The Opulent Modernism of Platner

The Opulent Modernism of Platner

By Alexandra Lange
For Warren Platner, whose modernist pedigree would make any contemporary designer squeal, design was all about the right groovy palette for the right glitzy project. Minimalists need not apply.

If you’ve ever wondered how we got from the glass boxes, stainless steel furniture, and white walls of the 1950s to the fern bars, wood paneling, and brass of the 1970s, Warren Platner is one answer. The career of the Connecticut–based architect and interior designer, who died in 2006 at age 86, spans the late 20th century’s architectural styles, from corporate modernism and sky-high restaurants to postmodern ferries. Not all of his work was good, or even in good taste, but it reveals a smart designer trying to avoid stagnation. Even when Platner went over the top (those dangling golden handkerchiefs at the Pan Am Building—now the MetLife Building—as part of a renovation in 1986 come to mind), there was always a clear architectural idea behind the glittering decoration.

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