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Modern Pioneer
A pioneer of modern design, Ruth Reeves was at the forefront of American textiles throughout her career, perpetually interested in the discovery of a national American voice in design. After studying at Pratt and the San Francisco School of Design, Reeves traveled to Paris, where she lived between 1921 and 1927. In America, the field...
Master of the Chair
Hans J. Wegner was a pioneer in modern Danish design in the 1950s and 1960s. Having designed more than 500 chairs throughout his career, with 100 of them being mass-produced, he has been affectionately known within the design world as the “Master of the Chair”.  His ingenious use of natural materials, in particular his admiration...
The Wright Chair
Echoing the larger artistic vision of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, this chair was designed for the hotel’s Peacock banquet room in the early 1920s. Amongst the 700 drawings that exist for the hotel, most are for its interior, showing how significant its design was.[1] The chair’s hexagonal back and square seat reflect...
International Style Tea
This Austrian tea service was designed in a thoroughly modernist style. Forms have been radically simplified to their stark geometric essence. The pieces have no applied ornament, adhering to the principle of “form follows function”, one of the central tenets of modernist industrial design. Following the First World War, new economic and social conditions made...
Picasso’s Fish
In 1953, Dan Fuller, president of Fuller Fabrics, invited five of the 20th century’s most distinguished artists: Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, and Raoul Dufy, to collaborate on a line of textiles to be called the Modern Master Series. The concept was unique in that the artists were not commissioned to produce...
Psychedelic Seats
This poster for the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition The Modern Chair: Its Origins and Evolution was designed by John van Hamersveld in 1977. Van Hamersveld, a California born and bred graphic designer, is most widely known as the artist behind the iconic 1964 Endless Summer movie poster. Incorporating fluorescent paints and striking graphic language, van Hamersveld brought...
A Modern Beauty
Whether you call it a dressing table or a vanity, during the 1930s and 1940s this furniture form expressed the glamour and mystique of femininity. A woman sitting at her vanity—preparing to go out or to entertain in her home—connotes the vanity’s cultural associations with beauty, self-image, and preparation. Designed by Gilbert Rohde for Herman...
Coming Together
Eva Zeisel’s Town and Country line for Minnesota’s Red Wing Potteries, Inc. is an icon of the twentieth-century table. Available in several colors, Town and Country reveals many things—from Zeisel’s unique biomorphic forms, to the emergence of informal dining during the 1940s, to foreshadowing the “atomic” look of tableware in the 1950s. These salt and...
A Place for Everything
Herman Miller introduced George Nelson’s Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) in 1959 and produced it until 1973. Available in a variety of wood finishes, the CSS could also be customized to fit the needs of customers, thanks to its modular units that included shelves, drawers, and desk units, such as the CSS in the museum’s collection....