Described by Richard Meier as an architect whose “groundbreaking ideas” have “had a major impact on the thinking of designers and architects,” Austrian artist, architect, designer, theoretician and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein worked in all aspects of design, from architecture to furniture, jewelry, glasses, lamps – even door handles. Known in particular for his museum designs, from the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach to the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt to Vienna’s Haas House, Hollein’s work manifests a unique, fascinating take on 1950s Modernism.
It’s not often that a major design project by a bevy of superstar architects is forgotten to history. But this seems to be what happened in the 1980s, when Italian designer Cleto Munari commissioned a stable of world-famous architects to design a new jewelry collection. The (unashamedly PoMo) results were documented in a now almost forgotten book by Barbara Radice called simply “Jewelry By Architects,” which included interviews with each designer. Originally published by Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen, this article shows off just some of the contents of this fascinating work.
Until about six months ago, there was only one Munari we idolized: Bruno, one of our favorite 20th-century designers and design theorists. (If you haven’t read Design As Art, we suggest you hop to it!) But then, one fateful day this past spring, we were wandering aimlessly around the internet when we stumbled upon the biggest editorial coup we’ve scored in years, and thus began our love affair with Cleto Munari. The Italian designer—who, as far as we can tell, is unrelated to Bruno—commissioned a dream-team of architects like Ettore Sottsass and Peter Eisenman in the early ’80s to create a jewelry collection for his eponymous company, and the project had almost no coverage anywhere on the web. After immediately snapping up a copy of the incredible out-of-print book that documented it, which we’re excerpting a small portion of here, we set about doing more research on Munari himself. Turns out he’s a bit of a Sight Unseen patron saint, who dreamed up all kinds of cross-disciplinary projects for the precious metals–focused design brand he founded in the ’70s with Carlo Scarpa. “It is most interesting to me to have a poet design a table, a painter design a credenza, and an architect design a spoon,” Munari told the Huffington Post in an interview two years ago.
Austrian artist, architect, designer, theoretician and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein has passed away twenty five days after he celebrated his eightieth birthday. Hollein, particularly known for his museum design, including Vienna’s Haas House (1990) and Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Art, was once described by Richard Meier as an architect whose “groundbreaking ideas” have “had a major impact on the thinking of designers and architects.”
See a selection of Hollein’s work, from architecture to furniture, jewelry to glasses, to a high-rise in China, after the break…
If you are a fan of Hans Hollein then we have the book for you. Edited by Peter Weibel, this large format book gives you a vivid and detailed look at the 1985 Pritzker Prize recipient’s work. Hollein, an Austrian trained architect, did everything from architecture to design and art. Hollein said, “architects have to stop thinking in terms of buildings only.” The book describes Hollein as the universal artist who “has transposed the machine-based architecture and art of modernity into the era of media-based communication and information technology.” The large photographs featured in this publication make for a great for a coffee table book, and yet the depth and breadth of his work can spur much more interesting conversation than the average coffee table book.