PaperCity Magazine

March 2015 - Houston

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MARCH | PAGE 22 | 2015 KAGAN KOOL N ote to self: Get out more. Vladimir Kagan is 88 years old, and he'd probably be chagrined to learn I thought he had retired long ago. I decide not to tell him. It's early in the morning, and I'm expecting a phone call from New York, where Kagan has had an apartment on Park Avenue and 93rd Street for 60 years. As I'm waiting, I pull up the bio and photos his office sent me the night before. Hollywood, it seems, would not have been as glamorous without him. Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, David Lynch and Tom Cruise have all bought his swooping modern furniture at one time or another. Kagan's '50s-era Serpentine sofa inspired a whole genre of entertaining: Sexy with its curvaceous S-shape, the original 10-footer seats eight. Its large, armless contour begs to float in a room, grabbing the center of attention. No wonder movie stars have made it their own. The son of Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, Kagan started out as a cabinet- maker in his 20s at his father's furniture shop in New York in the mid-1940s. He was also a sculptor who studied architecture at night at Columbia — two passions that would ultimately influence his future work. His big break was helping design furniture for the cocktail lounges at the first United Nations building in Lake Success in 1947. In the ensuing decades, Kagan's early linear creations gave way to more sculptural concepts — chairs and tables with swooping walnut and aluminum bases, sensuously curved sofas and sleek Lucite. The economic downturn in the '80s shuttered Kagan's factory and showroom, but he continued to design privately for high-profile clients, stocking their vacation homes and yachts with custom sofas, chairs and tables. In 1997, when Tom Ford filled 360 Gucci boutiques worldwide with Kagan's achingly chic modular Omnibus sofas, the furniture designer was thrust back in the spotlight. Omnibus was reintroduced at the prestigious ICFF soon after, and the American Society of Furniture Designers bestowed him with a lifetime achievement award. But good luck trying to find his furniture to buy … Except for a handful of select showrooms in New York, Chicago and Miami, Kagan's classic collection has remained elusive in Texas. Until now. Showroom owner LEGENDARY AVANT-GARDE FURNITURE DESIGNER VLADIMIR KAGAN STORMS INTO TOWN WITH A REINTRODUCED, SENSUOUS COLLECTION — AND A NEW BOOK. BY REBECCA SHERMAN A Vladimir Kagan Crescent sofa anchors Tommy and Dee Hilfiger's master bedroom. From the book Vladimir Kagan: A Lifetime of Avant Garde Design (Pointed Leaf Press). DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN

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