This means radically simplifying the complexities of centuries of design, but here's a proposition: the more time goes on, the more Modernism becomes Classical. Modernism, like Classicism, is a coherent design language, invented a long, long time ago; clear and consistent in its look and principles, yet continually evolving. The ever popular icons of "mid-century modernism" (think of the Eames lounge chair and ottoman, the Saarinen tulip table, the Aalto bentwood lounge chair) are as compelling today as they were half a century ago, but the designs of decades past also continue to inspire and be reinterpreted by contemporary craftspeople creating "modern" pieces made for today.
Blu-Dot might agree with my radical simplification. They have perfected the art of tweaking the classics in a way that takes modernism out of the mid-20th century and into the present, without bastardizing or diluting the modernist spirit and clean design aesthetic. A Minneapolis-based company that rides the fence between small independent and big national, Blu-Dot was begun in 1997 by three design-minded college friends searching in vain for good furniture they could afford. They're now a national company selling a full line of furniture and home decor on the web and in two flagship retail shops, in Los Angeles and New York City. (Locally, they're carried by Hive Modern Design.)
If you haven't heard of them, now is a good time to get familiar: Blu-Dot is having a 20% off everything sale from October 20 through November 8, 2012. The discount is good at Hive as well as online.
A good example of a Blu-Dot contemporary modern classic is the Toro Lounge Chair. It's clearly a product of classic modernist lineage, at once sculptural, clean-lined and comfortable, but with a more relaxed, contemporary attitude. It's like a cross between a canvas and metal frame Butterfly chair and one of Marcel Breuer's 1925 Wassily chairs, with its chrome frame supporting leather. The chairs, sofas, tables and consoles made by Blu-Dot need not be analyzed for traces of their modernist heritage, though, to be fully appreciated.
We see this continual evolution of "Classical Modernism" in much of the furniture made by small-scale, independent designers in Portland these days, and it will be interesting to see where some of them are in another ten or 20 years, when they've had a chance to mature and succeed as much as Blu-Dot has. Stay tuned for visits with some of the local Classic Modernist furniture makers in future At Home posts.
hive: modern design for the home
820 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97209