Frank Gehry is one of the most sought-after, internationallyrecognized and prolific architects and designers in the world today. His work defies categorization, but hasbecome an icon of current architecture with such projects as the Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany;the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota;and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles,California. In addition to designing over thirty existing buildings, Gehry has distinguished himself with a handful of furniture designs, created throughout his career. After studying architecture at the University of Southern California and spending a year at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gehry established his own architecture office in 1962, in Los Angeles. Ten years into his career, Gehry launched the value-based Easy Edge chair series constructed from laminated cardboard. However, he soon withdrew the Easy Edge chairs from production, fearing that his popularity as a furniture designer would detract from his reputation as an architect In the 1980s, Gehry returned to furniture design and created his Experimental Edges furniture, again out of corrugated and laminated cardboard. The series was “art furniture.” The concept was an indication of Gehry’s affinity for exploring structural strength and form in uncommon materials through mastery of engineering, blurring the line between architecture and sculpture. One of his repeated forms at this time was the fish, which first appeared in his work in 1981.
He used the subject in lamp designs and bathroom interiors, as well as in the swimming pool of his own home. In commissioned projects Gehry’s fish appear in monumental sculpture, including a collaborative work with Richard Serra for the Architectural League of New York, and exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Villa Olimpica, Barcelona, Spain. In the early 1990s, Gehry continued his experimentation with materials, using bent and woven wood to create innovative furniture designs. He also designed a series of Fish Lamps using “color core” Formica, which are now in private and museum collections. For Gehry the fish has special significance; it reminds him of his childhood when his grandmother stored carp in the bathtub as part of the preparation for gefilte fish, a traditional Swedish dried cod, served with mustard sauce. In early 2004, Gehry completed a collaboration to create a dynamic new aluminum chair that blends strength with fluidity and comfort by gently moving with the sitter. It illustrates Gehry’s architectural fascination with aluminum as both structure and skin and his proficiency in meshing components of engineering and design to create innovative, user-friendly furniture. In both architecture and furniture, Gehry’s unique vision and original use of materials have distinguished his career and earned him numerous prestigious prizes and awards, including the Pritzker Prize in 1989.
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