Serge Chermayeff

Serge Chermayeff (1900 – 1996) was initially an interior designer, but later became an architect and academic. Born in Grozny, Chechnya, to a wealthy Jewish family, he was educated at Harrow School before his family lost their money during the Russian Revolution. He worked as an interior designer for Waring & Gillow until, despite having no formal training in the profession, he established his own architectural practice in 1930. After 1933 Chermayeff executed a number of commissions with the German architect Erich Mendelsohn, the best-known of which is an icon of the International Style: the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. His early works show the influence of both Western-European tradition and Russian Constructivist architecture. In 1940, war and bankruptcy forced Chermayeff to emigrate to America, where he reinvented himself as an academic. During this period he worked in California and Chicago, as well as at Harvard and MIT. He ended his working life at Yale University and died in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.