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Don Albinson

Don Albinson

*  1915 Sparta, Michigan

Don Albinson studied design at the renowned Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. With Eliel Saarinen as director, the school was founded in 1932 and soon became well-known in the 1930s. Visiting professors at Cranbrook included such luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier; Eero Saarinen, Charles und Ray Eames and Harry Bertoia are among its distinguished graduates. Harry Bertoia was head of the metal workshop there from 1939 to 1943. Charles Eames was a student until 1938, by 1939 he was teaching design, and from 1940 Eames was head of the Cranbrook industrial design department. Don Albinson studied under both Charles Eames and Harry Bertoia. At Cranbrook Academy Don Albinson also met Florence Schust, also a student. In 1943 she married Hans Knoll and with him founded Knoll International, for which Don Albinson would later work. In 1940 Don Albinson worked with Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen as a team, preparing a contribution to the "Organic Design in Home Furnishing" exhibition mounted by the New York Museum of Modern Art and experimenting with molding wood. On completing his studies, Don Albinson followed Ray and Charles Eames to Los Angeles, where he was employed by the Eames practice. The development of seat furniture of molded wood was perfected and Don Albinson also collaborated on the "Aluminium Group" of chairs (1958) for Hermann Miller. Don Albinson's strength lay in his profound knowledge of contruction techniques and production processes. In 1964 Don Albinson became director of development at Knoll International. That same year saw the launch of "Albinson", a stackable chair made of cast aluminium and plastic, Don Albinson's most successful design. From 1971 Don Albinson was a design consultant for office furnishings at Westinghouse. He taught industrial design at the University of Califonia.