Following in the footsteps of Richard Neutra
von | Sep 13, 2014

What do a manufacturer for school and office furniture and California Modernism have in common? Vereinigte Spezialmöbelfabriken (VS) has the answer. Its latest collection “Neutra Furniture” featuring comfy chairs, cantilever chairs, and dining and side tables is a worthy homage to Richard Neutra, one of the most important Modernist architects and International Style ambassadors of all time. Joining forces with Dion Neutra, Richard Neutra’s son, VS has breathed new life into his legendary furniture designs and mass-produces these in its own workshops.

Having trained under Frank Lloyd Wright and Adolf Loos, the young Richard Neutra caused a stir in sunny 1930s California with his bungalows, residential estates and school buildings that so clearly revealed the signature of his teachers – light-infused rooms and an extraordinary feel for connecting indoor and outdoor spaces were the result. “A building that has been designed with great care is so much more than a static shell – it is a mirror to the natural environment around it …,” is how Neutra described his output.

The architect pursued the selfsame holistic design approach when devising furniture for his buildings and clients. The style of the one-offs and small-batch items was always perfectly in tune with the architecture.

Neutra made a realsplash on the international design scene with his “Lovell Health House” in Los Feliz near Los Angeles. It was the first family home in the United States to be built using a steel skeleton structure. In 1929, Neutra created the “Lovell Easy Chair” as the perfect accompaniment to this building: a leather comfy chair featuring extra-wide solid wood armrests and a tubular steel frame. More than 80 years later, VS is now realizing the design in its own furniture manufactory, where it produces the chair in series, along with the “Slipper Chair”, whose previous life is based on a mere sketch.

With its clipped edge, Neutra’s “Low Dinette Table” emulates the roof design of “Tremaine House” in Montecito, for which the wooden table was originally designed in 1948. Just as the dining room chair “Tremaine Side Chair”, whose explicit forms and flexible backrest have been emblematic of the 1950s lifestyle to this day. Another classic is the “Boomerang Chair” that Neutra designed in 1942 for the “Channel Heights” residential estate in San Pedro. The curving sides in combination with the round bars and tensioned straps have rendered the piece timeless and substantial. With its “Neutra Furniture” collection VS is retracing the footsteps of yore, the use of mass production methods has placed these design classics within a contemporary realm. With success.

The architect’s output is emblematic of the “International Style” – his buildings forge a link between European and American Modernism. Photo © David Glomb/VS
Past concepts are finally being realized: the “Lovell Easy Chair Steel”.
The design of the “Cantilever Chair” deviates from its classic predecessors of the 1930s. The seat is separate from the backrest. Photo © VS
Featuring a timeless design with clear lines and compact dimensions: “Slipper Chair”. Photo © VS
Dynamic and elegant – the “Tremaine Side Chair Steel” is the epitome of “Martini Modernism”. Photo © VS
Conceived as fitted furniture, the items in the “Alpha Seating” range also work well as standalones. Photo © VS
Giving contemporary touches to the Great Master’s legacy: Thomas Müller (Managing Director VS) and Dion Neutra. Photo © David Glomb/VS
The Neutra Collection is ideally suited for not only private homes but also for offices, lounges, lobbies and hotels. Photo © VS
Richard Neutra is regarded as one of the trailblazers of California Modernism. Photo © Klaus Meier-Ude/VS
Neutra is famous for his spacious, light-infused rooms. Photo © Klaus Meier-Ude/VS
The “Lovel Easy Chair” is now being produced by manufacturer VS. Photo © VS
Another version of „Cantilever Chair“: Plywood with oak veneer combined with natural nappa leather. Photo © VS
Its curving sides and tensioned belts have turned the “Boomerang Chair” from the 1940s into a design icon. Photo © VS
The “Alpha Seating Sofa” was originally designed for the Lovell Health House in 1929. Photo © VS
The “Low Organic Table” combines soft lines and organic shapes. Photo © VS
VS Vereinigte Spezialmöbelfabriken produces high-quality contract furniture for schools and offices. Photo © VS