German-born American designer Vladimir Kagan (1927 –) is best known for his iconic furniture with sloping and extended linear forms. Kagan initially based his focus in Architecture before shifting his focus to furniture design, after his father who was a master cabinetmaker and woodwork craftsman. His work mimics the fluidity of organic objects and makes use of polished woods and chrome-finished metal for a luxurious aesthetic that focuses on contours cushioning for enhanced comfort. His work is characterized by his combining of textiles, glass and wood with metals, which create a contrasting yet harmonious aesthetic and lends itself toward the modernist designs by the likes of Mies van der Rohe and Ray Eames of the 1950s and 1960s.
Vladimir Kagan studied at Columbia University before training with his father at his woodworking shop. He opened his own store in New York in 1947 and has continued to work through retail as his major outlet, although his locations have shifted over the years. In 1990, Kagan became President on ASID NY, after his official retirement in 1988. Club House Italia spread his work throughout Europe, Africa and Asia in 2000 and this lead to the reinvention of the Vladimir Kagan brand as an institution. Most recently, Kagan continues to design exclusive collections for esteemed companies and has released a new coffee table book, The Complete Kagan. Vladimir Kagan has exhibited internationally and participated in numerous Art and Design fairs across the United States of America and Europe.
Vladimir Kagan, Floating Sofa (first designed 1952) H: 70 L: 238 D: 100 cm, walnut wood and fabric, Dreyfuss USA
Vladimir Kagan’s characteristic design of ‘floating’ furniture is evident in his Floating Sofa. It is identified as part of his body of work in Dreyfuss, USA and dated around 1960, with its early prototype traced to 1952. This particular piece shows Kagan’s understanding of comfort and simplicity in design, with its soft and amply cushioned body, supported by three sculpted rubbed-walnut legs. Its boomerang shape allows for an inclusive sitting experience while the firmness of its structure lends itself to the structured aesthetics of modern living. The sofa can be recognized as part of Kagan’s typical aesthetics of clean lines, use of textile with the organic objects of wood as can be found in many of his iconic pieces.
Vladimir Kagan, Cabinet, (circa 1940) H:136cm W:99cm D:48,5cm, Grossfield House USA
Cabinet designed by Vladimir Kagan in the 1940s is characteristic of his elegant style. Separate compartments are neatly fitted behind the cabinet’s door allow for practical yet stylish storage solutions. The piece makes use of the differing textures of both wood and leather, creating an interesting interaction of tone and showing Kagan’s appreciation of subtleties and linear forms. The use of cream-coloured leather in conversation with a stained darker wood, as well as the solid blocks of such panels seems reminiscent of a piano keyboard – a harmony of opposites. Kagan’s work was centered on creating pristine objects for the elite city-dwellers of New York and other major cities and as such display a sense of comfort while using materials that emphasize aspects of quality and luxurious living.