Midcentury modern design has surged back into fashion in the past decade. In a time of economic uncertainty, many in the furniture and interiors industries are adopting the restrained aesthetic as a reassuring alternative to the opulent and overly expressive styles of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Though renowned designers from many countries played major roles in shaping this movement in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, Danish icons like Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Verner Panton, Børge Mogensen, and Hans J. Wegner are often credited as its catalysts. Today, Danish brands like Hay, Muuto, and PP Møbler have capitalized on the renewed interest in the country’s design prowess. Copenhagen-based Strandberg Publishing has just released two books that explore the topic. In Furniture Boom: Mid-Century Modern Danish Furniture 1945-1975, historian Lars Dybdahl surveys the full trajectory of the midcentury modern movement in Denmark, situating iconic furniture pieces in a larger cultural context. Across 13 chapters, the anthology highlights key trends as well as social, aesthetic, and technical topics. While chapter 2 investigates the disparity between high-end and accessible design, chapters 4, 5, and 6 consider different materials and production techniques that were championed and refined during the period: lamination, padding, wicker, etc. The last few chapters look at different scales of context and use: children's and office furniture alongside Space Age influences. While the book takes an academic tone, it's multifaceted approach paints a holistic picture. Throughout, archival product and interior images, advertisements, and drawings help illustrate the full story. In The Danish Chair: An International Affair, author Christian Holmsted Olesen analyzes the chair archetype. As one of the most complex and contested objects, the chair often signifies a make-or-break moment for designers and serves as a touchstone throughout evolving careers. In the book, Holmsted Olesen positions Danish design at the center of an international and historical dialogue. The author reveals how celebrated midcentury modern chair designs by Danish icons took inspiration from history and abroad. Certain chapters explore the influence of Chinese and English traditions, while others identify different typologies: folding, low, easy, bentwood, shell, cantilever, etc. The book also looks at how the country’s design scene gained international recognition in the early 1950s and how that drove its designers to perfect the chair. Holmsted Olesen is the head of exhibits and collections at Designmuseum Danmark and mounted a permanent exhibition of the same name in 2016.
Posts tagged with "History":
In the late summer of 1967, the civil rights movement was coming to a head. While it manifested around numerous issues throughout the country, in Milwaukee the fight for fair housing would be the catalyst for marches and protest that would last for months. Led by an unlikely advisor, Father James E. Groppi, son of Italian immigrants, and the NAACP Youth Council, thousands turned out for months of consecutive marches. In early 1967, the State of Wisconsin passed its first open housing law to prohibit discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. While the law was considered a step in the right direction, loopholes involving owner-occupied multifamily properties meant most of Milwaukee’s housing was not included in the law. African Americans, living almost exclusively on the North Side of the city, were not able to move or buy property anywhere else in town. The division of the city was embodied in the 16th Street Viaduct, locally known as “Milwaukee’s Mason-Dixon line.” The bridge still stretches from the predominantly African American neighborhoods of the North Side to the predominantly white, mostly Polish, South Side. When Father Groppi and the NAACP Youth Council gathered to protest the city’s refusal to pass its own, stricter, fair housing ordinance, 16th Street would become a symbol of their struggle. The first march across the viaduct took place on August 28, 1967. About 200 demonstrators walked from the North Side to Kosciuszko Park on the South Side. There they met an overwhelming 5,000 hostile counter-protestors. The next night, marching again, 13,000 counter-protesters hurled rocks, bottles, and fireworks at the civil rights marchers. Acting to protect the marchers were the Youth Council Commandos, young men who would create human walls to shield the women and children participating from the angry South Siders and the increasingly brutal police force. Undeterred, the marches would continue for 200 consecutive nights, through Milwaukee’s frigid winter. Just weeks after the end of the marches, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Notably, before taking up the fight in Milwaukee, Father Groppi had marched alongside King in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. In the days following King’s death, tens of thousands filled the streets of Milwaukee to mourn. By April 11, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act. Milwaukee would go on to pass even more stringent regulations later that year. Fifty years on, the city of Milwaukee is still reflecting on the events of that fateful era. The 16th Street viaduct has been renamed after Father Groppi, but the city is still considered one of the most segregated in the country. The lines dividing African Americans from whites have shifted, but are still staggeringly apparent. While the larger conversation about housing today is focused on affordability and sustainability, it is worth remembering that the simple act of wanting to live where you want is a battle that has been going on for decades.
The new What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide for New York City will be revealed tonight at the AIA Center for Architecture. It’s the second in a series of interactive maps The Cultural Landscape Foundation produced in partnership with The National Parks Service in recognition of the 100th anniversary of their founding. The interactive guide for New York City assembles a rich history of 78 landmarks and public spaces, such as Roosevelt Island, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and New York Botanical Garden, pictured above. The project also features profiles of 72 designers who have helped shape the urban landscape and surrounding areas. It was preceded by an edition for Philadelphia and will be followed up by editions for Boston, Baltimore, and Richmond, VA. As a live document, it will continue to grow in its virtual home on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website. While the formal reveal will take place at the Center for Architecture tonight at 6:30 p.m., you can check out the finished product here.
