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International Decorative Art

Contour Armchair (Model 175D) & Ottoman

Contour Armchair (Model 175D) & Ottoman

Design Date
c. 1954

Vladimir Kagan (b. 1927, German-American)

Kagan–Dreyfuss (1950–1960), New York, NY

wood and cloth upholstery

36 x 33 5/8 x 37 inches (armchair); 16 x 20 1/2 x 22 inches (ottoman)

The burgeoning science of ergonomics, focused on design that was easy and safe to use, became more important in post-WWII design. With that in mind, the contoured back of Kagan’s Contour chair was designed to fit the human body. The sinuous lines of the chair echoed the curvature of the spine. The contours and padding of the lower back of the chair provided lumbar support that Kagan felt was lacking in the minimalist and sling chairs from the Bauhaus and International Style periods. “My chairs and sofas needed to support one element—the human body—and became vessels for the body’s response”, he said. The chair’s arched, sculptured and tapered wooden legs are a signature of Kagan’s style. The organic lines of the chair’s legs, as well as the sinuous sculpted lines of the armrests, which snake around the back of the chair, were inspired by Kagan’s career-long fascination with tree roots and the architectural way they grow. The simplified whiplash curves are reminiscent of a modernized Art Nouveau aesthetic.

Not currently on view


Credit Line
Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number

Other Modern works