Prisoner of Love

 

STRAPS, BUCKLES, LEATHER, WOODEN PLUGS, SLINGS AND HARNESSES… NO NOT MEDIEVAL TORTURE OR DOMINATRIX INVENTORY, IT’S SEATING BY ARNE NORELL – AND WHO WOULDN’T WANT IT IN THEIR LIFE?

 

You’ll probably recognise these pieces – or at least one of them – but you may well know very little about the Swedish designer who created them all. Their classic look, and the fact that they are still so plentiful on the market, is proof of their high quality in design, comfort and function. The fabulous chairs and sofas of Arne Norell (1917-1971) are like the finest cashmere of the furniture world, made to live with for generations.

Norell began designing chairs in Sweden in the late 1940s – ‘The Thumb’ chair was designed for Gösta Westerberg – and started his own workshop in Stockholm in 1954 before moving to Småland in southern Sweden in 1958 to develop the company Möbel AB Arne Norell.

When the first Norell Furniture appeared on the Swedish interior design stage, it had immediate impact. The founder of the company as well as its designer, Norell’s exciting new products had a very personal style. He quickly became a well-known name to consumers, interior decorators and architects alike.

Arne Norell was versatile. Beyond leather and rosewood, he experimented with bentwood, turned wood, leather, fabric, steel and metal of varying compositions. A multifaceted designer who tried out many different combinations to build up a piece, his ambition was to create functional pieces of furniture where the shape is natural and comfortable, and the proportions in harmony.

Sadly, he died young and many of the models he designed didn’t come into production until after his death, manufactured by the same company, which is now under the name Norell Möbel AB and run by his designer daughter and her husband.

Article from VE Issue 26 - now sold out but repeated in Issue 44 as one of the editor’s favourites.


SIROCCO: Made in 1964 and inspired by the Danish Kaare Klint’s Safari leather chairs (which in turn took inspiration from an English campaign chair Klint had seen in an African picture!) As with original campaign furniture, it can be easily disassembled if needs be. Note the stringing to the base that holds the sling seat in position, supporting a loose cushion (below).

SIROCCO: Made in 1964 and inspired by the Danish Kaare Klint’s Safari leather chairs (which in turn took inspiration from an English campaign chair Klint had seen in an African picture!) As with original campaign furniture, it can be easily disassembled if needs be. Note the stringing to the base that holds the sling seat in position, supporting a loose cushion (below).

SIRROCO BOTTOM.png
INCA: This chair deploys the full panoply of bentwood, slings, harnesses, straps and buckles. The headrest, like on the Ari chair, is held into place by just two straps

INCA: This chair deploys the full panoply of bentwood, slings, harnesses, straps and buckles. The headrest, like on the Ari chair, is held into place by just two straps

ILONA: Designed in the 60s, this two-seater sofa features a teak frame and brown leather, bound in by a heavy-duty leather backrest. The frame is typically held together by strong leather supports, without glue or screws

ILONA: Designed in the 60s, this two-seater sofa features a teak frame and brown leather, bound in by a heavy-duty leather backrest. The frame is typically held together by strong leather supports, without glue or screws

THUMB CHAIR: 1940

THUMB CHAIR: 1940

ARI (above and below): This lounge chair was designed in 1966 but not manufactured until after Norell’s death and he received British Furniture Manufacturers’ most prestigious distinction ‘Show Piece of the Year’ posthumously in 1973. With buffalo stitched leather, spring steel frame and down-filled headrest, it became his legacy.

ARI (above and below): This lounge chair was designed in 1966 but not manufactured until after Norell’s death and he received British Furniture Manufacturers’ most prestigious distinction ‘Show Piece of the Year’ posthumously in 1973. With buffalo stitched leather, spring steel frame and down-filled headrest, it became his legacy.

Woo Gilchrist