Excerpt from the Journal of Advanced Appraisal Studies - 2010

Soodie Beasely, ASA AM has written several articles for the journal over the past few years.  Soodie's specialty is 20th century modern and she writes an excellent article on furniture by designers.  She focuses on the designs of Samuel Markx, James Mont, Tony Duquette, and Karl Springer.

If you noticed some of the statistics on 20th century design, many of the highest prices and bulk of the total value in sales is generated by the top designers.  This is a good article to become familiar with 4 such furniture designers.

Next weeks excerpt is from Logan Adams, ISA CAPP on working with the moving industry.

Soodie Beasley writes

The story of twentieth-century design has been dominated by designers who learned how to mass produce the essential elements -- Le Corbusier, Marcel Buerer, Charles and Ray Eames. With each new idea of good design came new ideas of comfort and luxury. In the 1920s and 1930s, the majority of the upper classes were firmly against the idea of modernist furniture. Modernism has always had a democratic strain -- the idea that good design should be available to anyone.

As such, modernism was a bane to the majority of the privileged classes, who, understandably did not see the point to having furniture that anyone could have. The custom work pioneered by Marx, Mont, Duquette and later Springer helped the elite classes understand that modernism was also an aesthetic and intellectual movement.

The definition of modernism is still undergoing significant change. Early twentieth-first century designers believed that design could improve the human condition and the quality of life. The object in the way was the machine. How to incorporate the machine into the process for making beautiful furnishing for beautiful homes? Most designers needed to redefine their role. The solution to the problem has usually been for the designer to look back to the past and take inspiration from the forms that flourished then.

Unlike modern painting, the modern novel, even modern architecture, the modern interior is not readily identifiable. It does not necessarily reject cultural traditions and values. Rather, in its most useful sense, it marries them with modern ideas about how to live. The modern interior constantly redefines itself out of the bits and pieces of ephemera that haunt us like a worrisome dream. Although furniture, lighting and textiles may remain the same over a long period of time, the overall design of a room is fleeting, shifty and kaleidoscopic. While the initial visual impact may be memorable, its staying power is limited to the whims of popular taste.

The hand-crafted look of the American Modern pieces belied the fact that they were mass produced, which allowed them to retain the aura of individual craftsmanship. Designers of these pieces aimed for a high-level of execution primarily by being the product of private commissions. Each designer was fond of high-style living, liberally exercising this practice in their own lives, and each of their designs was quite pricey. Many designers also created interiors that were different -- James Mont and Karl Springer emphasized that at least one piece of furniture should be the focal point of the room, whereas for Samuel Marx and Tony Duquette the ensemble produced by the pieces working together were more important that an individual piece.
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