The Nàdurra Dram Chair by Gareth Neal

I’m lucky enough that my work gives me regular visits to some of London’s finest emporiums and on one such visit I spotted a whisky drinking chair that demanded my attention.

New & exclusive to The New Craftsmen is the ‘Dram Chair’ by Gareth Neal, inspired by The Glenlivet Nàdurra – a connoisseurial whisky crafted in small batches using traditional techniques.

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I do love whisky, catching the taste of it during my years bartending in five-star hotels, being shown the best way to drink it depending on whether it is single or blended. Tip: adding water to any single malt changes the composition of the spirit and unlocks more flavours and aromas. Yum.

And lest not forget how confused people are by the spelling of whisky, or whiskey, which differs geographically. As a rule, American and Irish prefer ‘whiskey’ and the Scots, Canadians and the rest of the world’s single malt makers prefer ‘whisky’. This originated during the 19th century. Around 1870, for exportation to America, the Irish distillers wanted to differentiate their product from the poorer Scotch whisky, thus they added the ‘e’ to mark the crucial distinction. It’s easy to remember… there’s no ‘e’ in Scotland.

Where was I, oh yes, this marvellous chair. Intended for relaxation and enjoying a ‘dram’ of whisky, expertly hand-crafted by Gareth Neal to imaginatively capture the spirit of Nàdurra (meaning “natural” in Gaelic) in both function and form.

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Gareth Neal spent time up at the distillery meeting the producers of the whisky and gaining a detailed understanding of the production process. The wide open landscape, the huge copper stills and the passion of the makers, all inspired and informed the final design.

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The chair is formed from the oak which is crucial to the maturation of the prestigious single malt whisky. A dram can be nestled comfortably on the chair’s arm while the back and seat are made from a single hide of oak bark tanned leather, skilfully cut and fitted to the oak frame. Copper rivets, mirroring the copper stills used in the whisky production process, provide a subtle flash of highly contemporary detailing. Each chair will be marked and numbered, not only reflecting the uniqueness of the piece but also the growing value and demand for Gareth Neal’s exciting and original approach to contemporary furniture making.

The original design is on display at The New Craftsmen store in Mayfair, from 14th October 2014 through to 24th December 2014, after which time it takes up residence at The Glenlivet Distillery in Scotland. A limited number of chairs can be commissioned to order, with orders open only to those who have registered as Guardians of The Glenlivet.

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Manufacturer: The New Craftsmen
Designer: Gareth Neal
Year: 2014
Price: £6,200

Plain, Simple, Useful. The America folding metal chair

Once upon a time there was a chair, a plain, simple, useful and inexpensive folding metal chair, which appeared in cupboards and sheds all over the nation. The Conran Shop’s America chair was not the first folding chair to grace our homes but it is my favourite. And it is my favourite folding chair because of the incredibly great value price-tag it comes with… just £12.95. Or at least it did, as this chair has now been discontinued and there is very little information about this chair.

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Habitat Macadam chair

But of course, there are many other versions of the chair including the Macadam by Habitat who are the rightful owners of this chair when it was introduced into their stores in the 1970s.

Now, we owe this product to the work of Sir Terence Conran, who opened the Habitat stores and later The Conran Shop which should help determine the origins of the chair, and in-turn the original version of the chair. If anyone knows which came first… the Macadam or the America then I would be delighted to update this post. It is not known if Terence Conran had a hand in the design of this chair but as a retailer he has put it in to both collections over the years so must also be fond of this utility product.

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Now here comes the tricky part… because I am a fan of the Conran Shop’s version with the integrated curved brace bar at the back of the chair with a far more elegant way of connecting the legs. The front brace bar is welded on to the legs with a seamless joint making this chair a more sophisticated version of the classic folding chair.

When hung upside down, the America chair has a sturdy bar from which to hang, whereas the Macadam chair has the attached bars which look clumsy. In my view, the Macadam chair is precisely why folding chairs are given a bad name, they look cheap, rather than inexpensive. They appear unrefined to those of us that love the details of a product.

Habitat creative director Polly Dickens recently took a trip to the factory where the Macadam chair is made and the Habitat blog kept a nice record of the trip…

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I’m very lucky to have bought six America chairs before they were discontinued as the perfect temporary dining room. I love the utilitarian design that bring people together when more chairs can be added to those without seats. This chair was designed for large gatherings and therefore only brings with it good memories.

