The Century of Modern Design

written by:
April 13, 2011

Of the myriad books on modernism—some more enlightening than others—The Century of Modern Design (Flammarion) will likely prove to be an important one. Culled from the Liliane and David M. Stewart collection (now part of the permanent collection at the Montreal Museum of Modern Art), the highlighted pieces are chronicled by decade, from 1930 through 2009. Designers range from the most revered to the little-known; some, where appropriate to the ongoing story and depending on their prolificness, appear more than once (the Eameses, Gaetano Pesce, Verner Panton). Edited by David A. Hanks, the book unfolds as a careful study of what we have come to call modern, exemplified here as a series of artful movements that are at times so innovative, they almost defy categorization.
 

  • 
  Russel Wright’s circa 1935 aluminum-and-walnut punch bowl with 12 cups reflects his “aim to reach a broad range of consumers, especially in the Depression years.” Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: © Denis Farley  Contact prior to reproduction,
    Russel Wright’s circa 1935 aluminum-and-walnut punch bowl with 12 cups reflects his “aim to reach a broad range of consumers, especially in the Depression years.” Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: © Denis Farley Contact prior to reproduction,

  • 
  A 1949 lounge chair in birch and leather by Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss architect who moved to Paris in 1920 and worked in the office of his cousin Charles Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier. First called the "92 chair" and featured in Florence Knoll’s room installation in "An Exhibition for Modern Living" at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, it later became known as the Scissors chair. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY
    A 1949 lounge chair in birch and leather by Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss architect who moved to Paris in 1920 and worked in the office of his cousin Charles Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier. First called the "92 chair" and featured in Florence Knoll’s room installation in "An Exhibition for Modern Living" at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, it later became known as the Scissors chair. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY

  • 
  The enameled-metal Lettera 22 typewriter, designed by Marcello Nizzoli for Olivetti in 1950. The machine had a single, bright-red return key and a handy carrying case. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2009
    The enameled-metal Lettera 22 typewriter, designed by Marcello Nizzoli for Olivetti in 1950. The machine had a single, bright-red return key and a handy carrying case. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2009

  • 
  Conceptualized around 1951 by Swedish designer Stig Lindberg for the Gustavsberg porcelain company, this vase bears more whimsical forms than the work of his midcentury modern contemporaries—many of whom were more concerned with strict industrial designs. Photo by Denis Farley.
    Conceptualized around 1951 by Swedish designer Stig Lindberg for the Gustavsberg porcelain company, this vase bears more whimsical forms than the work of his midcentury modern contemporaries—many of whom were more concerned with strict industrial designs. Photo by Denis Farley.
  • 
  Danish designer Grete Jalk designed this beech-faced plywood-and-steel GJ chair as part of a laminated furniture series in 1963; it won Britain’s Daily Mail International Furniture Competition the same year. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY
    Danish designer Grete Jalk designed this beech-faced plywood-and-steel GJ chair as part of a laminated furniture series in 1963; it won Britain’s Daily Mail International Furniture Competition the same year. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY

  • 
  A set of circa 1972 silver bar tools—strainer, stirrer, tongs and knife—by the Italian design couple Lella and Massimo Vignelli for San Lorenzo. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY
    A set of circa 1972 silver bar tools—strainer, stirrer, tongs and knife—by the Italian design couple Lella and Massimo Vignelli for San Lorenzo. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY

  • 
  Among Italian designer Mario Bellini’s contributions in the book are a rubber calculator, a polyurethane chair and this 1974 floor lamp topped by fire-resistant synthetic white shades that, says author David A. Hanks, “resemble folded paper or falling handkerchiefs.” Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2010
    Among Italian designer Mario Bellini’s contributions in the book are a rubber calculator, a polyurethane chair and this 1974 floor lamp topped by fire-resistant synthetic white shades that, says author David A. Hanks, “resemble folded paper or falling handkerchiefs.” Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2010

  • 
  Cosmic garden designer Charles Jencks drew upon classical forms in his brass coffeepot for Alessi, designed in 1982. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2009-
    Cosmic garden designer Charles Jencks drew upon classical forms in his brass coffeepot for Alessi, designed in 1982. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: © Denis Farley 2009-

  • 
  Ross Lovegrove, who has referred to himself as an “evolutionary biologist,” designed the magnesium, aluminum and polycarbonate Go Chair in 1999. Lovegrove says the inspirations are “body form, sensuality, anatomical base and high technology.” Photo by Denis Farley.
    Ross Lovegrove, who has referred to himself as an “evolutionary biologist,” designed the magnesium, aluminum and polycarbonate Go Chair in 1999. Lovegrove says the inspirations are “body form, sensuality, anatomical base and high technology.” Photo by Denis Farley.
  • 
  The last section of the book covers the aughts, still settling into its place in modern design, and includes the work of British ceramist Sophie Cook. The Pod and Teardrop vases, from 2003, are defined by almost impossibly slim necks. Photo by Denis Farley.  Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY
    The last section of the book covers the aughts, still settling into its place in modern design, and includes the work of British ceramist Sophie Cook. The Pod and Teardrop vases, from 2003, are defined by almost impossibly slim necks. Photo by Denis Farley.

    Courtesy of: @D-FARLEY

@current / @total

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...