Vladimir Kagan (b.1927 d.2016) brought an organic aesthetic to modern furniture design with sensuous curves and sculptural details that ushered in a new look in American upholstery, case goods, occasional pieces and lighting. He started designing furniture in 1946 and by the early ’50s his innovative, curvilinear pieces were considered Modern icons. The New York Times described him as “the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers.” Among his quintessential pieces are the Serpentine Sofa (1949), the Barrel Chair (1947) and the Floating Sofa (1952).
Born in Worms on the Rhine, Germany in 1927, Mr. Kagan came to the United States in 1938. After studying architecture at Columbia University, he joined his father, a master cabinetmaker, and opened his own shop in 1948, designing for luminaries in the worlds of art, entertainment and industry. Prolifically creative and ever positive, Mr. Kagan briefly retired in 1988, but by 1990, he began licensing his designs. In 1998, he reintroduced his classic designs at ICFF and reinvented his career. The Vladimir Kagan Design Group, sold through HOLLY HUNT, continues to produce his Classic Collection. On the day he died, at age 88, he was in Palm Beach to attend the unveiling of a new chair design.
Mr. Kagan received the American Society of Furniture Designers Lifetime Achievement Award and was a member of the Interior Designer Hall of Fame. In New York, he was chairman of the Advisory Commission of the School of Art and Design and was active in the Architectural League. A faculty member of New York’s Parsons School of Design, he lectured extensively; helped launch the World Market Center’s Design Icon lecture series; authored his autobiography, The Complete Kagan; and in recent years, wrote a blog.
Mr. Kagan’s furniture is found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Vitra Design Museum, among many others.