Mid-Century Modern Furniture Then and Now - Paradigm Gallery Blog

Toyo Ito 2013′s Pritzker Prize Recipient

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On September 4th
This month we have a guest, Charu Gureja, from the blog, Pocket Full of Design.
Charu worked as an interior designer, and lighting designer for several years in Singapore, and now lives in San Francisco.  She is passionate about interior spaces, architecture, furniture, lighting and art. Her unique point of view has evolved through her years spent in countries such as Egypt, Japan, Sri Lanka, India and Singapore.

01, April 2013
“I’m thrilled to dedicate this post to Toyo Ito who recently received the Pritzker Prize for his architectural contributions spanning four decades! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the award, it’s basically the Nobel Prize for the field of architecture icon smile Toyo Ito 2013s Pritzker Prize Recipient .

I could hardly curb my enthusiasm when I heard of this announcement as Toyo Ito’s works were a source of great inspiration to me as a design student. His pursuit of beauty through simple and timeless designs still inspires me and I strive to achieve that in my own work. His works range from designing cups and saucers, mobile dog homes to multi story buildings!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite Toyo Ito designs:




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Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002 in London, UK [via archdaily]:



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Mobile Home for Shiba [via Architecture for Dogs] – Do check out the adorable video on how this home was created on the website!


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Ripples Bench for Horm (created using 5 layers of these solid woods: Walnut, mahogany, cherry, oak and ash):


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What do you guys think of his work? Has he rightly earned his place in the Pritzker hall of fame along with I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and the likes?”

Please visit Charu Gureja at Pocket Full of Designs where she discusses topics such as interior design, lighting, and architecture.



InteriorDesign: Embracing an Eclectic Style

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On August 12th
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Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to “mix it up” when decorating a space. An eclectic approach, or mixing it up refers  to combining seemingly disparate styles of furniture and accessories. That could include: an industrial coffee table, a Scandinavian style sofa, a mid century classic lounge chair, a vintage lighting fixture,  perhaps  an antique gilded mirror or Victorian footstool. The point is, there are many styles that play well together. Ultimately, success is achieved by blending and balancing  the elements in a way that each distinct piece is an important part of the whole, a composition of varying personalities if you will. I have always approached decorating with the philosophy that I need to have a connection to the things that I live with. The item needs to be beautiful to me, not just a functional piece. I don’t adhere to a singular era or style.

Having said all of this, I will now add some of the fine tuning details for creating your signature environment. Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the quote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” As I have developed and honed my philosophy on decor, it has gradually grown into a simpatico with the Miesian theory of “less is more”.  I need my spaces to breathe and allow for the individual elements to shine and be seen. If you overcrowd a room with furniture or accessories it creates a heavier space with a cluttered vibe and the individual beauty of each item gets lost in the confusion.  Nothing weighs a room down more quickly then loading every flat surface with “things”.  Someone visiting my home once said, “in every direction I turn there is a thoughtful, creative, view”, and he was not speaking about gazing through the windows.

The last few things to consider are the horizontal and vertical spaces, or simply said, the walls, floor, and ceiling. They have the potential to help create your room palette, add texture, and either calm or invigorate the energy. You can stay monochromatic in the decor or not, and use large art for color, multiple photos, posters, collections of tarnished silver trays or mirrors, whatever works for you. The most important thing to remember is to always edit your work.  Keep in mind that it is a dynamic expression of you. It is changeable and adaptable to change.  Think of the room as a visual  expression of your autobiography.


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image via mixandchic.com


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image shared via thecuratedhouse.com


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image via niceity.livejournal.com




Womb Chair Mystique

Posted by Noah On July 24th

What is more comfortable than a Womb Chair? Cradling you in a curved cloud of support, all stress and daily inconveniences melt away. The Womb Chair was designed by Eero Saarinen, while working for Knoll & Associates, when Florence Knoll placed a request for a chair that she could sink down into and enjoy a good book. In 1948, Saarinen completed Knoll’s request which she later dubbed “the curling chair”.

