Design classics: Five mid-century design legends


Design classics experts Essential Home honours masters of beautiful things.

Food. Fashion. Automobiles. Furniture. Interiors. Is it genetics? Or something in the Chianti that makes Italians such masters of beautiful things? Not only do they have such a rich history that is evident in their bold and brash creations, but we can also feel the drama and bravado of their culture and personality. What Italians make is always sexy, gorgeous—and gorgeously made. So, this well-known heartland of art-level furniture is from the same country responsible for Da Vinci’s paintings, Armani’s tailoring and Sophia Loren’s elegance.

Here, on the occasion of the Super Bowl of design – April’s Salone del Mobile in MILAN -Essential Home takes a look back at some design classics, pivotal mid-century designers of the 20th century – one from each decade between the 1940s and the 1960s, these giants carry the style of global design on their shoulders.

Marco – Chair Family
Architect, designer and university lecturer, Marco Zanuso was one of the leading interpreters of the Modern Movement. Marco was one of the first designers in Italy to take an interest in the problems of product industrialization; according to him, the form of an object destined for serial reproduction is an amalgam of opportunities, experimentation, and innovation in the concrete process that connects creativity, production and the social and cultural context.

DESIGN CLASSICS Baughman – Bar Cart
Milo Baughman was one of the most agile and adept modern American furniture designers of the late 20th century. Baughman is famously opposed to ostentatious and idiosyncratic designs that were made to excite attention. Baughman tended to let his materials carry the aesthetic weight, most often relying on frames made of sturdy and sleek flat-bar chromed metal, and chairs, tables and cabinets finished with highly-figured wood veneers.

DESIGN CLASSICS Family Bertoia – Dining and Bar table
Harry Bertoia was a worker ahead of his time who crossed boundaries daily. His sculptures are a window into the universe, sensual and sculptural and often hand-shaped. His gentle nature was expressed in delicate fine wire work while his superhuman strength was needed to handle the massive architectural commissions.

Neutra as an Austrian-American architect who came to be considered among the most important modernist architects. He was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, in contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client’s needs, much to their surprise. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape, and practical comfort.

DESIGN CLASSICS Charlotte Perriand
Charlotte Perriand, a darling of the avant-garde cultural movement, brought a profound change in aesthetic values and gave birth to a truly modern sensitivity towards everyday life. Her specific contribution focuses on interior composition, conceived as creating a new way of living, still today at the heart of contemporary lifestyle. Our Armchair Charlotte brings that contemporary and modern furniture piece honouring the French and feminine avant-garde that represents this amazing designer.

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