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6 Midcentury Designers You Should Know

From the famous husband-and-wife team to the architects behind some of the most iconic furniture of the century.

By Rebecca L. Rhoades

1. Charles & Ray Eames

The husband and wife team have become synonymous with midcentury modern design. They were vital in popularizing the use of new materials and techniques for crafting furniture, including molded plywood, fiberglass and plastic resin.

Best known for: Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

2. Arne Jacobsen

Like fellow midcentury architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Jacobsen preferred to design every aspect of his projects, down to the doorknobs and light fixtures, so it’s no surprise that he became involved in furniture development.

Best known for: Egg Chair

3. Florence Knoll

Michigan native Florence helped transform her husband’s fledgling eponymous furniture company into an arbiter of style and design.
Best known for: Florence Knoll Sofa

4. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The self-taught architect and designer was known to say “I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.” His less-is-more approach translated into his furnishings, which feature simple lines and cantilevered bases.

Best known for: Barcelona Chair

5. Isamu Noguchi

Influenced greatly by travels to Mexico, Japan, China and Italy, the California artist’s work utilized a range of materials, including stainless steel, marble, balsa wood, bronze and aluminum.

Best known for: Noguchi Coffee Table

6. Eero Saarinen

Finnish-American architect Saarinen said that furniture design “must be classic, in the sense of responding to an often-recurring need.” Like his buildings, his creations often featured sweeping curves and simple motifs.

Best known for: Womb Chair, Pedestal Table and Tulip Chair


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