Coco Chanel: born in 1883 and died in 1971. What an incredible period to have lived and worked! To go from the very earliest days of electricity, the telephone, etc. all the way through the 60’s to cultural revolutions, television, and a man on the moon. And she was such an integral part of it!

Chanel is most famous for her suits + little black dresses. She borrowed from menswear to give women more options and – of course, sophistication – in their wardrobe. And for that we are forever indebted to her!

I leave you again with another fun video…you do need to know French lol, but it’s still interesting to watch! This is the debut of her 1959 collection. I wish we still dressed like this!

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
– Coco Chanel

You see them everywhere, especially nowadays. It is a testament to the timelessness of their work that we still consider it modern 70 years later…so who am I talking about? Charles and Ray Eames!

A lot of people don’t realize that chairs such as the above were created by the incredibly talented husband and wife duo of Charles and Ray (poor Ray often gets mistaken for a guy!).

They experimented with material extensively and were pioneers of molded plywood techniques – in large part because they were working in the 40’s, and available metal pretty much all went to the war effort. You’ve seen this little guy all over the place:

The shape is awfully familiar though isn’t it? Looks a lot like chairs we use in schools doesn’t it? Their innovation with furniture design and materials lead to the ability to mass produce chairs like these (not this one, but it’s metal / plastic school counterpart that came later) and fill schools with them for decades to come. Isn’t it funny to think that something you got so used to seeing actually was invented by someone and would have been an earthshattering chair to come across before 1950 or so?

So I hope I haven’t bored you with a quick shoutout to the people behind the innovation, but furniture design and really design of all kinds is so fascinating to me. It’s important to know where we come from!

And on that note, I leave you with this amazing video of Charles Eames on the Today Show in 1956. I watched it in school at one point and just love how you can see an era gone by…the host with her smart little outfit and proper voice, “Mr. Eames” and his fancy new chair, and the rather chauvenistic presentation they give it (that would not fly today). Fun bit of nostalgia!

Source:

I’m a total history buff. I read biographies and historical novels for fun. I have just about wiped out the Barnes & Noble Classics section, by choice.

So I thought, designer and bookworm that I am, that it would be fun to do a series on my blog of artists and designers to know. Just a quick little rundown of what they did and why it’s important.

FIRST UP: MIES VAN DER ROHE.

Why, you ask? Because it’s my fish’s name. No joke. But also, because I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this chair around:

It is the Barcelona Chair, and it was designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1927 for his German pavilion at the International Exposition in Barcelona.

Ever heard of the Bauhaus? The Bauhaus was an incredibly influential school in Germany founded in 1919 and eventually disbanded during WWII. Mies van der Rohe was one of the directors of the school, whose main goal was to “renew architecture.” The founder, Walter Gropius, said this in his Manifesto:

“Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form.”

{Side note: Sounds familiar right? I love this concept: we with all of our unique skills as craftspeople, artists, and designers, are equal and should work together to build a synthesized and harmonious and BETTER future.}

Mies van der Rohe has a great many accomplishments to which he can lay claim, but I’ll leave you with the Farnsworth House, an amazingly sculptural home of metal and glass.

Isn’t is incredible to think that this home was designed in the late 1940’s and it still appears modern to us?

Just like the Barcelona chair. You’ll see it used in movies all the time when they’re trying to set an ultra posh, ultra modern, or even sometimes space-age feeling.

So what do you think of a mini-history exploration? Are you bored to tears or don’t mind a little historical inspiration? :-)