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Rare 1930s Alvar Aalto for Stylclair in Plywood and Braided Straw

Sale price$16,400.00

Alvar Aalto for Stylclair, lounge chair, beech plywood, braided straw, France, 1930s

We present a rare lounge chair designed by Alvar Aalto, produced by Stylclair under the license from Wohnbedarf. Aalto's furniture first appeared in France around 1933 in Lyon, following the establishment of Stylclair by Marcel Michaud and C.L. Zenone, which set the stage for Aalto's innovative designs to enter the French market.

Before Artek's founding in late 1935, Aalto's bentwood furniture gained traction across Europe, with key distribution hubs in London and Zurich, Finmar and Wohnbedarf respectively. Art historian Sigfried Giedion played a significant role in expanding Aalto's reach internationally. Giedion's move to France solidified his connection with Stylclair situated in Lyon, a retailer and gallery focusing on modern furniture and contemporary art. Through a partnership with Wohnbedarf, Stylclair owned the exclusive rights to sell Aalto's wooden furniture in France. By March 1934, Stylclair had opened a store in Paris at 43 Rue de la Bourse, offering a curated selection of Aalto and Breuer furniture, firmly establishing Aalto's presence in the French market.

Sigfried Giedion, along with architect Werner Max Moser and businessman Rudolf Graber, established Zentralstelle für zeitgemässen Wohnbedarf (now Wohnbedarf AG) in 1931, setting a new standard for Swiss furnishings stores by designing their own modern furniture. This pioneering store in Zurich was not just a place to buy furniture; it was a reflection of a new lifestyle, catering to changing tastes and the growing desire for modernity.

This chair showcases the iconic bent plywood design of the armchair model 42, also known as the "Small Paimio," originally created in 1932. What sets this piece apart is its meticulously braided straw upholstery, which enhances its natural aesthetic and harmonizes beautifully with the wooden frame's organic lines. Archival research has not identified who specifically added this distinctive feature, yet it was a common practice for Wohnbedarf to be involved in tailoring designs to local tastes in order to stay competitive and relevant.

Aino Marsio-Aalto, Alvar Aalto's wife and collaborator, played a crucial role in shaping the product line for Artek. Her "travel diary" provides insights into her inspirations, often referencing textiles and patterns from various cultures. While visiting Stylclair's Paris gallery, she observed a range of materials that would later influence Artek's products, such as cotton zebra fabric from Lyon, coconut matting, and room dividers made of straw. These notes reveal how the French market and local trends might have impacted Aalto's designs. It seems plausible that Aalto's designs may have been adapted by Stylclair (or Wohnbedarf) to align with the French taste of that time. The chair under consideration exudes a more rustic charm, and considering the warmer days of summer, the incorporation of the braided element adds a practical touch.

The chair has been restored to the finest condition achievable for a piece of its age. However, it is important to note that the frame has limited load-bearing capacity. For further details, we encourage you to reach out to our team of design specialists.

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Product Details

  • condition Good
  • creator Alvar Aalto (Designer)
  • date of manufacture 1930s
  • dimensions Height 25.01 in. Width 24.81 in. Depth 32.49 in. Seat Height 13.39 in.
  • dimensions Height 63.5 cm Width 63 cm Depth 82.5 cm Seat Height 34 cm
  • material Beech Plywood Straw
  • origin France
  • period 1930-1939
  • style Scandinavian Modern (Of the Period)
  • barcode 50114150