“When you’re working, there’s a communion between the object-maker and the material, [and] it transcends into something much greater,” said furniture designer and woodworker Sam Maloof. “When you make something and someone likes it, enjoys it and all, you’re paid tenfold.”
Cradle Cabinet, Detail
Maloof was one of the United States’ preeminent woodworkers during the second half of the twentieth century. In 1966, Paul J. Smith, Director of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), invited Maloof to show his Cradle Cabinet in a thematic exhibition, The Bed. A masterpiece of woodworking skill and sensitivity, the cabinet is also innovative in its design, combining all of the functional needs of a newborn’s nursery into a single piece of furniture.
Photographed in The Museum of Arts and Design in NYC.
It was at the 2019 Salon Art + Design that we spotted this very rare and early first edition of the Flora / Model 852 Cabinet (1937) created by Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank (1885 – 1967). The cabinet was part of a prolific collaboration with Estrid Ericson, of the Swedish interiors brand Svenskt Tenn, which produced and retailed the piece. This piece was manufactured in 1950.
In 1927, Paul Frankl wrote, “In my own creations for the modern American home, I have kept within the architectural spirit of our time,” citing the New York City skyline as his most powerful design source. Indeed, the architecture of Manhattan is reflected in every detail of Frankl’s Skyscraper Cabinet, including its simplicity, continuity of line, flat surfaces, sharp and clean moldings, quality of restraint, and overall feeling of power. Not even 18-inches deep, Frankl’s cabinet was designed to conserve space in small city apartments. See other examples of Paul Frankl’s Skyscraper-influenced designs Here and Here.
Ettore Sottsass’ late furniture for Gallery Mourmans liberated the artist from the ordinary constraints of the market and quantity. The collaboration gave him license to pursue the vast poetic and sculptural potential of perhaps his favorite of all design archetypes, the Cabinet.
As with Cabinet No. 56 (2003) these pieces read as prototypes, concepts and sculpture. Each cabinet in this series is a study in materials, structure, form, color, and visual and sculptural effects — homages to his friends and design masters.
Photographed in The Met Breuer in NYC as part of the 2017 – 2018 Exhibit, Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical.
What a treat it is to experience the Pierre Cardin exhibit Future Fashion, currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. I admit to being unaware that Cardin also made furniture until I saw a selection of his amazing woodwork staged amongst his retro-space-age fashions. This cabinet, which emulates a sunset above ocean waves, is from 2018.
Cardin’s passion for woodworking began as a child in central France. Later, he created furniture inspired by the skies, landscapes, and forms of nature, using traditional woodworking and lacquer techniques that correspond to the handiwork in haute couture fashion. For this reason, Cardin described his handmade cabinets, tables, dressers, and chairs as “couture furniture” and utilitarian sculptures. Cardin intends his furniture, like sculpture, to be place so that the viewer can see if from all sides and directions.
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion Will be on View at The Brooklyn Museum Through January 5th, 2020.