Posts tagged with "Alvar Aalto":

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Donald Judd’s furniture exhibition opens at SFMOMA

American artist Donald Judd may be known for his stainless steel and Plexiglas sculptures, but it's his furniture designs that shine at a new show titled Donald Judd: Specific Furniture, currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through November 4. His rigorous explorations of form in sculpture have carried over to his furniture designs, which compose a parallel practice that began in the 1960s. The exhibition presents a mix of his work and his acquired pieces that served as major influences. He collected pieces by Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld, Rudolph M. Schindler, and Gustav Stickley, who were among the modernist designers that inspired Judd to depart from the ornate and stylistic designs in fashion in the 1930s. His collection of furniture includes tables, desks, chairs, and beds, featuring a minimalist design language present in his ornament-free paintings and sculptures. “The difference between art and architecture is fundamental,” Judd once wrote. “Furniture and architecture can only be approached as such. Art cannot be imposed upon them. If their nature is seriously considered the art will occur, even art close to art itself.” According to a statement from SFMOMA, “his designs exemplify a singular vision of scale and proportion,” allowing for “a focus on details of form and the clear expression of materials.” His Open Side Chair 84 in wood was put alongside his Desk 10 in enameled aluminum in a photo of his architecture studio in Marfa, Texas, where he moved in 1971 and lived and worked until his death in 1994. In another photo of his former studio, now the Judd Foundation in Marfa, the delicate Frame Table 70 by Judd was ingeniously coupled with the iconic MR Side Chair by Mies. Frame Table 70’s unique design is said to resonate with Aalto’s Table 70, which sports a similar second-tier shelf detail. All in all, this exhibition repositions Judd’s design work within the twentieth-century canon. Check out this link for details and tickets.
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Why are there so few disabled architects and architecture students?

In the United States, people with disabilities in the architecture profession and architectural academia are statistically invisible. Neither the American Institute of Architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, nor the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture collect data on the number of architects or architecture students in the United States who self-identify with physical or cognitive disabilities.  The groundbreaking report, “Inclusion in Architecture,” published by the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, does not include data on disability. The lack of knowledge about disabled architecture students and architects in the United States stands in contrast to other strides made in diversification, equity, and inclusion. The profession’s self-examination—statistically and culturally—has forced a significant transformation in who can become an architect in the United States. Looking at attendance in colleges, faculty appointments, and representation at professional events, architecture appears to be a more diverse profession in terms of race and gender than it was 50 years ago. From celebrated architects to the deans of the most elite architecture schools, we can see efforts at diversification making a mark. Diversification is critical in architecture because ideas about race, gender, ability, and disability are formed and reproduced in the design and construction of buildings and urban spaces. The absence of disabled architecture students, architects, and particularly academic and institutional leaders within the United States relegates people with disabilities to being a a topic of discussion versus agents of change. In fact, a strand of disability theory argues that disability is a relative category, constructed in spaces that produce disabled bodies and minds. But whether perceived as innate or relative, a medical sensibility underpins many discussions of disability in architecture, because if people with disabilities are considered at all, it is as the subjects within spaces as opposed to the creators of them. This is due to several structural issues that prohibit people with disabilities from envisioning a future in which they participate in architecture in all its myriad manifestations. One key area that limits accessibility to architecture as a profession is the actual buildings where architecture education takes place. While numerous architecture schools are entirely accessible to people with disabilities, the majority of the elite Ivy League schools of architecture—Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University—have historically had physically inaccessible spaces for people with lower-limb disabilities. In the 1990s, years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia still contained facilities inaccessible or difficult to access for people in wheelchairs. Almost all of these schools of architecture have been renovated, but key spaces—lecture halls (particularly the podium of the lecture hall where people speak), pin-up spaces, offices—remain either inaccessible or difficult to access.  