A LIVING BODY, PLEASANT TO TOUCH AND EMBRACE, SOFT AND SAFE”. - Mario Bellini

Le Bambole

Designer: Mario Bellini

Location: 4th Floor

This scrumptious number just begs for you to lounge around for bit, then curl up and read a book.  The puffiness of the chair creates a down comforter effect, but the strength of the structure makes it feel very stable and secure. The Bambino chair is place in two separate groups on either side of the 4th floor viewing area, so you can choose color and view while you and your friends gather for book club, or a chat.

Bellini designed the Bambole Armchair in 2007 for the B&B Italia collection.  The steel frame is surrounded by shaped polyurethane foam and the fabric can be either leather or fabric (all the Bambino chairs in the CoHL are leather).  He also designed a Bambole Sofa for the collection, which looks just as delicious to lounge in.   Check out his other designs here, and his architecture here.

-Erica

Cassina Aspen Bench

Designer: Jean-Marie Massaud

Location: 4th Floor

The Hunt Library’s only Aspen bench sits directly across from the 4th floor “fishbowl.” Despite the fact that it is placed somewhat innocuously against a short wall, the stark contrast of the bench’s bright red leather against the forest-green backdrop, along with the its graceful asymmetry, creates a visual that commands attention. Basically, it’s an amazing photo-op.

The Aspen Bench was designed by French designer and architect Jean-Marie Massaud, who graduated from the French National School for Advanced Studies in Design in 1990. Since then, he has gone on to design several award-winning furniture-pieces and architectural layouts (seriously, you have to check out this concept art for a spa/resort and store interior. They are incredibly awesome.), as well as the Estadio Omnilife in Gudalajara, Mexico.

- Jake

SM1 Lounge Chair and Sofa

Designers: Peter Shelton and Lee Mindel

Location: Second Floor

Walking through the main entrance of Hunt will lead you right to this common, modern gem. The SM1 series of chairs and sofas is one of the most recently designed seating options in Hunt, coming only from the year 2006—making it 78 years older than the Barcelona Chair.

The two designers, Peter Shelton and Lee Mindel, founded their own architectural firm: Shelton, Mindel & Associates. Since its inception in 1978, they have won twenty eight American Institute of Architect (AIA) awards for interior design, and that’s only the beginning of their renown. Both Shelton and Mindel have been inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame, which I’m sure most people didn’t know even existed until this sentence.

Some of their major projects have been the Polo Ralph Lauren Headquarters, Fila USA Headquarters, Sting and Trudie Styler’s London Town Home, an awesome cruise ship named The Mercury, Private Jets, and a lot of other amazing stuff.

Peter Shelton passed away on August 26, 2012 in Manhattan. The NYT has a great piece on his life. Lee Mindel continues to head the firm and even has a pretty awesome twitter account.

The Oxford Chair

Designer: Arne Jacobson

Location: 4th floor - Video Seminar Room

Arne Jacobsen designed the egg chair, which is probably the first chair you’ll notice upon entering on the second floor of the library. But we’re here to talk about a later design of his: the Oxford Chair.

Jacobsen was not only contracted to build the chair, however, he was contracted to build a majority of the buildings for the school. But before we get there, let’s take a step back and look at how the university came about, as it has a rich modern history.

In the mid-1850s, a college education in Oxford was prohibitively expensive (apparently crushing student loan debt didn’t exist yet?). The Royal Commission came up with a plan that basically allowed students to congregate and learn under a University, without paying the cost of attending college. The group was called the Delegacy for Unattached Students. Over the years, this group evolved and changed into the St. Catherine’s Society.  They had been meeting for many years in various locations, however, they had no central campus. Finally, after decades of relocation and decentralization, the time had come for the group to get a campus of their own. After a few years of fundraising by University head Alan Bullock (who wrote the first comprehensive biography of Hitler) they finally had the funds to build a campus of their own. 

Arne Jacobsen was chosen as the architect after a handful of Oxford dons visited the Munkegaard School and the SAS Royal Hotel. There was some uproar over the commission of Jacobsen to design the buildings and interiors for St. Catherine’s College. The debate was over the idea that a modernist foreign designer on the payroll for such an important task. However, a university with a modern mission needed an equally modern designer. Upon revealing Jacobsen’s designs for the college, including the Oxford chair, everyone’s fears were quelled.

