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Watering can: Design Mysteries Series

Watering can: Design Mysteries Series

This morning I went searching for a new watering can at Home Depot and since it’s Fall thought I would find a serviceable can to replace the one I had for 15 years, maybe even on sale. By the way the broken one came with the house when I bought it 15 years ago and...
Wood Tools: Design Mysteries Series

Wood Tools: Design Mysteries Series

Toothpick, Rolling Pin, Mallet In one week of travel I collected four wooden tools two in New York City and two in Los Angeles. Each is a wonder of technology and sustainability. The 21 Club Bar “stick” came stuck through a delicious 21 Club Bar cheeseburger. I saved it as a memory of that taste....
TWA Building NYC, 1962: Eero Saarinen

TWA Building NYC, 1962: Eero Saarinen

The TWA (Trans World Airlines) building at John F Kennedy airport in New York City is constructed from the same material that The Coliseum in Rome is: Concrete. But what a difference in expression the TWA terminal is from The Coliseum: it seems to float; it is a bird, taking off or landing, or maybe...
Westport Chair, 1905: Thomas Lee

Westport Chair, 1905: Thomas Lee

The Westport Chair, otherwise known as the classic Adirondack wood chair, is a good example of what we might call a generic product: a simple, seminal idea realized in a material that it is ideally suited by process and form by local indigenous craftsmen. The first Westport was made of solid boards; later versions were...
Bertoia Chair Knoll, 1955:  Harry Bertoia

Bertoia Chair Knoll, 1955: Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia, while designing his classic wire chairs, was interested in exploring the formal expression of sitting on air; of sitting on as little structure as possible. Sitting on air is a design idea, a concept. Bertoia who for years explored the possibilities of wire in his sculpture, used this facility in manipulating wire to...
Tupperware, 1949: Earl Tupper

Tupperware, 1949: Earl Tupper

Earl Tupper, the inventor and designer of Tupperware, broke a few rules of production. Breaking a single ‘rule’ of production can sometimes lead to new formal solutions as seen with Thonet. Tupper did just that by forming a large undercut at the top of his bowls. Tupper allowed two pieces of plastic to flex and...
Crystal Palace: Joseph Paxton 1851

Crystal Palace: Joseph Paxton 1851

The Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton (1803 – 1865), a well-known gardener who was familiar with green house design, to house the great exposition of 1851. The Crystal Palace was one of the first buildings to use the new method of producing plate glass. By combining the plate glass with a minimal frame...
Thonet: thonet chair, 1848

Thonet: thonet chair, 1848

Michael Thonet’s determination to bend wood efficiently and consistently produced the classic Thonet side chair. We couldn’t possibly believe that the form of Thonet’s chairs follows primarily from their function. We unavoidably perceive that material considerations and the formal language derived from the investigation of the material led to his particular and very individual forms....
Marcel Breuer: Cesca and Wassily chairs

Marcel Breuer: Cesca and Wassily chairs

Cesca Chair Noticing that steel tubing could be formed into bicycle handlebars is supposedly what sparked the idea for Marcel Breuer’s classic “Cesca” chair. Taken separately from the manufacturing process, each of Breuer’s expressions of form would not seriously be considered the most appropriate formal expression of the material used. The Cesca chair is most...