Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shoddy Work

From The Magazine Antiques again, this quotation from an article on furniture designer Gilbert Rohde:

"[Rohde] suggested [to Dirk Jan De Pree, founder of the Herman Miller Furniture Company] that the traditional designs of Herman Miller were not only grandiose and pretentious, but were also essentially stolen from earlier makers; and he pointed out that the company's manufacturing techniques - giving wood an aged look through artificial means and using decorative elements to conceal shoddy joinery - were fundamentally dishonest. As De Pree would later say, 'I came to see that the way we were making furniture was immoral.'"

I spewed my coffee on that last part!

But do these two have a point?

See examples of Rohde's designs here.


Nora said...

The tubular steel and upholstery pieces make me think of an old bench seat out of a van, only uglier.
That someone may have done something earlier? Truly "there is nothing new under the sun."

The Idaho Beauty said...

I grew up with this tubular furniture, if not in my house, then in the offices of doctors and the like. So it is difficult for me to see its charm. I either think of it as ordinary or a little ugly. When styles changed, my parents were eager to ditch the old and get the next great fad.

However, I am in love with mission style furniture which went out of style before I was born.

I hadn't thought about the connection to bench seats, but you're right!

Chris Mundy said...

I actually kind of like that style of furniture, although, I don't have anything like it in my house. I recently did some research into mid-century modern furniture and found it to be very cool. I was amazed that some of the stuff was from the 40s and 50s when I had seen it so recently that I thought it was new.

I have to follow this blog....

The Idaho Beauty said...

I'm wondering, Chris, if the fact that you are a little younger than Nora & me effects how you see this furniture style. There was a time when you couldn't give the mission style furniture away - it was thought too dark and ugly. Now people like me, who never lived with it when it fell out of favor think it's fabulous. I know many in their late 30's and 40's really like the clean lines of the furniture from the 40's & 50's. I do think it may be partly a generational thing.