Design Icons

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Most of the design icons to emerge in the century since the Arts and Crafts movement took hold in Europe in the late 1800s have endeavored to propel modern aesthetics forward through both furniture and architecture. The trend has its roots in the Arts and Crafts movement, particularly in British designers like C.R. Mackintosh and William Morris who were multi-disciplinary designers that experimented in both two- and three-dimensional forms. With the development of the International style and the rise of the Bauhaus in the 1920s, however, the trend was cemented into the thought process of most of Modernism.

The design icons that emerged out of the Bauhaus--first the founder, Walter Gropius, the others, such as Marcel Breuer-- were some of the first to formally link furniture and buildings into a cohesive and unified package for modern life. Other contemporarily designers, such as Eileen Gray, thought similarly, but explored the topic with a different approach. Both parties agreed, however, that the modern lifestyle demanded updated forms and materials.

The Rise of International Design Icons

The International style was a formal movement led by design icons such as Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Both had studies with Gropius and Behrens, one of the founders of Germany's Arts and Crafts School. They searched for the essentials in design and architecture, and believed in finding designs that were pure and designed to enhance living.

As the careers of the International designers continued, furniture companies such as Knoll and Herman Miller came to them for designs for modern living. Some designers produced works on commission, building up an extensive catalog of modern furniture that would be available to years to come. Other designers allowed the companies the rights to their designs to insure that they would continue to be made and enjoyed by the masses who the pieces were designed for.


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