Our Designers

Designer nannten sich mal Gestalter und später Formgestalter.

Da wirkliche schöne Dinge nicht zufällig entstehen und oft Hersteller und Designer Außerordentliches leisten, erzählt Formost von den Menschen hinter den Produkten. Der Designer, der ein kurzfristiges Modeupdate zur besseren Verkäuflichkeit als seine Kernkompetenz empfindet, kommt bei Formost dafür  nicht vor.

Koloman Moser

Koloman Moser
Koloman Moser ist ein wichtiger Teil der progressiven Kunstströmungen in Wien. Er beschäftigt sich mit allen Bereichen der angewandten Kunst und ist einer der wichtigsten Protagonisten des Wiener Jugendstils.

Koloman (Kolo) Moser studiert in Wien an der Akademie der Bildenden Künste und anschließend bis 1895 an der Kunstgewerbeschule Grafikdesign.

Neben Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Joseph Maria Olbrich und Gustav Klimt gehört Koloman Moser 1897 zu den Mitbegründern der "Wiener Secession", einer Künstlervereinigung, die sich aus Protest gegen den akademischen Kunstbetrieb vom Wiener Künstlerhaus abspaltet.

Gemeinsam mit Josef Hoffmann und dem wohlhabenden Bankier Fritz Wärndorfer gründet Koloman Moser 1903 die Wiener Werkstätte. Bis 1907 ist er mit Hoffmann deren künstlerischer Leiter.

Die Wiener Werkstätte umfasst alle Sparten des Kunsthandwerks und die angestellten Designer arbeiteten unter sehr sozialen und für die Zeit vorbildlichen Bedingungen.

Die in der Wiener Werkstätte produzierten Objekte tragen nicht nur das Zeichen des Gestalters, sondern auch das des ausführenden Handwerkers. Dies zeigt das Bestreben der Werkstätte, der Kunst und dem Kunsthandwerk gleiche Bedeutung zu geben. Gleichzeitig wird auf sehr hohe Qualität und beste Materialien geachtet.

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Tools & Craft #49: The Modern Furniture Shift

I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past weekend with a guest, and we ended up in one of the 20th century galleries that I almost never visit. On display among the paintings were four 20th century chairs (from the left). The "Zig Zag" chair by Gerrit Rietveld (1937), an armchair by Koloman Moser (1903), the "31" armchair by Alvar Aalto (1931-32) and the "DCW" Side Chair by Charles Eames (1948).

By the very fact of the display, the Met shows that it considers these chairs important landmarks of 20th Century furniture design. But to me, the chairs also signify the shift in furniture craft: from the craftsman making furniture for a client to the designer making furniture specifically for mass manufacture.

The Rietveld and Moser pieces were designed to be made in a typical cabinet shop. We sell a great book about Rietveld, complete with plans, and you can pretty much make everything in his book with a fairly basic shop. I am not familiar with Moser, but the Moser piece is also pretty accessible. It's woodworking. I get it.

The Aalto and Eames pieces were designed for manufacture. Their clients were furniture corporations, not a person. To make either piece, you would need forms, presses, and equipment. Even if you only want to make one chair, you would still have to make molds and forms for the bent plywood. Most of the work is in the forms, and once you have done that, making multiples is fairly easy.

The Aalto and Rietveld pieces date from about the same time, but it's clear to me that Rietveld is looking backward at the A&C movement and its idea that furniture should be accessible to anyone to build. Aalto, on the other hand, is looking forward to the disconnect between the factory, which can manufacture his flowing designs, and the individual maker who is then left in the dust.

Now, before you point out to me that most American furniture was made in factories, let me point out that the furniture factories of the early 20th Century America made traditional furniture the traditional way—just faster, with the aid of machines. Stickley made his A&C furniture in a factory, but he published plans so that any competent shop, amateur or professional, could make a copy. (Maybe not as efficiently, but certainly as well.)

These chairs document the two paths furniture has taken in the past century. It's not about traditional versus modern design. It's about designing for mass production versus designing for small production. I am not saying mass production is bad, just that the designs for mass production don't leave room for traditional workshops. And so the modern small shop is caught between two worlds: a desire to explore the limits of craft, and the mass vocabulary of manufacture that people are used to and have come to expect.


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

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Explore the Enduring Influence of Olivetti on Technology Design, a Future Vision for Aleppo, Syria and the Reasons Behind Our Impulse to Collect Objects

Jumpstart your week with our insider's guide to events in the design world. From must-see exhibitions to insightful lectures and the competitions you need to know about—here's the best of what's going on, right now.


