With so many different Mid-century modern designers it’s hard to remember which one is responsible for designing which iconic piece. We already have guides on design terms and furniture terms but now we’ve gone ahead and rounded up some of the type designers from this time period to help you distinguish the difference between an Eames and Bertoia chair! Read on to learn all about the people responsible for creating the pieces that we know and love today.
Hans and Florence Knoll
Knoll, Inc was founded by Hans Knoll in 1938 and taken over by his wife Florence after his death in 1955. The design firms produced seating, tables, desks and textiles amongst other things. They were responsible for manufacturing furniture from designers such as Frank Gehry, Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Harry Bertoia. Study up on Florence Knoll, most famous for her sofa design! See all Knoll items available on Krrb.
Paul Frankl was a furniture designer and maker, architect and artist from Austria who moved to the United States in 1914. He brought fresh and innovative ideas to the states and opened his own furniture company, Skyscraper Furniture, and showing his personal work at galleries in both New York and Los Angeles. While he became famous for his skyscraper-style furniture, after moving to LA Frankl’s clients preferred more relaxed designs, which led to bamboo designs like the one pictured above. See all Paul Frankl items available on Krrb.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is recognized as one of the pioneers of modern architecture, but let us also pay homage to his furniture designs! You are most likely familiar with his iconic Barcelona furniture. His modern style most often combined leather and fabric with chrome and emphasized structural frames. See all Ludwig Mies van der Rohen items available on Krrb.
Hans Wegner is one of the designers responsible for the overwhelming popularity of Danish design internationally. During his lifetime as a designer he produced nearly 500 chairs, many of which are recognizable today. By combining different elements in his design, such as rope with wood and leather, he was able to craft high-end seating to perfection. See all Hans Wegner items available on Krrb.
Charles and Ray Eames
This designer duo was a husband and wife team who made some of the most recognizable pieces of Mid-century modern furniture. The two were responsible for major furniture innovations including the use fiberglass, plastic resin and wire. Of the many items that they designed, the most popular (and most commonly replicated) are the shell chair and the lounge chair. See all Eames items available on Krrb.
George Nelson was one of the founders of American modernism while serving as the director of design for the Herman Miller furniture group. Although he studied to be an architect, like most during this era, his passions crossed over and he ended up designing furniture as well. Amongst his most well-known designs still incorporated into homes today are the slat bench and the bubble lamp. See all George Nelson items available on Krrb.
Whether you’re walking through a vintage store or viewing the latest line at CB2, you’re mostly going to come across influences of the tulip design in tables and chairs. The sleek, neofuturistic style of Eero Saarinen’s designs are what gained him recognition early on in his career. See all Eero Saarinen items available on Krrb.
Harry Bertoia started out as a sculptor and jewelry designer when he came to America from Italy. When metal became sparse because of World War II, Bertoia transitioned to furniture design by joining the molded plywood division of Eames. Soon after that he worked with Knoll and designed his iconic wire chairs. Now when you look at these chairs you will remember that they were crafted in such a way because of his intense background in metal sculptural work! See all Harry Bertoia items available on Krrb.
Paul McCobb started his studies in art at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. He first gained popularity while serving as a design consultant with Martin Feinman’s Modernage Furniture in New York City. We know his designs today as consisting of sleek lines, consistent functionality and a beautiful simplicity. See all Paul McCobb items available on Krrb.
Alexander Girard is famous for many design accomplishments (you can learn all about!) When it comes to furniture, his textiles used on iconic Eames chairs are the most recognizable. After working with Braniff airlines he also was inspired to design a line of furniture for Herman Miller, but those designs are very rare and hard to come by. See all Alexander Girard items available on Krrb.
It’s hard to give a short summary of Le Corbusier because his achievements in design are so important and influential. From architecture to painting to urban planning, Le Corbusier was involved in it all. You will know his furniture when you see it because of it’s consistent metal foundation. He and his cousin even released a book which described in detail the needs for different types of furniture. The types of furniture he thought were necessary were type-needs, type-furniture and human-limb objects. See all Le Corbusier items available on Krrb.
If this name sounds familiar to you, it may because of the recently opened Met Breuer. Marcel Breuer was a famous architect who designed the Whitney Museum on the Upper East Side of New York City. When the Met took over the space, they added his name to the title of the museum to acknowledge Marcel’s importance in the famous project. The famous Wassily chair is one of his most memorable design works (which I admit I didn’t know before.) See all Marcel Breuer items available on Krrb.
While Milo Baughman served in the Air Force, one of his tasks was to design the officer’s club, which allowed him to serve a passion of his since childhood. After the war Milo studied architectural design and working for a furniture company and that is where he started his professional career as a furniture designer. Want to learn some more fun facts? Get the scoop here. See all Milo Baughman items available on Krrb.
Ole Wanscher was one of the most prominent members of the Scandinavian design movement that occurred internationally during 1950’s. Wanscher drew inspiration from all types of historic design, from Ancient Egyptian furniture to more modern British fundamentals. His elegant furniture, especially his teak chairs, are still much sought-after items for Mid-century modern lovers. See all Ole Wanscher items available on Krrb.
Any other important Mid-century designers for us to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!