hans olsen’s bikini chair

bikini chair, hans olsen @ dosbananos.com

bikini chair, hans olsen @ dosbananos.com

this chair is a beautiful rare sculpture of wood and upholstery.  from the 50s or early 60s this is a masterpiece of design skill, with the compound bent wood and dramatic shape. the piece was expensive to build and few were made.  

the name makes me smile.  i wonder what shape of woman he had in mind when he came up with the shape.  or after it was designed, what woman and bikini did it evoke, and hence the name. either way, it reminds me of a visit to a gym or a walk on a beach.  a normal beach, mind.  your average neighborhood gym.  not the ones on tv where the beautiful slim selection is on show. come to florida and give the normal american world a glim.  the possible variations of women’s shapes is wider than you may think.  the abstract design world has plenty of models!


kohn bent wood baby cradle furniture design find at moma

need a baby cradle?  

childs cradle, 1895, ebonized bentwood, jacob and josef cohen

child's cradle, 1895, ebonized bentwood, austria, by jacob and josef kohn, chief competitors of thonet

in 1867 the austrian manufacturer J. & J. Kohn became thonet’s chief competitors using the art nouveau stylish bent wood technique.  this egg shaped cradle held soft cushions and the arm above supported draped netting.  why would one need draped netting?  in tropical climates, it helps to keep bugs out, but i put some netting over my first child’s crib to keep cats out.  i suspected the cats would leap in and sleep with the child.  by the time i had my second child, i realized i need not worry about the cats.  europeans do not have so many bugs, but they may have had cats… and a few worried mums.    

i found this crib on the museum of modern art’s website (moma).  their collections section has some good finds for furniture classics, with links to more info about the designers and the history of those times.  the site is a bit tricky to navigate, but it is worth the hunt.

furniture design, bent wood chairs, alvar aalto, and my dad


chaise-lounge model 43, alvar aalto, finland 1936

chaise-lounge model 43, alvar aalto, finland 1936

alvar aalto was an anti bauhaus modern designer “immersed in his struggle against metal in furniture design,” in the 1920s.*  he and his finnish business partner, otto korhonen, perfected the bent knee technique for their stool 60 and sold millions of them in the next decades.  for anyone who enjoys wood, working with wood and the beauty of it, bent wood remains a remarkable feature in furniture design.  aalto’s stool 60 and chair 43 were some of the early classics.  

Alvar Aalto

Stool 60 in Viipuri Municipal Library, 1933-35, Viipuri, Russia (formerly Finland). Architect: Alvar Aalto

stool 60

stool 60

i would also object to interior design in which there is no wood.  like the scandinavians who feature wood so beautifully in furniture and interior design, i grew up with a love for trees and their uses.  in this love, i was influenced by my dad.  he spent most of world war two as a boy scout and school boy in southampton, england, though there were not so many school days in those years, because of the german bombs.  when the americans finally showed up (thank God) and the allies were pushing back across france, my dad had turned 16, and went to work in the nearby new forest.

new forest, hampshire, england

new forest, hampshire, england

new forest timber, an old source for ship building in old england

new forest timber, an old source for ship building in old england

after training in north wales, he worked in nigeria and hong kong in forestry and conservation.  some of my best memories of my wonderful daddy include watching him skillfully chop down trees with an axe, working with him in his carpentry shop, and listening to him talk about wood and trees in forests we would walk through together.  

but aalto and my father held very different world views.  they both lived through terrible times of war and the dramatic changes in the world brought by the industrial revolution.  aalto became an avid proponent of humanism.  he believed that the solution to life’s problems were to be found in humanity, and that the reason for life was to improve humanity itself.  “We should work for simple, good, undecorated things, but things which are in harmony with the human being and organically suited to the little man in the street.” (Alvar Aalto, speech in London 1957)**  to aalto, wood was a tool for humanism.

on the other hand, in war torn england my father met God and did not waver through his life from his christian faith.  he saw, as i do, no hope in humanity without God, or in working for humanity alone. actually i do not see how anyone could walk through forests or work with wood and reject God and any relationship with Him.  the beauty of His creation screams His presence and the hopelessness of humanity compels me to His power and love.  as a young teenager my dad spent a lot of time chopping firewood with his boy scout troop.  once they were out in the woods camping when there was an unexpected air raid.  many nights he spent alone or huddled with his mum, dad and granny in the little air raid shelter in the garden. lots of time to think.  my dad thought of God, and though he died a few years ago, i know that now he is, through Christ, alive with God.  throughout his life he inspired many others to his same belief.  there is no other shelter.  

*Furniture Design, Jim Postel, 2007 (page 78).

** quoted in wikipedia

furniture design – in search of the perfect lounge chair – 2/2 meet the eames version


eames herman miller classic lounge chair

eames herman miller classic lounge chair - sold on ebay for $3,251.00

i love the bent rose wood shell, and leather (or vinyl) are my favorite upholstery choices.  in search of a great lounge chair for me, i like an ottoman chair combination.  this is a great chair, but…

the leather is dark (black, usually), and it has a masculine look.  i want a chair that will hold up outdoors, under a porch, but still out in the humidity, in florida. herman miller does make an aluminum lounge chair with ottoman, which they expect to be used outdoors.


Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

again, it has a decidedly masculine look.  not as soft.  this one sells for $1,928.00, new. (click on the picture to link).


here is part 2 of the introduction of the 1956 eames lounge chair.  note that a man is sitting in it, in the advert, and the woman is perched prettily on the footstool….. nice picture, but i want to lounge some too! (and i don’t think i perch so prettily…and not much perching at all, now that i think about it.)

Eames Lounge Chair debut in 1956 on NBC [2/2]