Conflicting stories about the origin of the name Womb Chair have been widely documented. Eero Saarinen stated that “its unofficial name is the Womb Chair because it was designed on the theory that a great number of people have never really felt comfortable and secure since they left the womb.” However, many people believe that this statement was made in jest. Christina Blake Oliver of interior design firm Oliver Interiors shared another possible origin with sZinteriors. Oliver says that her mother and father were close friend’s of the Saarinen’s. When her mother was enormously pregnant, she happened to be sitting in an early design of the chair when Saarinen was struck by the unlikely name Womb Chair. Despite the mystery shrouding the name, we can all agree that it certainly reflects many of the distinct characteristics of such a comfortable chair.

The distinct shape of the Womb Chair is the harvest of Saarinen’s numerous experiments using round pod-like seats in furniture design. One of his main goals of the design was to allow people to relax in several distinctive, yet comfortable positions. The Womb Chair exceeded all expectations for a comfortable chair and resulted in a modern chair perfectly suited for the increasingly relaxed modern society.

For more information on a top quality reproduction of this one-of-a-kind modern iconic chair, including available colors and pricing, please click here.

Eero Saarinen in his Womb Chair Womb Chair Mystique

Eero Saarinen in his iconic design.




Paul Rudolph: Concrete Connoisseur

Posted by Noah On June 20th

In a small Kentucky town, Paul Rudolph was born to a nomadic Methodist preacher in 1918. His unique childhood was spent traveling the American south from church to church. The charm of these pious concrete structures and other regional landmarks inspired Rudolph to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Auburn University. His serendipitous meeting with Walter Gropius, the founder of Bauhaus, while pursuing his master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Design would help shape his bright future as an architectural visionary.

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Orange Country Government Center in Goshen, New York.

After attaining his master’s, Paul Rudolph partnered with Ralph Twitchell in Florida and became a kingpin of the “Sarasota School”. This style of architecture focused on a clean contemporary floor plan and highlighted natural light, sweeping overhangs, and flat roofs. In 1958, Rudolph completed the Art and Architecture Building at Yale University. While there he felt a strong desire to share his passion and he became Dean at the Yale School of Architecture. After six years of inspiring a new generation of builders, Rudolph relocated to New York. He continued to focus all of his attention on the controversial Brutalist style. Brutalist architecture was inspired by the modernist movement. These buildings tend to be extremely linear, square, and feature predominantly concrete.

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Yale Art and Architecture Building.

Despite being idolized by his peers, the public found many of his larger brutalist designs to be “brutal indeed” and criticized the abundance of concrete and steel. When Paul Rudolph passed away in 1997, his obituary in the New York Times said, “With the exception of Louis I. Kahn, no American architect of his generation enjoyed higher esteem in the 1960’s.  But after 1970, his reputation plummeted. Many of his buildings are being torn down, or are in danger of being torn down.  Mr. Rudolph leaves behind a perplexing legacy that will take many years to untangle.” However; a little over 15 years later, the unique appeal of Paul Rudolph’s brutalist designs is reaching  new audiences who are embracing the incredible buildings with open arms.

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Paul Rudolph’s 1961 Miami home.

1969 Mid Century Modern House in Iowa City: An Architects Story

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On June 7th

My dad had laughing blue eyes. We shared many amazing times together in his last years. One day, while asking him a mundane question, he turned to look at me with serious “blues” and said, “we have merged, we are one, you can think for me from now on.” This Zen moment: poignant, sad, and joyful all at the same time was  a monumental gift, a shift. I paused in silent reflection and launched into deep breathing techniques to help prepare for what was ahead….Así es La Vida

