Modern Living

Test your design IQ

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Who is the renowned Danish furniture designer who designed 500 iconic chairs like the Wishbone Chair and Peacock Chair during his lifetime?

He was born in 1914 in Tonder southern Denmark, the son of a shoemaker.  At the age of 17 he was apprenticed to a carpenter and it was at this time that he developed his first design.  When he was 20 years-old  he moved to Copenhagen to study, at what is now known as the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Design from 1936-1938, before taking further studies as an architect.

In 1940 he initiated a joint project with Arne Jacobsen and Erik Moller in Aarhus, which involved fitting out its town hall. During the same year, he began to work with master carpenter Johannes Hansen, a man who made a significant role in bringing modern Danish design to the public.

He opened his own studio in 1943, and through his works became one of the forces behind the Danish Modern movement which did much to change people’s views of furniture in the 1950s and 1960s.  His design retains relevance for us today and his sense of details is a source of constant wonder.

A master carpenter first and a designer second, his works are known for perfectly finished joints and exquisite forms. He gave minimalism an organic and natural softness with a deep respect for wood and its character and an everlasting curiosity about good materials.

Considered the master chair-maker, he designed more that 500 chairs during the course of his life, many of which are classics.

 These include the J16 Rocking Chair in 1914, the China Chair series inspired by a portrait of Danish merchants sitting in traditional Ming Chairs in 1944-45, the Peacock Chair which was inspired by the traditional Windsor chair with its exaggerated arched back that visually evokes a bird’s tail plumage.

The chair, which he designed in 1949, rose to prominence in the 1961 television debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy where both candidates sat in the chair. The Folding Chair in 1949 was lightweight with a cane seat, but had a hook so it could be hung on the wall to save space.

The Wishbone Chair is the last and the most distinctive in the China Chair series; while the Flag Halyard Chair was inspired by a trip to the beach, during which he carved out its form in sand.

The Valet Chair in 1953 showed his practical side as it had elements for it had elements for hanging up to storing each piece of a man’s suit; while the Ox Chair in 1960, which came with or without horns, showed his more playful side.  The Shell Chair in 1963 is considered another iconic design.

He received numerous prizes and recognitions for his work  — the first-ever recipient of the Luning prize, and the 8th International Design Award in Osaka.  His works are exhibited at major international museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich.

He died in Denmark in January 2007.

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Text your answer to 0905-3471998 with your name and address. One winner will be chosen through a raffle of texts with the correct answer. The winner will receive P2,000 worth of SM gift certificates for use at Our Home, SM Department Store, or SM Supermarket. They can claim their prize at Our Home in SM Megamall. Call the store manager at 634-1943. Bring photocopies of two valid IDs and a clipping of the Design Quiz issue in which you appear as winner.

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Last week’s question: Who is the Brazilian chef who created a whole new culinary  movement around uniquely Brazilian ingredients, techniques, and traditions with his DOM restaurant?

Answer:  Alex Atala

Winner: Gerry Suello of Mandaluyong City










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