Modern Metalwork

Modern Furniture Design

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw sweeping social change and major scientific advances—both of which contributed to a new aesthetic: Modernism. Rejecting the rigidity of Victorian artistic conventions, Modernists sought a new means of expression. References to the natural world and ornate classical embellishments gave way to the sleek simplicity of the Machine Age. Architect Philip Johnson characterized the hallmarks of modernism as “machine-like simplicity, smoothness or surface [and] avoidance of ornament.”

     Early practitioners of modernist design include the De Stijl (“The Style”) group, founded in the Netherlands in 1917, and the Bauhaus School, founded two years later in Germany. Followers of both groups produced sleek, spare designs—many of which became icons of daily life in the 20th century. The Modernists rejected both natural and historical references and relied primarily on industrial materials such as metal, glass, plywood, and, later, plastics. While Bauhaus principles Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created furniture from mass-produced, chrome-plated steel, American visionaries like Charles and Ray Eames worked in materials as novel as molded plywood and fiberglass. Today, Breuer’s Wassily chair, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair, and the Eames’s Lounge chair are emblems of progressive design and vintage originals are prized cornerstones of collections.

     It’s difficult to overstate the influence that Modernism continues to wield over designers and architects—and equally difficult to overstate how revolutionary it was when it first appeared a century ago. But because modernist designs are so simple, they can blend in seamlessly with just about any type of décor. Don’t overlook them.

Pair of 19th Century Tamil Nadu Gold Ear Ornaments 'Thandatti'
Pair of 19th Century Tamil Nadu Gold Ear Orname...
Antique 19th Century Indian Modern Metalwork
Pair of gold ear ornaments (Thandatti), Tamil Nadu Southern India, 19th century. These abstract tribal ornaments are known as thandatti and were made with sheet gold filled with lac....
Teak Wood and White Bronze Cupboard
Teak Wood and White Bronze Cupboard
Stephanie Odegard Collection
Early 2000s Indian Modern Furniture
Bronze, Teak
A Stephanie Odegard collection teak wood cupboard plated with white bronze. Made new in India.
Pair of Large Chinese Cloisonne Enamel Lidded Jars
Pair of Large Chinese Cloisonne Enamel Lidded Jars
Mid-20th Century Chinese Modern Metalwork
A pair of Chinese enamel lidded jars, dating to the mid-20th century, decorated with a cloisonne floral motif. Cloisonne is an ancient technique used to decorate metalwork with in...
Five Copper Art Objects by the Artist Willian D. Chuchwar
Five Copper Art Objects by the Artist Willian D...
Willian D. Chuchwar
1990s American Modern Vases
A wonderful collection of five hand hammered and formed Copper vessels, all circa 1990 to 1995, by the artist Willian D. Chuchwar 1926 - 2002. All stamp on their undersides by the ar...
Still looking?
Get weekly alerts when there are new arrivals for Modern Metalwork
More Ways to Browse