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Not currently on display at the V&A

Chair

ca. 1955 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This chair was designed for the Sumi Memorial Hall, Ichinomiya City, Japan, by one of the most important architects of the 20th century, Kenzo Tange (1913-2005). The building was designed in 1955 and completed in 1957 and was one of a number of Tange’s buildings for which furniture was specifically designed. It was built as headquarters of the Tsuyakin Kogyo Company – a local textiles manufacturer. It was intended to be used as both a head office for the company, and as a meeting place for textile manufacturers from across Japan.

This chair was designed for the Hall’s auditorium and manufactured by the Japanese company Tendo Mokko. The stackable plywood design allowed the chairs to be moved around or stored, depending on how the space was being used. A moulded plywood armchair was also designed for the building’s offices, and a plywood stool to be used in the cafeteria.


Object details

Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Moulded 11-ply birch plywood, metal screws, aluminium feet, seat cushion
Brief description
Chair, designed for Kenzō Tange’s Sumi Memorial Hall, Ichinomiya City, Japan, manufactured by Tendo Mokko, moulded birch plywood with aluminium feet and seat cushion, Tendo, Japan, about 1955
Physical description
Chair of moulded 11-ply birch plywood with aluminium feet and yellow and black seat cushion. The chair is made of two separate moulded plywood sections; one section forming the back and the other the seat and legs. The back is attached to the underside of the chair by four metal screws. There are two holes in the seat that are used to tie the seat cushion to the chair.
Dimensions
  • Height: 77cm (Note: full height)
  • Width: 52cm
  • Depth: 54cm
Production typesmall batch
Marks and inscriptions
(Manufacturer's metal label screwed to underside of chair)
Gallery label
Text from Plywood: Material of the Modern World (15 July-12 November 2017) CHAIR About 1955 This chair was designed for a building by the Japanese architect Kenzō Tange. By manufacturing furniture for Tange’s buildings, post-war companies such as Tendo Mokko were able to experiment with new techniques and equipment. This chair’s design boldly expresses its moulded plywood construction. Made for the headquarters of a textile manufacturer, its cushion uses textiles woven by the company. Designed for Kenzo Tange’s (1913–2005) Sumi Memorial Hall, Ichinomiya, Japan Manufactured by Tendo Mokko Tendo, Japan Moulded 11-ply birch plywood, metal screws, aluminium feet, seat cushion V&A: W.25–2016
Object history
Although this chair has been sold in the past as designed by Tange himself, that now seems unlikely. In the 1950s Tange’s practice often worked in close collaboration with furniture designers and artists to design the interiors of his buildings. More research is underway to establish exactly how the Sumi furniture was commissioned, but it would have been standard practice at the time to identify the furniture’s design with the building’s architect.
Association
Summary
This chair was designed for the Sumi Memorial Hall, Ichinomiya City, Japan, by one of the most important architects of the 20th century, Kenzo Tange (1913-2005). The building was designed in 1955 and completed in 1957 and was one of a number of Tange’s buildings for which furniture was specifically designed. It was built as headquarters of the Tsuyakin Kogyo Company – a local textiles manufacturer. It was intended to be used as both a head office for the company, and as a meeting place for textile manufacturers from across Japan.

This chair was designed for the Hall’s auditorium and manufactured by the Japanese company Tendo Mokko. The stackable plywood design allowed the chairs to be moved around or stored, depending on how the space was being used. A moulded plywood armchair was also designed for the building’s offices, and a plywood stool to be used in the cafeteria.
Bibliographic reference
Wilk, Christopher. Plywood: A Material Story. London: Thames & Hudson / V&A, 2017
Collection
Accession number
W.25-2016

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Record createdJune 14, 2016
Record URL
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