[beforeafter][/beforeafter] What would a young William Penn, prolific planner and founder of Pennsylvania—and London native of the 1600s—make of his home town today? He would probably admire how the chaotic life of trade, slums and hackney carriage horses had been reigned in, but chances are, he wouldn't recognise a thing. On view now at London's Guildhall Galleries is Visscher Redrawn, an exhibition offering a view through Penn's eyes thanks to two panoramic views of London taken 400 years apart—from 1616 to 2016. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Dutch artist Claes Jansz Visscher's staggering 6.5-foot-long depiction is taken from an elevated viewpoint in the city and sheds light on the how London looked prior to the Great Fire of 1666 which destroyed much of what is depicted. The image is even more impressive considering Visscher never set foot in Britain. Emulating Visscher, artist Robin Reynolds—who has actually visited London—has completed his own view of London, using the same vantage point as Visscher. London Bridge, for example, has changed dramatically. It's hard to think that it was once a bridge that was a lively place with shops and houses hovering over the Thames. In the foreground of the top view, just left of London Bridge (at the bottom of the picture), is Southwark Cathedral, which was spared by the 17th century conflagration. The cathedral might be the only recognizable architectural element that can be seen in the two views. St. Paul's Cathedral, below, had no such luck. A dominant gothic feature in the 1616 skyline, it was burned to the ground. Poking out, in the same location in Reynold's drawing, is Sir Christopher Wren's variant. [beforeafter][/beforeafter] Interestingly, after the Great Fire of London, Wren and the incumbent King Charles II had great plans for the capital. Wren drew on his experiences of Paris, envisioning wide boulevards to replace the narrow streets, though this was never realised as businesses were eager to remain in the same location. [beforeafter][/beforeafter]
LIDAR, an acronym for "Light and Radar," has helped the U.K.'s Environment Agency show changes in topography for almost two decades from its inception in 1998. Since then it has been used to determine the effects of flooding and coastal regression. Local amateur archaeologist, David Ratledge, has also used the tool to locate ancient Roman roads between Ribchester and Catterall (near Lancaster), shedding new light on Britain's undiscovered past and illuminating the arteries of the ancient Empire. The Romans were notorious innovators of infrastructure, pioneering concrete, aqueducts, drainage, and, of course, roads. The first Roman road stretched from Richborough on the southeast coast, to Canterbury, where it went on to London, St. Albans, and up to Chester. Even today, some 2,000 years after the route was established, it is still one of the U.K.'s main freight roadways now known as the A2 and the A5. Now, it is thought there are more Roman roads, particularly in northwest England, between Ribchester and Lancaster. “After only 45 years of searching, I have at long last found the Roman Road from Ribchester to Lancaster!” said Ratledge on his webpage. The discovery not only tells us about Roman trade routes, but also about where they thought troops would need to be deployed quickly. It's possible that the Romans were fearful of Celts near Lancaster, hence a road that could be used to send support or retreat as quickly as possible was very useful. A tell-tale sign of a Roman road is its linear form. The Romans didn't mess around when it came to road building and if they wanted to get somewhere, they took the most direct route possible. Staggeringly, they even managed to plot a straight line—even when they couldn't see the end destination. This can be seen in the London to Chichester route where vision is impaired due to the North and South Downs (a range of hills). The solution? The Romans placed beacons on high points, using their line of sight to determine the straightest possible route. To walk the route from Ribchester to Caterall, as the Roman troops did, would take over seven hours according to Google maps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qTRRBEkesA
Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets. The iconic building celebrated its Centennial last year, and it's looking pretty good for 100. But, to be fair, it has had some cosmetic work done over the years. Either way, to honor that milestone, the New York Transit Museum hosted an exhibit called Grand By Design, which explored the station’s storied history. And now, a year later, that exhibit has a fun, new website. With some drawings, photos and videos, the site tells the captivating story of how the “Grand Central Depot” of the 1800’s became the Grand Central Terminal of today. Turns out, a lot happened before the Apple Store showed up. As these things go, the story is full of greed, politics, threats of destruction, and what's described as a “stormy partnership.” It's like one of today's development battles, but with more provocative facial hair. Check out the new website here. [via Gizmodo]
Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The Museum of Fine Arts Houston 5601 Main Street Houston, Texas December 19 through March 9, 2014 The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is hosting an eye-opening exhibition this winter that will uncover the rich history of the ancient trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. Organized by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Roads of Arabia will feature objects recently excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites, and give insight into the culture and economy of this ancient civilization. Recently discovered objects along the trade routes include alabaster bowls and fragile glassware as well as heavy gold earrings and monumental statues. All of the artifacts are testament to the lively exchange between Arabs and their neighbors, including the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Greco-Romans.
As enthusiasm continues to build for The Architect Newspaper and YKK AP's Reimagine The Astrodome design ideas competition, which accompanies the launch of the forthcoming AN Southwest edition as well as YKK AP's expansion into the region, we thought we'd take the opportunity to share a collection of excellent black and white photographs of the Astrodome from the Library of Congress. These pictures document the dome as it looked in 2004, after its last tenant, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, had moved out in 2003, before it was used to house refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and well before it was declared unfit for occupancy in 2008. Take this opportunity to subscribe to AN Southwest and sign up for the Reimaging The Astrodome competition. These pictures show off several of the more impressive architectural and engineering features of the venerable structure, including the trusses and compression ring that support the 642-foot clear span of the lamella roof, the mechanisms that drive the movable seating sections, and the sensual 1960s modernist character of the exterior concrete screen wall with its stacked parallelograms.