Again, many schools have these problems, but these elite institutions have a disproportionate influence on the profession. We have lost out on multiple generations of architect leaders with disabilities who might have offered key perspectives on architecture, not only because of the barriers literally constructed in the architecture of elite institutions, but also due to the ways we imagine the production of architectural knowledge. For example, architectural education requires a thorough knowledge of historic precedents, but how do we imagine the spaces in which this knowledge is acquired? Consider the imagined physical commitment required to understand the discipline’s history, embedded in sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Forum, or Teotihuacan, among numerous other examples. For the able-bodied, these sites are challenging places to visit—an observation confirmed by the writings of architects including Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Alvar Aalto. But both the Acropolis and the Roman Forum were far more easily navigated thousands of years ago (by contemporary standards) than they are today as “modernized” sites of architectural preservation. The early 19th-century Romantic notion of experiencing ruins under physical exertion has been permanently built into the experience of many important architectural monuments. This is a key aspect of historiographical aesthetics virtually unexplored in the literature or teaching of architectural historical practice. In other words, a romanticism of the body’s relationship to historical spaces hangs over the experience of architectural history, one that is furthered in the descriptions of these remote sites in classrooms and our expectations regarding the experience of the past. If the design of spaces of education and historical knowledge shape ideas about the abilities of architects, then the physical spaces encountered within architecture internships also require critical analysis. The ADA has enabled people with physical and cognitive disabilities in the United States far greater access to all types of buildings and public spaces. However, the ADA does not govern all construction sites. Even if architecture schools in the U.S. make a concerted effort to improve accessibility, there are several impediments to students with various disabilities becoming architects. It is virtually impossible to undertake an architectural internship without being able to navigate the relationship between the making of architectural representations in offices and the material assembly of architecture on a construction site. To imagine the increased accessibility of construction sites is utopian but necessary, primarily because doing so would re-envision the types of people who create architecture tout court. Labor unions might pursue this to further workplace safety. The latter is a staggering problem in an industry that is extraordinarily and needlessly dangerous: Over a 45-year career, someone working construction will have a 75 percent chance of acquiring a disability from a workplace injury. Construction work accounts for only 3 percent of employment in the United States and almost a quarter of all workplace injuries. Thus, we arrive at the most disturbing point about disability and architecture—the construction of buildings produces disability more than any other sector of the economy. To imagine the accessibility of a building extending from the people who dig its foundations to those who use its interiors enables us to reimagine what a building is at an ontological level. It radically transforms the disabled from being the subjects of spaces to the agents of architecture’s conceptualization and construction at the most granular level. Architects and architecture students are working at a time when discourses on diversity, equity, and inclusion have made measurable transformations within architectural academia and the greater profession. This has led to new generations of African-American, Latinx, and Asian-American teachers and students, the expansion of global architecture history curricula, and student organizations focused on race and gender, among many other outcomes. It is time that we let people with disabilities partake in this important transformation occurring in American architectural education and the profession. Of course, these forms of identification are not isolated, and opportunities exist for understanding intersecting and mutually reinforcing relationships among various forms of subjectivity and disability. In recent years, academic architecture panels, journals, and symposia have brought disability perspectives to architecture.  These are important contributions. However, in many of these venues, no architects with permanent and severe disabilities were present to represent this particular form of identity. As this article demonstrates, the structural limitations to a career as an architect with disabilities run deep, and the limitations to academic leadership in this area run deeper. To imagine disability having a place in architecture will involve much more than making buildings accessible or identifying people with disabilities and making entreaties to them to enter the profession. It will involve expensive transformations to the physical spaces of colleges and universities; a lessening of the athletic aesthetics of architecture history, theory, and design; and legal structures that will open a field like construction to more people. If we pursue these transformations in the accessibility of space, discourse, and construction, we will likely see a parallel shift in the types of people who imagine becoming an architect and leading this profession. In turn, the discussion of accessibility and its realization in the design and construction of buildings will enter a new, more sophisticated, and ethical stage of development. David Gissen is Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts. He became an above-the-knee amputee while an architecture student in the early 1990s – a surgery related to an earlier childhood illness.
