Vladimir Kagan

The passing of a master

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Above Image: Brochure image from Grosfeld House Furniture showing the works of Vladimir Kagan

“Vladimir Kagan is the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers.”

– The New York Times

The son of a cabinetmaker Vladimir Kagan was born in 1927 in the town Worms, Germany but left at the age of ten when he and his family fled to escape Nazi persecution. The family ended up in New York and this would remain Kagan’s lifelong home.

vladimir kagan controur 2 postion rocker

Vladimir Kagan two position Rocker.

After studying architecture at Columbia University Kagan joined his father Illi Kagan, a master cabinetmaker, in 1947 to work in his woodworking shop and learn furniture making from the ground up. The following year Kagan opened his first shop in New York on East 65th Street and later moved to fashionable 57th Street in 1950. It was in 1950 that Vladimir Kagan would partner with Hugo Dreyfuss and form Kagan–Dreyfuss, a team that would go on to create some of the most sculpted and sensual pieces of Modern American furniture ever built. The fluid, curvilinear style they created would go on to become the Kagan signature and would win the attention of some high profile clients including Marilyn Monroe, Lily Pons, and Gary Cooper. As well as the celebrity list Kagan also worked on commercial projects including the Delegate’s Cocktail Lounge at the United Nations as well as the furniture for the long-running Disney attraction ‘Monsanto House of the Future’.

Vladimir Kagan Swan Sofa 1955 mcmdaily

The ‘Swan’ sofa designed by Valdimir Kagan. Framed in steel it was produced by Kagan-Dreifuss, New York in 1955. Photo: Ross Floyd for Wright.

vladimir kagan partner desk

Vladimir Kagan Desk. Photo: Unkonwn

Karen Radkai Vladimir Kagan Contour Chaise Chair mcmdaily

Karen Radkai sitting on Vladimir Kagan contour chaise. Photo: Vogue

In 1960 Kagan’s business partner Hugo Drefuss retired but it would be another 28 years before Kagan would do the same, retiring in 1988. Although not entirely true as Kagan’s studio, with his involvement, continues to produce his classic designs. In 2009 Vladimir Kagan was inducted in the Interior Designer Hall of Fame, 62 years after he first began designing furniture. Later this year Kagan will unveil a limited edition series of furniture for the Carpenters Workshop in Paris and London. Now 88 years old Kagan is a testament to the idea that if do what you love and you will do it for as long as possible.

The Designs of Vladimir Kagan. Click on Image to view full size


vladmir kagan erica wilson home

Vladimir Kagan with his late wife Erica Wilson, renowned textile and embroidery designer at their New York home. Photo: Unknown

On April 7th, 2016, the colorful and creative life of Vladimir Kagan came to an end. He is gone but his work and spirit lives on forever.


Vladimir Kagan, 1927 – 2016




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Dana McKenzie
5 years ago

Great article, great design and great designer.

Joshua Gammon
5 years ago

Well done, sir.

Daniel Minick
Daniel Minick
5 years ago

I am thoroughly enjoying MCM daily and what a great article!
Thank you for all your doing DC.

Sharon Fields
Sharon Fields
5 years ago

One of my favorites – I love the organic nature of his designs. They just flow into the space as if they just ‘grew’ there. And they look comfortable too 🙂

Paula Lajoie
5 years ago

Excellent DC! So love your new magazine!