University Libraries

The Furniture Collection at the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library

chairs Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia LC1 Pony Hide Basculant Sling Chair by Le Corbusier The Red Chair Skywater plywood table and chairs
Since 1996, the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library in Rapson Hall has featured a unique chair collection. Former librarian Joon Mornes conceived of the idea of a collection of architect-designed chairs as a resource for students, who could learn from—as well as sit on—the chairs. The majority of these chairs are gifts to the library.

Come in and look around to find each of these design masterpieces! The collection includes:

Red Blue Chair

Designed by Gerrit Rietveld, 1923
Reproduction date and fabricator unknown
Gift of anonymous architectural firm

Although the form of the Red Blue chair was originally designed in 1918, its color scheme of primary colors (red, yellow, blue) plus black—closely associated with the de Stijl group and its most famous theorist and practitioner Piet Mondrian—was applied to it around 1923. Rietveld hoped that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, and therefore aimed for simplicity in construction. The pieces of wood that comprise the Red Blue Chair are in the standard lumber sizes readily available at the time.

MR10 Cantilever Chair

Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1927
Manufactured by the Joseph Muller Metal Company

Mies van der Rohe is often recognized as the purist of Modern architects. Functional simplicity—keeping within the mantra of "less is more" –define his work. The MR chair has been described as "a sophisticated and elegant aesthetic response to the earlier, slightly more prosaic uses of the cantilever in contemporary furniture."

LC1 Pony Hide Basculant Sling Chair

Designed by Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), 1928

Le Corbusier's sling chair is a pairing of sleek chrome-plated tubular steel and warm natural hide. The back of the chair is attached to the frame by a rod that allows the angle to change. As the user shifts from one sitting position to the next, the chair back moves with them for continuous support.

406 Pension Chair

Designed by Alvar Aalto, 1938
Manufactured by Artek
Gift of Jane Kamman in memory of Keith Kamman

Le Corbusier's sling chair is a pairing of sleek chrome-plated tubular steel and warm natural hide. The back of the chair is attached to the frame by a rod that allows the angle to change. As the user shifts from one sitting position to the next, the chair back moves with them for continuous support.

Skywater plywood table and chairs

Designed by Winston and Elizabeth Close, 1941
Reproduced by the Minnesota Historical Society
Purchased with funds given in memory of Winston Close, 1998

The plywood furniture was designed and built by Winston Close (The University of Minnesota's Advisory Architect from 1950-1971) and his wife Elizabeth for Skywater, a summer cabin in Wisconsin. Working with a budget of $50, the Closes chose economical materials—fir plywood and clothesline—and designed the components so that one table, one chair, and one footstool could be fashioned from a single 4' by 8' sheet.

Rapson Rapid Rocker

Designed by Ralph Rapson, 1945
Locally commissioned and built by Jonathan Leck, 2000
Reissued by redlurered in 2002
Gift of Mrs. Jeanne Watt, in memory of her son, John, 2000

The Rapson Rapid Rocker was first built for the Museum of Modern Art in 1939 and was first sold in 1948 by Knoll Associates as a part of their 'Rapson Line'. Due to wartime materials restrictions, Knoll originally produced the chairs with solid, straight wood rather than bentwood as intended. Knoll subsequently sold the line to Bloomingdale's in 1945, who then took out a full page advertisement for the rocker in the New York Times, holding it up as an example of an "innovative and attractive modern take on a traditional piece."

Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs

Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, 1946
Manufactured by Herman Miller

The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair has been referred to as the "most famous chair of the century." The low-slung form that molds to the body is crafted of thin wood veneers with a hardwood inner ply for durability.

Eames Plywood Lounge Table

Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, 1946
Manufactured by Herman Miller

The lightweight plywood coffee table was designed to complement the Eames Molded Plywood Chairs. The process follows the same groundbreaking principles established for the chairs, which are shaped by molding thin wood veneers under heat and pressure.

Platform Bench

Designed by George Nelson, 1946

The Nelson platform bench was part of George Nelson's first collection for Herman Miller. The classic piece introduced the architecturally founded principle of "honest design," which embraces a clear and honest parallel between form and functionality. The Platform Bench is both simple and practical and can be used as a resting place for people or their belongings.

Diamond Chair

Designed by Harry Bertoia, 1952
Manufactured by Knoll International

In his art, sculptor Harry Bertoia experimented with open forms and metal work. These chairs were an extension of that work—a study of space, form and function. With its unique bent and welded steel rod construction, the chair is exceptionally strong and surprisingly comfortable.

EA115 Eames Chair

Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, 1958

The Aluminium Chair stands out for its intelligent combination of materials. The covers are attached inside the aluminum profile sections and simply stretched over the frame, transforming them from mere coverings to a load-bearing part of the structure. It adapts to fit the body snugly and delivers great comfort, even without extensive upholstery.

Cross Check Lounge Chair

Designed by Frank Gehry, 1992
Manufactured by Knoll

Wicker furniture and the apple crates he had played on as a child inspired Gehry's ribbon-like design of the Cross Check chair, which was named after an ice hockey term. The frame is constructed of hard white maple, laminated to 5 or 7-ply thickness with high-bonding urea glue. All wood grains run in same direction for resilience. Thermo-set assembly glue provides structural rigidity without the need for metal connectors, while allowing for ergonomic movement and flexibility.