 A few years down the road, on the other side of the country, we received a different kind of gift, one that came with invisible strings. A mid-century modern house, the history of two lives, two careers, an anthropologist and an architect. Their passion for each other, their pets and nature was evident throughout the home. I discovered why we were chosen to steward their legacy from a yellow legal pad on the side of my uncle’s bed.  So many questions remain that can never be answered….once again the responsibility that is a part of the gift…breathe...C’est La Vie

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King House 1969 Architect Pierce King

In order to understand this impressive mid-century modern home, I needed to embrace this turn of events and try to be as one with this house, this land, this place. A contemporary definition of Zen: It is the state of residing in such great understanding and depth, that no matter what life throws your way, you drop the illusion and see things without the distortion of your own mind, and  you are at peace with it. I remind myself of this often, five years into this project….Live and Learn

 The bones of this interesting home are solid, strong, and impressive. I have photos of my uncle in the mid to late 1960’s hunkered down in his few acres of timbers (a reference to woods in Iowa speak), plotting how and where to place his home. IMG 0513 Version 2 621x800 1969 Mid Century Modern House in Iowa City: An Architects StoryHe removed only one tree throughout the build (he certainly would not have called his woods “timber” because it implies the potential to cut). The structure hugs and leans into the curves of the land. Approaching down the long steep lane you see virtually a giant, redwood rectangle. When you enter your eyes are drawn to angles, levels (4), light, space, and glass. The dynamic art of nature, trees and sky, completing the mood. The extensive walls of glass is a Mies van der Rohe way of extending the sight lines beyond the interior (ie Farnsworth House). To me, this home embodies the complexity of thought reduced to the simplicity of lines.

 Mies van der Rohe was my uncle’s mentor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, originally called the Armour Institute, then merging with the New Bauhaus started by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1937. Mies as well as Moholy-Nagy both taught at the Bauhaus in Germany before immigrating to the US.

The International style is the name of the architecture associated with the American form of Bauhaus influenced design.  Some of the characteristics of this style are:

1. No applied ornamentation

2. A rectilinear shape

3. A light open space

4. Use of concrete and glass

  On my quest to understand more about the design of this house,  I reached out to Justine Jentes, Director of the Mies van der Rohe Society at IIT in Chicago. I asked her what she sees in the design connecting it to the International Style and/or Mies van der Rohe.  This was her reply:

     ”I agree, the details and the craftsmanship are impressive. While Mies did not work with wood for structure (It was more often used for interior doors, panels, etc) the overall box design, strong right angles, extensive use of large glass planes and what appears to be flowing “open plan” interior are reminiscent of Mies design.”

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King House is all about the light….

IMG 0165 600x800 1969 Mid Century Modern House in Iowa City: An Architects Story But their is more to this house then Mies, and International design. Frank LLoyd Wright’s philosophical presence is here as well. The extensive library has several FLW books, but “The Natural House” printed in 1963, stands out.  There are some pages marked and corners folded over, more pieces of this puzzle were falling into place. His last trip shortly before he passed away was to Falling Waters.  An architect friend* and his wife took Pierce to the place he had long desired to visit.  He was infirm, and nearly fell into the “falling waters”, fortunately Dwight grabbed  him before any damage was done.

“Plainness is not necessarily simplicity”…I can feel Pierce pouring over these words in this well worn fragile book. Wright later goes on to pull this idea together by saying, “ To know what to leave out and what to put in; just where and just how, ah, that is to have been educated in knowledge of simplicity—toward ultimate freedom of expression.

 So I continue to try to understand this interesting and intriguing house but I need a better understanding of FLW.  I am researching, talking, asking questions.  Following are some anecdotes from a handful of architects. I  asked them if FLW influenced them in how they design.


Lira Luis AIA is a global American Architect specializing in organic architecture. While working on her Master of Architecture degree at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture,  she lived at the two Taliesins (West and in Spring Green).

  “Words that come to mind about Mr. Wright’s architecture:

  Appropriate to time and place

  True to the nature of materials

   Form and function are one

My work tends not to imitate his style but rather be inspired by his Organic Architecture Principles.”   Lira Luis AIA


Harold F. “BUD” Dietrich, AIA shared a wonderful story with me of how FLW touched his family….

