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Kagan was famed for his elegant mid-century furniture designs

Furniture designer Vladimir Kagan dies at 88
"I think that with good furniture, if it doesn’t at some point make you want to make love on it, it’s missing something," property magnet André Balazs said recently to the New York Times. He was of course talking about his chair, a Vladimir Kagan chair, complete with “sensuously curved legs” to be precise. With Monroe and Cooper chalked up as buyers, Kagan's works have garnered a reputation for refined elegance and graceful style. Other works have now come into the ownership of other notbales including Brad Pitt, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, and Tom Cruise, among others. Unlike his father, who abided by a process of precision and strict rules of measurement, Kagan preferred the more liberating trial and error approach. Perhaps this is why he went on to set up his own business. The results of which, it must be said, were far more fruitful. “I was not well suited to being a good cabinetmaker. I was too impatient, impulsive,” he said. “My father always said to me, ‘Vladi, measure three times and cut once.’ And I would cut three times without bothering to measure....But I was damn good at conceptual ideas.” Speaking of his inspirations, he said “I had a lot of exposure to good, modern design.”Kagan says he developed a firm sense of likes and dislikes in his early years. He condemned Italian furniture as “baroque, over the top, unjustifiable” while the opposing Scandinavian designs were too "industrial" for his liking. In 2009, after 62 years of producing furniture, he was inducted in the Interior Designer Hall of Fame. In 2013, and at the age of 85, he announced he was expanding his business (despite subscribing to the philosophy of less is more). Speaking to the Financial Times that year, he said “I’m supposed to be a minimalist – I’m a maximalist. So I say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”
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Peter Cook's Obituary of Zaha Hadid

THE MEMORY OF ZAHA

Zaha : the Great Light extinguished. From every point of view exceptional : As a direct, original, fearless personality. With a more than adequate supply of charm and humour. Used with more discretion than blandness. IMMENSE talent. Such that it either inspired, bewildered, or caused deep jealousy (that manifest itself in lesser talent to pick away at her motives, reputation or personality)

Thirteen years ago, the other Giant : Cedric Price, died. Different animal, but leaving a similar void. London – and the architecture world – now seems lost : we are now berift of that most precious and mysterious quality : power through inspiration and talent plus bags of personality that rendered both of them as beacons of hope for architecture. ‘Sticking to one’s guns’ is an amazing gift. Zaha told it as it is : she had the priority of a clear, powerful and ever-poetic architecture. Many tried to copy it but lacked her deftness of line. And the line was MORE than a line : it so easily and frequently resulted in a spatial exploration of extraordinary newness : the wonder of the interior of the Alyev Centre in Baku remains in one’s mind as a dream. The sharp, clean, razor-like dart of the Vitra Fire Station has the purity of an ‘early period’ Zaha building – but you’re actually inside it, living the dream of the drawing. From the first years when this conspicuously talented recent student became the lively attachment to Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis’ young OMA setup, you were aware of a strength of talent bursting out. Her trajectory and example stands there beckoning the many women (now maybe a majority) who work in architecture : if she can do it, they can do it . Let’s hope one or two of them out there can blend talent with personality – the latter gift being a necessary factor in order to sustain the pressure in this, most contrary, profession. A loyal friend who could also be a good laugh. Peter Cook 4.1.16 Editor's note: This piece will also appear in The Architectural Review.
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Jack Masey dies at 91, 57 years after he displayed American culture to Russia and the world

In 1959, Jack Masey caused communism and capitalism to collide thanks to his kitchen design that left a bitter taste in the mouths of Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon. His re-creation of a Long Island kitchen at the American National Exhibition amplified American pride and stirred up tensions between Russia and the United States during a difficult period. After 30 years working as a designer for the United States Information Agency (not a branch of the CIA), Jack Masey passed away on March 13 in Manhattan.

In a rare public meeting of the pair, things appeared to be going swimmingly until Khrushchev's gaze fell onto Masey's Long Island Kitchen. In what would come to be known as "The Kitchen Debate" the world leaders clashed in a bitter exchange. "You must not be afraid of ideas!" Nixon spat, only for the Russian President to smugly retort: "That's what we're telling you - don't be afraid of ideas."

Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Masey worked out of Manhattan for most of his life. During the Second World War, Masey was part of an elite 1,100-man unit that used visual and sound effects to impersonate larger forces. Mastering the art of deception, much of his time was spent designing inflatable rubber tanks and jeeps. “Three guys could blow up a Sherman tank in a half-hour,” he told The New York Times in 1969. “Two guys, a jeep in about 15 minutes.” 

