Welcome to the DesignLAB
The Rocking Chair
The rocking chair is the most definitive of American furniture forms, holding a unique place in our history, homes, and hearts.
The Ubiquitous No. 14
You may not know the name Michael Thonet, but you’ve probably sat in one of his chairs hundreds of times. Thonet was a German-Austrian furniture maker and designer who developed bentwood furniture and the
Spotlight: “Making Design” at The New Cooper Hewitt
To celebrate its renovation and reopening in the incredible Andrew Carnegie Mansion, New York’s Cooper Hewitt—Smithsonian Design Museum is showcasing a selection of its collection of 210,000 furniture and decorative objects from all over the world and spanning 30 centuries—with a new exhibit, “Making Design”, on exhibit now and, according to the Cooper Hewitt, “until it’s not.”
The History of Mirror: Through A Glass, Darkly
The mirror has been in existence almost as long as humankind. By legend, the first mirror was formed in the ancient Himalayas when a little brook tarried to rest itself, as if to ponder and reflect upon its course. Thereby, in time, the first woman walked and looking down into the pool was surprised by—another girl!—which she slowly came to understand as a reflection of herself.
Eileen Gray’s Bibendum: A Modern but Feminine Chair
Eileen Gray is a name closely tied to women’s dignified entrance into the male-dominated design world. Born in 1878, Eileen Gray was the youngest of five children of a wealthy Scots–Irish family. This privileged background allowed her to travel frequently and to attend prestigious private art schools in London and Paris. Nevertheless, because she was a woman, not even her advantageous upbringing and notable life experiences granted her access to important professional networks.
Duncan Phyfe and Fine Furniture
Duncan Phyfe, cabinetmaker, designed furniture just about 200 years ago. Yet his name, more than that of any other furniture maker in our history, embodies fine craftsmanship—fine American craftsmanship. His name has been whispered reverentially in art museums for decades, alongside the creators of the finest oil paintings and best porcelains. His is a legacy and a “brand” that tastemakers today would die for.
Use of the Ball & Claw – Design Motif
Almost all historical sources believe that the Ball & Claw design was derived from the Chinese: a dragon’s claw grasping a crystal ball, or a pearl, or sometimes a scared, flaming jewel. In Chinese mythology, the dragon (Emperor) would be guarding (with the triple claw foot) the symbol (ball - for wisdom, or purity) from evil forces trying to steal it.
Furniture Design Genius – Timeline
Often while researching furniture design, people do not know exactly which designer they are looking for, when the designer lived, in what country, or how most furniture historians describe the designer’s style. Bienenstock Furniture Library offers this reference to help you to find the design information you seek.
The Lyre & Sweet Harmonies
Cosmic harmony. Who could pass that up? Not Greece 2000 years ago and not America and Europe 200 years ago. Apollo was the mythological god of music and dance, and his stringed lyre was thought to represent not just artistic sensibilities but also harmony and heavenly peace, social order, and all that was rational in ancient Greece.
The Dichotomies of Saarinen’s Tulip Chair
Are futuristic and classic and mass-produced and organic all terms that can be used to describe just one chair? Let me introduce the Tulip Chair. Mostly defined by its formal unity and unique organic shape, this chair has been a symbol of futuristic thinking in furniture design since it was first introduced and mass-produced by Knoll as part of Eero Saarinen’s pedestal series in the 1950s.
The Urn: Logo From Antiquity
When we see an Apple logo on our smart phone, we don’t think fruit, we think cutting-edge devices. When we see Starbucks’ green mermaid with long wavy locks, we don’t think sea creatures, we think a cool place for cappuccinos. And when citizens of America and Europe in the 18th century saw urns, they didn’t think funerals and ashes, they thought noble simplicity, beauty, and reason.
Design on Film: A Festival of Style
The focus in the design world last month was on the High Point Market, the largest home furnishings trade show in the world. So you may have missed another festival that took place in New York. The Architecture & Design Film Festival is in its fourth season, showcasing over 25 films on architecture and design from around the world.