Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Archive for the ‘Exhibition’ Category

Bauhaus in Mexico

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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

Tomo van beuren chaise lounge alacran 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)

Domus Chair

Reminds one of something…

Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig – Chair for Bocconi University (c. 1940)



From our 50’s couch

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1. Charlotte Perriand: De la photographie au design, currently in Paris. How organic forms inspired the furniture of Perriand. Check the Wallpaper* gallery. Fascinating.

the model

its interpretation

2. Another Wallpaper* gallery treat, the Days exhibition at Pallant House Gallery.

3. Featured in this month edition of Dwell and elsewhere on the web sphere, the 23.2 house of Omer Arbel. Love the book shelf in the open living room.

Written by Alvar and I

April 20, 2011 at 2:11 am

Robin and Lucienne Day – Design and the Modern Interior

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The most celebrated British designer couple left us last year. A fitting tribute to their creative genius, Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, the Days’ home town will feature an exhibition of their design opening 26 March. And good news, Lesley’s Jackson’s reference on the Days, Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Contemporary Design is being reedited on the occasion. You can buy it here.

Robin Day, London, 1997|Photograph by Anne-Katrin Purkiss

Robin Day, 41 Chair for Hille & Co., 1962

Robin Day, 41 Chair, 1962, Manufactured by S. Hille & Co. Ltd.|Courtesy of Target Gallery, London

Lucienne Day – Apex for Heal Fabrics, 1967

Lucienne Day, Apex, 1967, Manufactured by Heal Fabrics, Screen-printed cotton|Courtesy of the collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III

Written by Alvar and I

March 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Designers, Exhibition

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