A Space Odyssey

Fritz Hansen’s Space lounge chair was designed with a keen interest in the future of Danish design—even though its creators, Jürgen Laub and Marcus Jehs, are Germans, based in Stuttgart. Nevertheless, the founders of Jehs+Laub were acutely aware of the tradition they were inheriting. “You have these big huge monsters Poul Kjaerholm and Arne Jacobsen in the background, which is like a spell,” Jehs says. “We thought, ‘What can we do with all this historical ballast?’”

To find out, they studied Kjaerholm and Jacobsen’s furniture as well as Louis Poulsen lamps and the Sydney Opera House, by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. “The tradition of Scandinavian design is to make things very thin and light and visual,” Jehs says. “And the craftsmanship is honest—you see all of the components, so they must be designed in a special way to come together.” Here Jehs and Laub guide us through the details of the Space lounge, which is making its U.S. debut at the ICFF.

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This is an injection-molded nylon shell, into which we were able to integrate something like clips—all four pads are just clipped onto the shell. They can’t be unclipped easily by the user, but in the factory they can be detached for repair or replacement.

The pads are injection-molded foam. They look like they are of uniform thinness, but the middle of the seat is actually much thicker—six centimeters compared to two centimeters elsewhere. This is a little trick to make the chair very comfortable while still looking very Scandinavian, very light.

In the beginning, we made prototypes of the shell in all sorts of colors. But we found it confusing to get the right composition between the shell and the fabric. In the end, we decided it was enough to have just a white, black, or metallic-gray shell. Then you can play with the whole range of Fritz Hansen colors in the front.

We were careful to find the right points to fix the laser-cut steel base to the seat to achieve the perfect balance between flexibility and stiffness. When you sit down, you feel that the chair is fixed to the floor. But the shell is very light, so you can easily swivel around while in conversation.

There are transparent injection-molded plastic pieces inserted into the feet. They lift the base up a little bit so that it is touching the floor only at the very end of the legs—like a ballerina on the tips of her toes.

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