Category: Furnishings

V’Soske, American Rug Makers

“This is a company that has been the voice of the architect on the floor in the 20th century, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Philip Johnson,” said architect, Lee F. Mindel. V’Soske Inc., a bespoke carpet company, was established in Manhattan in the mid-1920s by Stanislav V’Soske.

Upon V’Soske’s death in 1983, The New York Times referred to him as the “dean of American rug design.” A trained portrait painter, he became interested in rug manufacturing in the early 1920s, and subsequently founded the world-class carpet company. Being constrained by dated manufacturing techniques and materials, Stanislav “Stan” V’Soske, along with his brothers, Bronyck and Aloyzy, invented the modern hand-tufting technique of rug making, methods to vary the surface and heights of carpeting in tufted, incised or modeled patterns, as well as materials used to make their rugs.VSOSKE COLLAGE JPG.jpg Using these revolutionary techniques, V’Soske, Inc. designed and created rugs that have decorated The Green Room in The White House, The Museum of Modern Art, which commissioned some of his work for its permanent collection, as well as Phillip Johnson’s “Glass House.” V’Soske, Inc. has created textile masterpieces by collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Phillip Johnson, Stuart Davis and Arshile Gorky.

The company is still family owned and continues to be a preeminent American rug maker.

Dora Jung, Finnish Textile Artist

“Jung did not want to give any artistic responsibility to the loom.”  –Päivi Fernström

Dora Jung (b.1906) was a nationally-recognized Finnish weaver and textile artist. As a child, her father gave her a loom to keep her occupied during frequent illnesses. This early introduction was the catalyst for her lifelong passion of weaving and textile artistry. In 1932, Jung graduated from the School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki and immediately established Dora Jung Textil, which she operated out of an extra room in her parents’ house, using the family bathtub to dye yarn. In 1933, Jung brought home her first award from the Triennale de Milano Esposizione.

DORA YUNG PORTRAINT
Dora Jung, 1979

Not one to shy away from difficult techniques, Jung chose the complicated damask weave for her projects, but being an artist at heart, she moved away from the traditional, symmetrical patterns of subdued colors that damask was known for, and wove asymmetrical patterns and abstract imagery in atypical colors. Jung approached her weaving as a painter would a canvas. She applied “rule of three” principles to her projects; a technique typically used in photography or landscape painting. Her weaving method became widely known as the Dora Jung Technique.

Jung was known to be devoted to her craft, so during the 1940s, when linen yarn was reserved for the military, she used wound paper yarn for projects. During this time she collaborated with the Finnish textile company Oy Tampella Ab making household products, such as lampshades and draperies. This collaboration would continue until the 1970s.

In 1951, Jung won her second Triennale de Milano Esposizione award — the top honor of Grand Prix for her Kyyhkysiä’ (Doves) tapestry; in 1954, a second Grand Prix,, and again in 1957 for her iconic tablecloth, Viivaleikki (Play of Lines). That same year, Jung had her first major exhibition in Finland at Artek, the Aalto’s design studio in Helsinki.

From the 1950s onward, Jung received worldwide recognition and accolades, including Sweden’s 1961 Prince Eugen Award and the 1963 Danish Cotil Prize. In 1969, Jung worked with FinnAir to design a line of linens that would be paired with dinnerware designed by Tapio Wirkkala for first-class passengers on the new transatlantic flights to New York. Dora Jung’s work is included in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Dora Jung died in Helsinki in 1980.

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Column 1: Viivojen Leikki (Play of Lines) Tablecloth, 1957; “Clay Flasks” Tapestry 1956 (Photo: Bukowski’s); “Anemone” table cloth for Tampella, 1961 (still available at Lapuan Kankurit);
Column 2: Sample tapestry for the Finlandia Line cruise ships, 1960

 

 

Aino Aalto, Finnish Architect and Designer

“… arguably the single greatest omission of design history.” –Nina Stritzler-Levine

