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Wednesday July 2nd, 2014

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Design Icon: The American Flag

Design: American Flag Designer: Unknown Date: ca. 1777 Country of Origin: United States (of course!) Background: Although Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross is often cited as the legendary craftsperson behind the first American flag, its actual roots are much harder to pin down. Drawing inspiration from a number of sources, most notably the British East India Company’s nautical flags, the American Flag…

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Friday June 27th, 2014

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Design Icon: Cubic Tea Service

Design: Cubic Tea Service Designer: Erik Magnussen (Danish, 1884-1961) Date: 1927 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: Gorham Materials: Silver with gilding and ivory Background: Not to be confused with the contemporary designer of the same name, Erik Magnussen was a Danish-born metalsmith working largely in America at the beginning of the twentieth century. Not formally trained, but raised in a highly…

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Wednesday June 25th, 2014

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Design Icon: Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif

Design: Juicy Salif Lemon Juicer Designer: Philippe Starck (French, b. 1949) Date: 1988 Country of Origin: Italy Manufacturer: Alessi Materials: aluminum and polyamide Background: The Juicy Salif lemon juicer is not just one of French designer Philippe Starck’s most well-known designs, it is also one of his most polarizing. A true piece of Postmodernism through and through, the juicer is the…

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Thursday June 5th, 2014

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Design Icon: Coldspot Refrigerator

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg Design: Coldspot Six Refrigerator Designer: Raymond Loewy (French-American, 1893-1986) Date: 1934 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: Sears, Roebuck & Company Background: Although early Modernist designers like Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Mies Van Der Rohe tend to receive the lion’s share of admiration from today’s design enthusiasts and historians, their…

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Tuesday June 3rd, 2014

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Design Icon: Sullivan’s National Farmer’s Bank of Owatonna

Design: National Farmer’s Bank of Owatonna Architect: Louis Sullivan (American, 1856-1924) Ornamentation: George Grant Elmslie (American, 1869-1952) Date: 1908 Location: Owatonna, Minnesota Construction: red brick, green terra cotta, stained glass Background: Known as the father of modernism and attributed with the conceptualization of the modern skyscraper, Louis Sullivan’s influence on architectural history and the American urban landscape is incalculable. The originator of…

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Tuesday May 27th, 2014

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Design Icon: Carlton Cabinet

Design:  Carlton Cabinet Designer: Ettore Sottsass Date: 1981 Movement:  Postmodernism Country of Origin: Italy Manufacturer: Memphis Materials & Construction: Wood, plastic laminate Background: While the garish colors, irregular forms, and shamelessly commonplace materials featured in this cabinet might come off as distasteful and ostentatious to some, this was in many ways the whole point. Ettore Sottsass,…

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Thursday May 15th, 2014

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Design Icon: Arco Floor Lamp

Design: Arco Floor Lamp Designers: Achille Castiglioni, Pier Giacomo Castiglioni Date: 1962 Country of Origin: Italy Manufacturer: Flos Materials & Construction: Stainless body, marble base. Background: Although the Arco floorlamp’s swinging curves and futuristic materials might convey an air of groovy space-age modernity, the impetus for its creation was rested firmly in the realm of functionality and practicality. Inspired by the formal qualities…

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Tuesday May 13th, 2014

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Design Icon: Chrysler Building

Design: Chrysler Building Date: 1928-1930 Architect: William Van Alen Location: New York, NY Style: Art Deco Background: Designed as the headquarters for the Chrysler Corporation, this New York City landmark was built during a boom time in skyscraper construction. During the late 20s and early 30s, architects, builders and companies were seeking to make their mark on the city’s skyline, vying for the title of…

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Monday April 28th, 2014

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Design Icon: Alexander Girard Alphabet Wallpaper

Design*Sponge | Design Icon: Alexander Girard Wallpaper. Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg

Design: Alphabet Pattern Wallpaper Designer: Alexander Girard Date: 1952 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: Originally produced by Herman Miller. Today produced by Maharam. Materials: Cellulose and latex with a polyester/cotton backing Background: As a designer working in the mid-twentieth century, Alexander Girard had the distinction of being a traditionalist, a trailblazer and an iconoclast all at once. Employed as the textile designer for the…

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Friday April 25th, 2014

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Design Icon: Paris Metro Entrance

Design: Paris Métropolitain Entrance Designer: Hector Guimard (1867-1942) Date: ca. 1900 Style: Art Nouveau Country of Origin: France Materials: Cast iron, painted green to look like aged bronze Background: Built to coincide with Paris’ 1900 International Exposition, the numerous Hector Guimard-designed Métro entrances that dot the city’s landscape are some of the most famous and enduring examples of the early twentieth century’s Art…

