Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Posts Tagged ‘Daybed

String theory

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A few years back we were visiting the huge warehouse of a French dealer. It was full to the brim of Scandinavian masters. We hardly could figure out where to look. Then our eyes rested upon the most elegant and distintive daybed, a weigthless design of a long and sensual rosewood frame interlaced with nylon strings for the support. We asked the price, largely out of our range, and kept dreaming of it ever since.

Helge Vestergaard-Jensen¦Daybed¦1955

What reminded us of it recently was a lot of Jacques Guillon Cord Chair on offer at Wright Now. This was a first encounter with Canadian mid-century design. The chair’s striking looks combine elegance and lightness. The use of nylon strings for the seat and backrest give that minimalist feel.

Jacques Guillon¦Cord Chair¦1954

It was probably time for this blog to pay hommage to string furniture (and no we are not going to talk about beach and garden reclining chairs). This is also a nice opportunity for us to showcase some striking modern designs.

We can only but start with René Herbst, the precursor. His Sandows chair was made with salvaged bungee straps from the automobile industry (sandows in French), a first example of use of recuperated material in design and at the same time a breakthrough in industrial design and pure esthetics. The collector Michael Boyd recounts in Modernist Paradise how he came to meet with a dealer and good friend of Herbst in Paris and visit his office, which had been put away in storage for safekeeping. There were three original Sandows chairs, which Boyd used to make a perfect chair with one set of intact bungee cords, something that no museum had.

René Herbst¦Sandows Chair¦1929

Our next exhibit is the Harp chair by Jorgen Hovelskov, a strinking design combining Folklore, modernity and daring as only the Scandinavian can do. Incidentally the chair is also called the Viking chair, a testimony to its multiple personality.

Jorgen Hovelskov¦Harp Chair¦1968


Lastly, another incredible design, for which there is nothing else to say that it comes out of nowhere and does not resemble anything else. The PP 225 or “Flag Halyard” from the name of its cord seating, by Hans Wegner is indeed unlike any of his or any of his peers design. There is something primal and brash about it that makes a pretty indelible impression. It’s a real nest and probably incredibly comfortable (we have yet to try).

Hans Wegner¦PP 225¦1950



Written by Alvar and I

March 16, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Dutch treat

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Every modern furniture lover will drool in front masterpieces of industrial design like the Compass desk by Jean Prouve, the incredibly elegant M400 helicoidal spiral staircase from Roger Tallon, or the Mies Van der Rohe Brno chair.

Industrial design is consubstantial to the evolution of modern design. Thonet was the precursor with its No. 14 bistro chair. The Bauhaus and American schools of design (the Spring 2010 issue of Modernism has a very nice piece on Gilbert Rohde) investigated the possibilities offered by industrial production techniques to explore new forms and materials such as tubular steel and achieve the cost benefits of mass production.

Simplicity, functionality, versatility, robustness, existence outside of home, and the use of common materials come to define what is industrial furniture design, although we at Alvar and I are not entirely convinced that a satisfactory definition exists (or is needed for that matter).

Well, let us stop here since this post is not so much to write about the history of design than to celebrate the elegance of Dutch design, which we have become to be interested in lately, and not just the pioneers Mart Stam and Gerrit Rietveld.

In the 1950s true to the spirit of modernism of functional and democratic furniture, designers like Wim Rietveld, Dirk Cordemeijer, Friso Kramer, Wilhelm Gispen and Coen de Vries, for manufacturers such as Pilastro, Ahrend de Cirkel, Auping and Gispen.

In true Dutch spirit this is vintage that is practical and still affordable. We hope you will enjoy some of our favorites(from Mid Mod Design a good and friendly dealer for Dutch industrial design):

Coen de Vries¦Toonladder¦Pilastro

Dirk Cordemeijer¦Cleopatra bed¦Auping

Friso Kramer¦Revolt Chair¦Ahrend de Cirkel

Wim Rietveld¦Floor lamp¦Gispen