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Aino Marsio-Aalto

Marsio (b. 1894) was a Finnish architect and industrial designer, and the first wife of Alvar Aalto. In 1920, Marsio earned a degree in architecture at Helsingin Suomalainen Tyttökoulu (Helsinki University of Technology), and four years later took an assistant’s position with a young architect by the name of Alvar Aalto. In 1925, Marsio and Aalto married and would begin a collaboration that would influence the design world for many decades to come. In 1935, the Aaltos, along with Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahlin, co-founded Artek Oy, a Finnish design firm with a storefront in a busy shopping district in Helsinki. There, the Aalto’s introduced their Functionalist masterpieces to Finland. In 1936, Aino and Alvar collaborated on a vase that was inspired by the dress of indigenous Lapland women, which was coined the “Savoy Vase” after it was displayed at Restaurant Savoy, a tony restaurant in Helsinki designed by the Aalto’s firm. The Savoy vase design won a competition by Karhula/Iittala and was subsequently shown at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. That accolade, however, went to Alvar alone. And again, in 1939, Alvar won 1st prize for Aino’s Finnish pavilion design at the New York World’s Fair. But one of Aino’s must enduring contributions may be her simple, but iconic Functionalist pressed glassware for Iittala. Designed in 1932, it was inspired by the ripples that form on the surface when a stone is thrown into the water. While Aino Aalto’s contributions to the Artek legacy may never be fully know, her talents are unmistakable and the ripple effect created by her known classic designs has lasted for nearly a century. Aino Marsio-Aalto died in Helsinki in 1949.

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Far left: Floor lamp, 1930s. (Photo: Artnet)
Middle, row 1: Glassware for Iittala, 1932 (Photo: Bukowskis); Savoy Vase, 1936, for Iitalla; Lapland woman (Photo: public domain)
Middle, row 2: Table, 1932 (Photo: Artnet); 606 Side Table for Artek, 1932 (Photo: Jacksons); Floor lamp model called “floor-reflector” from 1937-38 with rare aluminum shade (Photo Jacksons).
Far right: Finnish Pavillion, 1936 New York World’s Fair (Photo: Ezra Stoller)

 

Abraham Palatnik, Kinetic Pioneer

“My role as an artist is to discipline the chaos regarding information…”  Abraham Palatnik

Brazilian kinetic pioneer, Abraham Palatnik (b. 1928) originally studied mechanics and physics with an emphasis on internal combustion engines at Tel Aviv’s Escola Técnica Montefiori, perhaps with the original intentions of working at his family’s furniture and porcelain businesses.  Palatnik, having always been a talented artist, also honed his skills in painting and sketching under the tutelage of local Israeli artists, including the painter, Aharon Avni.

By 1948, having developed great skills in fine art painting, Palatnik returned to his homeland of Brazil, not to begin a career at his family business, but to begin his journey as an artist. After his return to Brazil, Palatnik accepted an invitation to visit Dr. Nise de Silveira’s groundbreaking occupational therapy classroom for schizophrenic patients at the Pedro II Psychiatric Hospital. Being amazed at the abilities of the doctor’s artistically untrained patients, Palatnik soon understood that artistic abilities were sometimes intrinsic capabilities and completely subconscious.

Upon this revelation, Palatnik abandoned his fine arts focus and began experimentation with light and movement. Over the next two years and using his training in mechanics, Palatnik created Aparelhos Cinecromáticos, a series of paintings that used moving light as paint. Aparelhos Cinecromáticos made its debut at the 1st São Paulo Biennial in 1951; however, that which took two years to create was not well-received. Relegated to a side room, it was excluded from the catalog due to the inability of the judges to categorize his work. However, a visiting international jury “considered it to be an important manifestation of modern art.” His experimentation went on to garner critical success and was called “the true art of the future.”

Palatnik went on to create more moving sculptures with his Objetos Cinéticos series, which comprised metal rods, wire and brightly colored wooden discs that were moved about by motors and electromagnets.

In 1954, along with his brother, Aminadav, they opened the Arte Viva, a modern furniture factory that remained open into the next decade.  But perhaps Palatnik’s most well-known works are his series of lucite animals created by the duo’s art object company, Silon. Palatnik, now 90, continues to create and exhibit throughout the world.

