Friday, May 29, 2009

A History Lesson - Warren Platner

So I thought I'd do a mini history lesson on a furniture designer that caught my eye recently. An icon of 60s Modernism, Warren Platner designed beautiful steel formed furniture. I recently bought myself four dining chairs in a similar style, and when I saw a photo of his originals on Desire to Inspire I decided to find out a little more!
Here's some information from Design within Reach (a site which has mini biographies of many designers):

Of the furniture and interior designers who began to make their talents visible in the 1960s, Warren Platner was among the less flamboyant. Nevertheless, he earned for himself an international reputation for elegant understatement and the steel wire furniture he designed for Knoll has become an icon of '60s modernism.

Born in Baltimore in 1919, Platner studied architecture at Cornell University and, following graduation in 1941, worked in the offices of legendary designers Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei. He opened his own New Haven office in 1967, which quickly became a significant design studio, creating furniture, lighting and textiles, as well as residential and commercial interiors.Modernism became more expressive during the 1960s, reflecting a dramatic shift in cultural values. In Platner's words, "I felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful design that appeared in a period style like Louis XV." To pursue that concept, he focused on the design possibilities of steel wire and ultimately arrived at a collection of chairs, ottomans and tables that rest on a sculptural base of nickel-plated steel rods. Introduced by Knoll in 1966, the Platner collection has been in continuous production ever since.
Platner's architectural background enabled him to experiment in a number of design areas. Working in the office of architect Kevin Roche, Platner won acclaim for the interior design of the Ford Foundation headquarters (1967), using a muted color scheme to create warmth within the soaring steel, granite and glass building. Also notable, was his design of the Georg Jensen Design Center (1968), a showroom for high-end Scandinavian furniture and lighting. Platner's interior design for the glamorous Windows on the World Restaurant (1976) captured the public's notice perhaps more than any other project. Paul Goldberger, then architecture critic of The New York Times, described the lush interior, with its subdued pastels, fabric-covered walls and brass railings, as an example of "sensuous modernism."Platner also designed the interiors for Water Tower Place (1976), a vertical shopping mall in Chicago and, in 1986, directed interior renovation of the Pan Am Building lobby for its new owner, MetLife.

Still active in his firm, Platner Associates, he died in 2006 at the age of 86.Warren Platner received the Rome Prize in architecture in 1955 and in 1985 was inducted into Interior Design magazine's Hall of Fame.

Here are some of his pieces used in interiors:

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I've started reading Fabrics by Marypaul Yates and its going to be very useful as a student and a design professional.

The chapters cover the following:

  • Aesthetics (Colour, Lighting, Texture, Pattern)
  • Sustainable Design
  • Fibres & Yarns (Great for M8!)
  • Fabric Structure (Wovens, Embroidered, Vinyl, Laces etc)
  • Fabric Designs
  • Colour Application (Colourfastness, Dyeing etc)
  • Finishing & Treatment
  • Fabric Applications
  • Performance, Testing & Flaws
  • The Fabric Industry (Designer's Sources, Fabric Manufacture, Role of fabric designers)
  • Professional Practices (Fabric selection, specification, costs and budgets)

There's also lots of close-up's of fabric types, weaves and styles and a full glossary at the back of the book. The only complaint I have is some of the interior pictures seem a little too traditional, but that's just personal taste.

I thought I'd include some of the glossary definitions relating to fibres which I haven't seen in the Rhodec texts.

  • Filament fibres are produced in a continuous form, which results in a smooth character e.g. silk.
  • Staple fibres, such as cotton, wool, linen, are naturally produced not in a continuous form like silk, but in ‘cut’ lengths that vary from plant to plant, or animal to animal.
  • Texturized, air-texturized or air-entangled yarns are synthetic filaments that have a mechanically achieved rough surface.
  • Plied yarn consists of one or more strands of finished yarn twisted together.
  • Bulk describes a yarn’s appearance of fullness with respect to its weight.
  • Loft refers to a yarn’s springiness and resilience to its bulk when squeezed.
  • Dimensional stability refers to a material’s ability to retain its shape and size after use or cleaning.

After all that work, it's nice to have a little eye candy of beautiful fabrics...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Designer Closeup: Paul Hecker

Paul Hecker is an Australian designer from the Melbourne firm Hecker Phelan & Guthrie ( . He was designer (along with Hugh Lane and the sister of the owner) of Ivy in Sydney, an entertainment centre featuring 18 bars, nine restaurants, a hotel and swimming pool - an 'urban playground'. For more information on Ivy (and more amazing photos) see their website

The interiors are colourful, dramatic and creative while creating a feeling of comfort which comes from being in your own home. The various rooms and bars take on different characters from dark and moody to bright and cheerful.

The penthouse apartments are less flashy than the rest of the centre and are done in warm neutrals and natural materials.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I've started research for M8 and M9 on textiles and fabrics. I have ordered 'Fabrics' by Marypaul Yates. I'll let you know if its worth the money!

Apart from that I've had some difficulty finding technical information on the web. The few sites I've found so far are:

'Textile Information' ( They recently did a post about the classification of fibres, including this quick reference. ( has some basic info.

Of course, Wikipedia also has some good basic articles:

Textiles -
Silk -
Linen -
Synthetic Fibres -
Wool -

'Natural Fibres' ( has information on a lot of the plant and animal fibres mohair, flax, jute, wool, silk, and ramie.

'Fibre2fashion' ( also has an article on plant & animal fibres

Please share if you know of any good websites or books. By clicking on comments at the bottom of the post you can leave messages and you don't have to be a member of Google.

Monday, May 4, 2009


As we all know, paint is an incredibly versatile material in the interior. Apart from fabric, it's a material that can adopt as many textures or colours as you want. The best part is, it's available in all the colours of the rainbow!