What do you get when you mix the Nuclear Painting Movement and the Concret Art Group, along with sculptures, electric appliances, plastics, and Italy? Well, pretty awesome furniture, and Joe Colombo. In Milan, Italy, Colombo was raised along with two brothers. Their father owned a electric appliance factory. He chose to go to school to study science, but quickly changed over to art. Colombo was a painter and sculptor. Identifying himself with the Nuclear Painting Movement, Colombo started seeing art and design in a new light. The Nuclearists were counter cultural and vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons, which they portrayed in their artworks. He then chose to go in another extreme joining the Concret Art Group which focused on non-representational art. This art was not focused on realism and the goal was to evoke no emotion or symbolism. It's only objective was good design with line, color, dimension, etc. When the Colombo brothers had to take over the electric appliance business, Joe was placed in an industrial playground. It was here that he found new materials to work with, such as plastic, and delved into the furniture world. Colombo's artistic leanings were not lost on his furniture design. You can clearly see his Concret Art teachings come out in his creations. For example, the Universale is one of his signature pieces. The lines are smooth, colors vibrant, and stacking feature was functional.His pieces were the epitome of efficiency and industry. No need to mess around with frivolous design. Colombo was to the point. His Living Systems are a fantastic example of this. He would build single pieces of furniture that encompassed an entire rooms worth of furniture. An complete kitchen was fit into a 90x75x75cm space. Colombo's eye for design was impeccable. We can see that at first glance. But it isn't until we look at his artistic background that we see how intentional the design was and can fully appreciate his genius.
by Bethany Dirksen dirksendabbles.com
George Nakashima, native to Spokane Washington, attended M.I.T and graduated in 1930 with his Master in Architecture. Nakashima worked in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and India before returning to Seattle in 1940. While volunteering to design and supervise at a religious sanctuary in India he was strongly influenced by Sri Aurobindo and was given the sandkrit name 'sundarananda'‚ one who delights in beauty. Nakashima believed that it is necessary to remove the desire to promote one‚ individual ego from the creative process and to devote work each day to the divine.
Like many Japanese Americans, Nakashima and his wife were interned in a camp on the Idaho desert, he learned his craft from a Japanese carpenter he met there. In 1943 they moved to New Hope, PA and set up a studio and woodworking shop.
Nakashima's Straight chair was introduced to the masses by Knoll in 1946, in 2008 Knoll worked with Mira Nakashima, George's daughter, to reintroduce the chair. The Nakashima studio is still operating today under Mira's supervision.
His major commissions included:
Furnishings for the late new york governor Nelson A. Rockefeller home, interiors for Columbia University, the Church of Christ the King in katsura, Kyoto, the International Paper Corporation, and the Monastery of Christ in the desert as well as the altars of peace. The altars of peace are now installed in New York City, Auroville / India, and the academy of art in Moscow / Russia.
You can view his works at:
The New York Metropolitan Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
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