Vladimir Kagan (1927)

German-born furniture designer, active New York. Kagan settled in the US in 1938. After an early focus on painting and sculpture, he went on to study architecture at Columbia University.


He joined his father´s woodworking shop in 1947, where he began designing furniture. Commissions soon followed, including the Delegates' Cocktail Lounge at the first United Nations headquarters in Lake Success, New York. By 1950, Kagan had opened his own showroom on 57th Street in New York. His client roster was impressive. Corporate accounts included General Electric, Warner Communications and American Express; he also designed for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Lily Pons, and Gary Cooper.

His early work drew heavily upon the bimorphic design vocabulary of the 1950´s, amoeboid and boomerang shapes were prominent. By the 1960´s, however, Kagan´s increasing interest in minimalism inspired a change in his aesthetic. "I had exhausted an idiom and needed some new expressions," he commented. "I could only end up going baroque if I continued". The resulting work was spare, rectilinear, and utilized new materials such as vinyl and plexiglass. He became a true plastics virtuoso in time; in 1962, he redesigned Monsanto´s House of the Future exhibit at Disneyland without using a single natural material.

Kagan´s pieces can be found in the permanent collections of The Cooper Hewitt, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Vitra Design Museum. He has served as president of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and his Vladimir Kagan design group is still active today.

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