You’ve heard of the Man of Many Faces. Form Us With Love, the international design studio based in Sweden, recently unveiled the furniture-world equivalent: the Chair of Many Facets.
Developed with the Basque woodworking company Alki, its five-piece Atal seating collection, which includes a thin-armed task chair, a barstool and a padded lounge chair, springs from a single A-shaped oak shell and “builds onwards, one step at a time, adding wooden layers of increased comfort,” according to the design team.
“We wanted to see how far we could stretch the typologies,” says Ander Lizaso, the creative director at Alki, whose factory is in the French village of Itsasu, near the Spanish border (alki means “chair” in Basque). “The brief was originally one design – a chair that was affordable, stackable and warm. As a result, we have a whole series with the same characteristics.”
According to Jonas Pettersson, Form Us With Love’s CEO, the collection’s add-on modularity was inspired both by Alki’s “uncompromising wood craftsmanship” and by “the activities we see taking place today in multi-use spaces.”
“In the design of Atal, a stripped down functionality is strategically unpacked,” Petterson notes, adding that the collection fulfills a range of user objectives, including “mobility, tactility, the need for differences in seating angle and the urge to sit both upright and slouched.”
The tactility of the series is a direct product of Alki’s expertise with wood. The oak used is a blend of pressed laminate and solid wood that has been steamed, bent and turned. In addition to Atal’s foundational shell, add-on pieces include a small wooden backrest (for the barstool), a bent horseshoe-shaped component (for the armchair) and a padded backrest (for the lounge chair).
All of the shells are perched on lightweight painted-metal frames, making them easy to move and configure.
“We tried to be as rational as possible without losing the poetry, adding value in every sequence of the collection,” says John Löfgren, creative director at Form Us With Love.
As eminently coherent as the Atal seating line may be, however, it also steers clear of homogeneity: A casual observer is unlikely to detect, for instance, that each of Atal’s incarnations share the same base, even as they strike a complementary note.
“Today, architects are constantly looking to [address] a diversity of spaces without compromises,” says Peio Uhalde, Alki’s CEO. “Atal speaks to the wide range of scenarios that need to be catered to.”