Vladimir Kagan is one of the most prolific and iconic modern furniture designers of the 20th century. He is also an inhabitant of the great city of New York. Now an octogenarian, Kagan and his wife: needlepoint artist Erica Wilson, have lived in the Park Avenue Harlem apartment where they raised their family, for over forty years. Photographer Todd Selby, renowned for his “ insider’s view of creative individuals in their personal spaces with an artist’s eye for detail,” recently captured Mr. Kagan and Mrs. Wilson, in their family home.
It is truly fascinating to view the interiors of an artist like Kagan, whose work designed “in the forties, fifties and sixties,” says The New York Times, “have become icons of Modernity and an obligatory reference to every designer. He is the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers.”
First a few images of the designer with his wife in their happy home:
Mr. Kagan at his desk:
Design books on every shelf:
Ms. Wilson working on one of her embroidery pieces.
When asked by PaperMag‘s Kim Hastreiter what his favorite chair in his home is, Kagan replied: “My favorite chair is Erica’s embroidered rocking chair, because it combines both of our work at an early time in our marriage and has become iconic over the years.” The chair is of course, Kagan’s Contour Rocking Chair, part of his Classics Collection.
Such a cheerful piece:
Love the green wallpaper and artwork hung salon-style above their bed:
Born in Germany in 1927, Vladimir Kagan came to the United States in 1938. He studied architecture at Columbia University, and in 1947 joined his master-cabinetmaker father, Illi Kagan, in his woodworking shop to learn to execute his budding furniture designs. A year later, Mr. Kagan opened his first furniture shop on East 65th Street in New York. With rapid success, in 1950 he moved to a prominent address on 57th Street.
Kagan’s sculptural furniture was instantly acclaimed and coveted, just as it continues to be today. His pieces are collected for permanent collections of museums around the world, as well for the private collections of Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Courtney Cox, Demi Moore, and Uma Thurman, as well as fashion designers like Diane von Furstenberg, Roberto Cavalli, and Elie Tahari.
One of Kagan’s perhaps most recognizable pieces was one of his first, and one of his most popular to this day: the Serpentine Sofa from 1950. Designed with curves to envelop the body, Kagan’s sofas enable him to integrate up to 20 feet of casual seating into a 6-by-8-foot footprint, as well as eliminate what Mr. Kagan famously calls: friends sitting on long sofas “like sparrows on a telephone line.”
More certainly-you’ve-seen pieces are of the Omnibus seating collection, selected by Gucci creative director Tom Ford and interior designer William Sofield for all 360 Gucci boutiques worldwide in 2001.
In 2003 Vladimir Kagan re-introduced his Classic Collection of furniture at the Ralph Pucci International showrooms in New York and Los Angeles. The Classic Collection contains limited edition, authentic recreations of Mr. Kagan’s original designs, custom made in the United States.
Most recently, in April of 2008, Mr. Kagan launched The Vladimir Kagan Couture Collection, a showroom at 200 Lexington Avenue, New York. The Couture Collection is an amalgamation of his designs from the 1950s to the 21st century, also all custom made in the United States.
All Kagan furniture is available through interior designers and architects worldwide.
Images / 1 / Vladimir Kagan Design Group / 2-9 / The Selby / 10 / Serpentine Sofa via Vladimir Kagan Design Group / 11 /pages from Kagan’s 2004 autobiography The Complete Kagan showing the Omnibus seating collection at Gucci’s New York City flagship store /