Designs You Should Know

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the iconic Eames lounge chair. But if you really want to be design savvy, there are several more icons that have set the industry bar. Here are a few to get you started, and we’ll continue to share new ones in future blogs.

While originally designed in the 20th century, all of the pieces we’ve highlighted below are still manufactured today, so if scouring antique shops and flea markets isn’t your thing, you can find new licensed reproductions of these gems (as well as hoards of knock-offs).

Ball Clock - Created in 1948 by George Nelson, an American industrial designer who was the acting Director of Design for Herman Miller. He claimed this clock was the result of having a little too much to drink at a dinner party and freely sketching with his designer friends Isamu Noguchi, Irving Harper, and Buckminster Fuller.  

For sale in a variety of colors and materials at Design Within Reach.

Ball Chair – Designed in 1963 by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio, the Ball Chair (sometimes called the Globe Chair) is a unique sphere shape, which was quintessential in the 1960s. Made of fiberglass, the design is cushioned and completely upholstered inside to allow for privacy and comfort.


Find it at Rove Concepts.

Tulip Table – Introduced in 1958 by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-born American architect and industrial designer who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. As part of his Pedestal Collection, the Tulip Table aimed to create a cleaner look by replacing the “slum of legs” (Saarinen’s description of 4 legged tables and chairs) with one supportive base. With tops available in laminate and marble, and sizes ranging from side tables, to coffee tables, and dining tables, the collection also included matching chairs.   

Available from Knoll.

American Modern Dinnerware – Industrial designer Russel Wright is known designing furniture and dining service, but his American Modern Dinnerware is probably his most prolific work. With over 250 million pieces sold since it was first introduced in the late 1930s, the colorful ceramic service is considered part of the Good Design Movement, which aimed to create well-designed pieces at an affordable price point.

Manufactured today by Bauer Pottery Company in Los Angeles.

España Bunching Chest – Dorothy Draper, the iconic and eclectic American interior designer, created the España Bunching Chest in the 1950s after the Spanish government asked her to design a line that celebrated the style of Spain. The black lacquer combined with incised gold borders and decorative drawer pulls creates a moment of Hollywood Glam that seems to capture Dorothy’s inner spirit more than anything else.

Re-released by Kindel Furniture.

What’s on your list of must-know design icons?


Alessandra Wood

Alessandra Wood is Tastemaker’s resident design historian. Obsessed with everything vintage, she’s working on her PhD in design history. Animal prints, mid-century chrome lighting fixtures, and reclaimed wood furniture set her heart aflutter. Wondering how to judge the quality of of a piece of furniture, what to look for in buying an antique, how to date your finds, or which current trends have resurfaced from the past?

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