Pamono Editors spotlight fabulous finds by multi-talents from yesterday and today

Field Notes: Designed by Architects

By Wava Carpenter

The Barcelona Lounge by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1929), the Artichoke Lamp by Poul Henningsen (1957), the Panton Chair by Verner Panton (1959-67). The vast majority of 20th-century design icons were created by architects, and, even now, the aura of excellence surrounding architect-designed furniture and objects remains powerful.

Throughout the last century, it was par for the course for design to emerge from the drafting tables of practitioners trained in architecture. As a result, the principles of modern architecture associated with that era—namely sculptural, reduced forms and minimal embellishment—have become entwined with the mythology of what architect-designers are all about. And though the modernist era is officially over, these aesthetics continue to attract widespread fandom today. It is this type of design, in fact, that a good number of Pamono’s international clientele covet most.

If you’re an ardent lover of design created by architects, but hunger for more unexpected, off-the-beaten-path options, you’re in luck. Pamono’s editors have gathered a selection of buzzworthy vintage and contemporary designs by multi-talents from yesterday and today. Scroll on for pared-down forms and minimal-luxe silhouettes, considered textures and tectonics, neutral hues, and sensual, natural materials—au courant pieces that offer everything you could want in a design but not a wasteful bit more.


Le Bambole Sofa by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia

An icon of ’70s Italian design—and a winner of the prestigious Compasso d'Oro in 1979—architect-designer Mario Bellini’s Le Bambole Sofa for B&B Italia (1972) is a paradigm of perfectly formed formlessness, designed to effortlessly adapt to and support the weight of any sitter. We’ve noticed recently that the vintage models have come into high demand, alongside many other recently rediscovered minimal-with-a-twist Bellini designs. The cognac leather on this Bambole is—in a word—delicious.


Tropical Noire Vessels by Simone Brewster

Londoner Simone Brewster is a rising-star working across media and scales. No matter whether she’s delving into furniture, fashion, or jewelry, she sees her architectural training as a consistent starting point. As she explains, “When making or designing an item, I approach it from the space it will inhabit and the atmosphere—both emotionally and physically—it will generate.” Her oversized plywood and tulipwood Tropical Noire Vessels command attention, bringing together Brewster’s passion for both, in her words, “the ethnic and the architectural.”


S35 Chair by Marcel Breuer for Thonet

German-American architect-designer Marcel Breuer never fell into obscurity, but it certainly feels like he’s having a renaissance now—in terms of both his buildings and his furniture. One Breuer design in particular that’s heating up on the vintage market is the S35 Lounge Chair. Originally designed around 1929, it was reissued by Thonet in the 1970s to great success. Its essentialist, linear structure belies its Bauhaus birth, yet it’s softened by generous proportions and woven rattan—a perfect example of why organic modernism is always in style.


Traces Vessels by Sophie Dries

French architect-designer Sophie Dries produced her otherworldly Traces collection in collaboration with ceramicist Thomas Vivant and metal artist Michael Moore. These limited-edition vessels combine ceramics, pyrite, brass, cooper, and steel in archetypal geometric shapes. We love that they look at once ancient and modern, and that Dries says she was inspired by both primitive stoneware and ’80s-era Memphis designs, especially the ceramics work of the great Italian architect-designer Ettore Sottsass. Gorgeous!


Pine Bench by Børge Mogensen for Karl Andersson

Danish master Børge Mogensen trained as both a cabinetmaker and architect in the 1930s and 1940s, and his talent for blending natural materials with expert craftsmanship and clean lines helped define what we now think of as the Scandinavian modern style. This Mogensen bench stands out because it’s such a beautiful example of this architect-designer’s gift for simple-yet-eye-catching tectonics. Humble pine set in clean horizontals and verticals—with just a whisper of a slant in the seat boards for comfort—this piece is as timeless as can be.


AP71 Reclining Lounge by Hans Wegner for AP Stolen

If there’s anyone who can rival Mogensen’s mastery of wood furniture, it’s his contemporary, Danish architect-designer Hans Wegner. Whereas the former embraced a greater simplicity, Wegner excelled at creating unexpected, subtle details, like undulating curves in armrests and tonal contrasts through a mix of natural materials. Though lesser known than other Wegner designs, the AP71 Reclining Lounge for AP Stolen (ca. 1968) is one of our all-time favorites. Handsome, comfortable, adjustable: It’s like a divine deck chair for the great indoors.


Tam Stools by Caterina Moretti for Peca

Born in Vienna and based in Guadalajara, architect-designer Caterina Moretti heads up the Mexican design brand Peca. Combining craft-based techniques with architectural thinking, Peca offers an array of accent pieces with an earthy yet upscale vibe. Moretti cites her love of nature as her prime inspiration, and it shows. Her delicately biomorphic Tam Stools feature an undulating seat and tapered legs; in groups of three, they take on a clover-like appearance. Like modernist design from a woodland fairytale.


Triangoli Vessels by David/Nicolas for Editions Milano

Beirut-based designers David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem paired up after they met in architecture school. Turns out they share a range of diverse interests, “from Oriental geometry, to antique furniture, to robots, space travel, and the music of Daft Punk.” Whatever their inspiration, they're among the hottest design talents today, especially after Wallpaper listed them among the Power 200 of 2015. Their latest project for Italian brand Editions Milano is as striking as it is functional, exuding that basic-but-better mystique so commonly attributed to design by architects.


If you’d like more “Designed by Architects” inspiration, check out these profiles on some the legendary talents who defined the genre: Alvar Aalto, Charles Eames, Egon Eiermann, Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Ettore Sottsass, and Marco Zanuso.

  • Text by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.
  • Text by

    • Wava Carpenter

      Wava Carpenter

      After studying Design History, Wava has worn many hats in support of design culture: teaching design studies, curating exhibitions, overseeing commissions, organizing talks, writing articles—all of which informs her work now as Pamono’s Editor-in-Chief.

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