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Monday, April 2, 2012

A little more Bruno Mathsson trivia

Before leaving the topic of Bruno Mathsson, I ran across some photos and information I missed somehow when writing my original post. What I found is so quirky and interesting that I just had to do one more short post about him.

In the previous post, I mentioned that Mathsson had won a scholarship, which led to a trip to an exhibition in Stockholm and meeting with Gustaf Munthe that changed his ideas about design completely and forever. Here is the chair that won him the scholarship and trip.

Baroque chair made by Mathsson in his father's shop

A year later, he received a commission from the hospital in his hometown of Värnamo, Sweden. This chair demonstrates how drastically his design direction had already changed. He decided to create the chair without traditional springs and upholstery and instead used plaited webbing for comfort. (Mathsson is said to have done considerable research on the perfect seating curve, even sitting in a snow drift so he could study the imprint of his body.) The design was so controversial that the hospital staff, who had nicknamed the chairs the Grasshoppers, stored them away out of sight...until Mathsson became famous.

Grasshopper chair

In the mid-1930s, Mathsson discovered the physical culture, a fitness and strength building movement that began after the Industrial Revolution, when a popular idea began to gain acceptance that the middle class was suffering from "diseases of affluence." As part of his fitness regimen, Mathsson added a porch to his studio and constructed a bed with horsehair insulation for the new addition, so he could sleep outside from May till November.

Outddoor sleeping porch

In the original post, I focused mainly on Mathsson's furniture designs, but I probably should have included some of his architectural designs, which are amazing, especially considering that he was self-taught. Many of the houses he designed were constructed almost entirely of glass of his own patented design. Called "Brunopane," it consisted of a triple-glazed window with gaps insulated by nitrogen.

Kungsor, Sweden - 1954

Daneryd, Sweden - 1955

Another view of summer house


  1. I love that he called his windows Brunopanes! That's so funny. The vines surrounding the outdoor sleeping porch are amazing, but that tub bed kind of reminds me of a coffin. I think I would swap it out for a day-bed of sorts, not that I have the opportunity to do that...

    1. I was kinda put off by the shape of the bed too, but I guess he needed the high sides for the brisk temperatures. I Googled the climate in his hometown, and even in May-November, we're talking about 32-68 degrees.

  2. Dana,
    I really like the idea of a sleeping porch like that...under a roof out of the dew...before it gets blasting hot and bug-ridden...and that summer house! Gorgeous!
    We made it out to Warrenton last week and plan to go again tomorrow...look what we found!
    Oooooh! I'm so excited! For my own summer house!

    1. I wouldn't mind having a sleeping porch...but I'm not sure I'd want one in Sweden in May when it's 32 degrees...LOL Talk about invigorating!!!

      I love your Warrenton find! What fun...