Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Low Cost Furniture Competition: 1949

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With the Internet, serendipidity takes a whole new meaning. Stumbled recently upon MoMA’s press releases of the iconic Low Cost Furniture Competition: here is the press release announcing the winners, and  here is the exhibition press release. The competition advert can be seen here. See also here for a candid discussion of production challenges .

The 1949 International Low Cost Furniture competition revealed to the public Don Knorr, Robin Day, and Ernest Race. The competition was featured in Life magazine  and Der Spiegel.

With about 3,000 entries, the list of designers who submitted reads like a Who’s Who of 1950s design and architecture: Marcel Breuer, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Hans Wegner, Marco Zanuso, Franco Albini, Jorn Utzon and Willy Guhl among them. Here is an overview of the competition catalog courtesy of Modernism 101.

Don Knorr chair – upholstered

The brainchild of Edgar Kaufmann Jr., the competition used the successful formula of the MoMA 1941 “Organic Designs and Home Furnishing” of collaboration between MoMA and retailers (Kaufmann was the son of the owners of Kaufmann’s department store in Pittsburgh). You could well say that Edgar Jr. was a man of taste and vision having studied with Frank Lloyd Wright and being of the Kaufman family that commissioned the Fallingwater house in 1936.

he has the right to look pretty smug, no?

Some of the furniture presented at the competition…

Robin Day and Clive Latimer storage unit

Alexey Brodovitch chair (3rd prize)

Charles Eames- La Chaise: it was not so low cost, so it did not win (2nd prize)

Full Scale Model of Chaise Longue (La Chaise) by Charles and Ray Eames, 1948. ©2008 The Museum of Modern Art

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Written by Alvar and I

June 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm

One Response

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  1. […] that the Eames‘s ‘La Chaise‘ was actually an entry for the MoMA‘s ‘International Competition for Low-cost Furniture‘ in 1948? Yes, that La […]


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