Bended by Else-Rikke Bruun


This chair was inspired by Arabic lettering and, when seen in profile, the curves of the separate parts certainly have the fluidity of ink lines drawn with a pen or a fine brush as in calligraphy.

It is formed from flat, two-dimensional, sheets of plywood that have been cut to shape and bent and moulded to follow complex curves but what is also important, particularly for the view from the side, are spacing and joining pieces that keep each of the four main parts of the chair separate so that they appear to run parallel for sections but then curve away without actually seeming to touch.

Back, seat, front support and the back support together form an elongated X in section when the chair is seen from the side but it is an X where there are not just two main lines simply intersecting but four curved parts that slide together with different amounts of overlap and changes of angle.

There is a strong contrast between the view of the chair from the front or back - which shows something very solid - because the elements are bold unbroken shapes - and the view from the side where the chair is thin, linear and very elegant. The proportions of the parts and balance or relationship between them is crucial and there is a dynamic between the lines and the solid planes in any view from an angle.

Else-Rikke Bruun



In terms of the broad history of chair design the structural form of Bended is fascinating.

Roman and medieval stools used either an x-shaped frame or intersecting and crossing pieces but generally the X shape was seen from the front, not the side, and the person using the chair was either sitting between the arms of the X or on a seat that rested across the top of the X. 

Some designers in the early modern period, such as Gerrit Rietveld, used flat sheets of plywood to form the seat and back of a chair and in the 1930s Alvar Aalto designed chairs with shaped seats or backs in plywood but this was only bent in one plane, basically forming a scroll, and these plywood seats were invariably supported on bentwood frames.

All these designs look inelegant when compared with the chair designed by Else-Rikke Bruun.


 Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) 

Red and Blue Chair 1917


Plywood is an industrial or manufactured product that was first made in the early 19th century and was seen as primarily utilitarian. It has layers of thin sheets of wood that are cut by turning a tree trunk against a long thin blade and often smaller or poor-quality tree trunks are used. These slices are glued together with a number of layers to form sheets of varying thickness. Plywood is strong, relatively light and relatively inexpensive so it can be used for boat building, covering industrial buildings, such as sheds or factories or farm buildings, or used for the backs of furniture such as wardrobes or over frames it is strong enough for the sides and fronts of cupboards - particularly for what was sometimes called utility furniture in the middle of the last century.

In the second half of the 20th century, several designers in Denmark produced chairs with a seat and back in plywood that had been curved or moulded into relatively complicated three-dimensional seats, perhaps most notably Arne Jacobsen, but generally these plywood shells were supported on a separate frame of wood or metal.

folding chair by Kaare Klint 1933

Chair PK25 by Poul Kjærholm 1951


The BENDED chair is low and in its form and in the position of the sitter it is reminiscent of two very distinct designs from the middle of the 20th century ... the deck chair by Kaare Klint from 1933 and the metal-framed chair PK25 by Poul Kjærholm designed in 1951 or his slightly later PK22 from 1955.

Several designers have, however, explored the possibilities of using plywood for the whole chair, both the seat and back and the support, and have moulded plywood into far more complicated shapes to create more complex pieces of furniture. 

Sori Yanagi (1915-2011) -  Butterfly Stool 1954. Deceptively simple with two very complex pieces that mirror each other.

Greta Jalke (1920-2006) chair in plywood from 1963. There are two main parts to the chair that are bent to particularly complex shapes - almost like strudel pastry or pasta.

Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005) a prototype chair in Oregon pine from 1962 for Poul Christiansen. The seat is a separate piece, supported by a cross piece between the front legs and housed into the back strut with a line of square mortise-and-tenon joints.