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Saturday, February 13, 2016

The "new" France & Son

Five years ago, a company was started with the mission "to set the trend in replica and original designs, providing the opportunity for everyone to create homes and spaces with an edge and at a budget that everyone could afford."

I admit that at first I was a little put off that they chose to appropriate the name "France & Son" from that of the well-known 20th century Danish manufacturing company which ultimately put into production the designs of a number mid-century icons, such as Arne Vodder, Grete Jalk, Peter Hvidt & Orla Molgaard-Nielsen, Finn Juhl, and Ole Wanscher. I could find no mention of the original company on their website, nor a disclaimer saying they have no connection to that historic company.

To be fair, they are under no legal or ethical obligation to do so, since the original company has not existed for decades. However, my concern was, and still is, that some people who are familiar with the name of the Danish company but do not know its history might be misled by the new company's name.

That said, after receiving numerous promotional emails from the company, I decided to make a purchase and take a look at the quality of the products they sell. I ordered their $39.99 walnut version of the Eames Hang-It-All, which is sold by Herman Miller for $299.

The Herman Miller version measures 14.7H x 19.7L x 6.5D, while the France & Son version measures 15.5H x 19.75L x 7D. I was quite pleased with the sturdiness and workmanship of the France & Son version, considering the difference in price, and I can justify spending $40 for a coat rack far more easily than I can justify spending $300.

Once a real purist about mid-century design, my attitude began to shift after doing some research for this blog. If you'd like to know why, see the links below.


France & Son version of Eames Hang-It-All

Close-up of France & Son version of Eames Hang-It-All

NOTE: A recurring theme on this blog has to do with legal and ethical issues surrounding knock-offs, reproductions and reissues. Whenever I broach this subject, I always reference a series of three "Is It Real?" posts I did in 2011 for any new readers who would like to examine the topic in more detail. First post : According to a Collector; second post: According to a Manufacturer; third post: According to an Heir

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Willy Guhl

Willy Guhl (1915-2004) was a Swiss industrial designer and a leader in the Swiss neo-functional design movement. He was one of the first advocates of flat-packed furniture, later made famous by the Swedish chain Ikea, saying that more people would be able to afford good design if it could be assembled in their homes.

Guhl's trademark piece was the Loop Chair, designed for Eternit in 1954. It was made of a single piece of material, a combination of asbestos and cement, bent to form a loop and designed according to his motto of "achieving the most with the minimum of effort." The chair is now made with a cement and fiber mixture which does not contain asbestos.

Other famous Guhl designs are the Scobalit chair and various window boxes, planters, tables, standing ashtrays, and modular pieces he created for the company Eternit AG.

He trained as a cabinetmaker before attending the Zurich School of Applied Arts, where the eventually taught for 39 years.

From nytimes.com, swissinfo.ch, and design-museum.de


Loop Chair
design-museum.de

Scobalit chairs
design-museum.de

Diabolo planters for Eternit
1stdibs.com

Modular cubes
1stdibs.com


Saucer planters
1stdibs.com

Tilted planters
1stdibs.com

Prototype sideboard
1stdibs.com

Side chairs
1stdibs.com