The Invisible Designs of Erwine and Estelle Laverne

Erwine and Estelle Laverne Jonquil chairs

Erwine and Estelle Laverne: Erwine (1909-2003) and Estelle (1915-1997) Laverne both trained as painters at the Art Student’s League under Hans Hofmann. In the 1930s they pooled their collective talent and focus into design, establishing Laverne Originals in 1938, an influential New York company driven by their precise and unique modern artistic style.

In 1957 Erwine and Estelle Laverne came out with their “Invisible Group” of curvy see-through plastic furniture designed to exist in a space as, Erwine believed, “an element of contrast to eliminate sameness.” The molded perspex seats and lean, fluted bases were reminiscent of Saarinen’s “Tulip” chair, and the names of some of these Laverne pieces, like “Daffodil,” “Lily” and “Jonquil,” resonated obviously with their inspiration.

Along with furniture, they were also prolific interior designers, with such projects as the house of film director Otto Preminger, the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, Texas and even offices for big-name companies like General Motors and Ford Motors.

Also during their golden years of design (the 1950’s and 1960’s) they designed and created hand-printed fabric and wallpaper designs. Sadly, their design career comes to an end when they were sued for producing wallpaper designs out of their residential home.

Erwine and Estelle Laverne Tulip chair

They considered it handicraft, but the state considered it manufacturing. They were eventually left broke from the legal proceedings.

Erwine and Estelle Laverne lamps