The two men, close friends and ideological
colleagues, were eight years apart in age. Prestini was born
in 1908 in Waterford, Connecticut, and received a Bachelor's
degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale in 1930. Already
steeped in art and industrial design, he continued his studies
at the University of Stockholm and eventually landed a teaching
job at the acclaimed Institute of Design (known in art circles
as the I.D.) in Chicago in the 1940's, when Reichek was a
student there, assisting Lazlo Moholy-Nagy.
After several other teaching stints in the
United States, Prestini went to Italy to study sculpture for
three years. It was from Italy that Wurster summoned him to
teach at Berkeley.
James Prestini was honored by many awards
and prizes. He is best known as a creator of turned wood bowls,
and his pieces appear in the collections of the New York Metropolitan
Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the
Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institution.
The correspondence Prestini left behind at
his death in 1993 contained dialogues with many illustrious
figures in architecture and industrial art. His loss was deeply
felt by his students and colleagues.
Jesse Reichek was born in Brooklyn in 1916
and started his working life as an industrial designer, designing
furniture and other goods from 1934 to 1939. After studying
at Moholy-Nagy's school in Chicago in 1940 and 1941, he was
drafted into the Army and then released in 1946 after serving
From 1947 to 1951, Reichek studied art in
Paris and, at the end of that period, was granted a one-man
show at the prestigious Galerie Cahiers D'Art. In 1951, he
returned to the I.D. in Chicago, where he had been a student,
as the head of the Industrial Art Department, having been
hired by Serge Chermayeff, famous painter, poet, and architect.
He was hired away by Berkeley in 1953.
Reichek has had many one-man shows, has been
the recipient of many awards, has produced four books of drawings
and etchings, and has written a number of articles published
in Arts and Architecture, The Journal of the American Institute
of Architects, and others. He still paints five or six
hours a day every weekday at his rural home in Marin County,