Norwegian Ingmar Relling (1920-2002) designed his Siesta chair in 1964. The following year it placed first at the Norwegian Furniture Council’s design competition. Siesta gave Relling a premier spot in Scandinavian design history along with international acclaim. In fact, this chair is recognized as the icebreaker leading to Norway’s entrée into international furniture markets.
The Vanishing Barcelona Chair
Last weekend we acquired a pair of low-back Siesta chairs of our own. I wish I could claim it was expected. Despite these Norwegian beauties catching our attention online earlier in the week, we opted to go to another estate sale for, what we thought, a bigger prize.
Friday morning we groggily stood in a line many miles away. Numbers 1 and 2 on the sign-in sheet. David, normally gregarious, communicated in monosllyabic responses. We were on a mission: Michael sent us to snap up a fetching Barcelona chair (or well-made reproduction) wrapped in a rich white leather.
The doors of the sale opened and we raced inside, only to learn a disappointing and infuriating truth: someone had removed the Barcelona chair the previous evening — before the sale began.
There’s no telling what happened. Was it removed by the family, as the estate agent apologetically explained? Or was it something more nefarious, as some dealers muttered darkly: a price agreed upon before the general public could lay claim to it? Bad business, indeed.
Oh, and the snappy 1979 red MGB with red piping on the upholstery seams that, unbeknown to us, had captured David’s imagination? It was no longer there either. David wanted to at least drool over it for a few minutes. He believes everyone should own an MG at least once. Fortunately he already has enjoyed that experience.
David texted our son, Michael, with the sad news that the Barcelona Chair had vanished. The two shared moment of shock and anger. Michael opined on one of his favorite estate sale topics: the need for a cohesive set of guidelines to bring order to a largely ad hoc business. We listened politely. But, taking stock of the situation, we had gambled on the Barcelona chair and miscalculated badly.
Enter, Siesta Chairs
We headed home to regroup. While I gulped down a glass of cold pomegranate juice, David phoned the estate sale with the “Westnofa” chairs. Surprise — they were still available. When we heard the asking price, we knew why. If they survived until 9 am the next morning, when everything at the sale dropped by 30% . . .
After talking it over that night, the three of us came to a decision: we’d buy them. David took the lead on this one, leaving at 7:15 am for a 45 minute trip across the St Johns River. He signed in as number 2 on the list. The doors opened and he made a beeline for the chairs and fended off another shopper who came in behind him. He kept the purchase quiet until he triumphantly returned with a pair of matching Siesta Chairs. Very exciting.
Sadly, it was too much to hope for matching ottomans. Not that we’re complaining. David likes the thrill of the hunt and the adrenalin rush of the purchase. He compared his adventure to a Deerslayer moment, with Ingmar Relling’s Siesta chairs in the sight of his imaginary long rife. And he got two with one shot.
A lot of craftsmanship went into the Siesta chair. This is a serious merging of design and function into luxurious comfort. Laminated, bent beechwood create the bones, while a soft leather seat welcomes your tired body. More interestingly, the color changes with the light. Here’s a shot of it around midday — brown, right?
And in late afternoon light it appears burgundy:
Look at the back! Cords and canvas offer trampoline-like comfort. We’re not kidding — not only is it incredibly light, the Siesta chair is also sensationally comfortable.
Occasionally people claim that Westnofa manufactured these chairs. That would be wrong. Westnofa, created in the 1950s, was an umbrella Norwegian organization intended to promote trade in international markets. Vestlandske originally manufactured Siesta. In 1997 Ekornes bought Vestlandske. Currently Rybo produces this timeless chair.
We love Rybo’s description of Relling’s process:
Simplicity, minimalism, elegance and uncompromising quality are key concepts in all Relling’s designs. Sleek, clear lines, not to mention the obvious correlation between design and function, were essential for Ingmar Relling, who always was closely involved with the chair’s development after it left the drawing board. Even in the design phase, it was crucial for Relling that the chair should be eco-friendly – with optimized use of materials, wood from sustainable forests, maximum durability and reusability. This is typical of Ingmar Relling, who, as well as being a designer, was a dedicated humanist, interested in dimensions extending beyond the purely aesthetic. Source
Function equal to form. Comfort interwoven with responsible design. Something to ponder, maybe, after I melt back into the chair’s soft embrace.
Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Pinterest.
Ann Marie and David