Anita Bookcase by Bruno Mathsson

by Bruno Mathsson
Anita - A freestanding Library Bookcase in enamelled steel and pine

Designed by Bruno Mathsson (1907 - 1988) circa 1960

Manufactured by Dux Industries, Sweden

Bruno Mathsson was born in Värnamo, Sweden. His father, Karl, whose furniture business would later manufacture many of Bruno's designs, was a fourth-generation master joiner and gave his son a thorough knowledge of wood technology. From the beginning, Bruno was fascinated by the possibilities of developing the form and function of furniture using new wood technology. In the 1920s and 1930s he became deeply involved in studying and developing the functional possibilities of wood.

In 1931 Mathsson developed his first chair, the Grasshopper, for Värnamo Hospital to place in a reception area. (It was said that people found it so ugly it was quickly relegated to the attic.) But this innovative chair, with its woven, webbed seat stretched across a frame whose arm rest and legs were made of one arched wooden piece sculpted into an interpretation of a grasshopper's legs, was his first expression of what furniture could and should be. He stripped away traditional upholstery, making the hemp webbing both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and began to develop the ultimate seating, which should, he believed, have the ability to separate into a lounge chair, an easy chair, and a work chair. He thought that individual furniture designs should interact with the room in which they were placed and with the architecture. He also discarded traditional ideas on the height of chairs and tables and created slender furniture forms and seating adapted to lower horizontal surfaces. Function and comfort were his primary objectives, and the mechanics of seating occupied his mind. Inspired by Le Corbusier, he experimented with the physiology of the seating curves adjusted according to the body, which in turn resulted in prototypes for the work, easy, and lounge chairs. His furniture is undoubtedly influenced by the bentwood designs of Alvar Aalto, but Mathsson's commitment to bentwood and his range and virtuosity of the material exceeded all of his contemporaries, including Marcel Breuer, among others. Mathsson possessed an uncanny feeling for the material qualities of bentwood. His furniture designs are unique in their sensuously undulating lines and the elegant, organic way in which their contours echo the human form.

Mathsson's international reputation was launched with the bentwood furniture he exhibited in the Swedish pavilion at the 1937 World Exposition in Paris. Edgar Kaufmann Jr. saw the furniture and recommended that the Eva Chair, then called the Work Chair, be purchased for the public rooms at the new Museum of Modern Art building in New York City, designed by Philip Goodwin and Edward Durrell Stone and completed in 1939. That same year, Mathsson furniture was shown at the Swedish pavilion at the New York World's Fair, which provided further impetus for his extensive popularity and influence in the United States. During the 1940s Artek Pasco distributed the furniture, which became a commercial success, appearing in numerous domestic and public buildings designed by leading modern architects across the country. In 1949 Baldwin Kingrey, the largest retailer of modern furniture in the Midwest, gave Mathsson a one-man show in its Chicago store that received extensive publicity.

In the 1960s, Dux Industries, the Swedish furniture company, began manufacturing and distributing Mathsson bentwood furniture. Mathsson began working with tubular steel. His most audacious design from this period is the super ellipse table created in collaboration with Piet Hein, the Danish mathematician. The elegant table rested on span legs that could easily be removed with a tension mechanism. The span leg gave the impression of the elliptical form hovering in space. Mathsson continued to actively explore design possibilities into the 1980s, and he once again became interested in the office environment and the ergonomics of seating. He soon began designing for the electronic age, including computer tables and work stations. Today Mathsson furniture is manufactured by Bruno Mathsson International and by Dux Industries.
H 182.5cm x W 193cm x D 73cm
H 72" x W 76¼" x D 29"
Anita Bookcase by Bruno Mathsson_0
Anita Bookcase by Bruno Mathsson_0 Anita Bookcase by Bruno Mathsson_0 Anita Bookcase by Bruno Mathsson_1


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