PALATNIK COLLAGE
Row 1 (top to bottom): From the “Aparelho cinecromático” series, approx. 1951; Table and chairs for Arte Viva, approx. 1950; Lucite owls for Silon, approx.. 1965-1970;
Row 2 (top to bottom): “P4” from the “Objeto Cinetico” series, 1966 (Photo: Vicente de Mello/Divulgação); credenza for Arte Viva, approx. 1950

 

Jack Lenor Larsen, Textile Artist

“I was too much of an individual to fit into their mold.” – Jack Lenor Larsen

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Jack Lenor Larsen’s lifelong devotion to fabrics started early. He left the University of Washington’s School of Architecture after one year and moved to Los Angeles to focus on weaving. Eventually, with a Masters of Fine Art form the Cranbrook Academy of Art, he moved to New York and opened his studio, Jack Lenor Larsen, Incorporated. While he found great success quickly, it wasn’t without disappointment; in 1951, Florence Knoll turned down his designs as too “individualistic.” By 1953, however, Knoll had commissioned Larsen for other projects.

Larsen, known as one of the most prolific textile craftsmen of the mid and late twentieth century, has designed for many, including Marilyn Monroe, David Rockefeller, Frank Lloyd Wright and Marcel Breuer. And perhaps his most famous collaboration was with Braniff International Airways.

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Since the 1950s, the award-winning textile designer has designed thousands of fabric patterns and has been instrumental in innovations in the textile industry.

 Jack Lenor Larsen is 91 and resides in New York City.

Dieter Rams, Master of Functionalism

“Less, but better.” — Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams (b. 1932) is a functionalist German industrial designer known for his work with Braun and Vitsoe.

In 1947, having recognized Dieter’s talent his father enrolled his 15-year-old son in Wiesbaden School of Art to study architecture and interior design. After two years, Rams left the school to take a three-year carpentry apprenticeship after which he returned to the school and completed his degree with honors in 1953.

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During his absence, the school took a decided turn toward modernism. It was then that Rams was introduced to German modernism and the Ulm School of Design. After graduating, he worked with Otto Apel’s architecture firm and was further exposed to modernism through the firm’s association with modernist colleagues in America. These brushes with modernism would prove fateful two years later when Rams accepted an in-house architect and interior design position with Braun to design new office space for the company.

Rams went to work planning a new space that included a wall-mounted shelving system. With this design, his collaboration with Vitsoe was born. With the approval of Edwin Braun, Rams took the idea to Vitsoe.  One year later, the Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System was launched.

In the early 1960s, Rams used his architecture background and began work on a planned community in Kronberg for Braun employees. “Roter Hang” is a community of grouped and terraced bungalows that line a sloped hillside. There can be found his only fully-realized architectural design;his L-shaped dopplebungalow. Although Braun delayed the project, it was eventually completed by Rudolf Kramer in 1974. The community, as well as Dieter Rams’s personal home, which is a testament to his personal credo of “less for more,” due to its modest footprint and sparse decoration, have been granted protected status and designated a cultural monument.

Rams is known for his “10 Principles of Good Design,” one of which is “environmentally friendly.” In a 1976 speech, Rams said, “there is an increasing and irreversible shortage of natural resources.” He has long believed we must “move away from the throwaway habit” and “[that] it will be less important to have many things and more important to exercise care about where and how we live.” Dieter Rams products fully embody his 10th principle – simplicity and purity.

Dieter Rams retired from Braun in 1995, but continues to work for Vitsoe. He and his wife still live in the Roter Hang bungalow in Kronberg.

“Question everything generally thought to be obvious.”
― Dieter Rams

 

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Row 1 (left to right): Braun RT 20 Radio, 1961 (Photo: Core77); Vitsoe 620 Chair, 1962 (Photo Artnet); Dieter Rams and his Frankfurt home;
Row 2 (left to right): Control panel on the Braun T580 Transistor Radio, 1961 (Photo: MoMA); Vitsoe 606 Shelving System, 1960; Vitsoe 601 Chair;
Row 3 (left to right): “Roter Hang” dopplebungalow settlement for Braun employees; Street view of Roter Hang” dopplebungalow settlement for Braun employees; Dieter Rams