Pairing a modern design with traditional woodworking techniques, architect David Thulstrup fabricates seating fit for a four-hour meal.
By Nonie Niesewand
May 03, 2018
Rene Redzepi has your numse (bum) on his mind. Rightfully so, given the marathon 19-course meals he produces at Noma, the boundary-pushing New Nordic restaurant that relocated to a waterfront swath in the bohemian Christiania area of Copenhagen after the original shuttered last year. For Noma 2.0, Redzepi enlisted a coterie of design collaborators, including architects Bjarke Ingels and David Thulstrup, who envisioned the interiors and fashioned custom furniture pieces that pay homage to Noma’s heritage, none more important than the ARV chair.
The curvaceous backrest places the diner slightly forward, not slouching back, gently uplifted to come forward and meet the table as the armrests slide perfectly beneath it. It brings ergonomics to the table where diners will spend up to four hours or more indulging on sea snail broth and Venus clams. (Menus divide the year into three seasons: seafood from January until May when it shifts to greens—salads and vegetables—until autumn when game is served with fruits of the forest.)
Thulstrup, in collaboration with the joinery workshop of Brdr. Krüger, painstakingly tested several chairs during the research phase, among them a Jasper Morrison, a Nendo, and a Hans J. Wegner—“too familiar, too iconic, too old ” he says. “We wanted a chair that would travel the world as a truly new design made with traditional wood-making skills.” His studio spent three months just cataloging the look Redzepi wanted—curvy, comfortable, with slim arms, slender legs, and rounded soft edges—working out just how the backrest comes up to meet the frame so the chair looks as good from the back as the front. The organic design is inspired by a natural formation that seamlessly connects the various parts like branches growing from a tree trunk. The frame is wood-turned rather than steam-pressed and contains no nails or screws. The curved seat is paper cord woven by a craftsman trained on the famous “Wishbone” chair by Wegner.
Danes take their chairs so seriously that, just 50 years after a design is launched, it is marketed as an antique; arv means heritage in Danish. In their workshop, the brother duo behind Brdr. Kruger wear T-shirts bearing the slogan “A new turn on tradition.”
Like the zeitgeist-shifting restaurant, this is a chair for the 21st century, destined to become famous.