German-born Vladimir Kagan was a prolific, energetic designer who worked tirelessly until his death at 88 this past April, leaving behind an impressive oeuvre that significantly influenced contemporary design. Currently on view at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York City are three of his final furniture pieces, which he created specifically for this exhibition.
Titled “Annecy” after his second youngest granddaughter, the exhibit features a sofa, low table, and console in Kagan’s signature organic, curving expression, prefiguring the swooping architecture and furniture of the late Zaha Hadid. She once said of him: “Kagan’s work is unique because, even to jaded modernist fans, it still has a wow factor—a potency and a flair that is new and fresh.”
Indeed, the show’s main attraction is a sculptural sofa comprising two irregularly shaped components, the larger of which appears to wrap the other in a warm embrace. Made from a deep American walnut, it produces a striking contrast against the sofa’s bright white upholstery.
The other two works follow a similar motif. A teardrop forms the top of the coffee table cast in bronze, while the patinated aluminum console hearkens to a boomerang flung and lodged into a wall.
Kagan was born in Worms, Germany in 1927 to a master cabinet maker and came to the United States in 1938. After studying architecture at Columbia University, he opened his first store in 1948 and quickly rose to prominence, developing an elite circle of clients including Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol. His designs can be found in museums all over the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Vitra Design Museum and Die Neue Samlung in Germany. Annecy runs through October 29.