In 1998 Finland issued a design-themed stamp set which featured some of the most iconic works of local design history: besides product and textile designs by Alvar Aalto, Kaj Franck, Bertel Gardberg, Timo Sarpaneva and Annika Rimala, furniture design was represented by one chair — Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Karuselli.
The exhibition in the Museum of Estonian Architecture gives an overview of the interior architect and furniture designer Yrjö Kukkapuro’s artistic production which spans over 50 years. Starting with a student work from 1957 and concluding with a prototype specially designed and manufactured for the Tallinn exhibition, Kukkapuro’s long career is filled with independent experiments in the field but also includes positions as the chief designer of Haimi, Lepokaiusto and Avarte. Kukkapuro’s first successful collection Moderno was created in 1958-1960 and is still in production.
Kukkapuro’s oeuvre is like an X-ray of the design history of the second half of the 20th century. Pop-art influenced colourful plastic chairs, Karuselli, Saturnus or Chair No. 419 manufactured in the 1960s from fibreglass and ABS plastic using experimental methods are contemporary benchmarks carried by utoplan aspirations. The minimalist turn in 1970s abandoned artificial materials, new favourite was birch plywood. Remmi and Pressu models date from that period but at the same time Kukkapuro started decades’ long experiment to create ergonomic office chairs. Piaano, Fysio, Sirkus or Funktus are series which thoroughly redefined the understanding about typical office furniture. in the 1980s the wave of Postmodernism brought back colour, patterns and décor to Kukkapuro’s chairs. The 1990s are characterized by the abstract patterns printed on simple plywood form from
the “tattooed” chairs series and in the 2000s the explorations in materials continue. New favourite is bamboo from which there is a series specially made for Chinese market.
Some of the earlier chairs of the still tenaciousiy active Yrjö Kukkapuro have become design classics which are sought-after in online auctions and vintage furniture stores, at the same time being exhibited in renowned design museums from London to New York. The exhibits, prototypes as well as production models, of the Tallinn exhibition are mainly from Kukkapuro’s personal collection which he has gathered in his atelier over the years.
Yrjö Kukkapuro Furniture, Jan 11 – Feb 10, 2013, at the Museum of Estonian Architecture, Tallinn, Estonia
With its precisely orchestrated flowing lines, thickening and tapering to form a pleasing rhythm, the chair is a signature expression of contemporary design. At the same time, the choice of materials and their treatment recalls the work of the great Brazilian design masters of the 1960s and 70s. While offering all the comfort of a capacious rocking chair, the piece’s fine lines and the way the armrests and runners taper towards the middle make an airy and elegant impression from any angle. The cord seat and backrest lend the chair a special lightness and transparency, unfolding a fascinating graphic play of lines especially when in motion. The version in dark stained oak with black cord attests the most strikingly to the origin of its designer. In pale oak with hemp-coloured cord, the chair looks almost like a Scandinavian furniture classic. With fabric or leather upholstery, it takes on the feel of an elegant club chair. In every version, though, it oscillates effortlessly between past and present, stability and elegance.
Euvira Rocking Armchair, by Jader Almeida, for ClassiCon
The Beams Chair is a lightweight wooden armchair inspired by the H-beam structure of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The H-Beam structure is derived and used as a main design element in the Beams Chair, which shows the beauty of such construction. The main frame of the Chair is composed of two kinds of thin wood panel:multiplex and plywood. The two wood panels are combined together in such a way so as to offer directional perpendicular wooden structures and to create the H-Beam structure in the Chair. By such inventive arrangement of the wood panel, the specific H-beam structure is built up and an extraordinary stability of the Chair is ensured.
The Chair is made of three different kinds of wood, bent plywood, multiplex and aircraft plywood.The strength of the structure of the plywood and multiplex thin sheets is quite strong in one direction, while relatively weak in other direction. By combining the two wood sheets in a way so to offer directional perpendicular wooden structures and to build the H-Beam structure, there are two strong dimensions so the anti-twisting ability and compression strength as well as the stability of the chair are tremendously improved. The frame of the chair is constructed by bending plywood and multiplex. The flexible aircraft plywood covers the frame as the surfaces of the seat and back. Such design saves the molding cost of production and reduces the weight of the Chair.
Beams Chair, by Eric and Johnny Design Studio
Starting from a simple geometrical shape, this truncated conical mirror allows different positions for different kind of functions. Thanks to this shape, this mirror concept integrates interiors in many ways: the object fits perfectly on the wall but can also be placed on its side or rest on its base. Depending on its position, it gives an unusual way of looking at mirrors and at its reflections; versatile perspectives as complementary visions of architecture. Fixing on wall, the mirror is a sort of megaphone that makes the wall scream for reflection. Hence the name Edvard, after the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, the man behind the painting ‘The Scream’.
