International Decorative Art

Bent Wood Armchair

Bent Wood Armchair

Design Date 1933-1934

Designer Gerald Summers (1899-1967, English)

Manufacturer Makers of Simple Furniture, Ltd. (1929-early 1940s), London, England

Media birch plywood

Dimensions 29 1/2 x 23 5/8 x 35 7/8 inches

Gerald Summers was looking to design a chair suited for the extreme humidity of the tropics when he created this bent wood armchair. The entire chair was cut from a single sheet of plywood, with no joinery or upholstery to succumb to wood rot or insect infestation. Summers’s armchair is one of the first examples of single-piece construction, which at the time was too difficult to accomplish in metal or plastic. Production of the chair commenced in 1935 and only 120 were made. Bent wood furniture, popularized for modern use by Thonet’s 1859 bistro chair and Alvar Aalto’s plywood furniture of the 1930s, is built by soaking or steaming wood and drying it in curved shapes. The process was also commonly used by the First Nations people of North America to create bent wood boxes and canoes.

ON VIEW in Vance Kirkland Gallery 1

Markings unmarked

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2006.0450