Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Design Under the Influence: The Platner Collection

Hello again, Erika from Small Shop bringing you a third installment of Design Under the Influence! Today I'd like to talk about the famous Platner Collection, and some of the influences behind the design. We've all seen these iconic pieces, and have subsequently drooled over them. But you may be surprised to know that a big inspiration for this particular line was based in the Louis XV period (and if you've been following along with this series, you know some of what that could mean, right?)

Platner was trained as an architect, and worked during a time of Modernist leanings grown out of the Bauhaus period: simplified forms, sleek materials, little or no ornamentation for the sake of ornamentation, function over form. Having worked under both Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei, Platner understood well the importance of clean lines and contemporary production methods. But in his own words, he "felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful design that appeared in a period style like Louis XV.” Rather than simply applying ornamentation to achieve this, he sought instead to “make the structure so the ornamental details are built into it as functional elements.”

Platner went on to start his own firm in 1965, launch his steel wire frame collection in 1966, design Kansas City's American Restaurant in 1974 and Windows on the World in 1976, and enjoyed a long and prolific career until he passed away just recently, in 2006.

Although Platner's work was seen at the time as an aberration by his former mentors, you could say his "sensuous modernist" aesthetic -- as dubbed by then New York Times Architecture critic Paul Goldberger -- helped move the rectilinear, boxy, gridded mid-century modernism into the sexier, softer, shinier era of the late 1960's and 1970's (along with contemporaries Pierre Paulin and Verner Panton, to name a few). But he'll best be known for his steel wire frame collection, and more specifically the Platner arm chair, which seems so versatile it can stand alone in just about any type of decor. “A classic is something you look at often and always accept as it is,” explained Platner. “You can see no way of improving it.” I could not agree more.
Please refer to my Pinterest board for image sources

16 comments:

Braxton and Yancey said...

Thank you so much for this series. Today you have posted some of my favorite pieces in the world....swoon. I appreciate your research and quality writing. You've made my day!

Alex {Things That Sparkle} said...

I really think I need one of these chairs in my life! They are amazing. So perfect in any space! Loved this post Erika!

Amanda Hill said...

Yes yes yes...I wish I could find some in a bar stool hieght!

Anna Mae @ InteriorCravings said...

I don't know if I could live with too many of these chairs (dining chairs) but for me they are perfect in pairs in a living room scenario!

Lindsay @ A Walk in the Closet said...

These posts are great!! I love that we get to see some beautiful photos but also learn something new history wise! : ) Thanks so much Erika for these posts!

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

Loved the background on this, Erika. It's interesting to see all the types of decor they can meld into. Love the coffee table. The chairs aren't for me- too cage-like. But I can admire then from afar.

sampenner said...

Wow~ gorgeous interiors. I love the Atlantis home office especially- I think the key with such a modern piece would be to balance it with more traditional settings. Great post!

-Sam from The Peak of Tres Chic

Emily {lucitelavender} said...

Form within function. Erika- I've been enjoying your guest series! Great thoughts on the classics!

Elizabeth said...

Erika is a classic: I can see no way of improving her or her posts!
-e (modern24seven.blogspot.com)

littlenudge said...

I still drool over this range whenever I see it, especially when in such beautiful interiors as the ones you've shared.
Thank you for the history, I have really been enjoying your posts, and can't wait to see more! Would love to see these post formatted into a book! It's so hard to find a book with all the great designers and the interesting historical ties between them, I would certainly buy it!

Sarah Roads said...

All time favorite chair! Now I want one even more! Love a good history lesson, Thanks Erica!

Gabrielle | Savvy Home said...

I’ve always loved the Platner lounge chair! I would die for a cream colored one with dark gun metal grey wiring! Also had never seen the brass wiring version! Love it!

Emily | Recently said...

Brilliant post, but I'd expect no less from Erika. It's refreshing to finally put a story behind the pieces I've loved for so long!

victoria | vmac+cheese said...

I absolutely love this series. Great post, as usual, Erika!! Knowing the history and process behind these iconic pieces makes it all the more special when you spot them.

Lonely Wife Project said...

Another fantastic post from Erika!

Bfordesign said...

I love Platner.
Great post, thanks for it