Vladimir Kagan pioneered the enduring voice of midcentury modern design. A designer of not simply furniture but what he called “vessels to hold the human body.” Kagan’s independent designs earned him decades of accolades and the avant-garde aesthetic. Kagan sought to develop furniture that could enhance human interactions, leading to innovations such as the first curved sofa, which he designed to enhance conversation and social experience.
Kagan’s designs radiate his vitality and passion for discovery. Born in Worms, Germany in 1927, he emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 11, just before the dawn of WWII. After graduating from the High School of Industrial Arts, Vladimir studied Architecture at Columbia University before joining his father, a master cabinetmaker, to support the family business and learn the foundations of the trade. From his father’s repeated admonishment “Ehre das Handwerk!” (“Honor the handcraft!”), Vladimir inherited an appreciation of artisan skill which, combined with his innovative design sensibility, was key to his success.
After a prolific career spanning nearly 70 years, Kagan never lost his love for his work. He passed away in April 2016, leaving his small, hand-selected team who remain dedicated to maintaining the history, craftsmanship, and ethos of Kagan designs. Today, the team strives to develop creative innovations in response to the changing modern world, just as Vladimir had done before them.
/ Artist Visionary Award from the Museum of Arts and Design.
/ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Design Center of the Americas.
/ Enters Design Magazine’s Designer Hall of Fame.
/ Product Design Award from the American Society of Interior Designers.
/ Lifetime Achievement Award and an Environmental Design Award from the Smithsonian.
Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museums’s National Design Awards Programs.
/ Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
/ Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Kendall College of Art and Design.
/ Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Furniture Designers.
/ Pinnacle Award from the American Society of Furniture Designers.
/ Elected president of the New York chapter of ASID.
/ New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology retrospective exhibit: “Three Decades of Design”.
/ Museum of Modern Art Good Design Award.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA. Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, USA. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, USA. Vitra Design Museum,Weil am Rhein, Germany. Die Neue Sammlung, Germany. Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts, Maryland, USA.The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, USA. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
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