A visit of the new Furniture department of V&A
TG12 Sling Side Chair by William Katavolos, Ross Littell and Douglas Kelly
I’ve been searching endlessly to connect some dots and pieces, but looked in the wrong direction as I misread Gratz Industries as Graz Industries and landed in the Austrian city rather than in Long Island City where Gratz Industries is located nowadays and still produces its Gratz Archive collection of which the TG12 forms a part.
Part of the dots and pieces I could connect thanks to the site Chairpedia, a portal to the (US) contract furniture business. There I also learned how NEOCON was born.
or Bill Katavolos is a professor at Pratt.
Ross Littell died in 2000, age 75.
History of Gratz Industries
Gratz Industries began as Treitel-Gratz with owners Frank [ed: there seems an error on their site calling him Frak] Gratz and Harold Treitel in 1929 in their mid -town Manhattan studio…
Industrial design giant Raymond Lowey commissioned Treitel-Gratz for creation of many prototypes, models and appliance designs.
Donald Deskey, another influential designer of the day, designed custom architectural metal elements and furniture for Radio City Music Hall and its impresario Roxy Rothafel that Treitel-Gratz fabricated in 1932.
It was also during these early years that Florence Knoll asked Treitel-Gratz to manufacture the Mies Van Der Rohe designed Barcelona Chairs, ottomans and day beds, as well as the Tugengdhat and Brno chairs for which the company became so well known.
The company also developed a relationship with sculptor Isamu Noguchi and worked on the iconic rocking stools and other furniture designs. The work continued on various sculptures , models prototypes as well as bases, supports and armatures that were developed for Mr. Noguchi, Gratz Industries still provides custom metal work for the Noguchi Museum.
The second world war brought Treitel-Gratz many commissions from the defense department and related industries and Treitel-Gratz designed and provided seating for the Navy as well as developing instrument control panels for the Air Force.
Treitel-Gratz continued to serve the architectural and interior design community in New York creating work for Philip Johnson and I. M. Pei and partners as well as Skidmore, Owens, and Merrill, and others. The connection with artists and sculptors continued as Alexander Lieberman and Sol Le Witt discovered the artisan-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail that Gratz Industries still provides today.
Furniture design companies such as Donghia and La Verne also commisioned Gratz to produce their work, as well as Nicos Zographos, for whom Gratz continues production of over 100 items from chair frames, bases, and tables to upholstered benches. Gratz recently provided the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC with 18 of the Zographos designed upholstered benches for seating in the galleries.
Gratz Industries worked with mimimalist sculptor Donald Judd on many seminal metal wall pieces and later produced the “lightning rods” for Walter De Maria‘s “Lightning Field” installation in New Mexico. Mr. De Maria continues to have work fabricated by Gratz Industries as does the Alexander Lieberman estate, for whom they fabricated many metal sculptures in the 1970’s. Art furniture legend Frosty Meyers has a long standing relationship with Gratz Industries and his expressive 1980s sculptural furniture was produced at Gratz’s shop. Frosty continues to work with Gratz Industries in the development and fabrication of his work.
Architects Gwathmey-Siegel and Deborah Berke, Richard Meier, Philip Johnson, and I. M. Pei have also worked with our company on assorted architectural metal installations and the artist Maya Lin created her ceiling mounted clock entitled “Eclipsed Time” in the concourse and PennStation .
