Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, armchair

István Szilvássy

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
Budapest, Hungary

The designer of the Centaur furniture set, István Szilvássy, received his diploma in 1982 from the Interior Architecture Department of the Academy of Applied Arts. In the early eighties, he designed multi-functional, detachable, mobile wooden children’s toys, whose packaging could also be used as a building element.
In the early eighties, István Szilvássy travelled to Milan with his classmates from the academy – at exactly the same time when the Memphis Group first debuted with its work at the Arc’74 Gallery in Milan in September 1981. The appearance of the Memphis Group was a true breakthrough in design history. The objects of the group led by Italian architect, Ettore Sottsass, evoked the colours and asymmetric, playful forms and patterns of children’s toys, and completely diverged from the industrial functionalism that was customary at the time, representing a new approach. Unexpected associations and solutions were characteristic of their works. Bravely combined forms, textures and materials. They aspired to topple the illusion of so-called “good taste.” It was not by chance that Szilvássy, who possessed a similar approach, instantly fell in love with these objects, and he decided that, reflecting upon these, he would also create similarly playful, experimental furniture. And thus was born in 1985, Centaur Furniture Ensemble, which comprised a coffee/smoking table, two armchairs, a sofa, and a bookshelf.
Szilvássy got the plastic material in rolls for his enormous installations from the Tisza Chemical Combine [TVK], that had a PVC tube at their centre. He employed these PVC tubes as legs for the Centaur family, and for supporting elements for furniture. He lathe-turned himself the wooden junctions that hold together the entire shelving system, table and armchairs. The sheets for the shelves, tabletop and for the furniture are made from first-class plywood, cut with a saw in irregular forms, shaping the edges at a 45-degree angle. He polished them, and then at a friend’s, who had a car polishing workshop, he primed with washable acrylic paint and sprayed the panels and tubes. Afterwards, he prepared templates on stickers, and sprayed spots with black paint, and this is how the cow print was created. He fastened the elements to each other with chrome-plated angle-irons and screws, so that they would be able to be disassembled and rolled up any time. A friend who was an applied artist helped him to sew the red sausage-like mattresses and pillow segments, based on Szilvássy’s design.


  • Title: Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, armchair
  • Creator: István Szilvássy
  • Date Created: 1985
  • Location Created: Budapest
  • Physical Dimensions: 63 x 78 x 87 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Hungarian design, In Circulation, applied arts, furniture, postmodernism
  • Type: artifact
  • Rights: CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0, Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, 2023
  • External Link: István Szilvássy, In Circulation (thematic collection)
  • Medium: plywood, oak, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), red Chinese linen, sponge cushion
  • Art Genre: applied arts
  • Art Movement: Postmodernism

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