Edvard Mirror Collection, by Jean-Francois d’Or, for Reflect+
Designed by Renzo Piano, one of the most important architects of the 20th century, behind projects like the Centre Pompidou in Paris, San Nicaola Stadium in Bari and Kansai International Airport in Osaka. He is responsible for the main layout of the Potsdamer Platz and eight of its buildings in Berlin. Over the years, he has received a range of prestigious prizes and awards such as the Compasso d’Oro and the Pritzker Prize. He collaborated with Iittala to produce designs on a smaller scale. His stainless steel cutlery service is like an extension of the hand, fitting naturally into the diner’s grip. With extreme attention to detail, Piano has soft, rounded and balanced handles, appropriate proportions, and thoughtfully considered shapes. The Piano cutlery service is made of highly-polished 18/10 stainless steel, and the salad servers come dressed with wooden handles.
Piano Cutlery, by Piano Design
A massive intense Illuminated Mandala sculpture inspired by Islamic patterns which have been translated into three dimensions through the extrusion of the complex interlocking geometry. Made from lasercut stainless steel frames, chrome plated or lacqured solid brass components, ballchain in several optional finishes. Illuminated by a combination of surface mounted and suspended G4 Halogen lamps.
Mandala No. 1, by Willowlamp
The lamp stems from the studio’s ‘Materials driven, process led, industrial design approach’ researching the typologies and language associated with ceramic products. Container looks at utilising the ceramic to both contain the electronic lighting
components and producing a soft reflected illumination output from the interior glazed surface to light the table or desk beneath. The forms are driven by a sympathetic design language and construction in tune with earthenware production. The lamp comprises two large ceramic components held together under the tension of an injection moulded Silicon band eradicating the need for any glue or screws.
“Pétrifications is a project which has been on my mind for some years and which allows me to reconcile my interest in design with the one for literature I had the opportunity to develop while studying it at university. It was inspired by my own experience as a reader who, when interrupted in his reading, too often left his book opened at the page he was reading, on a table or on the floor. It is a collection of five triangular geometrical forms of several different dimensions, made of various kinds of stones, and destined to be used as bookmarks.”
- Krzysztof J. Lukasik
Pétrifications”, ECAL/Krzysztof J. Lukasik
“My Flat, Mega Farm, Power Plant and Highway are designs that came from my research into public space and architecture and the idealized version of both in toy modelling. On the basis of my research I selected a number of buildings that epitomize today’s zeitgeist. I transformed these architectural types into toy blocks. In doing so I have two objectives. The first is to shed a light on the excessive nature of contemporary large scale architecture — the mega factory — by using the poor and abstract form language of toy blocks. My second objective is to make full use of the contrast between the harshness of contemporary architecture and the illusory children’s world of friendliness and unlimited possibilities cultivated by adults.”
- Maykel Roovers
Critical Blocks by Maykel Roovers
Mass-produced midcentury furniture by the Italian modernist Carlo Mollino can cost a few thousand dollars per piece, and his prototypes and custom works cause greater market stirs.
In 2005 and 2008, Christie’s in New York got seven-figure prices for 1940s oak and maple tables that Mollino created for a marquis in Turin. The designer worked in a vocabulary of hairpin turns, spikes and flanges. He was also notoriously moody and obsessive, and a daredevil who flew experimental planes, scaled mountains and raced cars.
His colorful biography adds to the appeal of the objects. “They have a huge aura about them,” said Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, the founder of the Salon 94 galleries in Manhattan.
A show with a few Mollino works from around 1950 (with five- and six-figure prices each) opens on Thursday at the Salon 94 branch on East 94th Street; display cases were designed by the British architect David Adjaye. The exhibition includes an ash bentwood chair and a resin-and-glass bookcase, made for a Turin publishing house, and aluminum boomerang light fixtures from a textile magnate’s apartment in Turin.
On Oct. 23 the Italian government blocked an auction at Christie’s in London that featured 30 pieces of 1950s Mollino furniture, which had long been installed in an Italian industrialist’s country house in the foothills of the Alps. The works, including oak and chestnut tables, chairs, cabinets and ceramic coat hooks, were deemed by the government to be treasures that could not be exported. (They were returned to their owner.)
On Dec. 10 Sotheby’s in New York will offer four 1940s oak chairs (estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 for the set) with split backs that a private collector found years ago at a Los Angeles tag sale. Mollino used the split-back design in ski resort and restaurant interiors, but no one knows where the tag-sale chairs originated.