A Few Great IDEAS
The "International Design Annual" (IDEA) was a compendium of design edited by the German typesetter-cum-publisher Gerd Hatje. Published for three years in the mid-fifties (1953-55), IDEA showcased work by current and future design stars such as Eva Zeisel, Russel Wright, Gio Ponti, Raymond Loewy, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Stig Lindberg, Edith Heath, George Nelson, Kaj Franck, Gino Sarfatti, Finn Juhl, Tapio Wirkkala, and Carl Aubock. Lesser-known talents such as Gross Wood, Kaarina Aho, Trude Petri-Raben, Herman Gretsch, and Erik Herlow were also featured.
The twist with IDEA is that it did not review furniture-the focus was on product design, tableware, glassware, ceramics, textiles, and lighting. The gamut of entries ranged from vases and decorative glass to toasters, washing machines, rugs, tumblers, flatware, plastic containers, radios, ashtrays, floor lamps, clocks, and wooden baskets. Each of the three volumes began with a series of short essays by designers and critics such as Max Bill, Arthur Hald, Herwin Schaefer, Karel Sanders, and Misha Black. Taken together, the three volumes present a well-illustrated cross-section of household design in the mid-century. Given Hatje's long run of success as an art and architecture publisher-he sold his business in 1990-I'm not sure why this series was terminated after only three issues.
In addition to the dust jacket of the 1953 issue, I've selected five images to share: a group of glass vases by Floris Meydam for the Dutch company Leerdam; a group of bowls in perforated metal and enameled copper by American artisans Gross and Esther Wood; a floor lamp with a tripod wire base by Swedish designer Nisse Strinning; wooden cutting boards with servers by German designer Johann Meier; and a printed curtain fabric called "Foliation" by Chicago designer Ben Rose.