Inspired by artists like Giacometti and Gustav Klimt as well as primitive and tribal arts, Art Deco and Art Nouveau—Ingrid Donat has developed a signature style in her sculptural bronze furniture pieces. In her latest solo show Origins, Donat unveils six new works, including dressers, tables, a bench and a floor lamp.

London, UK. On view through July 22, 2016. 


Richard Woods, an artist best known for his woodblock-printed furniture and installations, presents 20 new woodblock tables in his latest show. The pieces are installed throughout the gallery in a sequential manner, as if narrating a story through their colorful prints. 

New York, NY. On view through August 19, 2016.


If you're in the London area, don't miss Olivetti: Beyond Form and Function before it closes it's doors next week. The exhibition showcases archival ephemera that tell the story of Olivetti's boom during the post-war industrial era, focusing on the development of their iconic designs and shift toward computer technologies. 

London, UK. On view through July 17, 2016. 


Tucked away in a Tribeca alley are two of NYC's hidden gems, Mmuseumm 1 and 2. Housed inside an old freight elevator and a storefront-window, respectively, the two micro-museums showcase collections of eccentric design objects. Future Aleppo—currently on view at Mmuseumm 2—is a model of the Syrian city made by resident Mohammed Qutaish. Rather than seeing it as a war-zone, Qutaish looks to the future, imagining what his home town might look like with helipads, gardens, solar panels, rooftop pools, bridges and a train system. "I am building the Syria of tomorrow. I hope that one day these paper buildings will become real buildings," Qutaish says.

New York, NY. On view through June 30, 2016. 


Within our own homes, we're all curators. We are constantly collecting objects that speak to our identities and remind us of our experiences. But what lies behind this impulse and what does it say about us and our society? In High Esteem: A Guided Game of Curation is an interactive workshop that will explore these questions while taking participants on a guided tour of Studio Job's MAD HOUSE. 

New York, NY. July 8, 2016 at 6:30 PM.  


Opening this weekend in Socrates Sculpture Park, Folly 2016: Sticks is an immersive pavilion designed by NYC-based design studio Hou de Sousa in response to the Architecture League's annual design competition. The innovative space-frame structure is made using scrap materials found throughout the park. 

New York, NY. On view through August 30, 2016. 

Check out the Core77 Calendar for more design world events, competitions and exhibitions, or submit your own to be considered for our next Week in Design.

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Lilly Reich Was More Than Mies’s Collaborator

This is the latest installment of our Designing Women series. Previously, we profiled the prolific French designer Charlotte Perriand.

Lilly Reich, date unknown

Although she studied with Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte in 1908, Lilly Reich went on to develop austerely modern designs that bore little similarity to the decorative styles of the Viennese movement. Which is not to say that Reich rejected Hoffmann's focus on craftsmanship—far from it. In 1920, she was appointed to the Deutscher Werkbund board of directors, becoming the first woman to help lead the German association of craftsmen. The group advocated for superior design and craftsmanship in mass-produced goods, and in support of that mission Reich organized a number of exhibitions showcasing German product design. Her exhibition designs established her reputation in German design circles, and from 1926 to 1939 she and fellow architect and Werkbund member Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had a close working relationship. Although they kept separate design studios, they collaborated on furniture, exhibition and interior design and "exchanged artistic ideas constantly," according to scholar Christiane Lange. Not surprisingly, however, Reich never became as well known as her famous male collaborator (an all-too-familiar story in this column). So, in an effort to tip the scales a bit, here are five things you might not know about Lilly Reich's long and varied design career:

Reich's tubular-steel cantilever chair (LR120), from 1931. Image via the Museum of Modern Art

1. She got totally tubular

Like many European modernists working in the late 1920's and early '30s, Reich had a strong interest in using new industrial production techniques and materials. She is credited as being the only woman at the time to design a full series of furniture made from tubular steel (although Charlotte Perriand was undoubtedly also a master in this field), which was manufactured and sold by Bamberg Metallwerkstätten. Her designs included bed frames, chairs, tables and daybeds, and she combined wood and tubular steel to great effect, as seen in her elegant 1931 Garden Table (LR500).

