This Top 4 Designers task is starting to seem a bit daunting. I've had over a week to dwell on it, but somehow choosing a metal artist/craftsman/designer seems so difficult. I feel I know even less about metal than I do about furniture! I've been reading Objects: USA (1969) and Nordness, the curator, is playing in my mind in how I decide what makes people designers. I've tended toward the more Modern approach on the last two, but for this, I'm harkening back to an earlier era for my favorite designer in metal.
Rejected in the furniture category (yes, he designed furniture), Guimard's easily recognized Metro entrances and powerful Art Nouveau style never cease to leave me with my mouth hanging open in worshipful awe. Walking around Paris this past summer made me feel like I had an old friend as I would turn corners and see his plant-like forms rising from the pavement. His Castel Beranger building
entrance gate undulates in a way that is sensual, evocative, and makes my skin tingle. Guimard designed the entire building as a gesamtkunstwerk with the desire to connect the interior of the building with the exterior world of Paris. Other designers of the period designed whole buildings in the "whiplash style" as well, but it was Guimard's adherence to the progressive ideals of his day that makes his memorable and unique. Younger than his design contemporaries, Guimard quickly embraced new technology--incorporating electricity into his designs--and pushing metal to new limits of design. Even though the Art Nouveau style ended soon after the turn of the century, Guimard's innovations still stand as a testament to his design genius.
The photo for this post comes from the Victoria and Albert museum. (Yet again, I know.) This gate can be found in their Ironwork Gallery, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was Guimard. I love identifying pieces without the label as it makes me feel like my education is not wasted.
Up next: My top ceramics designer.