While here in Liverpool we'll be celebrating Independents Day on Saturday 4th July, our friends in the United States will be celebrating their nation's Independence Day. In honour of the USA we're taking a look at some of the American designers who, throughout their careers, have helped shape the design world.
Charles and Ray Eames
“The details are not the details. They make the design.”
Innovative American couple Charles and Ray Eames were perhaps one of the greatest exponents of interior design, making significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture throughout their career. The highly coveted Lounge Chair and Ottoman is one of their most famous designs and has attained the status of a classic in the history of modern furniture. Their value for high quality materials and craftsmanship is embedded into their diverse range of furniture, which includes shelving systems, dining tables, stackable chairs, a plethora of plastic chairs, folding sofas and multi purpose furniture.
“I needed a piece of furniture. It was not there so I designed it.”
Born in Michigan, Florence Knoll was an iconic American architect and furniture designer. Knoll moved to New York in 1941 after graduating from the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art with exposure to many of the greatest architects in the world. There she met Hans Knoll, who was establishing a new furniture company. The pair wed in 1946, and it was the eclectic blend of Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen that helped them transform the nascent company into an international arbiter of style and design, known today as Knoll Studio.
Discover our range of instant design classics from Florence Knoll here.
“Good design, like good painting, cooking, architecture or whatever you like, is a manifestation of the capacity of the human spirit to transcend its limitations.”
Connecticut-born industrial designer George Nelson was one of the key founders of the modernist architecture movement of the forties along with Eliot Noyes, Charles Eames and Walter B. Ford. His exceptional creative talent revolutionised the office environment with the avant-garde Storagewall shelf system, followed by iconic designs including the Marshmallow Sofa and the Coconut Chair as well as a series of desk and wall clocks and series of Bubble Lamps for Herman Miller, now distributed by Hay. Nelson passed away in 1986, but his legacy continues as Vitra manufacture his most iconic pieces under licence.
“The hope of good design lies in those designers who believe in what they do and will only do what they believe.”
Affectionately known as Sandro, Alexander Girard was one of the most influential textile artists and interior designers of the twentieth century. Building a solid reputation in post-war American design alongside his close friends George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, the New York-based designer created a multitude of textiles that reflected his love of primary colours, geometric patterns, and festive motifs. Today his legacy is preserved and promoted through his family under the alias ‘Girard Studio’, and his most sought-after designs are produced under licence from Vitra.
You can find some of Girard’s finest designs here.
“It is weight that gives meaning to weightlessness.”
Los Angeles born Isamu Noguchi continues to be one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. The Japanese-American artist and landscape architect established a remarkable design career, spanning over six decades from 1922. An avid traveller, Noguchi sought inspiration through different cultures from around the world, but it wasn’t until 1938 that he gained public recognition after completing a large-scale sculpture for the Associated Press building in the Rockefeller Centre. Noguchi's passion for sculpture was amplified by his love of sharing its beauty with the world.
“A classic is something you look at often and always accept it as it is.”
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, American architect and interior designer Warren Platner graduated with a degree in Architecture from Cornell University in 1941 before working for the highly regarded Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche. Some of his most prominent architecture includes the Ford headquarters and the original Windows on the World restaurant, atop the World Trade Centre. Renowned for his innovative use of steel and wire, Platner produced a furniture collection for Knoll in the mid-1960s, which has proven to be a continuing icon of modernism.
Explore our eclectic range of Platner’s designs here.
“Good design to me is both appearance and functionality together. It's the experience that makes it good design.”
Indianapolis born Michael Graves was one of the most celebrated designers and modern architects of the 20th century. One of the principal figures of the postmodernism movement, Graves most notable works include the Walt Disney Swan, Dolphin Hotels and the Walt Disney Corporate Headquarters in Burbank featuring a façade held up by none other than large sculpted caryatids of the Seven Dwarves, in homage to the feature length animated film.
Graves worked alongside Alessi for over 20 years, creating a range of iconic kitchen and table accessories including the best selling Bird kettle.
Frank Lloyd Wright
“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Wisconsin, USA, and is one of America’s most innovative and esteemed architects with a creative period spanning over 70 years. Throughout his prolific career, Lloyd Wright designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were developed to completion. His visionary creations were strongly influenced by the natural world, with an emphasis on craftsmanship and the promotion of organic architecture. His legacy is one of America’s foremost cultural treasures, captured through iconic buildings including New York's Guggenheim Museum, Falling Water in Pennsylvania and the Johnson Wax Headquarters, Racine, Wisconsin.
Browse our collection of Frank Lloyd Furniture here.
As part of Independents Week 2019, we’re celebrating our high street status in style. Join us for a fun-filled street party on Bold Street on Sunday 7th July, with lots of food and drink, art and crafts stalls, and entertainment in support of local business in Liverpool. This event will coincide with the final day of Independents Week, recognising how the independent business community plays a key part in the rich tapestry of our city’s culture.
Have you got a favourite US designer? Let us know.
Happy 4th July weekend to all our American friends!