Curved Sofa on Walnut Bases by Vladimir Kagan
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Curved Sofa on Walnut Bases by Vladimir Kagan
- DimensionsHeight: 31 in (78.74 cm)Width: 94 in (238.76 cm)Depth: 40 in (101.6 cm)Seat Height: 18 in (45.72 cm)
- StyleMid-Century Modern (Of the Period)
- Materials and Techniques
- Place of Origin
- Date of Manufacture1970s
- Seller LocationStamford, CT
- Reference NumberSeller: SM17001stDibs: LU928914563581
About the Designer
The pioneers of modern furniture design in America in the mid-20th century all had their moments of flamboyance: Charles and Ray Eames produced the startling, biomorphic La Chaise; George Nelson’s firm created the Marshmallow sofa; Edward Wormley had his decadent Listen to Me chaise. But no designer of the day steadily offered works with more verve and dynamism than Vladimir Kagan. While others, it seems, designed with suburban households in mind, Kagan aimed to suit the tastes of young, sophisticated city-dwellers. With signature designs that feature sleekly curved frames and others that have dramatic out-thrust legs, Kagan made furniture sexy.
Kagan’s father was a Russian master cabinetmaker who took his family first to Germany (where Vladimir was born) and then to New York in 1938. After studying architecture at Columbia University, Kagan opened a design firm at age 22 and immediately made a splash with his long, low and sinuous Serpentine sofa. Furniture lines such as the Tri-symmetric group of glass-topped, three-legged tables and the vivacious Contours chairs soon followed.
Kagan’s choices of form and materials evolved through subsequent decades, embracing lucite, aluminum and burl-wood veneers. By the late 1960s, Kagan was designing austere, asymmetrical cabinets and his Omnibus group of modular sofas and chairs. For all his aesthetic élan, Kagan said that throughout his career, his touchstone was comfort. “A lot of modern furniture was not comfortable. And so comfort is: form follows function. The function was to make it comfortable,” he once commented. “I created what I called vessels for the human body.”
A diverse group of bodies have made themselves at home with Kagan designs. Among the famous names who commissioned and collected his designs are Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Andy Warhol, David Lynch, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and firms such as Gucci and Giorgio Armani. His work is in numerous museum collections, including those of the Victoria & Albert and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Because of its idiosyncrasy, Kagan’s work did not lend itself to mass-production. Kagan never signed on with any of the major furniture-making corporations, and examples of his designs are relatively rare. As you will see from the offerings on 1stDibs, even decades after their conception, Kagan pieces still command the eye, with their freshness, energy, sensuality and wit.
About the Manufacturer
A brand known to vintage mid-century modern furniture collectors everywhere, Directional Furniture opened its doors after American furniture designer Paul McCobb created the high-end Directional Modern line of sofas distributed by the New York–based Modernage Company.
In his pivotal introduction of postwar modernism to the mass market, the revered Massachusetts-born McCobb had established several lines, from the affordable and refined Planner Group for Winchendon to the swooping and unexpected arms of the Symmetric Group for Widdicomb, a Shaker-inspired collection that included a sofa and a lounge chair. Like all of McCobb’s designs, the Directional pieces for Modernage are defined by a sleek aesthetic in which the focus is on elegant functionality, frequently using fine materials such as brass and walnut. In 1949, in partnership with New York furniture salesman B.G. Mesberg, McCobb set up the Directional Furniture Company.
The pair’s first pieces were upholstered chairs, intended to harmonize with the modular Multiplex pieces designed by Martin Feinman. McCobb then designed an array of furniture including storage, dining, seating, desks and other pieces with details such as leather tops, wood finishes and Roman Travertine surfaces. While Directional stopped production of McCobb’s work in the early 1960s, it still released numerous pieces by leading designers manufactured by a variety of companies.
Designer Paul Evans led the factory for a time after joining in 1964. His provocative work for the company often reflected his understanding of materials from his early training as a silversmith, such as the popular Cityscape series — a milestone in brutalist design — with its blocky forms accented with brass and chrome. At his shop in Lambertville, New Jersey, he collaborated with a design team to clad furniture pieces in metallic surfaces, like the Argente line that began production in 1968 and involved an acetylene torch to give its aluminum material a textural quality. He also worked on the Sculpted Bronze series with hand-formed resin shaped over plywood or steel that was then coated with atomized bronze.
Other Directional designers included Vladimir Kagan, who contributed biomorphic sofas and swivel chairs; Milo Baughman, who created tables and dressers inspired by Scandinavian modernism; and Jack Lenor Larsen, who covered sofas in dynamically patterned fabric.
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