Architect and designer Warren Platner (1919-) was born in Baltimore and graduated from the Cornell University School of Architecture in 1941. He got his professional start working in some of the most prominent and interesting architecture practices in the country.
Between 1945 and 1950 he worked for Raymond Loewy and I.M. Pei. He was a part of Eero Saarinen's office from 1960-65, participating in the designs for the Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center and several dormitories at Yale University. It was after this extensive exposure to many innovative modern designers of the period, and having gathered a great deal of experience, that Platner opened his own office, Platner Associates, in Connecticut in 1967.
In the 1960s, working with the aid of a grant from the Graham Foundation and with the Knoll production team, Platner developed what is known as the Knoll "Platner Collection," his major furniture contribution to the mid-century landscape. For this series of chairs, ottomans and tables, Platner designed both the structure and the production method. Production was complicated because the sculptural bases were made of hundreds of rods and for some chairs required more than 1,000 welds. An intricate cylindrical mesh steel base, creating a unique architectural play between the interior and exterior space, supported the upholstered seat.
Compared, by the Knoll catalogue, to a sheaf of wheat, their shiny nickel finish alluded more to the technological innovations used to create their elegant, distinctly modern appearance. In creating these pieces he wrote that, "as a designer, I felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful kind of design that appeared in period style like Louis XV." He also outlined the definition of a "classic" as being, "something that every time you look at it, you accept it as it is and you see no way of improving it," a quality that has often been applied to this series of furniture.
Platner designed other office furniture and was also involved in a number of large architecture and interior design commissions in which he was often responsible for details down to the dishes and textiles, in addition to the furniture and textiles. Some of his major works were the interiors and lighting for the Windows on the World Restaurant in the World Trade Center, the Georg Jensen Design Center and WaterTower Place in Chicago.
Knoll's roots May 2010
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Products by Warren Platner
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