The Bard Graduate Center, Design Within Reach’s Upper West Side neighbor, is running an exhibit on Swedish architect and designer Bruno Mathsson through June 10th. This is the first exhibit focusing on the work of Mathsson, arguably one of the most important Swedish modernist designers. In 1937 MoMA purchased his Eva chair for its public spaces and throughout the 1940s and 1950s Mathsson focused on ergonomics in his designs, one of the first to do so. His designs quite often featured a backwards tilt because, as he stated, “why should we sit up straight when we don’t have to…one can concentrate much better in a leisurely position.” Case in point: I am writing this slouched backwards in my Chadwick chair.
Mathsson is more a cultish figure than iconic one, due in large part to his resistance to distribute his designs in the 1950s. Many companies, Knoll included, jockeyed for his creations. The exhibit at Bard features "150 examples of furniture, architectural drawings, photographs, and models." The fact that his creations were not mass produced lends itself to the exhibit’s power. Many things seem new and exciting, even if they’re 60 years old.