So begins my campaign for the Conran Shop to bring back the America chair. Plain, Simple, Useful.

In the absence of the America chair, you can still pick up the Macadam chair for £10 at Habitat, or join my crusade for detail.

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Designer: Unknown
Manufacturer: Habitat and The Conran Shop
Year: 1970s
Price: £10.00 and £12.95

Lina Bo Bardi’s Bowl Chair by Arper

I might not have seen the Bowl Chair before January this year but something about it made me instantly think that it was a classic design. The shape and concept of the vessel-like chair is an idea so impractical, yet so practical.

Designed in 1951 by an activist of the Italian resistance movement, Lina Bo Bardi, the Bowl Chair echoes Lina Bo Bardi’s love for simple, functional, organic forms. The seat can be swivelled in different positions and perform multiple functions.

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The key element is our interaction with the object, which was revolutionary for the 1950s, the Bowl Chair reinvented the way people sat–favouring natural and relaxed postures–and testified to a cultural change already underway when it was designed.

Arper has tackled the process of industrialisation of the production of Bo Bardi’s Bowl Chair for the first time, much to my delight. However, the Bo Bardi Bowl Chair will only be produced in a limited, numbered edition of just 500.

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Each step of this process has been shared with the Instituto Lina Bo e P. M. Bardi, so that the limited edition Bowl Chair complies with the original design aspiration of Lina Bo Bardi and comes with a certificate to prove it.

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In addition to the original black leather version, the Bowl chair is available in seven fabric colour options. Each colour option comes with three different sets of cushions to choose from, these include a set of one-colour cushions to match the colour of the shell, two-colour cushions or a pair of patterned cushions inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s original sketches.

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Designer: Lina Bo Bardi
Manufacturer: Arper
Year: 1951
Price: £4435

Barber Osgerby for Bodleian Library // #LDF13

Something rather special just happened and I don’t know how many people realise it. The world famous (indeed it is) Bodleian Libraries in Oxford have just announced the winner of the chair competition to design a new chair for readers to use in the library.

Of course, on its own that doesn’t light many fires but when put in context that this is the third such commission by the library with the first being the 1756 chair, and then the 1930s redesign by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (architect of Battersea Power Station and designer of the red telephone box), this third chair had a lot to live up to and indeed will go on to be known within the library long after the designers have passed putting their names firmly in the hall of fame of great 21st Century designers.

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1756 chair

Who are these designers… well the title of the post is a giveaway as it is none other than Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby, toasts of the town already with their Olympic torch and numerous other commissions. The duo have proved yet again why they deserve such accolade as their design is most certainly fitting of the project and not a hint of a signature style from the designers which would be all too tempting to do but this chair is more than another to add to the collection, it will become an icon in itself with the designers names become a footnote to most who use it.

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Image copyright Jamie Smith

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Image copyright Jamie Smith

Let me tell you a story about how it all started…in 2012 the University of Oxford’s historic Bodleian Libraries launched a competition inviting designer/manufacturer teams to create a new reading room chair. The competition continues the Bodleian Libraries’ history of commissioning bespoke reader chairs dating back as far as 1756.

After receiving over 60 entries at the first stage, six teams were selected for stage two to develop initial designs that met the requirements of: comfort, practicality, longevity and character. These six designs were then reviewed developing full scale working prototypes which were then tested by readers within a library environment.

The new chair will feature in a number of reading rooms in the Weston Library, formerly known as the New Bodleian Library, which re-opens in 2014 after a three-year remodelling and refurbishment by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. The new Library, originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s, will create a high-quality environment for the Libraries’ valuable special collections, expand public access through new exhibition galleries and develop the Libraries’ space for the support of advanced research.

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With judges ranging from Sir Kenneth Grange CBE, Professor Martin Roth (Director of The Victoria & Albert Museum), Professor Jeremy Myerson (Director of Design at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design), architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff, Jim Eyre (Director of Wilkinson Eyre Architects) and Richard Ovenden (Interim Bodley’s Librarian at Bodleian Librarie) the expert panel were always going to be a tough set to impress. Collectively, they have seen it all and know everything there is to know about what this chair should do so unveiling the winner was not much surprise to me having seen the competition.

