It’s a story of one of the most legendary and important collaborations in the history of modern design, and there is nobody who can tell it better than David A. Hanks. In his new publication ‘Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. and Philip Johnson,’ published by Monacelli Press, Hanks explores the cult of interior design, as being articulated at MoMA by these two visionaries, Barr, the art historian and MoMA’s first director, and Phillips Johnson, the architect and founder of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum. Not only did they introduce the revolutionary ideas formulated at the Bauhaus school in the United States, but the two turned the Department into a testing ground for the avant-garde design, the voice in contextualizing the changing aesthetics of the 20th century through a series of exhibitions. Barr and Johnson, who shared the taste and interest in machine-made design, lived in the same Manhattan building on East 52nd Street and in it, they created the first modernist interiors in America. While Barr used American industrial design when furnishing his modest home (such as the dining suite by Donald Deskey, below), Johnson commissioned Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to create his space (above), the first of Mies’ project in America, long before the architect immigrated to this country. I have first met David as a young student in the early 90s and have since become an admirer of his work. I could not wait to read this book since I have learnt about the project five years ago; text by Donald Albrecht, Barry Bergdoll, and Juliet Kinchin. A must addition to any library.
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