Gratz Industries continues its tradition of service and last year designed and fabricated improved umpire chairs for the United States Tennis Association that were previewed at the 2006 U.S. Open at Arther Ashe Stadium. Gratz Industries is proud to have developed a working relationship with engineer/architect and artist Santiago Calatrava as he establishes his New York headquarters where Gratz Industries provided custom metal work, and railings…
Selling Out Chandigarh (2)
I started this series about the Selling Out of Chandigarh Furniture in March (time flies) with this post: Selling out Chandigarh (01) – Introduction. I came across more posts adressing the issue and would like to share some with you:
Midcenturia (the second photo is theirs) devoted a long post on the subject with some nice photos of the process of building Chandigarh. In a comment somebody pointed to a satirical post of Mondo Blog giving rise to some heated debate. Some would call it the “looting” of Chandigarh. The same people behind the Indian adventure (as they call it) were part of stripping some African countries from Jean Prouvé furniture that was sold in auctions all over the place for ginormous amounts: In one of the comments I found these wise words:
You know, this isn’t all. Chandigar’s been getting picked clean of its Le Corbusier furniture, fixtures–and manhole covers for years now.
The part where pickers bribe petty bureaucrats to look the other way while they load their offices and guest houses into a truck makes me angry; but the part where pickers save or salvage the same furniture from garbage bins and government surplus sales makes me want to thank them. The part where some random Chandigarhian is walking home drunk and falls into an open manhole because some dealer wants to make a fast EUR 18,000 at Artcurial, well…
Why post now?
The direct reason for this post was I visited Vienna in February and visited the Dorotheum building while there was another auction on display (Their 2012 Leap Day auction).
“Kangaroo” chair or “Chauffeuse” or more simple: Lounge Chair
Thereafter I rummaged around on their site a bit and found this Chandigarh chair.
I believe it is one of the neater furniture designs for Chandigarh.
I’m royally amazed each time I see a piece of the reasonably raw Chandigarh furniture fetch a high bid at an auction.
designed by Pierre Jeanneret for the Administrative Buildings in Chandigarh, c. 1955, teak, Indian rosewood, woven cane, height 60 cm, width 55 cm, depth 63 cm. (DR) Provenance: Administrative Buildings, Chandigarh, India. Lit.: E. Touchaleaume, G. Moreau, Le Corbusier. Pierre Jeanneret. L’Aventure indienne, Paris 2010, p. 570 (PJ-SI-59-A).
Specialist: Dr. Gerti Draxler
estimate EUR 15.000,- to 20.000,- (USD 21.500,- to 28.500,-)
Auction Date: 22.11.2011 – 17:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum
Public Viewing: 12.11. – 22.11.2011
realized price* EUR 15.180,- *USD 21.500,-
1937 Yacht Chair by Sybold van Ravesteyn
This chair was designed by Dutch Architect Sybold Van Ravesteijn for former Dutch furniture manufacturer Mutters (Its full name was “Koninklijke Nederlandsche Meubelfabriek H.P. Mutters & Zn N.V.”) who was involved in the design of the interior for the Royal Motor Yacht Piet Hein which was donated by the Dutch to their former Queen Juliana at the occasion of her wedding with Prince Bernhard in 1937.
Sometimes I take photos of chairs somewhere just without knowing what the name or provenance of the chair is. That happened with this chair a while ago. Now via Pinterest I came across the blog of Ileen Montijn – Ilog who at about the same time had made a photo of the same chair. It was on exposition here in my home town The Hague in the The Hague Municipal Museum of Modern Art. Her explanation gave me the clue to share it with you. Thank you Ileen!
Hopmi Chair by Gerrit Rietveld
In 2008 this chair was donated as lose parts in a bag to the Centraal Museum of Utrecht, a Dutch museum with a large collection of Rietveld furniture. Although the design was known. It was believed this chair was never produced. Well until it was donated to the museum: It appeared a small Dutch manufacturer by the name of Hopmi had produced some pieces. Originally Hopmi produced locks for bikes, but in the prewar 30ies it ventured into furniture because of the economic depression. The chair can be taken apart and stored as a flatpack. Ikea avant la lettre.
Via Design Blog.
Just to demonstrate how wonderfully small the world has become with Internet:
I searched a bit on Hopmi and it turned out that the factory made other parts for bikes as well. I found this shield:
Found on a Dutch Blog reporting about a visit of the China Bicycle Museum in Beijing….