywood variations of the Organic furniture competition winner.
Michael Van Beuren stayed in Mexico, where he started a company in his own name. His work has recently been rediscovered thanks to last year’s exhibition “Footprints of the Bauhaus” at the Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico city.
Domus chair – Michael Van Beuren and Klaus Grabe (c. 1942)
Reminds one of something…
Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig – Chair for Bocconi University (c. 1940)
Watched Mesrine: Killer Instinct last night. Very good movie about the French Clyde Barrow of the 60s and 70s. Not a very nice guy, flamboyant, serial jail escapist, with a knack for attracting media attention while escaping the police. He met his end in 1979 in a shootout with police in the streets of Paris.
The movie is a nice period piece from the mid to late sixties. So we were enjoying the movie with half an eye on interior scenes to spot any nice period piece of furniture. The surprise however came early in his criminal career, in 1963, when Mesrine is offered a job after his first jail stint (no escape yet). The short-lived job, the only proper one Mesrine would ever have, was with an interior architect called Boris Tabacoff. So much for the redeeming qualities of interior design…
Tabacoff is a well-know name for collectors of plexiglas furniture. He was edited by the esteemed French editor Mobilier Modulaire Moderne.
In an interior designed by Maria Pergay. The chair were sold at a recent Artcurial sale.
Everyone who has lived in London is somehow familiar with Ernö Goldfinger. He was one of the leading modernist (some would say brutalist) architects based in Britain, and is most remembered for the Trellick Tower in North West London and the Elephant and Castle development. Both were copiously hated by Londoners.
Goldfinger lent – without his conscent – his surname to Auric Goldfinger the über James Bon villain, following a dispute with Ian Flemming over the construction of his modernist house in West Hampstead. It probably did not help that Ernö was not all sweetness.
Ernö Goldfinger had also a thing or two to say about furniture. The Guardian just published a nice piece on Goldfinger’s house on Hampstead Heath and its furniture. Additional pictures and info can be found on The Sneaky Magpie‘s blog. Goldfinger also published a book called British Furniture Today. See this recent article from Interior Design.
Designed by Goldfinger in 1959
Headquarters of the Hille furniture company (the editor of Robin Day)