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.