Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kurt Ostervig - Mid-Century Modern Designer Chair

Now and then  I run across some surprises in my furniture travels---Such as the chair pictured above.  I responded to a craigslist ad for a wooden desk which I thought would make a decent table for my sewing machine.  I'd been using an unusual antique desk for my sewing table and thought I needed something a bit less precious and more functional.  So I went to look at the desk, a sturdy no-name piece from the 1950's and decided to buy it.  The couple selling the desk had been using this chair with the desk and said I probably wouldn't want it but was welcome to take charge.  I already had a chair to use with the sewing machine, but I liked the design of the chair, though it was a bit wobbly.  I took the chair, too.

Many, many, many months after having the chair sit in the garage, I decided I'd take a look at replacing the worn out vinyl seat cover and fixing the wobble.  I removed a few tacks from the dust cover under the seat and saw the label and stamps shown in the photo above.  Now, I was certain there was good reason for the appealing lines I saw in this chair.

A bit about Kurt Ostervig:  Kurt Østervig 1912 - 1986.  (from

Kurt Østervig was educated as a ship building engineer at Odense Stålskibsværft, which soon led to his employment as a furniture designer with one of the leading furniture producers during the 1930s and 1940s - E. Knudsen's Design Studio, Odense, .

In 1947 he opened his own studio becoming a freelance furniture designer.

During his career he developed all types of modern furniture and worked with many of the leading Scandinavian furniture factories of the period.

In the 1960s one of Kurt Østervig's design was accepted for exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

His search for challenges resulted in many original design solutions for specialized furniture used in rest homes, ships, hotels, and movie theaters.

Kurt Østervig's favourite material was oak, especially in combination with leather. He was well-known for his unusually detailed and perfect drawings, which resembled pieces of art or coloured photos than working drawings.

Today his designs are produced by Tranekær Furniture who have taken control of the production of designs previously manufactured by the company K.P.Jørgensen.

He is in good company with other great Scandinavian furniture designers such as Hans J. Wegner and  Arne Jacobsen.
My chair has some joinery problems.  I don't think this particular chair design was one of Mr. Ostervig's best.  It is probably an early one and can explain why I can't find this chair anywhere on the internet.  I think the rest of them didn't hold up well and were most likely discarded.

Above:  Seat padding and vinyl cover removed.

Above:  The stamp on  another seat bottom from Kurt Ostervig chairs on the internet
Above:   These are six of his "butterfly" chairs that have this stamp on their seat bottoms.
Stunning Kurt Ostervig Rosewood Butterfly Dining Chairs
Stunning set of 6 dining chairs designed by Kurt Ostervig for Brande Modelindustri circa early 1960′s. These sculptural chairs are done in incredibly grained solid rosewood with subtly curved butterfly backs and tapering legs and stretchers. The upholstery is original off white Turkish cotton.
These chairs are the only examples of these chairs that we can find and are truly one of the better designed dining chairs that we have ever come across.

Measurements Height: 19" x Height2: 18" x Width: 19" x Depth: 20"
Price Sold
Above:   1st Dibs has this set of six chairs listed at $5000, with three parties interested.

I still like the lines of my chair.  I am repairing the joints and plan to replace the padding and stretched out exhausted seat cover.  I'll use it with the three other Mid-Century Mod no-name chairs I already have and love, shown in the photo above.

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