The Magic Curve

Explore the use of curve in beech and rattan furniture.

Design Museum of Barcelona

Design Museum of Barcelona

The magic curve poster (2017) by Lali AlmonacidDesign Museum of Barcelona

This exhibition presents pieces from the Barcelona Museum of Design collection which focus on the curve.

The selection has allowed us to raise comparisons between furniture of different eras that have aspects in common: the natural element as a base material, their craftwork and their serial nature, which gives rise to functional pieces of great beauty.

Rocking chair (1916) by Hijos de Ventura FeliuDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve multiplies 

This furniture repeats variations of its parts; it is shaped by the multiplication of a curve, an idea related to a series in industrial production. This balance with symmetrical sides corresponds to a patent from 1906, from the Ventura Feliu factory, called the “assembly curve”, and which its craftsmen called the “eel curve”. 

Gres (2017) by Miguel MiláDesign Museum of Barcelona

In this case, the stool seat is supported by four equal pieces, so that all the sides are simultaneously at the front and the back.

Number 22 (1885) by Gebrüder ThonetDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve encloses 

One curved piece can fit inside another curved piece, so that together they form a reinforced structure. These complementary pieces form one unit: a seat, a backrest, etc. The sofa shows this idea with “encircled circles”, where the curve functions by enclosing the space.

Number 57 (1890) by Jacob & Josef KohnDesign Museum of Barcelona

Also with this chair, in a more simple way, whereby the successive curves give shape to the backrest.

Nautica (2012) by Mut Design (Alberto Sánchez)Design Museum of Barcelona

The suspended seat transforms this idea and turns it into closure, including the seat and the backrest within the curves.

Hight chair (1887) by Gebrüder ThonetDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve continues

Linear continuity can be real or simulated. For the former, the intention is to use the minimum number of pieces, saving material, while in the latter there is a rhythmic intention in the construction of the object. This is evident in the high chair, where the curve of the arms continues to the feet at the front.

Number 12 (1899) by Gustav SiegelDesign Museum of Barcelona

While in this wooden chair, continuity can be seen in the arms and the backrest, here reduced to the barest expression: a simple intersection of two lines.

Huma (2015) by Mario RuizDesign Museum of Barcelona

This idea continues in the rattan chair, turning the backrest, arms and seat into one continuous curve.

Rocking chair (1900) by Gebrüder ThonetDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve supports 

With its shape, the curve can have a supportive nature. In both the umbrella stand and the rocking chair, the curve of the legs provides support. 

Umbrella hanger (1924) by Hijos de Ventura Feliu, València (attribution)Design Museum of Barcelona

Kiri table (2015) by Mario RuizDesign Museum of Barcelona

In the same way, those of the table, partly curved, have the function of supporting the tabletop.

Number 2 (1880) by Gebrüder ThonetDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve constructs 

Its apparently fragile form contains an architectural principle that gives it solidity. This can be seen in the beech chair, which has capitals on the rear legs, and lateral and spiral reinforcements in the backrest.

Fontal (2012) by Oscar Tusquets BlancaDesign Museum of Barcelona

Instead the curved shapes of this rattan chair interlock, either in the form of an arch or a frontispiece. The curve, therefore, is structure.

Cot (1924) by Hijos de Ventura Feliu, València (attribution)Design Museum of Barcelona

The curve protects

With its shape, the curve can delimit space at the same time as its repetitive space can close it, creating a structure that is both protective and welcoming. The curve of the cradle’s feet marks the space for the swing of the basket, whose protective rungs are formed by curved pieces. 

Reposo (2012) by Studio ExpormimDesign Museum of Barcelona

And this deckchair, where the curve frames all its limits and utilities (legs, seat, backrest, arms, foot rest ...) repeats the shape of the rungs for protection.

Number 30 (1890) by Jacob & Josef KohnDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve dynamises 

Synonymous with movement, the curve is applied to many solutions offering dynamism and ergonomics. This can be seen in the chair, where the usual anti-aesthetic lateral reinforcements between the backrest and the chair are replaced by a single curved, continuous piece. What’s more, separation of the two curves of the backrest give better support for the back. 

Frames (2014) by Jaime HayonDesign Museum of Barcelona

This armchair is also a good example, where rounded structural shapes are warped when this can provide comfort.

Number 14 (1890) by Gebrüder ThonetDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve simplifies

Simplification is made manifest in space: there is nothing simpler than a curve. The chair responds to the idea of maximum simplicity and functionality with the fewest possible pieces of wood. 

Frames (2014) by Jaime HayonDesign Museum of Barcelona

This intention is also evident in the rattan folding screen.

Bed (1900) by UnknownDesign Museum of Barcelona

The curve shows... or hides 

Thanks to its shape, the curve can provide glimpses or be opaque, if we add complementary materials. The headboard and foot of this wooden bed, while very structural, are also fairly diaphanous and only hide the front of the bed base and mattress. 

Pepe (2013) by Benedetta TagliabueDesign Museum of Barcelona

This is also the case in this sofa: the fabric of the core achieves the desired opacity and the steel structure means that the legs are almost imperceptibleperceptibles.

Credits: Story

11.10.18 - 18.11.18
Centre d'Artesania Catalunya, Sala de exposiciones

Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
Centre d'Artesanía Catalunya del CCAM

Rossend Casanova
Julio Vives Chillida

Whit the support of:

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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