Scandinavian design is often synonymous with natural materials and finishes – warm timbers that add texture to a space. However, the Etcetera chair by Swedish designer Jan Ekselius, designed in 1970 and released onto the market a couple of years later, couldn’t be more removed from this aesthetic.
Covered in a sumptuous range of cotton velours that include ‘zinc grey’, ‘chocolate’, ‘Yves Klein blue’ and ‘grass green’, the curvaceous chaise lounge or chair, combined with a matching ottoman, literally pops with colour.
While some designers take years to create their seminal design, Jan Ekselius came up with this ‘future classic’ when he was only in his 20s and studying at the Royal College of Art. Experimenting with steel pipes, Jan was keen to respond to the natural curvature of the human spine and attracted to the elastic materials used to cover it; the latex-dipped jute fabric was later replaced by Pullmaflex, used for back support in Volvo cars. As a result, the Etcetera chair is proving once again to be popular with designers worldwide who weren’t around when the chair was first released.
“It’s the wonderful colours that make this design popular again,” interior designer Lucy Marczyk says, who first saw colour being reintroduced in Sweden when the Wishbone Chair, designed by Hans Wegner, was reproduced in a number of colours in 2013. “Some of the colour that’s now being introduced by the Nordic countries is quite saturated with intense colour,” Lucy says, who loves the grass green used as part of the colour range available in the Etcetera Chair. “It feels like an outdoor mound, part of the outdoor landscape when it’s placed near a terrace or a balcony,” Lucy says, who loves the design’s sculptural form. “It looks great whatever direction the chair or lounge is placed in, a sculptural piece that’s far from static,” she adds.
The Etcetera chair has a childlike quality to its shape. When the chair was first produced by Swedish company J.O. Carlsson and Forsbergs, it would not have been known then that this design would still prove popular today. Perhaps it’s the sense of pleasure that’s evoked from looking at this design, as much as sitting or relaxing in it, that forms part of this appeal and its longevity.
For Shapiro Auctioneers managing director Andrew Shapiro, the Etcetera chair receives great interest every time he sees it appear on the auction floor. He attributes this to the Etcetera chair being extremely advanced for its time. “One would assume that there’s an Italian designer at work here, rather than a Swede, given the colour and being far from restrained in its form,” he says.
Whether the Etcetera chair is combined with other 1970s classics or placed on its own in a corner of a room, be it a living area, a study, or a bedroom, it’s likely that, given the mood for everything 1970s, this future classic will continue to prove popular for many years to come. The chair combines style, form and comfort that many designers hope to achieve in their lifetime.