london design festival: at the 2016 london design festival, fritz hansen pre-launches the stackable ‘pair’ chair, marking their first collaboration with benjamin hubert, founder of layer design agency. channeling the furniture company’s signature modern aesthetics, the design is visually bold but is very adaptable to fit into any interior environment. its suitability for various uses is a result of its precisely refined development, where over 30 prototypes were created over a three year period.
the backrest is available with or without arms
all images courtesy of the republic of fritz hansen
christian andresen, head of design at fritz hansen, explains, ‘benjamin has inspired us by creating something really new with a strong emotional story, whilst still embracing the fritz hansen DNA. we have been seeking to expand our contemporary collection to add on our classic collection of stackable chairs, and with the pair chair, we hope to meet the demands of the market. many products can be made on different colors, but very few offer the pair chair’s visual versatility.’
the seat is offered in two colors and in an oak veneer
benjamin hubert’s ‘pair’ chair builds upon fritz hansen’s heritage of pioneering plywood to create fluid furniture forms. the chair pairs a traditional plywood seat shell with an injection-molded polycarbonate backrest, which utilizes a 10% transparency to give itself a glass-like quality. this composition of materials creates an interesting interaction between mid-century and modern design. its multiple color options for the seat, legs and backrest – available with or without arms – further strengthens this connection between its core elements, and creates countless color possibilities.
the use of plastic provides the necessary strength, support and comfort for the chair and its user
at a special pre-launch of the ‘pair’ chair, during the 2016 london design festival, bejamin provided designboom with an exclusive insight into the product’s design development and prototyping process.
designboom (DB): what were the benefits and also the challenges of working with fritz hansen on this new chair?
benjamin hubert (BH): the benefits also provided the challenges. fritz hansen are dedicated to a very high sense of quality, so it was a privilege to work with the minds and hands at fritz hansen that works towards such high standards. the challenge was to reach them, every material, finish, construction, form, surface and color had to exude such a high sense of quality.
also, we were very interested in introducing as much smartness into the project as possible. not just a beautiful standalone product but a smart system that could offer options, a sense of future-proofing and a format that would allow flexibility for the specifier.
the legs are available as a sled base or as four legs, and in a choice of two colors or chrome
DB: can you tell us about how this project first started? did fritz hansen come to you with a very strict brief or were you given a large amount of creative freedom on what type of furniture you were going to produce?
BH: our brief was quite direct – we were asked to look at a stacking plywood chair with metal legs – in the tradition of many other fritz hansen chairs. apart from that the form, sub-format and thinking was ours to drive forward in collaboration with the fritz hansen design team and prototypers.
the furniture’s versatile design enables it to fit into any interior
DB: taking over three years to create and more than 30 prototypes, how does the ‘pair’ chair, which has a very simplistic form, reflect the amount of design development and testing that went into it?
BH: there is a big difference between simplistic and simple. simplistic means basic and simple means clarity – we are very much focused on the later – delivering meaningful products with a simple but strong idea, function and aesthetic. we went through a lot of design steps and prototypes to both prove principles – particularly in the connection system between elements and deliver the right quality.
optional cushions are available in four colors
DB: the chair pairs a steam-bent plywood shell with a plastic backrest, why were these materials used and how does the plastic fit with the brand’s luxurious and high-end quality?
BH: we were interested in combining the heritage of engineered plywood and softness of visual language with the modernity and smartness of a new material combination and format exploration.
the plastic was selected to achieve complex forms that aren’t possible in timber that deliver the right strength, comfort and style. the plastic finish was also treated as a highly crafted material would be – slightly translucent and with a fine surface texture reminiscent of a beautiful and long lasting piece of blown glass.
the ‘pair’ chair adds a new chapter for fritz hansen’s history of stackable chairs
the plastic has been treated like a highly crafted material