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Specsheet > Even more architecture gifts for the holidays

Last week we shared a selection of kitsch and panache from the gift guide in our December issue. In case you have a few more people on your shopping list, see what our editors, architect friends, and fellow design aficionados are asking for this year. Zeilmaker Chair by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld MoMA Store This subdued dark-green iteration of Rietveld’s iconic 1918 Red and Blue Chair features the same architectural lines inspired by the philosophy of “well-being and comfort of the spirit.” Later versions incorporate various colors depending on the client—in this case, a green, black, and white motif was created for a schoolteacher. $4,215 | store.moma.org OD-11 Wireless Loudspeaker Teenage Engineering This rectangular volume houses a wireless multiroom loudspeaker that plays your music from any device. The new OD-11 is a carefully reengineered version of the original OD-11 ortho-directional loudspeaker, made in 1974 by the Swedish sound genius Stig Carlsson. It can be paired with the ortho remote, which allows for wireless volume control and click functions for play, pause, and skip. $999 | teenage.engineering Click-Clock Ayako Aratani Sculpted in porcelain, these wall-hanging timepieces were formed with biomorphic, rounded edges that visually denote the time of day by the spine-like hour markers. small $75, medium $95 | ayakodesignstudio.com Alvar Aalto Serving Platters The Glass House Design Store These serving platters integrate the undulating lines of the iconic glass Alvar Aalto vase into wood. Fashioned in birch with an oak veneer, the material palette pays tribute to the designer’s love of the Finnish landscape. $60 | designstore.theglasshouse.org Juliet Vessels Anna Karlin Made of borosilicate glass, these tabletop glass vessels reference science lab beakers but are finished with hand-turned solid brass stoppers for a new and unfamiliar feel. Each stopper is unique to the different glass shapes. $110 | annakarlin.com Arc de Triomphe LEGO Create a four-inch-tall model of Paris’s iconic landmark with 382 Lego bricks. Once built, the iconic reproduction features statue-adorned pillars, sculptural reliefs, and semi-realistic stone-like coloring. $40 | shop.lego.com
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The Bard Graduate Center Gallery puts Alvar Aalto, Aino Marsio-Aalto, and Artek into focus

The Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York is offering a groundbreaking, revelatory exhibition, through October 2, that is the first in the United States to examine Artek, the pioneering Finnish design company founded in 1935, and the first to focus on the two architects who were among its founders, Alvar Aalto and his wife, Aino Marsio-Aalto. The exhibition—Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World—features some 200 works.  Of special interest are the unprecedented number of original architectural drawings from the Aalto Foundation, as well as photographs, sketches, and drawings from the Aalto family and Artek archive. Among the most important are Aino Marsio-Aalto’s student sketchbooks; drawings by Alvar Aalto of his wife; and signed photographs by László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946), which he sent to Alvar Aalto after visiting the Aaltos in Finland in 1931. Also on view are a recently discovered copy of Aino Marsio-Aalto’s travel diary, which she kept while visiting Brussels, Paris, and Zurich just before Artek was founded; unpublished drawings for the Sunila Pulp Factory (1936–37), Villa Mairea (1938–39), Säynätsalo Town Hall (1950–52), the Kaufmann Conference Rooms in New York City (1961–63); and a rare group of bentwood furniture by Alvar Aalto, with original finishes and colors, from a private collection in Finland. Glassware, lighting and textiles are also on display. The backbone of the exhibition is what one of its curators, Nina Stritzler-Levine, director of the gallery and a scholar of modern architecture and design, describes as the “manifesto” of Artek, whose name blended the words art and technology. Focusing on the promotion of modern art; industry and interior design; and advocacy, the manifesto, she said, underscored Artek’s founders’ “commitment to enhancing the cultural and social ideals of modernism throughout the world….And, not incidentally, the company was also dedicated to the manufacture and sales of furniture designed by Alvar Aalto.” In addition to the Aaltos, the other founders of Artek were Nils Gustav Hahl, a leading Nordic art