There are seven qualifications which should be present in an article to deserve the label of good design:

Function, Aesthetics, Matter, Process, Ecology, Economy, Originality

Henry Glass, from his book The Shape of Manmade Things

Curatorial Alchemy

Our paths first crossed, unknown until many years later, at an intimate yet bustling wedding reception in a south Chicago apartment. This was probably 30 years ago, perhaps even the same year a new gallery, Torno Wright, opened at the end of my street to a fanfare of Eames, heralding new changes to come. Criss-crossing breezes of chance encounters, meandering spirits, hazy focus of time and space, of enthusiasm and knowledge sought, now united again in the same city.

That same serendipity, prompting impulse and discovery, guided welcome reward in the crucible of that great industrial city, still littered with the artefacts of the American mid-century. It was within this uneven yet fertile terrain, hidden slightly below surface, that Patrick’s intuitive talent—honed first as photographer then embellished as artist—would treasure the valuable neglected as passionate collector, and then as the inspirational dealer that I was to meet again, years later in New York City.

If asked to select one word to describe Patrick, I would resist and pick two. The first would be curiosity—a fundamental essential, to stimulate inquiry and rigour in all things, both great and small, of any era or region, type or surface. Even the most fleeting survey of this selection for sale is a celebration of innovation and of inspiration—an unerring eye for the unusually exceptional, or perhaps the exceptionally unusual. The chances are, that these are indeed discoveries that you have not yet realized that you needed to make.

Mentor, would be my second word. If artefacts and objects articulate visual, cultural and historic language, then the fluency of skillful mentorship—to guide, nurture, describe and explain—releases the eloquence of murmuring histories. In this capacity Patrick is that most earnest and sincere of excellent narrators. If ever I had friends, clients or colleagues visiting New York looking for unusual inspiration, there was always the certainty that Patrick’s gallery would offer them a glimpse of the hitherto unseen or the unusually seductive, always with the reassurance of the most fascinating story waiting to be told.

Mentorship and curiosity, when balanced in equal measure, reveal the precious alchemy of a curator. And it is the duty of the mature curator to discern and detect, to cultivate change, and from there to pioneer, and to share. Innovation is never static, and the Present is already the Future. Fresh dialogs evolve, energies to be nurtured, opportunities to be guided. Renewed and re-orientated, Patrick now faces fully forward—as benefactor, interlocutor and mentor to a new, inquisitive generation of talented creators, and the quest for discovery rejuvenates.

— Simon Andrews

Henry P. Glass

Henry P. Glass was one of the most innovative industrial designers in America, creating the era-defining “hairpin leg." Trained as an architect, Glass brought an engineering sensibility to his diverse designs, along with an attention toward environmentalism and a wondrous creativity.

Glass was born in Vienna in 1911 and studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna from 1929 to 1936; his early work included designing modern interiors for Viennese high society, showrooms and hotels. In 1938, with the invasion of the Nazis, Glass and his wife Elly immigrated to New York City (Glass spent a short time in Buchenwald concentration camp but was released), where he worked under Gilbert Rohde and Russel Wright. That same year Glass joined the American Industrial Designers Institute. In 1942, Glass moved to Chicago and worked for W.L. Stensgaard and Associates, Inc. as the Director of Architectural Design. He also took night classes at The New Bauhaus (later renamed the Institute of Design) under László Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes and George Fred Keck, a pioneer in solar design.

In 1946, with the money made from designing the Kling Studios building in Chicago, Glass opened his own studio in the Furniture Mart and began creating the work he is most well-known for: ingenious, space-saving designs with a concern for economy and ecology and unusual materials, partially brought about by wartime rations, but also inspired by the work of R. Buckminster Fuller. While austere and purpose-minded in form, Glass balanced his hyper-rational designs with playful colors and proportions, as in his 1954 Swingline children’s furniture collection and with inventive pieces that folded, stacked and nested in interesting ways; a later famous design of his, the Cricket chair from 1978, folded down to a width of just one inch. Over the course of his career, he was granted fifty-two patents and was also celebrated for his commitment to mentoring young designers as a teacher at The Art Institute of Chicago for twenty years.

Glass’ interest in ecology and economy extended beyond his furniture designs—in 1948, he built the first passive solar home in America in Northfield, Illinois. He and his family had originally order Buckminster Fuller’s aluminum Dymaxion house but when the company went under, their order was cancelled. Undeterred, Glass simply elected to build his own eco-conscious home. The family lived there for over sixty years and it still stands today. In 1964, while recovering from a heart attack, Glass designed a Michigan ski lodge, Glass G’Spass, which he had built with the help of two Amish carpenters and his teenage children.

In 1996 Glass published his treatise on design, The Shape of Manmade Things and in 2000 The Art Institute of Chicago featured his work in the exhibition Design from the Heartland: Henry Glass, John Polivka and Richard Ten Eyck. Glass died in 2003, leaving his entire archives as a public collection to the Art Institute of Chicago.

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