Dakota Jackson Leather & Steel Dining Chairs - Set of 4
A set of 4 dining chairs by Dakota Jackson. Made with leather, iron and wood. Chair backs tilt for additional comfort. Retain paper label. Late 20th century. Age appropriate wear, burnish marks to leather, scratches to lacquered wood backs. Structurally very solid. Measure each 19ʺW × 17.5ʺD × 34.88ʺH. Seat height 19".
In 1974, Jackson's career as a designer began when Yoko Ono asked him to build a desk with hidden compartments for husband John Lennon. "She wanted to make a piece of furniture that would be a mystical object; that would be like a Chinese puzzle," Jackson recalled in a 1986 interview published in the Chicago Tribune. The result was a small cubed-shaped writing table with rounded corners reminiscent of Art Deco era styles Touching secret pressure points opened the desk's compartments. This commission helped build Jackson's reputation and allowed him to merge his experience as a magician and performer with his developing interest in furniture.
In 1978, a bed designed for fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg garnered Jackson even more notoriety. Called "The Eclipse", the bed was described in The New Yorker as "large, astounding, sumptuous, with sunbursts of cherry wood and quilted ivory satin at head and foot. A lighting system positioned behind the headboard switched on automatically at sunset and spread out rays of light "like an aurora borealis, which grew brighter and brighter until turning off at 2 am.
Commissions like these continued to come in and Jackson soon became known as a designer to the rich and famous. Some of his other clients from this period included songwriter Peter Allen, Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, and soap opera actress Christine Jones.
The American Art Furniture Movement and the Industrial Style
In the late 1970s, Jackson was among a small group of artists and artisans producing and exhibiting hand-made furniture in New York. Jackson and his peers were part of the "American Art Furniture Movement," a group sometimes called the "Art et Industrie Movement, named after the leading art furniture gallery of the era, Art et Industrie, founded by Rick Kaufmann in 1976.
In a 1984 Town & Country article titled "Art You Can Sit On," Kaufmann said he created the gallery to "serve as a locus to the public for artists and designers creating new decorative arts. The works on display were "radical objects" that drew from a number of fine art traditions, including "Pop, Surrealism, Pointillism and Dada [which were] "thrown together with the severe lines of the Bauhaus and the Russian avant-garde, mixed with Mondrian's color and filtered through a video sensibility—all to create a new statement. The article described Jackson as a "ten-year veteran of the genre" and pointed to the "clean forms and quiet colors" of his furniture.
Jackson showed a variety of industrial-looking lacquer, metal, and glass works at Art et Industrie, including his Standing Bar (also known as the Modern Bar), a lacquered cabinet that Jackson designed in 1978 for his wife (then-girlfriend) RoseLee Goldberg.
Other works from this period include the T-Bird Desk, Self-Winding Cocktail Table, and the Saturn Stool, which became one of Jackson's most recognizable works after being included in exhibitions at The Whitney, the International Design Center, and the American Craft Museum (now known as the Museum of Arts and Design), and in advertisements for Diane von Fürstenberg and Calvin Klein.
The Saturn Stool by Dakota Jackson
The Sun-Sentinel described the Saturn Stool as "a pink planet seat surrounded by a pale green ring on an aluminum hydraulic lift. The anodized aluminum and lacquered wood stool became synonymous with Jackson's work and, a decade later, it was used in an ad for Absolut Vodka titled "Absolut Jackson".
Jackson called this body of work the Deadly Weapons series. In concept and style, these works straddled the worlds of art and design and drew inspiration from the cutting-edge technology of the day, such as the Rockwell B-1 Lancer, or B1 Bomber as it was commonly known. In 1984, the New York Times described the connection between the fighter jet and another of Jackson's Deadly Weapons designs, the B1 Desk: "Like the airplane, whose wings shift in flight, the desk has parts that slide open and unfold, including a secret compartment."
Jackson's work during this period became associated with the industrial style for home furnishings, a new design trend that was documented in Joan Kron's and Suzanne Slesin's 1978 book "High-Tech: The Industrial Style and Source Book for the Home. In the catalog for The Whitney exhibition "High Styles: Twentieth-Century American Design," curator Lisa Phillips pointed to Jackson's Saturn Stool as an example of contemporary products with a "high-tech hardware look.