A trained architect, also studying graphic design at Yale, Masey worked with R. Buckminster Fuller and Charles and Ray Eames at numerous exhibitions where he incorporated fashion shows and art by the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. With these artistic devices at his disposal, Masey was able to articulate the flamboyant image of the American proletariat, just as the Information Agency wanted. Mundane appliances such as washing machines, dryers and electric ranges flaunted the fruits of capitalism. Ford car designs, films, Pepsi, Levi jeans, hairstyles, and even a mechanical talking chicken all featured as Masey told the world what the Soviet Union was missing out on.

The concept of a World's Fair today seems unnecessary and outdated. During the Cold War, when the world was a lot bigger, Expos informed the public of how others lived. For Expo '67 in Montreal, Masey filled Buckminster Fuller's iconic geodesic "biosphere" with space technology and the arts. Two years later, America landed on the Moon.

One wonders what Masey thought of all this glorified attention seeking. In a interview with the Guardian in 2008, he colloquially described work for the Information Agency laid out on his desk as "the whole shebang," reflecting a laid-back attitude.

An exhibition of his work, “Make-Believe America: U.S. Cultural Exhibitions in the Cold War,” is on view now at the Museum of Design Atlanta.

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Modernist master of the oblique, Claude Parent, passes away at 93
Claude Parent passed away over the weekend in Paris, a day after his 93rd birthday on Friday. He was one of the most influential modernist architects to come out of France and founder of the oblique function. Parent's aesthetic style is widely acknowledged for paving the way for architects such as Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry. His style often bears the hallmark of angled walls and roofing, articulating space in such way that had not been seen before on such a scale. The oblique style was developed with the help of urban planner and cultural philosopher Paul Virilio who drew inspiration from the disorientating properties of World War II bunkers that slumped down among sand dunes, hence obscuring the threshold between floor and walls. Together, Parent and Virilio formed Architecture Principe. Notable works include Sainte Bernadette du Balay at Nevers, France. A close friend of Parent, French architect and academic Odile Decq wrote in 2005: "If someone tells you that Claude Parent is over 80, do not believe it."  "His indignation is one that galvanizes and helps you to think about your dreams become possible. This drug is without any danger: it is a necessary prescription for the today’s students in architecture, fully invested in project reality but all frustrated with their dreams about tomorrow’s living," she went on to say. "Though often on the edge, his own heart never broke down, repaired by surgeries on the side road, some oblique roads, so strong and intense was the energy Claude put in it." Today, Decq added to her comments of eleven years ago. "Even if it has been repaired multiple times, last Saturday, while becoming 93, his heart has dropped off and I have lost a friend who was shaking my head to go further. See you soon, Claude!" Parent was rewarded for his contributions to architecture in 1979 when he claimed the Grand National Prize for Architecture. In 2010, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Legion of Honour, one of the highest decorations France can offer.
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Obit> Ali Tayar, 1959–2016
Turkish-born modernist architect and furniture designer Ali Tayar has passed away. Tayar grew up in Istanbul and studied architecture at the University of Stuttgart and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He founded Parallel Design Partnership in 1993, which derives inspiration “from the twin imperatives of structural behavior and the methods of mass-production.” He is remembered for his love of modern design, which he has applied to a range of projects including everything from furniture and hardware, to restaurants Pop Burger and Pizza Bar in New York City. As a student, Tayar fell in love with The Rockefeller apartments on 54th Street in New York City. Many years later he made his home there, after fully restoring it to its original pre-war state. He is known for his residential designs, which include the carbon fiber Swiss House in Bern, inspired by the interior design he completed for the same family’s carbon fiber yacht. He also completely redesigned the interior of a Soho loft using bespoke prefabricated panels based on a Swiss modular housing system from the 1960s. Additionally, he designed the installations for David Hockney’s digital images at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen. Tayar also served on the jury for AN’s annual design awards in 2015. His work has been featured in countless exhibits including Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design and Workspheres at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Aluminum by Design at the Cooper-Hewitt and U.S. Design 1975–2000 at the Denver Art Museum. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs de Montreal, the Denver Art Museum, the Carnegie Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Renato Bialetti interred inside his iconic coffee maker
The creator of one of the most ubiquitous Italian industrial designs of the 20th century, Renato Bialetti, has died and was interred in one of his designs—the octagonal Moka coffee maker. Bialetti acquired the patent for the stovetop percolator in 1933 and promoted it with own image on the side. He eventually sold more than 330 million units around the world. The ashes in the coffee maker are in his family tomb in Omega, outside Milan.
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Obit> Karol Lautner Peterson, 1938–2015
