David Mazel Tov
2010s Canadian Post-Modern Chairs
A Close Look at post-modern Furniture
Postmodern design was a short-lived movement that manifested itself chiefly in Italy and the United States in the early 1980s. The characteristics of vintage postmodern furniture and other postmodern objects and decor for the home included loud-patterned, usually plastic surfaces; strange proportions, vibrant colors and weird angles; and a vague-at-best relationship between form and function.
ORIGINS OF POSTMODERN FURNITURE DESIGN
- Emerges during the 1960s; popularity explodes during the ’80s
- A reaction to prevailing conventions of modernism by mainly American architects
- Architect Robert Venturi critiques modern architecture in his Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966)
- Theorist Charles Jencks, who championed architecture filled with allusions and cultural references, writes The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977)
- Italian design collective the Memphis Group, also known as Memphis Milano, meets for the first time (1980)
- Memphis collective debuts more than 50 objects and furnishings at Salone del Milano (1981)
- Interest in style declines, minimalism gains steam
CHARACTERISTICS OF POSTMODERN FURNITURE DESIGN
- Dizzying graphic patterns and an emphasis on loud, off-the-wall colors
- Use of plastic and laminates, glass, metal and marble; lacquered and painted wood
- Unconventional proportions and abundant ornamentation
- Playful nods to Art Deco and Pop art
POSTMODERN FURNITURE DESIGNERS TO KNOW
- Ettore Sottsass
- Robert Venturi
- Alessandro Mendini
- Michele de Lucchi
- Michael Graves
- Nathalie du Pasquier
VINTAGE POSTMODERN FURNITURE ON 1STDIBS
Critics derided postmodern design as a grandstanding bid for attention and nothing of consequence. Decades later, the fact that postmodernism still has the power to provoke thoughts, along with other reactions, proves they were not entirely correct.
Postmodern design began as an architectural critique. Starting in the 1960s, a small cadre of mainly American architects began to argue that modernism, once high-minded and even noble in its goals, had become stale, stagnant and blandly corporate. Later, in Milan, a cohort of creators led by Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini — a onetime mentor to Sottsass and a key figure in the Italian Radical movement — brought the discussion to bear on design.
Sottsass, an industrial designer, philosopher and provocateur, gathered a core group of young designers into a collective in 1980 they called Memphis. Members of the Memphis Group, which would come to include Martine Bedin, Michael Graves, Marco Zanini, Shiro Kuramata, Michele de Lucchi and Matteo Thun, saw design as a means of communication, and they wanted it to shout. That it did: The first Memphis collection appeared in 1981 in Milan and broke all the modernist taboos, embracing irony, kitsch, wild ornamentation and bad taste.
Memphis works remain icons of postmodernism: the Sottsass Casablanca bookcase, with its leopard-print plastic veneer; de Lucchi’s First chair, which has been described as having the look of an electronics component; Martine Bedin’s Super lamp: a pull-toy puppy on a power-cord leash. Even though it preceded the Memphis Group’s formal launch, Sottsass’s iconic Ultrafragola mirror — in its conspicuously curved plastic shell with radical pops of pink neon — proves striking in any space and embodies many of the collective’s postmodern ideals.
After the initial Memphis show caused an uproar, the postmodern movement within furniture and interior design quickly took off in America. (Memphis fell out of fashion when the Reagan era gave way to cool 1990’s minimalism.) The architect Robert Venturi had by then already begun a series of plywood chairs for Knoll Inc., with beefy, exaggerated silhouettes of traditional styles such as Queen Anne and Chippendale. In 1982, the new firm Swid Powell enlisted a group of top American architects, including Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, Stanley Tigerman and Venturi to create postmodern tableware in silver, ceramic and glass.
On 1stDibs, the vintage postmodern furniture collection includes chairs, coffee tables, sofas, decorative objects, table lamps and more.
Finding the Right garden-furniture for You
Whether you're sitting around a firepit, playing games or enjoying a meal, outdoor furniture is crucial for a successful social gathering.
We’ve come a long way from the rudimentary patio and garden furniture of yore, which, in the Ancient Roman and Greek eras, meant stone slabs. Back then, your grandiose patch of outdoor greenery was a place to relax and admire the manicured hedges and fruit orchards. Fortunately, advancements in the design of outdoor furniture as well as the burgeoning of artisan landscape designers have made it easier to do so since then.
The need for outdoor chairs, tables and benches to withstand varying weather conditions means that many contemporary offerings prioritize durability over form. For a touch of glamour in your garden, antique and vintage pieces from France or Italy, which have already proven they can stand the test of time, can introduce an elegant sensibility to your outdoor space.
In the late 1940s, Hawaii-based architect Walter Lamb began fashioning outdoor furniture from nautical rope and metal tubing rescued from sunken Pearl Harbor ships. Although his designs were originally intended as gifts for returning GIs, his creations gained such popularity that they were picked up by the then-new Brown Jordan furniture company of California.
Lamb’s adventurous creations inspired many designers who followed. The seating and tables crafted by other mid-century furniture makers noted for their seminal patio and garden works — a list that includes Hendrik Van Keppel and Taylor Green, Russell Woodard and Woodard Furniture, Maurizio Tempestini and Richard Schultz — remain highly sought after by collectors today.
Whether it’s wicker couches for your screened porch or wrought-iron armchairs for fireside drinks, find the antique and vintage patio and garden furniture you need to wind down the day or welcome the morning sun on 1stDibs.