You are here

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design

Zoë Ryan

Softcover $16.95
To order: 

Order online from the Art Institute Museum Shop or call 1-888-301-9612. Available to booksellers at wholesale prices from Yale University Press.


This publication is the first to explore the work produced by the important German designer Konstantin Grcic over the last five years. Since 2004 he has been developing a significant body of work that illustrates a shift in his practice and output. Although his production continues to be characterized by an uncompromising approach that favors simple, yet distinctive design solutions, Grcic has more recently harnessed an interest in new technologies and materials to produce an ambitious portfolio of furniture and product designs that are transforming the landscape of contemporary design.

Grcic’s studio, KGID, based in Munich, has gained critical recognition internationally for work that cuts across commercial and cultural fields for such prestigious companies as ClassiCon, Krups, Moroso, Plank, Vitra, Luminaire, and Magis. These include, for Italian manufacturer Flos in 1999, the Mayday lamp, a reinterpretation of the industrial lamps used in auto mechanic shops, transformed for domestic use. It won the prestigious Compasso d`Oro award at the Milan furniture fair that same year.

Grcic trained as a carpenter at Parnham College in southern England before graduating in 1990 with a master’s degree from the design department of the Royal College of Art, London. He returned to Germany and founded his own studio in 1991. Since then he has become known for designs that favor a pared-down visual language that is more complex than it appears to be. His “simple” designs are often the product of labor-intensive research into manufacturing processes using the latest digital technologies.

Grcic’s refined aesthetic results in an unexpected mix of materials. The faceted form of Chair One, for example, is made from die-cast aluminium and concrete, materials not commonly used together in a mass-produced chair. Its construction calls to mind the architecture of bridges rather than furniture design. In 2008 Grcic produced Myto, in collaboration with BASF and furniture manufacturer Plank. This cantilevered stacking chair is made from BASF’s Ultradur® High Speed, a fluid plastic that is typically used by the automotive industry and whose strength permitted the realization of its complex design.

Grcic delights in creating fresh takes on familiar objects—whether desks, chairs, benches, stools, a range of kitchen equipment, lamps, or a set of salad servers. This foundation has enabled him to carve out a unique career path that honors modernism’s formal geometrics but at the same time eschews approaches steeped in industrial design theory and practice, resulting in innovative new archetypes of form and function.

This significant publication will accompany the first exhibition of Konstantin Grcic’s work in the United States. The exhibition will be organized by Zoë Ryan, Neville Bryan Curator of Design in the Department of Architecture and Design.

The Art Institute of Chicago, 2009 
5 5/16 x 8 1/2 in.; 96 pages; 90 color illustrations 
ISBN: 978-0-300-15104-6