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

Architects and Their Chairs “B”

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On May 12th

     B is For Breuer

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Marcel Breuer image via The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research



Marcel Lajos Breuer was born May 21,1902 in Hungary. He attended university at the Bauhaus School and later was a teacher in the carpentry department. When he came to the United States he was a professor at Harvard University (1937-46) in the School of Architecture.

 First recognized for his invention of bicycle-handlebar-inspired tubular steel furniture, he designed his most famous creation, the Wassily Chair, so called after being admired by artist Wassily Kandinsky. It was the first chair to feature a bent steel frame. Breuer designed a whole range of tubular metal furniture including chairs, tables, stools and cupboards. Tubular steel has lots of qualities; it is affordable for the masses, hygienic and provides comfort without the need for springs to be introduced. Breuer considered all of his designs to be essential for modern living. Design_Technology.org


 Democratic Affordable Furniture for the Masses

                    B 34  1928


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B 34 1928 via http://www.loeffler.de.com/de/sammlung


armchair Architects and Their Chairs  B

Breuer’s flat aluminum band furniture (1932-1934)
Between these years Breuer experimented with flat aluminium in his furniture. It was not as strong as tubular steel but was considerably cheaper. The seats were targeted at the mass- market and were sold in Wohnbedarf in Switzerland. The concave bands at the back are structurally necessary but at the same time are aesthetically pleasing.
The seat above is named the Armchair, Model No. 301. It is made from painted aluminium with a painted and moulded laminated seat and back. Image: design_technology.org




plywoodchair Architects and Their Chairs  B

Plywood Chair



loungechair Architects and Their Chairs  B

Lounge Chair



As an architect, Breuer worked primarily in concrete. Breuer’s buildings were always distinguished by an attention to detail and a clarity of expression. Considered one of the last true functionalist architects, Breuer helped shift the bias of the Bauhaus from “Arts & Crafts” to “Arts & Technology”.



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jvworks: St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota



ikea1 Architects and Their Chairs  B

[Marcel Breuer's 1969 Armstrong (aka Pirelli) Building, pre-IKEA
Image and story http://archidose.blogspot.com/2008/08/ikea-1-breuer-12.html



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1966 Whitney Museum of American Art. New York (with H. Smith)



  •  The UNESCO building in Paris

  • Lecture Hall, New York University (1961, New York City )

  • Whitney Museum of American Art (1966, New York City ) ,

  • St. John’s Abbey Church (1953, Collegeville, MN ),

  • Ameritrust Tower (Cleveland, his only skyscraper)

Complete list: http://www.marcelbreuer.org/Works.html



We try to give credit for all information and images, but if there is an error please notify us and we will correct it.

The Essence of a Miesian Dwelling

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On November 22nd

800px Mies van der Rohe photo Farnsworth House Plano USA 1 1 The Essence of a Miesian Dwelling

A winter view of the house in 1971, showing the original insect screening of the porch, and the roller shades added by the owner after the curtains were damaged by flood waters. image via Wikimedia Commons

The Farnsworth House is a 1,500 sq.ft home designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945-51. It is a one-room weekend retreat in a once-rural setting. The design is recognized as a masterpiece of the International Style of architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, after joining the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.  The cost of project was $74,000 in 1951 ($648,000 in 2012 dollars). There was a cost overrun of $15,600 over the approved pre-construction budget of $58,400.  This created havoc,  lawsuits and counter lawsuits  ensued until the courts ordered Dr Farnsworth to pay her bill.


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At his inaugural lecture as director of the department in 1938, Mies stated:

“In its simplest form architecture is rooted in entirely functional considerations, but it can reach up through all degrees of value to the highest sphere of spiritual existence into the realm of pure art.”

  This sentence summarized what had become Mies van der Rohe’s consistent approach to design: to begin with functional considerations of structure and materials, then to refine the detailing and expression of those materials until they transcended their technical origins to become a pure art of structure and space.

The dominance of a single, geometric form in a pastoral setting, with a complete exclusion of extraneous elements normally associated with habitation, reinforces the architect’s statement about the potential of a building to express “dwelling” in its simplest essence.


As Mies stated on his achievement, “If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature—it becomes part of a larger whole.” Farnsworth House is the essence of simplicity in the purest form, displaying the ever-changing play of nature.




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image via farnsworthhouse.org http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm


Information for this post was obtained from the following resources:   Wikipedia          http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm

12 Female Pioneers of Architecture and Design

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On July 18th

12 Female Pioneers of Architecture and Design 12 Female Pioneers of Architecture and Design

For our next eBook, we bounced around a few different ideas including:

  • An office design style guide
  • A home design style guide
  • Women pioneers of architecture and design

…and as you can probably tell from the title of this post, we decided to pay homage to 12 exceptional ladies who trudged through a male dominated industry in the early 20th century and fought an uphill battle to gain recognition for their amazing works of art.

