Design Duo Yabu Pushelberg on the Bizarre Beauty of their Favorite Klaus Nienkämper Chair

The Toronto and New York-based designers reflect on a Nienkämper-designed 70s-era chair that they just couldn’t get out of their heads.

Yabu Pushelberg Klaus Nienkämper
The coveted, limited-edition Nienkämper chair (far left) in situ. Courtesy Evan Dion

Some chairs look like sculptures, and some sculptures look like chairs. Then there is this chair (far left, above) by Klaus Nienkämper, which represents the bizarre, strangely beautiful potential of handcrafted functional objects. Klaus was one of the first people to introduce European furniture to the Toronto market, and he has had an incredible influence on contemporary design in this city.

We first saw this chair in Klaus’s showroom in the early ’90s and immediately coveted it. It spoke to us. The chair has this strange quirkiness, and its design certainly doesn’t follow any trends. Klaus made it clear the chair wasn’t for sale. We later learned that it was one of only ten produced in the ’70s. We went on to collect a number of pieces he produced, but couldn’t get the chair out of our heads. It took us 14 years to convince Klaus to sell it to us. We finally bought it in 2005, and it now lives in our New York home. We still love it today as much as we did the first time we saw it.

Yabu Pushelberg Klaus Nienkämper
George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg are principals of Yabu Pushelberg, a multidisciplinary design firm with offices in Toronto and New York. Courtesy Shayan Asgharnia

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