Contrary to Giorgio Morandi, Eileen Gray did not stick to a single style, not even a single trade and especially not a specific movement. Through her career that included furniture design, architecture, and painting she can be seen as a chameleon, shaping stylistically the major design movements of the 20th century, namely Art Deco and the Modernist movement.
Paravent "Le Destin" (1914)
Born as Kathleen Eileen Moray Smith in 1878 into an aristocratic family on her mother's side in Ireland, she spent her formative years in London. There she was one of the first women to study fine arts at the Slade School. In 1902 she moved to Paris where her interest in lacquer work was deepened. Together with the Japanese lacquer Seizo Sugarawa she opened up a workshop in 1912, where they worked on commissions for their Parisian clientele.
Glass Salon for Madame Mathieu-Levy (1922)
From this period Dragons armchair, seen in the picture at back left, set a auction sales record reaching nearly €22 million in 2009, sold at the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé auction. Step by step she was also more and more in demand for interior works, furnishing apartments and houses. She did so wholesomely as she designed furniture that could be constantly reconfigured and changed around, having multiple purposes. Famous are her Bibendum chair, a reference to the Michelin Man, or the adjustable table E1027.
Perhaps through her lover Jean Badovici, an architect, but also personal interest, she became an autodidact architect, studying books and accompanying Badovici to sites. She famously built for them the house E-1027 between 1926 and 1929 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, near Monaco. This house is seen as one of the first modernist homes, following LeCorbusier's open plan structure. The later stayed there often and infamously "vandalized" the blank walls with his paintings. After the break up with Jean Badovici she set out in 1932 to build another house, not far away from the first one, near Menton entitled Tempe à Pailla, meaning time in the hay.
Villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
During and after the second world war the interest in her work slightly decreased and her work in general got recognized late. An article by the historian Joseph Rykwert about her published in the infamous Domus magazine and the work of furniture dealer Zeev Aram helped there. In the early 1970s she was also honored with two retrospectives in London and Dublin. She died in 1976 in Paris.
A novelty to our annual advent calendar is our gift guide. Its aim is to help you find nice gifts for your beloved ones or even yourself, online and of course also in-store.
First up are warmer shirt with softer touch fabrics from Éditions M.R, Norse Projects or Libertine-Libertine. Stylistically there is a shirt for every taste, button down, without buttons, smaller collars, slightly bigger collar, pocket, no pocket...
Next is a GRUNDTNER & SöHNE classic the Stark Cardigan from Danish knitwear brand S.N.S. Herning. The knit is originally from 1971 and is still knitted in Denmark on the same machine. The cardigan is this year available in three easy to combine colors, classic navy blue, black and army green.
As "Sankt Nikolaus" approaches in Austria, smaller, easy gifts are always handy, but should not be boring or easily replaceable. Our selection features a blue scarf from A Kind Of Guise, made from 100% cashmere, warm leather gloves from Hestra, and a matching Lambswool hat and scarf from Norse Projects.
Dedicating his life to a single art form is one thing but then again focus within this form on a single style, is a whole other level. An artist, who did so, is the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, who nearly spent his entire artistic life on still-lifes. Following the footsteps of Jeane-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, a French 18th century painter, and Paul Cézanne, but in a modern, 20th century, light.
Still Life (1914)
Born in 1890 in Bologna, he started studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown at at the age of 17. Two years later, he had his first encounter with the oeuvre of Paul Cézanne, that would change his life. In the same year his father died and the family moved to Via Fondazza, making him the head of the family.
Still Life (1918)
After shortly flirting with the Futurist movement in 1914 and trying to depict metaphysical still-lifes between 1918 to 1922, he devoted his entire artistic focus besides a few landscapes on still-lifes. He once wrote, he is only interested in space, light, color, and form. He did this by subtlety depicting apparently simple subjects, which were limited mainly to vases, bottles, bowls, cans, and flowers that he had in his studio.
Morandi's studio in via Fondazza
At the end of the 1930's the objects in his paintings became more and more simple geometrical forms. Thereby his repetition of seemingly similar still-lifes is an important tool as one sees the subtle developments and changes of his style. He was an active painter with 1350 oil paintings and 133 etchings. Next to his artistic work he also taught drawing from 1914 until 1929 at an elementary school and was professor from 1930 until 1956 at the Academy of Fine Arts, both in Bologna.
Still Life (1946)
At the end of his life he gained more and more international recognition, next to winning the first prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1948, he was also featured in the first documenta in 1955 and won the grand prize at the São Paulo biennial in 1957.
Despite the success during his lifetime he enjoyed a modest and simple life. He worked from his bedroom studio at Via Fondazza in Bologna through almost his entire career, only moving to a rural house in Grizzana, southwest of Bologna in 1960. Also he only traveled two times out of the country in his whole life. Giorgio Morandi died of lung cancer in 1964.
Creatively Switzerland is known for its font and graphic design, but it also has rich history and present of architects. A common denominator is their love for materials, most of the times regional, and their consideration of architectural context. Frequently associated names within this school are Peter Zumthor, Rudolf Olgiati, his son Valerio or their contemporary Peter Märkli.