critic, and Maire Gullichsen, a wealthy Finnish patron, with her husband, of the arts and architecture. The exhibition not only provides an in-depth analysis of Artek and its 81-year-old history, but also a fascinating look at the early careers of the Aaltos and their personal and professional collaborations. Both graduated from the architecture school at the University of Technology in Helsinki: Aino Marsio graduated in a class with several other woman, while Finland had the largest number of university-trained female architects in the world in the first half of the 20th century. The couple’s early training can be seen in sketchbooks showing the rigorous curriculum that required them to learn the history of architecture, ornament, and furniture. Other drawings from the Alvar Aalto Archive illustrate their shared practice, as well as Aalto’s knowledge of furniture history and early interest in the leg form later explored in his bentwood furniture. Another theme of the exhibition is the Aaltos’ interaction with other important contemporary European architects and designers, which occurred after Alvar became a member of the International Congress of Modern Architects in 1929; they also frequently traveled to Germany, France, and Holland before World War II. Their international network included Le Corbusier; architect and Bauhaus director Walter Gropius; and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, an artist and Bauhaus teacher who visited the Aaltos and whom Stritzler-Levine describes as “perhaps the most critical for the Aaltos’ formation as modern architects. Moholy-Nagy and Alvar Aalto enjoyed a friendship that inspired creativity for both of them, though Moholy’s impact on Aalto and eventually on Artek was perhaps more visible.” Standardization—a concept she said largely derived from modern architecture in Germany and was later adopted by Aalto and Artek—“was a socially and economically driven notion that extended from architecture to interior fittings and drawings.” A beautiful section of the exhibition uses reproductions of period photography; glass; textiles; and paintings and sculpture by Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec, Leger and others to illustrate how the first Artek store, which opened in 1936 in central Helsinki, functioned; art on display here was actually sold at the store and is on loan from the Ateneum, Helsinki’s national gallery. Other sections of the exhibition explore Artek’s participation in exhibitions, including world’s fairs, in Paris in 1937 and New York in 1939; Artek’s vast distribution network of Aalto’s furniture, extending from retailers in Europe and the United States to buyers in Africa and Latin America, reached by licensees; U.S. interiors decorated with Artek furniture, depicted in photographs by Ezra Stoller and others; and post-World War II works by Artek and Aalto, including the 1946-49 Baker House Dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aalto’s most significant U.S. project and a commission he received when he was a visiting professor of architecture there. The exhibition fittingly closes with door handles designed by Aalto in the mid-1950’s for several buildings in Helsinki that are now in Finnish collections. “From the moment you touch the handle, you’re into Aalto’s universe,” said Stritzler-Levine, much the way the exhibition magically introduces visitors to this.
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Look inside Alvar Aalto’s celebrated works with Google Street View

Google Street View has been snooping way beyond the curb. The see-all service has spread into museums, inside businesses, onto hiking trails, and even leads curated street art tours in cities around the world. Now, the service has expanded into architecture. The newest feature allows curious internet explorers to step inside some of Alvar Aalto’s most celebrated buildings without booking a flight or even looking away from the ever-present glow of their computer screen. The power-house tech company has partnered with the Alvar Aalto Foundation to provide “street-view” images of some of the architect’s famous works in Finland. Among the projects included in the virtual tours are the Alvar Aalto Museum, Aalto's own studio, and the Säynätsalo Town Hall. “This project means something special to many of us at Google," the company said in a statement. "We have built one of our two largest data centers in Finland—and the architect of our data center building was none other than Aalto." The architect originally designed the space in Hamina as a paper mill. Don’t take our word for it—check it out for yourself.
