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Chair

Chair

  • Place of origin:

    Brooklyn (manufactured)
    New York

  • Date:

    1949 (designed)
    ca. 1950 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Komai, Ray, born 1918 - died 2010 (designer)
    J. G. Furniture Company (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded 5-ply walnut-faced plywood and tubular steel frame

  • Credit Line:

    American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Mark McDonald

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:AMERICANFRIENDS.713-2016

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Although Ray Komai was principally a graphic designer this chair is probably the most well-known of all his designs. He began designing furniture for the J. G. Furniture Company in the late 1940s after carrying out advertising work for the company. His moulded plywood chair was influenced by an interest in origami and the furniture of Charles and Ray Eames. He was also greatly influenced by abstract artists including Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee as well as tribal masks from Africa and New Guinea. The owner of the J. G. Furniture Company described Komai coming up with the design for this chair in a meeting in around 1948 – Komai held up a piece of paper and folded it into the shape of the seat, with a vertical seam running down the back. This chair, along with an upholstered chair designed by Komai, were exhibited in MoMA’s Good Design Award exhibition in 1950.

Physical description

Chair with a single piece seat and back of moulded 5-ply walnut-faced plywood. There is a triangular shaped opening at the juncture of the seat and back that continues into a vertical slit up the back. The slit is held together with a horizontal metal bar on the back that is secured from the front with two circular metal disks.

The seat is supported on two sets of two tubular steel legs welded together. Each leg ends in a flattened metal circular foot with rubber around the top. Two of the feel have felt pads, one black and the other white. The legs are attached to a block of solid wood glued to the underside of the chair. The company's labels is adhered to the block of wood.

Place of Origin

Brooklyn (manufactured)
New York

Date

1949 (designed)
ca. 1950 (manufactured)

Artist/maker

Komai, Ray, born 1918 - died 2010 (designer)
J. G. Furniture Company (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded 5-ply walnut-faced plywood and tubular steel frame

Marks and inscriptions

J. G. Furniture Company label adhered to solid wood block glued to underside of chair

Dimensions

Height: 85.8 cm, Height: 42.3 cm, Width: 42.2 cm, Depth: 38.6 cm, Depth: 54 cm

Descriptive line

Chair, designed by Ray Komai, manufactured by J. G. Furniture Co., moulded walnut-faced plywood and tubular steel, designed New York, 1949, manufactured Brooklyn, New York, about 1950

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

Wilk, Christopher. Plywood: A Material Story. London: Thames & Hudson / V&A, 2017

Labels and date

Text from Plywood: Material of the Modern World (15 July-12 November 2017)

CHAIR
Designed 1949

Ray Komai demonstrated his idea for this
chair by folding a piece of paper into the
shape of the seat, with a vertical seam
running down the back. This beautifully
simple concept allowed for the creation
of a moulded chair from a single sheet
of plywood.

Designed by Ray Komai (1918–2010)
Manufactured about 1950 by J.G. Furniture Co.
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Moulded 5-ply walnut-faced plywood and
tubular steel frame
American Friends of the V&A through the
generosity of Mark McDonald

V&A: LOAN:AMERICANFRIENDS.713-2016 [2017]

Materials

Walnut; Plywood; Steel

Techniques

Moulding

Categories

Furniture

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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