I love modernist furniture and home design. There is just something about the graceful ways in which the masters of modernism brought both functionality together with the ethos of less is more. Modernism, with all of its varying adherents and specific stylistic schools, emerged roughly in Germany (Bauhaus), the Netherlands (De Stijl), the Soviet Union (Constructivism, Futurism), and France (Le Corbusier) around the 1920’s and continued to visually transform the aesthetic landscape of domestic and work environs through the 1950’s. Often referred to as the International Style, modernist designers and architects sought to streamline the process of creating furniture and homes by eliminating decorative elements and ornamentation. There was a direct correlation between the rise in manufacturing technology and the aesthetic ideas posited by many of the movement’s most passionate advocates. Utopian ideas regarding the “good society” and how the arts and crafts could play a vital role in transforming the everyday lives of citizens were often the underlying force behind the revolutionary impulses of many these thinkers.
Even today, modernist design values continue to inspire and sell (see: IKEA). One only needs to look to the popularity of various print publications like Dwell Magazine and Atomic Ranch or scan the online pages of the popular blog Apartment Therapy to see the vestiges of modernist sensibilities and its lasting influence. Southwest Michigan furniture manufacturers like Herman Miller and Cranbrook Academy of Art were important regional leaders in promoting the works of such visionary artists like Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, and many others. Here is a short list of important designers and key terms.
Ray and Charles Eames
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Florence Knoll Bassett
The International Style
Warman's modernism furniture & accessories : identification and price guide