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Image copyright Jamie Smith

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Image copyright Jamie Smith

The chair had to be comfortable for readers to sit for up to 10 hours a day, avoid scraping sounds on the floor when chairs are moved in and out which might disturb other readers and of course sit within the architecture of these historic buildings.

Barber Osgerby took the approach of a three-legged chair with horseshoe base and arms which perfectly reflect each other yet offer the function needed for each element. By steam-bending the tips of the feet upwards they could make it easier to move in and out of the spaces, just like a sledge might do. This trick was something they learnt on the 2011 Tip Ton chair for Vitra but it is great to see how the idea is used in a completely different way.

The chair is a wonderful piece of furniture that defines our time yet continues a line of succession incredibly well, which I am sure will be well received and used for many years. It will be available to buy from the Bodleian Library shop in due course just as the original 1756 chair is.

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Designer: BarberOsgerby
Manufacturer: Isokon Plus
Year: 2013
Price: £TBC

Thonet 214 Bentwood Chair

Let me start by saying that, despite popular demand, Thonet is not pronounced ‘Tho-nay’ as it might be if Michael Thonet were French however the German-Austrian cabinet maker pronounced his name as ‘Ton-et’ with a hard beginning and ending with the T.

Now on to the chair, the famous coffee house chair which became an icon and is considered to be the most successful mass produced product in the world, even more than the Polyprop chair by Robin Day.

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During the 1850s, Michael Thonet developed and perfected his technique of bending solid wood and became the first time serial furniture producer, and thus became the No. 14 chair (or the 214 chair as it is no known). But it wasn’t just this process which made it a huge success, it was the distribution model which added to this: 36 disassembled chairs could be packed into a one cubic meter box, shipped throughout the world, and then assembled on site. And all of this long before Ikea was even a twinkle in Ingvar Kamprad’s eye.

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The chair is made of six pieces of steam-bent wood, 10 screws, and two nuts. The wooden parts are made by heating beechwood slats to 100°C, pressing them into curved cast-iron molds, and then drying them at around 70°C for 20 hours. This process also meant that the chairs could be mass-produced by unskilled workers and disassembled to save space during transportation.

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With his invention of bentwood furniture, Thonet laid a cornerstone in industrial production methods. More than 865,000 bentwood chairs were produced per year in today’s Czech Republic, Hungary, and Russia totalling 50 million chairs between 1859 and 1930. After Michael Thonet’s death in 1871 his sons took over running the company and during the 1930s created some iconic tubular steel furniture, but we’re not here to talk about that.

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As part of a collobration between Japanese retailer Muji and Thonet, designer James Irvine revisited the chair design in 2009 to create a version of the bentwood chair. “It was so interesting to ‘find’ the table for the ‘No. 14′. Totally old and totally new,’ Irvine told Architonic. This allowed Irvine to consider how the two pieces work together and this resulted in the horizontal panel across the back at the height of the table top.

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Today, 5th generation Peter Thonet, is running the family company and working with renowned contemporary architects and designers such as Claudio Bellini, Stefan Diez, Naoto Fukasawa, Hadi Teherani, James Irvine, Glen Oliver Löw, Lepper, Schmidt, Sommerlade. They continue the work of Michael Thonet and the established company that he created more than 160 years ago.

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Designer: Michael Thonet
Manufacturer: Thonet
Year: 1859
Price: £545 from Nest.co.uk

Alvar Aalto 403 Hallway Armchair for Artek

I’m very familiar with the work of Alvar Aalto but when I first saw the 403 Hallway Armchair I was sure that it was a product made by the Finnish manufacturer Artek but it looked so modern that I was unsure if this was a new product or something designed by Aalto.

I had convinced myself that this was a chair designed recently with the spirit of the traditional products which Aalto produced to fit in to the market for occasional seating in the home or office. The shape is so simple yet something that looks like it was designed in 2013.

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So to discover that this chair was designed in 1932 was quite a surprise as this 81-year old chair is as good as anything being produced now, and stackable as if the same values that we design for now were an exact copy of those from the 1930s.

