Pop Culture In Furniture Design
“Folks get annoyed with you in the event you like colors. Just as they get annoyed with people with imagina tion. Most folks like things to be recognizable. But I need to exaggerate to make my purpose.” With this description of his work, Danish designer Verner Panton hit the nail on the head with regard to a period that rebelled against everything familiar.
The 19605 was a decade of change. Various devel opments in world politics came to a head: the in tensification of the Cold War, the escalation of the Vietnam War, student unrest, Women’s Lib, and the rebellion of the world’s youth against “the Estab lishment.” The resulting general mood of uncer tainty stood in direct opposition to an optimism concerning the future, encouraged by the develop ment of new technologies and new materials. Pop Art, which emerged during this period, be came the best known (and in layout one of the very powerful) art movement of the postwar years. One of its basic aspects was the attention it paid to the trivial consumer items of the throw away society, and it was from this that a dialogue between art and design developed. Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Hamilton found inspiration in regular objects that were simple, and integrated articles of daytoday use, ad vertising, promotion, and comic strips into their art works.
The designers for their part sought than those and good form for less inflexible guidelines. Among them, Vern er Panton was among the first to translate Pop Art, with its bright colors, into design. His most fa mous layout, the Panton chair (1967, fig. pp. 106/107), was the first cantilever seat made of plastic (see The Cantilever Chair). It became an icon of its own era for its organic form, its modern material, and its eye catching color. Artwork inspired designers to take advantage of techniques including citation, collage, and sarcasm in www.westfurniture.com.au order to create a brand new aesthetic for everyday objects. The Passiflora lamp (1968, fig. 112) by the Italian Su perstudio group is a good example of the integra tion of comic strips into layout. The terms Pop Art and Pop Culture were coined during the 19503 and they represent the growth of popular culture and an expanding consumer market. Design and art were made deliberately cheaply and weren’t meant to last.
Produced in large variants, the artworks and things appeared wit ty, alluring, and modern, and Panton were affordable for the younger generation. These societal changes, artistic ideas, enhanced pro duction techniques, and new materials, especially plastics (see Plastic), sparked off a revolutionary change in layout. Reflecting the break with the Establish ment, the fresh design style should consequently be understood as antifunctionalist and thus as a countermovement to what had gone before. In contrast to the dearth of colour and “masculine,” ratio nal, geometric forms, now the trend was towards the “feminine,” the nonrational, and the emotional. In design this was expressed through brilliant colours organic forms, and new substances. The social ly critical spirit of the times abandoned anonymity, the purely functional point of View, and reason. An increasing longing for receptivity, independence, and indi vidualism took over.
Pop Art inspired designers, by its vivid colors and its curvaceous, commonly surreal and futuristic forms. The develop ment of new Plastics and foam materials, on the other hand, made these new colours as well as forms pos sible ed and casual approach of that generation. The easier and more affordable generation techniques and also the spirit of the times led, however, to a culture of brief life cycles as well as a throwaway guys tality. The brightly coloured, affordable layouts became a sign of the optimism of the 196os and banished the last memories of the adversity of the postwar era. Experimental furniture made of cardboard (Otto, 1966, by Peter Raacke), inflatable armchairs (Blow, 1967, by De Pas, D’Urbino, and Lomazzi, fig. p. 110), and stackable plastic seats (Universale, 19651967, by Joe Colombo, fig. p. 114) invaded liv ing spaces.
Beanbag seats (Sacco, 1968, by Gatti, Paolini, Teodoro), cosy flokati (rugs), and hanging seating spheres (Bubble Chair, 1968, by Eero Aarnio, amount p. 115) brought the spirit of autonomy and individu ality into private homes, because they came free from the regular rules regulating seating. The furni ture chain Up (1969) became the epitome of the new, conceptual style as well as new technical possibili ties. The technique of making a vacuum fascinated the Italian avant garde architect Gaetano Pesce and incorporated it into the creation of his furniture. At its presentation in 1969, the arm chair Donna Up 5, which was seen as uncompro misingly extreme, fascinated all who saw it: each item of furniture was compressed to onetenth of its original size as well as vacuum packed in PVC. When the purchaser opened the flat packages the armchair inflated itself.
