Vladimir Kagan will receive the Society’s Award of Distinction during the conference
The June 10-13 conference, “Industrious: The Design, Craft, and Commerce of Furniture Making,” will also include a keynote address by Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Inc. and three days of demonstrations, presentations, exhibitions, and exclusive tours of contract, residential and high craft facilities in western North Carolina.
The award will be presented at the society’s gala dinner ceremony, Thursday, June 11, in the Plemmons Student Union’s Blue Ridge Ballroom on campus. Kagan also will address the conference at 9 a.m., Friday, June 12, in Valborg Theater.
All conference activities are open to non-members who pre-register or register on site daily at the conference. One-day conference registration for non-members is $235, with two and three-day options and student discounts available. A complete calendar and online registration is available at www.furnituresociety.org.
Kagan has been called “one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century,” by the New York Times. The paper wrote that, “Furniture designed by him in the forties, fifties and sixties have become icons of Modernity and an obligatory reference to every designer. He is the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers.”
Connoisseurs and museums are avid collectors of Kagan’s designs. His furniture is in private collections worldwide, and his prize-winning designs have been published in books and magazines internationally and are in the permanent collections of the V&A London, the Vitra Design Museum and Die Neue Samlung in Germany, as well as prominent museums in the United States.
The Furniture Society, headquartered in Asheville, is America’s preeminent organization dedicated to advancing the art of furniture making. The society presents the Award of Distinction to individuals recognized as having made profound impact in the field of studio furniture. Previous recipients include the recently deceased Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, Judy Kensley Mckie, and master furniture makers with works collected in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Craft Museum, and national museums worldwide.
In addition to Appalachian, conference sponsors include Bernhardt/Design, Fine Woodworking and Our State magazines, HighbrowFurniture.com, Klingspor, Rockler Woodworking, ShopBot Tools, BarkHouse and Stones River Hardwoods.
Vladimir Kagan biography
The son of a Russian-trained cabinetmaker, Kagan studied architecture at Columbia University before joining his father’s shop in 1947. He established his own studio in New York in 1949 where he designed and made modern wooden furniture combining Bauhaus ideals and Scandinavian respect for materials, exploring “the interplay of wood and structure, of space and light, simplicity and function.”
Kagan’s commitment to design restraint and an aesthetic focused upon wood placed him squarely in the nascent studio furnituremaking world of the 1950s. However, seeking a broad market, Kagan combined machine techniques and skilled handwork to produce small edition works, and developed a particular strength in marketing his work to leaders and influencers of art and industry. His shop and showroom location on 57th Street in New York City, served as the hub of his art and design outreach and marketing strategy.
In the 1960s, Kagan expanded into the use of aluminum, polyurethane, Lucite, glass and steel and began to investigate the incorporation of audio-visual technology into his furniture, pushing the boundaries of furniture design. At the same time he continued to mount exhibitions of his studio furniture. In the 1970s, Kagan turned his attention to contract furnishings, attracting corporate clients including BMW, NBC, Gucci and Armani.
Today his firm markets limited edition Kagan Classics (handmade in the United States by master craftsmen), Kagan Couture (also manufactured in America), and maintains licensing agreements with some of the most distinguished manufacturers and distributors of high quality furniture in the United States and Europe.