I know it is hard to see it now with so many designs emulating this, but take yourself back to the 1930s where most homes were still very traditional in style and only a few were beginning to bring more modern styles in to their homes with designs of art deco or modernist style.

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Artek-403-Hallway-Armchair

Aalto was commissioned to design a tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio, Finland which was completed in 1932. The building served exclusively as a tuberculosis sanatorium until the early 1960s, when it was converted into a general hospital. But Aalto didn’t just design a building, he and his wife Aino designed all of the sanatorium’s furniture and interiors including the 403 Hallway Armchair.

Now part of the permanent collection of MoMA, the 403 chair has become a lesser-known icon of 1930s design. A vintage version of the armchair made by Finmar (between 1948-1965) is currently on sale through Sigmar for £3800 whereas a new version would now cost just £441.

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Designer: Alvar Aalto
Manufacturer: Artek
Year: 1932
Price: £441

Why Terence Conran loves the Karuselli chair

Almost three years ago I was invited along to the launch of the Conran Classics collection, a series of 54 (later became 63) products which the Conran family added to a hall of fame forever.

An interesting discovery of the collection was reading about Terence Conran’s favourite piece, the Karuselli chair designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro in 1964, a Swinging Sixties chair if there ever was one, in fact the manufacturer Avarte refer to the chair as ‘Swiveling and swinging Loungechair’.

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In the collection booklet, Stephen Bayley wrote:
“After a pleasant lifetime of after-dinner experimentation with a glass of marc de Bourgogne in one hand and a Hoyo de Monterrey in the other, this has become Terence Conran’s personal favourite chair. Kukkapuro is one of Finland’s leading designers, although – while pleasingly ergonomic – this chair was not so much the product of research as the result of playing in the snow with his daughter, Isa. The snow chairs they made were so inspiring, he went to his workshop atelier to create something similar out of ‘real materials’. While elegantly austere, the chair is superlatively comfortable. A sticker beneath the seat will say: ‘Avarte. Made in Finland, designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro’.”

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Image © Fears and Kahn

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Born in 1933, the Finnish furniture designer Yrjö Kukkapuro is a central figure of Finnish functionalism. Kukkapuro has been working as a freelance designer since the 1950s and much of the furniture he designed at the beginning of his career is still in production.

“Does it make any sense to design a chair which is not good to sit on?” says Kukkapuro. He studied at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki and has been influenced substantially by his teachers Ilmari Tapiovaara, Werner West, Runar Enblom und Olli Borg.

In 1958 he founded his own studio in Helsinki and after creating groundbreaking designs like the Karuselli lounge chair, Kukkapuro was offered a role teaching. In his role as Art Director of Finnish manufacturer Avarte he influenced the product portfolio substantially and created an unique corporate design and identity.

During his career Kukkapuro has been awarded many prizes including the Lunning Prize in 1966, the 1st Prize at the International Chair Design Competition in 1972 and the Kaj Franck Design Prize in 1995. His pieces are part of the permanent collections in museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the MoMA in New York and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

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Designer: Yrjö Kukkapuro
Manufacturer: Avarte
Year: 1964
Price: £4,080

Karimoku New Standard: four years on

Back in April during the Milan Furniture Fair I was introduced to a product collection that I hadn’t discovered until this point. Japanese furniture makers Karimoku, known for making furniture over the past 70 years and in more recent years creators of mid-Century inspired furniture.

Fast forward to 2009 and Karimoku decide to enter a more modern furniture market, employing the skills of new designers to breathe fresh life in to the company. Their new company Karimoku New Standard is borne out of a collaboration of some of the most promising international design talents featuring innovative, versatile objects that blend into your individual living environment to find a place in your daily life.

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Karimoku’s New Standard brand is a collection made from solid Japanese hardwoods, maple, chestnut and oak although this is not how we traditionally see these materials. Their tradition derives from a deep understanding of craftsmanship, bound together with innovative technologies to build furniture that meets the highest requirements of quality and sustainability.

In an attempt to preserve and revitalise Japanese forests and resume a balance with the local industry, the
hardwood used is gained from low-diameter trees that have previously remained significantly underused, ending up mostly as wood chips for paper pulp.