This eBook is about notable architects and designers who happen to be women. Although we’d like to think that a good architect or designer is not defined by gender, or that being an amazing architect and a woman isn’t a singularly special occurrence, this has unfortunately not always been the accepted sentiment. The simple truth is, in the era that these women began their careers, being a woman and a talented architect was an accomplishment worthy of great recognition.

These architects and designers simply because they were women, were forced to overcome many hurdles and challenges imposed upon them by the stigma of their era.

In addition to being visionaries in their field and producing amazing works, these women were also pioneers of their time, and deserve the respect as such. Below are just a few of the noteworthy women who overcame these challenges, and rose to be well respected architects and designers.

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Mid Century Modern Furniture Evolution 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry Part 2 Mid Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry   Part 2

Do you find the works of designers such as Arne Jacobson, Charles and Ray Eames, and Mies van de Rohe to capture your attention? You just might be a mid-century modern furniture lover!

Do you know the designers who made your favorite chair or sofa? Wouldn’t you like to learn more about the great minds that made possible those timeless pieces of furniture that you utilize every day?

If you do, Paradigm Gallery has got just the thing for you…

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#7: Poul Volther

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On March 14th

Poul M Volther #7: Poul Volther

This is the 7th tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry” eBook, which is available as a free download!

Poul Volther (1923-2001) had an amazing ability to find potential in things that others could not. His first famed work was the Corona Chair or “Petal Chair”, introduced in 1964. This chair was crafted out of solid oak, and was a design unlike any other of the time. He incorporated every aspect of the various phases of design into one piece. These phases included:

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#6: Verner Panton

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On February 29th

Verner Panton heart chair #6: Verner Panton

This is the 6th tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the IndustryeBook, which is available as a free download!

Danish designer, Verner Panton, was a visionary. Born in 1926, he is a quality brand in Danish instrumental furniture design, interior design, and architecture. Panton’s furniture and lamp creations are extremely innovative, and make use of unusual and creative materials.

The Panton Chair was the first example of single-formed injection molded plastic seating. With this design, Panton succeeded in creating one of the most daring and famous chair designs of the twentieth century.

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#5: George Nelson

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On February 15th

George Nelson coconut chair #5: George Nelson

This is the 5th tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry” eBook, which is available as a free download!

George Nelson is an iconic American designer, who was an extremely influential figure in the later half of the 20th Century. George was a widely respected architect, designer, journalist, lecturer, curator, photographer, and teacher. He attended Yale University from 1928-1931, where he received both a BA and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Following that, Nelson studied at the American Academy in Rome, and returned to the U.S. in 1935 to pursue a career as an editor and journalist for “Architectural Forum” journal and “Pencil Point” magazine. George took this opportunity to introduce American readers to the European avant-garde.

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#4: Isamu Noguchi

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On February 1st

noguchi coffee table #4: Isamu Noguchi

This is the 4th tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry” eBook, which is available as a free download!

Meet Isamu Noguchi, 1904-1988. Noguchi is a Japanese-American designer who had a vision of making sculpture useful in our everyday life. He was quoted as saying: Read the rest of this entry »

#3: Eileen Gray

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On January 18th

Eileen Grays E.1027 Villas Livingroom Roguebrune Cap Martin France #3: Eileen Gray

This is the 3rd tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry” eBook, which is available as a  free download!

Although our list of designers is slightly male dominant, this female designer was one of the pioneers of the modernist design movement and has made a significant name for herself in the world of design. Her work attracted the attention of many, in a time when entrepreneurial women had far greater challenges to face in their efforts to make a name for themselves.

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#2: Harry Bertoia

Posted by Lynne van den Berg On January 4th

Bertoia diamond chair #2: Harry Bertoia

This is the 2nd tip in our “Mid-Century Modern Furniture Evolution: 7 Designers Who Changed the Industry” eBook, which is available as a  free download!

“If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.”

- Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia, born in Italy in 1915, designed a line of chairs that were the antithesis to the typical 1950’s style of rigid wood. His most famous collection of furniture were steel chairs comprised of welded wire which possessed a “springy” feel. Of these, the most well known was the Diamond Chair, which, as the name suggests, was shaped like a diamond. The highest point in the diamond forms the chair’s back support. Bertoia’s chairs were produced in 1952 by Knoll International, and they continue to produce them today.

Like fellow furniture designers, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, Bertoia attended Cranbook Academy, and was exposed to the world of modern furniture. In fact, it is said that Bertoia was very instrumental in the design and development of the Eames Chair, while he was working alongside Charles Eames in the late 1940’s. During his time at Cranbook, Bertoia won the Organic Furniture Design Competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art.

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