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About Bruno Mathsson (Designer)
As the descendant of four generations of Swedish master cabinetmakers, Bruno Mathsson was born to design furniture. Mathsson was known as a methodical perfectionist who made usefulness the fundamental attribute of his works, yet he was also a ceaseless experimenter, who constantly searched for improvements in form, materials and methods of making.
Like the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, Mathsson was one of the first Scandinavians to embrace undulating, biomorphic forms in furniture. His early pieces such as the “Eva” and “Pernilla” series of chairs incorporate dramatically flowing bent beechwood frames, making them some of the most instantly recognizable works of 20th-century design. Mathsson was also a pioneer of ergonomics — he is said to have based the contours of his chairs on the impression his body made when he sat in a snow bank — and used supple, accommodating woven webbing for seats. His concern for practicality is shown by pieces such as the “Maria” table. An elegant design with gate legs and hinged leaves, the table measures more than nine feet long when fully extended, but folds down to just nine inches in thickness.
From the mid-1940s through the 1950s, Mathsson focused on architecture, designing and building houses with insulated, triple-glazed window walls and heated floors — construction that flew in the face of traditional wood-clad Swedish residential design, and consequently met with some skepticism. He returned to furniture in the 1960s, employing an entirely new suite of materials: Stainless-steel framing and mesh seats feature in pieces like the “Jetson” chair; with the mathematician Piet Hein, Mathsson designed the “Super-Elliptical” table, which has a laminate top and four-part tubular steel legs that sprout like flower stems from a single base. Bruno Mathsson’s stylistic flexibility as a designer, as you will see from the works on these pages, make him a creator whose pieces meet all tastes and needs.