The collection is certainly “of its time” making use of popular pastel colours, distinctive patterns, shapes and the mixture of materials. With a feeling similar to pieces by HAY and Muuto, Karimoku New Standard should manage to fit in to the contract market well. The question is, how will Karimoku evolve the company over the coming years as styles change and their designs need to continuously update? If this collection is anything to go by, I think they will do well.

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Designer: various
Manufacturer: Karimoku New Standard
Year: 2009
Price: furniture from £292

Why I’ll never buy a Tolix replica

What’s the point of blogging about design if you don’t put a stake in the ground and say what really interests you and what you really think about something? After all, I’m not a journalist tied to the story that my editor gives me… I can choose what to say and when to say it.

And replica furniture is a real bugbear of mine, not because I am a snob or rich (neither feel true) but because I think about the effect of buying a copycat over an original design. I know first-hand how expensive it can be to design, develop, manufacture and market an original design so to see copies appearing on the market takes some of the income to be generated away from the designer.

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This has a longer-term effect of meaning the process needs to be shorter, or faster in order to keep costs lower. This also affects the research and development of products that might never become great sellers but aid designers thinking to help them become better designers and produce better designs. We want these things, so we need to realise our involvement as consumers in this process.

So, let’s talk Tolix. If you didn’t know this companies designs before, you would have sat on the chairs outside cafe’s and restaurants or even in your own garden. If you haven’t say in the exact one, you will have sat in something inspired by the chairs. Sometimes designers of the imitations might not even realise that they’ve seen the chairs before, but they have been nevertheless.

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“Over the years, this chair has come to symbolise what I like to term democratic excellence, meaning that it’s mass-produced and universally acceptable.” Terence Conran

Xavier Pauchard (1880-1948) was a pioneer of galvanisation and shortly after the first world war he found himself in charge of a flourishing manufacture of galvanised sheet-metal domesic items, which at the time, embodied household comfort. It was in 1927 that he registered the trademark TOLIX, at the same time changing to the production of chairs, armchairs, stools and metal furniture. The Model A chair has become an icon of industrial design, crafted in sheet metal to become solid, durable and produced at an inexpensive price.

You’ll find a lot of Tolix chair replicas, saving you a massive £130 per chair in some cases but when you are about to enter your credit card details in to the checkout just consider the true cost of the chair, even if the quality seems comparable… how would you feel if your work was copied and others profited from it?

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Elle Decoration fought the fakes recently with the Conran Shop Get Real campaign. The campaign was originally conceived to address the disparity between intellectual property laws in the arts, which saw product and industrial designers receive significantly less copyright protection than was granted to artists, writers and musicians. In my mind, this was not where the matter ends, as it may add protection in law but doesn’t begin to change the perception of ‘fakes’ in the minds of consumers… consumers who have less money to spend and a lured by the replica prices for well-known designs.

“By protecting new designs more generously,” says Terence Conran, “we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design. That will lead to more manufacturing in Britain, and that in turn will lead to more jobs – which we desperately need right now. Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again. We have the creative talent – lets use it.”

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Cult furniture, who make money selling replicas of the Tolix, even make a statement on their product page that they are in no way affiliated with the company Tolix. “Our furniture is inspired by the designs of Xavier Pauchard and not to be confused with those which are manufactured and sold by Tolix.” This token gesture might help them in law to give the consumer the choice but who are we kidding?

Whichever choice you make, I hope that you consider these points and make informed decisions so that when you sit on your chair you know exactly how you feel about it. Real versus replica, the debate continues…

Designer: Xavier Pauchard
Manufacturer: TOLIX
Year: 1927
Price: £199

How to weave a PK22 wicker chair

Following on from last year’s moving window display, Skandium called in big guns Fritz Hansen to create a PK22 chair in wicker for passers-by to watch and discover why it comes with the £2,407 price tag.

Taking all day to create, the PK22 chair in wicker was being shown by Skandium to draw attention to the craftsmanship and the people who create these products. So often are we far removed from the process that we almost have an in-built assumption that all products are produced by putting raw materials in to a machine and ta-da a chair is created. It’s difficult to imagine the full extent of the work involved in creating products and making them look so simple that we marvel only at the beauty rather than the story and history of that product before it made it to the shop floor.

