Joseph Warren Platner
Joseph Warren Platner was born in Baltimore on June 18, 1919 and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in architecture in 1941. His influences on architecture, interiors, exhibitions, graphics, lighting, artwork, and decoration, have been described as “sensuous modernism; elegant, understated and efficient”.
Platner produced a furniture collection that has proved to be a continuing icon of 1960s modernism. He is also famed with designing several prominent interiors in New York City.
His chairs are known for its simplicity and innovation of form and the beauty of its craftsmanship.
In his early career (1945 – 1950) he worked with prominent architecture practices including Raymond Loewy and I.M. Pei.
In 1955 he received the Rome Prize in architecture.
In the early and mid-sixties, he worked in the firms of Eero Saarinen and Eamonn Kevin Roche.
During the period at Eero Saarinen, he participated in designs for the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., the Repertory Theatre at Lincoln Centre, the John Deere World Headquarters, and several dormitories at Yale University.
As the head of interior design at Kevin Roche’s firm, Platner created office spaces that were flexible, understated, and efficient.
In 1966 he unveiled his collection of chairs, ottomans and tables, produced by an American manufacturing company and with the aid of a grant from the Graham Foundation.
The “Platner Collection”, his major furniture contribution to the mid-century landscape, consists of a series of chairs, ottomans and tables.
Each piece rested on a sculptural base of nickel-plated steel rods resembling a “shiny sheaf of wheat”, according to the manufacturing company’s catalogue. This unique collection is still being produced today.
Platner opened his own architecture practice in 1967, Warren Platner Associates. In 1973, the American manufacturing company introduced The Platner Executive Office Collection.
Platner defined ‘classic’ as “being something that every time you look at it, you accept it as it is, and you see no way of improving it.”
A rare 1981 recording of Platner in an interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, for the television program Interior Design: The New Freedom, casts light on his philosophy. Platner was a believer that a building’s design should come from within: “I try to conceive of what would be the best atmosphere, the best character [for a particular building].”²
In 1985 he was inducted into Interior Design magazine’s hall of fame.
Platner died in 2006 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was 86.
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
- Original Windows on the World restaurant, World Trade Center, New York City.
- Ford Foundation headquarters building, at 320 East 43rd Street, near Second Avenue in Manhattan. Designed by Architect Eamonn Kevin Roche and opened in 1967, the steel, granite, and glass building, with its soaring central garden, epitomized the confident, optimistic outlook of the Great Society period in the US.
- Georg Jensen Design Centre, New York City, the high-end seller of Scandinavian furniture and lighting, opened in 1968.
Interior design of Water Tower Place, the vertical shopping mall that opened in Chicago in 1976.
- The 1986 renovation of the Pan Am Building lobby for its new owner, MetLife.
- He was active in his firm, Warren Platner Associates, until becoming ill, working on projects including a new shopping centre in Greece.
- Platner designs are minimalist and sensual.
- Platner Dining Table
- Platner Coffee Table – 42″
- Platner Coffee Table – 36″
- Platner Side Table
- Platner Armchair
- Platner Lounge Chair
- Platner Easy Chair
- Platner Ottoman
- Platner Stool
In his own words
“I began to think about what I thought furniture, specifically a chair, really might be, starting with the philosophy that it isn’t going to be aggressively technological, or aggressively handicraft…I, as a designer, felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful kind of design that appeared in period style like Louis XV, but it could have a more rational base instead of being applied decoration…I thought why separate support from the object. Just make it all one thing. Starts at the floor and comes up and envelops me, supports me…What I wanted to achieve was a chair that, number one, was complementary to the person sitting in it, or to the person in the space between the wall and the chair — what the chair did for the person in respect to the scale of the person and the space.”