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Axel Einar Hjorth “Utö” Dining Chairs for Nordiska Kompaniet, Sweden 1930s

Documentation Documented elsewhere (similar item)
Origin Sweden
Period 1920-1949
Materials Wood
Dimensions
W. 18.11 in; H. 31.5 in; D. 16.93 in;
W. 46 cm; H. 80 cm; D. 43 cm;
Seat H. 16.93 in;
Seat H. 43 cm;
Condition Good. In good vintage condition. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor scratches and marks on the wood.
Creation Date 1930s
Number of Pieces 6-7
Description Swedish architect and furniture designer Axel Einar Hjorth served as the lead designer for Sweden’s Nordiska Kompaniet department store from 1926 to 1938. During this time, Hjorth designed the “Sportstugemöbler” series, (which translates to “sports cabin furnishings”) a collection of wooden furniture designed for country homes. The various models in the sportstugemöbler series took their names from the Stockholm archipelago – including Blidö, Lovö, and famously, Utö.

These Utö chairs were designed in 1932 as part of the collection. Unlike the department store's interiors for floors and villas in the cities, the Utö designs had a simple character with robust and simple basic shapes in solid pine. Accordingly, the design of these chairs focuses on simple lines and the material itself. Made of pine wood, these chairs are strong, reflecting Hjorth’s principles, according to which he mixed the ideals of the modernist movement with provincial Swedish traditions, producing a unique and primitive modernism. As a result, the design of this set of six has a completely unique and headstrong primitive modernism. Each chair demonstrates a conscious construction aesthetic, where the joinery and fittings related to traditional craftsmanship are emphasized. Dominated by rounded, straight lines, the chairs have spindle backrests and ergonomically carved seats. The design eludes harmony and stability, fitting the government’s summer cabin concept perfectly.

Hjorth's aesthetic alludes to both the traditional simplicity of the common people and the radical aesthetics of international modernism. The ‘sports cottage furniture’ that these dining chairs are part of, also had an influence on the designer’s contemporaries and inspired Carl Malmsten among others. In an international perspective, Hjorth's sportstugemöbler series is the forerunner of later pioneering designers such as Charlotte Perriand. It is no surprise that these Utö chairs became part of Swedish and international modernist design history. In their time, the pieces of the Utö collection may have appeared as pioneering and radical, but today they are viewed as status symbols in interiors of international character.

Condition:
In good vintage condition. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor scratches and marks on the wood.

Dimensions:
18.11 in W x 16.92 in D x 31.49 in H; Seat height 16.92 in
46 cm W x 43 cm D x 80 cm H; Seat height 43 cm

Literature:
Christian Bjork, Thomas Ekstrom and Eric Ericson, 'Axel Einar Hjorth: Mobelarkitekt', Stockholm, 2009, p.130

About the designer:
Axel Einar Hjorth was born in a small Swedish village named Krokek, just outside Norrköping, on March 7, 1888. At the age of 20, he moved to Stockholm to study architecture and design at the Högre Konstindustriella Skolan.

Although he never graduated, in the 1920s Hjorth started working as a furniture designer for various manufacturers, such as H. Joop & Co., Myrestedt & Stern, Jonssons, and Nordiska Kompaniet. Hjorth’s designs from this period had neoclassical features combined with Swedish Grace. This romantic national style of Sweden was elegant and refined, yet simple. The anniversary exhibition of 1923 in Gothenburg marked the breakthrough of Swedish decorative arts, and made Axel Einar Hjorth a well-respected artist. From October 1926, Hjorth became the chief designer and architect of Nordiska Kompaniet department store in Stockholm. In the 1930s, Hjorth designed a furniture collection out of pine meant for serial production known as Sportstugemöbler (furniture for holiday houses).

Hjorth’s designs, from the luxury of neoclassicism to the severity of functionalism, are sharply distinctive in style, materials, and character. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hjorth did not conform to the socially oriented ideas produced by Svensk Form (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design). He played a significant role in the development of Swedish society as a whole, and particularly in Swedish industrial art

Today Hjorth is often viewed as a precursor to the modern designs popularized by Charlotte Perriand, Jean Royére, Pierre Chapo, or Josef Frank. Recently, there has been a revival of appreciation for his work, showing his genius in a new light. ~H.

Shipping:
These dining chairs will be packed and shipped with the greatest care to make sure you will receive the items in the gallery condition. Complimentary shipping within the Netherlands.
Styles / Movements Modern, Scandinavian Modern
Book References Christian Bjork, Thomas Ekstrom and Eric Ericson, 'Axel Einar Hjorth: Mobelarkitekt', Stockholm, 2009, p.130
Dealer Reference Number 20180152
Incollect Reference Number 469237
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