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07.12.2017 – 04.02.2018

…only Chairs?

Children’s Chairs from Sammlung Neuwald
View of the exhibition, …only Chairs? Children’s Chairs from Sammlung Neuwald, 2017.
Photo: Die Neue Sammlung (A. Laurenzo)

About the Exhibition

Children’s chairs play a special role in design history. While the invention of the chair dates back to Classical Antiquity, seating designed especially for children only exists from a much later point onwards. Initially these were reserved for the aristocracy and bourgeoisie.

Over the course of the 19th century, however, with the advance of industrialization and general schooling increasingly gaining importance, the children’s chair soon emerged as a design category in its own right. By following its history, one cannot only follow the development of new construction methods and the use of new materials, but also trace the change in the social situation of children.

The Thonet company not only undertook pioneering work by making modern seating available to the broader masses through the invention of bentwood techniques, but also supplied furniture suitable for children. The company also focused on selling child-friendly furniture, and offered models produced especially for children as of their second catalogue brochure, published in 1866. When, a little later, the first furniture designed by architects began to revolutionize the way homes were conceived, the programmatic designs of Josef Hoffmann and others also included furnishings for children’s bedrooms. Since then, many designers have addressed the stringent requirements connected to creating furniture suitable for children. Down through the years, the ergonomic and hygienic challenges of designing children’s chairs as well as the desired versatility in use, have given rise to a great variety of seating objects. The bandwidth of the category spans everything from scaled-down design classics to innovative seating objects that may be both sat on and played with. The collection of children’s chairs belonging to Munich resident Gisela Neuwald provides an insight into this range of practical, imaginative and innovative design solutions. Die Neue Sammlung is now presenting this collection in cooperation with the Chair of Spatial Arts and Lighting Design at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Since the 1970s, Mrs. Neuwald has brought together over 290 objects from across the world, incorporating classics of modern design as well as curiosities and folk art. These were evaluated and classified within the context of a research project carried out over the course of several years by the Furniture Design program in the Department of Architecture at TUM. The presentation on the second floor of Pinakothek der Moderne inspired by this project now presents a selection of the most important designs. It illuminates the various aspects according to which the development of the children’s chair from the Biedermeier period to the present day may be assessed.

Exhibition views

View in the exhibition, …only Chairs? Children’s Chairs from Sammlung Neuwald, 2017.
Photo: Die Neue Sammlung (A. Laurenzo)
Harry Bertoia, armchair No. 426, in the exhibition, …only Chairs? Children’s Chairs from Sammlung Neuwald, 2017.
Photo: Die Neue Sammlung (A. Laurenzo)
View of the exhibition, …only Chairs? Children’s Chairs from Sammlung Neuwald, 2017.
Photo: Die Neue Sammlung (A. Laurenzo)

Curated by:

Anna-Sophia Reichelt
Bettina-Maria Mueller

Co-operation with:

Lehrstuhl für Raumkunst und Lichtgestaltung der Technischen Universität München (TUM)
and Fach Möbeldesign an der Fakultät für Architektur der Technischen Universität München (TUM)