Armchair

1959-1960 (designed), 1961 (patented)
Armchair thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Moulded fibreglass, metal
Brief Description
Armchair, two moulded fibreglass shells with metal legs, by Roman Modzelewski, Lódz, designed 1959-1960
Physical Description
Armchair of two shells of moulded fibreglass with metal legs fixed into the shell
Dimensions
  • Height: 102cm
  • Width: 82cm
  • Depth: 91cm
Gallery Label
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)
Object history
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.
Summary
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'.
Bibliographic Reference
Cold War Modern. Design 1945 - 1970. edited by David Crowley and Jane Pavitt, V&A Publishing 2008
Collection
Accession Number
W.13-2009

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record createdMarch 18, 2010
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