In my view, this one-day-only exhibit is a great showcase for products that really do need to be shown to people for what they are and mine, and our, jobs as bloggers to take great photos and post it for all to see.

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The discrete and elegant lounge chair PK22 epitomizes the work of Poul Kjærholm and his search for the ideal type-form and industrial dimension, which was always present in his work. The profile of the steel frame structure originates from his graduation project, the “Element” Chair (PK25™), from the School of Applied Arts in Copenhagen. On the PK22, the structure was divided into separate elements due to design improvements and for economical production.

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The PK22 was an immediate commercial and critical success. In 1957, the chair was awarded the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale, the world’s premier design fair. The prize catapulted Kjærholm’s career and immediately he became a name on the international scene and has enjoyed this position ever since. The PK22 is available in wicker, suede or leather with a base in satin-brushed stainless steel.

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Designer: Poul Kjaerholm
Manufacturer: Fritz Hansen
Year: 1957
Price: £2407.00 from Skandium

Kevi chair by Jørgen Rasmussen

In my constant quest to record design classics, learning more about them as I do, I make my way towards the Kevi chair which has been on the list for some time now.

Sat in many times but never owned, the Kevi chair is, in my opinion, the best task chair you can purchase. And this is for many reasons beyond its ability to perform as a task chair. The chair is so light in design that a room filled with Kevi chairs is not overrun by the attention-hogging task chairs that we so often see in workspaces.

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An elegant task chair, which is usually an oxymoron, the Kevi started life in 1958 when designer Jørgen Rasmussen created the first model of the groundbreaking classic chair series, of which 2.5 million were sold.

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The Kevi range, which also includes upholstered models, was designed in 1958 by the Danish architects and twins Ib and Jørgen Rasmussen. In 1965 Jørgen Rasmussen invented the ´twin-wheel castor’ for the chair, which has since made everything from Kevi chairs to Philips televisions easy to move. The castors were added to the list of ”Danish cultural products”—as one of the 12 most important design and craftwork pieces of Danish culture.

Designed by an architect, the Kevi is suitable for homes, offices, schools and workplaces where one solution must satisfy many demands. Everything is visible, nothing is superfluous: seat, back, base, and controls designed to functional perfection. A simple well-balanced formula that incorporates aesthetic appeal with freedom of movement plus the flexibility you would expect from a full-service program.

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There have been many versions of the Kevi over the years. I’ve very fond of the original but the padded version is extremely comfortable. This model is called Kevi 2534u (shown here with a Paul Smith stripe). I do have a penchant for the leather upholstered version.

The Kevi is now available in multiple colours, multiple upholstery types and now even an Air version with a perforated seat and back allowing more airflow for longer sitting times. This is one chair that can be played with in many ways but still is identifiable by how simple the ideas are.

Long live the Kevi chair.

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Designer: Jørgen Rasmussen
Manufacturer: Engelbrechts A/S since 2008
Year: 1958
Price: £495.00 from twentytwentyone

Zig-Zag chair, 1934

Not all chairs make it in to the hall of fame category that is being classed as a ‘design classic’ but the Zig-Zag chair has stood its ground in this category more than half a century.

Gerrit Rietveld designed the Zig-Zag chair comprising four planar elements, originally constructed from oak with brass fittings and later changed to cherry with more complex dovetailing, it was, and still is, radically different from traditional chair design. Minimal in section, and easily stacked, it is both practical and revolutionary.

Rietveld was very much aware of the discrepancy between the simple shape and the relatively complicated construction and said himself, it is not a chair but a “designer joke.” The actual goal of the design was to create a functional form which does not displace space but allows it to be perceived as a continuum.

Now officially produced by Italian furniture makers, Cassina (who purchased the rights in 1971), the Zig-Zag chair is, like most design classics, frequently copied and sold. You can spot a Cassina chair by looking on the underside for the Cassina mark and the number etched in to the wood.

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The Zig-Zag (not to be confused with the Irish puppets) is an expression of the ‘De Stijl‘ movement and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1918 Reitveld joined the De Stijl movement which had sprung up around the review of that name founded the year before by Theo van Doesburg, translating certain laws of composition that had already been expressed by the Cubists.