He was born in 1953 in Zürich, where he still lives and works. He studied architecture at the infamous University ETH Zürich from 1972 until 1977. During his studies he made important encounters with the sculptor Hans Josephsohn, which he first saw in a newspaper, and the architect Rudolf Olgiati, which continue to influence and follow him until this day. He founded his own studio in 1972 and taught at his former school from 2002 until 2015.
His approach is strongly formed by architectural history, which he sees as the basic language of architecture. His credo is, one can only break the rules, if one mastered or knows them. At the same time for him it is highly important of being in the present, this knowledge of history has nothing to do with nostalgia.
One of his most famous buildings is La Congiunta, a museum for sculptures of Josephsohn, built in 1992. The building itself is made of concrete and hast no electricity, no insulation, according to Märkli it is "just space". Other famous buildings and projects of him the new organ of Basel Cathedral (2003), Visitor Center, Novartis Campus (2006) and the office building at Picasso Platz (2008), also in Basel.
His work was also featured in exhibitions, for example he was part of 2012 Venice Biennale entitled Common ground. Here again he used sculptures of Josephsohn and a another famous Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti to raise the question of the relationship between human and space. He did so by juxtapositioning works of the aforementioned artists with the existing columns of the Arsenale.
The Internet with all its advantages and disadvantages changed the music industry completely. On the one hand how it is presented but also how we consume it. Through streaming platforms everything is instantly available and often becomes interchangeable or even disposable.
This makes it quite challenging for emerging artists to stand out or to find a personal style. An artist, who, in our opinion, does this splendidly is the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carla Dal Forno. Even though her name is Italian, she originally comes from Australia and is now based in London.
Before she started her solo career she was part of the indie outlet Mole House and is still playing in two other bands called F ingers and Tarcar. Her own music walks the thin line between indie, folk, psychedelic, synth-pop all with a strong diy touch. This is reflected in the fact, that she recorded her entire first album You Know What It's Like with the internal MacBook microphone, no soundcard or monitors were used.
Another characteristic of her music is a distant feel. The reason may be her dub influences and the use of echo but is also a reflection of her need to make music in isolation, as she put it. She needs to be alone to fully concentrate on her music.
So far she released her first album and two EPs, all on Kiran Sade's label Blackest Ever Black. Additionally she self-released a mini-album in 2018 full of cover-versions appropriately called Top Of The Pops. Next to her music she works at the record store Low Company and runs a monthly show on NTS, which always mirrors her current tastes.
The recent interest in early 20th century design with the likes of Pierre Jeanneret or Jean Prouvé put the spotlight to another French design figure: Charlotte Perriand. Furniture design was then a male dominated field and her impact neglected, but fortunately step by step she finally gets the credit she deserves. Even though Charlotte Perriand preferred the term interior architect, she herself shaped pivotal design moments of the 20th century, which includes the design itself, but also her approach, the use of materials and the people she worked with.
Charlotte was born in 1903 in Paris to a tailor father and a seamstress mother. She spent her childhood between her hometown and her grandparents in the mountainous region Savoie. These visits and the proximity of nature would impact her design later on. After her high school teacher saw her drawings, her mother encouraged her to enroll into the École de L'Union Centrale de Arts Decoratifs, which she did in 1920.
Inspired by the cars and bicycles she saw on the streets she famously designed in 1927 her Bar sous le toit, Bar under the roof shown at the Salon D'Automne. Thereby she used metal and glass, materials rather linked to the industry and stood in total contrast to the predominant Art Déco style. The bar was shown to Le Corbusier by his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and led to 10 year long employment of Charlotte Perriand at Corbusier's Rue de Sèvres Studio.
During het stint at the studio she created together with Le Corbusier and Jeanneret some furniture classics. Especially her use of cleaner materials like chromium-plated tubular steel in combination with leather. The most famous one are the chairs B301, LC2 and the chaise longue B306. After parting from the studio in 1937, her use of materials radically changed. Wood and cane became her predominant materials, which was seen as another break of trends like her initial use of glass and metal. Her goal thereby was to democratize design and making it more affordable for a broader public.
Shortly before the beginning of the 2nd World War she was asked by the Japanese Ministry for Trade and Industry to help them make use of their traditional techniques and design products for the Western market. This inspired her to do a bamboo version of her B306 lounge chair. The war prolonged her stay in Asia and was forced to stay in exile in Vietnam, where she again studied the techniques of the local artisans.
After coming back to Europe in 1947 she continued where she left and collaborated with architects like Jean Prouvé or Le Corbusier on various housing projects, but also on her own like the famous Les Arcs Skiing resort or Air France offices in London, Paris, and Tokyo.
In German there is a saying “Tradition verpflichtet“, literally tradition obliges and in our case this is our annual Christmas calendar. This year’s calendar features a colorful blend of designers, architects, artists, musicians, but also filmmakers, a skater, a documentary and much more. A novelty this year is that instead of our specials we will have our personal gift guide, giving you inspiration for your Christmas presents, available both online and in-store.
Additionally, our store in Hallein is on the upcoming four Saturdays, 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd of December, open until 5pm and we serve you hot punch.
We hope our selections will please you and give you each a day a short break during this unfortunately often hectic period. We wish you a peaceful Advent.
Your GRUNDTNER & SöHNE Team