    In the summer of 1991 I was being transferred to the Chicago office of the company I worked for.  As part of that transfer we must have looked at 100’s of houses, searching for just  the right one. We decided to look at the Chicago suburb of Oak Park to see what we thought of it and, while there, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.

     During our tour of the Home and Studio we arrived at the 2nd floor Playroom.  This room was an addition that Wright built to accommodate his growing family.  The room was designed and built very much with a child’s sensibilities.  A fact that my five year old daughter made me aware of.  While we were standing in the playroom enjoying the sense of space and views out to the Gingko tree, my daughter tugged on my arm and said “daddy, we should buy this one.”  She was mightily disappointed when I told her the house wasn’t for sale.

    The lesson I learned was how Wright, who had a tumultuous personal life to say the least, designed remarkable homes that truly accommodated a family life.  And this fact, at the end of the day, was where his true genius was.  Bud Dietrich AIA

Dwight Dobberstein AIA

 ”To understand FLW’s greatness you have to look at the state of architectural design when he began.  Greek revival and gingerbread houses.  His buildings are the opposite, simple and clean incorporating natural materials and blending with the landscape. I like the long horizontal lines of his buildings and how they meld with their sites.

 While simple and modern, his buildings are not void of ornamentation.  There is plenty of ornamental detail beautifully incorporated in his work.  Much of the ornamentation is derived from nature which reinforces the connection to the site.

 The open floor plans flow from room to room in a seemingly simple layout yet complex organization.  Falling Water is a good example.  The plan seems easy but try to sketch it.

Dwight Dobberstein AIA

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NCARB Newsletter !979
Pierce and Dwight’s history began here…the nation’s first intern-architect to complete IDP gets certified.

The body of the house looks so International and Mies inspired, but a part of it’s heart and soul are perhaps more tied to Frank Lloyd Wright then I will ever know. This process is helping me to understand the collaboration (influence on thought and design) between Pierce, Mies, and Frank…. La dolce vita

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XOXO All Seasons

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Charles Correa: India’s greatest architect – The Guardian

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On May 13th

See on Scoop.itMid-Century Modern Architects and Architecture
 Charles Correa: Indias greatest architect   The Guardian

The Guardian
Charles Correa: India’s greatest architect
The Guardian
Correa defined modern architecture in India, moving on from the monuments that Le Corbusier created in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad in the early years after independence.

ParadigmGallery‘s insight:

His 1950′s American architecture education was dominated by steel and glass…"it’s OK but you didn’t feel any passion."

Indian architect and urban planner known for adapting Modernist tenets to local climates and building styles. In the realm of urban planning, he is particularly noted for his sensitivity to the needs of the urban poor and for his use of traditional methods and materials.

Correa has taught in many universities, both in India and abroad, including MIT and Harvard University (both in Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the University of London. His many awards include the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects; the Praemium Imperiale prize for architecture (1994), awarded by the Japan Art Association; and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1998).

See on www.guardian.co.uk

The accessibility of art to all classes of society is an important subject amid a frightening landscape of budget cuts. One of the core beliefs of the Bauhaus movement suggested that art should strive to meet the demands of every member of society (from doctor to janitor) and that there should be no division between form and function. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were two artists who insisted on working in environments that would share their creative talents with everyone. Subway stations, city streets and abandoned industrial warehouses all were cloaked in the beauty of their work. From teenage graffiti artists in New York City, to highly acclaimed painters, both men helped to usher in a new style of artist who conveys the electrifying pulse of large metropolitan areas through their inspiring work.

Jean-Michel Basquiat added his distinctive creative voice to both the Neo-expressionism and the Contemporary art genres. Note how he walks a fine line between radical spontaneity and restricted control in the three examples below. Many of Basquiat’s works contain a captivating political message such as poverty versus wealth, or the surprising similarities between the Atlantic slave trade and the Egyptian slave trade.

