January 2, 2006

Alvar Aalto-inspired High Chair By Ben Af Schulten

artek_high_chair.jpgAt first, I tried to convince myself that "Ben af Schulten" was just Finnish for "Chair for Baby," and that this chair produced by Artek was a late design by Artek's most famous co-founder, Alvar Aalto.

[Not that I'm a huge fan of Aalto's high modernist bentwood-and-Formica linoleum stools and tables. I have to confess, between their institutional popularity and the decades of cheap knockoffs, they're not just cold, but "cold on a budget" to me.]

Anyway, Ben af Schulten is, of course, Artek's longtime design director (and Aalto disciple), and he designed the high chair in 1965 "in the spirit of Aalto." Since the Master was around for another decade or so, you can probably assume that Aalto gave the high chair his blessing--or at least he didn't hate it enough to kill it. And that's gotta be worth something.

Depending on whether it's the natural birch or the painted model, Artek calculates that "something" at $806 or $832, respectively. Retailers figure it's "something about 15% less, say $685-707, and the shipping's pretty much on us."

Ben af Schulte 616 baby high chair, by Artek
[artek.fi via babychic101]
The 616 is available alongside Aalto's kid-sized stools, tables, and chairs at finnstyle.com or aalto.com [no relation]

[update: DT reader and vintage modern guru Orelandy spotted a vintage Artek high chair at modern50.com for $275. It's white, with a bit of a patina, but isn't that why you buy vintage in the first place? modern50 happens to be where we picked up our vintage Eames rocker; nice guy, good stuff. note: he calls it a "Danish Modern High Chair," though. close enough.]


"high modernist bentwood-and-Formica stools and tables"

What does this refer to? Aalto's most famous stool, tables, and lounge chair are entirely bent plywood. Could you link to an example of the stuff you don't like?

[sorry, my bad. the Aalto originals are linoleum, not Formica. -ed.]

Wow, thanks for posting this chair! We've been looking for one for quite awhile after test drving one in a resturant. Maybe somebody makes a nice "cold on a budget" version that won't cost more than a bugaboo.
(For the record I love Aalto furniture, I love his buildings even more. I didn't recognise the stool as being "Aalto-esque" but it explains why I liked it so much.)

[it's probably more "artek-esque" than "aalto-esque", and I agree with you on Aalto's other work, and even on his other, non-stool furniture, for that matter. -ed.]

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