The misattribution of design objects to the wrong designer has been on my mind for awhile, and it turns out I’m not alone! A number of other people have been citing examples of misattribution recently, and so I’d like to collect a few that I’ve come across into a post here and do what I can to help spread the word.
The writer and design historian Jeffrey Head writes for Modern magazine and has written a number of interesting design books. He wrote a column in the Fall 2013 issue of Modern magazine entitled “Truth… or circumstances?” about the topic of misattribution and gave a number of examples that he has come across. He mentions the example of the misattribution of the oversized jack bookend that was designed by Bill Curry of Design Line to George Nelson. He also mentions one that has bugged me for a long time, which is the fiberglass chair with an iron base that is often attributed to Luther Conover, but was in fact designed by Lawrence Peabody.
In another article for Modern magazine Mr. Head also cleared up a couple of fuzzy attributions for two lamp designs of Gregory Van Pelt, who had the misfortune to have two of his designs misattributed, one to George Nelson (him again!) and the other to Frank Gehry.
The one that really kills me though is the naggingly persistent misattribution of an Ikea coat rack from the 90’s (named “Mina”) as the work of the Italian designer Osvaldo Borsani. (The two pictures at the top of this post show what I mean.) Mr. Borsani started the design firm Tecno in 1954 and is best known for the P40 articulated lounge chair. He died in 1985, long before the Ikea coat rack Mina came into the world. (The link above is to the excellent post about this at the design blog esoteric survey.)
One can hope that, as time goes on and more design research is done and made public, more of these attributions will be straightened out. Stay tuned!