November 1, 2003
The perfect marriage of form to function.
About five years ago Danish designer Jakob Berg had the idea to create a chair that would appear to be one continuous, flowing piece of wood. He began exploring possible forms by making curved incisions into flat pieces of paper and then folding them into 3-D models. After much experimentation, Berg finally made a prototype out of plywood, which was chosen for publication in the London-based International Design Yearbook. A Latvian company found a picture of it in the book and contacted him with a request to put it into production. The ICF Group ( www.icfsource.com) debuted it at this year’s NeoCon furniture fair, and now the chair is available for distribution in North America. Impressed by its simple elegance, I asked Berg to talk about the design process.
I originally called the prototype Flow because it looks like it has one continuous surface. I’m not sure why it is named Annika, which is a common Swedish name. Perhaps the ICF Group changed it for legal reasons. I’m a little baffled (he laughs).
The chair is made out of a plywood, called airplane ply, that was invented originally for airplane wings. It’s strong and is constructed of very thin layers, which makes it very pliable. I joined layers of veneer with glue and then pressed them in a big mold made of solid wood, much like Charles Eames did when he designed his molded-plywood chair.
The prototype took quite a lot of development because I had to figure out how to produce it as a molded-plywood chair without it being too technical—that is, how to make a model that you could press in one pressing. I worked with different solutions and finally came up with the idea of attaching the back legs to the rest of the chair. The front, seat, and back are made of one piece, and the back legs are added on afterward.
The Annika chair is available in natural or bleached birch, natural beech, natural cherry, natural maple, and birch stained in beech, cherry, mahogany, wenge, or black.