1965, The Netherlands, and Frenchman Pierre Paulin introduces us to one of his most acclaimed collections. Designed for a traditional Dutch furniture manufacturer redefining itself in an era of change under the guidance of Kho Lieng Ie and the new moniker: ‘Artifort‘. Paulin presents us with Tulip and Little Tulip … and the world falls in love.
What drives my work are technological breakthroughs… I do not start with the idea of a form. I try to solve problems with the most advanced methods available to me. The way my furniture looks is the result of a process during which I uncover the shapes my design will take…
Technologically innovative, instantly iconic and very much products of their era, the bold yet visually balanced and well proportioned Tulip Lounge Chair, Little Tulip Armchair and ottoman drew their influence from the petals of the collection’s namesake and cemented themselves a place in the annals of modern design. Out went the commonly used straw, horsehair, kapok and iron springing and in darted a frenzied exploration of foams, steel wire and stretch fabrics. The future of furniture was looking bright, bigger and bolder.
Over the years many would attempt to emulate the unique aesthetic Paulin was spearheading with Artifort but few, if any, could measure up to the successes Paulin had in marrying superior comfort with cutting edge, iconic form. The world too was taking note and in 1969 the Museum of Modern Art in New York started adding Paulin’s pieces to its collection.
When in the business of producing classic designs under license, it can become necessary at times to re-view/re-model or make adjustments to an existing collection. A number of contributing factors instigate this ongoing evolution of a design and that can be simply due to changes in trend that see a certain feature or nuance no longer in favour with the marketplace, or more commonly; technological advancements in manufacturing and assembly methods. This, when coupled with the invention of new materials, can see a design take on some pretty drastic changes…
One such ‘makeover’ that applies to Paulin’s designs is the recent re-issuing of the whole Tulip collection with its original, polished, cross base. Having fallen out of favour gradually over the past twenty years, it was eventually discontinued and in it’s place a round disc-base with a swivel mechanism was introduced (with Paulin’s approval) to keep the collection commercially relevant and viable. In 2010, we welcome back the original sleek, subtle footing and think it couldnt have arrived at a better time.
With current trends leaning toward refined lines, the wonders of woven metal, simplicity and a consistent call for visual lightness with interior products, the elegance of the original Tulip and Little Tulip is as relevant now more than ever. Artifort, with its wealth of classics in production and retired also saw fit this year to bring back the classic C 070 from 1964 by Kho Liang Ie, an equally as impressive and iconic design that is promised a new lease on life in the current climate where all that was once new is newer… again.
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