Two of the most unusual, creative, and pio neering designers of the age, Verner Panton and Joe Colombo, took the lively experiment with type as well as color to new extremes. Both designers were commissioned by Bayer AG to create futur istic residential units for the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1970 that would do justice to modern life ideas and styles for living, and at precisely the same time advertise the new synthetic furnishing materials. Both rebelling against conventional lifestyles, the designers com bined various functions within a living space. Bed family room, kitchen, room, and study were no lon ger just divided; the borders became blurred to reflect the spirit of the times, with its yearning for freedom and individualism. While his focus trated primarily on the new materials and the effects of shade on folks, Colombo turned to the newest technology and also the development of futur istic singleroom living theories.
With his socalled “dynamic things of furniture,” Joe Colombo succeeded in creating the future in the present; for this reason he’s frequently described as a design visionary. His modular things were multipurpose items of furniture that reflected his positive method of the future. Nonetheless he was always careful to make his designs affordable by keeping the costs as low as possible. He ab straight lines and horred sharp edges and was fa mous for his organic forms and SpaceAge style. The best example is his Visiona I interior (1969, fig. pp. 116/117) mentioned above. Here he integrated his initiating microcosms, the Central LivingBlock along with the Kitchen Box, which brought together vari ous functions within a tiny space in a way that was very efficient. For example, in the Central Living Block one could sleep, listen to music, read, and see television, because It joined bookcase, stereo unit, a couch, and television set into one unit.
Here the individual furnishing modules are fused to form a unique, futuristic “machine for living” that one could envision inside a spaceship. Colom bo’s most wellknown thing of furniture, the Universale Chair (amount p. 114), was also used here. As the name suggests, Colombo wanted to design a univer sal item of furniture that would combine various functions, and that was made entirely of a single material. After a couple of years of research and experimentation, he eventually succeeded in adapting it for mass production. The remarkable thing was that, aside from the rounded shapes and brilliant colors typical of the 196os, the chair had interchangeable legs so it may be transformed into a lounger, or a bar stool, a dining chair in next to no time.
The Universale so really was a seat that may be used in all situations, plus it became a bestseller for Kartell. Verner Panton additionally designed entire residential units fitted out with his furniture designs. In the process he created the Living Tower, a seating unit that appears more like a sculpture. It consists of two ele ments and offers a total of four seating levels. This makes possible a freer lifestyle in line with all the mood of the interval. But Panton never lim ited two ele ments to only one single item of furniture. Verner created a link between them and de signed the entire room down to the last detail. Along with the uncommon types, above all of the colors that play a central part in design it is for Panton. He enthusiastically examined their effects and was con vinced, for instance, that our heart begins to beat faster when we see the color red. In his second Visiona (fig. p. 118), for example, he plunged into an intensive world of colors.
Panton’s “living room honeycomb” in strong colors of red and orange are often linked to the uterus and the primordial cell, so that one is mean to feel comfy and safe in the cavelike installment. Panton became the master of the experimental use of colours, materials, and new technologies, creating not only individual items of furniture that have since acquired cult status, but also uncommon living environments that look like they have come from another planet. The extent of Panton’s creativity can be admired in the canteen of the prior office building of Spiegel magazine, which is currently open to the people in the Museum fiir Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum of Arts and Crafts) in Hamburg. In Italy, the Radical Design movement of 19705 and the late 19603 went one step further than Pop design.
It focused on decorative facets and gave a raison d’etre to individual artistic components. Among the most essential representatives of the trend were Andrea Branzi and Paolo Deganella, with their group Archizoom (19661974); and Gaetano Pesce and the architects’ group Superstudio, Whose best known layout is the Quaderna table (amount right) of 1970, Which is covered with plastic laminate with a square pattern. Pop design made an important contribution to the history of design by questioning the principles of modernism and functionalism. With the “reintroduction” of decor, Radical Design in particular had a significant influence on the following Italian design groups, notably Studio Alchimia and Memphis (see Postmodernism).
Pop Culture In Furniture Design