1916 1932 – 1937 1938 – 1939 1940 1940 – 1941 1943


1916 1932 – 1937 1938 – 1939 1940 1940 – 1941 1943
Irving Harper Paper Sculptures
21 January 2016
Irving Hoffzimer is born in the Lower East
Side of New York.
1932 – 1937
Studies architecture at the Brooklyn College
and the Cooper Union School of Architecture.
A Lifetime of Creativity
Irving Harper 1916–2015
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
1938 – 1939
Works as a draftsman for Gilbert Rohde
(under Herman Miller), where he contributes
to the designs of the Anthracite exhibit, the
Plexiglas exhibit and the Home Furnishings
Focal exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.
Begins working at the firm of Morris B. Sanders,
designing the interiors for the Arkansas
pavilion also at the New York World’s Fair.
Marries Belle Seligman and changes
his last name to Harper, as Belle refuses
to change her last name to Hoffzimer.
1940 – 1941
Works as a designer and draftsman for
Kay Displays, Inc., designing small, massproduced counter and window displays.
1943 – 1946
Serves in the U.S. Army and the U.S.
Navy during World War II.
Irving Harper Paper Sculptures
21 January 2016
1953 – 1955
Works for Raymond Loewy Associates
designing department store interiors.
Flatware for Fraser’s u Pavement
and China Shop textile patterns for Schiffer
Florence Ware service for Prolon,
a revolutionary service made of melamine.
A set can be found in the collection of
the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Begins working in the office of George
Nelson & Associates. Creates the iconic
Herman Miller logo of a red M against a black
and white background. Harper liked to
joke that the reason he chose to make the
logo red was because he was secretly a
communist. This same year, Harper wins
the Bloomingdale’s Architectural Competition
for his sleek four bedroom house, furnished
with Nelson furniture u Scissor arm light
for General Lighting
Fireplace accessories for Howard Miller
Clock Company
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Courtesy of the Herman Miller Archives
Lastex table and wall lamps for Howard
Miller Clock Company u China service
for Walker China
Moves into a nineteenth century farmhouse
in Rye, NY u Thin Edge bed for Herman
Miller u The New York Times Information
Center u Birdhouses and weathervanes
for Howard Miller Clock Company
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Ball Clock for Howard Miller Clock
Company u Steering Wheel clock for
Howard Miller Clock Company u Half
Nelson table lamp for Koch and Lowey
Harper’s daughter Elizabeth Harper
Williams is born.
Begins work on the Visitor Service Center at
Colonial Williamsburg, a project that would
be complete in 1958 u Carvel Hall Leisure
stainless steel cutlery and flatware by Briddell
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Irving Harper Paper Sculptures
21 January 2016
Designs the iconic Marshmallow Sofa for
George Nelson & Associates. Each of the
circles had to be hand-cut and upholstered;
the process was so costly that Herman Miller
made less than 200 sofas as a first run.
Contributes designs for the Moscow World’s
Fair Cultural Pavilion, along with Buckminster
Fuller and Charles and Ray Eames.
Objects to the Unisphere sculpture designed
as a symbol for the New York World’s Fair.
Harper was one of five signatories on a
telegram to President Kennedy decrying
the design, stating that the Unisphere was
“probably one of the most uninspired
designs” and that it would “reflect seriously
against United States prestige.” u Block
Clock for Howard Miller Clock Company
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Courtesy of the Herman Miller Archives
in New York, the pavilion would be lauded
as the “surprise of the fair” and “pop art at
its best”. It is during this time that Harper
begins making paper sculptures to deal with
acute stress from working on the World’s Fair
account. He liked to note that the pressure
from the account was so intense that it almost
drove him to take up knitting. From 1963 until
2000, Harper would make more than 300
paper sculptures.
McCann Erickson exhibition space
Founds the design firm Harper+George with
fellow former Nelson designer Phillip George.
Sunflower clock for Howard Miller Clock
Molded vinyl lanterns distributed by
Richards Morgenthau
Leaves George Nelson & Associates after 17
years creating some of the company’s most
well-known designs and begins work on the
Chrysler pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair
1967 – 1977
Harper+George are commissioned to design
the ticket counters, VIP lounges and boarding
gate areas for the famously stylish Braniff
Airways. Of the project, Harper explains,
“In the VIP lounges we used vivid color splash
fabrics from Jack Lenor Larsen and exotic
works of art from countries such as Mexico
and Brazil.”
Irving Harper is one of twelve distinguished
artists, designers and photographers to
create a poster for the American Institute
of Graphic Arts (AIGA) produced in limited
edition to commemorate an exhibition at
the Whitney Museum of Art in New York
and at the AIGA Gallery. Milton Glaser,
Ivan Chermayef and Henry Wolf also
participated in the project.
Designs the Braniff Airways International
Modern International Script, which was
featured on the iconic Boeing 747, known
affectionately as the “Big Orange.”
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Continental Airlines Pavilion for the
International World Trade Fair, Bangkok
Courtesy of the Irving Harper Archive
Irving Harper Paper Sculptures
21 January 2016
Home Accessories Pavilion for Hall’s Plaza
San Jacinto Mall fountain
The partnership of Harper + George dissolves
and Harper begins designing under the firm
name of Irving Harper, Inc. He takes on a
number of commissions including the Food
Court for the Villa Linda Mall in Santa Fe,
New Mexico, the Pecanland Mall in Monroe,
Louisiana and the interior of the Chicago
Ridge Mall
Donates a portion of his archives to
the Montreal Decorative Arts Museum.
The Lumen Winter Gallery of the New Rochelle
Public Library opens an exhibition of paper
sculptures on view July 17th – August 14th.
Completes his last paper sculpture, a complex
owl with doll eyes.
Contributes materials to the exhibition on
George Nelson at the Cooper Hewitt Museum.
The Rye Art Center mounts a retrospective
of Harper’s paper sculptures, entitled Irving
Harper: a Mid-Century Mind at Play.
Irving Harper: Works in Paper by Michael
Maharam is published by Rizzoli.
Irving Harper dies at the age of 99 in Rye,
New York.

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