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Warren Platner

The American architect and designer, Warren Platner (1901 – 2006) was among the modernist designers of the 1960s whose designs blurred the definitions of furniture and art. He based much of his work on reinterpreting styles that had gone by, from the French-style Baroque and Rococo grandeur to the more contemporary ideas of simplicity and elegance in minimalism. Platner’s skills were set to creating furniture for offices, homes and hotels while he was often commissioned to design building structures, restaurants and lighting displays. Through his architectural training, Platner was able to create designs that were practical and ergonomic, while his design talents made his use of colour tasteful and inventive. His success enabled him to work on numerous large-scale projects where his skills were utilized in many capacities – as designer, creator and architect. 

Warren Platner was born in Baltimore and went to study architecture at Cornell University, graduating in 1941. Platner then went on to work for various firms, including the offices of Eero Saarinen's from 1960 to 1965, where he worked on designs from Yale University to airport terminals and the Lincoln Centre. In 1966, Knoll Productions unveiled Platner’s own furniture collection, while also working in the office of architect Kevin Roche. In 1967, Platner was awarded high acclaims for his design of the Ford Foundation headquarters. His work spanned from the 1960s through to his death at aged 86, as he remained an active participant in his own firm. He was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture in both 1955 and 1985 and Interior Design magazine also inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Warren Platner, Armchair, model 1725 (circa 1980) H: 74cm W: 71cm D: 50cm, nickel, wire and wool, USA

In 1966 when Knoll unveiled Warren Platner’s furniture collection, the designs were a fresh new take on the coming together of sculpture aesthetics and furniture design. The pieces are uniform in their design of steel rod sculptural bases and then show variation that differentiate each particular item. Platner’s Armchair is an interesting work that holds the sitter in a circular-type frame that contrasts the structured lines of its make-up. Platner personally developed the production methods, and his passion for innovative design enabled him to perfect the piece until it became the icon it is today.