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Armchair

Armchair

  • Place of origin:

    Lodz, Poland (designed)

  • Date:

    1959-1960 (designed)
    1961 (patented)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Modzelewski, Roman (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded fibreglass, metal

  • Museum number:

    W.13-2009

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This armchair is one of the earliest Polish examples of fibreglass furniture and the first known Polish chair in an organic form. Roman Modzelewski designed the armchair in 1958. Its making was a pioneering experiment - formally and technologically - in Poland at the time. The chair was formed using a plaster model to create a fibreglass shell in two parts. The metal legs were fixed inside the shell. Modzelewski made the chair in his own studio in Lódz. He patented the design for the armchair in 1961 but never found a manufacturer for it. Le Corbusier was interested in acquiring the patent to produce it in France but this never materialised owing to the politics of the Polish regime.

Roman Modzelewski was a Lithuanian designer but first and foremost a painter who experimented with form and colour. He studied in Warsaw and lived most of his life in Lódz where he was affiliated with the famous State School of Fine Arts (later Academy of Fine Arts).

The armchair was acquired from Halina Modzelewska, the widow of the artist, for the exhibition 'Cold War Modern. Design 1945-1970'.

Physical description

Armchair of two shells of moulded fibreglass with metal legs fixed into the shell

Place of Origin

Lodz, Poland (designed)

Date

1959-1960 (designed)
1961 (patented)

Artist/maker

Modzelewski, Roman (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded fibreglass, metal

Dimensions

Height: 102 cm, Width: 82 cm, Depth: 91 cm

Object history note

In 1957, Modzelewski started designing furniture with an armchair and chair in plywood, both of which he presented at the Second Polish-Wide Interior Design Exhibition. In 1958 he designed an armchair made in fibreglass. This armchair is one of the earliest Polish examples of fibreglass furniture and the first known Polish chair in an organic form (the only other example is an armchair by Czeslaw Knothe). The chair was formed using a plaster model which would be used to create a fibreglass shell in two parts. The metal construction of the legs was fixed inside the shell. Modzelewski made this chair in his own studio in Lódz. It was a pioneering experiment - formally and technologically - in Poland at the time.
Modzelewski patented the design for the armchair in 1961. Le Corbusier was interested in acquiring the patent to be able to produce the chair in France. However, this never materialised due to the politics of the Polish regime.
In the late 1960s and 70s, Modzelewski experimented further with fibreglass, designing yachts.

Historical significance: This shell armchair was probably the first chair to be made from fibreglass in Poland.

Descriptive line

Armchair, two moulded fibreglass shells with metal legs, by Roman Modzelewski, Lódz, designed 1959-1960

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Cold War Modern. Design 1945 - 1970. edited by David Crowley and Jane Pavitt, V&A Publishing 2008
(page 20/21): ...In communist Poland, Roman Modzelewski experimented with fibreglass armchairs, seeking to encourage interest for his designs amongst architects in the West (1.15)...
(image 1.15 depicting a red example of chair from the National Museum in Warsaw)

Exhibition History

Cold War Modern. Design 1945-1970 (The National Art Gallery, Vilnius 05/10/2009-12/12/2009)
Cold War Modern. Design 1945-1970 (Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto 28/03/2009-26/07/2009)
Cold War Modern. Design 1945-1970 (Victoria and Albert Museum 25/09/2008-11/01/2009)

Labels and date

This shell armchair was probably the first chair to be made from fibreglass in Poland. The shell is constructed from two halves, shaped by Modzelewski, an artist, on a plaster model in his studio. He patented his design in 1961, although he never found a manufacturer for it (despite the apparent interest shown by Le Corbusier in acquiring the patent). [25/09/2008]

Materials

Metal; Fibreglass

Categories

Furniture; Plastic

Collection code

FWK

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