Whenever we think of how to make our homes or offices fit our personalities or how to turn them into our perfect little comfort zones, one of the first things we usually consider is the type of furniture to get. With the myriad of styles and forms to choose from, this sometimes becomes rather tedious and confusing. But a lot of people today have come to embrace one particular style that allows enough room to accommodate self-expression, comfort, and even a modest budget.
Modern furniture started making its rounds in the early half of the 20th century. Pioneered by the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany at the end of the First World War, this furniture style was exemplified by sleek and minimalistic designs usually employing molded plywood and steel tubes as materials. Modern decor gained a considerable following given its new approach in finding a balance for form and function within an affordable means of execution.
This gradually evolved into todays contemporary decor with the help of improved technologies for design and production. Contemporary home decor today, although owing its roots to modern home decor, can be inspired by almost anything under the sun ranging from industrial and technological designs to indigenous and ethnic patterns.
With these revolutions in design and production methods, the furniture industry has come into its own with class, glamour, and celebrity parallel to that of the fashion industry. Modern furniture designers are now as celebrated in their own right as the likes Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren for the world of fashion. Here are just a few of the top designers who have made a name for themselves in the world of contemporary furniture.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
This designer duo is composed of the brothers Ronan and Erwan from the French region of Brittany. Currently based in Paris, the two brothers started making waves in the European furniture industry in the late 1990s. Among their notable achievements are the Grand Prix du Jury International (which they received at the Paris Furniture Fair in 1998), the Best New Designer Award (New York, 1999), and most recently the D-Design Forum AID Award for their work “North Tiles” in 2007.
The two designers believe in blurring the lines between form and function. For them, a piece could be considered as a simple table or as a contemporary sculpture. Their perspective to the designs they create could probably be summed up in Erwans words, “Put it anywhere and use it your own way.”
Another renowned French designer, Philippe Starcks career started to upward climb when he was commissioned to design the furniture and interiors of the French President Francois Mitterands apartment at the Elysee Palace in 1982. Some of his notable works in furniture are the WW Stool (1991) that he designed for director Wim Wenders for a fantasy office setting and the Louis 20 Chair (1992) that used a combination of molded polypropylene plastic and aluminum.
His designs veer away from the more expensive and provocative ones by his counterparts. He instead mass produces several of his designs for everyday use owing to their streamlined and natural feel.
As far as Europe goes, it never runs out of furniture designers that never fail to impress. Jasper Morrison of London, England started his career in 1986 with his earlier works being exhibited in Documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany in 1987. Some of his more famous works are the Folding Air Chair (made of polypropylene and glass fiber), which he designed for Magis and the Luxmaster (composed of aluminum, steel, and polycarbonate), which he designed for FLOS.
Just like Starck, Morrison creates designs for mass production. He considers this a means of achieving quality at an affordable price. Known as a minimalist who believes in democratic designs he strive to develop concepts that are more for the everyday rather than the luxurious feel.
Modern designs in furniture arent limited to mainland Europe although they may seem to dominate the industry. A continent and oceans away, Mark Newson from Australia has also made a name for himself in the world of furniture and interior design. To name a few of his projects, he was commissioned to design the interiors of the new Airbus A380 and the Sydney and Melbourne airport lounges for Qantas Airways. Some of his notable works in furniture are the Orgone Chair, the Event Horizon Table, and the Black Hole Table, which were widely exhibited in Europe and Asia.
Avoiding the use of sharp edges, Newsons designs have been known to incorporate biomorphism, which involves the use of organic shapes and abstract forms that are references to living things.
An industrial designer by profession, Ron Arad has also ventured into creating innovative and groundbreaking designs for furniture. Using a wide array of materials from carbon fiber and polyurethane to steel and aluminum, Arad never fails to amaze with his mastery of form and function. Some of his most famous works are the Swarovski Chandelier that could receive and display SMS messages and the Memo Bean Bag.