Jacobsen received an honorary doctorate from Oxford upon completing the project. Today, the Oxford chair stands as one of Jacobsen’s outstanding design achievements.

"Kontour" Davis Bench

Designer: Wolfgang C.R. Mezger

Location: Ground floor

This elegant bench was designed by the well-respected contemporary designer Wolfgang C.R. Mezger. Interestingly, Mezger is seen as something of the champion of the modern office, producing simple, sleek desks, bookshelves, and coffee tables.

The muted tones of this bench make it somewhat unique among the more colorful furnishings in the library. This was a deliberate choice by library interior designers Gwen Emery and Patrick Deaton (who we’ve mentioned before). They wanted to maintain the sleek, modern aesthetic of the rest of the library while not distracting from the fascinating display of the bookBot just behind it—and given the incredibly awesome nature of the bookBot, I can’t blame them.

Overall, I think they nailed it.

—Jake

Bertoia Diamond Chair

Designer: Harry Bertoia

Location: private group study rooms throughout library

Italian born Harry Bertoia met Florence Schust at the Cranbook Academy of Art.  This friendship would pay off, as Florence would later marry Hanz Knoll and invite Bertoia to create whatever he’d like for the Knoll company.  The result was the Bertoia Seating Collection (1952) which included the Bertoia Diamond Chair. 

The Diamond Chair (which looks a little marine-like to me) is constructed out of thin steel rods which criss-cross and are formed to create the curvature of the chair.  Bertoia said of his chair design: “If you look at the chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture.”  It isn’t too surprising for him to make this comparison, because not only was he famous for his furniture designs, Bertoia was a prolific sculptor and jewelry artist.

Much like his furniture designs, his sculptures and jewelry are made out of industrial materials like metals and woods.  But he uses these typically rugged substances to create graceful and elegant pieces of art.

-Erica

Dip and Double Dip Benches

Designer: Chris Howker

Location: 1st Floor

Quantity: 1 each

The dip and double dip benches are the first pieces of beautiful furniture greeting you as you enter the library from the 1st floor. Their metallic texture and stainless steel construction provide a great visual parallel to the magnificent book bot before you. Speaking of, these benches are one of the few pieces of furniture not made out of leather or pleather material in the library (another rare one being the Womb Chair). Another thing to notice is the gray the ground floor furniture selections, matching visual texture of the floor (remember the Cycle Bench from way back? )

These benches come to us from the mind of Chris Howker, from the B&B Italia furniture design firm. Howker is a UK designer who has worked on industrial design, hotel interiors, salon interiors, coffee bars, and a bunch of other things. He’s actually one of the few designers we’ve mentioned on the blog that has a professional background in furniture design—most designers have started in architecture.

//B&B Italia - Chris Howker

A chair…should be beautiful from all sides and all angles —Hans Wegner

The Shell Chair

Designer: Hans Wegner

Quantity: 15

Location: 4th floor (by southwest windows)

Hans Wegner (who, as you might remember, designed the Wing Chair), was nothing if not innovative, and the Shell Chair demonstrates that in spades. Futuristic, graceful, and remarkably stable considering it only has 3 legs, it falls well within the scope of design proficiency one could expect from Wegner.  

But even by Wegner’s own superlative standards, this chair was unique. For one, it was one of very few times Wegner deviated from a solid wood design to dabble in molded plywood. However, perhaps most interesting is that in spite of the fact that it eventually became a classic icon of the “golden age of furniture design,” the Shell Chair experienced very little success following its release in 1963. Due to low demand, only 15 chairs were produced in the initial order—two of which were given away when no buyers could be found. No more copies of the chair were produced until 1997, when two of the originals sold at a London auction for 20,000 pounds each. Since that time, the chair has been in constant production from Carl Hansen and Son.

This thing’s a classic, folks. You need to try it—if only for that brief moment when, from a certain angle, you look a little like you’re riding a manta ray. 

—Jake