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Wednesday April 23rd, 2014

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Design Icon: Sony Walkman

Design: Sony Walkman Date: 1979 Designer: Nobutoshi Kihara (1926-2011) Country of Origin: Japan Background: Although contemporary people might associate Apple’s iPod with the revolution of portable music, one need look over twenty years earlier for its true origins: The Sony Walkman. Portable music had been available for some time prior to the Walkman’s release, but never in such a distilled, easy-to-use, minimally-designed package—something…

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Friday April 18th, 2014

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Design Icon: Wonder Bread

Design: Wonder Bread Date: 1921 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: Taggart Baking Company Background: You know the phrase “the best thing since sliced bread?” Well, as it so happens, the exact date of this world-changing invention is in relatively recent history. Introduced by Wonder Bread in 1929, the concept of pre-sliced bread encapsulated many of the ideals of the time….

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Thursday April 10th, 2014

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Design Icon: Panton’s Visiona Phantasy Landscape

Design: Phantasy Landscape (part of the larger experimental Visiona 2 interior) Designer: Vener Panton (Danish, 1926-1998) Date: 1970 Country of Origin: Denmark Materials & Construction: Wooden frame, foam padding, cloth covering. Background: The vast social change, sexual liberation and narcotic experimentation of the late 1960s gave way to a wave of boundary-pushing psychedelic designs that sought to challenge the ways humans…

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Monday April 7th, 2014

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Design Icon: Marianne Brandt Teapot

Design: Teapot Designer: Marianne Brandt (German, 1883-1983) Date: 1924 Country of Origin: Germany Materials: Silver body, ebony handle Background: This teapot is the work of Marianne Brandt, a student of the famed and incalculably influential Bauhaus school in Germany. Under the tutelage of founder Walter Gropius, students of the Bauhaus were directed to design according to the tenets of industrial…

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Friday March 28th, 2014

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Design Icon: Barcelona Chair

Design: Barcelona Chair Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (German, 1886-1969) Date: 1929 Country of Origin: Germany Manufacturer: Currently produced by Knoll Materials & Construction: Chromed steel frame, foam cushions upholstered in leather. Background: Commonly associated with the phrase “less is more,” Mies van der Rohe is considered by many to be one of the forefathers of Modernist design. A firm believer…

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Friday March 21st, 2014

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Design Icon: Rietveld Red & Blue Chair

Design: Red and Blue Chair Designer: Gerrit Rietveld (Dutch, 1888-1964) Date: 1918 (colors added in 1923) Country of Origin: The Netherlands Associated Movement: De Stijl (pronounced “de style”) Materials & Construction: lacquered beech wood Background: Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair is one of the most well-known icons of the De Stijl movement, a design ideology that sprang to life in post-WWI Holland….

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Wednesday March 12th, 2014

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Design Icon: Tejo Remy’s Chest of Drawers

Design: “You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory” Chest of Drawers Designer: Tejo Remy Date: 1991 Country of Origin: The Netherlands Manufacturer: Originally produced by the artist, later by Droog Design Materials: Used drawers contained in maple, jute strap. Background: Tejo Remy was one part of the Dutch design collective Droog which came to prominence during the 1990s. Notable for its minimal-yet-whimsical designs, Droog’s creations…

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Friday March 7th, 2014

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Design Icon: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera

Design: Brownie Hawkeye Camera Designer: Arthur H. Crapsey Date: 1949 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company Materials: Molded bakelite body Background: Introduced in 1900, the Kodak company’s Brownie camera revolutionized the art of photography by making it easy, affordable and widely available to everyday people. While nineteenth century cameras were oftentimes bulky and unwieldy, the Brownie provided a straightforward…

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Wednesday February 26th, 2014

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Design Icon: Cathrineholm Lotus Enamelware

Design: Lotus Enamelware Designer: Forms and colors by Grete Prytz Kittelsen. Lotus pattern attributed to Arne Clausen. Year: ca. 1962 Country of Origin: Norway Materials: Enamel on steel. Background: Although these pieces fit in marvelously with the explosive color of postwar Atomic America, these iconic designs actually hail from the Cathrineholm factory of Norway, produced roughly between 1963 and 1965….

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Thursday February 13th, 2014

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Design Icon: The Eiffel Tower

Design: The Eiffel Tower Designers: Maurice Koechlin, Émile Nouguier, Stephen Sauvestre Date: 1887-89 Location: Paris, France Construction: Iron lattice Background: One of the most cherished and immediately recognizable pieces of architecture in the world, Paris’s Eiffel Tower hardly needs an introduction—suffice it to say that, at the time of its construction, not everybody was in love with it. Designed by…

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