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The work of Rietveld is defined by continual experimentation. The brilliant Dutch architect of neoplasticism designed and proposed numerous variations on his most famous models. He loved raw surfaces and sometimes whitened wood with natural reagents such as sunlight or salt. Rietveld created several variations of the Zig-Zag chair, including some with varnished colours and white sections, which are displayed at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.

Reitveld possessed a duality of character which was exhibited in two ways. First was as a craftsman cabinet maker, working in a primordial idiom, reinventing chairs and other furniture as if no one had ever built them before and following a structural code all of his own; the second is that of an architect working with elegant formulas, determined to drive home the rationalist and neoplastic message in the context of European Architecture.

Cassina have produced a video showing the modern construction of the chair. Turn your sound down to avoid to bad muzak, sit back and enjoy craft and manufacturing goodness…

How to make a CH24 Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen

“EVERY PIECE COMES WITH A STORY – AND A HISTORY OF CRAFTSMANSHIP”

Hans J. Wegner designed the CH24 back in 1949, inspired by antique Chinese “emperor’s chairs”. European chair making traditions and Wegner’s own restless curiosity and sculptural aesthetics no doubt also played an important role.

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Wegner designed the chair to be beautiful and functional – not to be easy to make. It was up to Holger Hansen and his team of craftsman to figure out a way to make the chair in serial production – and then try to sell it. The curved top rail had to be steam-bent under pressure, a technique that was still relatively new at the time. The characteristically sinuous front legs had to be turned in a process so demanding that it defied the limits of serial production.

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All pieces had to be joined so precisely that even the smallest mistake in one joint would ruin the overall structural integrity of the chair. And then skilled weavers had to figure out how to create a comfortable and long-lasting seat with a material that had never been used in furniture production before: paper cord. And through it all, Wegner demanded that every CH24 – from the very first to the first few dozen (and later, thousands) lived up to his exacting standards: museum quality, no matter whether you make one or one hundred.

Every CH24 is still the result of more than 100 manual operations. And worth every 564 hard-earned pounds.

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Skandium had the genius idea of using their window in Marylebone to show the process of making the CH24.

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Florinda chairs by DePadova

Monica Förster has created some fantastic contemporary products for companies such as Modus, Poltrona Frau, Cappellini and De Padova. Based in Stockholm her work has a strong sense of pure form mixed with a never-ending curiosity for new materials and technology.

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The Florinda chair, designed in 2011, is a mixture of beech wood and plastic combined in a simple shape that was conceived to erase the boundaries between zones, and lends itself to a wide range of different interpretations: from the dining area to the home studio, it can also easily adapt to restaurants, cafes and public areas, due to its contemporary look and versatility.

florinda chair depadova Monica Forster

florinda chair depadova Monica Forster

Bend Seating

Bend Seating was founded by Gaurav Nanda, a designer and entrepreneur. Gaurav always loved to create. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Gaurav would find himself building something, joining something, or bending something, whether it be constructing a teepee, painting with oils, or throwing pots. Once he made a screen printing machine, where he built a frame, stencil, and got a squeegee to pass paint thru. It was to mark the beginning of his t-shirt printing business. Needless to say, he gave it up for bigger and better things. Today Gaurav is doing the same thing. He is creating.

Jon Harrison’s ash kitchen chair

There are often interesting looking objects around the office, from chairs, to lamps, to tables and sometimes large mattresses make their way in to the reception.

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Something that caught my eye was the ash kitchen chair from designer Jon Harrison. His website is surely a minimalist delight, although slightly more than comfortable as it appears to be missing any information about his chair.

Designed for his Royal College of Art show in 2008, the ash kitchen chair has yet to be manufactured. Made from a Corian base and back, the ash frame works really well against this modern material.

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I hope that it does make it into production, at an affordable price as this chair could really take the place of many other chairs of this ilk. Jon Harrison certainly has a talent for producing products that are well thought out that, as consumers, we need.

How to make a Fritz Hansen’s Series 7 chair

I have posted about chairs many times over but it is the defining moment for most designers… to try their hand to such a challenging object. It is not as simple as a vase which needs to perform but stay in shape, or a lamp which has to look beautiful both on and off; a chair on the other hand has to perform as an object and be comfortable to sit in, often for long periods of time… and then last for years.