Los Angeles lost an important figure in the architecture and preservation community last week. News reached AN of the passing of Karol Lautner Peterson, president of The John Lautner Foundation, which plans to host a memorial celebration in the Los Angeles area. The organization shared the following remembrance: Karol Lautner Peterson died early in the morning of August 25, 2015, in her home. She was surrounded by close, loving family members. Karol, the eldest daughter of John Lautner, was the president of The John Lautner Foundation as well as a former member of several boards and commissions in Marquette, Michigan. She was a lifetime advocate for the work of John Lautner and worked tirelessly to preserve it and to educate others about it. At the time of her death, Karol was working, along with the rest of the board of directors, with two Cal Poly Pomona professors to help list several Lautner buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. She was also studying methods for creating endowment funds in hopes of creating one that will fund the Foundation over many years, and helping develop a preservation fund. She was instrumental in developing the year-long celebration of John Lautner’s 100th birthday in 2011. One of her prime achievements as head of the Foundation was the transfer of the John Lautner archive to the Getty, where it will be protected and preserved for generations to come. She was always celebrating the work of John Lautner in one way or another. Aside from being a tireless worker for architecture, Karol was a loving mother of two, wife of many years to Bruce Peterson, oldest of seven children of her mother, enthusiastic volunteer at the DeVos Museum of Art (Marquette), preservationist of family history, and loving friend to more people than can be counted. She was always busy, and loved to relax by kayaking in Lake Superior. For 22 years she joined the walk across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day.
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Eavesdrop> Jerde Music: Noted architect gets an exuberant farewell at Los Angeles' Union Station
One of Los Angeles' most influential architects, Jon Jerde, who recently passed away, was known for the ebullience and animation of his designs. So it was only fitting that his funeral be held at LA’s stunning Union Station, inside the Grand Concourse, accompanied by nothing less than a full Mariachi band. When Eavesdrop finally goes to the Page Six in the sky, this is exactly how we would like to go out.
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Artist who stacked hundreds of street lights in Los Angeles passes away at age 69
Artist Chris Burden created, among many other things, Urban Light, an installation of 202 antique cast iron street lights outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Metropolis II, a city model inside the same museum immersed with 1,200 matchbox cars. Burden has passed away at age 69, reportedly from a battle with Melanoma. With Urban Light, created in 2008, Burden brought street light art to the masses—it's now one of the most popular pieces of public art in the world. But he was not the first person to explore this medium in Los Angeles. That title would go to artist Sheila Klein, who in 1993 built Vermonica, a sculpture of 25 varying vintage lampposts located in the parking lot of a strip mall on the corner of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The installation still stands today. LA Weekly called it "an outdoor museum that chronicles the history of street light design while testifying to the poetry and sculptural presence of these ubiquitous objects." A precursor to Burden's Urban Light was also intended for Related Companies' Grand Avenue Project. Frank Gehry and LA art consultant Merry Norris had planned to run Burden's lights down the center of Grand Avenue about a decade ago, but as the project slowed down LACMA stepped in and bought the artist's piece. “What could I do? He had an offer that involved a lot of money," Norris told AN. Last year Burden also brought lamp art to the east coast with Light of Reason, an installation of 24 Victorian-era lampposts outside the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
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Pictorial> Austin Kelly, 1966–2015
Austin Kelly, truly one of Los Angeles' most talented young architects, sadly passed away last month. He was only 49, and the cause of death was cancer. Kelly studied architecture at Yale and worked for Frank Israel, Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Moss, and DMJM/Keating before founding XTEN Architecture with his wife Monika Haefelfinger in 2000. The firm, based in Culver City, has been praised both for its sophisticated, origami-like forms and its brave interactions with nature, particularly in Southern California. XTEN is working on projects in Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and as far away as Spain and Oman. Kelly also taught studios at SCI-Arc and at USC, and had a passion for teaching and mentorship. Explore some of XTEN's residences, below. (Click on thumbnail to begin slideshow.)  
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Obit> Asa Hanamoto, 1923–2015
Pioneering post-war landscape architect Asa Hanamoto passed away at his home in Mill Valley, California on April 9. The son of Japanese immigrants, Hanamoto was interned with his family at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Northern California during World War II. He then served in the U.S. Army, studied at UC Berkeley, started his career at Eckbo, Royston & Williams, and went on to design public projects including parks, campuses, recreational designs and community plans over a career that lasted more than five decades. Hanamoto's firm, RHBA (now called RHAA), blazed a trail for then-nascent fields of environmental and community planning. It is known especially for work on the Willamette River Greenway Study (1975), establishing a vital recreational and scenic corridor along the Oregon river; and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (1976), assessing and planning the 116-square mile project and establishing management plans that still guide the area. Hanamoto's biography can be found at the Cultural Landscape Foundation's web site.
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Obit> Bay Area modernist architect Donald Olsen dies
Donald Olsen, one of Northern California's purest modern architects, has died. Known for open, light-filled residences with glass and concrete walls, white cladding, and a few quirky details, Olsen—a student of Walter Gropius—brought drama to an area whose architecture often lacked it. Olsen didn't build many structures, but most of his simple, International Style forms were captured in black and white by photographer Rondal Partridge, and are held at the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California. AN will have a longer obituary about Olsen and his outsized impact soon.