Monday, May 21, 2012

Breuer-Knoll-Kravitz (21-27 May)

Marcel Breuer, Hungarian-born modernist architect, furniture designer & educator, birthday 22 May 1902
Florence Knoll, American architect and furniture designer, birthday 24 May 1917
Lenny Kravitz, American musician & designer, birthday 26 May 1964

Marcel Breuer was one for the first students from the Bauhaus and eventually was appointed head of the school’s carpentry department.  While there, he designed several tubular steel pieces of furniture including his most famous the Wassili chair inspired by the handlebars on his bicycle and later named after his roommate, Wassili Kandinsky.  As Walter Gropius’ protégé he was also influenced by Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van de Rohe.  After immigrating to the US he was hired to design the headquarters for the Departments of HUD & HEW in Washington DC for which he finally felt like an American.  Other architectural works include the entire ski town of Flaine in the French Alps, several buildings at St. John’s Abby, the Whitney Museum and IBM’s La Gaude Laboratory (his personal favorite).  Breuer was the first architect to be given a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.       

To keep up the Bauhaus connections for a moment longer, Florence Knoll was a protégé of Eero Saarinen and worked briefly for Gropius & Breuer before marrying Hans Knoll founder of the Knoll Furniture Company.   Together they formed Knoll Associates where she revolutionized interior space planning, translating the principle of Gesamthkunstwerk (“total work of art”) from the Vienna Secession into the modern work environment.  She not only was an important contributor to but also an influential champion of modern design.  Think the offices of "Mad Men" and you'll know how influential her designs are.         

As a musician Lenny Kravitz may seem like the odd man out here but what may be unknown to many is that a lifelong passion for design lead him to form Kravitz Design in 2003.  He assembled a team of interior designers, architects & product designers to work in both Residential and Commercial arenas around the world.  In Miami Beach the firm completed “The Florida Room” in the Delano Hotel; a soothing lounge that references classic Florida motifs without kitsch or sacrificing contemporary flavor. 

Let this be a lesson that just because you find success in one career doesn’t mean you have to give up on your other passions.      


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