Warren Platner, luxurious modernism
“A classic is something you look at often and always accept as it is, because you can see no way of improving it.”
The American architect and designer Warren Platner, author of this famous definition, had clear ideas about style. Eclectic and tireless, active from the '40s until his death, which took him in 2006, he graduated in architecture at Cornell University in 1941 and worked in the offices of Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche and IM Pei. In 1965 he opened his own New Haven office, soon to become an important design studio for furniture and lighting and a reference point for the design of private and contract interiors. Ten years later, he collaborated with Knoll International to develop a collection of chairs and tables which became an icon of Modernism.
During his long career he often worked with brass and mirrored surfaces. A typical example of this style is Windows on the World Restaurant in the World Trade Center, which opened in 1976. With its opulent style, pastel colors, wood paneling and panoramic windows, it could come out of an ocean liner: to describe it, Paul Goldberger of The New York Times spoke of "sensual modernism", while some other architectural critics spoke of “modernist Versailles”.
But it was the collection of chairs, tables and ottomans that Platner designed for Knoll in 1966 that made him famous worldwide. It has never been put out of production and consists of sculptural objects that have proven to be one of the most enduring icons of Modernist design. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Collection, Knoll announced Platner Gold, a precious 18k gold-plated finish option. After all, Platner intended the series to be gold-plated but his desire collided with the technological limitations of the time, which forced him to opt for nickel.
Hundreds of individual metal rods, all soldered by hand, result in a complex design inspired by "sheafs of wheat." In the designer's own words: “I felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful kind of design that appeared in period style like Louis XV, but that you had to give it a more rational basis... And I said to myself, why separate support from the object? Just make it all one thing."
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