Look Who Else is Celebrating a Diamond Jubilee
Jen DeRose and Nicholas Tamarin -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
1. When Coco Chanel's diamond jewelry debuted 75 years ago, DeBeers Consolidated Mines stock jumped a shocking 20 points on the London Stock Exchange. "They represent the greatest value in the smallest volume," she said of the pieces. Several, such as the Fountain necklace, were reintroduced in 1993.
2. Marlene Dietrich burned up the screen in Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express in 1932. The German sex symbol's biggest hit on these shores, it raked in an astonishing $3,000,000 and won an Oscar for cinematography.
3. Before there was Proenza Schouler for Target, there was Halston for JC Penney—a mass-produced 1980's line that presaged today's downmarket trend. Roy Halston Frowick, born in 1932, got his start designing pillbox hats for Jacqueline Kennedy. During the disco era, his label flourished with looks such as these tie-dyed evening pajamas.
4. Construction began in 1932 on New York's Rockefeller Center, but its original 14 buildings weren't completed until 1940. Principal architect Raymond Hood's limestone-clad GE Building, a slab with a flat roof, differs from most office towers of the era. Unusual, too, was the art program, with Isamu Noguchi's relief sculpture, representing "news," appearing alongside Paul Manship's Prometheus fountain and Lee Lawrie's famous Atlas.
5. Radio City Music Hall, a landmark collaboration between Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey at Rockefeller Center, was the world's largest indoor theater when it opened in 1932. Throughout the interior spaces, each with its own moderne motif, the designers combined precious and industrial materials, such as marble, gold foil, cork, aluminum, and Bakelite.
1. During the Great Depression, $1.95 was a sizable chunk of change, but people were willing to spend it for the Zippo Manufacturing Company's windproof, waterproof 1932 lighter, one of the most universally recognized examples of good design. The Zippo's sturdy exterior of chrome and stainless steel and trademark opening click are eternal signifiers of cool—guaranteed for life.
2. When Apple Computer introduced the all-in-one iMac, it was considered revolutionary. But earlier wordsmiths also worked with a high-tech machine that was both portable and colorful: Olivetti's MP1 from 1932. Available in red, green, blue, and others, the sheet-iron frame protected the inner mechanisms. This allowed the typewriter to go from vertical and clunky to horizontal and elegant, weighing in at a relatively light 11 ½ pounds.
3. Beecher Falls, Vermont, saw the opening of the first Ethan Allen factory in 1932. The company's look remained staunchly traditional for the next 60 years—after which the stores' dated "colonial" facades got more modern. Now, a new chapter has begun with the 2007 leather-covered steel Jericho chair, which graces the cover of the 352-page Ethan Allen at 75 catalog.
4. Diego Rivera considered this 1932 fresco the most successful work of his career. Commissioned by Edsel Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company, and William Valentiner, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Mexican muralist's Detroit Industry cycle covers the four walls of the museum's garden court. (On one, he appears himself, wearing a bowler hat.) Opponents of the piece's communist themes and nudity were, fortunately, unsuccessful in lobbying for removal. Two years later, Rivera's unfinished mural at New York's Radio City Music Hall was chipped off the wall.
5. Azrock knows how to rock. Since the Houston assembly lines started rolling in 1932, this commercial-flooring manufacturer—now a division of Tarkett—has been making tile from asphalt particles. Karim Rashid, a rock star of the design world, is currently working on a line of high-traffic vinyl tile.
1. CAD drawings may now be the norm, but there's still a market for tempered-steel Omega pins, which hold architectural drawings in place. Patented by A. Schild in 1932, Omegas have been manufactured by Lüdi Swiss since the 1940's. The three-pronged pins cover a larger surface than brads or thumbtacks, so paper is less likely to tear. The pins also require less force for insertion. Once secured, however, the fit is so tight that each box of them contains a small implement, necessary for removal.
2. With over 60 ingredients, the recipe for Campari remains a secret. But the Italian aperitif's ruby-red color has always been clearly visible through the label-free 3.2-ounce bottle of Campari Soda. Still in use today, the bottle was designed in 1932 by Fortunato Depero, a poet, painter, graphic artist, and member of the futurist movement.