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Artek Joins the Vitra Family

On September 6, 2013, Vitra announced it acquired Artek. The Finnish furniture company was established in 1935 by architect Alvar Aalto, his wife Aino,  Maire Gullichsen, and historian Nils-Gustav Hahl to produce furniture that promoted modern living. Over the company’s last 80 years, it has expanded its business to include rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection and collaborations with renowned designers and artists such as Shigeru Ban, Eero Aarnio, and Enzo Mari. Artek will continue operations as a separate entity but it is anticipated the purchase will expand the furniture company’s reach further beyond Finland, where contract and residential domestic sales account for 60 percent of its business. “The international dimension, which was a clear goal already in Artek’s founding manifesto of 1935, needed to be revitalized,” said Artek’s CEO Mirkku Kullberg in a statement. “That arena is where we want to be and alliances or ownership arrangements are one way of building the future.”   As synergies between the two companies are explored, Vitra will support Artek’s ongoing production of Aalto’s iconic lighting and furniture designs. “The Finnish design company is more than a collection of furniture; like Vitra it is a commercial-cultural project which plays an avant-garde role in its sector,” said Rolf Fehlbaum, a member of Vitra’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “For Vitra it is important that Artek can continue and further develop this role.” Vitra endeavors like the Vitra Design Museum, workshops, publications, and special collections and archives could be influential outlets for collaboration between the companies. For the last 20 years, Artek has been owned by Proventus, a privately held European capital development firm. Currently owned by Robert Weil, the company was established in Stockholm in 1969. Over the last 40 years, the investment firm has concentrated on the business of cultural institutions such as the Jewish Theatre in Stockholm, the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company, and Culture without Borders.    
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Product> The Comprehensive New York Design Week 2013 Roundup

New York's inaugural design week, held from May 10 through 21, was a comprehensive, two-week celebration of all things design across Manhattan island, as well as parts of Brooklyn. Showcasing the latest from industry stalwarts to emerging and independent designers—local, domestic, and international—AN culled its top picks of New York Design Week products from the ICFF show floor, Wanted Design exhibitions, showroom launches, and all events in between.  The Low Collection 13&9 Design The multidisciplinary Austrian design studio debuted at Wanted Design with a collection of furniture, wearable fashion and accessories, a cinematic video, and a music album. With the Low Collection (pictured above), Corian is formed into several seating styles that combine with storage vessels, all at ground level. Suitable for outdoors, furniture heights can be modified to generate a unique landscape. Cartesian Chair Alexander Purcell Rodrigues Named for Descartes's coordinate system, the Cartesian chair is made from aircraft-grade aluminum with an anodized finish for extreme durability. Mathematically generated, subtle texture on the back is realized via parametric design tools. Stool 60 Special Editions Artek Originally designed by Alvar Aalto in 1933, Artek celebrates 80 years of production with special updates by guest designers including Mike Meiré, Tom Dixon, Commes des Garcons, Mads Norgaard, and Nao Tamura. Special Edition by Brooklyn-based designer Tamura features screen-printed tree rings directly onto the seat to unify the lifespan of a tree with the longevity of Stool 60. Regent Street Mirror Avenue Road Debuting its second collection with Avenue Road, Yabu Pushelberg launched seven new pieces with its production partner for 2013. Regent Street is a full length dressing mirror with a functional, glass-topped shelf, supported by a polished nickel frame. Minikitchen Boffi Made from Corian with a solid teak chopping board, Boffi's mobile, outdoor kitchen unit can be repositioned easily on swiveling castors. It also features space for a mini-refrigerator, small cutlery drawers, electrical appliance sockets, and a pull-out worktop. Maharam Shell Chair Project Carl Hansen Carl Hansen has collaborated with Maharam textiles on the Maharam Shell Chair Project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CH07's design. For this special collection, 20 of Wegner's Shell Chairs will feature a range of re-edition designs from Wiener Werksẗatte and Alexander Girard, as well as collaborations with Hella Jongerius and Paul Smith. Tuareg Foscarini The frame of Ferruccio Laviani's