Richard Meier Builds: From Tabletop to Rooftop
October 30, 1996 - February 20, 1998The works on display in this exhibition present a survey of objects and furniture designed by the architect Richard Meier (American, born 1934). Meier follows a long and distinguished tradition of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Josef Hoffmann, Alvar Aalto, and Walter Gropius who stressed, to varying degrees, the importance of the "total environment." This meant not merely the basic structure and interior detailing of a building, but the furniture and everyday household objects used by its inhabitants. In his product design as in his architecture, Meier adheres to a classically modernist vocabulary focusing on proportion, balance, and the manipulation of basic geometry. Offering the architect the opportunity to work on a smaller, more intimate scale, all of the pieces in the exhibition reflect Meier's fascination with space, form, and light, as well as with geometric clarity. Among those on display is a preliminary sketch for a chair for the Aye Simon Reading Room, which was renovated by Meier in 1978, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. From this chair, designed for that particular space, came the idea of an entire furniture collection. First produced by Knoll in 1982, the line of chairs, stools, tables, and a chaise lounge is currently only produced by Knoll Japan. In 1994 Meier designed a group of office furniture for Stow Davis that was conceived as an integrated series of freestanding pieces. These can either stand as distinct objects, or be arranged in any number of configurations. Meier has also designed dozens of tablewares and accessories for Swid Powell since 1984, when the firm introduced a collection of household objects by some of the world's leading architects. From Meier's sketches for glass, ceramic, and silverwares, one can see the rigorous consistency of his designs from initial concept to finished product. Like his architecture, the objects display a strict vocabulary of geometric elements elegantly assembled according to their various functions.