Kagan is most handsome in appearance and art. The name Kagan is more than well known; this name is a signature of modern design. With a career greater than sixty years, Mr. Kagan’s ingenious style is a part of the American fabric. He began designing in the year 1946, and a few short years later his original sculptured designs fashioned a new look in American furniture.
Today, his creations are on the brink of the 21st century. Kagan’s hotel designs are innovative, so are his furniture, textiles and home furnishings. The New York Times states; “Vladimir Kagan is one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century. Furniture designed by Kagan in the forties, fifties, and sixties have become icons of Modernity and an obligatory reference to every designer. He is the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers.”
Born in Worms on the Rhine, Germany in the year 1972, Vladimir Kagan emigrated to the United States in 1938. His focus was on painting and sculpture, yet he became more attracted to architecture and design. Kagan learned Architecture at Columbia University. His father, III Kagan, a superb cabinetmaker, allowed him to join in his woodworking ship and learn how to make furniture from scratch. This would forever change Vladimir’s life.
One of Kagan’s first professional works includes; 1947 the Delegate’s Cocktail Lounges for the first United Nations Headquarters in Lake Success N.Y. In 1948 after the grand opening of his first shop in New York on East 65th Street, he moved to the prestigious 57th Street. His clients span the world of art, theater, music and industry. They included Marilyn Monroe, Lily Pons, Gary Cooper, Walt Disney, General Electric, General Motors, Fairchild Aviation, and the Government of Venezuela.
Kagans’ awards and honors comprise the following; 1980, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology- Three Decades of Design; 2000, Kagan was honored The Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society of Furniture Designers; 2001, he was honored with the Pinnacle Award from the American Society of Furniture Designers; 2001, Kagan received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Kendall College of Art and Design.
Enthusiasts and museums are collecting Kagan’s designs. The rich and famous are among the many individuals holding private collections, from Barbara Jacobson of the Museum of Modern Art to film director David Lynch. Armani selected Kagan’s Cubists Dinning Chairs and Banquets for his new restaurant, Nobu in Milan.
Vladimir was asked if he could create his dream home what would he do, renovate or start from scratch, he replied, “I am so anxious to build something new, I have always renovated existing structures, I would love to start from scratch.” Unknown to many, Kagan is a good cook, although he likes the kitchen area very much, the living room, in his opinion, should be the center of the home.
He believes that houses are frequently an architect's self-aggrandizement and they produce troubles for the people living on the inside. “Rooms must be in proportion to utility,” says Kagan. “The master bedroom is an essential room––with the bedroom integrating the bathroom and a homespun Spa.”
Forty years ago, Kagan foretold that the bathroom would become a recreational area––not just a place you sit and think in!
Kagan’s views on the next decade or two points to the socio-economic signs which indicates that the rich will become richer and the poor will become poorer. Kagan say’s, “Stepping outside of my dream home, what do we do for the people who can't afford homes? We will look for intelligent, pre-fabricated homes with multi-use rooms. Square footage will have to shrink as we run out of land.” He continued, “Furniture will have to adapt to shrinking spaces. As a designer of luxury furnishings, I would hate to be the designer that has to deal with that––although the challenge would be fascinating! When I speak of intelligent pre-fab, I am talking about amenities and vital functions––you see it happening in bathrooms today: built-in shower and bath-tub units, integrated fixtures from electrical, plumbing and lighting.” He concluded, “Why shouldn't cabinetry mushroom out of the floor? That's where I think innovative design will be going in the future. There will be a sacrifice of individuality but that will be an acceptable compromise as we make the homes of the future an affordable entity for coming generations. Good design does not have to be expensive.”
Kagan has served as chairman of the Advisory Commission of the School of Art and Design in New York, has been a faculty member of New York's Parsons School of Design, and a member on numerous committees for the Architectural League of New York. He is married to Erica Wilson, an internationally renowned needlework designer. They have three lovely children and live in New York, Nantucket and Palm Beach.
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