Vilstol easy chair
Bruno Mathsson (1907–1988)
Manufactured by Firma Karl Mathsson
Laminated and solid beech, jute (webbing), linen and wool (cushion) 80 x 52 x 112cm
Museum no. W.50–2005
Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson was fascinated by the act of sitting. In designing the Vilstol (easy chair), he sought to create a modern chair that was based on the position of the sitting body. He brought his considerable practical experience to this design problem, having been an apprentice in his father’s cabinet-making firm for most of the 1920s. Without stuffed upholstery, he addressed the challenge of comfort by forming the seat from bands of woven jute, an idea that he adapted from the underbelly belts used to secure saddles. The chair is also remarkably light, having been made from a laminated and bent birch frame. Although Mathsson’s anthropomorphic design and use of natural materials are widely credited with tempering the severity of Modernist design, the Vilstol has a clear relationship to Aalto’s contemporary designs. With a stable frame, economical use of materials and small number of parts, Mathsson’s chair shares many of the principles underlying the design of contemporary tubular-steel furniture.