Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Posts Tagged ‘Jens Risom

Webbings we like

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Aalto, Grabbe, Mathson, Risom: what do these four giants have in common? They all used webbing in some of their most famous designs. There is something both elegant and cheap to furniture using webbed canvas, and for a good reasons as often these designs were borne out of necessity.

Aalto is the precursor, with his Model 406 “Pension” Chair, designed in 1933 and a successor to the Model 41 armchair, with a higher back for comfort. But what makes this chair remarkable is the use of a cotton canvas webbing after many years of experimentation with laminated wood. The webbing offers smoother support and better airflow.

Alvar Aalto – Model 406 Chair – Artek

Bruno Mathsson successfully borrowed from Aalto the use of canvas webbing, which offered lightness and durability. Mathsson experimented with different woods and webbing materials from jute to paper. Further reading can be found here courtesy of Webvg.

Bruno Mathsson – Pernilla Chair

Jens Risom used webbing for his first collection for Knoll in the US. Wartime restrictions lead him to use webbing made out of parachute fabric and walnut. We particularly like the use of color in his designs.

Jens Risom – 654 W Side Chair – Knoll


Like Risom, Klaus Grabbe used military fabric due to wartime restrictions for his 1948 Chaise Longue. The thick exagerated section is very reminiscent of Risom’s chair, but made of plywood. Breuer is said to have inspired Grabbe, who also designed this other pretty striking reclining model .

Klaus Grabbe – Chaise Longue

Chaise longuee

Update: we ought to add this one, recently seen at RetroModern Design

Axel Larsson – Side Chair- Bodafors


Written by Alvar and I

February 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

We want more catalogues raisonnés of furniture designers

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When stumbling across an attractive vintage piece, it would be nice to dig in our library (or even better online) the ultimate reference book or a catalogue raisonné to situate it in time and in the body of work of the designer. After all our visual senses, knowledge and memory are limited… Here are below some that we found.

The Furniture of Poul Kjaerholm: Catalogue Raisonné by Michael Sheridan

Alvar Aalto: The Complete Catalog of Architecture, Design and Art by Goran Schildt

Jean Prouvé by Laurence Bergerot and Patrick Seguin (review on

Complete Kagan: Vladimir Kagan–A Lifetime of Avant-Garde Design by Vladimir Kagan himself

Graham Mancha offers a nice selection of reference books at Design for Modern Living in the UK

The begining of an online catalog raisonné of Charles and Ray Eames on Eames Office and of Jens Risom furniture on

Written by Alvar and I

February 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm