Saturday, April 29, 2006

Warren Platner R.I.P.

On April 20 architect and designer Warren Platner died of complications from spinal mennigitis at the age 86. Platner designed the interiors of several prominent buildings and one of the most successful collections of furniture of all time.

Platner was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He received a degree in architecture from Cornell University in 1941. He would go onto work for Eero Saarinen (the man who designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis), participating in the designs of the Lincoln Centre's Repetory Theatre and New York's Dulles International Airport.

It was in the Sixties that he commenced upon what may be his most famous work. Working with a production team at Knoll Inc. (manufacturer of furnishings for the workplace), he created the Knoll Platner collection. The Knoll Platner collection (which has been in production since 1966) was a series of chairs, tables, ottomans, and various other furnishings, made largely from steel wire. Platner not only designed the furniture itself, but the methods through which it was produced as well. The Knoll Platner collection is to be noted for its futuristic (for the Sixties, anyway) look, while at the same time evoking the kind of grace found in furniture of the 18th century.

Platner would also design the lighting and interiors in the Windows in the World Restaurant at the World Trade Centre, the interiors of the Ford Foundation building, Water Tower Place in Chicago, and the Georg Jensen Design Centre.

There are not many modern architects or designers whom I admire, but I must say that Warren Platner was always one of them. His designs always seemed to me to have a sleek, natural look. Indeed, Knoll themsevles compard his designs in Platner collection to a sheaf of wheat. Growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, the furnishings in the Platner collection always impressed me as looking very futuristic. They would not have been out of place on any of the sci-fi shows or movies of the era. Admiring his work, I must say that I am saddened by Platner's passing.

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