Tuareg floor lamp is marked by three metal tubes that house fully adjustable LED light sources. At 82 inches in height and 50 inches in width, it is available in Orange and Black. Curl Luceplan Industrial designer Sebastian Bergne designed Curl with adjustable white, LED technology which allows users to change the light temperature quickly and easily. And with no established base, the fixture can be set in any position for endless configurations of ambient light. Pleat Box Marset Featured in the "Design: Istanbul–Turkey" showcase at Wanted Design, the Pleat Box lighting pendant is designed by Mashallah Design in collaboration with Barcelona ceramicist Xavier Mañosa. Recycling various enamels produces a white ceramic, brown, black, terracotta or gray exterior and is finished with a glossy white or gold interior. Røros Tweed Blanket Snøhetta Debuting this spring, Mountainfold, Color Noise, and Islandskap are Snøhetta-conceived patterns on Norwegian-manufactured Røros Tweed. On Mountainfold, the design was derived from the famous mountain peak in Dovre, Norway (and the firm's namesake), and is available in six colorways. Heze Trove Geometric, circular patterns are rendered in blurred strokes on wood veneer, matte foil wallpaper, PVC-free Type II Redeux, embossed Type II Marquee, or in bamboo and rice textures for windows. A 12-foot by 67-inch panel shows no vertical repeats. Exquisite Wink Wolf-Gordon For its booth at ICFF, Wolf-Gordon commissioned 10 leading designers and artists to demonstrate the benefits of Wink, a clear, dry-erase coating that can be applied to any smooth surface. Featured sketches and designs in the "Exquisite" installation came from Snarkitecture, Ali Tayar, karlssonwilker, Michael Graves, Boym Partners, Myles Karr, and Ben Katchor.
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PRODUCT> M2L brings Thonet’s Gebrüder T 1819 to the US

Ever since Michael Thonet established Gebrüder in 1819, the brand has been at the forefront of mass producing the now iconic bentwood and tubular steel furniture by designers from the Bauhaus era as well as contemporary designers and architects, as well as Thonet himself, of course. Gebrüder is not only one of the oldest modern design brands and manufacturers, it's also one of the few that are still family owned and managed. The 5th generation of Thonet's (Michael's great-great-grandchildren) currently run the company in Germany, but a few days ago they announced their new partnership with M2L to distribute classics like Mart Stam's chrome-plated cantilevered chair and the Vienna coffee house chair that started it all to the US market. Yes, it's a little crazy to think that a brand like Gebrüder hasn't had direct US distribution in its nearly 200 year history, but better late than never. M2L has a thirty year reputation for distributing the quality craftsmanship and time-honored work of designers like Alvo Aalter, Walter Gropius, Eero Aarino as well as contemporary talents, including Patrick Norguet, Norman Foster and Pearson-Lloyd. Here are a few of our favorites from the Gebrüder T 1819 collection. Marcel Breuer's tubular steel desk (S 285). We want these with the matching cantilever chairs with a wood-framed wicker back and seat (S 32) for our office. Christian Lepper and Roland Schmidt's comfortable yet structured ergonomic lounge chair and ottoman (S 850, S 853) in oak-stained molded plywood and black leather. Naoto Fukasawa's solid wood 130 chair (available in oak, beech or stained, with or without arms) is all grown up yet fun and lively, too.
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Artek Acquires Aero Design Furniture

At Artek's 75th anniversary dinner last week, we heard the news that the Finnish furniture company had acquired the entire share capital of compatriot company Aero Design Furniture (ADF) from owner Juhani Lemmetti, allowing Artek to begin selling the full Ilmari Tapiovaara family of furniture owned by ADF. An admirer of Artek founder Alvar Aalto, Tapiovaara also used architecture as the foundation for his work and his pieces will be a great complement to Artek's line. With the launch of Artek USA earlier this year and expansion in Europe and Japan, the company is poised to help the Tapiovaara collection find new admirers as well. In other Nordic news, Artek's creative director Ville Kokkonen will be taking part in the Nordic Design Now design symposium at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on Wednesday, November 10th and Thursday, November 11th at 7:00 p.m. The symposium includes two panel discussions, Social Awareness & Sustainability and Design Policy: Lessons Learned, co-presented by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Scandinavia House, and are held in conjunction with two exhibits: National Triennial 2010: Why Design Now? at Cooper-Hewitt, and Nordic Models + Common Ground at Scandinavia House.