Bertrand Goldberg’s early practice included periods of intense experimentation with industrial and furniture design that allowed him to develop the geometry, construction, and materials that informed his architectural production throughout his career. His furniture designs grew out of a series of commissions in the 1930s for single-family houses with elaborate built-ins in a range of materials, including plywood, fiberglass, and glass block. Following a long legacy encompassing Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus, Goldberg’s furniture demonstrates his interest in reimagining the design and function of everyday objects across a range of scales, a critical engagement that continues to inspire contemporary designers.

Critical to Goldberg’s development as an architect and designer was the time he spent at the Bauhaus, where, under the tutelage of the artist Josef Albers, he explored shape, color, and line in order to understand the compositional and structural capacities of an object or, in his words, he was “taught how to see.” After his return to the United States, Goldberg was also greatly influenced by the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, which exposed him to homegrown examples of technical innovation expressed through streamlined, modern designs. Although Goldberg did not produce his furniture commercially, his designs allowed him to explore an important confluence of influences, including European modernist principles and more expressive forms drawn from the American industrial landscape, to form an approach that ultimately defined the independent syntax of his architectural practice.

Bertrand Goldberg. Chromed Steel Chair, 1949. Courtesy of Geoffrey Goldberg, Obj. 210093.

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