inspiration #1

Hello concrete admirers, followers & lovers !!

Today we are dedicating our ispiration post to designer Willy Guhl and his 1954 design piece Garden Chair

Production: 1954 - 80
Manufacturer: Eternit AG,
Niederurnen, Switzerland
Size: 54.5 x 54.5 x76.5 cms;
seat height 11cms
Material: fibrated concrete,
subsequently given a surface seal

Willy Guhl was a pioneer of industrial design in Switzerland.
He created a number of designs for Eternit: window boxes, a spindle-shaped standing ashtray, and a beach and garden chair, which is unique in the history of furniture design. After participating in the 1948 MoMA competition entitled “Low-Cost Furniture Design,” he began working with casts of the human body and ergonomically shaped shells for reclining chairs. While previous work with laminated wood had already yielded two-dimensionally shaped chair shells, fibrated concrete – not a material typically associated with furniture-making – afforded new possibilities that Willy Guhl turned to his best advantage.
Fibrated concrete was manufactured in slabs with machines and was used for building houses. The method of processing the chair corresponds to the dimensions of these slabs, which were shaped directly after they had been pressed while still moist.
Thus, production was inexpensive and required fewer materials. Because the composite material offered great resistance to breakage and exceptional tensile strength, supporting structures were no longer required, and thanks to statics there were few limitations on the form. So the design could be minimalist, rendering the elegantly curved, absolutely weatherproof chair nearly an abstract sculpture.
The new leisure culture of the postwar era gave rise to the need for inexpensive, practical outdoor seating. At the same time, the chair is suggestive of interiors of the sixties and seventies, with their similar curved forms. Fibrated cement has not been used since the end of the seventies, when it was discovered that the asbestos it contains is a carcinogen.
Willy GuhI’s chair was also affected by this discovery: one of the last known copies was to be included in the MoMA design collection, but was promptly sent back following the discovery that the chair contained asbestos.
The Vitra Design Museum has sealed the surface of its copy so that a piece of design history may be preserved.

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