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Keith Haring is known for his vibrant contributions to both the Pop art and the Contemporary art genres. The graffiti influences of his teen years stand out in the colorfully bold cartoon figures seen below. Haring enjoyed conveying the importance of life and unity through his work, and later in his career, also included socio-political themes, such as anti-Apartheid and AIDS awareness. The painting, “Andy Mouse”, is a playful representation of his own friendship with renowned artist Andy Warhol.

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Mid-Century modern furniture reflects the dreams of Gropius and many of the Bauhaus era to provide a functional, affordable and consistent product that reunites both arts and crafts in an artistic form that any socioeconomic class can enjoy.  Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring shared their creative genius with the public in a similar generous manner and should be celebrated for their impact on keeping the joy of art free.

A Forest of Pillars, Recalling the Unimaginable – New York Times

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On April 15th

See on Scoop.itToday’s Modern Architects and Architecture
 A Forest of Pillars, Recalling the Unimaginable   New York Times

The quiet abstraction and stark physical presence of the memorial in Berlin memorializes past sufferings but also forces us to acknowledge the Holocaust’s relevance today.


ParadigmGallery‘s insight:

Today I came across a quote that got my attemtion, “The architecture we remember is that which never consoles or comforts us.”  Peter Eisenman, Architect…I then did my homework and discovered the astounding portfolio and the brilliant intellect and soul behind this memorial to the Holcaust in Berlin. I can only imagine the impact of viewing this in person and assume it would be a life altering experience.


This is an excerpt from the NY Times article..
A vast grid of 2,711 concrete pillars whose jostling forms seem to be sinking into the earth, it is able to convey the scope of the Holocaust’s horrors without stooping to sentimentality – showing how abstraction can be the most powerful tool for conveying the complexities of human emotion.


Awesome and emotional read….worth it!



See on www.nytimes.com

See on Scoop.itToday’s Modern Architects and Architecture
 12 year old Manhattan Museum to be demolished, its too opaque.

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien join the Rubble Club, as The Museum of Modern Art tears down their nice bit of modern art.

ParadigmGallery‘s insight:

This story was first reported in the NY Times yesterday and is creating an uproar and understandably so…. "American Folk Art Museum opened on West 53d Street in Manhattan in 2001 it was hailed as a harbinger of hope for the city after the Sept. 11 attacks and praised for its bold architecture..   the building’s design did not fit their plans because the opaque facade is not in keeping with the glass aesthetic of the rest of the museum.  http://nyti.ms/16QxweH


What do you think?

See on www.treehugger.com

See on Scoop.itMid-Century Modern Architects and Architecture
 Social housing project Kiel by Renaat Braem  Belgiums MCM Architect

Social housing project Kiel by Renaat Braem – We paid a visit to the most controversial project of Belgium’s leading post-war architect.

ParadigmGallery‘s insight:


Wonderful read, beautiful pictures…a sweet nod to the past and the faded beauty of the present….


Braem was one of Belgium’s most prominent architects in the early 1950s and designed or co-designed more than 50 houses and buildings. He was the only Belgian ever to work as an assistant to the great Swiss architect Le Corbusier, who had a big influence on his work.


Braem’s design and purpose with this project are thoughtful, quirky, creative and innovative. At the time this was also a socio/political statement….Braem took this opportunity to realise his ideas about a collective living as a total architecture. Braem experimented with the implant of the buildings, with a maximum of sunlight, space, air and communal outdoor area in mind. These elements also had an important social meaning to him: the communal ground symbolizes the collective dimension of a liberated way of living and just like Le Corbusier he chose to build on ‘pilotis’ to create more freedom to move around and to create a nice view on nature…..


Wonderful read, beautiful pictures…a sweet nod to the past and the faded beauty of the present….

See on allitemsloaded.com