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News April 2016

Vladimir Kagan, legendary New York furniture designer, passes away

April 23, 2016

The legendary furniture designer Vlarimir Kagan, best known for his Serpentine Sofa, passed away earlier this month. The son of a Russian cabinetmaker who escaped Nazi Germany with his family, Kagan began his design career in 1947 as an apprentice in his father’s New York shop. By 1949 he had discovered a passion for Modern furniture and struck out on his own. His breakout commission was designing the furniture for the Delegates’ Cocktail Lounge at the first United Nations Headquarters in Lake Success, NY. He later did the furniture for the all-plastic Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland. Kagan’s sinuous and exaggerated designs epitomized Hollywood glamour of the period, and many of his early clients were celebrities. Energetic and vivacious, Kagan kept with the times throughout is long career, evolving his design work as tastes in materials and forms changed. Perhaps one key to his success was his outlook— he once described himself as “evolutionary, not revolutionary. I’ve always designed to fill a void in the lifestyle of the Modern home.” Kagan’s personal blog, which he updated regularly, provides a rich perspective into his ever-curious mind.

Remembering Avant-Garde Midcentury Furniture Master Vladimir Kagan,” Curbed.com (April 11, 2016) – includes a slideshow of his most notable work 

NY Times obit: “Vladimir Kagan, Designer Whose Furniture Evoked Sensuality, Dies at 88” (April 12, 2016) 

Kagan in his daughter Vanessa’s sitting room on a gray, kidney-shaped sofa, one of his own designs. Photo: Brian Shumway