Tubular-steel furniture designs by Reich and Mies, as shown in the 1931 price list for Bamberg Metallwerkstätten. Reich's designs are indicated by model numbers that begin with "LR." 
Reich's design for a tubular-steel bed frame (LR600), from 1930
A reproduction of Reich's 1931 Garden Table (LR500), which combined wood and tubular steel to great effect. Image via the Museum of Modern Art

2. One of Mies's most famous designs might actually be hers

As with many of design's great collaborations, there has long been speculation over Mies's and Reich's individual contributions—and it's no surprise that history has played out in Mies's favor, with Reich's influences being largely overlooked. This may especially be the case with one of Mies's classic furniture pieces, the Barcelona Couch, which is still manufactured today by Knoll. Although Knoll does not credit Reich, many believe she was at the very least a co-designer if not the actual author. Tracing the daybed's original design back to an apartment in Berlin that Reich and Mies designed together, Christiane Lange points out that "the daybed Reich designed for the Crous apartment in 1930 is the first model of the daybed on tubular steel feet, which became one of Mies van der Rohe's most famous pieces of furniture after the Second World War."

The base of the first daybed designed by Reich in 1930 for the Crous Apartment in Berlin
Reich's original design for the apartment's daybed had individual back cushions and a divided seat cushion.
In 1930, Philip Johnson commissioned Mies and Reich to redesign his apartment in New York; they installed a version of the daybed, this time with a bolster pillow and tufted cushion, as part of their furnishing plan. It is now marketed by Knoll as a Mies design; however, its true author may actually be Reich.

3. She made her mark at the Bauhaus

In January 1932, two years after Mies was appointed director of the Bauhaus, Reich joined the school and took over instruction in the weaving workshop and also the interior finishings department, which included cabinetry, metalwork and wall painting. Her position as a master (or head instructor) was significant, because she was only the second woman to hold that title since the school opened its doors in 1919. And according to Adrian Sudhalter's chronicle of the school, Reich "also manage[d] much of the daily administration of the Bauhaus for Mies" during this time. Her tenure was short-lived, however, as Nazi officials forced the Bauhaus to close in the summer of 1933.

A Reich sketch for her LR120 tubular-steel chair, saved in the Lilly Reich Collection, Mies van der Rohe Archive at the Museum of Modern Art

4. Architectural historians owe a debt to her good instincts

During World War II, Reich had the foresight to box up 3,000 of Mies's drawings and 900 of her own, giving them to her friend Eduard Ludwig to hide in his parents' home in East Germany. Her good instincts saved their records from certain destruction in Berlin, which was bombed heavily by Allied forces. (Indeed, the documentation that Reich had held back with her in the city was destroyed in 1945.) Although the drawings were inaccessible for decades after the war, Mies was finally able to negotiate their release from the Eastern Bloc in 1964. Just before his death in 1969, Mies donated the trove of drawings to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, ensuring both of their legacies.

A drawing for a cooking cupboard that Reich designed for the 1931 German Building Exhibition, The Dwelling in our Time, in Berlin. Image via the Museum of Modern Art

5. Nazi Germany ended Reich's career

Much like fellow Bauhaus designer Marianne Brandt, Reich decided to stay in Nazi Germany instead of fleeing as many of her male colleagues did—and profoundly hindered her career as a result. "I have had a few smaller jobs, but now again there is nothing," Reich wrote to a colleague in 1935. "It is not a pretty situation, but we are so helpless to change it." During the war she was conscripted into a military engineering group and would later work in the office of architect Ernst Neufert. Throughout this time she would also tend to Mies's business matters in Berlin (he left to teach in Chicago in 1938). Despite her best attempts to continue her own office, her illness and death in 1947, two years after the end of war, meant that she would never have a chance to fully revive her own practice.

A later design by Reich for the Telefunken Record Player, 1938. Image via the Museum of Modern Art
Tubular-steel chair LR 36/103, designed by Reich between 1936–1938 and used in the Crous Apartment in Freudenstadt, Germany

Bonus: Andy Warhol would have loved the beer exhibit Reich and Mies designed in 1929

Three decades before Andy Warhol lined the walls with his Campbell's Soup Cans canvases, Reich and Mies brought a Pop Art sensibility to their design for the Hackerbrau beer booth at the International Exposition in Barcelona, proving they were aesthetically well ahead of their time.  

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We believe that a truly good product is inherently beautiful and useful. This kind of beauty does not happen by accident though! At Formost we do not only find good products for you but we test them and tell the stories of the people behind these products. This way you experience a story while receiving something which shall last for generations and accumulate some nice stories itself.

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