Monday, 9 May 2011

Roadtrip - Bruno Mathsson

This was probably my favorite visit of the whole trip, round the corner from Källemo in Värnamo nestled in amongst a pretty unnassuming little residential village is a real design gem. The Bruno Mathsson Centre, and in fact his former home and studio.
Here's the guy himself

Bruno was born to a family of cabinet makers in 1907 and despite their best wishes for him to follow in their footsteps Bruno preferred to make his own rules and not adhere to the traditions his family had been working with for decades. At 16 years old he begged his mother to let him leave school, thinking she could outsmart him she gave his a huge list of verbs and told him if he could remember them all she would allow him to leave and that he did. Not being one to go back on her word she agreed that he could leave. Bruno was constantly sculpting and sketching whilst working for his father and soon began working on his own designs. He became consumed with designing a chair that could be comfotable and supportive without any cushions or upholstery, wantng to create a form that followed the body. So that sitting down was no longer an art but the chair was. He sat in snowdrifts and studied the shapes his body had imprinted in the snow and used this to inform his design. After 10 years or tireless research his chairs were born

The original of which is still on display at the Centre, as well as the updated versions and variations you see above. All hand webbed, even to this day!

Bruno's talents were not limited to chairs and he soon began working with Architecture favouring mainly glass structures so that he could feel like he was sleeping outside even during the cold Swedish winters. He bacame a follower and perhaps even a forefather of the Fitness freak movement and believed that being outside and having close contact with nature was better for your well being and health and that the warmth of the sun warmed not only your body but also your heart. Bruno would sleep outside from May to November and only sleep inside when it was really too unbearably cold to survive outside.

It may seem now like Bruno had instant success but in fact he was challenged heavily by the authorities back then, he introduced triple glazed windows in the 50's, far ahead of anyone else and it was only much more recently that this fact began to be celebrated rather than challenged. It's maddening to me that in the 50's he was doing what we still haven't had the sense to do now in the UK! granted it isn't as cold here come winter time but I'm sure it beats the way we just crank up our heating and in turn our bills for the entire winter season! Can't really see myself sleeping outside until November though, but he is right and there is something wonderful about sleeping under an open sky (hippie!)

His Fathers original sign on his office

Spotted a Dieter Rams stereo on his shelf too, a man of good taste it would seem!

Most excelent foldaway desk in his office

Considering ergonomics within the work environment

Crazy to think of him and his wife spending so many years living out of a hotel room!
I really wish I had taken more shots of the actual building but it was such a sunny deay it was so difficult to get anything. Perhaps I'll have to go back!

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