Bruno Mathsson

This week's featured designer was heavily influenced by functionalism and old Swedish crafts tradition

Bruno Mathsson (January 13, 1907 – August 17, 1988) was a Swedish furniture designer and architect with ideas colored by functionalism/modernism, as well as old Swedish crafts tradition.

Being the son of a carpenter in the town of Värnamo in the South of Sweden, it was fairly obvious what work the young Bruno would choose. After a short time of education in school, he started to work in his father's gallery.

From a young age, he was fascinated by the challenge of designing functional furniture combined with high technical quality and it was the ideas of the functionalist movement that were to inspire him.

In 1930, Värnamo hosted an Arts and Crafts exhibition where Bruno Mathsson won a scholarship and with it the opportunity to visit the exhibition in Stockholm that saw the launch of the Swedish functionalist movement.

In 1930, the opportunity arose to put his theories into practice when he was commissioned to design a new chair for Värnamo Hospital. His idea for designing a comfortable chair without traditional sprung upholstery led to an unusual solution. The chair, nicknamed Grasshopper by the hospital staff, was made using a frame covered with plaited webbing supported by arms and legs in solid birch. The controversial chairs were put away by the hospital staff to remain hidden until after Bruno Mathsson became famous.

However, with his appetite wetted, Bruno Mathsson energetically continued to develop his ideas. He carefully studied the "mechanics of sitting". For example, in search of the perfect seating curve he sat in a snow-drift to study the imprint his body had made.

By 1937 Bruno Mathsson was represented at the world exhibition Paris Expo, winning a Grand Prix for his bed "Paris ". During the Paris Expo, his furniture was appreciated and admired by an international audience gaining interest from all over the world. This included the manager for the design department of Museum of Modern Art in New York, Edgar Kaufmann jr. who two years later in 1939 ordered chairs by Bruno Mathsson for a new extension of the museum.

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