Timeless design icons: how to style your home in a sustainable way
Timeless design icons: how to style your home in a sustainable way
Sustainability is on everyone’s lips these days – but especially with a view to the future and the question of how it is possible to use fewer resources, produce more sustainably and reduce waste. However, sustainability can also be experienced with a view of the past or the present – namely with a home environment that consists of durable furniture designs that outlast trends and never go out of style. In part three of our design icons series, we spotlight Philippe Starck, Eero Saarinen, Achille Castiglioni, Patricia Urquiola and Max Bill with their evergreen furniture icons, which you can find on architonic.com .
His furniture has already made history and he is one of the most renowned product and furniture designers of today – and probably of all time: Philippe Starck, born in Paris in 1949, set milestones in terms of iconic style with his creations, such as the Juicy Salif lemon squeezer for Alessi or the Ghost Chair for Kartell. His style: extroverted, unconventional, free-spirited. In his own words: “The only acceptable style is freedom”. Other clients include Dedon, Axor, Duravit, Magis, Alias, B&B Italia, Driade, etc.
Starck, now 73, studied interior architecture and design at the École Nissim de Camondo in Paris. At the age of 27, in 1976, he founded his own company “Starck Product”. In 2000, he received the Order of the Legion of Honor – one of many awards Starck has received during a career that now spans more than 40 years. Just as renowned as his products, his interior styles, such as the furnishing of the Elysée Palace with François Mitterrand or the Café Costes in Paris, have made him an international star.
His global real estate brand Yoo – founded in 1999 in collaboration with John Hitchcox – creates luxury interiors around the world. The company has also carried out projects with big names in design such as Marcel Wanders and Sussanne Khan.
“There has to be irony, both in the design and in the objects… One of my secrets is to joke around all the time. This quote is from Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002), a Milanese designer who won 9 Compasso D’Oro awards and took his first career steps in the family circle. While he first studied classical subjects and art, he decided to follow the path of his brothers in 1937 and was transferred to the Politecnico Milano, where he obtained a degree in architecture in 1944 (after having interrupted his studies to be stationed in Greece and Sicily during World War II).
With his brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo, he designs products representative of the new post-war Italian style, focused on design, architecture and urban planning. Through careful analysis and research, they arrived at new forms, techniques and materials, which eventually became known as “integral design”. Achille boldly experimented and placed objects in new contexts – for example the Mezzadro stool (which entered production only 20 years after being imagined with Zanotta), whose shape is derived from a tractor seat, or the Arco lamp for Flos, which extends over a wide arc and is held by a solid block of marble.
In addition to the often targeted objects – such as vacuum cleaners or coffee machines – his creative work in the field of lighting particularly stands out: the aforementioned Arco lamp by Flos, as well as the Snoopy lamp, are design classics that form a fabulously grand symbiosis of minimalism and excitement – shining heroes among the ambient lights!
Our next creative icon takes us to Scandinavia, more precisely to Norway. This is Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), who only lived half a century but left a remarkable creative oeuvre. His artistic talent was practically born in his cradle: his father, Eliel Saarinen, was also a well-known architect who designed Helsinki’s main train station. In 1923, the family emigrated to the United States, where they lived on the Cranbrook Educational Community campus, designed by his father in wealthy Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
After studying sculpture and architecture, Saarinen joined his father’s office in 1935. His first famous piece of furniture was the Tulip Chair, which can be seen in slightly modified form as a prop in the television series Star Trek The Original. of the late 1960s (1966 -1969). Saarinen developed the Tulip Chair as part of his Pedestal collection for Knoll International, which was created between 1955 and 1957 and with which he wanted to “eliminate the slum of legs”. As a result, Saarinen presented a timeless and visually pure sculptural collection that can be found in stylish interiors today as they were then.
Outstanding works of his architectural oeuvre include the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis—completed posthumously in 1963—and the 1962 TWA Flight Center terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. It is also remarkable that he introduced organic forms into architecture – at a time when the international functionalist style à la Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe was predominant. Emblematic of this are not only his organic furniture designs for the living rooms of the modern world, which formed a counter-image to the austere pre-World War II style, but also his airport buildings with their vaulted roofs in New York and Virginia.
Another design icon who is still with us and enjoys worldwide fame is the architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, born in 1961 in Oviedo, Spain. She studied architecture at Madrid Politecnico and Milan Polytecnico and graduated in 1989 under Achille Castiglioni, who had a lasting influence on her style. Today she is one of the best-known representatives of eclecticism. She lives and works in Milan, where she founded her Studio Urquiola in 2001 with her partner Alberto Zontone, focusing on industrial product design as well as architecture for hotels, commercial spaces, etc.
During a partnership with the Italian furniture brand De Padova, she met Vico Magistretti, with whom she designed the Loom sofa and the Flower Chair between 1990 and 1996, her first known pieces of furniture. Today, she’s more popular than ever, and renowned design brands around the world are practically jostling for a partnership with the designer. Her countless clients include furniture brands such as Kettal, Glas Italia, Cassina, B&B Italia, Alessi, Louis Vuitton, Moroso or Rosenthal and many more, while her designs are always harmonious, soft and inviting with a feminine touch. Urquiola experimentally combines different styles, patterns and materials, and some of his works are now part of well-known museum collections, such as his Fjord chair and footstool at MoMA in New York.
In 2020, the designer is launching an outdoor collection with Cassina called Trampoline: a seating landscape in which the aspect of sustainability has played a major role. Parts of the series, such as the backrest and seat cushions, are made from 100% recycled PET fibres. In this way, sustainable design works on two levels: the result is not only sustainable in external form and aesthetic sense, but also produced in an environmentally friendly way.
Zurich student, painter, architect, art theorist and furniture designer, Max Bill (1908-1994) was one of the main representatives of so-called concrete art. The main characteristics are the functional and material character of his creations and works of art. More specifically, he designed his works without any outward orientation towards nature. He began his studies in 1924 at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, but continued them from 1927 at the Bauhaus in Dessau. There he met, among others, Oskar Schlemmer and Josef Albers. His time at the Bauhaus in Dessau shaped his idea of a unity of all the arts as well as of an art form that does justice to matter as much as to function: he conceives his works as scientific constructions.
In 1951, Bill was appointed founding director of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, which he directed until 1956. During this period, from 1953 to 1955, he also participated significantly in the construction of the university building, as part of from which he designed the Ulm stool which is produced by the Swiss manufacturer wb form today – and the piece that made Max Bill famous as a furniture designer.
His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions since 1928, and many of his constructive sculptural works can be found in public places in Europe, America and Asia.
For more inspiration from design classics and each furniture category, visit our platform architonic.com.