3. Australia's 75-year-old Sydney Harbour Bridge, by Dorman Long and Co., is still the world's widest long-span bridge. At 3,770 feet across, it rises to 422 feet above the water to carry traffic between the city's central business district and north shore. And if you think the nickname the Coathanger is undignified, the nearby Sydney Opera House was once mocked as the New South Whale.
4. Oscar de la Renta, who's celebrating his 75 birthday, unveiled a fall 2007 collection overflowing with what he does best: glamorous, feminine silhouettes, such as this silk faille number with an asymmetrical cowl neck. Luckily for us, his home line is just as elegant.
5. Shortly after opening 75 years ago, the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, became the first U.S. museum to exhibit the work of Josef Albers. Today, it boasts a permanent collection of 14,000 works, including Charles Sheeler's 1946 oil on canvas Ballardvale, shown in the anniversary exhibition "Coming of Age: American Art, 1850's to 1950's."
6. When Ernst Ruska won the Nobel Prize in physics for his 1932 invention of the electron microscope, it was called "one of the most important inventions of this century." Electrons, rather than light beams, are used to create animage, now allowing the examination of micro-objects at magnifications of up to 2 million.
As Dieter Rams approaches his 75th birthday, his status as one of the most influential industrial designers of the past century is more secure than ever. His seminal SK4 turntable, launched by Braun in 1956, removed hi-fis from antique-looking wooden cabinets and embraced modern metal and plastic; he went on to design stereo components that stack. In a wide range of domestic electronics, he minimized buttons and dials as well as color-coding them to stand out from the white or pale gray he used overall until 1965. After that, he switched to black, which remained dominant in electronics for the next 30 years.
One of the world's preeminent graduate schools, the Cranbrook Academy of Art has seen the likes of Harry Bertoia, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll Bassett, and Jack Lenor Larsen pass through the hallowed halls of its campus in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Born of the arts and crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cranbrook was founded in 1932 by Eliel Saarinen and George Gough Booth, a Detroit newspaper baron and philanthropist. Saarinen was the first president in addition to acting as master architect for the facility, built on Booth's estate.
The school's reputation rests on an apprenticeship method in which classes of 10 to 20 study for an extended period under a single teacher. By the early '30's, Saarinen had attracted a memorable group of talents, many from Europe. They worked at the school in informal groups, sharing ideas that have made a profound impact on architecture, design, and art.
Peter Eisenman's fragmented forms make him one of the founding theorists of postmodern architecture and foremost practitioners of deconstructivism—a label Eisenman himself is at odds with. He will, however, admit to the influences of his mentor, architect and critic Colin Rowe, and philosopher Jacques Derrida.
Born in 1932, Eisenman earned architecture degrees from Cornell University, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge before rising to prominence as a member of the New York Five, along with Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier. Since then, Eisenman Architects has worked in nine countries, completing 41 projects—among them Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Arts, widely considered the first deconstructivist public building. Other projects have been as diverse as the University of Phoenix stadium in Arizona; the Cidade de Cultura de Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and the Denkmal für Die Ermordeten Juden Europas memorial in Berlin. Amid all this activity, Eisenman has also found the time to write books such as House X, Moving Arrows, Eros and Other Errors, and House of Cards, and teach at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Universities.
1, 2, 3. The Philadelphia Museum of Art's 1932 "Design for the Machine (Contemporary Industrial Design)" highlighted the new role of the designer by showcasing furniture, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, and wallpaper explicitly envisioned for machine production. Rather than featuring manufactured items that emulated handicrafts, the show celebrated the likes of Kem Weber and Gilbert Rohde, whose pieces emphasized the speed and accuracy of the machine. Acknowledging museum-goers' ambivalence concerning factory-made domestic objects, the organizers pronounced, "Even the person who can see little of value in mass production should find much here to admire and remember."
4, 5, 6. It's hard to think of a single exhibition more influential than
"Modern Architecture: International Exhibition," curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1932, MoMA's architecture and design department was founded as the world's first curatorial entity exclusively devoted to those fields—with Johnson as director. "International Style," which remains a template for all design exhibitions, grew out of Johnson and Hitchcock's travels across Europe. By introducing the work of Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Josef Albers, and Marcel Breuer in both plans and photographs, the show ultimately changed the face of the American landscape.