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It is no wonder that few chairs make it into the history books but Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 has done so it is no wonder that Fritz Hansen took time to capture it’s beauty in film…

Found via huffingtonpost.com and core77.com

Air chair by Jasper Morrison

When asked why he had selected the Air chair for the Design Museum’s 25/25 exhibition a few years back, Dieter Rams replied “I like it. Plain and simple.”

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In these few precise words, Rams, who has been at the forefront of industrial and product design since the early 1950s, captured the laconic spirit of Jasper Morrison’s ascetically elegant, gas injected polypropylene chair.

Jasper Morrison Air Chair by bygenejackson

Morrison began work on his stackable Air chair in 1999 when Alberto Perazza, the owner of Magis in Italy, showed him a length of tube made by gas injection, a plastic moulding technology widely in use in the car component industry. The process involves inert gas being pumped through the hollow centres of still-molten plastic inside a mould, creating enough pressure to ensure the plastic does not shrink away from the mould’s surface. The tooling is expensive, but allows for complex and aesthetically challenging forms that production runs allow for low unit costs, democratising sophisticated design by making it affordable.

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My favourite thing about this chair is that everyone can afford it, and so everyone buys it. I have seen it in Cornwall coastal restaurants to Design Museum events and it takes on its surroundings with much ease… which must be why Rams likes the chair so much – much like his products they fit in with your life rather than the other way around. I love it!

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You can pick up one of these wonderful chairs for approximately £85 from mydeco.com.

Jens Risom by Benchmark and Rocket

One of the first designers to bring the traditional Scandinavian values of function and craftsmanship to the United States was designer Jens Risom. As part of a new vanguard that helped establish post-war America’s leadership role in the world of modern furniture design and manufacturing, Risom (born in Copenhagen in 1916) was highly influenced by his award-winning architect-father who encouraged Jens to pursue academic studies in business and contemporary design.

After completing two years at the Business College of Niels Brock in Copenhagen, Risom worked briefly for Danish architect Ernst Kuhn and he created several furniture designs for Gustav Weinreich.

You can read more about Jens Risom at Wikipedia.

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At 94, Risom has collaborated with Rocket gallery and Benchmark, who have jointly secured the European rights to reissue his 1950s and 1960s furniture designs.

This first collection of nine pieces has been creatively directed by Jonathan Stephenson of Rocket and made by Sean Sutcliffe and Terence Conran’s Benchmark Furniture company in their Dorset and Berkshire workshops – with the close involvement of Risom himself.

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Risom has also worked for Ralph Pucci to create a collection of furniture… this work is an evolution of Risom’s work and it is clear to see that as needs have changed in design, so has this designers work.

Still with some of his signatures but with a greater amount of upholstery and cushioning, these pieces are suitable for today’s homes.

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Poul Kjærholm’s PK22™

Poul Kjærholm was a trained carpenter who continued his studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. He had a particular interest in different construction materials; especially steel which he considered a natural material with the same artistic fineness as other natural materials.

Poul Kjærholm was employed at Fritz Hansen for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes.

In 1955 Poul Kjærholm initiated his collaboration with manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen, which lasted until Poul Kjærholm’s death in 1980. In 1982, Fritz Hansen took over the production and sales of “The Kjærholm Collection”, developed from 1951 to 1967.

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My favourite of Kjærholm’s designs is the PK22™ low chair which, although extremely angular in design, an unusual shape for a chair, is very comfortable to sit in and works perfectly as an small easy chair in a living room or an office reception, which explains its popularity for over 50 years.

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The discrete and elegant lounge chair PK22™ epitomizes the work of Poul Kjærholm and his search for the ideal type-form and industrial dimension, which was always present in his work. The profile of the steel frame structure originates from his graduation project, the “Element” Chair (PK25™), from the School of Applied Arts in Copenhagen. On the PK22™, the structure was divided into separate elements due to design improvements and for economical production.

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The PK22™ was an immediate commercial and critical success. In 1957, the chair was awarded the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale, the world’s premier design fair. The prize catapulted Kjærholm’s career and immediately he became a name on the international scene and has enjoyed this position ever since.

The PK22™ is available in wicker, suede or leather with a base in satin-brushed stainless steel.

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For more information you can check out the Republic of Fritz Hansen website.