From 7 December 2017 up to 4 February 2018, “Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum” will be presenting selected children’s chairs from the collection of the Munich resident, Gisela Neuwald. The exhibition, on the second floor of “Pinakothek der Moderne”, is being presented in cooperation with the Chair of Spatial Arts and Lighting Design of the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
Children’s chairs – from classic chairs to curious objects
Gisela Neuwald has collected more than 290 children’s chairs from all over the world. She has been doing this from the 1970s and has had them transported by car, by rail and by air, as she disclosed to the Nürnberger Zeitung in 2012. Her collection includes classic pieces of modern design such as Armchair no. 65 by Alvar Aalto, also curiosities such as the “seggiolino 4999” armchair by Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso from 1964 and folk art is also represented through the armchair from Ethiopia from 1890. The fact that all the objects, which Mrs Neuwald has collected, have been examined in detail and have been categorised, is thanks to a research project carried out over the course of several years by the Furniture Design program of the Department of Architecture at TUM.
The most important designs have now been brought together at this exhibition and are being presented to the public. They give the visitor an interesting insight into the development of children’s chairs right from the Biedermeier period, through the 1963 “Anna” chair by Ikea and up to the present day “Pro 4” armchair by Konstantin Grcic from 2012. Through pieces that display imaginative and innovative design solution of those periods, visitors will be able to follow the developments in new methods and materials of construction such as the use of colourful plastic in the 1960s and 70s. Additionally, the designs from different eras provide information with regard to the corresponding social status of the child in those times.
A special role in the history of design
This exhibition also accentuates the special role that children’s chairs have played in the history of design. Nowadays, furniture designed especially for children is an essential and integral part of design and consumer offerings. International designers are continually looking for the best solutions for children’s furniture and while doing so, they are also continuously optimising aspects such as ergonomics, dirt and stain resistant surfaces, durability and a diversity of their uses. Along with all these, the products should also appeal to the young users to the same extent as to their parents. As a matter of fact, the children’s chair only became an independent design segment during the period of industrialisation and through the gradual implementation of pedagogy. Prior to that, furniture designed especially for children was reserved for representatives of nobility or the bourgeoisie. Thus, the children’s chair has only a relatively short developmental history.
As opposed to that, the history of the chair itself goes all the way back to antiquity. The German company, Thonet, has done pioneering work in the field of children’s furniture. The bentwood process, which was developed by it, made modern seating affordable for the masses. It also introduced special furniture for children to the market, such as the children’s armchair with rollers, which was conceived at the end of the 19th century itself. As a consequence, the exhibition emphasises that the development of children’s chairs cannot be imagined about without understanding that the child will develop into an adult and that childhood is also a very important phase in the life of every person.
About the Neue Sammlung in Munich
The Neue Sammlung is the design museum in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. It was founded in 1907 in line with the ideas of the German Werkbund. In 1925, it became a state funded museum dedicated to product and industrial design as well as graphic design. The Neue Sammlung, with its over 100,000 catalogued items, has one of the largest design collections in the world.
Posted on 08.12.2017