Plywood Armchair

Gerald Summers

Design: 1933 - 4
Production: since 1935
Manufacturer: Makers of Simple Furniture,
Ltd., London
Size: 74 x 60.5 x 91.5; seat height 32 cms
Material: bent plywood

In the history of industrial design there have always been attempts to shape everyday objects in only one piece of semifinished industrial material like rods, tubing, wire, or sheets. There is hardly a design that better illustrates the ideal unity of material, production and form, however, than this armchair by Gerald Summers. His admirably simple construction dispenses with connectors and almost with off-cuts, using one single sheet of plywood. Following a simple pattern, Summers separated the back legs from the back and armrests and bent the segments thus created in different directions. The result was an organically shaped armchair, comfortable even without cushions, involving low material and labor inputs. Possibly the chair was conceived for use in the tropics. With its smooth surface and lack of metal connectors, it is hygienic and deteriorates only gradually. Its unusual shape probably stems from Alvar Aalto’s furniture, especially the spectacular “Paimio” chair, which was shown in London in 1933. In his own company, Makers of Simple Furniture, Ltd., founded in 1929, Summers produced only 120 units of the chair. Despite the constructive advantages, the production costs of the chair and thus the sales price were higher than the designs of the popular Scandinavian. It was certainly also a disadvantage that the back legs could not withstand great stress and snapped easily. MSC

Designer:
Gerald Summers

Gerald Summers