‘Pirkka’ series table and stool, Laukaan Puu. 1950s
The Pirkka range was designed by Finnish interior architect and designer Ilmari Tapiovaara in 1955 for Laukaan Puu. The design alludes to the forms of Finnish rustic furniture. Tapiovaara was always seeking for new solutions to improve everyday objects. During his long career, Tapiovaara created dozens of iconic objects loved by the public. Tapiovaara is especially revered as a master of characteristic and human objects and surroundings. The designs of Ilmari Tapiovaara have proved their quality by remaining a part of our daily lives as interesting, still relevant, functional and aesthetic pieces of furniture.
We are still researching this small table. It has similarities to various under-appreciated early British modernist designer/makers from the early c20th including Gerald Summers, Isokon/ Jack Pritchard etc. and captures the spirit of the early British constructivist architects and artists.
A handful of designer/makers like Summers and Isokon used plywood before the WWII. Unlike most other furniture makers of the day, they did not feel compelled to cover it in a veneer of a more exotic wood. In the early 30s Summers began to experiment with a special kind of plywood called “aeroplane ply” and, as Martha Deese wrote in the Journal of Design History, “this exceptionally thin and flexible material had a revolutionary impact on Summers’s emerging style” (Martha Deese, “Gerald Summers and Makers of Simple Furniture,” Journal of Design History, vol. 5, no. 3 (1992), pp. 183–205). During the period plywood enabled designers to evolve an organic idiom of curved surfaces and curvilinear outlines, which exploited the inherent capabilities of this pliable material. (*Cerio,2009)
The base of its sculptural design is made from 3mm aeroplane ply. The top that swivels around the base in three section can be folded away or left up as shown. The top is a thicker plywood.
The use of steel and Allen bolts to connect the frames allowed Kjaerholm to avoid the, sometimes, imprecise process of welding. It also fulfilled his desire to show how the frames were connected, thus providing a clear legibility to his designs, and led him towards creating his first work desk and compatible chair – the PK 55 and PK 11, which appeared in 1957.
The simple looking build of the PK55 table belies a much more interesting design than is apparent at first glance. The steel base frame is actually composed of four lengths of flat steel, intersecting at each corner, with the short end leg propping up the longer, width-spanning leg. Each leg element is held together yet simultaneously pushed slightly apart with Allen bolts to give the base frame an even lighter profile and also to reveal the four separate planes.
This work table features an ash table top and satin brushed steel frame.
A modernist table composed of an eight section chrome plated frame supporting a wooden table top.
The B 10 table was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1927 for his own company Standard Möbel, and since 1930 the piece has been manufactured by Thonet under the same designation. This is an early production circa 1930s (although the top has been restored at some point) The colour is a very pale blue/green. There is no Thonet company badge/label.
Walter Gropius (German, 1883-1969) redesign of Isokon plywood table/stool 1930s
A stool/table with removable tray top, manufactured by the Venesta Plywood Company, Estonia, 193os for Isokon, UK.
The stools were originally designed for the ‘Isobar’ restaurant/lounge within the modernist Lawn Road flats, London (see image). The Isobar restaurant was realised in 1937 after the communal kitchen in the building was converted to a design by Marcel Breuer and F.R.S.Yorke from the Modern Architectural Research Group (the MARS group). Trays were made for some of the stools so that customers cold take the tray to the bar when fetching drinks.
Alistair Greave’s 2004 book Isokon for Ease for Ever describes this rare variation of the plywood stools as having tighter designed cut out shapes than the regular versions seen in the image of the Isobar. He attributes this adaptation of the design to Walter Gropius who during the mid-1930s was in exile in London working for the Isokon group alongside British architects like Maxwell Fry and others. Their designs continued the dogmas of modernist ethics begun earlier at the Bauhaus; simplicity, economy and aesthetic beauty.
It retains its original circular tray built with a thinner plywood edge (they normally always have thicker edged trays to prevent warping) The thin edge is thought to have been part of Gropius’s redesign that may not have been put into production because of the structural difficulties. Both sections are marked by Venesta (the Estonian company employed by Pritchard to manufacture the Isokon plywood furniture)
Elmar Berkovich was born in Budapest but during his early twenties fled to The Netherlands. There he became a highly valued and productive Dutch interior and furniture designer, designing furniture for Metz & Co throughout the 1930s, and later after 1947, for the Philips factories in Eindhoven and for ‘t Spectrum furniture company.
The modern movement was well underway in The Netherlands when Berkovich arrived and later it was Berkovich who was largely responsible for introducing innovative designs by modernists like Rietveld, Breuer, Huszar and van der leck (among others) to the Metz & Co. store.
In the 1960s retrospective exhibitions of his work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1962) and later in Eindhoven (1963) in the Van Abbemuseum.
This Berkovich designed table is named the ‘Groesbeek’ side table. It was manufactured as a very limited edition by the ‘t Sprectrum company in the 1950s. It is totally original and in very good condition. The smaller image shows another table (variation) available named the ‘Beek’ table.
The Dutch architect Wim Den Boon alongside Hein Stolle and Pierre Kleykamp formed the ‘Group&’ in the period shortly after WWII as part of the Dutch ‘Goed Wonen’ (Good living) movement. They focused on designing purist interior furniture and design that fitted in seamlessly with the functionalist designs of the thirties.
By the 1950s Den Boon broke with ‘Group &’ and established himself as an independent furniture designer in The Hague. From that time and throughout the 60s he was responsible for many interiors and renovation projects, particularly in The Hague. These two tables (one shown) were designed as part of the interiors of one of those projects – The tables can be seen within the complete interior of a house in the images of Peter Voge’s biography of Den Boon.
As seen, the design of these tables was ahead of its time – There are visible influences of Rietveld and De Stijl or even the Scandinavian designs of Kjaerholm. At his best Den Boon designed some of the most futuristic interiors during the 1950s. His furniture is rare to find and most of it can only be experienced through photographic documentation.
49cm x 49cm x 49cm x 43cm High.
Ref: Peter Voge “Wim Den Boon Binnenhuisarchitect”