The Modern Classics Network

Where were the focal points of classical modern design in Europe? Which networks of relationships gave rise to history’s most popular furniture designs – from Thonet’s No. 14 (1859) to Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair (1929)?

The IDRV, together with FAS.research Europe, has put the era of classical modernism under the microscope through a social network analysis, utilizing a method commonly used to map major centers in lobbying and financial circles. An experiment. The data sample drew on the book 1000 Chairs by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, a canonical standard work on the history of classic seating design published by Taschen. From this, the object’s designer, original producer and, when applicable, the reproducing company were analyzed. The result is a new view of classical modernism: a graphic network of individuals and companies that makes the previously invisible connections and influence centers visible. Here the significance of the reproducer – such as Tecta, Cassina or Zanotta – is primarily seen as a link in the cohesion of the overall network.

Based on these findings, also an IDRV performance called ”Schere-Design-Papier” took place in the course of Vienna Design Week 2010. In the MAK museum shop Harald Gruendl cut out pictures from the 1000 chairs book for more than one hour and publicly rearranged them according to the network analysis.