In recent years interior furniture design has undergone a huge transformation from what would seem like one end of the aesthetic spectrum to the polar opposite. Throughout the last 70 years, the style of the chair has evolved no end. The Scandinavian mid-century style has exploded in popularity in recent years as people have started to opt for streamlined and uncluttered decor layouts that create a powerful sense of space. The building blocks of this style rely on both soft and hard natural textures to create an inviting atmosphere.
There are many reasons why Scandinavian designed armchairs are so popular. The attention to detail when it comes to design concept, materials and workmanship result in some high-quality upholstery which looks breathtaking and feels even better to the touch. If you are not familiar with the mid-century “Scandi” style, the following pieces of furniture are movement icons.
Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair
Considered a design icon of his time, Eero Saarinen grew up in a design focused household with two Finish art director parents. His training as an architect in an otherwise creatively traditional curriculum of the 1930s saw his challenge the fundamentals of design, especially in furniture and upholstery. The Womb Chair is a classic and takes its name from the ease at which one can curl up into a foetal like position, something that had never been done before. Saarinen essentially created the first chair that was both comfortable and immersive while also sophisticated without a bulky and overstuffed body.
Kai Kristiansen ’s “Model 42” Chair
Kai Kristiansen is another great Danish designer who like Eero Sarrine, trained as an architect before setting up his own furniture design company. In the 1950s the Scandinavian modernist style was in full swing but Kristiansen had a fondness for the classical style that predated this new movement. Consequently, he started to produce furniture designs which embodied the natural smoothness and angular shapes of the modernist approach with solid comfortable upholstery pads. Of course, a set of six 1970s original Model 42 chairs is worth around £6,000 so it is imperative to keep such pieces of furniture professionally maintained with expert upholstery cleaning.
Arne Jacobsen’s “Egg Chair”
Niche aside, Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair is probably one of the most widely recognised Danish chair designs in existence. This chair was originally designed for the SAS Radisson hotel Copenhagen in 1958 and rose to iconic standing in the years to follow. In terms of upholstery, The Egg rewrote the rule book in that rather than relying on flat surfaces upon which the upholstery was fixed, Jacobsen hand sculptured an entirely curved shell for the upholstery foam to fit on. Such was the labour intensive nature of producing these chairs, only a limited run was made for Jacobsen’s hotel project. An original Egg Chair is said to cost around £80,000 with even modern-day Fritz Hansen replicas selling for a cool £5,500.
Hans Werger’s “Ox Chair”
At first glance, the Ox Chair is very bold and somewhat deviates from the subtle norms associated with mid-century modernist Danish furniture design. Hans Werger launched this chair in 1960 and custom stuffed each unit’s upholstery before adorning it with thick high-quality Italian leather – a move that added to the chair’s dominance and sense of power. Unfortunately, by 1962 the Ox was taken out of production as it was seen as too bold for the current scene to stomach. Like many statements, the Ox was then resurrected in the late 1980s and it gained substantial popularity and was even featured in films. Maintaining leather like the kind found on the Ox Chair is a specialist task. Leather is essentially skin which holds a delicate balance of oil. If not cared for properly leather will start to crack, weather and look tired. If you have a reproduction of the Ox then it is essential to get regular upholstery maintenance.
Laurence is a content writer and marketing manager for Wrennalls. He helps publish regular content and insights for customers and industry personnel.