The aesthetic beauty of some pieces of furniture makes them into classics, with the top designers creating iconic items that are recognised internationally as style masterpieces. Read on to find out about ten of the all-time greatest furniture designers and some of their creations…
- Charles-Édouard Jeanneret
Better known as Le Corbusier, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret began experimenting with innovative furniture in 1928 with the LC4, or chaise longue. One year later, he perfected an iconic chair – the Fauteuil Grand Confort. His career spanned five decades and he became known as a pioneer of modern architecture, also designing buildings in America, Europe, India and Japan, before his death in 1965.
- Jean Prouvé
Born in Nancy, France, in 1901, Jean Prouvé was an architect and designer who worked mainly with steel. In 1923, he launched his first workshop, where he made chandeliers and wrought iron lamps, before starting to design furniture. Among his most famous designs was his chaise inclinable in 1924. He was an active designer until his death in 1984.
- Ettore Sottsass
Born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917, Ettore Sottsass grew up in Turin, where his father was an architect. Ettore was famous for his bold Pop Art colours and dramatic Art Deco designs. He set up his own design studio in Milan in 1947, where he made furniture, as well as jewellery, ceramics and sculptures. He founded the Memphis Group in 1981, designing furniture, ceramics, fabrics, glass and metal artefacts until 1988. He died in Milan, aged 90, in 2007.
- Eero Saarinen
This Finnish designer was born in Kirkkonummi in 1910 and moved to the US in 1923, where he forged a career as an architect. His most famous design was the St Louis Arch. He was also a renowned furniture designer up to his untimely death in 1961, at the age of 51, during surgery for a brain tumour. He is best remembered for his classic executive chairs and his famous tulip table in the 1950s.
- Paul McCobb
Paul McCobb was born in Massachusetts in 1917. After launching his own design studio in 1945, he quickly becoming renowned as an American modernist. He designed the Planner Group line – one of the best-selling modern furniture lines of the mid-20th century, which went on sale from 1949 to 1963 through Winchendon Furniture Company. He won the MoMA Good Design Award five consecutive years from 1950 to 1955 and remained a prolific designer until his death in 1969.
- Florence Knoll Bassett
Now 99 years old, Florence Knoll Bassett was born in Michigan in 1917. Apparently, she has never considered herself a furniture designer, despite having co-founded Knoll Associates with husband Hans and shaping American modernism design. In particular, she is famous for her beautiful sofas, although Knoll produces furniture and textile collections for the home and office.
- Charles and Ray Eames
Charles and Ray Eames were an American husband and wife design team who shaped American modernism in California and beyond in the 1950s. Charles and Ray-Bernice worked as a design duo from the 1940s to the ’70s, until Charles died in 1978. They worked in many different mediums, but were most famous for their moulded fibreglass lounge chairs.
- Jens Risom
Born in Copenhagen in 1916, the Danish designer was one of the first to combine American and Scandinavian styles after he moved to New York in 1941. He joined forces with Hans Knoll to launch the world-famous furniture company, personally designing 15 pieces for Knoll’s first line, called “600”. In the 1950s and ’60s, Risom designed furniture through his Jens Risom Designs business. He died, aged 100, in 2016.
- Edward Wormley
Edward Wormley was famous for taking his inspiration for furniture from historical and classical sources and updating them, while retaining the original feel. Born in 1907 in Illinois, he produced many classic American designs, with a boldness and simplicity that became his trademark. His pieces were included in the Good Design Exhibitions at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1950 to 1955. He died in 1995, aged 87.
- Charlotte Perriand
Born in Paris in 1903, French designer Charlotte Perriand was active in the world of furniture design from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was hired by Le Corbussier’s studio in 1927 and co-designed three chairs with the famous designer in 1928. As one of the most collected and prolific 20th century furniture designers, her most famous creations included the chaise longue that featured double tubing at each side and a lacquered, sheet metal base. She died in 1999, aged 96.
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